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PostPosted:     Post subject: Quantrill Reply with quote

Al Benson, Jr.
Fire Eater! Writer

A Little More Jayhawker History
(That Your School Books Forgot to Mention)

I found it interesting that, as I perused the Internet out of curiosity to see what sites it might deal with Yankee atrocities in Missouri during the War of Northern Aggression, the first sites that popped up on the search engine dealt with Lawrence, Kansas. Yankee bias on the Internet? Heavens to Betsy! Who who woulda thunk it? It seems that if you are going to discover what mayhem the Yankees committed in Missouri during the war you are first going to have to have a bit of indoctrination as to what Quantrill is supposed to have done in Lawrence, Kansas.
“After the town was pretty much reduced to a mass of broken lumber and bricks, nine local citizens were led to the town square, where they were given a "trial" by a Kangaroo court of Jayhawkers, and were then summarily shot.”

And the accounts of what happened in Lawrence vary in intensity, depending on which Yankee source is passing them along. This is not surprising. On a trip through Kansas once, I ran into a woman who was some sort of local "historian" (hysterian might be closer to it). She raved on about the virtues of John Brown, ignored the excesses of Jennison's Jayhawkers, and then proceeded to inform me that Jeb Stuart was a terrorist! So should the Internet be any different?

James D. Horan, in his book Desperate Men announced of Quantrill's men that they "...sacked Lawrence, Kansas on August 13, 1863, killing one hundred and forty men, women, and children." Although Mr. Horan may well not realize it, the part about Quantrill's men killing women and children is the stuff of what cow chips are made of and as such it belongs back out in the cow pasture with the rest of the bovine excrement. However, Horan does inform us that Quantrill's men burned 185 buildings and five stores. In the movie Ride With the Devil , the first building Quantrill's men are shown burning is the local government school seminary. Maybe the movie's director knew something most Americans don't and that's why his movie was yanked from theaters as quickly as it was.

So, should you decide to poke around on the various Internet sites, you can learn a lot about Lawrence, Kansas, and what took place in that prairie abolitionist heaven. This raid, battle, or whatever you choose to call it, is one thing mentioned in most of the history books that deal with the war to any extent. However, those same "history" books almost never mention Osceola, Missouri. In fact, most folks have probably never heard of that town unless they happen to live in close proximity. Although the "history" books will give you grim accounts of what happened in Lawrence, they will almost totally ignore what took place in Osceola almost two years previous to Lawrence.

On September 23, 1861, Osceola, Missouri, was attacked by Senator James H. Lane and his infamous "Lane's Brigade." This "brigade" was made up of Kansas cavalry and infantry, and was, according to one source "...a ruthless band of Jayhawkers (plundering marauders) wearing United States uniforms. James H. Lane was known as the 'Grim Chieftain' for the death and destruction he brought on the people of Missouri."
"...if Lawrence was terrorism, then what, pray tell, was Osceola? Answers, anyone?"

With Senator Lane, according to Paul Petersen in Quantrill of Missouri, was the Fourth Kansas Jayhawker regiment and the Third Kansas Jayhawker regiment, the latter under the command of that plundering abolitionist preacher, "Colonel" James Montgomery. Although there were no Confederate soldiers anywhere near the town, and hence the town, as such, was no military threat, some of the local residents had the temerity to fire at the Union "soldiers", so Lane ordered the town to be shelled. After the town was pretty much reduced to a mass of broken lumber and bricks, nine local citizens were led to the town square, where they were given a "trial" by a Kangaroo court of Jayhawkers, and were then summarily shot. Petersen informs us that: "Banks were an easy target for the Jayhawkers, but the Osceola bank had prudently shipped its funds elsewhere. When Lane found little currency in the bank, he ordered the stores, warehouses and homes ransacked. His men loaded the loot into government wagons and any other vehicles they could confiscate. Among Lane's personal haul were a number of pianos for his home in Lawrence." Lane's interest in banks seems to have preceeded the interest shown in them by the James Brothers a few years later. And, no doubt, those pianos would have given aid and comfort to the Confederates so they had to be removed!

Then, in a typically Yankee humanitarian gesture, Lane set what remained of the town on fire. Of the 800 buildings in town, only three escaped the flames, and no consideration was given to the political leanings of any of the homeowners. Yankee or Secesh; if you had a home in Osceola, it got torched—simple as that! One might wonder why Quantrill's men, who burned 185 buildings in Lawrence, were given so much covereage while Lane's men, who burned nearly 800 in Osceola, get almost none. You don't suppose there's some historical bias involved here, do you?

The loot these legalized thieves made off with from Osceola included over 300 horses, 400 head of cattle, and 200 kidnapped slaves, along with many sacks of flour, sugar, and coffee. Peterson has reported that: "Eyewitnesses noted that the plunder train of 150 wagons was at least a mile long. Property losses were estimated at more than a million dollars." But you see, all that is okay. As long as you wear a Yankee uniform it's perfectly all right to rob, pillage, and rape (as Sherman's men did in Georgia). It only becomes wrong if those nasty racists in the dirty gray uniforms do it!

An interesting little sidelight to this horrendous affair was the 200 "freed" slaves. Petersen has told us that they "...were taken into Kansas and assigned to work in the fields. Their pay was anything they could steal and carry away from their former owners..." Those Kansas farmers just loved to have those "freed" slaves working their fields, and it was reported later that Senator Lane wanted payment from the farmers for providing them. Why it almost makes that grand humanitarian, Jim Lane, sound like some sort of a slave trader! If one were not convinced of the truth, virtue, and utter nobility of the Yankee cause, such information might almost make these Jayhawkers sound slightly hypocritical—and we can't have that sort of thing floating around out there in the history books now, can we? You might, should you have a suspicious mind, as my Dad accused me of having, almost be tempted to ask the question—When is slavery not slavery? The answer to that question is: "When it's practiced in Kansas and not in Missouri." You all know how it goes. "War is peace," Less is more," and so forth.

And, to top off a grand day for the Jayhawkers, just before Lane's "brigade" left town, most of them got roaring drunk! But, again, that's okay—the Yankee uniform excuses anything—you know: "His truth is marching on" and all that! So should you wonder, there were ample reasons for the Lawrence raid. it was not just a random act of terrorism as has been suggested. And we might well ask the question—if Lawrence was terrorism, then what, pray tell, was Osceola? Answers, anyone?

[Editor's Note: Paul Petersen, author of Quantrill of Missouri: The Making of a Guerrilla Warrior (Nashville: Cumberland House, 2003) notes, contrary to Horan, that there were 85 buildings destroyed, of 300. On p. 292 of Quantrill of Missouri is a map showing Lawrence, Kansas, and the buildings that were destroyed or left standing. (Personal communication, Paul Petersen to MKA, 13 November 2005.)]
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