General Order No. 11

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Video: Order #11

Sunflower Journeys, produced by Public Television Station KTWU in Topeka, KS showcases the Order #11 experience.

Martial Law, Order Number 11, painted in 1868 by George Bingham
“Martial Law, Order No. 11” by George C. Bingham, 1868. Photo courtesy of State Historical Society of Missouri.

A Collection of Quotes About Order No. 11

By September 9, two weeks after it was signed into law, the words composing Order No. 11 had been carried out, as one Federal officer put it, “to the letter.” Added a Kansas soldier:

The border counties of Missouri have almost as desolate an appearance as before the soil was trod by the white man. Not a man, woman or child is to be seen in the country to which Order No. 11 applies….Chimneys mark the spot where once stood costly farm houses, cattle and hogs are fast destroying large fields of corn, prairie fires are burning up miles of good fencing every day or two, and turn which way you will, everything denotes a state of utter desolation and ruin.

“General Order No. 11 was perhaps the harshest act of the U.S. government against its own people in American history.” -Black Flag. (Guerilla Warfare on the Western Border, 1861-1865. Thomas Goodrich)

“Order No. 11 was the most drastic and repressive military measure directed against civilians by the Union Army during the Civil War.” -Albert Castel. (Order No. 11 and the Civil War on the Border. Mo Historical Review. July 1963 pp.357-368. Vol. LVII, No. 4)

George C. Bingham to Thomas Ewing, “If you persist in executing that order, I will make you infamous with pen and brush as far as I am able.”

Bingham justifies his painting of Order #11:

The lawless instruments of tyranny, who despoiled my neighbors, burned their dwellings, and drove them forth to wander as impoverished exiles upon the earth, perpetrated their crimes in the garb both of soldiers and citizens, and literally adhering to truth, I have thus presented them upon my canvas. In doing this, no honest citizen complains that I have traduced him or his class, nor do I fear that such a complaint will ever be lodged against me by any soldier who has maintained a character untarnished by crime. But this stupendous crime, involving all others of lesser magnitude, and perpetrated by the authorities of Government against large communities of citizens living in obedience to its laws, becomes an essential and characteristic part of the history of a recreant administration, and, as such, must go down to posterity, teaching the important lesson that Constitutions and Laws, however carefully framed, are no guarantees of the rights of a people when their public affairs are committed to the hands of unworthy and treacherous agents.

General Order № 11.
Headquarters District of the Border,
Kansas City, August 25, 1863.

1. All persons living in Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties, Missouri, and in that part of Vernon included in this district, except those living within one mile of the limits of Independence, Hickman’s Mills, Pleasant Hill, and Harrisonville, and except those in that part of Kaw Township, Jackson County, north of Brush Creek and west of Big Blue, are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days from the date hereof.
Those who within that time establish their loyalty to the satisfaction of the commanding officer of the military station near their present place of residence will receive from him a certificate stating the fact of their loyalty, and the names of the witnesses by whom it can be shown. All who receive such certificates will be permitted to remove to any military station in this district, or to any part of the State of Kansas, except the counties of the eastern border of the State. All others shall remove out of the district. Officers commanding companies and detachments serving in the counties named will see that this paragraph is promptly obeyed.

2. All grain and hay in the field or under shelter, in the district from which inhabitants are required to remove, within reach of military stations after the 9th day of September next, will be taken to such stations and turned over to the proper officers there and report of the amount so turned over made to district headquarters, specifying the names of all loyal owners and amount of such product taken from them. All grain and hay found in such district after the 9th day of September next, not convenient to such stations, will be destroyed.

3. The provisions of General Order No. 10 from these headquarters will be at once vigorously executed by officers commanding in the parts of the district and at the station not subject to the operations of paragraph 1 of this order, and especially the towns of Independence, Westport and Kansas City.

4. Paragraph 3, General Order No. 10 is revoked as to all who have borne arms against the Government in the district since the 20th day of August, 1863.

By order of Brigadier General Ewing.
H. Hannahs, Adjt.-Gen’l.