Union North on the MO/KS Border

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Video: Secession Flag Captured in Austin, MO

Kansas State History Museum Curator, Blair Tarr, talks about the Kansas Union troops capture of the 13-foot secession flag at Austin, Cass County in June 1861.

Following the Confederate victory on August 10 at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek near Springfield, 600 Union soldiers under Sen. Jim Lane lost a limited battle at Dry Wood Creek in Vernon County as Confederate Gen. Sterling Price’s men moved north.

Gen. Lane, encamped at West Point, sent 600 men to attack Morristown where southerners were recruiting for Price. Both sides lost a few men, but Lane issued a proclamation giving Missouri citizens two options. They could either lay down their arms and seek protection or “the stern visitations of war will be meted out to the rebels and their allies.” (Liberty Tribune. Oct. 4, 1861. Front Page)

After crossing the Missouri border at Trading Post, Kansas on September 10, Lane began an offensive moving East on Butler, Harrisonville, Osceola, and Clinton, Missouri. On September 26, his brigade burned the town of Osceola to the ground, and executed nine local citizens. Osceola was plundered with Lane’s men taking 350 horses and 200 slaves, 400 cattle, 3,000 bags of flour, and quantities of supplies from all the town shops and stores as well as carriages and wagons. The hatred thus engendered would contribute to the retaliatory 1863 raid on Lane’s stronghold of Lawrence, KS.

The raids, lootings, burnings, and murders by members of the Kansas 7th Cavalry, mostly under the guidance of Daniel R. Anthony, terrorized western Missouri and did more than any one thing to drive men to fight for the southern cause. “On the march to West Point from Independence, they burnt over thirty dwellings and killed – the proper term is murdered – ten or a dozen people.” (Daily Missouri Republican. Jan. 16, 1862. P. 2, Col 3.)The 7th KS camped in Morristown from late Dec. 1861 to January 1862. The troops foraged the countryside for hay, fencing to burn for warmth, food, horses, mules and wagons, none of which were paid for. For six weeks they exceeded military order and practiced revenge, murder and punishment with lists generated from the Border War era. The towns of Dayton and Columbus were burned to the ground. (Caught Between Three Fires. Tom Rafiner, pp 122 – 169.)

On Jan 31, 1862, the KS regiment removed to Humboldt, KS. But the indiscriminate killing of civilians without due process of law changed the nature and context of the war in western Missouri. And Anthony’s policy of the theft for profit regardless of political sympathies drove many moderates to the southern cause. Without the rule of law, those outside the law provided the only protection for many. Local men flocked into the arms of the bushwhackers in 1862.

Normally an un-provisioned command the size of the 7th KS Cavalry would take only the forage and food necessary to subsist. But “Anthony’s regiment targeted all Cass County citizens, regardless of allegiance. The regiment introduced a level of chaos and terror new to the War in western Missouri. (Caught Between Three Fires, Rafiner, p. 123.)

When the Kansas 7th Cavalry abandoned Cass County, Jan. 31, 1862, they left behind devastation. From a review of about one-fourth of the war claims filed, Anthony’s command destroyed and stole $1,667,985 in property which in 2010 dollars would equal 3.7 million dollars. And that is only reported losses. (Caught Between Three Fires. Rafiner. P. 156.)

A mural on the Harrisonville, MO Square illustrates Jennison’s raid on the HW Younger dry goods store and livery stable in July 1861. The Jayhawks stole $20,000 worth of wagons, horses and goods from Cole Younger’s father. They also looted every store on the Square and carted the booty back to Kansas.