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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Kansans robbing and plundering

Saturday, February 14, 2009

By early 1864, the Civil War had been waged for almost three years and one might think that the brutality of the war may have convinced the Kansans and Missourians to stop killing each other.

Don't think for one second, because some Kansans had long memories they remembered the murder and mayhem inflicted on their towns, villages, friends and families by the Missourians during the years of Bleeding Kansas. This chaotic time from 1856-1860 preceded the destruction of Lawrence by William C. Quantrill and his guerrillas on Aug. 21, 1863.

Violence begets violence and even though the Union command in the Departments of Kansas and Missouri tried to prevent Kansans from conducting raids of retribution, retaliation and revenge in Missouri, they still occurred with a vengeance. These raids were perpetrated by "Kansas" Redlegs (outlaws), Jayhawkers (civilians and soldiers) and troops.

One must be careful because these terms can and were often confusing because a Kansas soldier could be a Redleg and Jayhawker at the same time! However, the following correspondence describes a raid conducted into Missouri by approximately 40 to 60 Kansas troopers from Co. H. of the 11th Ks. Vol. Cavalry Regiment who were commanded by 2nd Lieut. John W. Ridgeway. All this correspondence is located on Pages 130, 150-151 and 214 in Vol. 34, Part 11, Correspondence of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

"Headquarters District of Central Missouri,

Jefferson, January 22, 1864.

Maj. O. D. Greene,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Dept. of the Missouri;

Major: I have the honor to report that on the 19th instant I received the following dispatch from Lexington:

Kansas troops are in the country robbing the citizens of their property of every description. This company is under the command of Lieutenant Ridgeway and has been stationed in Sibley, (Mo.). (Now that lets the fox in the henhouse!)

R. C. Vaughan

Brigadier General, Enrolled Missouri Militia.

I immediately telegraphed Colonel McFerran at Warrensburg and Captain Meredith at Lexington to send a military force sufficient to arrest the parties, if possible and send them to these headquarters. Colonel McFerran telegraphs me that Ridgeway was in Greenton Valley yesterday carrying on his depredations. If my troops fail in arresting him, I respectfully ask that he be ordered under arrest and sent to these headquarters. If a collision is brought on between the Kansas and Missouri troops it will not be my fault, but it is time that an end was put to their robberies under the cloak of freeing regroes!

E. B. Brown

Brigadier General of Volunteers, Commanding."

"Hdqrs. First Cavalry Division, Missouri State Militia,

(General E. B. Brown)

General: I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy of Captain Meredith's report of the "Ridgeway raid," also copies of Orders Nos. 2, 5 and 18 issued at these headquarters. I have directed Company I to take station between Chapel Hill and Wellington and in connection with Companies C at Chapel Hill, F at Wellington, thoroughly patrol and scout the western boundary of La Fayette. I have stationed Company I at Kingsville, on the western boundary of this county. I have hopes that these arrangements may serve to protect the people of this sub-district from incursions of "Kansas troops and red legs! No other news of interest.

Very Respectfully, your obedient servant,

James McFerren,

1st Cav., Comdg. Sub-Dist. of Central District of Mo."

"Headquarters Post,

Lexington, Mo., January 22, 1864.

Col. James McFerran,

Comdg. 3rd Sub-District, Central District of Missouri:

Colonel: I have the honor to report to you that I left this post on the night of the 20th, in command of part of Companies G and H, 1st Cav., Mo. State Militia and proceeded by way of Wellington up as far as the Jackson County line. I found the citizens greatly alarmed. Some had left their homes for fear of being killed. From what I learned it appears that Lieutenant Ridgeway with from 40 to 60 men, made a raid through this county for no other purpose than to rob and plunder! They commenced their hellish work in the vicinity of Greenton; robbed quite a number of men of money, clothing and watches. They then proceeded to the neighborhood of Renick's near the Jackson County line.

They took from Renick's three yoke of cattle, a valuable gold watch, some $40 in money and quite a number of negroes. They tied one Mr. Musselman's hands behind him and took from him $299 and divided the money in his presence. They committed a great many other outrages too numerous to mention. They came into Greenton on the same day and after my scout, under command of Lieutenant Groomer and Sergeant Atterbury, had left the neighborhood. They had done their devilment and left before I was appraised of their being in the county. Renick and Musselman came into town and in place of reporting to me, reported to General Brown by telegraph. When I found out the Kansas troops had all left the county, I left a part of my command on the line of Jackson County as a patrol, with orders to arrest any parties that might come into La Fayette County and returned to this place by way of Greenton.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

William Meredith

Captain, Commanding Post."

"Hdqrs. 3rd Sub-Dist., Central Dist. of Missouri.

Warrensburg, Mo., February 1, 1864.

General E. B. Brown,

Commanding Central District of Missouri:

General: I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy of Lieut. Col. B. F. Lazer's Report in relation to the condition of affairs on the western boundary of La Fayette County. I have also received a communication from Lieutenant Couch at Chapel Hill, to the effect that small bands of bushwhackers infest the country west of Chapel Hill in Jackson County.

His command fired upon a party of three and captured three horses a few days since; the men escaped.

As directed in your favor of the 28th ultimo, I have enjoined upon all of my command prompt and energetic action for the protection of the lives and property of the citizens. I have no information of incursions of Kansas men since Ridgeway's raid and arrangements have been made that, it is hoped, will prevent such incursions hereafter.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

James McFerran,

Colonel 1st Cavalry, M. S. M., Commanding."

Now then, were Lieutenant Ridgeway and his men ever arrested or punished?

There is no evidence that they were and the Lieutenant and his men served throughout the balance of the war and were discharged with their regiment at the conclusion of the war in 1865.

Did the "arrangements" and precautions of Col. McFerran and the other Union units in the area prevent further "incursions" by "Kansas men" into Missouri?

No, not completely; and the war went on.

Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches