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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City

Battlefield Dispatches #27

Evil on the Border

In the spring & summer of 1863 the “Guerrilla War” in Missouri & Kansas accelerated and numerous atrocities were committed by “Kansas Redlegs” & “Missouri Bushwhackers”. The Union soldiers called Missouri the “Land of Misery” & believed that it and it’s citizens were the ENEMY that should be conquered and occupied. Missouri was never completely conquered or occupied & it’s citizens of the “Southern Persuasion” remained defiant & their spirit unbroken (some to this very day)!

By July & early August of 1863, the Union army recognized that the ENEMY CIVILIANS were a constant source of supplies, food and shelter for the Confederate guerrillas, especially those in the western counties that bordered Kansas. Union Major General J. M. Schofield (no relation) commanded the Department of the Missouri that included Kansas & described the conditions on the Mo. / Ks. Border and a possible solution as follows:

The EVIL which exists upon the border of Kansas & Missouri is somewhat different in kind and far greater in degree than in other parts of Missouri. IT IS THE OLD HATRED INTENSIFIED BY THE REBELLION AND BY THE MURDERS, ROBBERIES & ARSON which have characterized the IRREGULAR WARFARE carried on during the early periods of the rebellion, NOT ONLY BY THE REBELS, BUT BY OUR OWN TROOPS & PEOPLE! The effect of this has been to render it impossible for any man who openly avowed and maintained his loyalty to the [U. S.] government to live in the border counties of Missouri outside of military posts. A large majority of the people remaining were OPEN REBELS, while the remainder were compelled to abstain from any words or acts of opposition to the rebellion at the PERIL OF THEIR LIVES. All were practically enemies of the government & friends of the rebel guerrillas. The latter found no difficulty in supplying their commissary wherever they went & what was of vastly greater importance to them, they obtained prompt & accurate information of every movement of our troops while no citizen was so bold to give us information in regard to the guerrillas. In a country remarkably well adapted by nature for guerrilla warfare, with all the inhabitants practically the FRIENDS of the GUERRILLAS, it has been found IMPOSSIBLE to rid the country of such ENEMIES. At no time during the WAR have these counties been free from them (guerrillas). NO REMEDY SHORT OF DESTROYING the SOURCE of their great advantage over our troops could CURE THIS EVIL.

John M. Schofield (National Archives)

The “Source of their great advantage” was the southern civilians and their respective aid to the Confederate guerrillas. To destroy this source the Union forces issued a series of orders that were implemented & forcibly complied with. On August 18, 1863; General Orders # 10 was issued & enforced in the District of the Border. This ordered the “REMOVAL & BANISHMENT of both LOYAL (for their own protection) & ENEMY CIVILIANS & their personal property from the counties within the “District of the Border” & the DESTRUCTION of specified property. Significant sections of this order are as follows:

II. Such officers will arrest and send to the district provost –marshal for PUNISHMENT, ALL MEN (AND ALL WOMEN NOT HEADS OF FAMILIES) who willfully AID & ENCOURAGE GUERRILLAS, with a written statement of the names & residences of such persons & of PROOF against them. They will discriminate as carefully as possible between those who are compelled by threats or fears, to aid the rebels & those who aid them from DISLOYAL MOTIVES. The wives and children of known guerrillas, & also women who are heads of families & are willfully engaged in aiding guerrillas, WILL BE NOTIFIED by such officers to REMOVE out of this district and out of the State of Missouri forthwith. They will be permitted to take UNMOLESTED, their stock, provisions & household goods. If they FAIL to remove PROMPTLY, they will be sent, under escort, to Kansas City for shipment South, with their clothes & such necessary household furniture and provision as may be worth REMOVING.

III. Persons who have borne arms against the Government & voluntarily lay them down & surrender will be BANISHED, with their families to such State or district out of this department & will remain there.

IV. No officer or enlisted man, without special instructions from these headquarters, will BURN or DESTROY any buildings, fences, crops or other property, but ALL FURNACES & FFIXTURES of BLACKSMITH SHOPS in that part of Missouri in this district not at military stations will be DESTROYED & the tools either removed to such military stations or destroyed.

The enforcement of this order was harsh, but it was mild in comparison to Order # 11 that was issued as a reprisal for Quantrill’s visit to Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863 both of which will be the subject of the next (2) columns.        

Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
4125 NW Willow DR
Kansas City, MO 64116

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