Today in History:

General Schofield's Summary of Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence Kansas

Enclosures to the summary report below.


COLONEL: I have the honor to forward herewith, for the information of the General-in-Chief, Brigadier-General Ewing's report of the burning of Lawrence, Kans., and massacre of its inhabitants, and of the operations of his troops in the pursuit and punishment of the rebels and assassins who committed the atrocious deed.

Immediately after his return from the pursuit of Quantrill, on the 25th of August, General Ewing issued an order depopulating certain counties, and destroying all forage and subsistence therein. The reasons which led him to adopt this severe measure are given in his report.

The people of Kansas were, very naturally, intensely excited over the destruction of one of their fairest towns, and the murder of a large number of its unarmed citizens, and many of them called loudly for vengeance, not only upon the perpetrators of the horrible crime, but also upon all the people residing in the counties of Missouri, and who were assumed to be more or less guilty of aiding the criminals. It would be greatly unjust to the people of Kansas, in general, to say that they shared in this desire for indiscriminate vengeance; but there were not wanting unprincipled leaders to fan the flame of popular excitement and goad the people to madness, in the hope of thereby accomplishing their own selfish ends.

On the 26th of August, a mass meeting was held in the city of Leavenworth, at which it was resolved that the people should meet at Paola, on the 8th of September, armed and supplied for a campaign of fifteen days, for the purpose of entering Missouri to search for their stolen property and retaliate upon the people of Missouri for the outrages committed in Kansas. This meeting was addressed by some of the leading men of Kansas in the most violent and inflammatory manner, and the temper of these leaders and of their followers was such that there seemed to be great danger of an indiscriminate slaughter of the people in western missouri, or of a collision with the troops, under General Ewing, in their efforts to prevent it. Under these circumstances, I determined to visit Kansas and Western missouri, for the purpose of setting the difficulty, if possible, and also for the purpose of gaining more accurate information of the condition of the border counties of Missouri, and thus making myself able to judge of the wisdom and necessity of the severe measures which had been adopted by General Ewing.

I arrived at Leavenworth City on the 2nd of September, and obtained an interview with the Governor of the State and other prominent citizens. I found the Governor and his supporters opposed to all unauthorized movement on the part of the people of Kansas, and willing to co-operate with men in restoring quiet, and in providing for future security. I then sought and obtained an interview with the Honorable J. H. Lane, United States Senator, who was the recognized leader of those engaged in the Paola movements. Mr. Lane explained to me hi views of the necessity, as he believed, of making a large portion of Western Missouri a desert waste, in order that Kansas might be secure against future invasion. He proposed to tender to the district commander the services of all the armed citizens of Kansas to aid in executing this policy. This, I informed him, was impossible; that whatever measures of this kind it might be necessary to adopt must be executed by United States troops; that irresponsible citizens could not be instructed with the discharge of such duties. He then insisted that the people who might assemble at Paola should be permitted to enter Missouri "in search of their stolen property," and desired to place them under my command, he (General Lane) pledging himself that they should strictly confine themselves to such search, abstaining entirely from all unlawful acts. General Lane professed entire confidence in his ability to control, absolutely, the engaged citizens who might volunteer in such enterprise. I assured Mr. Lane that nothing would afford me greater pleasure than to do all in my power to assist the outraged and despoiled people to recover their property, as well as to punish their despoilers; but that the search proposed would be fruitless, because all the valuable property which had not already been recovered from those of the robbers who had been slain had been carried by the others far beyond the border counties, and that I had not the slightest faith in his ability to control a mass of people who might choose to assemble under a call which promised the finest possible opportunity for plunder. General Lane desire me to consider the matter fully, and inform him, as soon as possible, of my decision, saying if I decided not to allow the people the "right" which they claimed, he would appeal to the President. It was not difficult to discover that so absurd a proposition as that of Mr. Lane could not have been made in good faith, nor had I much difficulty in detecting the true object which was proposed to be accomplished; which was to obtain, if possible, my consent to accept the service of all who might meet at Paola, and take them into Missouri under my command, when I, of course, would be held responsible for the murder and robbery which must necessarily ensue.

I soon became satisfied that, notwithstanding Mr. Lane's assertion to the contrary, he had no thought of trying to carry out his scheme in opposition to my orders, and that the vast majority of the people of Kansas were entirely opposed to any such movement. On the 4th of September I published an order, a copy of which is inclosed, prohibiting armed men, not in the military service, from passing from one State into the other, and sent a sufficient force along the State line to enforce the order against any who might be disposed to disobey it. The people quietly acquiesced. The Paola meeting, which had promised to be of gigantic proportions, dwindled down to a few hundred people, who spent a rainy day in listening to speeches and passing resolutions relative to the Senator from Kansas and the commander of the Department of the Missouri.

I inclose copies of correspondence with Governor Carney, showing the measures which have been adopted to place the State in a condition to protect itself against such raids as that made against Lawrence. These measures, together with those which are being carried out in Western Missouri, will, I believe, place beyond possibility any such disaster in future.

Not the least of the objects of my visit to the border was to see for myself the condition of the border counties, and determine what modification, if any, ought to be made in the policy which General Ewing had adopted. I spent several days in visiting various points in the counties affected by General Ewing's order, and in conversing with the people of all shades of politics who are most deeply affected by the measures adopted, I became fully satisfied that the order depopulating certain counties, with the exception of specified districts, was wise and necessary. That portion of the order which directed the destruction of property I did not approve, and it was modified accordingly.

The evil which exists upon the border of Kansas and Missouri is somewhat different in kind and far greater in degree than in other parts of Missouri. It is the old border hatred intensified by the rebellion and by the murders, robberies, and 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 and people. The effect of this has been to render it impossible for any man who openly avowed and maintained his loyalty to the 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 word or acts in opposition to the rebellion at the peril of their lives. All were practically enemies of the Government and friends of the rebel guerrillas. The latter found no difficulty in supplying their commissariat wherever they went, and, what was of vastly greater importance to them, they obtained prompt and accurate information of every movement of our troops, while no citizens was so bold as to give us information of every movement of our troops, while no citizen was so bold as to give us information in regard to the guerrillas. In a country remarkably well adopted 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. No remedy short of destroying the source of their great advantage over our troops could cure the evil.

I did not approve of the destruction of property, at first contemplated by General Ewing, for two reasons, viz: I believe the end can be accomplished without it, and cannot be done in a reasonable time so effectually as to very much embarrass the guerrillas.

The country is full of hogs and cattle, running in the woods, and of potatoes in the ground and corn in the field, which cannot be destroyed or moved in a reasonable time.

I hope the time is not far distant when the loyal people can return in safety to their homes, and when those vacated by rebels will be purchased and settled by people who are willing to live in peace with their neighbors on both sides of the line.

The measures which has been adopted seems a very harsh one; but, after the fullest examination and consideration of which I am capable, I am satisfied it is wise and humane. It was not adopted hastily, as a consequence of the Lawrence massacre. The subject had long been discussed between General Ewing and myself, and its necessity recognized as at least probable. I had determined to adopt the milder policy of removing all families known to be connected with or in sympathy with the guerrillas, and had commenced its execution before the raid upon Lawrence. The utter impossibility of deciding who were guilty and who innocent, and the great danger of retaliation by the guerrillas upon those who should remain, were the chief reasons for adopting the present policy. In executing it, a liberal test of loyalty is adopted. Persons who come to the military posts and claim protection as loyal citizens are not turned away without perfectly satisfactory evidence of disloyalty. It is the first opportunity which those people have had since the war began of openly proclaiming their attachment to the Union, without fear of rebel vengeance.

It is possible that General Ewing might have done more than he did do to guard against such a calamity as that at Lawrence; but I believe he is entitled to great credit for the energy, wisdom, and zeal displayed while in command of that district. The force at his command was larger, it is true, than in other portions of the department, yet it was small for the service required - necessarily so, as will be readily understood when it is considered how much my troops have been reduced by re-enforcements sent to Generals Grant, Rosecrans, Steele, and Blunt, and how much the territory to be occupied had been increased by our advance into Arkansas and the Indian country.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,