Report of Quantrill's Raid, Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield, 14 Sep 1863

Report of Quantrill's Raid, Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield, 14 Sep 1863  (1863) 
by John M. Schofield


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Saint Louis, Mo., September 14, 1863.

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 western 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 settling 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 2d 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 me in restoring quiet, and in providing for future security. I then sought and obtained an interview with the Hon. J. H. Lane, United States Senator, who was the recognized leader of those engaged in the Paola movement. Mr. Lane explained to me his 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 intrusted 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 enraged 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 desired 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 services 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 modifition (sic), 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 citizen was so bold as 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. No remedy short of destroying the source of their great advantage over our troops could cure the evil.

l 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 it 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 measure 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 has been increased by our advance into Arkansas and the Indian country.

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

J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General.

Col. E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General, Washington, D.C.

Inclosure No. 1.Edit


HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Saint Louis, Mo., September 4, 1863.

The militia of Kansas and Missouri, not in the service of the United States, will be used only for the defense of their respective States. They will not be permitted to pass from one State into the other, without express orders from the district commander. No armed bodies of men, not belonging to the United States troops, or to those portions of Kansas and Missouri which have been placed under the orders of the department commander by the Governors of the respective States, will be permitted, under any pretext whatever, to pass from one State to the other.

By command of Major-General Schofield:

C. W. MARSH, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Inclosure No. 2.Edit

LEAVENWORTH, KANS., August 24, 1863.

Major-General SCHOFIELD, Saint Louis, Mo.:

SIR: Disaster has again fallen on our State. Lawrence is in ashes. Millions of property have been destroyed, and, worse yet, nearly 200 lives of our best citizens have been sacrificed. No fiends in human shape could have acted with more savage barbarity than did Quantrill and his band in their last successful raid. I must hold Missouri responsible for this fearful, fiendish raid. No body of men large as that commanded by Quantrill could have been gathered together without the people residing in Western Missouri knowing everything about it. Such people cannot be considered loyal, and should not be treated as loyal citizens; for while they conceal the movements of desperadoes like Quantrill and his followers, they are, in the worst sense of the word, their aiders and abettors, and should be held equally guilty. There is no way of reaching these armed ruffians while the civilian is permitted to cloak him.

There can be no peace in Missouri, there will be utter desolation in Kansas, unless both are made to feel promptly the rigor of military law. The peace of both States and the safety of the republic demand alike this resolute course of action. I urge upon you, therefore, the adoption of this policy, as the only policy which can save both Western Missouri and Kansas; for if this policy be not immediately adopted, the people themselves, acting upon the common principle of self-defense, will take the matter in their own hands and avenge their own wrongs. You will not misunderstand me. I do not use, or intend to use, any threats. I tell you only what our people almost to a man feel. The excitement over the success of Quantrill is intense--intense all over the State--and I do not see how I can hesitate to demand, or how you can refuse to grant, a court of inquiry by which the cause of that fatal success may be fully investigated, and all the facts laid before the public. I go even further. I demand that this court of inquiry shall have power to investigate all matter touching military wrong-doings in Kansas, and I do this most earnestly, to guarantee alike our present and future safety.

As regards arms, we are destitute. There are none at the fort, and none in the State. I telegraphed the Secretary of War this fact asking him to turn over to me here arms in sufficient quantity to meet our wants. He ordered it done, and replied, further, that anything the Government could do to aid Kansas should be done. This being so, will you not express to me arms for cavalry and infantry sufficient to arm three regiments?

I inclose the copy of the dispatch of the Secretary of War to me, that you may see its purport and understand its spirit.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

THOS. CARNEY, Governor.

Inclosure No. 3.Edit

WASHINGTON, August 24, 1863.

Governor CARNEY:

The order for arms and ammunition requested in your telegram of this morning has been given. They will be turned over on your requisition. Any other aid you require will be given if in the power of the Government.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

Inclosure No. 4.Edit


His Excellency THOMAS CARNEY, Governor of Kansas:

GOVERNOR: I have forwarded a copy of your letter of the 24th to the War Department, and requested the President to appoint a court of inquiry, with full powers to investigate all matters touching military affairs in Kansas, and have urged it strongly. I have no doubt the court will be appointed, and that the responsibility of the sad calamity which has befallen Lawrence will be placed where it properly belongs.

Be assured that nothing in my power shall be omitted to visit just vengeance upon all who are in any way guilty of the horrible crime, and to secure Kansas against anything of the kind in future; meanwhile let me urge upon you the importance of mollifying the just anger of your people, or rather of reconciling them to the necessity and propriety of leaving it to the United States troops to execute the vengeance which they so justly demand.

It needs no argument to convince you of the necessity of this course. Without it there would be no end of retaliation on either side, and utter desolation on both sides of the border would be the result.

Anything you may require in the way of arms for your militia, and complete outfit for your new regiments of volunteers, shall be furnished at once. Immediately upon the receipt of your letter, I ordered 3,000 stand of arms to be shipped to you at once, and to-day have ordered some horses for the Fifteenth Regiment. The arms are not of the best class, but are the very best I have, and are perfectly serviceable.

Permit me to suggest that your militia should be thoroughly organized throughout the State, and that every town should have arms in store, under a small guard, sufficient to arm the militia of the town. The arms can be easily supplied by the General Government. Without such organization, no town in Missouri or Kansas near the border is safe, unless it be occupied by United States troops, and to occupy them all, you will perceive, is utterly impossible with the force under my command.

To entirely prevent the assemblage of such bands of desperate outlaws as that under Quantrill in the summer season is simply impossible without five times my present force. In a State like Kansas, where everybody is loyal, such a state of things could not exist; but when half or more of the people are disloyal of all shades, as in Western Missouri, and consequently cannot be permitted to carry arms, whether willingly or unwillingly, they are the servants of these brigands, and are entirely at their mercy. If they resist their demands or inform upon them, it is at the peril of their lives. I do not wish to extenuate in any degree the crimes of those who are responsible for these inhuman acts; they shall suffer the fullest penalty; but I simply state what, at a moment's reflection, will convince you are facts, to show the necessity for full preparation on your part to assist me in preventing the recurrence of any calamity like that which befell Lawrence.

I am informed that a meeting was held in Leavenworth a few days ago, in which it was resolved that the people should meet at Paola, on the 8th of September, for the purpose of entering Missouri to recover their stolen property. If this were the only result of such expedition, or if their vengeance could be limited to those who are actually guilty, there would be no objection to it; but it is a simple matter of course that the action of such an irresponsible organization of enraged citizens would be indiscriminate retaliation upon innocent and guilty alike. You cannot expect me to permit anything of this sort. My present duty requires me to prevent it at all hazards, and by all the means in my power. But I hope a few days of reflection will show the popular leaders in Kansas the folly and wickedness of such retaliation, and cause them to be abandoned.

I shall confidently rely upon your powerful influence to prevent any such action on the part of the people of Kansas as will force me into the painful position of having to oppose them in any degree, particularly by force.

Be assured, Governor, of my earnest desire to do all in my power to promote the peace and security of Kansas. I shall be glad at all times to know your views and wishes touching your State.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General.

Inclosure No. 5.Edit

LEAVENWORTH, KANS., September 3, 1863.

Maj. Gen. JOHN M. SCHOFIELD, Commanding Department of the Missouri:

SIR: The brutal outrages committed upon the unoffending and unarmed citizens of Lawrence by Quantrill and his band have not only aroused every man in the State, but shocked the whole country. The wish of both is that the doers of these bloody deeds--their aiders and abettors---shall be steadily pursued and surely punished, for there can be no safety in the present or the future while these miscreants are permitted to live.

The 9th day of this month, by order of your district commander, is the day fixed upon to begin this summary punishment. That this punishment may be swift and sure, I offer you any forces at my command. You have promptly sent me a sufficient quantity of arms to meet the wants of the State. With these arms in their hands, and organized, our citizens can repel any raid which brutal marauders like Quantrill and his band may attempt, or punish, instantly and severely, those who shall aid or abet them. I have confidence only in organized action, and, satisfied both of your ability to lead our forces and your resolve to punish the guilty, I shall be happy to place the military of the State at your disposal.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

THOS. CARNEY, Governor.

Inclosure No. 6.Edit

KANSAS CITY, MO., September 3, 1863.

His Excellency THOMAS CARNEY, Governor of Kansas:

GOVERNOR: I am in receipt of your letter of this morning. I fully sympathize with your feeling of anxiety to give security to the Kansas border, and to avenge on the rebels in Missouri the unparalleled atrocities of the Lawrence massacre. My forces in Missouri and Kansas having been greatly reduced by reenforcements sent to Generals Grant, Steele, and Blunt, I am glad to avail myself of your offer of a part of the Kansas militia to aid the United States forces in this district.

With the chief towns on the eastern border of Kansas garrisoned by the militia of the State, and with two regiments of volunteers, which I have lately ordered to reenforce the troops already in the district, the military authorities will be able not only to execute the orders for the expulsion of disloyal persons, but also to pursue and destroy the guerrilla bands which have so long ravaged the border.

For the purpose named, I will accept the services of so many companies of militia as may be deemed necessary by you and the district commander to protect the towns referred to.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General.


This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.