Civil War Looms: Searing The
Frank Yerby: A Victim’s Guilt
Episode One: The Fugitive Slave Law Click Here
Episode Two: The Underground Railroad Click Here]
Episode Three: Enslaving Kansas Click Here
Episode Four: Another Death In The Family Click Here
EPISODE FIVE: BLEEDING KANSAS
No season is more beautiful in Washington than spring. And
there is no journey more pleasant in the nation’s capitol than the one taken by
Congressman Preston Brooks up
Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol building. But a pleasant drive on a spring day was not what the grim-faced congressman from South Carolina had on his mind. At the Capitol steps, Brooks leapt from his carriage and grasping his heavy metal-tipped walking stick, dashed inside. Looking neither to the right nor to the left, Congressman Brooks strode over to the Senate chambers and pushed through the heavy doors right onto the Senate floor.
The Senate was in recess but the senate chambers hummed with activity. Several senators milled about and engaged in discussions. Others sat at their desks, busily attending to their daily correspondence. Once inside, Brooks paused looking about the Senate floor until he spotted Lawrence Keitt, the junior senator from South Carolina. They nodded to each other. Not only were Brooks and Keitt, both, from South Carolina, but they even boasted of distant family ties. Today these two sound on the goose fire eaters intended to demonstrate how Southern pride exerts itself when riled.
The South had intended that Kansas be annexed into the Union as a slave state. Today the South would demonstrate to the entire country what would happen to anyone daring to
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opposed Southern will in this matter. Charles Sumner, the junior senator from Massachusetts, had vociferously denounced Southern intentions towards Kansas. Congrssman Preston Brooks had come to the Senate chamber to demand satisfaction from Senator Sumner for his insulting remarks. The honor of the south was at stake. Brooks spied Charles Sumner sitting at his desk busily replying to the correspondence stacked on his desk. Intruding directly upon the Massachusetts senator, Congressman Brooks says: “I have read your speech ‘Crime Against Kansas’ twice, sir.” Brooks hovers menacingly over the seated man. Sumner looks up wondering who it is that is breaking protocol. There are rules against intruding upon a senator at his desk. “You have libeled South Carolina and the good name of my uncle, Judge Butler,” Brooks shouts.
Sumner turns to get a better view of who is speaking. But not waiting for Sumner’s reply, Brooks raises his heavy metal-tipped cane and strikes Sumner a vicious blow to the head. The force of the blow lifts the surprised senator half out of his seat. The junior senator from Massachuusetts is unconscious even before his body collapses to the floor. A four-inch wound in Sumner’s head gushes blood. The wound is ugly, the kind that indicates that Sumner’s skull might be fractured.
But the congressman from South Carolina is not satisfied. Brooks leaps over Sumner’s prostrate body and began beating him so severely that, at last, the cane, itself, breaks across the senator’s bleeding back.
While Brooks savagely beats Senator Charles Sumner, Senator Lawrence Keitt draws his own cane, threatening any senator bold enough to interfere. At last, Senator John Crittenden of Kentucky pushes Keitt aside and seizes Brooks, preventing the South Carolina congressman from inflicting further injury on the unconscious Charles Sumner ___ or so it appeared.
Charles Sumner offended Congressman Preston Brooks and Senator Lawrence Keit by entering into the Congressional Record a descriptions of assaults the Missouri border ruffians have made upon on free state homesteaders in Kansas. It was no secret that the Democratic Party was behind the campaign of terror and intimidation against the northerner homesteaders. Sumner charged pro-slavery forces with using border ruffians and vigilantes to murder homesteaders and steal their land. “The Democrates are intent on driving free staters out of Kansas,” Sumner charged. Brook and Keitt were offended by Sumner’s charge that Southern planters hired white trash to do their dirty work. Brook and Keitt wanted demonstrate the Southern gentlemen could take matters into their own hands whereever honor was a consideration. And they decided to teach Charles Sumner ___ and any other northerner with the temerity to interfere with the Southern way of life ____ a lesson. For three months, Charles Sumner lingered between life and death. Even after he stabilized, a year would elapse before the senator from Massachusetts could leave his hospital bed. More than three years would pass before he returned to the Senate floor. But return, he did!
The Fire-Eaters’ assault on Charles Sumner occurred on May 22, 1856, the day after Quantrill’s vigilantes sacked Lawrence for the first, but not the last time. News of the outrage reverberates all over the United States. Americans get a glimpse of what the Democratic Party and its pro-slavery leadership plan for the country. More importantly, Americans see that the issue of slavery had very little to do with race, but everything to do with the power to dominate. The attack on Charles Sumner made abolitionists and free staters even more determined to resist the law and order party’s plans to make Kansas a slave state.
Northerners who willingly tolerated daily assaults on blacks, both slave and free, now discover that a white skin is no guarantee against the vigilante violence. Even though the pro-slavery Democrats controlled both houses of Congress as well the White House, Southerners preferred violence to negotiation. Glorying in slaughter, pitiless for any but their own, devoid of intelligence, corrupt with power, the vicious Southern spirit masquerading as “chivalry” found violence rather than votes a surer and more satisfying method of achieving their ambitions.
The sacking of Lawrence and beating of Charles Sumner galvanized anti-slavery opinion in the North. The Albany Evening-Herald reflected the opinion of Northern abolitionists:
“This attack carries home a more vivid understanding of what the Free States have consented for years to live under. The degradation was as real years ago, but never so much as now. But the North has always lacked manly self-assertion, especially in the
Senate, where a majority of the representatives voted, only a few weeks ago, to reject the petition of Free Kansas for admission and surrender her citizens to the unchecked brutalities and inflamed indignation of the Border Ruffians.”
Good people from every religious faith and civic affiliation came to a common understanding of the seriousness of the threat to a free America. These incidents left no doubt that the Democratic Party preferred to rule the American society by repression, terrorism and intimidation. They did not mean to strip personal liberties, and the right to life, only from wild Indians, ignorant Africans and lazy Mexicans, they planned to suppress the freethinking, ambitious whites settlers, as well!. Decent white citizens everywhere began to answer the call for a free and open society unshackled from the despotic, mason-dominated Democratic Party. Hundreds of young, idealistic men and women responded to the challenge. They came from colleges, from professional occupations, from churches, from secure and comfortable families. They came determined to fight for liberty on the cold, dreary Kansas plains, determined to win a free America in their frontier settlements.
After the sacking of Lawrence, the Democratic Party ordered the vigilantes to impose a blockade. No free state settlements were pernitted within a twenty-five mile radius of Lawrence. No supplies or people were allowed in or out of Lawrence. It took but a short while before the homesteaders were starving. There was hardly a grain of cereal or a drop of milk within twenty miles. Inside Lawrence, here and there people could be seen sifting through burned-out buildings and rubble-strewn streets. They searched the debris and garbage heaps, some looking for lost mementos or lost treasures, but most were just looking for something to eat.
An amiable soft-spoken man picks his way through Lawrence’s rubble to a single story office building in the middle of the town square. It is one of Lawrence’s few undamaged edifices. The Reverend Cordley knows that no supplies have gotten through the blockade, but he promised his elders that he would inquire. Seeking to avoid looking into the listless, hungry eyes of the children and their parents waiting outside the mayor’s office, the pastor of the Congregational Church edges past the crowd and pushes through the door into the rather drab frontier office of Mayor Stoddard Hoyt.
“Reverend Cordley,” the mayor says with genuine warmth, “please have a seat. How can I help you, my friend?”
“Mayor Hoyt,” the minister replies timidly, “my elders want to know if you have any news.”
“Yes, Reverend, we have had some word,” Stoddard Hoyt announces. “Ellen Collins and her two boys are organizing a collection effort. They have sent word from Topeka that free staters from all over are coming to help.”
“But we need food,” the pastor almost begs.
“Yes, I know,” Mayor Hoyt replies.“They sent out wagons, twice. They didn’t get through. Now Ellen and her boys are organizing a larger wagon train. They hope to get some support from the free staters coming from the North.”
“But my people want to know when.” Reverend Cordley pushes. He knows the mayor is doing everything he can. This meeting serves no purpose. But the minister is doing what he promised he would do.
“We are doing all we can, Reverend,” Lawrence’s mayor sighs staring out his office window. “Recruits and supplies are collecting in Topeka. It is just a matter of time before they arrive.”
At least that is what Mayor Stoddard Hoyt prays for. He sent Jim Lane’s militia and Ellen Collins and her “boys,” Frank and Shields and a number of other armed citizen’s groups out to bring supplies back. These groups could easily be bested by the vigilantes so it was necessary for them to avoid all encounters at all costs.The Democratic Party were pressuring the border ruffians to drive the free staters out of Lawrence by starving them out if necessary, just as Charles Sumner had charged in the United States senate. Mayor Hoyt stares at the ramshackle, burned-out buildings that were once a great hotel and two bustling newspaper offices. He surveys the rubble that once were homes. But before he can turn his eyes away from the desolation, the mayor notices a cloud of dust rising up in the west.
“Oh, my God,” the Quaker gasps, “here they come again!” Panic seizes Hoyt. The mayor
whose piety had been severely tested is about to fall to his knees before noticing the broad grin on Reverend Cordley’s beaming face. The mayor takes another second look at the dust rising in the West. The dust is being kicked up by covered wagons pulled by lumbering oxen. The long wagon train slowly rolls into Lawrence bring homesteaders and supplies. Some are from Topeka and others directly from Iowa. Up the street the wagons roll right into the center of town. The mayor and the preacher join the crowd of cheering townspeople gathering from everywhere. Ellen Collins, Frank Yerby and Shields Green ride in the lead wagon. Jim Lane’s militia accompanies the wagons. Actually Lane’s militia joined the wagon train barely a mile outside of Lawrence.
“We are so happy that you made it back safely,” Mayor Hoyt beams up at Ellen. He has to shout so great is the noise, laughter and excitement. The people celebrate; the famine is over. People crowd about Ellen, trying to thank her for the food.
“Where did you find all these settlers and all these provisions?” Hoyt asks.
“These are free state homesteaders coming into Kansas from all over North,” Ellen replies “Many more are in the way.”
The following day Ellen speaks to her repudiation committee. “Hundreds of free state people are pouring into Kansas every day. The bushwhackers are attacking some of them but many of others are getting through.”
“Its just a matter of time before the vigilantes kill us all,” one committeman says.
“Some of the homesteaders are fighting back,” Ellen says. “Some are even winning. One group is led by John Brown and his sons emare attacking pro-slavery vigilantes whereever they find them.”
“Then why aren’t they coming into Lawrence?” asks Tom Boone.
“The vigilantes have forts. This is how they’re keeping settlers and supplies out of Lawrence,” says Jim Lane. “The vigilantes are riding patrols out of forts at Franklin, Saunders and Titus. Their patrols attack anyone heading towards Lawrence. The only homesteaders getting through head for Topeka.”
“Possibly we should all go to Topeka,” Mayor Hoyt suggests.
Some members of the committee like the idea. But a few including Ellen are shocked.
“After all we have suffered and all the lives that have been lost, how can we even consider giving up?” Ellen scolds.
“I agree,” says Brett Falks, another committee member. Falks had invested a consider-
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able fortune in borrowed money in his dry goods store. The vigilantes were not content with robbing him, they burned down his three buildings as well. Falks had all but decided to pack up the few belongings remaining to him and return home to New York. But to do so meant that he would not only be penniless but overwhelmed by a mountain of debt. So Falks decides to remain in Lawrence.
“The only reason they have not attacked Topeka,” Yerby says, “is because they want Lawrence first. Once they have driven us out of Lawrence, they will concentrate on Topeka. After that, there will be no place in Kansas where free state homesteaders will be safe.”
“But we are not safe here,” says the committeeman who favors abandoning Lawerence.
“It is true that we are not safe here,” Ellen agrees. “But because Lawrence has remained steadfast, Topeka has grown and thrived. Because of Lawrence, hundreds of good men and women are building a free Kansas.”
“That’s very noble,” Jim Lane observes, “but as long as those bushwhackers are safe
behind their stockades, they are free to attack any free stater in the vicinity of Lawrence. Those forts must be destroyed if you want to lift the blockade.”
No one spoke.The idea of attacking anyone was morally disagreeable to most of the committee. But despite their beliefs, the choice was clear. Parents could watch their children starve; homesteaders could be murdered or driven off their land. On the other hand, they could drive the vigilantes out of their forts.
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“Many of the young men who came into Lawrence with that wagon train are more than willing to fight,” Lane continues. “We still have some Sharp’s rifles. All we need is the will ___ the will to defend yourselves; the will to defend your loved ones. My men are ready.”
The debate rages far into the night; but in the end the decision was unanimous. They would not abandon Lawrence to the law and order vigilantes; they decided to destroy the forts. Lawrence’s repudiation committee authorized Jim Lane to prepare the assault. However, Mayor Hoyt requested that he be allowed to arrange a settlement with the vigilantes. Hoyt wanted to avoid any unnecessary bloodshed by giving the bushwhackers an opportunity to vacate the forts voluntarily.
“If you announce that we are coming,” Lane argues, “you take away our advantage of surprise.”
“I absolutely refuse to condone any attack against those forts before giving those men an opportunity to surrender beforehand,” Hoyt insists. “ And since you will not be prepared to march for several days,” the mayor tells Lane, “I should have ample time to convince the vigilantes to vacate those forts.”
After Louise’s death, Frank and Ellen took a trip to Boston sponsored by the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society. Ellen spoke to a group at Fanueil Hall describing the harsh, brutal conditions of Kansas life and the courage with which the free state homesteaders face vigilante terrorism. Ellen’s descriptions of conditions in Kansas did more to recruit emigrants than any of the lurid newspaper accounts of the fighting and dying in what was being called “Bleeding Kansas .” Not only her depictions, but own personal bravery inspired men, young and old, to take up the free state cause. Yet while in Boston, Ellen did not have the courage to face either her husband or her children, She drew closer to Frank Yerby. After her speech Ellen went up to St. Catharines. The Cathars welcomed Ellen back into their fellowship. At St. Catharines, Ellen pulled away from Yerby, She became more aloof towards Yerby. It was as if she wanted him to go away. Yerby was no longer an objective observer; he had become a despondent, nervous suitor.. She didn’t purposely hurt Yerby’s feelings; she was merely insensitive and indifferent to them. But her insensitivity and indiffeence only further arouses Yerby’s feelings. Back in Lawrence, Yerby tries to protect Ellen.
“Who do you think you are? Yerby asks. “Joan d’Arc?” Ellen has told him that she plans to accompany Mayor Hoyt on his peace mission. Yerby looks at Shields for assistance, but finds none. “If you want to commit suicide why not put a bullet in your head and get it over with? Why are you dragging it out?”
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As Ellen distances herself, Yerby begins to fantasize an imaginary romance between Ellen and Shields.Yerby notices that Ellen often laughs when she and Shields are together, something she seldom does with him. How could she reject me for that old, country black whose only intelligence comes from his hands and feet? Yerby asks himself. Actually Ellen and Shields have no emotional relationship, whatsoever. Shields is devoted to Ellen. Devotion is a part of Shield Green’s nature. Ellen trusts and relies on him. Neither of them want or expect anything more. But Yerby, on the other hand, wants and even expects Ellen to return his affections in an impossible, storybook love affair. How could a creation fall in love with her creator? Yerby was a silly old fool for falling
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in love with his own creation. But that was Yerby’s problem and not Ellen’s. She gives him her “take it or leave it” attitude. “This is important, Frank,” she said. “I am a Cathar and I am bound to support Stoddard. If you don’t want to join us, I’ll understand.”
“That’s not it and you know it,” Yerby protests.
“Know what?” Ellen’s emerald green eyes flash. She’s tired of Yerby acting as if he controls her. Who invited him along for the ride, anyway? “We leave tomorrow,” she says. “So, if you don’t mind, I would like to get some rest.” With that, Ellen turns on her heel and goes to her cabin. Shields observes them both without saying a word. Them folks sure do have a time with each other, he laughs to himself.
The next morning Lawrence’s delegation of peacemakers, led by Stoddard Hoyt, rides out under of flag of truce. Heading southwest they ride towards Washington Creek where Fort Saunders sits some twelve miles away. Quantrill maintains his headquarters at Fort Saunders, but he and his band rove between Saunders and Titus, which is near Lecompton. Fort Franklin is only four miles east of Lawrence. These so-called “forts” are actually big log houses with port-holes from which the defenders can shoot. The forts, amply stocked with provisions and weapons, give the vigilantes safe havens after their raids.
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“Major,” a lookout at Fort Saunders shouts, “Major Quantrill!” After Louise’s death, Caleb Cushing appointed Davy Atchison as his principal agent in Kansas. Caleb didn’t trust Billy Quantrill. To ease Quantrill’s humiliation at having to answer to Atchison, he was appointed to the rank of ‘major’ in the vigilante militia.
“What is it, Jimmy?” Quantrill replies in a surly voice. He was in the middle of a poker hand. Quantrill was a lousy poker player and he didn’t like being disturbed when he was losing which was most of the time.
“I think you’d better come see this, sir,” Jimmy replies. Barely seventeen, Jimmy had left his family in Missouri to join the vigilantes in Leavenworth. Jimmy jumped at the opportunity to get in on fleecing the homesteaders coming into Kansas. It was ‘plum easy pickins.’ Almost as easy as stealing from the Indians. Jimmy came from a poor family. Jimmy’s share of the homesteader loot for one raid was more than what his pa made in a year doing plantation work.
“This had better be important,” Quantrill says angrily, “or I’ll ….” But he stopped in mid-sentence and swore out loud.“Well, I’ll be damn, if this don’t beat all.”
Standing in front of Quantrill’s stronghold was a short, round man. In a wagon sat a woman and a darkie carrying a white flag. And it was not just any woman; it was her! Ellen Collins!
“What you all want up here?” Quantrill asks his unexpected guests, scouring the horizon for signs of more free staters.
“We have come to discuss a matter of some importance,” Mayor Hoyt replies.
“Which is?” Quantrill asks in a voice dripping with sarcasm.
“We have come to discuss terms for a peace settlement,” Mayor
“A peace settlement,” Quantrill exclaims. “Well I’ll be. You nigger-lovers planning to leave Lawrence, are you? Well I can’t guarantee your safety, but maybe something can be worked out. When are you all planning on leaving?” Billy Quantrill thinks about Louise and that jail in Lawrence. An outline of a treacherous plan begins to form in his evil mind. Now, Quantrill thinks, I can keep my promise to burn that abolitionist town to the ground with every one of those nigger-lovin’ abolitionists in it.
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But Stoddard Hoyt has not made himself clear. The mayor tries to explain. “You misunderstand our position. You are forcing this violence on us.”
“What are you talking about?” Quantrill asks, now genuinely failing to comprehend exactly what this short little man wants.
Looking up at the almost six foot frame of the leader of the pro-slavery vigilantes now standing in front of him, Mayor Hoyt reponds as bravely as he can. “Sir, I am afraid I have given you the wrong impression. We are not leaving Lawrence; we are offering you
and your men the opportunity to vacate this property as well as those blockhouses located at Titus and Franklin.”
Had Major William Quantrill of the Kansas militia, acting under the authority of General Davy Atchison and the Kansas territorial governor, Wilson Shannon, been told that his parents were black and that he was being returned to slavery, he could not have been
more amazed and dumbfounded.
“You see, sir,” Hoyt continues, “you and your men are doing the people of Lawrence great harm. Many innocent people have suffered because of your attacks. The people of Lawrence are determined to remove you from this area by force if it should become necessary. However, it is our desire to avoid bloodshed, so I am appealing to your sense of decency, if not for our sakes, then for the sake of your own men. You bear some responsibility for their lives.”
At first, Quantrill is amused by the pathetic little man, hiding behind Louise’s aunt. He must be kidding, Quantrill laughs. But then he becomes concerned.There were not that many vigilantes here at Saunders and less than a hundred men manned all three forts. “Jimmy, tell Claude to scout around and see if we have any other visitors,” Quantrill
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orders the youngster. Turning back to Hoyt, Quantrill sneers.“We’ve been in your miserable abolitionist pest hold. Not once did any of your men have the guts to defend yourselves. Now you come up here, hiding behind the skirts of a woman, to threaten us. Jim Lane must have put you up to this?” Quantrill hated Jim Lane with a passion. Some said that it was just an act; the two men had to make everyone believe that they were on opposite sides. But it was no act. Some said Lane was responsible for the murder of Quantrill’s brother. Others said that Quantrill hated the Jayhawker because Jim Lane and Louise Collins had been lovers.Whatever the reason, Cushing’s two Kansas agents genuinely hated each other. Ellen watched Hoyt’s peace overtures with growing concern. She could see that it is not going well. Stoddard stood firm though he paled under Quantrill’s murderous glare.
“I have come to make no threats, sir,” the mayor replies. “I have merely come to offer you the opportunity to avoid the inevitable bloodshed that must follow from your actions here.”
“I don’t make war on women,” Quantrill sneers, “even if lily-livered cowards like you hide behind them. That darkie there will bring a good price at the market in
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St. Louis. And you, sir, are going to pay for your insolence.” With that, Quantrill pulls out his Colt revolver and calmly shoots Stoddard Hoyt through the head. Instantly, Shields drops the white flag he holds and, turning the wagon, makes a mad dash away from Fort Saunders. The bushwhackers laugh and jeer filling the air with ear-piercing yells. Several of Quantrill’s men begin firing their pistols in the air just over the heads of the fleeing horses, which made them run all the faster.
“Shall we go get ’em, Major?” Jimmy asks.
“No, let them go,” Quantrill says with a smile. “When they tell them abolitionists what happened here, they’ll be leaving Lawrence like rats off one of them sinking riverboats.”
Had Quantrill reported the incident to Wilson Shannon in Lecompton or to
Davy Atchison in Leavenworth, he might have saved himself the embarrassment of losing his forts and the humiliation of being jailed in Lawrence. But Quantrill was too arrogant and filled with hubris to avoid his fate. News of Stoddard Hoyt’s murder spreads like wildfire first through Lawrence and throughout all of Kansas free settlements. Women openly mourn his death in Lawrence’s streets. All the churches hold memorial services in his honor.The Quaker community is devastated. Stoddard Hoyt had been their pillar of strength.
The repudiation committee authorizes Jim Lane and his one hundred and fifty man militia to destroy the vigilante’s forts. Several Quakers, fell from grace, by renouncing their membership to enlist in Lane’s militia. Every man in Lawrence had to decide whether to fight or remain at home. When the militia rides out, three hundred free state men join them.
“What do you think it will be like?” one of the former Quakers asks Yerby. The militia marches two abreast in an orderly column. The other volunteers straggled afterwards in a disorderly, haphazard fashion.
“What do you mean, son?” Yerby replies. Unlike the border ruffians who have been trained as killers, these free men do not know what to expect. The youngster is no more than eighteen. Yerby can smell the fear oozing from the young man’s brow and from his underarms. Nor is he the only one who is afraid. This is the first time these free staters will go on the offense against pro-slavery vigilantes. Some of the volunteers break ranks and sit by the side of the road, their trembling legs unable to take them any closer to Fort Franklin and the upcoming battle with the vigilante killers.
“Do you think we can lick them?” the young man quavers, trying to keep his voice from betraying the terror in his guts.
“Don ’t worry,” Yerby reassures the younster, “we’re gong to lick them all right.”
“I sure hope so,” the boy says as he tries to put on a brave face. “I sure hope so.”
Lane decides to attack the fort closest to Lawrence hoping that Quantrill had not sounded the alert. Franklin was only five miles away and an easy march. When they arrived at Franklin, no alarm had been raised and the log blockhouse and adjoining corral, stable and smaller cabins were at peace. Months of complete freedom of movement had made the vigilantes complaisant. Though they had gained the element of surprise, Lane’s men could not curb their enthusiasm. They raced down upon the pro-slavery settlement, yelling and shouting. Before the militia could attack, all the defenders had made it safely inside the log house, prepared to do battle. Lane ordered his militia to surround the fort. Once in place his men poured volley after volley into the thick log structures, but with little effect. Their bullets bounced harmlessly off the thick oak logs. The bushwhackers, returned the militia’s fire with volleys from the gun ports. But their shots were equally ineffective. Lane concealed his men behind fences, mounds of dirt, and anything else that would afford them some protection. And for awhile the issue between the two warring parties remained stalemated, neither side was able to inflict any harm on the other.
“Let’s smoke them out,” one of Lane’s lieutenants suggests. Lane agrees. Looking around, he finds a wagon which they load with hay from the corral and firewood.
“Roll the wagon against the blockhouse,” Lane shouts. Dousing the hay with kerosene, militiamen hurl the blazing wagon against the fort’s walls and supports. The militiamen raised cries of triumph as the wooden structures begin to burn and the fort becomes completely enveloped in smoke.
“We surrender,” the choking vigilantes yell out. “Don’t shoot! We’re comin’ out!”
To the jeers of the victorious free staters, Lane permits fifteen gasping, choking vigilantes to escape the smoldering log structure unharmed..
“Put out that fire,” Lane orders, directing his men to retrieve water from a nearby creek. “Lieutenant, check on casualties and report back.”
“Yessir,” Lane’s subordinate replies.
When the report comes back, Lane discovers that neither a uniformed militiaman nor any of the other men had been injured in the attack. Once the fire was out, the militia seized a goodly amount of provisions and weapons, including a cannon.
“We’ll be able to use this against Fort Saunders, eh Lieutenant?” Lane has a volunteer
with artillery experience, a former gunnery sergeant in the Mexican War. Now he and his family were free staters and homesteading and protecting his own land.
“Well, sir,” the artillery man replies, “no doubt she’s a fine artillery piece, but there is not an ounce of powder or any shot for it.”
“I guess that was fortunate for us,” Lane says,“or else our casualty figures might have been far worse and the outcome might have been quite different.”
“No doubt,” the artilleryman replies.“But since we’ll be needing this piece against Saunders and Titus, I’ll have to go back to Lawrence for shot and powder.”
Lane thought about it. “Take these provisions and the prisoners back to Lawrence with
you. Take the cannon, too. Do what you must to make it functional.”
“Meet me at Saunders no later than noon tomorrow, do you understand, Lieutenant?” Lane orders him.
“I will do my best, sir,” the artilleryman snaps back with military
“I don’t want your best,” Lane orders, “I want you there noon tommorrow! Is that understood.”
“Yessir!” comes the immediate response.
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Lane orders captured rifles and handguns distributed to the volunteers. Before heading toward Washington Creek and Fort Saunders, Lane orders Fort Franklin burned to the ground.
“Bradley,” Lane shouts to one of his other officers, “you and Sergeant Cline get those stragglers organized into two units. I want them marching two abreast and pretending they’re soldiers by the time we get to Washington Creek, do you understand?”
“Yessir,” came the instant reply.
But Quantrill was not to be caught napping. As soon as his scouts report that Lane’s militia is on the move, he and the twenty-five men garrisoned at Fort Saunders escape to Fort Titus where he can expect support from Lecompton. When he arrives at Saunders, Lane finds the stronghold stripped of weapons and provisions and vacated. Quantrill leaves behind, on crossbars erected in front of the log house, the mutilated body of Stoddard Hoyt. Lane’s men lower Hoyt’s shot-riddled corpse from the crossbar and bury it with dignity. The entire company of free staters offers its final respects to the fallen hero before Jim Lane shouts, “On to Titus!”
Fort Titus is not as easy a target as Franklin. It was far larger with more men ___ now reinforced by Quantrill’s garrison from Saunders. Titus is only two miles from Lecompton and only a mile from the camp where all free state homesteaders captured by federal soldiers are being interned. The commandant of this camp, Major John Sedgewick, took his orders directly from the territorial governor, Wilson Shannon. Sedgewick’s orders were not to interfere with the vigilance committee activities, even if they involved attacks on the free state homesteaders. However, Sedgewick was to preserve order if free state homesteaders retaliated. The bushwhackers at Fort Titus, backed by a company of federal troops, had every reason to feel confident. At Titus, the free staters should have found themselves out-manned and out-gunned. But sometimes what should be is not what actually is.
The free stater vanguard, the young men most eager to avenge Stoddard Hoyt’s murder, attacked Fort Titus before dawn the next morning. Without realizing it, the dawn attack took away all of the advantages Titus’ defenders should have enjoyed. The attack was sudden and ferocious. Once Lane’s militia encircled the fort, the free staters prevented any of the ruffians from sending to Lecompton for help. However, in the initial attack, Henry Shombre, the young ex-Quaker, was shot and killed. When Lane’s more disciplined militia arrived at Fort Titus, the attack became more systematic. Lane men poured volley after volley upon the stronghold. On their part, the vigilantes returned shot for shot, and the matter remained undecided for a couple of hours. Then a roar from the free staters echos about as a horsedrawn wagon with several men and a cannon charge into Lane’s command post.
“Glad to see you made it, Lieutenant,” Lane shouts.
“Glad to have made it, sir,” the artilleryman replies. “I would have arrived sooner had the major remained where he ordered me to meet him.”
Lane gave his subordinate a wry look.“Well, now that you’re here, let’s put that cannon to work.”
“Yessir,” the Irishman replies.
The artilleryman was quite ingenious. In addition to packaging the proper gunpowder charges, he had rummaged through the rubble of Lawrence’s newspaper buildings for the metal. He recovered printing type which he molded into cannon balls. The lieutenant set up the cannon and began pouring round after round into the walls of Fort Titus.
“All right you, bushwhackers,” the artilleryman shouted at the men inside, “here comes another issue of the Herald of Freedom!” The bombardment ended the vigilante’s resistance. Quantrill’s shaken garrison waved a white flag in surrender. Before anyone either at Lecompton or the federal internment camp are aware of what has happened, the Lawrence militia captures Fort Titus and its entire garrison, burns the buildings to the ground and marches their prisoners back to Lawrence. Manacled and marching with the others are Billy Quantrill and Claude Combs.
“He ’s a murderer!” Ellen screams .“He should be put on trial! What’s wrong with you people?”
Wilson Shannon had come to Lawrence to discuss a prisoner exchange. Shannon wanted all of the prisoners captured at Saunders and Titus released. In return, he promised to release all homesteaders held in federal internment camps, as well as the Topeka Convention officers arrested for treason.
“I’m not here to decide which side is right or wrong,” Shannon says. “I’m here seeking a truce.” The war had taken its toll on the territorial governor. Wilson Shannon was fundamentally a decent person who found himself on the wrong side. This prisoner exchange was Shannon’s last effort to further the cause of peace.
“I have announced my resignation both to the legislature in Lecompton as well as to the president,” confides the sad-eyed territorial governor. “I’m only interested in seeing that all the prisoners are released before I leave office.”
“You weren’t interested in releasing the innocent homesteaders you have interned in Lecompton for months,” Ellen shouts out.
“That is true,” Governor Shannon admits. “But what is done is done. Now I’m offering to release them.”
There was some grumbling among other members of the committee. They wanted to try William Quantrill and his accomplices for Stoddard Hoyt’s murder. And when they were found guilty, Lawrence wanted to hang them. But Shannon had instructions from the highest authority in the Democratic Party to get them released, whatever the cost.
“You see that Major Sedgewick has accompanied me,” the governor continues. “We make no threats and will take no action against you for your attacks against the settlements at Franklin and Titus. Our only purpose is to obtain the release of your prisoners in exchange for those we now hold in Lecompton.” The governor looks about
the room guaging the effect his words have on each committee member. Shannon continues, “But I must have every one of those men you are holding no matter what
they have done ____ including William Quantrill.”
“Ellen,” Tom Boone says, “no one here can ever forget what you have done for Lawrence during these terrible times. You have risked your life numerous times for our us and children. If we have anything to eat, if we have any prospects of surviving another winter, it is because of you. We know you loved Stoddard. We all did. You saw Quantrill murder our mayor. You want justice. But you must remember that Stoddard acted accourding to
his conscience and so must we.”
“But if his murderer is freed,” Ellen argues, “how can we be certain that Stoddard’s murderers will not kill again?”
“This is war, Ellen,” Brett Falks says.“We’re negotiating a prisoner exchange. The governor is offering to free all of those free staters they’ve captured as well as all of our friends who were arrested on charges of treason. He is even willing to return all of the Sharp’s rifles and the howitzer Quantrill confiscated. You must agree that when the governor resigns, we will need all the help and weapons we can get.”
Rising from her seat, Ellen says quietly,“I do not agree with you, but I will yield to your decision.” Then Ellen turns and walks out of the meeting.
A V I C T I M ’S G U I L T 4 0 3
As he promised, having arranged the prisoner exchange, Wilson
Shannon resigned as Kansas’ territorial governor and Shannon’s secretary, the
head of the Kansas law and order party, Daniel Woodson, assumed the position of
acting territorial governor. No one was sounder on the goose than Daniel Woodson.
The acting governor reported directly to President Pearce’s Secretary of War,
Jefferson Davis. Four days after taking office, Governor Woodson issued the
For some time now the Kansas territory has been infected with large bodies of men, many of whom have come from states hostile to the property rights of honest plantation owners. These men have combined and confederated together, and amply supplied with munitions of war, have been engaged in murdering the law-abiding citizens of the territory of Kansas and driving others from their homes. These armed men have held law-abiding citizens as prisoners of war, plundered property, burned down houses and even robbed United States post offices. All of this has been done for the purpose of subverting by force and violence the government of the territory established by the congress of the United States.
Now therefore, I, Daniel Woodson, acting governor of the territory of Kansas, do hereby issue my proclamation declaring the said territory of Kansas to be in an open state of insurrection and rebellion; and I do hereby call upon all law-abiding citizens of the territory to rally to the support of the territory and its laws, and require and command all officers, civil and military, and call all other citizens of the territory to aid and assist, by
all means in their power, putting down the insurrectionists, and bringing to punishment all persons engaged with them, to the end of insuring immunity from violence and full protection to the persons, property and civil rights of all peaceable and law-abiding inhabitants of the territory.
Prior to this announcement, Quantrill had been holed up at A.B.Miller’s bar, sulking about, drunk most of the time. Being captured by the free-staters and locked up in their jail shamed Quantrill. He could not get over it. The more he thought about it, the more he drank and the fouler his mood became.
“Where’s that nice looking filly I used to see around here with you, Billy?” a Missourian inquired good-naturedly. The young would-be vigilante was just making small talk with the man who had become a legend in Missouri and the man that the young Missourian had come to idolize. Quantrill eyed the young adventurer through bloodshot eyes. Without saying a word, Quantrill pulled out his navy Colt and shot a forty-four caliber lead bullet into the young man’s liver. A look of surprise and pain appears simultaneously on the twenty-three year old’s face before he slumps to the floor, his life fading away with the blackish-red mixture of blood and bile oozing from the gaping wound in his side. But Daniel Woodson’s proclamation rises Quantrill out of his drunken depression. “Now we ride on Lawrence!” Quantrill shouts. “Tell the boys.” Claude Coombs, now Quantrill’s closest companion races out of Miller’s while Billy goes upstairs to prepare for his final assault on Lawrence. He believes his revenge is at hand, but once again Quantrill is on the wrong side of history.
A presidential election was due in November and “Bleeding Kansas” had become a national issue. The deteriorating situation in Kansas eroded the electorate’s confidence in the Democratic Party’s ability to govern the nation. Daily, Christians outside the South read about new atrocities in Kansas. Denunciations rang out from the pulpits. “Black slavery today will become white slavery tomorrow,” ministers stormed at their congregations. “The sacking of Lawrence and the beating of Charles Sumner shows how committed the Democratic Party is to creating an entire slave society.” Bleeding Kansas comes to symbolize the Democratic Party’s emerging despotism. Northerners believe “bleeding Kansas” could soon become “bleeding America.” The Democratic Party’s obsession with slavery causes its members in the North and West to desert the party in droves. Only the Democratic party’s appeal to the newly arriving immigrants and it’s control of big city political machines like Tammany Hall and the Pendergrass Machine, prevents the party’s complete collapse outside the South. Daniel Woodson’s proclamation could not have come at a worse time either for the Democratic Party or for the Supreme Grand Master of all Masons in the western hemisphere, John Quitman.
Quitman was displeased with the way events were unfolding. Neither Jefferson Davis nor Caleb Cushing seemed to understand the gravity of the situation. So the supreme grand master, now Congressman John Quitman, decided to clarify the situation for them.
“Gentlemen, I assume you have read the proclamation issued by that fool Woodson,” Quitman said, coming directly to the point. The three most powerful men in America, and possibly, the world, sup in Quitman’s private chambers. Quitman maintains as his
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personal Washington residence the top three floors of the National Hotel, Washington D.C.’s finest hotel. A staff of over a hundred slaves and overseers see to his and his guests every whim. But today the grand master is in a foul mood. “That idiot out there in Kansas is going to ruin us!”
“But your supreme worship,” Cushing replies feebly, “it was your plan to take over Kansas by running those abolitionists off. We only did what you instructed us to do.”
“Did I tell you to beat up a United States Senator on the floor of the United States Senate?” Quitman thunders, transfixing both Davis and Cushing with a steely-eyed stare.
“Worshipful Grand Master,” Cushing remonstrates, “we had no way of knowing what he and Keitt were planning. Had we known …”
“And you call yourself the Attorney General of the United States!” Quitman screams. “How many times have I told you that it is your business to know everything that could possibly affect our plans.”
Both men are silent before Quitman’s rage. They know that the slightest word from him could end their political careers ___ and that was not the worst that could happen, as Zachary Taylor learned.
“I want this business in Kansas to be quieted,” Quitman says after he calms down.
“Yes, your most worshipful master,” came Cushing’s instant reply.
“We have to settle the situation in Kansas, quickly,” Quitman continues. “Take it off of the front pages and put the vigilantes out of business ____ for a while.”
A V I C T I M ’S G U I L T 4 0 7
“How are we going to do that without giving up everything we’ve won?” Davis asks.
“Get rid of Woodson, immediately,” Quitman continues, glowering at his two minions. subordinates.
“Who, most worshipful grand master, should we put in his place?” Cushing asks.
“Indeed!” Quitman repeats the question to himself staring up at the ceiling. “Who should we select?” Then, looking at Cushing and Davis, Quitman says, “I know just the man to solve our problems in Kansas.”
“The decision of the Lawrence repudiation committee is unanimous,” intones Clifford Foote, Lawrence’s new mayor. “The Wabaunsee Rifles are duly commissioned as a unit of the Free State militia and will be given arms and supplies. If there is no other busi-
ness, this meeting is over.”
Though Ellen and others, including Quakers, didn’t want another military unit in Lawrence, Woodson’s proclamation brought thousands of vigilantes across the border from Missouri into Kansas. Once again, Lawrence found itself cut off and beleaguered. This blockade was being enforced, not by a few hundred vigillantes, but by several thousand. After hearing of Woodson’s proclamation, Lane rode his militia out of Lawrence. They have not been heard from since. Lane’s absence causes Lawrence’s mayor, town council and repudiation committee to commission the Wabaunsee Rifles to defend Lawrence against the almost certain attack. The vigilantes had begun systematically attacking free state settlements all around Lawrence. Many towns people have already loaded their few belongings and made their escape west to Topeka. Some homesteaders, however, free staters like Joseph Cracklin came to Kansas determined to fight for his land and his rights. Cracklin persuaded a number of the newer homesteaders to join him. Fifty-eight of them form Cracklin’s Wabaunsee Rifles. Ellen’s group argues
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that the new territorial governor, John Geary, had promised to protect the free-staters from another attack. “Why don’t we give Governor Geary a chance?” Ellen pleads. “He promised to use federal troops to protect us.”
During the American occupation of Mexico, General Quitman appointed John Geary, commandant of Mexico City. After the war, Quitman selected Geary to become San Francisco’s first judicial officer. Geary sat as a delegate to the state constitutional convention that brought California into the union as a free state. Geary was a Democrat without pro-slavery sympathies. After he was elected San Francisco’s first mayor, Geary even expressed anti-slavery views to Quitman. So it was that Quitman believed John Geary the ideal territorial governor for Kansas. Geary was as tough as they came. He could exercise complete control over all federal troops stationed in Kansas and carry out the presidential mandate to establish peace in Kansas whatever the cost. And John Geary was a Demoncrat the free staters would trust. Quitman smiled at his good fortune in being able to turn a pain in the butt like Geary into a valuable asset.
Even before arriving at Lecompton, Geary rescinds Woodson’s proclamation and issues one of his own:
The employment of militia is not authorized by the territorial governor except upon request by the commander of the federal troops stationed in Kansas, Federal troops have been placed at the disposal of the territorial governor to insure prompt compliance with the law;
Therefore, the services of such volunteer militia are no longer required and are ordered to immediately disband;
Furthermore, all bodies of men, armed and equipped with munitions of war, which do not immediately disband or quit the territory will answer to their peril.
After dispatching his proclamation to every town, hamlet and settlement in Kansas, Geary hastens to Lecompton. He wants to prevent any further violence. Ellen and Frank begged the repudiation committee to delay the establishment of another militia. They believed establishing the Wabaunsees so soon after the new governor issued his proclamation was an insult.“Give Governor Geary a chance,” Ellen told her committee.
Later Yerby expressed his doubts. “You know those ruffians aren’t going to abide by any proclamation,” Yerby says.“The pro-slavery people have been bushwhacking free staters whenever they please. Federal troops only arrest free staters. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that Lawrence have some protection.”
“But we have to have faith,” Ellen insists, “or else the violence will never end.” Ellen looks at Yerby. He seems very sad, she thinks.
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“These new homesteaders do not have the faith that you Quakers have,” Yerby remarks.“They came here not for ideals but for land. They didn’t come to establish the values of civilization, but to stake their claims and establish their patrimony for themselves and their families. And to them this is worth fighting and dying for.”
“Then Frank,” Ellen asks, “why did Abby and Louise die? And why am I still alive?”
Before Yerby can answer, Shields Green bursts in. “They’re comin’,” he shouts. “Come on, they’re putting up barricades in town.” Then he dashes back out, not waiting either for Ellen or Frank to catch up.
Pandemonium rules in the town square. The people know what to expect from the vigilantes ___ and they are afraid. Barricades ___ overturned wagons piled high with furniture, doors and metal plate ____ are being erected at the corner of Henry and Massachusetts Streets. Behind the barricades, women and children dug trenches. Another barricade is being set up at the opposite end of town, on Rhode Island Street. Ellen joins the women at the Massachusetts Street barricade and begins digging.
“All able-bodied men capable of shooting a gun follow me,” the commander of the Wabaunsee Rifles shouts out. Leaving Ellen at the barricades, Frank and Shields join the other men standing in line to receive a weapon. In the distance, the ranks of vigilantes swell into thousands of well-equipped and well-organized gunmen.
Mayor Foote telegraphs an urgent message to Governor Geary in Lecompton, None of the repudiation committee believe the governor will help them. This time, they believe, Lawrence is doomed. Yerby, Green along with the others are given Sharp’s rifles and ammunition. They receive instructions on how to load and fire their weapons. The Sharp’s breech-loader allowa a man to shoot as quickly as he can eject a shell and insert another bullet. Furthermore, the Sharp’s rifle is so accurate that even someone who had never fired a gun before could boast of hitting something, if only the man next to the
one he’s aiming at.
While the men are getting their instructions, Cracklin grabs a horse and races to the edge of town toward a log cabin situated at the top of a ridge. From here, using his spyglass, Cracklin can see the hundreds of men grimly riding towards Lawrence with Billy Quantrill in the lead.
“He’ll take the most direct route over the timberline and down into the ravine,” Cracklin tells himself. “That way he’ll be able to come up directly into the front of Lawrence.”
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The ravine that runs almost three quarters of a mile around in front of Lawrence. “If he comes this way, I’ll have a special surprise for him.” Cracklin positions his Wabaunsee Rifles along the top of the ravine. Cracklin’s men could crossfire on every part of the approach and all his men have Sharp’s. “You men,” Cracklin shouts to the knot of newly-recruited volunteers, “fill in the gaps between those men there.”
The young commander of the Wabaunsee Rifles carefully chose this site for an ambush. The former military academy cadet topped his class in military tactics and strategy. Cracklin plans to catch Quantrill’s men exposed as they climb up the hill from the ravine. While his own men are well concealed and protected, the entire ravine is exposed to rifle fire. No one could come up onto the plain in front of Lawrence without assembling in the ravine and coming up that hill. Had Cracklin a battery of cannon, his firepower could not have been more devastating than his one hundred men with rapid firing Sharp’s rifles.
Of course, the ambush could only work if Quantrill’s men dismounted and climbed up the hill on foot. If they decided to charge the hill on horseback, they would punch right through the line and clear out the one hundred defenders with little difficulty. But Cracklin did not think about that possibility. Once he was satisfied that his men were deployed to the best of his ability, he ordered them to take cover and remain out of sight.
Before long, the vigilantes emerged out of the trees. Dismounting, they mingled together before making their way up the side the ravine. Shields looked over at Yerby, who was ten yards away. Fortune smiled on Shields as well as the rest of them. Cracklin waited until the vigilante’s got half way up the hill before ordering his men to open fire. The Wabaunsee Rifles blazed away catching Quantrill’s border ruffians completely by
A V I C T I M ’S G U I L T 4 1 3
surprise. The vigilantes were professionals. Composed even under fire, they did not panic and returned fire instantly. But the Wabaunsees continued their rapid fire giving the vigilantes no opportunity to reload. The firepower of the Sharp ’s rifles blasted Quantrill’s advanced group right off the hill and back down into the ravine. At the bottom of the ravine, chaos reigns when the Wabaunsees begin to fire into the tangle of men and horses. As bullets find their mark, horses bolt and men scream. The blistering Wabaunsee fire power forces Quantrill’s men to flee helter-skelter back intio the trees. When they see Quantrill’s men withdrawing, the Wabaunsees let out a war hoop that can be heard all the way back in Lawrence.
As the sun descends into the west and throughout the dark moonless night, Cracklin’s men remain on the ridge. “Do you think they’ll attack again?” Shields asks Frank.
“I don’t think so,” Frank replies. “They’ll probably wait for reinforcements. When they find out how thin our line is, they’ll just ride around and through us.”
“I hope nothin’ happens to Miss Ellen,” Shields remarks and then falls sigelent.
So do I, Yerby thinks silently to himself.
Early the next morning, to the surprise and wonderment of every citizen in Lawrence, Governor Geary arrives at the head of a column of federal troops. Even more amazing is that Geary positioned an artillery unit on Mount Oread with a commanding view of all the approaches to Lawrence. Not only did Lawrence’s citizens meet the new day with federal troops riding to their defense, but for the first time, ever, they see the Stars and Stripes fluttering on the summit of Mount Oread. Townsfolk from Lawrence run out to tell the Wabaunsee Rifles that Lawrence has been saved.
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Ellen is one of the first to reach the heroes at the ravine. “Oh, Frank,” Ellen wails, as she threw herself into his arms, “I was so worried about you.”
More women join Ellen in praising and thanking the Wabaunsee Rifles for their heroic defense of Lawrence. Trudging back to town with the others, Yerby didn’t feel like a hero, but if that was what it took to hold Ellen in his arms he would gladly play the part. Joyous townsfolk and happy militiamen, barely in their twenties, dance and yell and embrace each other. Once again Divine Providence has saved Lawrence. Frank and Ellen just hold onto each other ___ knowing that for them this minute of love must last an eternity.
Governor Geary sits with Lawrence’s repudiation committee. He listens to their retelling of the looting, murdering and burning the last time Quantrill’s ruffians entered town. They tell him how the vigilante’s blockade reduced the citizens to starvation.
“I promise you that as long as I am governor,” Geary says after he has heard all, “Lawrence will have the full protection of the United States Army.”
Once he concludes his meeting with Lawrence’s repudiation committee, Governor Geary goes out to Saunders where Quantrill is headquartered.
“Who are you and what is your business in Kansas?” Geary asks Quantrill.
“We’re a territorial militia called together by the governor of Kansas. We intend to wipe
Lawrence clean off the map and kill every nigger-loving abolitionist in the Kansas territory.”
“I’m the territorial governor of Kansas,” Geary responds. “I called up no militia. So I
A V I C T I M ’S G U I L T 4 1 5
now order you to disband immediately and return to Missouri or wherever you came from.”
“Don’t look to me like you brought enough troops here with you for that kind of talk, Governor,” Quantrill says boldly. His border ruffians outnumber Geary’s federal troops, four to one.
“Hold on there, Billy!” Davy Atchison speaks up. And then he directs his comments to Governor Geary. “First let me say, sir, that we respect your authority, Governor. Having sais that, may I talk to these boys here for a spell?”
John Geary studies Atchinson briefly before responding. “Yes, I’ll wait outside,” Geary tells Atchison.
“Now, boys,” Atchison says to the twenty or more assembled vigilante leaders as soon as Geary leaves, “we can’t fight against the army. Billy Quantrill, you ought to know that!”
“Know what?” Quantrill explodes. “All I know is that every time we get ready to go down there and kill some nigger-lovers, somebody comes up with some rule as to why
we can’t do it. What I want to know is this white man’s country or ain’t it?”
Governor Geary rejoins the group and asks,“Have you decided what you will do?”
“Governor,” Atchison replies,“we are law-abiding citizens and we will do as you ask. Ain’t that right, boys?” The other ruffian leaders murmur their agreement. But Quantrill just stands there glaring, first at Geary and then at Atchison. Then, stomping off, he shouts, “This ain ’t over, not by a long shot. There’s gonna be a time when no rules will prevent me from burning Lawrence to the ground!”
Going back to where his men are gathered, Quantrill gives them the news and tells them to return to Leavenworth. But to Claude and Jimmy, he says, “I’ve been thinking about how I can make certain them nigger lovers don’t forget me.”
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“How ’s that?” Claude asks.
“By stealing their prize nigger,” Quantrill laughs. “You two follow me. We’ve some unfinished business with that abolitionist lady, back there in Lawrence.”
Later that afternoon, while the citizens of Lawrence are still celebrating. Yerby gives the normally imperturbable Shields Green a scare. Shields had decided to give Frank and Ellen some privacy and for once allow his mistress out of his sight. So Shields is surprised when Frank comes up to him with a worried frown.
“Have you seen Ellen?” he asks.
“Nossir,” Shields replies, with a deadpan look that belies his concern. “I thought you all was together.”
“No, the repudiation committee sent for her,” Frank says, concern trembling in his words, “and I haven’t seen her since.”
Nor would he because at that very moment, with Claude and Jimmy leading the way, Ellen is tied across the back of a horse streaking towards the Missouri border with Billy Quantrill in the saddle.
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