Kansas in the American Civil War
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
American Civil War
|Territories & DC|
Even before the outbreak of the American Civil War, the territory of Kansas had been the scene of fighting between anti-slavery and pro-slavery forces. Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state on January 29, 1861, three months before the opening battle of the war at Fort Sumter, and at the commencement of the war, the state's government had no well-organized militia, no arms, accoutrements or supplies, nothing with which to meet the demands, except the united will of officials and citizens. During the years 1859 to 1860, the military organizations had fallen into disuse or been entirely broken up.
The first Kansas regiment was called on June 3, 1861, and the seventeenth, the last raised during the Civil War, July 28, 1864. The entire quota assigned to the Kansas was 16,654, and the number raised was 20,097, leaving a surplus of 3,443 to the credit of Kansas. About 1,000 Kansans joined Confederate forces, since a number of people from the nation's south had settled in Kansas. There are no statistics on those serving the Confederacy, since some joined guerrilla units. Statistics indicated that losses of Kansas regiments killed in battle and from disease are greater per thousand than those of any other State. This led to a 19th Century nickname for Kansans: the Spartan State.
On October 25, 1864, a series of three battles occurred, the first two in Linn County, Kansas, with the final in Vernon County, Missouri. The first was the Battle of Marais des Cygnes (also called the "Battle of Trading Post"), the second, a cavalry battle, was the Battle of Mine Creek, a significant battle between mounted cavalry for Confederate forces and several brigades of Union cavalry that were pursuing General Price. They were between Major General Sterling Price, leading the Missouri expedition, against Union forces under Major General Alfred Pleasonton. Price, after going south from Kansas City, was initially met by Pleasonton at Marais des Cygnes. At the end of the day, the Confederate army as an effective fighting force was decimated and forced to withdraw into Arkansas.
After General Thomas Ewing Jr. ordered the imprisonment of women and children relatives of known Missouri guerrillas in a Missouri jail, the jail's roof collapsed and killed a number of prisoners. These deaths enraged Missourians. Whether they were the catalyst of Quantrill's Raid is a subject of historical discussion. However, on August 21, 1863, William Quantrill led Quantrill's Raid into Lawrence destroying much of the city and murdering over 150 unarmed men and boys. The Confederate partisans in Missouri rode to Lawrence (a town long hated by Quantrill and many Southerners) in response to the deaths of women and children. Quantrill also rationalized, an attack on this citadel of abolition would bring revenge for any wrongs, real or imagined that the Southerners had suffered. By the time the raid was over, Quantrill and his men had killed approximately 150-200 men, both young and old.
- Access documents, photographs, and other primary sources on Kansas Memory, the Kansas State Historical Society's digital portal
- Online Exhibit - Keep the Flag to the Front, Kansas Historical Society
- Cool Things - Civil War Battle Flags, Kansas Historical Society
- The Civil War in Kansas: A Bibliography, Kansas Historical Society