August 27, 1863,
A. A. King, R. C. Vaughan, and A. Comingo to President Abraham Lincoln
(with endorsed comment at end by Lincoln)
SAINT LOUIS, MO., August 27, 1863.
His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President of the United States:
Your memorialists would respectfully state that they are loyal citizens of the United States and of the State of Missouri, and, having been such at all times, they regard it as their right and duty to represent to Your Excellency the unhappy condition of affairs now existing along the western border of their State, and to pray Your Excellency's interposition in behalf of a suffering people. Your memorialists feel that justice and humanity demand at least this much at their hands. They therefore beg Your Excellency's attention to the facts hereinafter appearing.
For more than two years past our western border has been the theater of strife and bloodshed, and has been overrun by lawless bands of desperadoes, who, with a reckless and unrestrained soldiery, have rioted upon the substance of the people and have wantonly destroyed their property and trampled upon their most sacred rights. Theft, robbery, house-burning, and other crimes have been perpetrated with impunity, and to such an extent has this system of plunder and vandalism prevailed that it has impoverished and almost depopulated one of the fairest and most wealthy and prosperous parts of our State, and, unless arrested, it will certainly involve in similar ruin many other sections of the State that have hitherto, in a measure, escaped its ravages.
During the past month theft, robbery, arson, and murder have been of almost daily occurrence, and the fearful threat that the border shall be made a desolation, it appears, is about to be executed. During the past fortnight these evils have existed in a most fearful and intensified form, and but little has been done to arrest them. Why they should be allowed your memorialists cannot perceive. They had their origin as far back as the fall of 1861, in the burning of Osceola and other small villages along the border, and from that time to the present they have gradually increased, and the horrible barbarities that have uniformly attended them have at last become as appalling as those which characterized savage warfare in the early history of this country. The lives of the people and the material wealth of the country have been wantonly and wickedly destroyed in a manner and to an extent that have hitherto been unknown and unheard of among a civilized people. That which cannot be carried away is committed to the flames, and thus helpless and defenseless women and children are left destitute of food, raiment, or shelter, and without the means of escape from suffering and ruin.
These evils have produced a degree of consternation that language cannot describe, and which none can comprehend save those who have witnessed it; yet it is the natural result of the retaliatory warfare and of the unrestrained lawlessness that have existed in Western Missouri for the last two years, which, if not speedily checked, will involve in ruin by far the greater parts of this State and Kansas, and will be productive of other evils the magnitude of which no one can now estimate. Your memorialists greatly fear that the recent outrages perpetrated in both Missouri and Kansas but faintly foreshadow the future history of these States if some means cannot be adopted to allay the excitement and arrest the lawless violence now prevailing along the border. Whatever may have been the errors of many of our citizens in the beginning of this terrible rebellion, your memorialists entertain no kind of doubt that an overwhelming majority of the masses are now sincerely determined to support the Government of the United States and the provisional government of Missouri, nor the least doubt that they, in good faith, accept the ordinance of emancipation adopted by the late convention as a final and complete settlement of the question of slavery in this State. There can be no question of these facts, nor have your memorialists a shadow of doubt that a firm and just policy in the future conduct of the military affairs of this State will prove more conducive to her peace and to the interests of the Federal Government than any other that can possibly be adopted. It will do more in thirty days, if honestly carried out and rigidly enforced, to restore our State to her wonted condition of peace and prosperity than the system of pillage and burning, now enforced, will accomplish in as many years.
Your memorialists further beg leave to say that one of the most fruitful sources of trouble in Western Missouri is the attachment of a part of her territory to the District of the Border. This arrangement, however well intended, your memorialists fear will, while it is continued, occasion incessant trouble, and will greatly hinder the restoration of law and order, no matter what policy may be adopted or who may be placed in command. Old animosities existing between the people of Missouri and Kansas, embittered and intensified by the recent barbarous acts of a guerrilla band perpetrated upon the citizens of Lawrence, in the latter State, will develop themselves, and will seek gratification in retaliatory acts upon the citizens of the former, although they are, with rare exceptions, as sincerely opposed to those infamous outlaws as the people of Kansas ever have been. But this late and atrocious outrage has furnished a pretext for future and greater and infinitely more unjust acts of retaliation upon our people than any from which they have hitherto suffered.
The following telegram, published in the Missouri Democrat, of this city, speaks volumes on this point. The statement that there were citizens of Missouri engaged in the raid, except such as have for nearly two years been regarded as outlaws, is not worthy of credit. It is made for effect and to palliate acts of retaliation.
[Special dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]
LEAVENWORTH, August 26.
General Lane has returned to Lawrence. A meeting was held on his return. Lane said the citizens had killed 41 of Quantrill's men. Majors Clark and Plumb were denounced. The people of Baldwin disputed Quantrill in passing a ford, and say if Plumb had done his duty they could have whipped the rebels.
Lane is organizing forces, and says he will go into Missouri on the 9th of September. He left General Ewing only on a pledge that Ewing would issue an order directing all the citizens of Jackson, Cass, Bates, and part of Vernon Counties, except those in Kansas City, Westport, Harrisonville, and Independence, to leave the county within fifteen days. Ewing has issued the order, and the people of Kansas are going into Missouri to see the order executed. The people have demanded the order issued by the general commanding, and the people will see it executed. They say they will have no more of the Schofield-Ewing orders. Ewing is frightened, and in the chase after Quantrill was in a complete quandary. He is looked upon as being a general without heart and brains. About 50 of the most noted secesh of Platte County have subscribed from $1 to $10 each for the Lawrence fund. By so doing they expect to escape the anticipated devastation of Western Missouri.
General Ewing has returned to Kansas City. Quantrill had with him Sam. Hays, brother of Up. Hays, Dick Yeager, Holt, George Todd, and Younger, with 150 men, on whom they could depend in a fight, with about 150 more of the citizens of Platte, Clay, La Fayette, Jackson, Cass, and Bates Counties, not over 300 in all. Quantrill's men are to-night reported scattered in Missouri.
Martial law is published in Leavenworth, but is practically null, as there is no provost-marshal or soldiers here to enforce it, and nothing to do if they were here. Martial law opened as a farce and ended in a fearful tragedy. One thousand Kansas men will be in Missouri this week.
Up to this morning 183 bodies were buried in Lawrence. The remains of 7 more bodies are found. One hundred and eighty-two buildings were burned; 80 of them were brick; 65 of them were on Massachusetts street. There are 85 widows and 240 orphans made by Quantrill's raid. Lane has commenced rebuilding his house. Three men have subscribed $100,000 to rebuild the Free State Hotel, known as the Eldridge Hotel. Several merchants have commenced rebuilding. All the laboring men in town will be set to work to-morrow to clear off the ruins. In spite of the terrible calamity, the people are in good spirits. All the towns in the State have sent in large sums of money. Even the men burned out on Quantrill's retreat have sent in loads of vegetables and provisions.
A man was to-day tried in Lawrence, and found guilty of being a spy for Quantrill, and was hung.
The chiefs of the civilized Indians of the Delawares and Sacs and Foxes offered their services to Lane.
Reports just in say the buildings in Cass County, Missouri, are on fire, and over 100 of the sympathizers are killed. A fearful retribution no doubt awaits Missouri.
In view of these facts, your memorialists respectfully, but most earnestly, pray Your Excellency to rescind the order by which a part of Missouri is attached to the District of the Border, and to order that it be reattached to the Central District of Missouri, or to any other district in our State.
All that your memorialists desire in the premises, aside from the change above indicated, is that some tried and faithful officer may be placed in command over the soldiers and people in the counties of the border--some officer whose sense of duty and of love to his country rises far above his political aspirations and party ties and prejudices, and whose sole desire and efforts will be to guard and foster the interests of the Government in that region, and to bring law and order out of the chaos that now prevails.
This is all that the masses of the people desire, and for this your memorialists will ever pray, &c.
A. A. KING.
R. C. VAUGHAN.
It is not improbable that retaliation for the recent great outrage at Lawrence, in Kansas, may extend to indiscriminate slaughter on the Missouri border, unless averted by very judicious action. I shall be obliged if the General-in-Chief can make any suggestions to General Schofield upon the subject.
August 31, 1863.
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