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Battlefield Dispatches: 'Exterminated without mercy'

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aug. 25, 1863 was a very busy day at the Headquarters of the Department of the Missouri in Saint Louis, Mo. On that day, the commanding officer of the latter Department Major General John M. Schofield (no relation of the author) approved a number of General Orders. One of these General Orders was the then and now infamous Order No. 11 that still rings with infamy in Jackson, Cass, Bates and Northern Vernon County. It is still remembered and hated today because the implementation of this order, in effect, depopulated these counties and created a "Buffer Zone" or "No Man's Land" to eradicate support for the Confederate guerrillas residing there and to separate the Kansas and Missouri antagonists from each other. This particular Order was approved by General Schofield and was done at the request Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr. who issued it from his headquarters of the District of the Border in Kansas City, Mo. General Ewing was hated and despised then, as is his memory today in the previously mentioned counties of western Missouri!

General Schofield was a tough, no nonsense, officer who issued the following order on Aug. 25, 1863 that affected all of the Department of the Missouri which included the District of the Border commanded by General Ewing.

The Order is located on Pages 474-475 in Series I, Vol. 22, Part II, Correspondence in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

"Hdqrs, Department of the Missouri,

Saint Louis, August 25, 1863.

General orders No. 86:

Large numbers of men are leaving the broken rebel armies in the Mississippi Valley [after the Confederate surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 3, 1863] and returning to Missouri.

Many of them doubtless come back with the purpose of following a career of PLUNDER & MURDER under the form of GUERRILLA WARFARE, while others would gladly return to their homes as peaceable citizens, if permitted to do so and protected from violence.

The State is in danger of a repetition of the scenes of violence and bloodshed that characterized the months of July and August, 1862. The united efforts of all loyal and peaceable disposed citizens, as well as of the troops of this Department, will be required to avert this EVIL.

It is the desire of the Commanding General that all those who voluntarily abandon the rebel cause and desire to return to their allegiance to the United States shall be permitted to do so, under such restrictions as the public peace shall require. All such persons may surrender themselves and their arms (firearms) at the nearest military post and will be released upon taking the OATH of ALLEGIANCE and giving bond for all their future good conduct.

They will be required to reside in such portion of Missouri or other State as the Provost-Marshal who releases them shall direct.

All who shall fail to comply with these conditions and shall remain within our lines without renewing their allegiance will be treated as CRIMINALS according to the LAWS OF WAR. Those who shall engage in ROBBERY, MURDER or other SIMILAR CRIMES will be EXTERMINATED WITHOUT MERCY.

Humanity demands of every citizen active and earnest co-operation with the military authorities in putting down these common enemies of mankind. The Commanding General demands of every citizen the full discharge of his duty in this regard. Those who neglect it will be held responsible in their persons and property for the damage that may result from their neglect and will be punished at the discretion of a military commission. If milder means shall fail, the Commanding General will order the DESTRUCTION or SEZIURE of ALL HOUSES. BARNS, PROVISIONS & OTHER PROPERTY belonging to DISLOYAL PERSONS in those portions of the State which are made the HAUNTS of GUERRILLAS.

To enable them to protect themselves from violence and to aid the troops when necessary, all loyal & peaceable citizens in Missouri will be permitted to bear arms. As far as practicable, arms which have heretofore been taken from such citizens will be returned to them.

By Command of Major General Schofleld.

C. W. Marsh

Assistant Adjutant General."

It is very doubtful that many Confederate veterans returning to Missouri from the "rebel" armies in the Mississippi Valley took the Oath of Allegiance and became peaceable citizens because of the severe restrictions placed upon them, if they did so. Therefore as history indicates, the Guerrilla War in Missouri continued with a vengeance.

At the same time, there were certain politicians in Kansas that wanted General Schofield removed from commanding the Department of the Missouri because they believed that he did not do an adequate job in protecting Kansas from the Confederate Guerrillas. This was evident and believed by the Honorable James Henry Lane & A. C. Wilder, U. S. Senators from Kansas, as the result of the successful destruction of Lawrence, Kansas by William dark Quantrill and his guerrillas on August 21, 1863. The following telegram to President Lincoln clearly indicates their displeasure with General Schofield.

"Leavenworth, Kansas, August 26, 1863.

His Excellency Abraham Lincoln,

President of the United States: The result of the massacre at Lawrence has excited feelings amongst our people which make a collision between them and the military probable. The IMBECILITY and INCAPACITY of Schofield is most deplorable. Our people unanimously DEMAND the REMOVAL of Schofield, whose policy has opened Kansas to INVASION AND BUTCHERY!

A. C. WILDER

J. H. LANE"

[Please not the very prompt tactful response, on the same day, to both parties from President Lincoln that he the President was known for.]

"Washington, D.C.

August 27, 1863: 8:30 a.m.

Hon. A. C. Wilder, Hon. J. H. Lane,

Notice of your DEMAND for the REMOVAL of General Schofield is hereby acknowledged.

A. Lincoln."

"Washington, D.C.

August 27. 1863: 8:30 a.m.

General Schofield,

Saint Louis:

I have just received the dispatch which follows from two very influential citizens of Kansas whose names I omit. The severe blow they have received naturally enough makes them intemperate even without there being any just cause for blame. Please do your utmost to give them future security and to punish their invaders.

A. Lincoln."

Now then, when a U.S. Army officer incurred the wrath of politicians in the Civil War his days in command were usually numbered and he could be and often was relieved and assigned elsewhere. This did not happen to General Schofield immediately as a result of incurring the displeasure of Kansas Senators Lane and Wilder. However, late in 1863 because of his harsh policies he upset the Governor of Missouri and many "Missourians." It was then that President Lincoln thought it would be for the good for the nation, the service and the citizens of Missouri that General Schofield should be relieved and reassigned from the Department of the Missouri. He was and was replaced by Major General William S. Rosecrans and of course the War Went On!

Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches