Battlefield Dispatches No. 292: 'Winter quarters'

Friday, November 25, 2011

From November 1861 to March of 1862, the "Kansas Brigade" was at home in "winter quarters." This does not mean that the brigade was inactive and in hibernation. Far from it! All of the regiments and respective companies of the brigade were stationed at different locations between Fort Scott and Fort Leavenworth protecting eastern Kansas from the Missouri "bushwhackers," partisan rangers or guerrillas, who were all one and the same.

This defensive position did not mean that the Kansas Brigade had reformed and conducted itself on a pattern of "good behavior." The necessities of war required a battalion, company or small groups of soldiers to conduct "missions" into Missouri and wage their "total war" of destruction, revenge, retaliation and retribution on the citizens of Missouri.

The following are a few incidents and problems faced by the Kansas Brigade when it was in winter quarters.

"A Brave Exploit"

Atchison Weekly, Champion of Freedom

Nov. 23, 1861

"We are informed by George R. Bailey, Sgt. Maj. of the 4th Kansas, who has been stationed at Fort Lincoln, that two soldiers made an expedition from there into Missouri, traveling 60 miles and captured five secession soldiers, three of them being officers. They also captured 10 head of horses and a wagon and returned with their prisoners and booty (plunder) in safety to the fort. Such exploits will do tell of!"

(Now then, this had to be a very small expedition with only two soldiers, but it was apparently successful.)

"Pay Day"

Leavenworth Daily Conservative

Nov. 25, 1861

"Stations of Lane's Brigade." The various regiments of the Kansas Brigade have been ordered to report themselves at the following places, where they will be immediately paid off:

Col. Judson's Regt., Fort Scott,

Col. Ritchie's Regt., Fort Scott,

Col. Montgomery's Regt., Fort Lincoln,

Col. Nugent's Regt., Paola,

Col. Jennison's Regt., Shawneetown,

Col. Davis's Regt., Fort Leavenworth,

Col. Weer's Regt., Wyandott."

(Now then, one of the most important things to any soldier in any war was to get paid or "have the eagle land" each month. The soldiers of the Kansas Brigade were no exception to this, and most of them had not been paid since they enlisted in August and September of 1861, so they were very happy to be finally paid, even if it was three or four months late. A private soldier in the "Union" Army was paid $13 a month and received a $2 a month clothing allowance.)

"Fort Lincoln"

On the Little Osage River, three miles west of Fulton, Kan., from the book entitled "The Journey by Martin Litvin"

"About 12 miles from home, John Gerth and I (August Bondi) were joined by George Lewis. The three of us rode on and reached "Fort Lincoln" late in the afternoon of Nov. 26, 1861. We fell in with a squad of 15 recruits under the command of William E. McGinnis, who was a lieutenant and recruiting officer for the 5th Kansas Cavalry.

The recruits, with such weapons as each man owned, formed the garrison of Fort Lincoln, a post established to protect Bourbon and Linn counties against Confederate raids.

Fort Lincoln held a large quantity of quartermaster and commissary stores and served as the rallying point for the civilian militia of the counties when they were called to duty. The fort was also the headquarters of two companies of independent federal scouts, the Miller and Van Sickle groups."

(Now then, Fort Lincoln was established in August of 1861 by order of Gen. James. H. Lane to serve as a defensive post for southern and eastern Kansas. It was located on the 1859 Fort Scott --Fort Leavenworth Road, the modern analog of which is Kansas Highway 7, and remained an active "Union" post and garrison for the duration of the Civil War.)

"Artillery Ammunition"

James Montgomery Papers, Kansas Historical Society

"Lawrence, Kan. Nov. 27, 1861.

Col. Montgomery,

Dear Sir,

We received an order by Mr. Charles Adams, for 50 rounds of canister and 40 rounds of round shot for the Topeka Gun (cannon) for the use of your brigade. We filled the order several weeks ago but have had no chance to get them to you. Will you please send for them and also inform us who is the proper person to present our bill to for settlement, both for this and the order we filled for you some time ago.


Lawrence Foundry and Machine Co.

By L. Kimbull."

(Now then, it appears that Col. Montgomery or Gen. Lane purchased "artillery ammunition" in this case, outside of the normal procurement procedures of the ordnance department at Fort Leavenworth, and the bill for the two orders had not been paid. Normally the ordnance department purchased all kinds of ammunition from a private contractor then issued it to individual regiments or artillery batteries. The Kansas Brigade was known for irregular purchases of which this appears to be one or two.)

"Justice Administered"

Atchison Weekly, Champion of Freedom,

Nov. 30, 1861

"A man belonging to Jennison's regiment (the 7th Kansas Vol. Cavalry), who had been breaking into houses and insulting (and attacking) females, was "shot" a few days since at Kansas City, by command of Col. Jennison, in the presence of the entire regiment, five men from each company being detailed to execute the sentence. (Now that must have been quite a large firing squad of 40 or 50 soldiers.) Jennison, although using every means in his power to put down the rebellion, is determined that no outrages shall committed by the men under his command."

(Now then, Col. Jennison did not hesitate to execute anyone who insulted or committed an outrage against a woman. However, the nickname of his regiment, the 7th Kansas Vol. Cavalry, was Jennison's Jayhawkers and that was well earned, because it was one of, if not the worst, jayhawking (robbing, stealing and pillaging) regiments from Kansas during the early part of the Civil War, until the good colonel was removed from the command of same in March of 1862.)

"End of the Kansas Brigade?"

Diary of 1st Lt. Henry Miles Moore Beineke Collection, Yale University

"Nov. 30, 1861, (Fort Leavenworth),

Cold last night, but clear and cool this a.m. Case and myself came in early. The (Missouri) river is mostly cloudy with heavy running in. Brig. Gen. James W. Denver (former territorial governor of Kansas) and Maj. Halderman arrived in town last night. Saw the latter.

Also, Lt. Col. Blunt from Fort Scott. Report says that the Kansas Brigade is ordered north except for Col. Judson's regiment. This I think is a mistake. Si Gordon and his party (Confederate guerrillas) robbed the train that came into Weston, (Mo.) last night, taking a large lot of goods for this place and all the N.S. Express goods and the mails.

How long are these "fiends" to be allowed to continue this work before something is done! P.M. I wrote a letter to the Hon. M.J. Conway in Washington about my appointment. Gen. Denver, I had a talk with him about getting the appointment of Capt., Adjutant Gen. to his staff. Nothing definite. He is ordered to go down to Fort Scott to take command of our Kansas Brigade. What the result will be I can't say. I think I shall go down with him when he goes, which will be some time the first of next week."

Now then, with the return home of the Kansas Brigade in November of 1861, rumors began to circulate throughout the brigade that the end was near and that it was going to be mustered out of the Union Army, and the companies were going to be assigned to different regiments.

Therefore, many of the officers, like Lt. Moore, began politicking for other assignments.

Eventually, the brigade was dissolved in March of 1862 when all of the Kansas regiments were reorganized, but until then it continued to wage total war on the citizens of Missouri, and, of course, the war went on!