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Category: Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler
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In the month of August, 1856, a company of so-called Territorial Militia established themselves at Hickory Point, Jefferson county, about twenty miles north of Lawrence, and proceeded to make raids on the Free State settlements. In one of these raids they pillaged the village of Grasshopper Falls, robbing the stores of their contents. Gen. Lane and Captains Harvey and Bickerton determined to attack and dislodge these marauders.

But on the 11th of September Gov. Geary, having arrived at Lecompton, issued a proclamation ordering all armed bands of men, whether known as Territorial Militia or Free State Guerrillas, to disperse and retire to their homes. Gen. Lane determined at once to leave the Territory, and sent a message to that effect to Capt. Harvey, who had arranged to unite his command with that of Gen. Lane in an attack on Hickory Point; but the messenger failed to meet Harvey, who made the attack alone and captured these robbers. But Harvey's men were in their turn taken prisoners by a company of United States troops and were conveyed to Lecompton and kept during the winter as treason prisoners. But while the Free State forces were thus being scattered, disbanded and taken prisoners, by virtue of Gov. Geary's proclamation, an army of 3,000 men had been enlisted in Missouri and along the border towns, and were marching to destroy Lawrence and wipe out the Free State settlements. Delilah bound Samson with cords, then said, "The Philistines be upon thee, Samson"; and so these "Law and Order" leaders saw the Free State forces dispersed by the Governor's proclamation, and then thought to bring on the helpless settlements the whole power of this Missouri invasion. But we will let Mr. Geary's private secretary tell the story in his own way:

But the most reprehensible character in the drama being enacted was the Secretary of the Territory, then acting Governor. More than three weeks after Gov. Geary had received his commission and Secretary Woodson had every reason to believe that he was on his way to the Territory, that weak-minded, if not criminally defective, officer issued the following proclamation:

WHEREAS, Satisfactory evidence exists that the Territory of Kansas is infested with large bodies of armed men:

Now, therefore, I, Daniel Woodson, Acting Governor of the Territory of Kansas, do issue my proclamation declaring the said Territory to be in a state of open insurrection and rebellion, and I do hereby call upon all law-abiding citizens of the Territory to rally to the support of the country and its laws.

Not satisfied with the proclamation, which of itself was sufficiently mischievous, he wrote private letters to parties in Missouri calling for men, money and munitions of war. This proclamation and these letters called together thousands of men, mostly from Missouri, with passions inflamed to the highest degree, and whose only thought was wholesale slaughter and destruction.

It was the fixed purpose of Secretary Woodson to keep Gov. Geary in ignorance of the extensive preparations that were being made to attack and destroy the Free State settlements. As yet the Governor had not seen Woodson's proclamation. Governor Geary issued the follow-orders:

ADJT. GEN. H. J. STRICKLER:--You will proceed without a moment's delay to disarm and disband the present organized militia of the Territory.

Notwithstanding the positive character of these orders they were utterly disregarded. Suspecting that treachery was somewhere at work he forthwith dispatched confidential messengers on the road to Westport to ascertain, if possible, what operations were going forward in that vicinity.

Messengers were constantly arriving from Lawrence bringing intelligence that a large army from Missouri was encamped on the Wakarusa River and was hourly expected to attack the town. As these men were styled Territorial Militia and were called into service by the late acting Governor Woodson, Gov. Geary commanded that officer to take with him Adjutant-General Strickler with an escort of United States troops and disband, in accordance with the proclamation issued, the forces that had so unwisely been assembled. Woodson and Strickler left Lecompton in the afternoon, and reached the Missouri camp early in the evening.

Here Woodson found it impossible to accomplish the object of his mission. No attention or respect was paid to him by those having command of the forces. The army he had gathered refused to acknowledge his authority. He had raised a storm, the elements of which he was powerless to control; neither could the officers be assembled to receive the Governor's orders from the Adjutant-General. The militia had resolved not to disband, the officers refused to listen to the reading of the proclamation--they were determined upon accomplishing the bloody work they had entered the Territory to perform. Nothing but the destruction of Lawrence and the other Free State towns, the massacre of the Free State residents, and the appropriation of their lands and other property, could satisfy them.

Mr. Adams, who accompanied Secretary Woodson to the Missouri camp, dispatched the following:

LAWRENCE, 12 o'clock Midnight, Sept. 14, 1856. To His EXCELLENCY, GOV. GEARY:

SIR:--_Secretary Woodson thought you had better come to the camp of the militia as soon as you can_. THEODORE ADAMS.

Before this dispatch reached Lecompton the Governor had departed with three hundred United States mounted troops and a battery of light artillery, and arrived in Lawrence early in the morning, where he found matters precisely as described. Skillfully stationing his troops outside the town, in commanding positions, to prevent a collision between the invading forces from Missouri and the citizens, he entered Lawrence alone, and there he beheld a sight which would have aroused the manhood of the most stolid mortal. About three hundred persons Were found in arms, determined to sell their lives at the dearest price to their ruffian enemies. Among these were many women, and children of both sexes, armed with guns and otherwise accoutered for battle. They had been goaded to this by the courage of despair.

Gov. Geary addressed the armed citizens of Lawrence, and when he assured them of his and the law's protection they offered to deposit their arms at his feet and return to their respective habitations. He bade them go to their homes in confidence, and to carry their arms with them, as the constitution guarantees that right, but to use them only in the last resort to protect their lives and property and the chastity of their females.

Early in the morning of the 15th, having left the troops to protect the town, the Governor proceeded alone to the camp of the invading forces, then within three miles and drawn up in line of battle. Before reaching Franklin, he met the advance guard, and upon inquiring who they were and what were their objects, received for answer that they were the Territorial Militia, and called into service by the Governor of Kansas, and that they were marching to wipe out Lawrence and every Abolitionist in the country.

Mr. Geary informed them that he was now Governor of Kansas, and Commander-in-chief of the Territorial Militia, and ordered the officer in command to countermarch his troops back to the main line, and conduct him to the center, which order, after some hesitation, was reluctantly obeyed.

The red face of the rising sun was just peering over the top of Blue Mound, as the Governor, with his strange escort of three hundred mounted men, with red shirts and odd-shaped hats, descended upon the Wakarusa plain, where in battle array were ranged at least three thousand armed and desperate men. They were not dressed in the usual habiliments of soldiers, but in every imaginable costume that could be obtained in the western region. Most of them were mounted, and manifested an unmistakable disposition to be at their bloody work. In the back-ground stood at least three hundred army tents and as many wagons, while here and there a cannon was planted ready to aid in the anticipated destruction. Among the banners floated black flags, to indicate the design that neither age, sex nor condition would be spared in the slaughter that was to ensue.

In passing along the lines murmurs of discontent and savage threats of assassination fell upon the Governor's ears, but heedless of these and regardless, in fact, of everything but a desire to avert the terrible calamity that was impending, he fearlessly proceeded to the quarters of their leader.

This threatening army was under the command of John W. Reed, then and now a member of the Missouri Legislature, assisted by ex-Senator Atchison, Gen. B. F. Stringfellow, Gen. L. A. Maclean, Gen. J. W. Whitfield, Gen. George W. Clarke, Gens. William A. Heiskell, Wm. H. Richardson and F. A. Marshal, Col. H. T. Titus, Capt. Frederick Emory and others.

Gov. Geary at once summoned the officers together, and addressed them at length and with great feeling. He depicted in a forcible manner the improper position they occupied and the untold horrors that would result from a consummation of their cruel designs; that if they persisted in their mad career the entire Union would be involved in a civil war, and thousands and tens of thousands of innocent lives be sacrificed. To Atchison he particularly addressed himself, telling him that when he last saw him he was acting as Vice-President of the nation and President of the most dignified body of men in the world, the Senate of the United States, but now with sorrow and pain he saw him leading on to a civil and disastrous war an army of men with uncontrollable passions, and determined upon wholesale slaughter and destruction. He concluded his remarks by directing attention to his proclamation, and ordered the army to be disbanded and dispersed. Some of the more judicious of the officers were not only willing but anxious to obey this order, while others, resolved upon mischief, yielded a reluctant assent.

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