Archive for Sunday, August 24, 2003

Events mark chapter in Civil War feud

August 24, 2003

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— One of the darkest chapters in the feud between Missouri and Kansas that began during the Civil War will be commemorated today in an unusual and somber gathering. Those who attend the 140th anniversary of Order No. 11 at the 1859 Jail, Marshal's Home and Museum in Independence can expect to be interrogated instead of entertained.

"We'll be asking you where you live and who you know," said Susan Church, the jail's director. "Then you'll be told to declare your loyalty, and you might be put in jail anyway."

Although Order No. 11 provoked deep resentment that lasted for generations, many current Kansas City area residents are unaware of the episode.

Aside from the forced assembly of Japanese-Americans into camps during World War II, Order No. 11 "stands as the harshest treatment ever imposed on United States citizens under the plea of military necessity in our nation's history," Civil War historian Albert Castel wrote in a 1963 article documenting the events of a century earlier.

From his Kansas City headquarters on Aug. 25, 1863, Union Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing Jr. ordered that all people in the Missouri border counties of Jackson, Cass and Bates not living within one mile of specified military posts had to leave their homes by Sept. 9.

Those who established their loyalty to the Union would be allowed to move to any area military post or to Kansas. Those who didn't had to leave.

Some 20,000 residents fled, carrying what they could. Behind them were homes that had been torched after being plundered.

Organizers of today's observance have assembled period trunks, saddles and carpetbags for the parlor of the Marshal's Home as examples of loot taken from area homes. Assorted farm animals, representing surviving family assets, will be tied up outside.

During the Civil War, bands of marauders crossed the Missouri-Kansas border to burn, plunder and murder. These alternating acts, committed by Missouri "bushwhackers" and Kansas "jayhawkers," contributed to an escalating cycle of violence and retribution.

Ewing decided to cripple the Missouri guerrillas by removing their civilian support. On Aug. 18 he issued Order No. 10, which sought to evict pro-Confederate families.

But on Aug. 21, Missouri guerrilla William Quantrill led a band of irregulars into Lawrence, Kan., massacring about 150 men and boys.

Ewing issued Order No. 11 four days later.

A rich archive of surviving letters and journals testifies to what followed.

"In the morning burned another house then went ... & took breakfast," Kansas cavalryman Sherman Bodwell wrote on Aug. 24. Though it was one day before Ewing issued his order, retribution for Quantrill's raid already had begun.

During today's events, Ewing's order will be read aloud in the morning, followed by a noon debate by re-enactors.

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