anywhere else, yet there is no certainty of my ability to do this. The executive
officer here ought not to be left powerless by the government and unable to en-
force the laws when violated. Such is my condition now, and if the lawless men
of the territory only knew it I would not be answerable for the consequences.
On the 24th day of May last, the board appointed by act of Congress approved
May 4, 1858, held their first meeting, and agreed on the first Monday in August
next as the day for the election to be held as authorized by that act. This was
earlier by at least a month than I desired, but it was the best that could be done.
The commission for the new attorney had not arrived. He was absent from his
place of residence and knew nothing of his appointment, and there was no cer-
tainty that he would accept. Mr. Weer was here, as were the presiding officers
of the two houses, all of them insisting on immediate action. Your instructions
had been received, and the law authorized any three of the board to act. Under
these circumstances, there was no alternative but to organize. After fixing a day
for the election and appointing a committee to draw up a plan for holding the
election, the board adjourned for a week, and on Tuesday last the report of the
committee was adopted by the board. Herewith 1 send you a printed copy.
Mr. Davis was this day sworn in as U. S. district attorney for this territory,
and enters on the discharge of his duties immediately. He appears to be
prompt, active, and I have no doubt will make an efficient officer.
On Wednesday last, Jas. H. Lane, who has been the source of most of the
troubles in this territory, and who is by many believed to have been the prime
mover of the recent difficulties in the south, had a quarrel with a Mr. Jenkins
about a land claim near the town of Lawrence, which resulted in the killing of
Jenkins. He (Lane) was wounded in the leg by a friend of Jenkins, and is now
in the hands of the officers. There is a good deal of feeling among the people on
account of this occurrence, as Mr. Jenkins was a gentleman universally es-
teemed as a good citizen. It is a most lamentable affair, but it is greatly to be
hoped that the people of the territory will be taught a lesson by it, and in the
future refrain from such acts of violence as must always sooner or later end in
Since writing the foregoing, I have received further information which
renders it very doubtful wheth(!r I can do anything in the south without troops,
but still I will make the effort. You can form some idea of the audacity of
Montgomery and his band from the fact that he arrested a messenger sent to me
by Deputy Marshal Smith with dispatches, broke the envelopes, took copies,
and then wrote me a letter, a copy of which is herewith sent you. These facts
appear to indicate a league between the marauders and the local authorities, and
that the troubles partake more of a political cast than I had first supposed.
The local officers, as before stated, are all fi-ee-state men, and they undoubtedly
have the power to restore peace if they choose to do so, but if this violence is
carried on with their consent, then nothing but a strong mounted force will
There is not now a single dragoon at my disposal. Shall I have any?
Prompt action is necessary. J. W. DENVER.
Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State.
Governor Denrci-'s Adni'inisi ration. 531
Leavenworth City, K. T., June 10, 1858.
Hon. Lewis Cass :
My Dear Sir â€” I have heard within a few days that the present Congress has
passed an act repealing so much of the act of 1856 as restricts the holding of the
terms of the district courts of the territories to three places.
We understand that the fixing of the times and places in the counties is left
with the judges of the supreme courts of the territories, and. accordingly, have
adjourned one regular term from last Monday to the 12th of July prox.
With the concurrence of the associate justices, I write to request that you
send to me a copy of the law, so that we may be able at the adjourned term to
make the necessary arrangements for the holding of our fall terms in the counties.
If we are misinformed, may I desire that you will correct us so that no sus-
pense may embarass our action in the premises.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
SAM. D. LECOMPTE, Circuit Judge.
[ Upon the letter of Governor Denver to Secretary Cass, dated June 23, 1858,
which here follows, is this indorsement : ]
Visit to the southern part of the territory. Eobbery of L. D. Williams, of
Osawatomie: facts relative thereto obtained on the spot.
Moneka: Found excitement there; people generally encourage Montgomery's
band, but seem alarmed that some who were driven away by M.'s band might re-
turn to take vengeance for their wrongs.
Fort Scott: Confusion existing, as also throughout Linn and Bourbon coun-
ties. Montgomery's attempt to burn Fort Scott the week previous. People of
Bourbon county meet at Fort Scott on the 12th and 13th, (and pass resolutions
for the preservation of peace by organizations, &c.) Considers it of the first im-
portance that the civil authorities should be recognized, and will not employ the
military if it can be avoided. Further about Montgomery's depredations. Re-
lates incidents occurring in February or March. Some who had been robbed
and driven away returned and perpetrated a fearful and bloody act; the sufferers
sympathized with Montgomery so far as not to take active steps to protect their
neighbors against his band.
Recapitulates in their order the principal acts of outrage from December to
June 4 : M.'s attempt to burn Fort Scott; 150 to 200 families driven from Linn
county : 100 ditto from Bourbon. The return of some of these inaugurated the
vengeance of Hamilton's party alluded to. The people in the vicinity of these
occurrences along the Osage he found intensely excited, and the authorities at
Linn had organized a patrol. Thought it better to have them under territory
control rather than that of the county, and received them as a volunteer force
for a short time. Number will not exceed 60, and to be kept probably not longer
four or six weeks. Appropriation by legislative assembly to cover the expenses,
as he thinks. Adopted measures to organize the civil authorities in both Linn
and Bourbon. Thinks the people will carry out the arrangement in good faith.
If well founded, peace will be restored, and the territory will be as quiet as any
part of the union.
Received 3d Julv :
Executive Office, Lecompton, K. T., June 23, 1858.
Sir â€” On Friday last I returned from a visit to the disturbed districts in the
southern part of the territory. The weather was very bad, the roads deep and
582 Kansas State Historical Society.
heavy, and the streams swollen to torrents. I was accompanied by Messrs. Rob-
inson and Whitney, of Lawrence, Wright, of Quindaro, and McLaughlin, of
Leavenworth, and some other gentlemen who were desirous of obtaining informa-
tion. My aide, Lieut. J. P. Jones, U. S. A., whom I mentioned before as having
gone through that country along with Mr. Newsom, also accompanied me. I
left this place on the 8th inst., and Lawrence on the 9th. At Osawatomie we
obtained the facts in relation to the robbery committed on L. D. Williams, Esq.,
a citizen of that place. Mr. Williams has always been a free-state man. but in
politics a democrat. He has always opposed the violence indulged in by some in
that communitjs and hence he was pointed out as a proper person to be robbed.
Accordingly, his house was surrounded by a body of armed men one night, after
himself and family had retired to rest, entered and plundered" of nearly every-
thing of value, and his horses taken out of the stable. All this was done in a
town of some 400 or 500 inhabitants, and no one interfered to prevent the outrage.
The next day the sheriff followed the marauders and succeeded in recovering the
horses and about $70 in money.
You will recollect that it was ( in ) Osawatomie that a public dinner was given
to Montgomery, and where he and his band were applauded for their deeds in
speeches made by Charles A. Foster and others. These facts we ascertained to
be true, and the same sentiments were avowed by Foster in my presence.
From Osawatomie we went to Moneka, where we found a good deal of ex-
The people there seemed generally to have encouraged Montgomery's band in
committing outrages on their neighbors, and appeared to be greatly alarmed for
the consequences, fearing that some of those who had been di'iven away might
return and take vengeance for the wrongs they had suffered.
We arrived at the town of Fort Scott on Sunday, June 11. We found every-
thing there in the utmost confusion, and this was the case throughout the whole
of Bourbon and Linn counties. The people seemed to have forgotten that they
had a civil government. The officers of the law were not respected, and in some
places they had gotten up civil organizations without the authority of law. The
week before our arrival Montgomery had made an attempt to burn the town of
Fort Scott, by placing dry hay against a house and setting fire to it. He then
withdrew with his band a short distance, when they fired into the houses indis-
criminately two or three volleys from their rifles. Fortunately the fire did not com-
municate to the house, nor was any person injured by the shots fired, though
several had very narrow escapes, including some ladies, in the place.
It would be difficult to conceive a more diabolical or barbarous act than this
was in its inception. The town was full of people, many of them families who
had been forced to fly from their homes in the country and seek refuge in the
town. In the dead hour of night, when all were asleep, the attempt was made to
burn the town, and then the incendiaries, drawing off to a secure distance, de-
termined with their rifles to prevent the people from extinguishing the flames.
Had such an act been done by savages, it would have produced a thrill of horror
throughout the whole country, for the intention was nothing less than to involve
a whole community, men, women, and children, in one common ruin. And yet
I met with men who have taken a prominent part in Kansas affars, uphold and
justify Montgomery and his band in their conduct, though perfectly aware of
this most outrageous attempt at arson and murder.
On the 12th and 13th instants, quite a large number of the people of Bourbon
county met at the town of Fort Scott. Herewith I send you a copy of their pro-
ceedings. I consider it to be of the first importance that the civil authorities
Gorernor Deuvcr\9 Afl ministration. 533
should be fully recognized and the law enforced through that means, and will
not employ the military if it can possibly be avoided. I endeavored to impress
these views on the people, and believe that I was successful, for they manifested
an earnest desire to organize the civil government, and declared their intention
to support their officers in the discharge of their duties. In these efforts I was
ably seconded by Doctor Robinson, Judge Wright, and others, and when we left
Fort Scott the general impression was that peace would be restored to the com-
From Fort Scott to the crossing of the Osage river, or Marais des Cygnes as
it is there called, a distance of about 30 miles, we passed through a country almost
depopulated by the depredations of the predatory bands under Montgomery, pre-
senting a scene of desolation such as I never expected to have witnessed in any
country inhabited by American citizens â€” houses deserted and farms abandoned ;
the young corn left to struggle for an existence with the weeds : and the wheat
just ripening, with no one to gather in the harvest. The accounts given of the
flight of the people were heartrending in the extreme. The men were compelled
to fly at once to save their lives, while their families, women and children, despoiled
of all their property by these savages, had to follow on foot as best they could to
the state of Missouri, where they hoped at least to avoid starvation.
It may be as well to relate one affair that occurred in Bourbon county in the
month of February or March last. Complaint was made by some of these ma-
rauders against an old man by the name of Travis ( ? ), and they have him arrested
and carried before one of their self -constituted tribunals, where he was acquitted.
He was nearly 80 years of age, and, after being discharged, went to the residence
of two brothers named Wasson. Three of the gang who had just tried him fol-
lowed, and, after conversing with him for a short time, in a manner apparently
friendly, one of them, without any provocation whatever, shot him dead, and the
others fired at and severely wounded the two Wassons. The wife of one of the
wounded men had sufficient presence of mind to extinguish the light, and the
villains, supposing they had killed the three men, collected whatever plunder
they could take away, including all the horses, destroyed whatever they could
not carry, and then left for the camp, leaving the women and children, with the
dead and wounded, to get away to a place of safety in the best way they could.
Some of the people who had been thus robbed and driven away from the ter-
ritory, leaving their families in the state of Missouri, returned and perpetrated
one of the most fearful and bloody acts known in the history of Kansas. This
party is said to have been commanded by Captain Hamilton. They entered the
territory along the banks of the Osage, and after arresting a number of men they
selected eleven, and placing them in a line fired a volley with the intention of
killing them. At the fire all fell to the ground. Five of them were killed dead,
four were wounded, and two escaped unhurt, but one of these was afterwards
shot in the face by one of the murderers. This was a most atrocious deed, and
the perpetrators deserve the severest punishment: yet I have not the slightest
doubt that it was prompted by motives of revenge. Revenge, however, is no
justification for such an act, especially when, as in this instance, the blow was
inflicted on persons who had not been active participants in the wrongs that
have been before perpetrated.
From the best information I could obtain, I am satisfied that the greatest
crime committed by these men was that they sympathized with Montgomery and
his band so far that they took no steps to protect their neighbors, who differed
with them in political opinions, from their depredations, but permitted the
marauders to remain without making an effort to arrest them.
534 Kansas State Historical Society.
I will here recapitulate, or rather state in the order in which they occurred,
the principal acts of outrage perpetrated in Bourbon and Linn counties.
In December, a party of 23 free-state men in Bourbon county drove some pro-
slavery settlers away from their claims and took possession of them. For this
the trespassers were arrested. Some of them were held to bail and some of them
made their escape. These acts caused a good deal of excitement, and Acting
Governor Stanton sent down some troops to preserve the peace, and, at the same
time, Jas. H. Lane, claiming to be commander-in-chief of the Kansas militia,
organized two companies, and left them under the command of Montgomery and
Bayne, who resisted U. S. Deputy Marshal Little while in the discharge of his
duty, fired on and wounded several of his posse.
Jas. Y. Johnson, a pro-slavery man, was charged with an attempt to swindle.
He was arrested by a mob at Fort Scott, and forced to give up his property to
his creditors. He then joined Montgomery and his party, and, becoming a free-
state man, sought to have revenge by having the town of Fort Scott burned.
March and April. â€” Jumolt, a pro-slavery man, was shot, left for dead (but
since recovered ), and robbed of all his property, by men said to belong to the
bands of Montgomery and Bayne.
Headrick and Denton had a difficulty about a land claim with the Hardricks,
and were both mvu-dered at night by persons unknown, but supposed to have
been the Hardricks. This was caused altogether by the quarrel about the land,
and is not believed to have anything to do with the other troubles.
Next in order of time was the murder of the old man Travis and the shooting
of the Wassons by three of Montgomery's baud, to which allusion has already
Then comes the resistance of the United States deputy marshal by Mont-
gomery, when one of the United States soldiers was killed. The particulars of
this affair have already been sent you.
Shortly after this, Mr. Wells and Mr. McKenney were robbed in Douglas
county and five or six families in Johnson county by Montgomery's band, who
fled from the southern counties on the approach of the troops sent down under
the command of Capt. T. I. Wood, mentioned in a former communication, and it
was on their return to the south that L. D. Williams was robbed, at Osawato-
mie. The real cause of the hostility to Mr. Williams may be found in the
resolutions adopted April 14, 1857, a copy of which is herewith sent as published.
May the 19th. â€” Eleven free-state men taken and shot by Hamilton's party,
the particulars of which are given above.
June 4: â€” The attempt of Montgomery to burn the town of Fort Scott and
firing into the place to prevent the people from extinguishing the flames.
A great many outrages of a minor character were perpetrated, and, during
the whole time, Montgomery and his party were engaged in driving away
peaceable settlers and robbing them of their property. They confined their
operations generally to such persons as differed with them in political opinions,
and the fact that Lane had given commissions to Montgomery and Bayne, and
that within a very short time L. has claimed the right to control them through
the action of his " military board," would indicate a political movement through-
out: and, so far as Lane and his adherents are concerned, this supposition is
probably correct, for such things could not be carried on with impunity unless
it was favored by enough of the people to overcome those who were inclined to
put a stop to the outrages.
But political opinions were used only as a cloak for systematic robbery at a
time when the free-state party held every office in the county of Linn, and when
Governor Denver's Adntinistrafion.
they might have had them in Bourbon county, if they had turned out to the
election. Outside of these two counties, these things are very generally con-
demned, and no one has labored more earnestly to stop them than Dr. Chas.
Robinson, who is the acknowledged leader of a very large and respectable xjor-
tion of the free-state party of the territory. But I have met with men occupying
high positions who not only encouraged these outrages in private but justified
them in public. Prominent among these is Chas. A. Foster, the party nominee
for the office of attorney -general under the Leavenworth constitution, before re-
ferred to, who made a speech at the town of Osawatomie in my presence, and
attempted to justify Montgomery, but was very severely handled for it by Judge
Wright at the time.
According to the best information obtained, from 150 to 200 families have
been driven away from Linn county, and about 100 from the county of Bourbon.
These were not all driven away by force, but many went away through fear ;
seeing their neighbors murdered, maltreated, and robbed, as was generally be-
lieved, on account of their political opinions, they hastened to place themselves
beyond reach of the threatened danger.
Many of these people, smarting under the real or supposed wrongs they had
suffered, after seeing their families in places of safety, resolved to have revenge,
and hence the foray of Hamilton and its bloody termination.
The people in the vicinity where this act occurred we found intensely ex-
cited, and the authorities of Linn county had organized a patrol to watch the
border. I thought it better to have these men under the immediate control of
the territorial rather than the county authorities, and therefore I agreed to re-
ceive them as a volunteer force for a short time, until the fears of the people
shall be allayed. The number will not exceed 60, and it will not probably be
necessary to keep them in the field more than a month or six weeks. I think an
appropriation made by the late legislative assembly can be made to cover the ex-
I adopted measures to have the civil authorities in both these counties thor-
oughly organized in accordance with the territorial laws, and from information
received since leaving there I feel confident that it is the intention of the great
maps of the people to carry out the arrangement in good faith. If this belief
should prove to be correct, peace will be fully restored in that part of the country
and everything will be as quiet in this territory as in any other part of the
I am resolved to do all in my power to have the perpetrators of the outrages
referred to brought to justice for their crimes, no matter to what party they
belong, but this cannot be done until the civil authorities are fully estab-
lished and the laws recognized and enforced. To accomplish this as the primary
object all my efforts have been directed, and I flatter myself that these efforts
are about to be crowned with complete success. With the establishment of the
civil authority and the enforcement of the laws will end the troubles in Kansas â€”
"A consummation devoutly to be wished."
I cannot close this communication without commending the zeal, energy and
good conduct of my aide, Lieut. J. P. Jones, throughout all these troubles. At
a time when it was considered extremely dangerous to pass through the disturbed
district, he volunteered his services; and none but Mr. B. I. Newsom, who also
volunteered to accompany him, passed through the whole country, and brought
me valuable and reliable information. Their report has already been sent to you.
The conduct of these two gentlemen is worthy of all praise.
J. W. DENVER.
To Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of State, Washington City, D. C.
536 Kansas State Historical Society.
Fort Scott, Kas., June 11, 1858.
Sir : I arrived at this place day before yesterday, and in order to inform you
of the circumstances of the country, so far as I have learned them, I copy from
my report made yesterday to Major Sherman, at Fort Leavenworth :
" After leaving the Big Blue, which is about 20 miles from the Kansas river, I
found for 20 miles scarcely any houses, and for the rest of the way to this point
I found many houses on the road, and, excepting at West Point, the crossing of
the Osage, and near this place they were mostly deserted, in consequence of the
recent difficulties in this region of covmtry. At Cold Water grove ( 18 miles this
side the Big Blue ), a Mr. Zanther, who lives there, stated that the citizens in
that vicinity, both of Kansas and Missouri, had concerted measures of protection
and resistance to outrages from either of the parties now engendering strife. He
stated he had reliable information that Hamilton, who was at the head of the
outrages on the Osage, was at Independence raising men for another invasion,
and though some 150 men were reported to be ready, he thought about 30 were
raised for this purpose. He and most others on the road expressed great appre-
hensions upon existing troubles.
On crossing the Osage, I found the house of the old Trading Post there occu-
pied with an armed party of not less than 210 men, and though I had no commu-
nication with them, I understand them to be organized to resist Hamilton's
party and ( as they expressed it ) any party that should come to attack them.
They seemed exasperated and resolute, I am informed, and believe that most of
the people in this region are armed, organized, and on the alert for occasions
which circumstances or leaders may suggest, abandoning their homes and losing
the proceeds of their farms. Such I found the state of things for 50 miles or
more at this end of the route, and if the employment of government troops are
necessary to stop these troubles they might doubtless be well employed along it.
The people of this place make many reports of intended and attempted outrages
upon it, among which is that of an attempt a few nights since to set fire to it,
and firing upon it to prevent persons from putting out the fire already kindled.
" Recent outrages in the vicinity, attributed to the party of which Montgomery