Monday, April 6, 2009
From the journal of the 14th Kansas Enrolled Militia
It was a crisp and windy early spring day. Our detachment had been sent into Clay County, Missouri to confirm an illegal and unlawful assembly in the township of Shoal Creek. It was rumored that a group of pro-southern agitators was stirring up the populace with anti-government speeches.
Upon entering the town, we found a crowd of old men, women, and children assembled near the square. The people seemed spellbound or perhaps hypnotized by the sharp serpent's tongues of three overly dressed and red-faced gentlemen. It seems the men took turns speaking to the crowd. As soon as one fellow got out of breath, another agitator would jump in and continue the sermon.
Upon seeing our arrival, the pro-southern agitators got even more excited, waving their arms like pinwheels and shouted for the crowd to resist the Northern invasion. After so much preaching, the crowd had a glazed look in their eyes, as if they'd been sniffing paint fumes too long.
"Beware the devils in blue uniform," one fat-faced agitator spat," the vile damn Kansans will burn your homes, ravage your women, and eat your children." The spittle flew from his lips like morning rain.
Our captain, a veteran of war with Mexico and with the Plains Indian, calmly announced that the assembly was illegal and must be disbanded at once. He warned that arrest was the alternative.
Someone in the crowd shouted some nonsense about the Constitution and freedom of speech and some other silliness, but our captain would have no room for debate.
At a command, our company fixed bayonets and stepped forward.
As expected, the townspeople scattered like frightened sheep. In the confusion, a few citizens suffered some bruising and broken bones. Women fainted and children bawled. But not one Federal soldier was molested.
The three agitators were arrested and thrown into the local jail and the town was placed under martial law.
Within the hour, another detachment of Kansas militia came in and between the two of us, we had the town pretty well bottled up. No one could leave or enter the town except with a written pass.
All roads were guarded and anyone traveling was subject to having their belongings searched.
A few of the more foolhardy tried to sneak out of town by taking to the woods. These Rebel sympathizers were hunted down and were given a rough treatment when our boys found them.
Later in the day, some guerrillas attempted to bushwhack our boys that were gathered at the mill.
A skirmish line was thrown out and a brisk gun battle went on for a brief time. One or two of our boys were mortally wounded and some others suffered broken bones as the result of pistol balls. The guerrillas tried to drive us out of town but we were too well armed and all good shots. That evening we could hear the wild hogs having supper. Pity the poor lad who met an untimely fate all because he fell under the spell of anti-Lincoln gibberish.
I must end this page of my journal because it's my turn to interrogate the wounded prisoner.