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War Crimes Against Southern Civilians

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Saint Louis, May 16, 1862.

Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: I have the honor to inclose herewith a communication from Brigadier-General Loan, commanding the District of Northwest Missouri, with other papers therein referred to, setting forth facts which I fear will lead to serious difficulty between the people of Kansas and Missouri, if not between the troops of the two departments. I have taken the liberty of addressing you directly upon the subject, because of its importance, the distance of General Halleck, and length of time required to communicate with him by mail, and his want of power since the separation of Kansas from his department to remedy the evil.

I would respectfully suggest as a means of preventing difficulties of the kind complained of that an order be issued from the War Department forbidding the troops of Kansas to enter Missouri or those of Missouri to enter Kansas unless at the request of the respective commanders. This appears to me to be a necessity, resulting from the bitter feeling existing between the border people, which feeling is the result of old feuds, and involves very little, if at all, the question of Union or disunion.

It is useless to attempt to disguise the fact that the chief difficulty now in the way of the speedy pacification of Missouri is the disposition of lawless bands of border men and of troops raised on either side of the line to commit unjustifiable acts of violence to persons and destruction or seizure of property.

I have endeavored to prevent this as far as possible by stationing in border counties troops from other States, or from the eastern part of this State, who do not participate in the local prejudices of the people. In every instance the success of the experiment has been highly satisfactory.

That part of the State lying north of the Missouri River is in a state of almost perfect peace, with the exception presented in General Loans letter. The central portion of the State is rapidly becoming pacified, and I hope soon, with the aid of troops now moving in that direction, to obtain equally perfect control over the southern portion.

The most difficult thing now to be accomplished in Missouri is to restore peace and prosperity to the counties bordering on Kansas. This can readily be done by a judicious and conservative use of the troops of the respective States. Without this it will be difficult to prevent open hostility between the Union troops of Kansas and Missouri. In this view it appears to me unfortunate that the two States cannot be under the same commander, who would thus have the power of immediate redress of any wrongs that are likely to be committed as well as to render them much less frequent than now.

As, however, this unity of command does not exist, I see no way of preventing the difficulties referred to but by forbidding the troops of either department to enter the other, and even this, I apprehend, will prove only partially effectual.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Saint Joseph, May 13, 1862.
General JOHN M. SCHOFIELD, Comdg. Mo. S. M., Saint Louis, Mo.:
GENERAL: Herewith I inclose you a copy of Major Dale's report from Platte City, a copy of a letter I addressed to General Blunt upon the subject, and a copy of a statement I have received from some of the most prominent citizens of Platte County, a part of whom are, it is true, very decided in their sympathy for the South. Ample time for a reply from General Blunt has elapsed, but I have received no response to my note. The 5 men I understand are still detained as prisoners at Fort Leavenworth. It is imperatively demanded, to preserve the peace and quiet of the border, that these prisoners be released, and that ample assurances be given that no military arrests will hereafter be made except they be ordered by those who have military jurisdiction over the district.

I have been informed by the clerk of the circuit court, George W. Belt, esq., and Judge Gilbert, that the ministerial officers will not serve writs in their possession for fear of being arrested by General Blunts orders, there being no troops in the county, Major Dale having removed to Kansas City. I have not been able to supply his place, and probably will not for the next ten days, owing to the impossibility of procuring transportation.

If we are to have a border war with the thieves of Kansas backed by authority it will be inconvenient to spare the Sixth Regiment. If the control of affairs in Kansas was given to a friend of law and order two regiments will preserve the utmost tranquillity in the Northwest.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BEN. LOAN, Brigadier-General, Missouri State Militia, Comdg. Dist.


Platte City, Mo., May 8, 1862.
Brig Gen. BEN. LOAN:
Under orders from Brigadier General Blunt, of Fort Leavenworth, a lieutenant, with a detachment of 20 men, came into Platte City on yesterday and arrested two citizens of this county; also took from the possession of one Mr. Baker a sorrel mare claimed by the wife of one of Jennison's men. Also on to-day a detachment came over and arrested three more citizens of this county. The cause of these arrests seems not to be based upon disunion or secession.

The circumstances are as follows, then you can draw your own inferences:
On Tuesday last a man by the name of Atchison and a woman by the name of Boyer came from Kansas to Missouri, in the neighborhood of Farley, in search of a horse belonging to Mrs. Boyers husband. They found in the possession of a Mr. Baker [Walker?] a mare which Mrs. Boyer claimed as the property of her husband.

Mr. Baker called upon his neighbors to prove that Mrs. Boyer was mistaken as to the ownership, but failed to do so to the satisfaction of Mrs. Boyer and Atchison. Atchison drew his revolver and swore that he would take the mare anyhow, which he did, and started to Kansas. The citizens in and about Farley pursued and arrested Atchison and brought him back to Farley and brought suit against him before Justice Patton, which was set for trial on yesterday (Wednesday) at 1 o'clock. The justice of the peace early yesterday morning sent to these headquarters for protection to the court, as he had reason to believe that more would come over from Kansas and take the prisoner from them. I sent a detachment of men and had the prisoner brought to this place and turned over to the civil authority. The case came up for a hearing before a justice of the peace, but was dismissed for some error or informality in the papers and prisoner discharged. He returned in the course of an hour with the detachment of soldiers and made the arrests. General Blunts orders were to arrest all persons who assisted in the arrest of Atchison. They made two arrests yesterday and three to-day, all for the same crime.

I did not protest against the proceedings, not knowing the extent of General Blunts jurisdiction, or whether he had a right to come into your department and interfere with the enforcement of civil law or make arrests of persons that were trying to enforce civil law; and not desiring to conflict with my superiors, I deemed it my duty to lay the case before you, which I have done as nearly as may be.

Your obedient servant,
D. DALE, Major, Commanding Post Platte City.

Saint Joseph, Mo., May 9, 1862.
Brigadier-General BLUNT,
Commanding District of Kansas, Port Leavenworth, Kans.:
GENERAL: I have just received from Major Dale, in command of the forces at Platte City, a communication, from which the inclosed paragraph is extracted.*

I am informed that the cause for the arrest of the parties referred to by Major Dale was a controversy between certain citizens of Missouri and citizens of Kansas who came to Missouri and claimed property, which, being denied, finally resulted in a lawsuit instituted to determine the right to the property, and which it is said your soldiers afterward took by force, in defiance of the civil tribunals of the State, and arrested the parties connected with the suit.

I am not willing to believe that it is possible that such a course could be authorized or approved by you, aud now I merely call your attention to the matter as an abuse of authority, which I do not doubt you will find the means to prevent in the future. I have ever been careful to cultivate the most kindly feeling between the citizens of Missouri and Kansas, and which has been reciprocated to the fullest extent by the authorities of Kansas. I hope nothing will occur that will require a change of these relations, and whilst I shall ever observe the most scrupulous regard for the rights of the citizens of Kansas it is my duty to furnish protection to the citizens of Missouri, and it shall be done.

In this connection permit me to add that I shall be happy at all times to have arrested any and all who, being guilty of any military offenses, have sought an asylum in this military district.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BEN. LOAN, Brigadier-General, Missouri State Militia, Comdg. Dist.

PLATTE CITY, Mo., May --, 1862.
Brigadier-General LOAN:
DEAR SIR: We, the undersigned, citizens of Platte County, Missouri, would respectfully submit to you for your consideration the following statement:

On the 6th instant a man from Kansas went to the house of one William Walker, [Baker?] in this county, and demanded of him his horse;. Walker refused to give him up. The horse was then taken from Walker by force. After the thief left, Walker, with a few of his neighbors, overtook him near Parley, in this county, and captured him. He was turned over to the civil authorities, and brought to this place for trial. About 5 oclock p. m. yesterday about 30 soldiers from the fort rode into town and arrested the man who made the affidavit and took the horse from Mr. Walker, and produced an order from Brigadier-General Blunt for the arrest of every man who had anything to do with catching the man who took the horse. We earnestly remonstrated against this proceeding. If it is continued we cannot enforce civil law. No officer will issue a writ; none dare serve it.

We do hope that our military will be used here to support and aid the civil law, and that we can have some protection from the thieves and outlaws of Kansas. We ask that this case be inquired into, and that the authorities of Kansas be notified not to interfere with the laws of our State.

A. BURGE et al.

* Probably first paragraph of preceeding letter.

Source: Official Records, Series 1, Volume 13