CWRT flagge



Volume 28, No. 5 – May 2015

Volume 28, No. 5
Editor: Stephen L. Seftenberg

Looking for Speakers

The Civil War Round Table of Palm Beach County is always looking for interesting speakers.  We meet year round on the second Wednesday of the month.  If you are going to be in our area and have a topic about the Civil War please send an e.mail message to

President’s Message

There will be a Civil War encampment May 9th (9 AM to 6 PM) and May 10th (9 AM to 4 PM) at the American Legion Post 65, 263 NE 5th Avenue, Delray Beach. Directions: From North, go South on I-95 to Woolbright Road, go East to Highway 1, then south to 263 NE 5th.

May 13, 2015 Meeting

CrossDr. Gene Cross grew up in Alabama with deep family roots in Autauga County and lived for many years in Florida. now lives in Oakton, Virginia with his wife Carol when he is not fishing in Florida.  He has three wonderful daughters.  His deep interest in history started in 1996 when he discovered a faded envelope of old Civil War letters in his great grandmother’s old steamer trunk.  These letters led to a 14-year journey into the life of his great grand uncle, Lieutenant Thomas Taylor, the Taylor family, and the history of the 6th Alabama Infantry Regiment and of the Civil War in the eastern theater.  Since then he has been a passionate student of history and serves as a volunteer interpreter at Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee memorial in Arlington Virginia.  He is the chair of the Board of Trustees of The Arlington House Foundation, which supports the National Park Service in its restoration and interpretation of this historic site.

April 8, 2015 Meeting

Stephen Singer, a noted historian and teacher at Nova University, brought to life "The Southern Guerrillas – Quantrill, "Bloody Bill" Anderson and Jesse James

Background Leading Up to Civil War

When England outlawed the slave trade in 1833, Northern abolitionists were inspired to act against the expansion of slavery to the new territories.  The Civil War really began with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, based on US Senator Stephen Douglas’ "Popular Sovereignty."  The Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Commission paid families to move to Kansas to help sway the vote against slavery.  Lawrence, Kansas, was christened "Yankee Town" by the proslavery forces, who in turn solicited proslavery groups to move to Kansas from Missouri.  Fighting soon broke out and "Bleeding Kansas" was born.  In 1856, 700 proslavery raiders sacked Lawrence. Another group of "Border Ruffians" raided Pottawatomie, Kansas.  In retaliation, John Brown and his sons raided Osawatomie, Kansas, butchering five proslavery residents with a sword.  Another "flashpoint" was the caning of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner by South Carolina Senator Preston Brooks on the floor of the United States Senate.  Between 1854 and 1859, Kansans adopted no less than four constitutions, one proslavery, but in 1859 they adopted the Wyandotte Constitution and Kansas came in as a free state in 1861.  In 1861, US Senator Jim Lane organized an irregular militia christened the "Jayhawkers."  In response the proslavery "Bushwhackers" were organized.  Guerrilla war spread: the Jayhawkers burned out "Secesh" settlers in Missouri and the Bushwhackers retaliated in kind in Kansas.  Singer commented that many of the players on both sides were very young, some only 16 or 17 years old.

William Clarke Quantrill (7/31/1837-6/6/1865)

James McPherson blogged: "Without any ties to the South or to slavery, Quantrill chose theQuantrill Confederacy apparently because in Missouri this allowed him to attack all symbols of authority.  He attracted to his gang some of the most psychopathic killers in American history."  At the age of 20, Quantrill led the first major Southern guerrilla unit.  Before the Civil War, he was a cattle rustler, tracked down escaped slaves for the $200 bounty (the average wage then was $75 a month!).  Missouri was "neutral" in the Civil War – the Governor said the state’s sympathies were with the South but its economic interest lay with the North.  Its main crops were tobacco and hemp.  No cotton, so Missouri had few slaves (25,000 in 1861 out of a population of a million plus). Nevertheless, Missouri was a sanctuary for Bushwhackers:  If they met someone who spoke with a German accent, he got killed, even if he favored the South!  A New York Times reporter described a Bushwhacker as "tall, slim, athletic, shirts, pants and hands dirty, teeth walnut colored, armed with various weapons always including a Bowie knife."  A Bushwhacker could carry 6 or more Navy colt revolvers (36 shots!) compared to the Union soldiers equipped with a single shot muzzle loaded musket.  Early on, if a Union contingent was out looking for firewood, the Bushwhackers would stay out of range until the inexperienced Union commander would order his troops to fire.  The Bushwhacker would then ride in uttering their scary Rebel Yell and kill or wound most of the Union soldiers before they could reload.  Some Bushwhackers stole Union army uniforms to enhance the surprise.  The Union soldiers developed hand signals to tell friend from foe, but the Bushwhackers soon deciphered the hand signal code.  In the beginning, captives were stripped and paroled.  However, as fighting grew more horrific, they were executed.  Both sides soon gave "no quarter" to opponents trying to surrender.

The Southern guerrillas cut the telegraph wires, burned the mail and derailed the railroads.  Why were they so successful? (1) they were local and knew the territory, (2) they were farm boys familiar with guns and (3) they were good horsemen.  Some Bushwhackers came from prominent families who wanted to avenge outrages committed by the other side, some were simply common criminals in it for plunder and some were true Southern sympathizers.

Gov. James Lane (6/22/1814-7/11/1866)

LaneNicole Ettcheson, Jim Lane’s Revenge:  "Raised in southern Indiana, James Henry Lane had served in the Mexican War before going to Congress as a Democrat.  At the time, he was reliably pro-slavery: he once remarked that he "would as soon buy a negro as a mule."  But after he left politics and moved to the Kansas Territory in 1855,..., he fell in with abolitionist forces and soon found himself leading the free-state military forces.  Although Lane’s opportunism and hot-headedness exasperated his free-state allies, his military experience and powerful speeches made him a leader of the movement and secured his election to the United States Senate when Kansas became a state" in 1861.  Lane cemented relations with President Lincoln by recruiting 60 Kansans as a "Frontier Guard" to protect the White House until regular Union army could get there.  "Back in Kansas by the summer, Lane busied himself recruiting troops for ‘Lane’s Brigade."  With 600 men, Lane invaded Missouri, where they sacked Osceola, Missouri, an important supply center for the Confederates.  "Joseph Trego, one of Lane’s men, wrote that the brigade ‘loaded the wagons with valuables from the numerous well supplied stores, and then set fire to the infernal town.’  The courthouse, which had flown a Confederate flag, went up in flames. Allegedly Lane’s men carried off not just horses, mules, flour, and coffee but also silk dresses and a piano; several slaves also accompanied them back to Kansas. Lane’s soldiers destroyed some of Osceola’s liquor supply, igniting it so that "a stream of flames" ran downhill into the Osage River — but they also consumed a considerable portion of the supply themselves.  The 3,000 residents of Osceola were left with a smoldering ruins"  Civil War on the Western Border:"  At least ten residents were killed (including nine executions after the raid ended) and approximately $1 million in building and property damage."

Civil War Talk (August 16, 2011): Jim Lane’s "Red Legs"--  "During the early part of the Civil War western Missouri was infested with bands of guerrillas," who often committed depredations in Kansas.  To guard against these incursions, and otherwise to aid the Union cause, a company of border scouts was formed sometime in the year 1862.  As it was an independent organization, never regularly mustered into the United States service, no official record of it has been preserved.  The men composing the company became known as "Red Legs," from the fact that they wore leggings of red or tan-colored leather.  This company was commanded by Capt. George H. Hoyt, the lawyer who defended John Brown at Charleston, Va.  Other members were Jack Harvey, a brother of Fred Harvey, of Santa Fe eating house fame and William (‘Wild Bill’) Hickok."  Union General Blunt stated, "A reign of terror was inaugurated, and no man’s property was safe, nor was his life worth much if he opposed them in their schemes of plunder and robbery.

Quantrill’s Raid (the Sack of Lawrence, Kansas)

Between 300 and 400 riders descended on Lawrence around 5 A.M., August 21, 1862.  Over four hours, the raiders pillaged and set fire to the town and killed most of its male population.  Quantrill’s men burned to the ground a quarter of the buildings in Lawrence, including all but two businesses.  They looted most of the banks and stores and killed between 185 and 200 men and boys.  By 9 A.M., the raiders were on their way out of town, evading the few units that came in pursuit, and splitting up so as to avoid Union pursuit of a unified column.  The raid was less a battle than a mass execution.  A squad of Union soldiers temporarily stationed in Lawrence had returned to Fort Leavenworth, leaving the town virtually defenseless.  Most of the victims of the raid were unarmed when gunned down.  With revenge a principal motive, Quantrill’s raiders entered Lawrence with lists of men to be killed and buildings to be burned.  Senator James H. Lane was at the top of the list.  Lane was a leader of the jay-hawking raids that had cut a swath of death, plundering, and arson through western Missouri (including the destruction of Osceola) in the early months of the Civil War.  Lane escaped death by racing through a cornfield in his night shirt. A Federal grand jury indicted him for over 100 murders.  Quantrill fled to Texas, where they were at first welcomed.  But as their new neighbors learned of the horrors of the raid, and as Quantrill’s men grew bored, they started to raid other Southerners.  Anderson, perhaps falsely, implicated Quantrill in a murder, leading to the latter's arrest by Confederate authorities.  Quantrill was allowed to return to Missouri where he resumed raiding.

"Bloody Bill" Anderson

William T. Anderson (1840 – 10/26/1864), better known as "Bloody Bill", was one of theAnderson deadliest and most brutal pro-Confederate guerrilla leaders in the Civil War, leading a band that targeted Union loyalists and Federal soldiers in Missouri and Kansas.  Raised by a family of Southerners in Kansas, Anderson began supporting himself by stealing and selling horses in 1862.  After his father was killed by a Union-loyalist judge, Anderson fled Kansas for Missouri.  There, he robbed travelers and killed several Union soldiers.  Anderson became the head of a band of guerillas, and his activities cast a shadow of suspicion over the rest of his family.  The Union commander along the border, General Thomas Ewing, arrested several wives and sisters of another notorious band, led by William Quantrill, that was terrorizing and murdering Union sympathizers.  While Anderson commanded his own band, he often collaborated with Quantrill’s larger force.  As a result, the group Ewing arrested included three of Anderson’s sisters, who were imprisoned in a temporary Union jail in Kansas City, Missouri.  On August 14, 1863, the structure collapsed, killing one of Anderson’s sisters along with several other women.  Quantrill assembled more than 400 men to exact revenge against the abolitionist community of Lawrence, Kansas. On August 21, the band killed at least 150 residents and burned much of the town. Anderson was credited with 14 murders that day.

Anderson subsequently returned to Missouri as the leader of a group of raiders and became the most feared guerrilla in the state, killing and robbing dozens of Union soldiers and civilian sympathizers throughout central Missouri.  Although Union supporters viewed him as incorrigibly evil, Confederate sympathizers in Missouri saw his actions as justified, possibly owing to their mistreatment by Union forces.  In September 1864, he led a raid on Centralia, Missouri.  Unexpectedly, they were able to capture a passenger train with 24 Union soldiers on board, the first time Confederate guerrillas had done so.

In what became known as the "Centralia Massacre," possibly the war’s deadliest and most brutal guerrilla action, his men killed all 24 Union soldiers on the train and cut their heads off.  Later that day they ambushed and killed more than 100 Union militiamen.  Bill’s group included Jesse James, then only 16, who allegedly shot the Union commanding officer in the back.

The Demise of Quantrill and Anderson

The Union Army changed its tactics, bringing experienced cavalry from Colorado, armed with repeating rifles and pistols, and was successful in tracking down the Bushwhackers.  On October 26, 1864, Anderson was killed, his head was cut off and his body dragged by a horse until it was no longer recognizable.  On June 6, 1865, Quantrill was shot in the spine and took 23 days to die in excruciating pain.

Frank James (9/5/47) and Jesse James (9/5/1847 - 4/3/1882)

Frank James fought as a Confederate soldier, was nearly captured, escaped and joined Quantrill’s squad in Texas over the winter of 1863–1864.  In the spring he returned in a squad commanded by Fletch Taylor.  After they arrived in Clay County, 16-year-old Jesse James joined his brother in Taylor's group.  After Taylor was severely wounded, the James brothers joined the Bushwhacker group led by Bloody Bill Anderson.  Jesse suffered a serious wound to the chest that summer. Both Frank and Jesse took part in the Centralia Massacre in September, in which guerrillas killed or wounded some 22 unarmed Union troops and scalped and dismembered some of the dead.  The guerrillas ambushed and defeated a pursuing regiment of Major A. V. E. Johnson's Union troops, killing all who tried to surrender (more than 100).  Frank later identified Jesse as a member of the band who had fatally shot Major Johnson.  As a result of the James brothers' activities, the Union military authorities made their family leave Clay County.  Though ordered to move South beyond Union lines, instead they moved across the nearby state border into Nebraska.  After Anderson was killed in an ambush in October, the James brothers separated.  Frank followed Quantrill into Kentucky; Jesse went to Texas under the command of Archie Clement, one of Anderson's lieutenants.  Back in Missouri Jesse was again shot in the chest while trying to surrender near Lexington, Missouri.  After the war, as members of various gangs of outlaws, they robbed banks, stagecoaches, and trains.  Despite popular portrayals of the James brothers as "Robin Hoods" robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, there is no evidence that they shared their loot from the robberies they committed.  Jesse was shot in the back by "that dirty little coward", Robert Ford on April 3, 1882.  After surrendering to Federal authorities in 1882, Frank James was never convicted of any of his crimes and lived until 1915.  He took on various jobs – the most outlandish was as a Burlesque theater ticket taker in St. Louis.  One of the theater's spins to attract patrons was their use of the phrase "Come get your ticket punched by the legendary Frank James."

Order No. 11

General Order No. 11, issued August 25, 1863, by Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr., forced the evacuation of rural areas in four counties in western Missouri.  The order affected all rural residents regardless of their allegiance.  Those who could prove their loyalty to the Union were permitted to stay in the affected area, but had to leave their farms and move to communities near military outposts ("villagization").  Those who could not prove their loyalty had to leave the state altoOrder 11gether.  While intended to deprive pro-Confederate guerrillas of material support from the rural countryside, the severity of the Order’s provisions and the brutal nature of its enforcement alienated vast numbers of civilians, and guerrillas actually found themselves with even greater access to supplies than before.  Kansas residents praised Order No. 11 for curbing guerrilla raids, but the order was unpopular on the other side of the border.  It was repealed in January 1864, as a new general took command of Union forces in the region.  Ewing's most outspoken opponent was Missouri's state treasurer, the painter George Caleb Bingham.  Bingham got his "revenge" on Ewing with an 1868 painting.  To Bingham's shock, newspaper editors, ministers, and art critics lambasted the painting for denigrating the victorious Union troops and sympathizing with the South.

Stephen received a well-deserved round of applause for an unsettling presentation.

Important Reads (in your Editor’s opinion)

Ken Burns, The Civil War Deluxe eBook.  Combining video and audio from Ken Burns’ beloved film with animated maps and hundreds of images—rare photographs as well as paintings, lithographs, and maps in full color—this deluxe eBook brings the Civil War to life in a new way.

Jeff Shaara, The Fateful Lightning: A Novel of the Civil War.  From New York Times bestselling author Jeff Shaara, comes the riveting final installment in the Civil War series that began with A Blaze of Glory and continued in A Chain of Thunder and The Smoke at Dawn, all books worth reading.

Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative.  The author deeply understood the importance of the war in the West.  For a Southerner, he is relatively immune to the cult of Bobby Lee.  He understands the military mind and what it takes to be a soldier.  And he brilliantly shows how Lincoln grew into his job, how he became the Lincoln we know.  Most important, no one has ever written so well on this subject, and probably never will.  A fine novelist before he tackled the Civil War, Foote displays the novelist’s eye for story and character—the Gettysburg section, in particular, reads like Greek tragedy, full of blood and hubris.  Foote thought the Civil War was America’s Iliad, and he caught the epic quality of the conflict he chronicled.

Stephen Sears, Landscape Turned Red.  Sept. 17, 1862 was a memorable day for several good reasons.  First, it was the bloodiest single day of an astonishingly bloody war, with casualties (dead, wounded, or missing) for both sides totaling 22,720 men.  Second, the battle gave Lincoln the excuse he needed to sack George McClellan.  Third, because the Union could claim the victory—and at this stage in the war, the North needed every victory it could find—the good news gave Lincoln the confidence to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.  This crucial moment deserves its own book, and Sears gives it a superlative rendering.

Ulysses S. Grant, Memoirs.  After Lincoln and Jefferson, Grant, of all people, was probably the finest prose stylist ever to inhabit the White House.  Some of what made Grant a great general made him a good writer as well, notably his ability to balance the big picture with dozens of details.  His descriptions of battles proceed almost minute by minute in some cases, but he never becomes mired in minutiae, and the story proceeds with an almost martial tempo.  If Grant lacks Lincoln’s rhetorical genius, he makes up for it as an always straightforward stylist who prizes clarity above all.

Mary Chesnut’s Diary:  Daily life in the upper-middle class South during the war, as rendered by a supremely self-aware—and ultimately very likeable—lady.  The Chesnut diary was one of the first non-military documents whose publication did much to increase interest in wartime life off the battlefield.  Open to almost any page and you will see why. She didn’t miss much.

Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.  The Civil War remade many attitudes but none so much as the thinking on death.  Carnage and slaughter on a grand scale ground down prevailing notions of the good death and undercut belief in divine providence.  Many new ways of thinking about death came out of the war, but none more sweeping than the new expectations of the military—its responsibility to identify, preserve, and honor the dead.  This is one of those groundbreaking histories that clarifies a crucial piece of the past previously ignored.

Judith N. MacArthur and Orville Vernon Burton, A Gentlemen and an Officer: A Military and Social History of James B. Griffith’s Civil War.  In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to join the Confederate Army in a style that befitted a Southern gentleman: on a fine-blooded horse, with two slaves to wait on him, two trunks, and his favorite hunting dog.  Fame and glory avoided him and Griffin performed no daring acts.  Instead, he unknowingly provided an invaluable portrait of the Confederate officers who formed the core of Southern political, military, and business leadership.  Judith N. MacArthur and Orville Vernon Burton have collected eighty of Griffin's letters written to his wife Leila Burt Griffin.

David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.  As Blight demonstrates, in the half century after the war, Southerners succumbed to a sort of cultural amnesia whereby a war over slavery became a war over states’ rights.  Cause and effect were uncoupled as many rushed to embrace reconciliation.  In the white man’s playbook, healing trumped everything, with the result that the real lost cause was truth.  The North may have won the war, but the South dictated the terms of the peace for almost a century.


Last changed:  05/04/15

Home  About  News  Newsletters  Calendar  Memories  Links  Join