Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 22, 1861 (Monday): The Rules of War Violated by Lane of Kansas

James Lane, Kansas

Report of Brig. Gen. James H. Lane, commanding Kansas Brigade.

CAMP MONTGOMERY, September 24, 1861.
     SIR:  Your dispatch of September 18 is this moment received.  My brigade is now marching to this point from Osceola, where I have been on a forced march, expecting to cut off the enemy’s train of ammunition.  The enemy ambushed the approaches to the town, and after being driven from them by the advance under Colonels Montgomery and Weer, they took refuge in the buildings of the town to annoy us.   We were compelled to shell them out, and in doing so the pace was burned to ashes, with an immense amount of stores of all descriptions.  There were 15 or 20 of them killed and wounded; we lost none.  Full particulars will be furnished you hereafter.
*                  *                 *                    *                     *          *             *         *             *
                                                                                    J. H. LANE.

Major-General FREMONT,
     Commanding Western Department

Official Records, Series. I, Vol. 3, Page 196

In the aftermath of Wilson’s Creek, Lane’s small force of 1500 men followed in the wake of Sterling Price’s force.  When they arrived at Osceola, many of the men were drunk.  Lane decided to take the town and round up Confederate sympathizers.  Although not mentioned here, a drum head court martial was held and nine local citizens were executed.  The town was fired on by artillery and burned for little, if any, military purpose.  It is little noted that Lane was given a command by Lincoln, and it is not unlikely he knew exactly the sort of person Lane was or what sort of war he would wage. Here is what Lincoln said on the subject:

“ Since you spoke to me yesterday about General J. H. Lane of Kansas, I have been reflecting upon the subject, and have concluded that we need the services of such a man out there at once; that we better appoint him a brigadier-general of volunteers to-day, and send him off with such authority to raise a force (I think two regiments better than three, but as to this I am not particular) as you think will get him into actual work quickest.  Tell him when he starts to put it through.  Not be writing or telegraphing back here, but put it through.  (Underline added by editor)

No comments:

Post a Comment