Lawrence was burning the morning of August 21, 1863. The clatter of hooves drowned out the weeping of that Kansas town's newest widows as William Quantrill's victorious guerrillas galloped away, quickly leaving the dust raised by approaching troops behind. Cut off from an eastward flight by state militiamen and independent companies of scouts, they traveled south, burning a mile-wide swath between Baldwin City and Paola as a parting gift to the people of Kansas. Their pursuers now to the north and west of them, the band then turned back toward the northeast to exit the state precisely where they had entered it forty-eight hours earlier. The bloodiest raid of the decade-old Kansas-Missouri border war had gone off with nary a hitch.The rest will be in about 5 pieces: John Brown's Trial, The Kansas Seventh Cavalry, The Red Legs, The Kansas Fifteenth Cavalry, and a summary. It will be sans footnotes, so you'll just have to trust me that every statement is backed by properly-accredited historical authorities*. Fair 'nuff?
As they approached the safety of the Missouri border, the horsemen broke into smaller groups, some to return to home and farm, some because tired mounts, ridden too hard for too long, could not keep up with the main body. A few of the men were simply too exhausted, or too drunk, to hold their formation. One such group of three men, captured by Missouri militiamen as they crossed the state line, found themselves dragged before a mounted cavalry officer who had just arrived in pursuit. Though a captain's stripes adorned his Union uniform, even atop his horse everything about him seemed undersized. The mixture of anger and hatred that radiated from his expression was almost comically offset by his boyish features. The captured guerrillas might have written him off as a mere lad playing soldier but for the leggings of red leather that reached from his knees halfway down his riding boots.
The officer ordered one of the guerrillas to disgorge the loot from his pockets; it consisted mainly of children's toys and cheap buttons, with a mouth organ and some shoe laces mixed in. Looking over the pathetic take, the astonished captain drew one of a pair of ivory-handled pistols that hung from an embossed morocco belt about his slender waist. “I'll kill you just for being a damned fool ,” he said. The first shot was quickly followed by two more, and three bodies were kicked into the brush. George Hoyt, Captain of the Kansas Red Legs, put his sidearm away. This is what he had come to Kansas to do.
* Actually, they are not, and I have considered adding expanded notes and explanations for the two places where I went a bit off the historical reservation. The first is my assertion that Hoyt killed guerrilla captain George Todd, for which I have 2 sources, ignored** by nearly all later historians. The second is more speculative, namely that John Brown accepted Hoyt as his lawyer sight unseen because Brown had a friend named David Starr Hoyt*** who was killed by border ruffians. That one is a bit of a stretch, but I hope that I have made the case. We shall see when I get the corrections back in the next 2 weeks.
** or perhaps not found, which I hope to be the case. What good is a research paper if you don't bring anything unique to light?
*** a fourth-cousin of George. That may seem too far for comfort, but they were both abolitionists from Massachusetts and George later wrote a biography of David, so there is some linkage.