Bleeding Kansas Timeline

Marais des Cygnes Massacre, Kansas

Marais des Cygnes Massacre, Kansas

May 19, 1858 – Massacre of Marais des Cygnes – The Marais des Cygnes River at Pleasanton in Linn County is the site of a famous confrontation between pro-slavery and abolitionist forces. The five victims of the massacre were immortalized as martyrs in the cause for freedom.

1859 – The Kansas legislature appoints a commission to validate claims from property holders whose property was destroyed in battles between Free-State and pro-slavery advocates. The $450,001.70 bill includes 78 buildings burned, 368 horses killed, and $37,349.61 worth of crops lost. But not one dollar will ever be paid.

July 1859 – The fourth and last constitutional convention was assembled at Wyandotte, now part of Kansas City. This time, Free-State advocates were solidly in control, and the document they drafted barred slavery and fixed the present boundaries of the state. It was accepted by a vote of the people in October, and in December a provisional state government was elected.

December 1859 – Abraham Lincoln travels to Kansas to give his first campaign speech for the presidency and to help Republican candidates vie successfully in the upcoming election.

February 23, 1860 – The legislature passed a bill over the governor’s veto abolishing slavery in Kansas.

Abraham Lincoln raises a flag after admission of Kansas as a state

Abraham Lincoln raises a flag after the admission of Kansas as a state

January 29, 1861 – Kansas becomes the 34th state after three unsuccessful constitutional conventions. Topeka is chosen as the state capital.

April 1861 – The Civil War Begins. In answer to President Lincoln’s first call for troops in April, Kansas supplied 650 men. Before the war ended in 1865, Kansas contributed 20,097 men to the Union Army, a remarkable record since the population included less than 30,000 men of military age. Kansas also suffered the highest mortality rate of any of the Union states. Of the black troops in the Union army, 2,080 were credited to Kansas, though the 1860 census listed fewer than 300 blacks of military age in the state; most of them came from Arkansas and Missouri.

While Missouri was officially a Union state, never declaring to join the Confederacy, the majority of its population was pro-slavery. This resulted in a state of war within its own borders between the U.S. Army and Missouri citizens. The State of Missouri never officially joined the Civil War due to its own internal struggles. Many Fort Leavenworth soldiers are reassigned to other locations, making protection of travelers on the trail more difficult. William Quantrill eagerly fights with the Confederate army at Wilson’s Creek and Lexington, Missouri.

April 20, 1861 – The first military action of Missouri State forces occurred with the seizure of the Federal arsenal at Liberty, Missouri.

May 10, 1861 – As a result of a power struggle for Missouri’s military resources, a confrontation between State and Federal forces brought the first bloodshed to the State of Missouri in what became known as the “Camp Jackson Massacre” in St. Louis, Missouri. When the crowd began to riot, federal forces, led by General Nathaniel Lyon, fired into the crowd, killing a baby, two men and wounding many innocent spectators.

June 17, 1861 – The Battle of Boonville was fought between Missouri State and Federal forces that resulted in a Union victory.

August 14, 1861 – General John C. Fremont declared martial law on the city of St. Louis. Six days later, he extended the law to the entire state.

General James H. Lane

General James H. Lane

Summer 1861 – James H. Lane, a United States Senator from Kansas returned to his home state to command what was called “Lane’s Brigade.” Lane was to retain his Senate seat while occasionally rampaging through Missouri. His brigade was composed of Kansas infantry and cavalry; however, they were commanded to act more like a ruthless band of Jayhawkers wearing United States uniforms.

September 22, 1861 – Lane’s Brigade descended on the town of Osceola, Missouri. When Lane’s troops found a cache of Confederate military supplies in the town, Lane stripped the town of all of its valuable goods which were loaded into wagons taken from the townspeople. Then, twelve citizens were given a farcical trial and shot. After Lane’s men went on a wild drinking spree, his men brought their frenzy of pillaging, murder, and drunkenness to a close-by burning the entire town. The town suffered more than $1,000,000 worth of damage including that belonging to pro-Union citizens.

December 1861 – William Quantrill forms a band of guerrilla troops, leading his men on raids against Kansas and Missouri farmers and townspeople who favor the Union.

1862 – Quantrill’s band is mustered into Confederate service but sometimes continues to operate independently.

August 11, 1862 – Colonel J.T. Hughes’s Confederate force, including William Quantrill, attacked Independence, Missouri at dawn. Though Colonel Hughes was killed, the Confederates took Independence, leading to a Confederate dominance in the Kansas City area for a short time. Quantrill’s role in the capture of Independence led to his being commissioned a captain in the Confederate Army.

August 15, 1862 – Union Major Emory S. Foster leads an 800-man combined force to Lone Jack, Missouri attacking in the evening. A counter-attack the next morning results in a Confederate victory. However, the Lone Jack Battle was one of the bloodiest fought on Missouri soil, leaving 200 men dead, dying, or wounded, and multiple homes and businesses in ashes.

William Quantrill

William Quantrill

October 17, 1862 – William Quantrill and his band attack Shawnee, Kansas, killing several men and burning the settlement to the ground.

July 1863 – Federal forces began to arrest Kansas City area women who were provided shelter to or were suspected of gathering information on the Confederate partisans’ behalf. Both women and children were rounded up an imprisoned in several buildings throughout the Kansas City area.

August 13, 1863 – One of the buildings in downtown Kansas City, utilized as a women’s prison, collapsed, killing 5 women and injuring dozens of others. Crowds mobbed the area shouting “Murder” at the Union forces. Later, Quantrill and his men would claim that the building was deliberately weakened, giving them ammunition for the infamous attack on Lawrence that was about to come.

August 18, 1863 – Union Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr. from Kansas, issued General Order Number 10, which stated that any person – man, woman or child, who was directly involved with aiding a band of Rebel guerrillas would be jailed.

August 21, 1863 – Surprise attack at Lawrence by Confederate guerillas led by William Quantrill. More than 180 residents were killed in the raid. The city was sacked and burned, and about $1.5 million worth of property was destroyed. Quantrill’s guerillas included Frank James. Only 1 of the guerrillas is killed. They escape into the Missouri hills.

Lawrence, Kansas Massacre

Lawrence, Kansas Massacre

August 25, 1863 – In response to the Lawrence Massacre, Union Brigadier General Thomas Ewing signed General Order No. 11, which required all persons living more than one mile from Independence, Hickman’s Mill, Pleasant Hill, and Kansas City to leave their farms unless they took an oath of loyalty to the Union. The cities that were excluded were already under Union control. This order included Cass, Jackson, Bates, and portions of Vernon Counties. Some did take the oath, but many others fled to other areas never to return. The remaining homes, buildings, and crops were burned by the Union Army and the entire area became known as “No Mans Land.”

October 6, 1863 – Quantrill leads another slaughter at Fort Blair in Baxter Springs, Kansas. They attack both the fort and a Union wagon train, killing 98 Federals and losing only 6 of their own men. It is later reported that they mutilated the dead bluecoats.

October 25, 1864 – Battle at Mine Creek: Although Kansas soldiers saw action in many important engagements of the Civil War, the only major battle fought in Kansas occurred at Mine Creek in Linn County. This battle involved some 25,000 men. The Union Army under Generals Curtis, Blunt, and Pleasanton defeated the Confederate Army under Generals Sterling Price and Marmaduke, ending the threat of a Confederate invasion in Kansas.

December 1864 – Southern hopes for a Confederate-controlled Missouri plummet and Quantrill’s guerrilla band face imminent destruction. Fearing capture and execution, Quantrill gathers about 40 Bushwhackers and heads east.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, by Major and Knapp

Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, by Major and Knapp

April 8, 1865 – General Lee surrenders at Appomattox, effectively ending the Civil War.

April 14, 1865 – President Lincoln is shot and dies on April 15, 1865.

June 6, 1865 – After a battle with Unionist irregular forces in May, Quantrill was shot through the spine. He died at the military prison at Louisville, Kentucky, on June 6, 1865.

Compiled by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, December 2019.

Also See:

Bleeding Kansas & the Missouri Border War

The Issue of Slavery in Kansas

Free-State Kansas

Kansas in the Civil War

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