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Kansas/Missouri Border War Time Line - Page 7

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May 30, 1854


The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed and signed by President Franklin Pierce, and Kansas Territory was organized and opened up for settlement. Its boundary included eastern Colorado, west to the Continental Divide. The purpose of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was to open the country to transcontinental railways.  The Kansas-Nebraska Act was responsible for causing the label "Bleeding Kansas." The incorporation of popular sovereignty made the territory's residents responsible for the question of slavery in their own backyard. The proximity of Kansas to slave-owning Missouri and the lack of any natural border between the two regions prompted an influx of pro-slavery individuals into the new territory when it opened up for settlement.




Summer, 1854 Eli Thayer of Worcester, Massachusetts, founds the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society to promote the settlement of anti-slavery groups in Kansas with the ultimate objective of making it a Free-State. This company helped to found Lawrence, Kansas which was named for Amos A. Lawrence, a promoter of the Emigrant Aid Society.  

August 1, 1854 Twenty-nine northern emigrants mostly from Massachusetts and Vermont are the first to arrive in Lawrence, Kansas. A second party of 200 men, women and children arrive in September.

November 29, 1854 First election held in Kansas. Pro-slavery Missourians flooded the state to vote, where armed pro-slavery advocates intimidated voters and stuffed ballot boxes. Andrew H. Reeder was elected as the first territorial governor of Kansas.

March, 1855 Territorial Legislature election held where again pro-slavery Missourians flooded the state. After winning the territorial legislature, the proslavery officials ousted all Free-State members, secured the removal of Governor Andrew Reeder, adopted proslavery statutes. and began to hold their sessions in Lecompton, Kansas about 12 miles from Lawrence.

July, 1855 The first territorial Capitol of Kansas was completed of native stone at Pawnee on the Fort Riley reservation. However, it was only used for four days, before the Misourians in control voted to move the capitol to a site closer to the Missouri border.

July 16, 1855 The pro-slavery capital was moved to the Shawnee Methodist Mission in what is now Fairway, Kansas.

October, 1855 In retaliation of the illegal first territorial legislature, the abolitionists set up a rival government at Topeka and a Free-State constitution was framed in Topeka. However, it did not receive serious consideration in Congress.

October 7, 1855 Abolitionist John Brown arrives in the Osawatomie, Kansas area to join his 5 sons who had become engaged in the fight of the Free-State cause. He stays in the log cabin home of the Reverend Samuel and Florella Adair, his half-sister.

December 1, 1855 A small army of Missourians, acting under the command of "Sheriff" Jones, laid siege to Lawrence in the opening stages of what would later become known as "The Wakarusa War." The intervention of the new governor, Wilson Shannon, kept the proslavery men from attacking Lawrence.

1856 The proslavery territorial capitol was "officially” moved to Lecompton, a town only 12 miles from Lawrence.

April, 1856 A three-man federal congressional investigating committee arrived in Lecompton to look into the Kansas troubles. The majority report of the committee found the elections to be fraudulent, stating that the Free-State government represented the will of the majority. However, the federal government refused to follow its recommendations and continued to recognize the proslavery legislature as the legitimate government of Kansas.

May 21, 1856 The Sacking of Lawrence - A motley group of some 700 armed pro-slavery enthusiasts raided Lawrence, the stronghold of the abolitionist movement. They destroyed the Free-State Hotel (now the Eldridge Hotel), smashed the presses of two Lawrence newspapers, and killed one man.

May 22, 1856 After making a fiery speech called "The Crime Against Kansas" in the United States Congress, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was beaten unconscious by Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina.

May 24, 1856 In retaliation for the Lawrence raid, a band led by the abolitionist crusader John Brown murdered five innocent pro-slavery men in the Pottawatomie Massacre.

June 2, 1856 Battle of Black Jack - Anti-slavery forces, led by the noted abolitionist John Brown, attacked the encampment of Henry C. Pate near Baldwin City, Kansas.

June 4-5, 1856 Battle of Franklin, near Lawrence.   Under direct orders from President Franklin Pierce, Edwin Vose Sumner leads 200 infantrymen into Topeka, Kansas, unlimbers his artillery and informs the Free-Staters they may not hold a convention.

August, 1856 The town of Osawatomie is attacked by 400 pro-slavery Missourians. John Brown, along with forty other men defended the town, but in the end, all but four homes at the settlement were burned by the invaders and John Brown's son Frederick was killed. Four wagon loads of dead and wounded were brought into Boonville, Missouri when the invading army returned.

August 16, 1856 Battle of Fort Titus

August 30, 1856 Battle of Osawatomie - John Brown leads a raid on proslavery sympathizers in a small Kansas settlement on the Pottawatomie Creek. It is the first battle over slavery in the U.S. Five men are killed. The division in the Kansas territory over slavery leads to much violence in "Bleeding Kansas"

September 16, 1856 Battle of Hickory Point

1857 Men in favor of slavery meet in Lecompton to hammer out a constitution, a necessary prerequisite for statehood. The group’s views are not representative of the populace in Kansas, and the words of the Lecompton Constitution will cause additional bloodshed and compound the growing frustration leading to the Civil War.   Former Ohio schoolteacher, William Clarke Quantrill, moves to Kansas. He hones his violent nature by living with thieves, murders and brigands, and commits several brutal murders

1858 Captain Nathaniel Lyon takes command of a detachment of soldiers at Fort Scott to restore law and order during the chaos of "Bleeding Kansas."  

Despite the dubious validity of the Lecompton Constitution, President James Buchanan recommended that Congress accept it and approve statehood for the territory. Instead, Congress returned it for another territorial vote, moving the nation closer to war.


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, 1959 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.

January 29, 1861 Kansas becomes the 34th state after 3 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 toKansas, 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 proslavery. 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. Freemont declared martial law on the city of St. Louis. Six days later, he extended the law to the entire state.

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 as a ruthless band of Jayhawkers wearing United States uniforms.


Sept 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 it's 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 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.

October 17, 1862 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.

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, building 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 in and heads east.

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 an 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/Legends of America, updated April, 2017.



Also See:


Battle at Fort Blair

Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas

Jesse James - Member of Quantrill's Raiders

Lawrence, Kansas - From Ashes to Imortality

William Quantrill - Renegade Leader of the Missouri Border War

William Quantrill - The Man, the Myth, the Soldier by Paul R. Petersen

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