Lane’s Brigade, aka: Kansas Brigade – Protecting the Free State

Jayhawkers and Bushwackers fight it out over Kansas becoming a free state or a pro-slavery state.

Jayhawkers and Bushwackers fight over Kansas becoming a free state or a pro-slavery state.

Lane’s Brigade, also called the Kansas Brigade, was a partisan group of Jayhawkers, who fought during the early years of the Civil War.

After the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, the Union army retreated on August 10, 1861. With the border exposed and General Sterling Price’s men threatening the “free-soilers” of Kansas, General James H. Lane began organizing troops for defense. He quickly began recruiting, and within a short time, the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh regiments were ready for service. Lane took command of some 1,500 troops at Fort Scott, Kansas, and led them against General Price in the Battle of Dry Wood Creek on September 2, 1861. Though his troops lost the battle, Lane continued, fighting through the towns of Paninsville,  Butler, Harrisonville, and Clinton, Missouri, before he ended his campaign by the burning of Osceola on September 23, 1861.

General James H. Lane

General James H. Lane

The troops continued to pursue Price’s men for a time, but Lane was severely criticized for his actions in Osceola and soon sent back to Kansas. Lane was most severely condemned by General Henry Halleck, Commander of the Department of Missouri. The latter believed that the attacks made by Lane and Colonel Charles Jennison aggravated anti-Union sentiments in Missouri and intensified resistance to federal authority in the state. Of their actions, he would state: “The course pursued by those under Lane and Jennison has turned against us many thousands who were formerly Union men. A few more such raids will make this State unanimous against us.” Thus, Lane’s Brigade was ended.


© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated February 2022.

Also See:

Civil War Main Page

Kansas-Missouri Border War

Soldiers & Officers in American History

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