Civil War and Statehood in Miami County Kansas
As the nation expanded westward into the area of the Louisiana Purchase, plans were made for new states to be created out of the area. Much debate took place during the years over how the balance of slave and non-slave states could be maintained in the expansion westward. In 1820, in an effort to preserve Congressional balance of power between slave and free states, Missouri, under the Missouri Compromise, was brought into the Union as a slave state but it was agreed no future states to the west or north of Missouri would be approved allowing slavery. To counter the addition of Missouri as a slave state, Main was admitted as a free state. Great debates, however, took place as western settlement continued. Congress finally supported the idea of Stephen Douglas’ plan to allow each future territory to self-determine the future of slavery – popular sovereignty.
In 1854 Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act setting the state for the free-state/slave-state war that became “bloody Kansas”. Kansas and Nebraska territories were created with the assumption that popular sovereignty would result in Kansas becoming a slave state and Nebraska a free state thus maintaining the balance of free and slave states. Kansas territory voters initially voted in favor of adding slavery to the state constitution but Congress refused to approve statehood as many voters were not legal Kansas residents but, instead, legal Missouri residents who had crossed the state line to vote. Finally, additional votes were held which outlawed slavery and a new constitution, reflecting the final vote outcome, was adopted. Congress approved Kansas statehood in 1861.
At the time of Statehood, the county’s name changed from Lykins County, after Dr. David Lykins, an early white missionary, who founded Wea Creek Baptist Mission, settler and a member of the Territorial Council, to Miami County. Most Native Americans left for Oklahoma as Kansas became a new state in 1861.
Kansas entered the Union as the Less than three months later, on April 12, Fort Sumter was attacked by Confederate troops and the Civil War were afloat that President Abraham Lincoln was to be kidnapped or assassinated. James H. Lane, a senator from Kansas, recruited 120 Kansas men who were in the city and organized them into the "Frontier Guard." For nearly three weeks they were billeted in the White House to protect the President.
Most Kansans strongly favored the cause of the Union. Governor Charles Robinson began recruiting troops for the Union armies, and Senator Lane returned from Washington to do the same. Before the war ended, the federal government issued several calls for troops, asking Kansas for a total of Kansas, this was a remarkable showing for an infant state with only 30,000 men of military age. Kansas soldiers suffered nearly 8,500 casualties.
Confederate units took place along the Missouri border in 1861, but the first real action for Kansas troops came at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, near Springfield, Missouri, on August 10, 1861. Both the First and Second Kansas Volunteer Infantry regiments were engaged, but the First saw the most action and suffered heavy losses. During 1862 several Kansas units served in campaigns in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. In Arkansas a brigade commanded by James G. Blunt, the first Kansan to become a major-general, fought in the battles of Rhea's Mills, Cane Hill, and Prairie Grove. Kansas regiments, both white and black, were used in the Indian territory in 1862 and 1863. In 1863 Kansans also served under General U.S. Grant in the Vicksburg campaign, under General Rosencrans at Chickamauga, and against Morgan's Raiders in Indiana.
Price's RaidIn 1864 several Kansas units were stationed in Arkansas. There had been no organized warfare in Kansas other than occasional raids. That fall, however, Confederate forces under General Sterling Price moved objective was St. Louis; they also were ordered to seize supplies and rally Missourians to the Southern cause. Price failed to reach St. Louis as Union troops forced him to swing west toward Kansas City. Actions were fought at Lexington, and the Big and Little Blue Rivers. Fighting continued at Westport and on October 23, 1864, Price was defeated and forced to retreat south along the Kansas-Missouri border. He decided to try to seize Fort Scott, a Union supply center. He was defeated again at the Battle of Mine Creek in Linn County, Kansas, by Federal troops under Generals Samuel Curtis, Alfred Pleasanton, and Blunt. Approximately 25,000 men were involved in the pursuit and series of rearguard actions on October 25. Nearly 10,000 soldiers were engaged at Mine Creek alone, the largest battle fought on Kansas soil. This Union victory ended any threat of a Southern invasion of the state.
Flag from Quantrill's raidMore devastating than any battle between regular troops in Kansas were the raids and pillaging of guerrilla bands. Such raids and atrocities were committed by both sides, but by far the most notorious came on August 21, 1863. William Clark Quantrill and several hundred followers attacked Lawrence at dawn. By the time they Lawrence, much of the town had been destroyed and nearly 200 men and boys had been killed.
Paola played a key role as Union supply depot during Civil War
Kansas was susceptible to attack along the southern and eastern borders at the outset of the Civil War. There was much excitement along the eastern border of Kansas due to anticipated invasion by Confederate forces. Kansans knew western Missouri still harbored strong feelings over abolitionist raids, and in the southwest corner of Missouri, lead mines were important to the southern war effort.
In order to protect Kansas’ border, Sen./Gen. James H. Lane opened a recruiting office in Leavenworth on Aug. 4, 1861. That same evening, Lane “held a ‘Great War Meeting’ in front of the Planters’ house.” According to Albert Castel in “Civil War in Kansas,” Lane told the crowd that Kansas was in immediate danger of invasion, and Kansas would have to be defended by its own men.
In Dec. 1861, the Union Army established a military post at Paola. The 10th Kansas Volunteer Infantry was organized at Paola on April 3, 1862. The 12th Kansas Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service at Paola in September 1862. In September 1864, the 17th Kansas Volunteer Infantry was ordered to Paola based on reports of Gen. Sterling Price’s invasion of Missouri.
Kansas’ eastern border was defended by a series of outposts established at Aubrey, Coldwater Grove, Rockville and Trading Post.
Paola was very active during the Civil War. The administration of Union forces was conducted as a district and subdistrict headquarters. Paola was a major supply depot for Union military units as they passed through on their way to engagements in Missouri, Arkansas and Indian Territory.
Kansas soldiers fought east of the Mississippi River. An example is the 10th Volunteer Infantry, which fought with distinction in Tennessee and Mississippi and ended its service in 1865 at Montgomery, Ala.
- Jim Bousman is a volunteer at the Miami County Historical Museum