OSAWATOMIE, K. T., 16th December, 1855. Sabbath evening.
DEAR WIFE AND CHILDREN, EVERY ONE: I improve the first moment since my return from the camp of volunteers who lately turned out for the defense of the town of Lawrence, in this Territory, and notwithstanding, I suppose you have learned the result before this (possibly), will give a brief account of the invasion in my own way. About three or four weeks ago, news came that a Free-state man by the name of Dow had been murdered by a Pro-slavery man named Coleman, who had gone and given himself up for trial to Pro-slavery Gov. Shannon. This was soon followed by further news that a Free-state man who was the only reliable witness against the murderer had been seized by a Missourian, appointed Sheriff by the bogus Legislature of Kansas, upon false pretenses, examined, and held to bail under such heavy bonds to answer the false charges, as he could not give; and, that, while on his way to jail, in charge of the bogus Sheriff, he was rescued by some men belonging to a company near Lawrence; and that, in consequence of the rescue, Gov. Shannon had ordered out all the Pro-slavery force he could muster in the Territory, and called on Missouri for further help; that about two thousand had collected, demanding a surrender of the rescued witness and the rescuers, the destruction of several buildings and printing presses, and a giving up of the Sharpe's rifles by the Free-state man, threatening to destroy the town with cannon with which they were provided, etc.; that about an equal number of Free-state men had turned out to resist them, and that a battle was hourly expected, or supposed to have been already fought. These reports seemed to be well authenticated, but we could get no further account of matters, and I left this for the place where the boys were settled at evening, intending to go to Lawrence to learn the facts the next day. John was, however, started on horseback, but before he had gone many rods word came that our help was immediately wanted. On getting this news, it was at once agreed to break up at John's camp, and take Wealthy and Johnny to Jason's camp (some two miles off), and that all the men but Henry, Jason and Oliver should at once set off for Lawrence under arms, those three being wholly unfit for duty. We then set about providing a little corn bread and meat, blankets, cooking utensils, running bullets, loading all our guns, pistols, etc. The five set off in the afternoon, and after a short rest in the night (which was quite dark) continued our march until after daylight next morning, when we got our breakfast, started again, and reached Lawrence in the forenoon, all of us more or less lamed by our tramp. On reaching the place, we found that negotiations had commenced between Gov. Shannon (having a force of some fifteen or sixteen hundred men) and the principal leaders of the Free-state men, they having a force of some five hundred men at that time. These were busy night and day fortifying the town with embankments and circular earthworks up to the time of the treaty with the Governor, as an attack was constantly looked for, notwithstanding the negotiations then pending. This state of things continued from Friday until Sunday evening. On the evening we left, a company of the invaders of from fifteen to twenty-five attacked some three or four Free-state men, mostly unarmed, killing a Mr. Barber, from Ohio, wholly unarmed. His body was afterward brought in and lay for some days in the room afterward occupied by the company to which I belonged (it being organized after we reached Lawrence). The building was a large, unfinished stone hotel, in which a great part of the volunteers were quartered, and who witnessed the scene of bringing in the wife and friends of the murdered man. I will only say of this scene that it was heart-rending, and calculated to exasperate the men exceedingly, and one of the sure results of civil war. After frequently calling on the leaders of the Free-state men to come and have an interview with him by Gov. Shannon; and after, as often getting for an answer that if he had any business to transact with any one in Lawrence to come and attend to it, he signified his wish to come into the town, and an escort was sent to the invaders' camp to conduct him in. When there, the leading Free-state men, finding out his weakness, frailty and consciousness of the awkward circumstances into which he had really got himself, took advantage of his cowardice and folly, and by means of that and the free use of whisky and some trickery succeeded in getting a written arrangement with him, much to their own liking. He stipulated with them to order the Pro-slavery men of Kansas home, and to proclaim to the Missouri invaders that they must quit the Territory without delay, and also give up Gen. Pomeroy, a prisoner in their camp, which was all done; he also recognized the volunteers as the militia of Kansas, and empowered their officers to call them out whenever, in their discretion, the safety of Lawrence or other portions of the Territory might require it to be done. He, Gov. Shannon, gave up all pretension of further attempt to enforce the enactments of the bogus Legislature and retired, subject to the derision and scoffs of the Free-state men (into whose hands he had committed the welfare and protection of Kansas), and to the pity of some and the curses of others of the invading force. So ended this last Kansas invasion, the Missourians returning with flying colors after incurring heavy expenses, suffering great exposure, hardships and privations, not having fought any battles, burned or destroyed any infant towns or Abolition presses, leaving the Free-state men organized and armed, and in full possession of the Territory, not having fulfilled any of all their dreadful threatenings, except to murder one unarmed man, and to commit some robberies and waste of property upon defenseless families unfortunately in their power. We learn by their papers that they boast of a great victory over the Abolitionists, and well they may. Free-state men have only to hereafter retain the footing they have gained, and KANSAS IS FREE. Yesterday the people passed upon the Free-state Constitution. The result, though not yet known, no one doubts. One little circumstance connected with our own number showing the true character of the invader: On our way, about three miles from Lawrence, we had to pass a bridge (with our arms and ammunition), of which the invaders held possession; but as the five had each a gun, with two large revolvers in a belt (exposed to view) with a third in his pocket, and as we moved directly on the bridge without making any halt, they, for some reason, suffered us to pass without interruption, notwithstanding there were some fifteen to twenty five (variously reported) stationed in a log house at one end of the bridge. We could not count them. A boy, on our approach, ran and gave them notice. Five others, of our company, well armed, who followed us some miles behind, met with equally civil treatment the same day. After we left to go to Lawrence until we returned when disbanded, I did not see the least sign of cowardice or want of self possession exhibited, by any volunteer or the eleven companies who constituted the Free-state force, and I never expect again to see an equal number of such well behaved, cool, determined men, fully as I believe sustaining the high character of the Revolutionary Fathers. But enough of this, as we intend to send you a paper giving a fuller account of the affair. We have cause for gratitude that we all returned safe and well, with the exception of hard colds, and found those left behind rather improving. We have received $50 from father, and learn from him that he has sent you the same amount, for which we ought to be grateful, as we are much relieved, both as respects ourselves and you The mails have been kept back during the invasion, but we hope to hear from you again soon Mr. Adair's folks are well, or nearly so. Weather most pleasant, but sometimes most severe. No snow of any account as yet; can think of but little more to write. Monday morning - 17th. The ground for the first time is fairly whitened with snow and it is quite cold but we have had before a good deal of cold weather with heavy rains. Henry and Oliver, and I may say, Jason, were disappointed in not being able to go to the war. The disposition of both our camps to turn out was uniform. * * * * May God abundantly bless you all and make you faithful.
Your affectionate husband and father,