While the army was crossing the Mississippi at Grand Gulf, three well-known journalists, Albert D. Richardson and Junius H. Browne, of The Tribune, and Richard T. Colburn, of The World, attempted to run past the Rebel batteries at Vicksburg, on board a tug at midnight. The tug was blown up and destroyed; the journalists were captured and taken to the Rebel prison at Vicksburg. Thence they were removed to Richmond, occupying, while en route, the prisons of a half-dozen Rebel cities. Mr. Colburn was soon released, but the companions of his adventure were destined to pass nearly two years in the prisons of the Confederacy. By a fortunate escape and a midwinter march of nearly four hundred miles, they reached our lines in safety. In books and in lecture-rooms, they have since told the story of their captivity and flight.
I have sometimes thought my little quarrel with General Sherman proved “a blessing in disguise,” in saving me from a similar experience of twenty months in Rebel prisons.
KANSAS IN WAR-TIME.
A Visit to Kansas.—Recollections of Border Feuds.—Peculiarities of Kansas Soldiers.—Foraging as a Fine Art.—Kansas and Missouri.—Settling Old Scores.—Depopulating the Border Counties.—Two Examples of Grand Strategy.—Capture of the “Little-More-Grape” Battery.—A Woman in Sorrow.—Frontier Justice.—Trial before a “Lynch” Court.—General Blunt’s Order.—Execution of Horse-Thieves.—Auction Sale of Confiscated Property.—Banished to Dixie.
In May, 1863, I made a hasty visit to Western Missouri and Kansas, to observe the effect of the war in that quarter. Seven years earlier the border warfare attracted much attention. The great Rebellion caused Kansas and its troubles to sink into insignificance. Since the first election of Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency, Kansas has been rarely mentioned.
I passed through this young State in the summer of 1860. I was repeatedly told: “We have old grudges that we wish to settle; if the troubles ever break out again in any part of the United States, we hope to cross out our account.” When the war opened, the people of Kansas saw their opportunity for “making square work,” as they expressed it, with Missouri and the other slave States. They placed two regiments of volunteers in the field with as much celerity as was displayed in many of the older and more populous States. These regiments were followed by others until fully half the able-bodied population of Kansas was in the service. In some localities the proportion was even greater than this.
The dash and daring of these Kansas soldiers became proverbial. At Wilson Creek, two regiments from Kansas had their first experience of battle, and bore themselves most nobly. The conduct of other Kansas soldiers, on other battle-fields, was equally commendable. Their bravery and endurance was only equaled by their ability in foraging.