Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field eBook

Thomas W. Knox
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field.

Horses, mules, cattle, and provisions have, in all times, been considered the legitimate spoils of war.  The Kansas soldiers did not confine themselves to the above, but appropriated every thing portable and valuable, whether useful or useless.  Their example was contagious, and the entire army soon learned to follow it.

During General Grant’s campaign in Mississippi in ’62, the Seventh Kansas Cavalry obtained a reputation for ubiquity and lawlessness.  Every man who engaged in plundering on his own account, no matter to what regiment he belonged, invariably announced himself a member of the Seventh Kansas.  Every countryman who was robbed declared the robbery was committed by the Seventh Kansas “Jayhawkers.”  Uniting all the stories of robbery, one would conclude that the Seventh Kansas was about twenty thousand strong, and constantly in motion by fifty different roads, leading to all points of the compass.

One day a soldier of the Second Illinois Cavalry gave me an account of his experience in horse-stealing.

“Jim and I went to an old farmer’s house, and told him we wanted his horses.  He said he wanted to use them himself, and couldn’t spare them.

“‘That don’t make no sort of difference,’ said I; ’we want your horses more than you do.’

“‘What regiment do you belong to?’

“’Seventh Kansas Jayhawkers.  The whole regiment talks of coming round here.  I reckon I’ll bring them.’

“When I told him that,” said the soldier, “he said I might take the horses, if I would only go away.  He offered me a pint of whisky if I would promise not to bring the regiment there.  Jim and me drank the whisky, and told him we would use our influence for him.”

Before the war was ended, the entire armies of the Southwest were able to equal the “Jayhawkers” in foraging.  The march of Sherman’s column through Mississippi, and afterward through Georgia and South Carolina, fully proved this.  Particularly in the latter State, which originated the Rebellion, were the accomplishments of the foragers most conspicuously displayed.  Our army left very little for another army to use.

The desolation which was spread through the Southern States was among the most effective blows at the Rebellion.  The Rebels were taught in the most practical manner, that insurrection was not to be indulged in with impunity.  Those who suffered most were generally among the earliest to sue for peace.  Sherman’s terse answer to the mayor of Atlanta, when the latter protested against the banishment of the inhabitants, was appreciated by the Rebels after our final campaigns.  “War is cruelty—­you cannot refine it,” speaks a volume in a few words.

When hostilities commenced, the Kansas regiments were clamorous to be led into Missouri.  During the border war of ’55 and ’56, Missourians invaded Kansas to control the elections by force of arms, and killed, often in cold blood, many of the quiet citizens of the Territory.  The tier of counties in Missouri adjoining Kansas were most anxious to make the latter a slave State, and used every possible means to accomplish their object.

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Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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