The Destructiveness of War
I will never forget our introduction to the destructiveness of war. Company "H" was advance guard, marching about one fourth of a mile in advance of the main column. Company D marched at the head of the column. As we marched along, we suddenly discovered a building on fire a short distance in advance. As we approached we saw that it was a grist mill on a creek which we crossed on a bridge. We wondered how it got afire, but we soon learned. We had gone but a little further when a turn in the road brought us in sight of a house. Women and children were fleeing to the woods while members of our advance guard were smashing in the windows and firing the house. Across the street were several stacks of wheat and oats; these were also fired. I asked my self "Why is this? Is this war? " That was but the A. B. C. of what occurred during the next few months.
As has already been stated, armed bands of Missourians had raided Kansas for years, in their efforts to force slavery upon that territory. Most of those men and their homes were known to Jennison and his men. Those border ruffians, as they were called, at the beginning of the war organized bands for guerrilla warfare. When troops went against them in force, they were in hiding, when small attachments went out, they would "bush-wack" them if possible. Up Hays, Bill Anderson and Quantrail were notable leaders of such bands. To destroy their lurking places and thus force them into the open so we could get at them was the only effective policy of dealing with them. This accounts in part for all that occurred on the border during the months which followed. No doubt the feeling of retaliation was strong in the mind of Jennison and the men whom he and others commanded in the border troubles of 1856-60, and helped to shape their method of warfare.
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