In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Price’s raid on Missouri and Kansas, KHC is featuring excerpts from “Price’s March of 1864” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.
READER 2: The State line road runs about a mile from the east border of Kansas…The border of Missouri, through which both armies were passing, was entirely desolate…with the ruin of civilization and cultivation. Desolation most absolute and appalling; for it told of the savage devastation of partisan warfare, and of the fearful retribution the passions of men had inflicted.
During the fifty miles of this march not an inhabitant was to be seen. Where they had lived was marked by the charred remains of consumed dwellings, the only standing parts of which were brick chimneys, built according to Southern fashion, on the house’s exterior…Long lines of grey ashes told where fences had stood; while rank crops of unsightly weeds marked where cultivation had once smiled…[T]here rested over all a sense of brooding horror.
NARRATOR: Price marched “along the Kansas-Missouri border toward Fort Scott, where he hoped to replenish his field kitchens and forage wagons from the federal supplies stored there.” Leaving a wake of broken equipment and wounded men behind them, his troops pillaged as they traveled.
READER 3: [T]he Southern army under Price…passed through, [and some of Price’s men] came upon [a] Mr. Ward as he was burning the grass around his farm. A squad rode up and demanded his horse: he refused to give it up and they shot him. They next came to where Mr. Vernon was also burning the grass around his field in order to save his home from the prairie fires which were devastating the country. His wife and two children were in the wagon nearby. The men rode up and demanded the horses. Vernon told them he would give up his life before he would let them take his team. His revolver was in the wagon, but before he could get it, one of the men shot him in the breast. The men left without taking the horses or molesting the wife and children. Mrs. Vernon managed to get the dead body of her husband into the wagon and had almost reached home when another band came up and took the team from the wagon, leaving the poor woman and crying children without aid to bury their dead.
READER 4: The Trading Post, a small hamlet on the south side of the stream, was about two miles west of the line, and was surrounded by a populous farming settlement…The malignant fury of the rebel invader was now apparent. They had entered Kansas. The first house across the line was the scene of a dastardly murder. An old, gray-haired minister of the Gospel lay dead, with white locks reddened by his own blood. The woman and children were frantic and crazed with terror and grief. The fence and outhouse were burning. The interior of the cabin presented a woe-begone appearance…Everything not portable had been broken. On the floor were black and charred marks, where fire had been set. The frightened inmates were stripped of nearly every article of clothing on their persons or in the cabin; and to crown the brutality, in very wantonness, the ruffians had shot one of their exhausted horses and tumbled it into the spring, in order to make the water useless.
READER 5: Along the line of retreat of the rebel army every house within reach of the main body or flankers was robbed of everything it contained. All kinds of clothing were taken; even the flannel [diapers were] in some instances taken from infants. Every morsel of food, cooked and uncooked, was consumed, destroyed or taken along; and all the stock that could be led or driven was taken; in fact, everything valuable and not valuable was taken; so that those men and families whose hard fate it was to be in the way, are left stripped of every comfort and necessary of life.
The retreat of the rebel army is marked not only by robbery and desolation of the wildest kind, but the fiends were not content with that. Six miles north of the Trading Post they murdered Samuel A. Long, aged fifty-six years; he was previously robbed of his money. Three miles north of the Trading Post, John Williams, a preacher, aged sixty years, was indecently mutilated and then hung…Many other citizens, all unarmed, as these were shot at…murdered…killed.
READER 1: [T]wo young ladies were stripped of every article of clothing except one undergarment to each. A woman who was holding a sick baby had the shawl rudely torn from about it.
Follow the Confederate troops as they continue their destructive retreat from Kansas and Missouri. Log on tomorrow for the latest blog installment.