The Governor Gives Orders

 

Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon

We left Charles Robinson and James Lane obliging Wilson Shannon by coming out to Franklin. There they met and dickered with thirteen leaders of the proslavery army investing Lawrence. William Phillips, who did not attend but might have heard details from Robinson, pronounced the whole affair “a farce” and described the negotiations as “a stormy time.” Shannon, who arranged the meeting on the advice of others, described it more neutrally. Still, even he admits that it took a good three hours to get everyone on board with going back to their people with word of satisfaction. Per the Governor,

We then returned to the Wakarusa camp, which we reached at ten, P.M., where I still continued to press upon the leading men the importance of withdrawing their men, and acceding to the terms offered.

They sound less than fully persuaded. Shannon told Brewerton

It was not, however, until daybreak on the 9th, that I felt safe in issuing my orders as Chief Executive of Kansas Territory, to Sheriff Jones, and Generals Richardson and Strickler, to disband their forces.

To the questionable delight of future chroniclers, Shannon dated his orders to the 8th all the same. Sheriff Jones, the author of all Shannon’s late sorrows that the Governor didn’t write for himself, got the shortest version:

Having made satisfactory arrangements by which all legal process in your hands, either now or hereafter, may be served without the aid of your present posse, you are hereby required to disband the same.

Samuel Jones

Samuel Jones

William P. Richardson received a somewhat more substantive missive:

Being fully satisfied that there will be no further resistance to the execution of the laws of this Territory, or to the service of any legal process in the county of Douglas, you are hereby ordered to cross the Kansas river to the north side as near Lecompton as you may find it practicable with your command, and disband the same at such time and place, and in such numbers as you may deem most convenient.

The two sets of orders do say largely the same thing, but Jones got no more than promise that he personally would suffer no interference in the future. Shannon asked Richardson to believe that the free state men had caved entirely. He also took pains to ensure that Richardson didn’t loose his men in easy striking distance of Lawrence. A well-lubricated, still angry mob might still opt to take matters into its own hands.

Orders or no, Shannon probably still wondered just what the army would do. He knew he had gained them little. Would they really just go home, even with David Rice Atchison and other leading men urging it? Just how far did the authority of those men reach?

 

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