Raising the Red Flag

William Addison Phillips

William Addison Phillips

I.B. Donaldson -J.B. in some sources- and his army had come to Lawrence. They arrived not long after sunrise, marching down from Lecompton and up from Franklin to the tune of five to eight hundred men. Those in the lead took up a position on the heights of Mount Oread, above the town. They had a mixed of cavalry and infantry backed by at least four cannons. No like army of antislavery men mustered to meet them. The committee of safety made the decision not to resist and those so inclined largely left the area rather than get caught up in the fight sure to come. William Phillips describes the tension on the ground:

there were some fluttering amongst timid hearts, recollections of bloody threats, and the knowledge of the murderous wishes of their enemies. Groups began to cluster here and there in the streets, and many eyes were turned to the body of armed horsemen on the hill; but there was no demonstration of resistance.

Around seven in the morning, the posse descended from the highest point on Mount Oread to the one nearest town and seized Governor Robinson’s house to use as a headquarters.

They then planted their cannon on the end of the hill overlooking the town, and pointed towards it. This was long musket-range from the town, but good range for breech-loading rifles.

The force initially flew a white flag, but whatever faint hope Lawrence might have seen in that fled when they struck the white and raised red in its place:

the war-flag […] on this was inscribed, “Southern Rights.” Soon after, a United States flag, the “stripes and stars” floated beside it.

The policy of the United States from independence until 1860 floated there. The Lawrence memorialists claimed that the red flag would have spurred resistance, whatever the situation, except for the red, white, and blue with it. Whether they said as much to save face after the fact or meant it, ion the end they followed the same policy that their party had adopted before: Free state Kansans might fight with proslavery individuals acting privately and, in extremis, against the territorial government. They had no intention of levying war against the United States.

With the army-sized posse in place, W.P. Fain, Deputy United States Marshal, made his second call to Lawrence in less than twenty-four hours. He came with ten men, unarmed, and summoned several locals to the posse:

Dr. Jarvin, a pro-slavery resident of Lawrence, John A. Berry, C.W Topliff, Wm. Jones, S.W. Eldridge, and T.B. Eldridge.

Those same Eldridges had gone off to Lecompton to plead the case of their hotel furniture to the Governor. Now, bound by their previous offer to join any posse summoned, they went to work for the Marshal. He had warrants for the arrest of George Deitzler and G.W. Smith, which he managed without difficulty.

He staid until after dinner; called for dinner at the hotel, where he, and the posse he brought with him, dined; he left immediately after, neither he nor his companions paying the bill.

In other words, Fain came into Lawrence unarmed and summoned the de facto proprietors of the Free State Hotel and leaders of the committee of safety to aid him. Then he arrested two free state men and hung around town until noon. He went to the Eldridge’s hotel and executed a dine and dash against two of the men he had insisted help him carry out his duties.

Advertisements

Your input is welcome

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s