“A man who had a hatchet struck at his head” Trouble at Easton, Part Ten

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

Reese Brown and his company had quite a time. Through they passed hours of general inactivity with drinking during the election of January 17, 1856, they finally got the expected fight when proslavery men attacked Stephen Sparks. The immediate rescue didn’t bring exchange of fire, but one came as soon as proslavery and antislavery men could separate far enough for it. They exchanged rounds at long range, in the dark of night, and took cover within some nearby houses. In the exchange Sparks’ son suffered minor wounds. Two proslavery men did worse. One of the latter, a man named Cook, would die from a gut shot.

Fearing for his safety, Dr. Edward Motter sent to Kickapoo for help. The Kickapoo Rangers came, trapping Brown and some of his men on their way home from Easton. Brown tried to warn them off, but the Rangers had numbers on their side. J.C. Green described the encounter in rather retrained, summary terms. Henry Adams provided the Howard Committee more detail:

When we were about half way from Easton to Leavenworth, we met two wagons loaded with men, and one of the wagons was drawn by four animals-mules, I think. They hailed us to know where we were from, and wanted us to stop. There was a double track, and Mr. Brown drove by them without stopping. Shortly after we passed them, we saw another and a larger party in front of us, two wagons, and about thirty on horseback. The party in the wagons we already met, shouted to those in front of us, and they answered by shout, and then all rode around and surrounded us.

Green’s account broadly matches that, but the way he tells it you could almost think that the men from Kickapoo executed some kind of smooth battlefield evolution and, after some consternation, Brown surrendered. Adams speaks to the genuine chaos of the moment, with men not just maneuvering but also charging forward to fully envelop the group.

Brown’s party dismounted and raised arms as the proslavery men rushed forward, “levelling their guns and shouting.” Adams inquired, amid “a great deal of noise and disorder,” as to who had charge of the Rangers and Pierce Risely pointed him to a Captain Martin. Martin heard his name and rode over. Adams asked if he could get control of his men. Guns brandished or not, no one on the free state side seemed keen to fight it out just then. Martin obliged, “partially succeeded,” and the crowd settled enough that Adams

turned round and saw George Taylor, one of our party, on the ground, and two or three men were around him, and partially over him, and he was making an effort to get up. As he got up, his head came in sight, and a man who had a hatched struck at his head.

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“They had got us and were going to hang us” Trouble at Easton, Part Nine

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

The gunfight at Easton on the night of January 17-8, 1856 ended inconclusively, with the free state men returning to the site of the late polls at Minard’s house rather than heading home. Stephen Sparks’ son suffered minor wounds. Two proslavery men had more serious injuries, one shot through the leg and the other in the stomach. Dr. Edward Motter tended him for some time that night, but “through fear” left at three in the morning. Motter did more than go into hiding, though:

Believing that our place was in danger, I sent an express to Kickapoo. Mr. Kookogey sent an express to Messrs. Johnson & Lyle, of this city.

Kickapoo served as the home base for the Kickapoo Rangers, a proslavery militia who the free state party took seriously. Reese Brown, Stephen Sparks, and the other guards at the Easton polls came with the expectation that they would try something. Motter set out to prove them retrospectively right. Kookogey’s missive would bring, among others, J.M. Lyle. He served an official in the bogus legislature and played a role in the lynching of the more obscure William Phillips. Given the already warm relations between armed proslavery and antislavery Kansans in the area, what could go wrong?

On the other side of the dispute, J.C. Green came into Easton with Reese Brown. He didn’t join the others in rescuing Stephen Sparks, but after Brown left his company heard the “considerable firing.” Brown, Sparks, and company returned to Minards and there stayed until morning. They had some breakfast and started out.

After riding about six miles, we met two wagons filled with men, who told us to stop. Mr. Brown told the driver to go on, and we passed them; and then their two wagons turned about and followed us. Some of them jumped out of their wagons, and said they would see if we would not stop. We then jumped out of our wagon, and Mr. Brown, I think, told them if they wanted anything to come on. We then saw in the road in front of us some forty or fifty more men armed, some with horses and some with wagons. They had stopped at a house near there. We kept walking along until we came up to them. They began cursing us, saying that they had got us, and were going to hang us.

Brown, Green, and company had met the Kickapoo Rangers, and probably some men out of Leavenworth too, that Motter and Kookogey summoned. Green doesn’t name them as such, but none of the witnesses I’ve seen mentions another large band of proslavery men coming into Easton on the eighteenth. He recognized Lyle among their number.

At its most, Brown’s company boasted around twenty men. By the time they met with the Rangers, Sparks and probably others had separated from them. The proslavery men had the advantage in numbers and superior positions, both ahead of and behind the party. Whatever else one might say about the shortcomings of free soil Kansans, they knew how to count and understood their precarious situation. The Rangers insisted that everyone hop into a wagon and come with them back to Easton. Brown’s men objected, but on the grounds of safe transport rather than out of a desire to hazard a fresh gunfight. The Kickapoo men conceded the point and divided Brown’s company between two wagons.

The Kickapoo Rangers remained mindful of their own safety too. One of them spotted Green’s revolver and asked its surrender:

I told him I would give it to the captain of their company, if they had any captain. He said they had, and that his name was Martin. Presently Martin came along on horseback by the side of the wagon, and I gave him two revolvers. I had one in a belt, and the other I had in my pocket.

In short order, Brown’s party found themselves back in Easton. This time they ended up in Dawson’s store, which connected to Dr. Motter’s office.

Passing Notes: Trouble at Easton, Part Four

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

Sorry for the delayed post, Gentle Readers. This ought to have gone up on Friday and stood ready to do so in the queue, but something went wrong.

On the evening of January 17, 1856, proslavery men came up to the free state polls in Easton and demanded the ballot box. Free state men rushed out and lined up in front of them, armed and ready. Despite the urging of their leader, the proslavery side took a powder. But nineteenth century Americans didn’t just give up on something like this. If the free state party had its way, Missouri would have slave-stealing abolitionists to the side. They might bring black Americans into Kansas. They might spark a slave revolt that would burn the country to the ground. No proslavery man could take that laying down. If a display of their martial commitment, however equivocal, wouldn’t do the job then they had other methods.

They sent a note. Readers of a certain age might expect it to inquire as to whether one liked slavery, with boxes to mark yes or no. The note contained no such thing but some dispute exists in the sources over just what it did say.

Henry Adams told the Howard Committee that soon after the proslavery men departed

they sent a messenger up with a written demand, not signed, but addressed, I think to Mr. Minard, for the ballot box. Mr. Minard knew the individual who brought it, and told him he was surprised to see him int hat business, and to take the message back to him who sent it and tell him if he had any message to send him, to sign it. He went back with it, and shortly afterwards another man came up with another message of the same import, and with a threat, I think, to come and take the ballot box in an hour, if it was not delivered up. It was signed, I think, by Doctor Motter.

Dr. Edward Motter told a rather different story. According to him, nothing of significance happened on election day until the evening. Then a Wakarusa War veteran named Reese Brown, who had arrived in town and some “eight or ten men, all armed to the teeth” that morning, wandered by. Motter walked up and gave him some straight talk:

“Mr. Brown, I think it would be advisable for you to return with your men.” He threw open his coat and said, “by God, you think I am not armed.” I said, “that makes no difference to me,” and left him for a few minutes. About an hour afterwards, I went over to the grocery and saw Brown reading a letter, and told him things were getting to a critical position, and he had better go home with his men.

Motter wants the committee to think nothing important happened until he and Brown had their chat, but he tips his hand in referring to tensions growing. He knew full well that proslavery men had threatened the polls. Another hour passed, bringing us up to about nine. Brown and friends went to the grocery, where Motter tried again:

I told Mr. Brown that his men could not come into the grocery, because they were getting drunk and there would be violence committed. Nine of them rushed into the grocery, and I kept eleven of them out.

I’d like to know how Motter managed that feat. Drunken, armed men tend not to listen to sweet reason. Whatever he did didn’t last long. Soon

men were running both ways. Brown’s party had gone back to Mr. Minard’s house. They sent down a messenger to us, calling us cowardly, thieving, niggardly sons of bitches, and dared us to come up to Minard’s house, and that if we did, there would not be one to tell the tale. That was just the expression Mr. Minard used, and they all said so. After that news came down I sent them a note as follows: that if they would hold on, probably we would call to see them upon any demand they had requested.

At this point, we have two notes. In most accounts, one went out unprompted from the proslavery men to demand the ballot box. In Motter’s version, he receives one insulting him and writes back an answer. Per Motter, a personal dispute had arisen and they might settle things on the field of honor.

I have no doubt that Brown and company had a few. Other accounts mention them drinking. Probably some wandered about town and behaved boorishly too. But Motter reduces the election to a background event and that seems very implausible. According to him, no one harrassed voters or make any threats against the polls. In Kansas, in the vicinity of Leavenworth, and during a free state election that stretches credulity too far.

Trouble at Easton, Part Three

Around six o’clock on January 17, 1856, proslavery men in Easton, Kansas Territory, made their first serious go at the free state polls. They had come up and made threats before, but the close of the election and consequent dispersal of armed free state men emboldened them. They rode up and demanded the ballot box, at which point a group of free state men came out and formed a line against them. Joseph Bird and Henry Adams, two of the defenders, gave fairly restrained testimony to the Howard Committee about the confrontation. J.C. Green, another in the line that evening, told a bit more:

Towards night a party of men came up within a hundred yards of Mr. Minard’s house, where the election was held. They appeared to be generally armed, and were yelling.

Green and the others made their appearance

and told them they must come no further. They then stopped and used a good deal of abusive language. The one who seemed to be in command of the party coming up, told them to charge several times, but they did not do so. After standing a short time, they turned and went back.

Stephen Sparks, another man on the line outside Minard’s and of whom we shall hear more, agreed:

I heard some one of the crowd, who appeared to be the leader, say, “Charge on them, God-damn them! I ain’t afraid!” About this time our men had nearly formed themselves from the door to the road. Upon seeing our force they halted, and returned without further difficulty.

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

The proslavery party in Kansas often come across like deranged maniacs, particularly the rank and file who we see almost exclusively through the accounts of their enemies. Prominent men had more to lose and so often acted with a small measure of circumspection. David Rice Atchison, who promised to murder every abolitionist in Kansas, ultimately backed down at Lawrence and worked to defuse the situation. He must have hated it and fumed at how those blasted abolitionists outmaneuvered him, but Bourbon Dave helped reel in his boys all the same.

Green doesn’t name the leader of the proslavery men; he may have been a locally prominent individual who also had much to lose. If he did, he thought Easton a hill worth dying on. His men disagreed. The folk wisdom about bullies seems pertinent: they didn’t mind an unfair fight but the other kind could get one of them killed. Maybe some of them had molested George Wetherell up at Leavenworth the month prior or gone off in hopes of destroying Lawrence, but in both cases they expected no fight or a very uneven one.

They might, in fact, have expected something more like disciplining slaves. An enslaved person could not fight back. Failing that, Southern communities often policed white dissenters from slavery by mob action. With the exception of Patrick Laughlin’s killing of Samuel Collins, every violent scrape that I’ve yet looked into in Kansas came in about much like that: an uneven fight from the beginning where the victim had few friends to come to his defense.

 

Trouble at Easton, Part Two

William Addison Phillips

William Addison Phillips

We left the Leavenworth election of January 15, 1856 over in Easton on January 17. The change of venue and date put proslavery forces momentarily off their game, allowing for some genuine free state voting. When they tried to make a roaring comeback, armed free state men warned them off. Despite repeated threats to the polls, slavery’s friends ended up harassing people going to and fro rather than putting on the customary violence. That turned away some voters, but failed to end the election.

In the days before telephones and the internet, an election required more than just holding the vote. Actual people had to count the ballots and then deliver the results. This usually happened after the polls closed, at which point the free state men who had secured them would also disperse. According to William Phillips, “some eighteen or twenty” present realized the obvious weak spot in their security and stayed behind to guard against the seizure of the ballot box. If they had anything to say about it, the proslavery men would not make off with it as they had back in December.

In the early part of the night an attack was expected, and the free-state men were prepared for it. They knew that messengers had gone to Kickapoo for the Kickapoo Rangers, and an attack was looked for whenever they arrived.

I don’t think the Kickapoo Rangers have appeared on this blog before. In them, we have a group of genuine Kansans organized into a proslavery paramilitary. The Rangers must have taken the scenic route, as the night wore on without an appearance. The proslavery men nearer by, just down at Dawson’s store, appeared in a more timely manner. Joseph Bird, and others, saw it firsthand and told their stories to the Howard Committee:

about six o’clock at night, a large party of horsemen, I should think forty or fifty, not more, came down towards the house, and a few of them, some five or six, demanded the ballot-box. They were not answered right away, and they threatened to come and take the ballot-box; that they would have it, if they had to shoot every man there, or something to that effect. I do not remember the precise words they used.

Phillips’ eighteen to twenty guards then rolled out, forming a line in front of Minard’s house.

Henry Adams, there with Bird, put the proslavery men at “twenty-five or thirty” when he and the others came out with their guns.

Considerable altercation took place back and forth, but I do not recollect exactly what was said. Some of our party were considerably excited and I thought were going rather too far, and Mr. Minard and I were apprehensive they might fire upon this party coming up, and we urged them not to do so, to commit no act of hostility except in self-defence. After some parleying, and, I thought, urging by the leader of the party coming up, to get his men over, they retired without doing anything.

They proslavery men did retreat, but they left watchers on the house. They hadn’t given up yet.

 

Trouble at Easton, Part One

William Addison Phillips

William Addison Phillips

The mayor of Leavenworth would have nothing of any free state election there. If antislavery Kansans wanted to elect officers to their new government, then they would not do it under his watch. He had a riot just last month, thank you. If the 1st Cavalry didn’t ride to his rescue then, he could hardly expect it this time. The free state men didn’t take that laying down; they relocated and rescheduled for January 17, 1856, and twelve miles away at Easton. The change, distance, and deep snow kept many away but about a hundred did appear and vote.

The relocation went off well enough to forestall a major, organized attempt to prevent the election. William Phillips reports that on the evening prior

a small number of pro-slavery men, who had known that an election was to be held at Mr. Minard’s, attempted to get possession of the place so as to prevent it, but were driven off.

One must assume that the driving off involved some credible threats.

As the small band attests, news did get out. Even without advance warning, anybody could see unusual activity in and around Easton. Proslavery men soon gathered. With armed parties on both sides and an election going on, the law of Kansas politics demanded trouble ensue:

Many of the free-state men who went to the polls took guns with them. A small party of these, while going through Easton on their way to the polls, were attacked by a larger number of persons, who had congregated in the store of a pro-slavery man named Dawson. By these men the free-state voters in question were disarmed and driven back in a different direction from the polls.

In less than a year, antislavery Kansans had gone from conspicuously unarmed at the polls to packing heat as a matter of course. But guns don’t work magic. The larger band successfully disarmed the smaller and kept them from voting.

The proslavery men did one better than turning away a small band of voters:

During the day parties of pro-slavery men, who were congregating about Easton, went over to the place where the voting was going on, and threatened to attack the house. Seeing that the free-state men were ready to defend themselves, they did not attack. These threatening visits were made several times during the day, and on each occasion the most violent threats were made; but they dared not attack. During the day voters going to or coming from the polls were molested, and disarmed or driven back.

If you could get to Minard’s house, you could vote. Antislavery Kansans naturally collected there and came in sufficient numbers and arms to deter the customary attack. The commute presented the larger hazard, as they couldn’t lock down the whole vicinity. The small band turned away testifies to that much. Where free soilers could warn off proslavery men near the voting, the tables turned abroad.

 

Almost a Leavenworth Election

William Addison Phillips

William Addison Phillips

We left Kansas only slightly bled. The proslavery mob at Leavenworth seized George Wetherell and supplied him generously with kicks and jumps on the back. Days later, they came back and destroyed the Territorial Register, the local free state paper. In both cases, the proslavery side had little in the way of forcible opposition and largely did its work in a straightforward, direct manner. Despite a close call at Lawrence, Kansas had yet to see anything like a pitched battle between bands of proslavery and free state Kansans. With a fairly miserable winter settling in, one might expect passions to cool and everyone to hole up until spring.

The free state movement had an election scheduled. On December 15, Kansas approved the constitution drafted at Topeka and the associated black law. That meant that the territorial government now had offices in need of filling. The next round of elections took place a month later, on January 15, 1856. We have, Gentle Readers, made it out of 1855. For the most part, the proslavery men seem to have followed past precedent and simply ignored free state elections. They had no legal standing, so who cared? Those living in and around Leavenworth had a different precedent to follow, written in their footprints on George Wetherell and the river mud on Territorial Register’s type.

Mayor Slocum of Leavenworth knew all about that precedent. He sent to Fort Leavenworth for help suppressing the mob back in December, to no avail. Rather than hazard a repeat of that performance, he

ordered that no election be held in Leavenworth city; and, as it was well known that any number of ruffians could be got from the adjoining state to enforce that order, it was not attempted.

William Phillips, who faulted his free state comrades for insufficient martial valor back in December, appreciated their plight better the next month. It may have helped that they chose to have the election anyway. As they didn’t dare Leavenworth, they removed to Easton, “some twelve miles distant” to have their vote two days later.

Eastin did not make for an ideal polling place:

by this arrangement it would be needles sot add that comparatively few could go to the polls through a deep snow in such severe weather, well knowing, as they did, that the chances for a fight even there were pretty good. In fact, while Leavenworth could have polled upwards of five hundred free-state votes, little more than a hundred were polled at Easton.

Per Phillips, the free state party arranged things with enough subtlety that the proslavery men didn’t have a plan in place to disrupt the election. They had to improvise.

The End of the Leavenworth Territorial Register, Part Two

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

We left George Washington Brown, the only source I’ve found on the destruction of the Territorial Register, commenting on how Mark Delahay’s paper had so little to do with abolitionism that it had endorsed one of the men leading the mob that destroyed it. He told his readers that the Register had the approval of the administration’s Washington Union all of a month before its destruction, a stamp of orthodoxy that counted for a great deal at the time. By all the conventional measures of nineteenth century politics, one might expect the mob to understand Delahay as at least moderate. The more generous might even count him on the proslavery side. He certainly didn’t make for a reasonable substitute for Brown himself.

But Mark Delahay sinned all the same. His paper

disapproved of David R. Atchison leading an armed force of Missourians into Kansas during the descent of the Border Ruffians on Lawrence. It ironically stated that it regretted that “certain duties, both of a public and private nature” had prevented Mr. Atchison from returning to Missouri by way of Leavenworth City.

This was the sum total of its offence. For daring to allude ironically to the arch-demagogue of Missouri, the Territorial Register, a “National Democratic” journal, published in Kansas, was destroyed and thrown into the river by a gang of ruffians, chiefly residents of Missouri, and followers, every one of them, of a “National Democratic” politician.

Brown stretched things here. If the Register’s disapproval of Atchison and the Wakarusa War served as a causus belli, then it made only for the final straw. Delahay had attended the Topeka Constitution back in October and November, which put him pretty firmly on the antislavery side. That he occupied the right wing of the free state movement did not, however much Brown might like it otherwise, make him into a proslavery man. It could, however, have put him within the mainstream of the national Democracy. They didn’t all have cause to run off to Kansas and join in opposing the territorial government, but other Democrats of a national stripe who had come to Kansas, like James Lane, did so. When the legitimacy of Kansas’ warring governments came before Congress, plenty of Democrats showed sympathy for the free state movement.

Thus Brown highlights an important point: the border ruffians and their Kansas auxiliaries had taken steps that, while not unprecedented in the rough world of antebellum politics, well exceeded its norms in terms of scale. You might have some violence at your own election and so ensure the outcome, but one did not customarily organize bands and invade a neighboring polity in large numbers to do the same there.

The trampling of the white man’s democracy in the name of slavery rankled more than just abolitionists. If it could happen in Kansas, it might elsewhere. Antislavery Americans had made that claim often enough. The slave power, with its doughfaced northern lackeys like Frnaklin Pierce and James Buchanan, secretly conspired to destroy white freedom. The slavocrats, left unopposed, would soon enslave all.

Those accusations always had a whiff of paranoia about them, and gave the white South more organizational credit than it deserved, but proslavery Missourians and Kansans seemed absolutely bent on making them into realities.

The End of the Leavenworth Territorial Register, Part One

The Alton mob attacking Elijah Lovejoy's warehouse.

The Alton mob attacking Elijah Lovejoy’s warehouse.

I must begin with a minor correction, Gentle Readers. I previously put Mark Delahay’s nomination by the free state party for delegate to Congress at December 15, the day that the mob at Leavenworth seized the polls and menaced his newspaper. The nominating convention actually took place on December 22.

Speaking of that convention, Delahay attended it as he had previous free state conventions. That put him in Lawrence on the twenty-second. The proslavery men took notice, as George Washington Brown’s Herald of Freedom reported on December 29. Threats spared the Register once, but

the Platte County Regulators had determined that it should go the way of the Luminary ere long.

B.F. Stringfellow and company earned themselves a checkered past already by this point and they did live just across the river from Leavenworth. More likely than not, members of the organization played a part in the mob action on the fifteenth. With Delahay and other “leading Free State men of Leavenworth” away they saw their opportunity:

an armed and regularly organized company of fifty men, chiefly from Missouri, led by G.W. Perkins, Dr. Royall, Capt. Dunn and James Lyle marched down from Kickapoo, broke open the Register office, destroyed the press and threw it, with all type, into the Missouri river.

Dunn and Lyle have appeared in the narrative before. Lyle participated in the lynching of the less famous William Phillips. Dunn, of course, stormed the polls. I don’t recognize Perkins or Royall, but Brown helpfully identifies them as, like Dunn and Lyle, late of the army that besieged Lawrence. They had further distinctions as well:

Perkins was the candidate of the “National Democracy” for Congress; and the Territorial Register advocated his election. “Oh! shame! where is thy blush?” Dr. Royall was a delegate to the pro-slavery “law and order” Convention. Dunn is an Irish renegade. Sprung from a class and race who are opposed and despised at home, he was endowed with all the glorious rights of American citizenship, only to aid in undermining the principles on which our republican government is founded. Lyle was the clerk of the House of Representatives of the bogus Kansas Legislature […] Such are the leaders of the pro-slavery “law and order” party.

One just can’t imagine how the Whigs and Republicans lost the Irish vote so badly. Brown sounds at least as scandalized by Dunn’s Irish background as by his proslavery violence.

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

The Register’s endorsement of Perkins makes for rich irony. Brown must have relished the chance to strike at proslavery violence and the right wing of his own movement, which Delahay represented. His clear satisfaction shouldn’t obscure the broader picture, though. Proslavery men didn’t attack just a radical paper like the Herald of Freedom, but even a very moderate antislavery organ:

It certainly could not be charged with “Abolitionism” as attachment to Northern ideas is styled; for it advocated the principles of the Nebraska bill; it lauded the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; it was the organ and defender of Stephen A. Douglas; it advised, from first to last, the obedience to the laws of the barons of Kansas; it was in favor of the execution of the fugitive slave bill and abhorred the higher law; its editor repeatedly and publicly declared “he had as lief buy a negro as a mule;” and regarded the question of slavery or freedom merely as “a question of dollars and cents.”

All of this held true until “within the last month,” to the point that the Register had the approval of the Democracy’s national newspaper, the Washington Union.

The Mob and the Territorial Register, Part Three

William Addison Phillips

William Addison Phillips

Not content with stopping the election of December 15, 1855 and attacking one of the poll workers, the proslavery mob at Leavenworth turned their attention to the local antislavery paper. The Territorial Register must pay. As had happened at Lawrence less than a week before, they backed down when faced with a threat. Antislavery men put the word out that if the mob wrecked the Register, then as soon as they departed the proslavery Leavenworth Herald would follow. Threats alone might not have done the job, but the mob’s leaders again opted for moderation. Those leaders arranged a distraction, as reported by William Addison Phillips:

An effort was made to satisfy the victorious heroes of the ballot-box with their laurels for the day, and the disbanding of the “militia” afforded the means of diverting the current.

I’ve previously expressed my skepticism of Phillips’ claim that the mob largely came down to militia men fresh off their Lawrence disappointment and still mustered together. I still find it hard to believe that an organized company remained together away from home, in cold weather, and without clear purpose days later. Given the scare quotes, Phillips may have agreed. But it seems that treating them as such counted for something. Archibald Payne tried to maintain order at the meeting, but gave over to Lucien Eastin, a genuine general of the militia:

General Eastin congratulated them on their good and orderly conduct, on which their recent occupation was an excellent commentary. He also complimented them on their appearance, which was quite diverting.

What Phillips meant by the force’s appearance, I have no idea. I presume it involved more about their military bearing or good order than their looks or the simple fact of their presence. If singularly good-looking men figured prominently in the Missouri or Kansas militias, I haven’t heard of it.

by far the most important part of his speech was a proposition that these men should immediately enroll themselves into regular volunteer companies as soon as they were disbanded. He said there were three thousand stand of arms due the territory from the United States, and that if they took the proper steps they could get them.

Eastin’s offer here gave the mob reason to listen. They could get access to free guns and then turn those arms on antislavery Kansans. Phillips looked into things later and found

it was really the intention thus to get the arms designed for the defense of the territory into the hands of those who are to invade it. A part of the force thus to be armed would be proslavery men, residents of the territory; but the great bulk of these arms would thus find their way into the hands of the border ruffians.

One doesn’t get the impression that the proslavery party lacked for arms, but a few thousand extras wouldn’t hurt anybody. They might even relieve the irregulars of the need to pillage Missouri’s armories before crossing the border. That would put the proslavery men on firmer legal footing at home, as well as turn them into regulars with some form of lasting official sanction. If the Lawrence militias could get that kind of approval, why not their enemies?