The Buford Expedition, Part Eleven: Broken Promises

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Previous Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Five grand lighter than he expected to be, Jefferson Buford and had nearly made it to Kansas. They went up to Kansas City, where Buford had everyone form a line and gave a speech. Then his men knelt and swore not to leave Kansas until they had won it for slavery. From Kansas City, the expedition moved on to Westport, where Fleming has them “equipped for settlement”. If Buford’s proscription of firearms had any effect beyond the rhetorical, I imagine it fell by the wayside here. The proslavery men finally crossed into Kansas on May 2, 1856. The proslavery party rejoiced and free state men lamented:

“Our hearts have been made glad,” wrote one of the Southerners, “by the late arrival of large companies from South Carolina and Alabama. they have responded nobly to our call for help. The noble Buford is already endeared to our hearts; we love him; we will fight for him and die for him and his noble companions.” On the free State side, ex-Governor Reeder writes: “There have come to the Territory this spring three or four hundred young men, including Buford’s party, who evidently came here to fight, and whose leaders probably understood the whole program before they left home.”

Missourians pledged that the would help Buford’s men, the enamored author above included. Before Buford and company could leave Westport, the citizens gave him “a fine horse with fine saddle and bridle.” Once in Kansas, the festivities gave way to the business of settlement. This scattered the filibusters. Buford himself sought “some central location” where he could set up shop in the hopes that his men would follow along and so remain easily reachable. An army dispersed can soon become no army at all. They might well have stuck with Buford, had he lived up to his end of the bargain.

Some of Buford’s men now asked that the money for paying for their claims be given to them, but this their leader declined to do until they should select their quarter sections and settle on them. Others wanted him to support them at his own expense, pay their bills at hotels, etc. His refusal to do this soon caused the loss of a number of the most worthless of the party.

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Fleming doesn’t think well of those men. He has a point, considering they wanted money before making claims and might well make off with the money instead of the land, but it doesn’t strike me as unusual for them to expect Buford to subsidize them until they could find parcels to settle. Even if you meant to get your land immediately and had energy enough to build a mansion on it first thing, people need to eat and have shelter while they find unclaimed spots that seem adequate. Given the very tenuous state of land claims in the territory, that might take a while. Nobody came to Kansas to starve, sleep in the rain, or descend into penury. Killing Yankee abolitionists might warm the heart, but they expected to improve their condition too.

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The Buford Expedition, Part Ten: A Letter to the Wyandotte

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Previous Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

We left Jefferson Buford’s men in Mobile, where they got the Bibles that Montgomery proved too impious to have on hand in sufficient numbers. Armed with books, if possibly not guns, Buford’s men embarked on the Florida for New Orleans. They picked up a few more men there and divided themselves between the America and Oceana to steam up the Mississippi for St. Louis. They arrived on April 23, 1856. According to Fleming,

The people of St. Louis rated Buford’s enterprise very highly, and regarded him as the best friend of Kansas in the whole South.

St. Louis leaned slightly antislavery, but that didn’t make them abolitionists. They stuck by Thomas Hart Benton through his preaching silence and compromise on slavery, combined with quite a bit of carping at antislavery agitators. St. Louis could very well understand Buford as a legitimate counter to antislavery radicals who had set up their own government in Kansas.

While in St. Louis, Buford wrote ahead to a Colonel William Walker, who Fleming describes as the governor of “Nebraska Territory”, a Wyandotte Indian establishment predating white settlement. He doesn’t use the word, but this sounds like a reservation. Buford refers to it as “the Wyandotte reserve.” Eufaula, Alabama’s favorite son wanted to settle on Wyandotte land “provided that the tribe will freely consent to my doing so, but not otherwise.” That sounds terribly broad-minded of Buford. He promised to place

only orderly, good citizens, -among them blacksmiths, carpenters, brick and stone masons, physicians, school teachers, agricultural laborers, etc., etc., and any who becomes obnoxious to the Indians I wold have removed.

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton

Previously whites could not settle on Indian country at all unless they had a license as an Indian agent or worked as missionaries. I don’t know that the organization of a territorial government ended those restrictions; Andrew Reeder got in hot water, officially, in part for speculating in Indian lands. In advance of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the United States negotiated cessions from Indian reservations but some continued in Kansas at least up through statehood in 1861. If Indians could not sell to Reeder, then I don’t know how they could grant Buford’s men permission to settle. The law may have changed or settlement might matter less than sale to it. Buford could also have just not done his homework, as he found that land preemption didn’t work quite like he thought previously. Or he might have expected that once his men had occupation of the land, their very whiteness would extinguish Wyandotte rights.

Regardless, Buford predicted

both parties would be benefited, and especially would it aid your views in building up your city of Wyandotte, which, by the way, seems the place endowed by nature for the great town of the Territory.

He closed with his hope that they would soon meet in person.

Jefferson Buford’s stay in St. Louis featured more than warm welcomes and letters to Indian chiefs. Someone broke into one of his trunks and made off with $5000. Buford never saw it again.

 

The Buford Expedition, Part Nine: A Bible Shortage

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Previous Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

The public meeting at Montgomery honoring Jefferson Buford’s company of filibusters included the usual sets of speeches from dignitaries and resolutions. A self-proclaimed “Union man” proclaimed himself badly in error and declared in the future for southern radicalism. The resolutions promised that Buford’s fans hoped no violence would come, but if it did Buford’s men ought

to consider themselves as but the vanguard of the mighty host of their brethren of the South, who are ready to march to their relief and stand with them in struggle.

They might well have meant it. Manly posturing seems as common as white supremacy in period sources, but at the time it must have seemed likely that Buford’s men would soon have others taking their example to heart. If the first one worked out fairly enough, why wouldn’t more come?

The next day, Buford’s men attended church, where the pastor floated the notion that

since some ministers at the North had been raising money to equip emigrants with Sharpe’s rifles, they present each man of Buford’s battalion with a more powerful weapon-the Bible.

The wallets came out at once for such a worthy cause, but it transpired that Montgomery did not have enough Bibles to go around. In lieu of securing the Good Book then and there, the organizers handed their money over to Buford in the hopes that he would buy them on the road. The only Bible that appears to have changed hands on the occasion came from the organizer of the fund drive. The Reverend I.T. Tichenor presented “a large Bible” to Buford himself and asked the company to comport themselves according to Scripture, or at least the proslavery passages. Buford in turn expected that right would make might. Songs followed and then everyone got together for a march off to the Messenger, which would steam the strapping lads away to their glory.

Five thousand waited to see Buford’s party off, accompanied by “a band of negro musicians”. They marched to the docks carrying banners emblazoned “THE SUPREMACY OF THE WHITE RACE”. Henry W. Hilliard had a few parting words, delivered whilst standing on a bale of cotton, finishing up with

Providence may change our relations to the inferior race, but the principle is eternal-the supremacy of the white race.

I imagine most people got the message from all that, literate or not. When the Messenger reached Mobile, they also got their promised Bibles.

 

The Buford Expedition, Part Eight: A Parade

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Previous Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

 

Jefferson Buford and his men reached Montgomery, where the town held a reception for him. In light of Franklin Pierce’s proclamation for law and order in Kansas, Buford decided that his “regiment” would not go armed to Kansas. He would bring able-bodied fighting men, but no guns. That should keep him right by the president, though it might disappoint his men. They had abolitionists to kill along with land to claim and making the former harder might very well have dampened their ardor for the latter some. Others had suffered such cruel disappointments.

Maybe Buford meant his decision. Maybe he just put it out for public consumption. Either way, the day after the Montgomery reception he tread his men to festivities that may have done something to reassure them that they had joined a proper filibustering outfit and not some weak-kneed emigration business:

Major Buford formed his party in line in front of the Madison House on Market street, and addressed them, urging that they abstain from intoxicating liquors and conduct themselves as gentlemen and good citizens. In the afternoon, they were marched to the agricultural fair grounds, where they were divided into companies and temporary officers were elected. Buford was made General

Civil War volunteers originally came by their units much the same way. Someone, usually wealthy and prominent or with friends of that sort, would ask a commission of the state government. With that commission in hand, or in anticipation of it, they would put the word out and collect the bands of young men keen on adventure and manly glory. They would have set mustering place, where their leader might have some words with them about proper soldierly deportment. Then they would elect officers to serve under their distinguished founder. Buford’s participants might have laughed at the idea that they would keep sober and had their own ideas about right conduct, but they would have understood this all as very properly military.

The night after the marching and subdivision, the people of Montgomery held a mass meeting to endorse Buford’s effort. The man himself took to the stage and promised

No force, fraud, or lawlessness was intended or would be tolerated. But if the hired minions of Northern free-soilism and fanaticism brought on a conflict by interfering with their rights, the Southerners would defend themselves and their institutions.

Just what antislavery Kansans could do that Buford and company wouldn’t take as interfering with their rights, I don’t know. Possessing antislavery beliefs in itself probably sufficed to justify force. If Buford really intended any kind of peaceable emigration, the military trappings and his insistence on only men of fighting age coming along seem entirely misplaced. More likely, everyone understood this as the necessary fig leaf. They weren’t going to Kansas to kill abolitionists, exactly, but if they found some -as they fully expected to do- then they might just have a fatal allergic reaction to bullets.

Fairness, however, demands we admit one thing. If the antislavery Kansans abandoned their government, their newspapers, their activism, their leaders, and all their beliefs to go all in for slavery, Buford’s people wouldn’t have any cause to treat them poorly. Civilized men could disagree about weighty matters without recourse to arms, so long as those matters didn’t include slavery.

The Buford Expedition, Part Seven: Pierce Rains on the Parade

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Previous Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

 

Jefferson Buford had his money and his men. He named places to gather and aimed to set out for Kansas in April, 1856. From the start, Buford planned a military expedition. In January, he informed the world that he would take no noncombants and outlined an organization which would have companies and officers. This all put him into a very awkward position come February, when Franklin Pierce issued his law and order proclamation, where he specifically called out

persons residing without the Territory, but near its borders, contemplate armed intervention in the affairs thereof; it also appearing that other persons, inhabitants of remote States, are collecting money, engaging men, and providing arms for the same purpose

Contemplating armed intervention in Kansas affairs? Collecting money? Engaging men? Providing arms? From remote states? This has as much Jefferson Buford as Ely Thayer written all over it, though given Pierce’s record he almost certainly intended only antislavery emigrant aid operations. Still, the president

call[ed] on the citizens, both of adjoining and of distant States, to abstain from unauthorized intermeddling in the local concerns of the Territory, admonishing them that its organic law is to be executed with impartial justice, that all individual acts of illegal interference will incur condign punishment, and that any endeavor to intervene by organized force will be firmly withstood.

Most probably, Pierce would still do nothing against Missourians. Buford’s party might warrant different treatment, particularly with how he had spread it all over the papers and talked openly about how they would go to fight. Should the proslavery president and the proslavery filibuster come into conflict, that might end awkwardly for everyone. Thus Buford sent out the word in March that his men would not go to Kansas armed.

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce

That settled, they got going. At Buford’s hometown, Eufaula, a hundred men departed on March 31. Buford himself led them out. They stopped at Columbus, Georgia, and collected almost as many again. Some opted to pay their own way and set off straight for Kansas via Nashville, but Buford’s party made it to Montgomery as planned, arriving on April 4.

There were now collected here about three hundred and fifty men, of whom one hundred were from South Carolina, fifty were Georgians, one was from Illinois, one from Boston, and the rest were Alabamians. The Alabama Journal of this date characterizes the emigrants collected in Montgomery as a superior class of young men, quiet, gentlemanly, temperate. Later, some members of the party seem not to have deserved this praise.

Montgomery rolled out the welcome mat for Buford and company, hosting a reception where his lieutenant Alpheus Baker gave “a stirring address” that sounds like a standard proslavery affair: ever since the Missouri Compromise, the South had suffered under “unjust” laws and abolitionist attack. The final battle of the sections would come in Kansas, where

Her chivalrous sons must come to the rescue, to uphold and maintain their constitutional rights and protect their institutions.

The Buford Expedition, Part Six: The Daughters of South Carolina

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Previous Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

We left Jefferson Buford at the Alabama legislature, where he made his pitch for Kansas emigration. A visiting Massachusetts man got word of that and went straight to Ely Thayer when he got home with the news. Buford aimed to field a proslavery regiment in Kansas, all armed and ready to fight. The Emigrant Aid Society, while it had trafficked in guns at least informally, dealt more with the money end of things. Thayer and the good, antislavery people of Worcester got together and made a start on remedying that deficit to the tune of 165 guns and fifteen thousand dollars for further emigration.

Buford had not started the fight over Kansas, but Thayer and company realized that he had taken it to a new level. His plan, like the Emigrant Aid Society’s, found supporters. If Buford couldn’t shake any money loose from the state of Alabama, he could get some from Alabamans to go with the proceeds from selling forty of his Alabaman slaves. A meeting in Columbus, Georgia, resulted in a Colonel Gayle promised his county would deliver up five thousand dollars. Gayle seems to have had plenty of cash on hand, as Fleming notes that he later offered $100,000 for the execution of Abraham Lincoln. In less conventional fundraising,

A daughter of South Carolina sent to the editor of a newspaper a gold chain which would realize enough to furnish one man, and she begged him to let the ladies of her neighborhood know when more money was needed. “We will give up our personal embellishments and expose them for sale.”

Floride Calhoun

Floride Calhoun

That makes for a cute detail, but it speaks to an important reality. Nineteenth century America permitted political action by women in only tightly constrained venues. As the mothers of future citizens, they had a legitimate place in seeking to improve the moral condition of the country. They could do that through the action of various benevolent societies. We remember mostly the suffrage, temperance, and antislavery movements but nineteenth century women also practiced politics through church groups and exerting informal influence on their male relations. The women of South Carolina might have made a sentimental gesture in selling their jewelry, and most men probably read it that way, but they also took a political stand. They too lived in the Palmetto State and understood themselves as a slaveholding people, in solidarity with the slaveholders of Missouri and imperiled by antislavery activism in all its forms.

Should things worked out as they expected and antislavery agitation inspired slaves to revolt, the murderous hordes would come for the Mary Chesnuts as much as the James Chesnuts, the Floride Calhouns along with the John C. Calhouns. We know that no massacres came, but we have the benefit of hindsight they lacked. So far as they knew, the slaves told the truth when the menfolk tortured plans to kill all the whites out of them. Denmark Vesey, at least in their minds, really wanted to go on a killing spree in Charleston before sailing off to Haiti. That whites, then and now, proved far more prone to such things didn’t enter into it.

 

The Buford Expedition, Part Five: A Response from Eli Thayer

William Lowndes Yancey

William Lowndes Yancey

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Previous Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4

Jefferson Buford had requested donations to help fund his plan to colonize proslavery men in Kansas. The forty slaves he sold, which Fleming reports went for seven hundred dollars each, would only go so far. He really wanted money from Alabama, but he would take it from private hands and named William Lowndes Yancey the man to collect the cash. Over the course of February, he and others undertook a speaking tour to promote the effort. They cast their net, as one might expect from where Buford named his rendezvous points, across South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.

Buford’s speaking tour took him to Montgomery, where he made his case to the Alabama legislature in person. A representative from Wilcox County introduced a bill to give Buford $25,000, but the legislature in general proved less keen on the business. The bill died in committee. A Massachusetts man, William T. Merrifield of Worcester, had come to Montgomery just the day before. According to Eli Thayer’s A History of the Kansas Crusadehe got his news directly from legislators who saw the speech.

Mr. Merrifield came home immediately, fully impressed with the belief that we ought to protect our men from this section and send men enough there to counteract the designs of the pro-slavery raiders. He was thoroughly convinced, from what he had seen, that we could and ought to do it. Having in his mind the suggestion of steps to be taken, the next morning, after he arrived home, the first man he met on the street was Mr. Eli Thayer.

That sounds a little too neat, but Thayer also lived in Worcester and would have had frequent cause to come to the post office where the meeting took place. Merrifield told Thayer his idea and Thayer, already in the business of sending men and probably off-the-books guns to Kansas, decided to get right on it. Thayer went off to Boston at once, where he learned that he would have the cash he needed.

Eli Thayer

Eli Thayer

On the ninth of February, 1856, a meeting convened at the city hall. Thayer and S.C. Pomeroy gave speeches, which went over well enough that

before the audience left the hall twenty-three rifles, equivalent to the sum of $575 were subscribed for

Thayer himself pledged ten rifles, $25 each, provided that Worcester could get together the funds for another seventy-five within the week. They did better, outfitting 165 men with guns and ammunition. Two further meetings brought the cash total to north of fifteen thousand.

The Buford Expedition, Part Four: “What military and other service do I require?”

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Previous Parts: 1, 2, 3

The winter of 1856 found Jefferson Buford’s expedition to save Kansas for slavery and make back his investment of forty slaves’ sale price about ready to go. Plans had changed a bit since he announced it. Buford would no longer take women, children, or slaves as subsidized emigrants; he wanted fighting men. According to Buford, “the great number of emigrants” required him to make one more adjustment. If you wanted to come, you absolutely had to meet Buford at one of his stated points of departure: his home of Eufaula, Columbus (Georgia), or Montgomery. But if you came, you got to go:

I will receive all males over eighteen from any Southern State, who join me at the time above designated; their rations to begin from the time above named for rendezvous. Emigrants must pay their own expenses to the place and day of rendezvous.

You could come from Delaware or Texas, but Buford would not put himself on the hook for your transport. However, you wouldn’t really have to pay:

Those gentleman in Carolina and other States forming companies to join me, can very easily obtain free transportation for their companies by proper application to the directors of the railroads over which they must pass.

When Buford said railroads, he meant the plural. Nineteenth century rail networks rarely connected to one another in any sensible scheme, particularly in the South. Buford thus asked anybody coming from afar to gamble on multiple railroad owners having a soft spot for dodgy colonization ventures, possibly to the degree of forgoing dozens of fares. Maybe they would, but that seems an awful lot to ask a poor emigrant to chance. Buford knew that full well. He advised anybody interested to throw a public meeting and put out the collection plate. However, he specified that contributions should not hinge on an individual going, but rather come earmarked “for the common benefit.”

Then Buford walked back his military language. After asking often for fighting men, coming armed and organized into a regiment and companies with officers, he walked it back:

I am asked, what military and other service do I require? None, except that when he gets to Kansas, the emigrant shall begin some honest employment for a living, if he be working on his claim, that will give him credit to buy bread on. On his way there he is expected to be orderly and temperate, to attend the reading of the Scriptures and prayer night and morning, to learn to fear God, to be charitable to our enemies, gentle with females and those in power, merciful to slaves and beasts and just to all men.

A cynical mind might note that Buford laid the temperance, religious, and humanitarian obligations upon his colonists only while they traveled. In Kansas, they needed only look to their own profit. A more generous one might admit that access to religious services might prove difficult on the frontier, however scrupulous the supplicant.

Buford closed his letter of February 1 with a request that interested parties write at once and the names of two men in South Carolina who he believed in the process of raising their own companies to join him. He gave his assurance that those worthies would totally for sure have free rides on the railroad. If you came from South Carolina, you should sign up with them.

The Buford Expedition, Part Three: “For the Privilege of Joining my Party”

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Jefferson Buford planned a nice vacation for himself and a few hundred of his most proslavery friends. They would go to Kansas on his dime, but he would take donations and promised to pay passage for a proslavery colonist for every fifty dollars received. To get the ball rolling, he sold forty of his slaves. Come the start of 1856, Buford nearly had everything in place. If not for some of his men refusing to go before the spring, he might have set out in February as planned. They insisted and Buford relented, scheduling departure for the end of March and beginning of April, depending where one came from. He also announced that he would underwrite only limited baggage: six blankets, a gun, a backpack, and a frying pan. If you wanted more, you had to pay for it yourself. Nor would Buford pay for the relocation of slaves, women, or children. In the time between his original November announcement and January, he realized he needed fighting men.

In case someone missed the point, even after Buford’s frequent talk about how you had to come ready for battle and keen on martial glory, he then told the world that he would organize his “regiment” into companies with officers elected by their members. Said officers would “have no emoluments” as “the organization is on the principle of volunteer militia to sustain the laws.” No uniforms, no extra pay, but you would get your chance to kill some abolitionists. That had to count for something, right?

If the growing peril in Kansas did not inspire Buford to promise relocation to noncombatants, then his finances might have done the job. He moved from discussing the military organization back to the ledgers, declaring that he didn’t plan to lose money on this business. In exchange

for the privilege of joining my party, for subsistence and transportation to Kansas, and furnishing the means to enter his pre-emption, each emigrant agrees to acquire a pre-emption, and to pay me, when his titles are perfected, a sum equal to the value of one-half of his pre-emption, which obligation he may discharge in money or property at a fair valuation, at his own option.

Preemption meant you could squat on land, register your claim, and then pay for it at a set minimum price. Buford had previously guaranteed to his adventurers a good forty acres. Now he wanted them to get it themselves and pay him half. That sounds suspicious, possibly rightly so, but Buford may just have not done his homework. He explains the shift in plan on the grounds that he thought you could claim preemptions “before patent”. I think that means he thought you could buy the land at preemption rates before living on and developing it as a prerequisite. Buford learned otherwise “on examining the act”. But he still had good news. Men of legal age, widows, and heads of families who hadn’t claimed a preemption elsewhere, and who did not have 320 acres already to their name, could have 160 acres at $1.25 a pop provided they lived on and improved it. So why wouldn’t you go to Kansas?

I don’t doubt that Buford really wanted to win Kansas for slavery, but it sounds like he meant to make a profit nearly as badly. The plan to have employees “settle” land and preempt it for you goes way back in American history. Buying the land at auction meant paying a fair market price. You might not turn an obscene profit. But get some handy “settlers” and you could claim vast acres for a song.

 

The Buford Expedition, Part Two: “six blankets, one gun, one knapsack, and one frying pan”

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Walter Lynwood Fleming

Fleming’s paper is available here (PDF) or in Transactions of the Alabama Historical Society, Volume IV (huge PDF).

Jefferson Buford of Eufaula, Alabama, sold forty of his slaves to save slavery in Kansas Territory. He wanted proslavery men, “crazy enough” to go to Kansas at fifty dollars a head. But not too crazy. Buford foresaw a place for heroes to defend “that great Thermopylae of southern institutions”, but he didn’t want maniacs. He wanted something more on the order of disciplined adventurers.

How did that work out for Buford? Walter Lynwood Fleming relates that at the end of December of 1855, Buford wrote to the Advertiser and State Gazette of Montgomery with good news. He had

honest, clever, poor young men from the country, used to agricultural labor, with a few merchants, mechanics, printers, and carpenters.

I went looking for the original, but couldn’t find it online. I think Fleming would have quoted a number of Buford gave one, but can’t say for certain. Either way, by January 19, 1856, Buford felt he had enough men on tap to set out. He published an announcement to that effect, laying out the details. He wanted to get going on February 11, but Buford’s colonists wouldn’t be ready in time. Some refused to leave before Spring. Citing that and the winter ice on the Missouri and the Kansas, Buford accepted a delay. He still meant to go, mind you. His men should gather at Eufaula on March 31; Columbus, Georgia on April 3; and Montgomery on April 5th. He would gather up others as he went between those places.

The company will travel from Montgomery by steamers via Mobile and New Orleans, or else by railroad via Atlanta to Nashville, and thence by steamer to Kansas.

The fragmented state of roads and rails in the antebellum South made such circuitous routes the norm. But roundabout or not, Buford aimed to go. He even paid the way for his men, though not for everything. His subsidy for luggage did not of very far at all:

I engage to transport no baggage except six blankets, one gun, one knapsack, and one frying pan to each emigrant. For baggage over and above this the emigrant must himself engage transportation; many will have no more and I must treat all alike.

This must have constituted a change of plans, as Buford then adds:

While I thought my company would be small I expected to be able to take women, children, and slaves; but I find I must leave them to give place to men who are now greatly needed in Kansas to preserve the public peace and enforce the laws. I now expect over four hundred men and I will take no females, nor slaves, nor minors under eighteen years of age. Women and children should not be exposed there in tents in the spring, but the husbands should go first and prepare houses.

One can read that three ways. Buford might very well have gotten far more men than he hoped, or fewer financial backers than he hoped. These four hundred make the first time he’s given a hard number. Even if finances didn’t enter into it, whether from too many interested parties or too few paying subscribers, Buford laid out his plan in public before the Wakarusa War. He might well appreciate now that Kansas would require more than militant bluster to save for slavery. Buford could have imagined a colonial venture with a military sideline back in November, but now realized he needed a military venture with a colonial sideline.