Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

by John Beauchamp Jones

            OCTOBER 11TH. —I attended a meeting of “mechanics” and citizens at the City Hall last night. The prime mover of this organization is E. B. Robinson, some twenty years ago one of my printers in the Madisonian office. It was fully attended, and although not so boisterous as might have been expected, was, nevertheless, earnest and determined in its spirit. Resolutions instructing Mr. Randolph (State Senator, and late Secretary of War) to vote for a bill before the General Assembly reducing and fixing the prices of the necessities of life, were passed unanimously also one demanding his resignation, in the event of his hesitating to obey. He was bitterly denounced by the speakers.

            I understood yesterday, from the butchers, that they have been buying beef cattle, not from the producers, but from a Mr. Moffitt (they say a commissary agent), at from 45 to 55 cents gross and hence they are compelled to retail it (net) at from 75 cents to 1.25 per pound to the people. If this be so, and the commissary buys at government prices, 18 to 22 cents, a great profit is realized by the government or its agent at the expense of a suffering people. How long will the people suffer thus? This community is even now in an inflammable condition, and may be ignited by a single spark. The flames of insurrection may at any moment wrap this slumbering government in its destructive folds; and yet the cabinet cannot be awakened to a sense of the danger. Mr. Seddon (who may be better informed than others), deeply sunken in his easy, chair, seems perfectly composed but he cannot know that his agents are permitted to prey upon the people; and the complaints and charges sent to him are acted upon by his subordinates, who have orders not to permit business of secondary importance to engage his attention and his door-keepers have instructions to refuse admittance to persons below a certain rank.

            Nothing but the generous and brave men in the army could have saved us from destruction long ago, and nothing else can save us hereafter. If our independence shall be achieved, it will be done in spite of the obstructions with which the cause has been burdened by the stupidity or mismanagement of incompetent or dishonest men.

            “THE SUFFERINGS OF THE BORDER MISSOURIANS.—The people of Missouri, on the Kansas border, are being slaughtered without mercy under the authority of the Yankee commander of that department, Schofield. A letter to the St. Louis Republican (Yankee) says :

            “On Sunday last the desire for blood manifested itself in the southeastern part of JacksonCounty, not far from the village of Lone Jack. Although it was Sunday, the people of that region, alarmed and terror-stricken by threats from Kansas, and cruel edicts from headquarters of the district, were hard at work straining every nerve to get ready to leave their homes before this memorable 9th day of September, 1863.

            “One party of these unfortunate victims of a cruel order had almost completed their preparations, and within half an hour’s time would have commenced their weary wanderings in search of a home. It consisted of Benjamin Potter, aged seventy-five; John S. Cave, aged fifty; William Hunter, aged forty-seven; David Hunter, aged thirty-five; William C. Tate, aged thirty; Andrew Owsley, aged seventeen; and Martin Rice and his son. While thus engaged in loading their wagons with such effects as they supposed would be most useful to them, a detachment of Kansas troops (said to be part of the Kansas 9th, though this may be a mistake), under command of Lieut.-Col. Clark and Capt. Coleman, came up and took them all prisoners.

            “After a little parleying, Mr. Rice and his son were released and ordered to leave; which they did, of course. They had not gone much over three-fourths of a mile before they heard firing at the point at which they had left the soldiers with the remaining prisoners. In a short time the command moved on, and the wives and other relatives of the prisoners rushed up to ascertain their fate. It was a horrid spectacle.

            “There lay six lifeless forms—mangled corpses—so shockingly mangled that it was difficult, my informant stated, to identify some of them. They were buried where they were murdered, without coffins, by a few friends who had expected to join them on that day, with their families, and journey in search of a home.

            “These are the unvarnished facts with reference to an isolated transaction. There are many, very many others of a similar character that I might mention, but I will not. The unwritten and secret history of our border would amaze the civilized world, and would stagger the faith of the most credulous. In the case just mentioned, we find an old man who had passed his threescore and ten, and a youth who had not yet reached his score, falling victims to this thirsty cry for blood.

            “The world will doubtless be told that six more bushwhackers have been cut off, etc. But believe it not, sir; it is not true. These six men never were in arms, neither in the bush or elsewhere, I have been told by one who has known them for years past. The widows and orphans of some of them passed through this city yesterday, heart-broken, homeless wanderers.”

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