Ewing versus Anthony – the nature of war on the Kansas-Missouri line

“Leavenworth is for the Union, for the Army, for Universal Freedom.” So crowed the Leavenworth Conservative on April 7th, 1863 after Daniel Anthony (the Conservative’s owner) was elected Mayor. The Conservative may have meant well, but in 1863 support for the Union and support for “Universal Freedom” were still mutually exclusive. That summer, Anthony would again find himself at odds with the official policy of the United States Government and the Union Army. This time, his opponent would be the local Union commander, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr. The next few posts will document and analyze this struggle, in the broader context of both Anthony’s life, and the Civil War, but first, some background is necessary.

The Civil War in the Kansas-Missouri border area was fought as much by guerilla forces and local militias as by the small numbers of Union and Confederate “regulars” that were present. Here, the two sides had already been fighting for nearly a decade, and this bad blood fueled a special kind of savagery unique to the Kansas-Missouri region.

Like Anthony, Thomas Ewing Jr. came to Kansas when it was still a territory. Like Anthony, he worked hard to make Kansas a free state, and he would serve as the State's first Chief Justice, before joining the Union Army.

Like Anthony, Thomas Ewing Jr. came to Kansas when it was still a territory. Like Anthony, he worked hard to make Kansas a free state, and he would serve as the State’s first Chief Justice, before joining the Union Army.

As spring returned to Kansas, and Daniel Anthony began his term as Mayor of Leavenworth, guerilla commander William Clarke Quantrill was preparing a renewal of “his type of warfare.” His was a bloody style that involved harassing Union troop movements, sacking pro-Union towns, destroying infrastructure such as railroads, bridges and telegraph lines, and killing anyone who got in his way. (Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy, 112-113) To counter the guerillas and to protect Kansas from invasion by Confederate regulars, Kansans organized guerilla groups and militias of their own. The most infamous of these were known as the “Red Legs.” Seasoned readers of this blog may remember Charles Jennison. He was among the leaders of these irregulars, and he was joined by many of men whom he and Anthony had commanded in the 7th Cavalry. These veteran Jayhawkers conducted raids against suspected southern sympathizers and brought goods, loot, livestock, and slaves across the border into Kansas. Pro-slavery Missourians, as well as “Copperhead” Kansans were murdered, lynched, beaten, or otherwise deterred from interfering. Contemporary newspaper articles indicate that the first stop for stolen goods or liberated slaves was often Leavenworth, conveniently located on the Missouri River’s west bank.

In June of 1863, the Union commander of the Department of the Missouri, Major General John M. Schofield, created the District of the Border for the purpose of gaining greater control over the region. Ewing, then a newly minted Brigadier General was placed in command. (Smith, Thomas Ewing Jr, 189) Ewing’s new district comprised sections of Kansas and western Missouri that lay “north of the thirty-eighth parallel and south of the Missouri River” (Brownlee, Gray Ghosts, 113-114). This included the important Kansas towns of Leavenworth and Lawrence, as well as Kansas City, Missouri. Ewing made his headquarters in the latter. In order to deny shelter and comfort to confederate guerillas operating along the Missouri side of the border, Ewing recognized that he had to win back the hearts and minds of loyal Missourians. He would have to prove that the Federal Government could protect them from the Red Legs and other “thieves,” as Ewing called them, who had thus far been able to wage their own, unofficial war. To these ends, Ewing first sought to shut down the black market for stolen Missourian goods that had cropped up in Leavenworth. This was no small task, and for it to succeed, Ewing would need the help of Daniel Anthony.


Sources and references

Brownlee, Richard S. Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerilla Warfare in the West, 1861-1865. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984.

Smith, Ronald D. Thomas Ewing Jr. : Frontier Lawyer and Civil War General. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008.

Newspaper articles courtesy of Chronicling America  www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov) and Kansas 

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A springtime scandal for the new Mayor


“Mayor Anthony has at last done a stupid thing”


This article from the Oskaloosa Independent demonstrates how Daniel Anthony faced many of the same tensions and challenges that plagued wartime governments both North and South. Future posts will pay specific attention to the Independent, a paper which supported Anthony’s election as Mayor, but would completely reverse course by the time his one year term was up, becoming a strong critic. (Courtesy, Chronicling America, www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov)


So read the headline and opening sentence of a brief, but sensational story in the Oskaloosa Independent on May 23, 1863. (left) The source of their anger on this spring Saturday was the May 12th arrest of Leavenworth Dailey Times editor D.H. Bailey by Mayor Anthony. On that day, Anthony sent a police officer to Bailey’s home. The editor was requested to appear at the Mayor’s office, where he first learned of the case Anthony had sprung against him. The charge was that Bailey, as editor, was responsible for “disturbing the peace” when his newspaper published a story criticizing General Joseph Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac, for his performance during the Battle of Chancellorsville. (Leavenworth Daily Times, September 26, 1863) It was later reported in the Daily Times that Anthony wished to make an example of Bailey, and that he desired to eliminate all criticism of Union army officers. For those who were apprehensive about his election as Mayor, this must have been their worst fears realized. For one, Hooker was being lambasted across the country for his performance as commander of the Union’s main army. Chancellorsville, fought from April

General Joseph Hooker, also known as “Fightin Joe,” was criticized across the Union for his performance at Chancellorsville. Such criticism was deemed intolerable by D.R. Anthony, thus leading to Anthony’s most notorious action since the end of his military service. (Image courtesy, House Divided Project)

30 – May 6,  was an unmitigated disaster for the Union. Hooker, an otherwise capable general, was out-fought, out-thought and out-maneuvered by Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and he would be replaced as commander by George Meade just 2 months later.

According to the Independent, Bailey was also a Quaker, and thus, probably, a pacifist. Quakers were put in an awkward position both before and during the Civil War; ”The proper means and ends of emancipation nagged at the conscience” of American Quakers “before  - as well as during – the Civil War.” (Ryan, “Dilemma of Quaker Pacifism”, 5) Anthony’s father was a Quaker, a system of belief he did not enforce upon his son. However, in this instance, one might have expected a little more tolerance from the younger Anthony, who likely met William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass as a young man.

Whatever the role of religion and pacifism, Anthony’s actions were universally denounced as infringing on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The Emporia News declared “the conduct of the Mayor has been very tyrannical.” Anthony assessed Bailey a fine of $20. When he refused to pay Bailey was jailed for a brief time – just a few hours – before being released on a writ of habeas corpus.

Anthony was not the first individual in a position of Governance during the Civil War to infringe upon free speech or freedom of the press, nor would he be the last. Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus on more than one occasion, and New York Herald war correspondent Thomas W. Knox was charged with espionage for publishing information from the Vicksburg campaign, and for being acutely critical of General William Tecumseh Sherman. The Civil War placed new and unique burdens on all levels of government. Faced with these challenges in the bitterly divided Kansas-Missouri area, Anthony chose to govern the same way he did everything else in his life – act first and ask questions later. This was also his first serious transgression as mayor, something his critics clearly felt was inevitable. D.H. Bailey would ultimately countersue Anthony for unlawfully imprisoning him, and this issue would continue to dog him into the summer and fall, even has he faced other challenges as a wartime Mayor.


Jordan, Ryan. “The Dilemma of Quaker Pacifism in a Slaveholding Republic, 1833-1865.” Civil War History 53, no. 1 (2007).

Image of General Joseph Hooker courtesy of House Divided Project

Newspaper articles courtesy Chronicling America  www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov) and Kansas Newspapers  www.kansasnewspapers.org) 

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Anthony is elected Mayor – reactions are mixed

This blog has thus far been devoted to Daniel Anthony’s experience as a military man and as a journalist. The next few posts will be devoted to covering another of his accomplishments – his first term as Mayor of Leavenworth. When Anthony was elected in April, 1863, less than a year had passed since the events of the summer of ’62 that resulted in Brigade Order 26 and his resignation from the Army. Anthony has gained fame and notoriety for his wartime service and his unwavering (some would say radical) support for the Union cause, a cause now more closely identified with the eradication of slavery since the delivery of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1st, 1863). One could imagine Anthony feeling a mixture of vindication, and disappointment. Vindication that he had been on the right side of history with Brigade Order 26, and disappointment that he had not had the full force of Government policy to wield against slaveholding southerners. Bear in mind that the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery only in those States that were in rebellion. Slaveholding states, such as Kentucky, that remained nominally loyal to the Union were not included.

In April of 1863 Daniel Anthony became a wartime mayor of a frontier town in one of the most ideologically and militarily divided regions of the country. On April 11, The Smokey Hill and Republican Union, of Junction City, Kansas, declared the margin of 744 votes to be “the largest ever given” and Anthony’s election to be “in accordance with our hopes and expectations.” The Smokey Hill joined other papers in declaring that under Anthony’s leadership, Leavenworth would keep a stiff upper lip in the fight against the south, and that he would sort out the chaotic frontier town. The Leavenworth Conservative, a paper Anthony had once been publisher of, claimed he would make it “the most orderly city in the west”, and the Big Blue Union hoped “Leavenworth will be a hot [in the negative sense] place for copperheads and blacklegs while under his rule.” The term “Copperhead” was slang for a Northern Democrat who favored peace with the South and an end to the war, thus allowing the dissolution of the Union.

To those familiar with his past, Anthony’s election must have been worrying. He favored a very militant flavor of abolitionism and Unionism. The Oskaloosa Independent, a weekly newspaper published in Oskaloosa, Kansas, would follow Anthony very closely throughout his Mayoral career. Following the election, it ran a long article that reads, in part, “Colonel Anthony has a large number of personal friends and many bitter enemies. His enemies generally accuse him of being rash and headstrong; and some of his friends are fearful that he is not the man for the place…he is charged with favoring a certain class of lawlessness and of shielding a particular set of thieves.” (Oskaloosa Independent, April 11, 1863) The article ends on a hopeful note, declaring that Anthony can set an example for the entire state to follow by being impartial and cleaning up the down. In doing so, he could also silence his critics. The Independent probably should have known that silencing his critics was not high on Anthony’s to-do list.

(Newspaper articles courtesy of Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/)

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