D.R. Anthony was, to quote my advisor on this project, “an emancipator before The Emancipator” (Lincoln). He was an emancipator who practiced what he preached, and for proof, one need go no further than his letters home of the spoils of war taken campaigning in the South: “Our force was only 250. We took 150 mules and 40 horses, 129 Negroes [Ital. my own] and gave the Negroes 10 horses and mules, a lot of oxen, 10 waggons and two carriages and all loaded down with household furniture. The Negroe train into Kansas was over a mile long…We will not remain here long but will move farther into Missouri to get forage and beef” – Letter dated December 22, 1861
Anthony was motivated to free slaves and issue Order 26 by pure, unadulterated abolitionism of the kind practiced by Garrison, and a hatred of the rebels derived from years of abuse during Bleeding Kansas.
These two conditions together set Anthony and many of his fellow Jayhawkers apart from others in the Union army. Unlike men from New York or Massachusetts, Anthony and his fellow Kansans had been at war since 1854 when Bleeding Kansas began. As such, Anthony and the 7th Kansas represent a unique group within the Union Army. (The same could perhaps be said of Border State soldiers on both sides). Historian James McPherson mentions the 7th Kansas briefly in Battle Cry of Freedom. Of the Kansas soldiers he writes “to a man the soldiers were determined to exterminate rebellion and slaveholders in the most literal manner possible” (McPherson, 785). This is commensurate with my own research, and could characterize Anthony himself. Jayhawksers did hate secessionists and they did hate slavery, and there was no Jayhawk better at making use of his hate than Anthony.
Chandra Manning, James McPherson, and other authors have carefully studied the motives of the men who fought in the Civil War. Chandra Manning, fires her own salvo in What This Cruel Was Over (2007). She makes the provocative argument that average Union soldiers fought in large part for the cause of emancipation and destruction of slavery. She writes that while it was not a universal sentiment, “clear demands for the destruction of slavery plainly emerged among enlisted Union soldiers” (Manning, 50). That this was not a sentiment shared by high ranking officers is plainly demonstrated by D.R. Anthony’s treatment in July of 1862. Anthony and the 7th Kansas are proof of her argument that soldiers in the Civil War were highly invested ideologically and that they were a powerful force in favor of emancipation before Lincoln was.To my knowledge, Manning does not mention or cite D.R. Anthony and the 7th Kansas, though she does discuss Bleeding Kansas and Border State conflict.
The summer of 1862 is important in the discussion of emancipation for other reasons as
well.Congress had been embroiled in battles over emancipation for the entire war. Congress approved the Second Confiscation Act less than week before its resolution that demanded of Lincoln all information he had on Anthony’s arrest. Lincoln himself signed the Second Confiscation act on July 17th, two days after the Anthony resolution. This act proposed the emancipation of all slaves owned by Confederates as punishment for their treason. Furthermore we know that it was very shortly after signing the Second Confiscation Act that Lincoln began drafting and discussing the Emancipation Proclamation with close advisors. The draft of the Proclamation held by the Library of Congress is dated July 22, just two weeks before Anthony resigned and one week after the Senate resolution aimed at the President. Obviously D.R. Anthony did not trigger the Emancipation Proclamation. That being said, the summer of 1862 was a key moment in the development of Emancipation, and D.R. Anthony was part of that moment.
Manning, Chandra. What This Cruel War Was Over : Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War. 1st Vintage Civil War Library ed. New York: Vintage Civil War Library, 2008.
McPherson, James M. For Cause and Comrades : Why Men Fought in the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.