1861: The German and the Lt. Col.

I have written of Anthony’s cruelty towards his perceived enemies. He could also however be cruel to the apparently innocent.Seventh Cavalry biographer Steven Starr relates a

story on pages 103-106 of Jennison’s Jayhawkers in which a German immigrant,barely able to speak English, goes to the camp of the Seventh to seek shelter from discriminatory southerners. The enlisted men persuaded the unsuspecting man to join their ranks, and found for him an overcoat and US-labelled belt buckle. The German then had the misfortune to encounter Anthony, who, unaware the man had joined his command, demanded the belt and coat be removed. The German hesitated and tried to explain, but Anthony, unable to understand, began beating the man with his sword. The German ran and the Lt. Col. drew his revolver to shoot before other men stepped in and stopped him. According to one of Starr’s sources, this was not the only such episode.

This anecdote indicates that, though abolitionists may often be thought of as believing “all men are created equal,” that is not always the case. Pressures of war, and perhaps natural tendencies of suspicion still may exist in even the most ardent abolitionist. It is also indication that D.R. Anthony could be cruel not just to political opponents or pro-slavery men, but also to innocent men, unable to explain their situation. It shows Anthony to be a brash man, quick to act. This can be seen in his duels and his political writings. Take for example his change of heart about his cousin George Tobey Anthony, who was Governor some 15 years after the incident with the German. D.R. turned on his cousin, a fellow Republican, nearly ruining George’s political career. Other incidents abound. In spite of the environment of tolerance that he was brought up in as a child, D.R. Anthony developed a powerful temper, and a penchant for brutality towards those he felt deserved it. Though it appears this episode was brought on by a mere misunderstanding and language barrier, it nonetheless shows the full measure of D.R. Anthony’s anger, something that many men would experience during their lives.


Starr, Stephen Z. Jennison’s Jayhawkers. Baton Rouge, LA: Lousisiana State Univ. Press, 1973.


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