Posts tagged ‘Lawrence’

Excerpts from Midnight Rising: John Brown and the raid that sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz

A new book on the famed abolitionist John Brown will be released next week (Oct. 25). It is written by Tony Horwitz, who previously wrote the best-seller, “Confederates in the Attic.” Bloomberg recently posted five excerpts in advance of this book, which are made available here. We’ll review this book in approximately 2-3 weeks, once the book is released and we read it fully.

From the author’s website,

The author of Confederates in the Attic returns to the Civil War era to tell the gripping drama of a man and a mission that changed the course of history.

Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry ruptured the union between North and South. Yet few Americans know the true story of the militant idealists who invaded Virginia before the Civil War. Now, Midnight Rising paints Brown’s uprising in vivid color, capturing a nation on the brink of explosive conflict.

Unlike most abolitionists, Brown was prepared to shed blood in the cause of freedom. After fighting against slavery in Bleeding Kansas, he secured money and guns from clandestine backers called the Secret Six, and convened a guerilla band that included three of his sons, his teenaged daughter, a former slave desperate to free his wife from bondage, and a dashing poet who acted as a spy inside Virginia. Then, late one autumn night in 1859, Brown marched from his mountain hideout into Harpers Ferry, seizing the town’s federal armory and vowing to liberate every slave in the South.

The bloody fight at Harpers Ferry prompted a counterattack by U.S. Marines under Robert E. Lee and shocked an already divided nation. While Southerners branded the raid an act of treason and terror, Brown’s bravery and eloquence made him a hero to many Northerners. The crisis also helped elect Abraham Lincoln, who later began to fulfill Brown’s dream with the Emancipation Proclamation, a measure the president once labeled “a John Brown raid, on a gigantic scale.”

In this riveting book, Tony Horwitz probes the troubled soul of Brown, the desperate passion of his followers, and the spirit of a sundered nation. The result is both a taut historical drama and a telling portrait of a fiery time that still resonates in our own.

“With his customary blend of rich archival research, on-location color, and lyrical prose, Tony Horwitz has delivered a John Brown book for our time. Part biography, part historical narrative, Midnight Rising is a riveting re-creation of the Harpers Ferry Raid, told with an unblinking sense of Brown’s tragic place in American history. Writing with enveloping detail and a storyteller’s verve, Horwitz shows why Brown was-and still is-so troubling and important to our culture.”  -David Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

Bloomberg’s excerpts are in five parts, which you can find in the links below:

John Brown, the Antislavery Entrepreneur (Part 1)

John Brown, the Antislavery Entrepreneur (Part 2)

John Brown, the Antislavery Entrepreneur (Part 3)

John Brown, the Antislavery Entrepreneur (Part 4)

John Brown, the Antislavery Entrepreneur (Part 5)


Civil War grudge should not affect university mascot

By Molly Skyles Truman State University Index

Truman State should remove the Bulldog as its official mascot. Once, when I was 8 years old, a bulldog bit my finger and drooled on my new sneakers. It was a traumatizing life event and I really would appreciate it if the bulldog were to be replaced with something less distasteful. A butterfly might be nice.

Okay, of course I’m going a bit overboard, but how ridiculous does this sound? Just about as ridiculous as the tiny Missouri town of Osceola, I assume. Osceola, population 950, located in southwest Missouri, is asking the University of Kansas to drop its Jayhawk mascot because of a 150-year-old grudge.

In 1861, approximately 2,000 Jayhawkers attacked Osceola, killing hundreds and destroying the town, according to a Sept. 18 Kansas City Star article. The Jayhawkers were anti-slavery, guerrilla fighters in a border war with the pro-slavery state of Missouri during the Civil War era. The city of Osceola claims they never have been able to rebuild their population and apparently the Jayhawk to them is similar to saying “bomb” on an airplane.

Maybe this grudge is a little (note the use of “little”) more understandable than my bulldog anecdote. Yes, many people were killed, but still, this happened 150 years ago. During the last century and a half, this country has faced two world wars and currently is dealing with a battle regarding terrorism, but what are our concerns — fear that the blue and red bird with the yellow boots who dances around throwing free T-shirts to the crowds at KU games is going to bring up old Civil War wounds?

Today, a Jayhawk also is a nickname for someone born in Kansas. While I’m not from Kansas, even though Osceola is making me wish I wasn’t from Missouri, I would assume that knowing you come from an anti-slavery state would be something on which to pride yourself, and what better way than with the name Jayhawk?

In Osceola’s resolution to KU, they also are requesting Missourians stop spelling Kansas and KU with a capital letter, because it “neither is a proper name or a proper place,” Osceola Mayor Larry Hutsler said.

Osceola has some nerve. They were not quite innocent all those years ago. Osceola was pro-slavery and angry that the Jayhawkers had the guts to stand up to their inhuman ways. I’m sure many innocent people were killed, but it was the Civil War. Osceola was not the only casualty. The fact that they are this concerned about defending their “victim” stance on the attack makes me question their modern-day beliefs. Not to say they still are pro-slavery, but wouldn’t you at least be a little ashamed that your town believed in slavery and it took a horrific event like the Jayhawkers attack to make them change their ways? There is no point in bringing up old news, old embarrassing news at that.

KU is not the only university that has received negative attention regarding their mascot. The Florida State UniversitySeminoles, Central Michigan University Chippewas, Miami University Redhawks, University of North Dakota “Fighting Sioux” and University of Utah Utes all have been targets of Native American upset, and rightfully so. A man with face paint and feathers in his hair wearing animal hide is offensive to the traditional Native Americans who still exist on reservations throughout the country. A cartoon bird decked out in primary colors and big yellow boots, though, is just laughable.

Lighten up, people. I’m sure the Jayhawkers did a lot of damage in Osceola some 150 years ago, but times have changed. Slavery is wrong, wars still are happening that deserve your modern-day attention and Kansas cannot be to blame for your low population.

Molly Skyles is a senior communication major from St. Louis

Inquire Within: Civil War Breaks Out All Over Again

Courtesy of Southwest Times, Fort Smith, Arkansas

Get ready, war is coming — the Civil War, that is.

Yep, folks recently commemorated the opening of that destructive conflict with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sumter. Over the next four years, you’ll likely be hearing much more than usual about the Civil War as other anniversaries occur.

A reader’s great-great-grandmother who lived east of Fort Smith wrote a memoir that makes reference to locations and at least one person associated with the Civil War in these parts.

Among other things, she would like some information about “Buck Brown who had a gang called Brown’s Bushwhackers.”

Bushwhackers were irregular forces who fought during the Civil War, usually out of uniform.

William Quantrill and Quantrill’s Raiders probably are the most famous example of bushwacking on the Confederate side. He and his men massacred unionists at Lawrence, Kan., in 1863.

They and other Confederate bushwhackers also harassed and killed Union soldiers, cut telegraph lines, stole supplies and generally added to the mayhem and chaos of war.

I tend to think of “bushwhackers” as Confederates and “jayhawkers” as Union irregulars, but even during the war itself the term bushwacker was used loosely.

Although bushwhackers served at least a quasi-military function early in the conflict, they had degenerated into simple marauding, raping and stealing by the close of it. Scarcity of resources and food might explain some of what they did. War weariness and an increasing desire for revenge might explain the worst of what they did.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, William Martin “Buck” Brown was one of the more notable Confederate bushwhackers in Arkansas.

In April 1864, Brown’s bushwhackers killed nine Union soldiers who were grazing horses at Prairie Grove. They did it wearing Union uniforms, which allowed them to get close enough.

Four of Brown’s men were captured and on July 29, 1864, executed by firing squad at Fort Smith. None of the them were older than 19, and all had fought in the regular Confederate forces, too.

Federal troops cornered and killed Brown himself in March 1865 in Benton County. Three of his men also were killed in that skirmish, and the rest scattered.


An Inquire Withinner wants to know if Garrison Avenue was named for someone named Garrison or if it was named for the soldiers garrisoned at Fort Smith — the military fort south of the avenue.

With the caveat that establishing the origin of place names, especially ones that reach back more than 170 years, is sometimes problematic, I can say with some confidence that the avenue likely got its name because it was the road to the garrison. It also was part of the military road connecting Fort Smith to Little Rock in the early 1800s.

Often it is said that soldiers at Fort Smith used Garrison to practice parading and marching.

A man whom I regard as the Yoda of Fort Smith history has told me that is unlikely.

Practice drills probably were most often conducted on parade grounds within the fort’s walls. Most forts at the time dedicated space for that purpose.

However, soldiers did parade down the avenue on special occasions and holidays, so they were not completely unknown on the avenue.

Badge, Tires

I want to thank the reader and IW fan who brought me a law enforcement badge he found while doing yard work.

It’s a Fort Smith deputy constable badge, and I’m still trying to figure out its history. For some reason, it has the letters “A.S.” at the bottom. I’m not sure if that’s the officer’s initials or some other designation.

This may be a first, but I’m now going to ask you a question.

A tire on The Jenny’s car keeps going flat. I’ve had it checked by some competent tire folks, but they can find no leak.

Using an electric air pump, I inflated it again, and it kept the pressure for two or more days.

Because it had lost no pressure, I felt confident in putting the hub cap back on.

It depressurized again over the next few hours. Go figure.

I don’t even really care anymore that it’s doing it. I’d just like to know the how and why.

To submit a query to “Inquire Within,” write Ben Boulden at or Newsroom, P.O. Box 1359, Fort Smith, AR 72902. Want more Inquire Within? Become a Facebook fan.

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