Kansas and Missouri had been at war along the border since 1854. Slavery extension and
squatter sovereignty originated with these two when, as territories, they advanced
respectively toward Statehood. Dishonorable men, clothing themselves with the
contentions of patriotic citizens, crossed the State line from both sides and committed
crimes of every kind from larceny to murder. While Kansas may have ‘bled’, Missouri
When the War started, some of the best men of Missouri, such as Generals Frost and
Bowen and Colonel Upton Hays (who participated in the Battle of Lone Jack), were
standing guard with armed forces to prevent incursions of Kansas marauders. The
guerrillas of Missouri undertook to stop these marauders and to retaliated upon Kansas for
the misdeeds in Missouri of such men as Pennook, Lane, and others. Jennison destroyed
Osceola, Missouri, and Quantrell burned Lawrence, Kansas.
Order #11 was the most heinous order ever issued during the Civil War. It depopulated
Jackson, Cass, Bates, & part of Vernon Counties and reduced this area to ashes. It was
the first time in America’s history that a United States president endorsed such a violent
act against citizens within his own country.
This order was issued, not in retaliation of Quantrill’s burning of Lawrence as so many
believe, but to quell a rebellion within the state that was gaining momentum, one that the
Federal Government was powerless to control.
What many also do not realize is that it was being discussed months before Quantrill’s
untimely raid on Lawrence. Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing, Jr. Commander of the Border
wrote to Lt Col. CW Marsh, Assistant Adjutant-General, Dept of Missouri. In his letter he
"About two-thirds of the families on the occupied farms of that region are of kin to the
guerrillas, and are actively and heartily engaged in feeding, clothing, and sustaining
them. The presence of these families is the cause of the presence there of the guerrillas.
I can see no prospect of an early and complete end to the war on the border, without a
great increase of troops, so long as those families remain there….I think that the families
of several hundred of the worst of these men should be sent, with their clothes and
bedding, to some rebel district south. About one-half of them could take with them no
provision or money of any consequence, and would have to be temporarily supplied by
Little did anyone realize what horrendous consequences this letter would have.
While there is some conflict on who actually drafted Order #11, it is believed to have been
written by Brig Gen. John M. Schofield, Commander of the Army of the Frontier, and it
was Schofield who commanded that Thomas Ewing Jr. disseminate it to the public on
August 25, 1863.
When it was issued, it was done so with the knowledge and approval of President Lincoln.
In a letter written to General Schofield, Lincoln writes:
“With the matter of removing the inhabitants of certain counties en masse; and of
removing certain individuals from time to time, who are supposed to be mischievous, I am
not now interfering, but am leaving to your own discretion.”
He goes on to say…
“So far as practicable you will, by means of your military force, expel guerrillas,
marauders, and murderers, and all who are known to harbor, aid, or abet them. But, in like
manner, you will repress assumptions of unauthorized individuals to perform the same
service; because under pretence of doing this, they become marauders and murderers
themselves. To now restore peace, let the military obey orders; and those not of the
military, leave one another each other alone; thus not breaking the peace themselves."
Washington, D. C. Oct 1. 1863
General Schofield, who, with headquarters at St. Louis, commanded the Army of the
Frontier from April 1 to September 20, 1863, held that the border counties of Kansas could
be immune against the Missouri guerrillas if the border counties of Missouri were
depopulated. He contended that the guerrillas would quietly assemble at a point agreed
upon, then boldly ride over the country, harassing Union men, attacking detachments of
Federal troops and occasionally making forays into Kansas. If chased by superior forces,
they dispersed and scattered in the border counties of Missouri and were reabsorbed by
the peaceable portion of the community or were safely harbored by non-combatants, from
whom they became indistinguishable. General Schofield determined, therefore, to remove
all the inhabitants, loyal and disloyal alike, from certain counties, and to seize all the
provisions and provender which the Citizens in departing might be forced to abandon.
George Caleb Bingham, a staunch Unionist who vehemently opposed Order No. 11, said
in a letter written in response to one Gen Schofield wrote in an attempt to exonerate
himself for the creation and subsequent devastation that followed the issuance of Order
#11. Both of which were published in the Missouri Republican in Feb 1877. It reads in
"The order was, soon after it was issued, denounced by the late Gen. Blair, as an act of
imbecility. Upon the supposition that it was intended to aid the cause of the Union and
weaken the Rebellion, his denunciation was certainly just In view, however, of its purpose
as revealed by its actual results, in the ruin of thousands of our citizens and the speedy
transfer of their movable wealth to their dishonest neighbors in Kansas, it must be
confessed that it exhibited the consummate wisdom of the serpent. Never was a robbery
so stupendous more cunningly devised or successfully accomplished, with less personal
risk to the robbers. As an act of purely arbitrary power, directed against a disarmed and
defenseless population, it was an exhibition of cowardice in its most odious and repulsive
I was present in Kansas City when the order was being enforced, having been drawn
thither by the hope that I would be able to have it rescinded, or at least modified, and can
affirm, from painful personal observation, that the sufferings of the unfortunate victims
were in many instances such as should have elicited sympathy even from hearts of stone.
Bare-footed and bare-headed women and children, stripped of every article of clothing
except a scant covering for their bodies, were exposed to the heat of an August sun and
compelled to struggle through the dust on foot. All their means of transportation had been
seized by their spoilers, except an occasional dilapidated cart, or an old and
superannuated horse, which were necessarily appropriated to the use of the aged and
It is well-known that men were shot down in the very act of obeying the order, and their
wagons and effects seized by their murderers. Large trains of wagons, extending over the
prairies for miles in length, and moving Kansasward, were freighted with every description
of household furniture and wearing apparel belonging to the exiled inhabitants. Dense
columns of smoke arising in every direction marked the conflagrations of dwellings, many
of the evidences of which are yet to be seen in the remains of seared and blackened
chimneys, standing as melancholy monuments of a ruthless military despotism which
spared neither age, sex, character, nor condition. There was neither aid nor protection
afforded to the banished inhabitants by the heartless authority which expelled them from
their rightful possessions. They crowded by hundreds upon the banks of the Missouri
River, and were indebted to the charity of benevolent steamboat conductors for
transportation to places of safety where friendly aid could be extended to them without
danger to those who ventured to contribute it. General Schofield represents the counties
embraced in the order as having been nearly depopulated by 'a savage guerrilla warfare,'
which for two years had been waged therein, thus attempting to make it appear that the
order operated only on a few remaining farmers, who, 'whether they sympathized with the
guerrillas or not, were mere furnishers of supplies to these outlaws."
The horrors visited upon the innocent citizens of western Missouri were beyond
description. Burning, murder, and stealing from a people who had very little left to take,
occurred on a daily basis. To be in Missouri during this time was to live in constant fear
for your life and the lives of your loved ones.
The most innocent victims of this dreadful order were the women, children & the elderly.
The men of the families were either in the army or in hiding. Being an adult white male,
they lived in mortal danger everyday. The women were forced to leave their homes and
trek many, many miles to find shelter for their children, alone with nothing but what they
When asked by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to write of her experiences
during the War, Frances Fristoe Twyman – wife of a prominent Jackson County doctor
"Many years have come and gone since the war closed. My mind wanders back tonight to
the commencement of the so-called Civil war, but to me it was a most cruel and unjust
war, a war in which innocent women and children suffered most. Our homes were invaded
and ransacked by the Federal soldiers and women and children were dragged off to
prison. Not content with all of this, Tom Ewing issued that terrible Order No. 11. I try to
forgive, but I cannot-no, cannot-forget. If Tom Ewing is in heaven today his inner life must
have been greatly changed. Never can I forget the many scenes of misery and distress I
saw on the road when people were ordered to leave their homes on a few days' notice.
The road from Independence to Lexington was crowded with women and children, women
walking with their babies in their arms, packs on their back, and four or five children
following after them-some crying for bread, some crying to be taken back to their homes.
Alas! They knew not that their once happy homes were gone. The torch had been applied-
nothing left to tell the tale of carnage but the chimneys. O, how sad! I saw one woman
who had two cows hitched to a wagon; and a little boy was leading them. There were
some boughs on the wagon, and old-time coverlid stretched over them; inside the wagon
was a very sick child. The wagon halted, the mother got out with her sick babe in her arms
and seated herself under the friendly shade of a tree. It was apparent to all that the child
was dying. There sat the mother with her child dying in her lap; her husband had been
killed, she was forced to leave her home, driven out into the cold world with her little
children. O, the anguish of that broken-hearted mother as she sat there, with tears
streaming down her pale cheeks, knowing she was powerless to save her child. Some
kind-hearted people of the neighborhood came to her assistance. The crowd surged on,
women and children dragging their weary limbs through the dust and heat.
Some of the people who lived on the road we were traveling, seeing such a dusty, dirty,
woebegone crowd approaching would say, "There come the refugees, take in your
clothes," as though we would steal; too much southern blood in us for that.
I was arrested several times and came near being shot twice; our horses were taken from
us. But alas! Our worst troubles were yet to come. Our daughter, just budding into
womanhood, was taken sick and died. She was as lovely as the morning, beautiful as the
evening, fair as the silver queen of night. Sixteen summers had kissed her cheeks and
fanned her brow; she was as good as beautiful, kind and affectionate, beloved by all who
knew her. I looked upon her face in my young motherhood. O, it was happiness for me to
know and feel that she was my own, my first-born darling. None ever had a lovelier child."
This order affected everyone, regardless of their allegiance. Most of the union
sympathizer made the inhospitable march with their southern sympathizing neighbors for
the fear of retaliation should they make their allegiance known.
Martin Rice was a well known and well respected member of the Lone Jack Community.
While the majority of the residents of Lone Jack were of southern sympathies, he was a
known Union sympathizer. Of the horrors of Order #11, he wrote in part:
"For several weeks during the summer of 1863, rumors were prevalent and common in
the country that such an order was in contemplation. Scouting parties of Union soldiers
declared that, unless the bushwhackers ceased from their system of guerrilla warfare, and
the citizens ceased from harboring, aiding, and protecting them, an order would be made
to depopulate the country infested by them.
That which gave more color to the rumor, and more alarmed the citizens than the threats
of the common soldier, was the fact that the Union men who had taken refuge in Kansas
City and Independence notified their friends in the country to hold themselves in
readiness to obey the order when it came; that unless a change for the better was made
in regard to guerrilla warfare, such an order would most surely be issued.
The Sni Hills in Jackson County had the name of being the principal rendezvous of those
guerrillas, and threats of vengeance were more frequently made against that part of the
country than any other.
On Tuesday, the 25th of August, General Ewing issued his celebrated order from Kansas
City, and rumor, with her thousand tongues, soon spread it over the ill-fated territory.
I thought I had witnessed and felt the hardships and privations of civil war and martial law
before, but it was reserved for this, the last week in August and the first ones in
September, 1863, to teach me and others how much the human body and mind can bear
up under and still survive.
Previous to this, if one were brought into a strait, or got into trouble or difficulty, he could
appeal to some friend or neighbor for help, and the appeal was seldom made in vain. But
now all were in the same strait; the same weight of sorrow and distress was pressing upon
all; there was no exception, and none in our part of the district were exempt from the
My own reason, as well as the suggestions of friends, convinced me that my life was now
in more danger than it had yet been. The country was full of bushwhackers, some of
them personal friends of the men who had been killed in the morning; I had been taken
with them, my life had been spared because I was a Union man, theirs had been taken
because they were not, and retaliation was common on each side. It was plain that I must
go as my friends and neighbors did, or not go at all. I felt assured that if I abandoned
them and sought a place of shelter and security, by taking some other road, my life would
pay the forfeit, nor did I wish to abandon them, so long as I could be of service to those
who were now so much in need of help.
I saw much of the incidents and fruits of Order No. 11. Before and behind was seen the
long, moving train of sorrowing exiles, wagons and vehicles of every shape and size and
of all kinds, drawn by teams of every sort, except good ones, a cloud of dust rising from
the road. The further we proceeded, the greater became the moving column of wretched
On every road that led eastward from the county of Jackson came the moving mass of
humanity, seeking an asylum they knew not where; some driving their flocks and herds
along with them, others again as I was with nothing but a make-shift wagon and team—
some not even that. Women were seen walking the crowded and dusty road, carrying in a
little bundle their all, or at least all that they could carry. Others, again, driving or leading
a cow or a skeleton horse, with a bundle or pack fastened upon it, or a pack-horse on
which the feebler members of the family rode by turns.
The number, which crossed at Lexington – great as that number was – was but a small
part of those who, under the operations of that Order No. 11, were made homeless and
scattered as it were to the four winds."
Not only did the people of southern sympathies realize how desperate the situation in
Missouri was, the Union Provisional Governor, Hamilton Gamble, appointed to the office
of governor by Union delegates to the succession convention in July 1861, was crying foul
also. They were suffering the same outrages as their southern counterparts. In a letter
written to President Lincoln, Governor Gamble makes clear his intentions should Missouri
be invaded by the radical citizens of Kansas.
Several citizens of border counties of this State will forward to you by mail their
representation of the condition of affairs in adjoining portions of Kansas, and the
expression of their apprehension of an invasion of this State from the State of Kansas.
They will also state to you the fact, that organizations of negroes are forming in Kansas
armed and equipped as soldiers of the United States, for the purpose of entering this state
and committing depredations here.
The purpose of Lane and Jennison as I understand it now to be avowed, is, to raise a
force composed in part at least of negroes and enter Missouri to carry out their own ideas
of supporting the Union.
I owe it to you Mr. President (from whom I have received nothing but kindness) to say,
that if such invasion is made I will resist it with all the force I can command, and I beg you
to believe, that it will be with the deepest regret that I shall find myself obliged to give to
the people of Kansas a taste of the evils of war in their own territory. We have endured
injuries so long that the villainous Kansas leaders have apparently arrived at the
conclusion that our patience is inexhaustible. They are mistaken.-- It is completely
It is within your power to prevent the troubles that will certainly arise from the entrance of
Kansas troops into this State upon marauding expeditions.
I call your attention to the fact, that beside the guerrilla bands with which we have to
contend, there is now assembling in Arkansas a very large force for the purpose of
invading this State. It is to be composed of troops from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas,
and has been estimated as high as 70,000 men. I am enrolling the whole of the military
power of my State and drilling them for actual service.
I hope to have a force that will be sufficient to keep down internal enemies, and give
material aid in repelling this southern invasion.
I appeal to you to save me from the necessity of diverting a portion of my force from this
necessary object to the slaying of negro invaders and their associates.
If you will either forbid any troops in the service of the United States from coming into
Missouri without my request or that of Genl Schofield commanding in the State, the end
will be accomplished, for if any organization shall then invade us their blood be on their
Your Obt Servt
Hamilton R. Gamble
Order #11 was the singular act of the Civil War that effectively destroyed life as those in
Jackson had known it prior to its issuance. Jackson County became what was known as
the ‘Burnt District’ or ‘the land of the chimneys’. Many families never returned to their
homes and the majority of those that did, came back to find the homes they had worked so
hard to build were gone.
Lone Jack, once a thriving community larger than Kansas City, never recovered.
Sources: Library of Congress – Lincoln Papers; Official Records of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol 13; Mid-
Missouri Civil War Round Table- http://www.mmcwrt.org/2001/default0103.htm; Reminiscences of the
Women of Missouri During the Sixties - Missouri Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy.
|General Order No. 11.
Headquarters District of the Border,
Kansas City, August 25, 1863.
1. All persons living in Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties, Missouri, and in that
part of Vernon included in this district, except those living within one mile of the
limits of Independence, Hickman's Mills, Pleasant Hill, and Harrisonville, and
except those in that part of Kaw Township, Jackson County, north of Brush Creek
and west of Big Blue, are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of
residence within fifteen days from the date hereof.
Those who within that time establish their loyalty to the satisfaction of the
commanding officer of the military station near their present place of residence will
receive from him a certificate stating the fact of their loyalty, and the names of the
witnesses by whom it can be shown. All who receive such certificates will be
permitted to remove to any military station in this district, or to any part of the
State of Kansas, except the counties of the eastern border of the State. All others
shall remove out of the district. Officers commanding companies and detachments
serving in the counties named will see that this paragraph is promptly obeyed.
2. All grain and hay in the field or under shelter, in the district from which
inhabitants 'ire required to remove, within reach of military stations after the 9th
day of September next, will be taken to such stations and turned over to the
proper officers there and report of the amount so turned over made to district
headquarters, specifying the names of all loyal owners and amount of such
product taken from them. All grain and hay found in such district after the 9th day
of September next, not convenient to such stations, will be destroyed.
3. The provisions of General Order No. 10 from these headquarters will be at
once vigorously executed by officers commanding in the parts of the district and at
the station not subject to the operations of paragraph 1 of this order, and
especially the towns of Independence, Westport and Kansas City.
4. Paragraph 3, General Order No. 10 is revoked as to all who have borne arms
against, the Government in the district since the 20th day of August, 1863.
By order of Brigadier General Ewing.
H. Hannahs, Adjt.-Gen'l.