Red Legs and Order No. 11

The name “Red Legs” is often confused with the name “Jayhawkers” that describes the Kansas men who supported the Free-State cause in the border wars along the Missouri-Kansas border prior to the American Civil War.

Red Legs were a paramilitary group that was supported by Union generals such as Thomas Ewing Jr., James Blunt, and Senator James H. Lane. It was financed officially by the Kansas governor, Thomas Carney, and saw its first muster under the command of Charles R. “Doc” Jennison and Captain George H. Hoyt, a Massachusetts lawyer who defended John Brown at his trial after the Harpers Ferry Raid. These men were ardent abolitionists, but were equally as vicious as the bushwhackers in Missouri. Buffalo Bill Cody was a Red Leg and admitted that “We were the biggest thieves on record.”

Historian Albert Castel points out that,

Kansas jayhawkers and Red Legs made devastating raids into Missouri

Colonel Albert Sigel

During the mid-nineteenth century the world was in an uproar. Many countries in Europe were struggling with revolutions. In Prussia, the idea of combining the German states into a unified, single Germany, was part of the revolutionist’s plans. But because of the failed reforms, many of these revolutionaries – most of who were highly educated, politically astute and militarily trained – fled to the United States in a search for a new life. Called “Fourty-Eighters” because of their involvements in the revolutions of 1848, many of these Europeans arrived in America and became not only prominent citizens, but also contributed to and invested in their new homeland.

German immigrants also enlisted, some voluntarily and other not so voluntarily, in the United States Army. With the threat of secession of the southern states and what looked like a civil war brewing, many of these Germans sided with their new found country

Members of the Ohio Cavalry

In the April of 1862, a battalion of the 2nd Ohio (Buckeyes) Cavalry Regiment conducted an expedition into the enemy state of Missouri from Fort Scott. If there is an after -action report of this expedition, it has not been discovered yet. However, the following account of this mission was published in the April 26,1862 edition of the “Western Volunteer” newspaper in Fort Scott.

A trip to Carthage”

The 1st Battalion of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry under the command of Mjr. George Minor, left this place for Carthage on Thursday, the 10th inst. The command consisted of companies C, I, F 7 L A (supply) train of nine wagons, loaded with company and commissary stores, ammunition, etc. accompanied us. Nothing of note happened on our first day’s march and we camped on the bank of Drywood (Creek) having made about 12 miles.

Early on Friday morning we resumed our march,

Marais Des Cynges Massacre in Kansas, May 19, 1858 from Harpers Weekly

In the American Civil War, most notably in Missouri, the use of standard military tactics as a method of fighting was a far second place to that of guerrilla fighting. Why was this method of fighting preferred and what was the real reason behind it? Guerrilla warfare was actually the method used by the American patriots in the Revolutionary War. Few battles were fought in standard military fashion, and this was a major reason for the American victory – the British troops simply were not prepared to handle this type of warfare and believed the Americans to be fighting in and “ungentlemanly’ manner.

Author Bruce Nichols believes, in the case of the Civil War, that there were five primary motives – bitterness, anger, hope, desperation and excitement.

The first reason, bitterness, was probably the one that was primarily the main motivator, but is overlooked as a military reason and