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