Keep the Flag to the Front - Part 5
On the Border
Although Kansas troops were stationed in the state, little fighting actually happened on Kansas soil. When engaged in battle, some regiments saw action in the neighboring states of Missouri, Arkansas, and what is now Oklahoma.
The collections include items associated with Kansas regiments and their battles in border states.
The regimental flag of the Second Kansas Battery (top, right) is highly unusual because of its embroidery work. It was acquired for the battery by Alexander MacDonald, a Fort Scott entrepreneur who often did business with the army.
"The ladies of Fort Scott will present a beautiful flag to Blair's Battery this afternoon. The presentation will take place at the home of A. MacDonald. Speeches and the flag will be delivered to the company at 1 p.m."
-Fort Scott Bulletin, November 29, 1862
The Second Kansas was also known as Blair's Battery for its organizer, Major Charles W. Blair.
Baxter Springs Massacre
Once a proud banner and now tattered fragments, this flag was presented to James G. Blunt, the only Kansan to attain the rank of Major General. The flag was presented to him by a group of ladies from Leavenworth. Unlike some ladies' groups who stitched the flags themselves, this group purchased the banner from a New York firm.
On October 6, 1863, General Blunt was moving south to Fort Smith, Arkansas, when he was surprised by Confederate guerrilla William Clarke Quantrill at Baxter Springs. Blunt lost most of his men and barely escaped himself. Also lost was this flag, which Quantrill took as a trophy.
A year later fragments of the flag were recovered in Arkansas by the Fourth Iowa Cavalry and returned to the general. His daughter Sadie eventually placed the fragments in some order so they could be framed. Sadie and her brother later donated the presentation flag (center, right) to the Kansas Historical Society, along with some of Blunt's accouterments.
The collections also include a portable writing desk used by John Moore, who served in the Twelfth Kansas Infantry but was a clerk on General Blunt's staff at the time of the Baxter Springs Massacre. Moore was mortally wounded in the battle and died shortly afterward.
In late summer of 1864, less than a year before the war's end, Confederate General Sterling Price led a march across the state of Missouri in one last attempt to gain support and supplies for the Confederacy.
Price originally planned to threaten St. Louis, but a battle at Pilot Knob in southeastern Missouri gave the North time to reinforce the city's defenses. Price headed west to Jefferson City, then on to Kansas City, and eventually threatened Kansas itself.
The 11th Kansas Cavalry took part in the Price Raid battles around Kansas City and the pursuit of Price south toward Mine Creek. This is the 11th's regimental flag (center, left).
Samuel Reader's War
When Price threatened Kansas, Governor Thomas Carney called the state militia into service. The Second Kansas State Militia, recruited in Topeka and the surrounding area, not only answered the call but saw action at the Battle of the Big Blue on October 22, 1864.
Samuel Reader of Topeka was a member of the Second Kansas Militia. Years after the war, he created his own lantern slides for lectures, some of which depicted his service. Reader also diligently kept a journal, often punctuating his narrative with small watercolor sketches.
One of Reader's lantern slides (bottom, left) depicts captured militiamen enjoying "Southern hospitality" on October 23, 1864.
Among fifty members of the regiment taken prisoner at the Battle of the Blue, Reader managed to escape by posing as a Confederate soldier.
Keep the Flag to the Front: Battle Flags of Kansas is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History.
- The Civil War, 1861-1865
- Rally 'Round the Flag
- Stories From the Front Lines
- The "Colored" Soldiers
- On the Border
- The Confederacy
- Save the Flags!
- Glossary and Explanation of Flag Types
Contact us at KansasMuseum@kshs.org