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Mary Savage correspondence

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Lawrence    October  10th, 1863

Dear Mother and Sister

I have  been looking for a letter from you so long that I have got tired waiting and thought I would write again.  I hope this time with better success.  I feel quite anxious to hear from you.  We learned from Mr. Hoods letter that Mother is with you at present and so I thought it would be a good time to write to you both together hopeing that one of you will write as soon as you can and relieve my anxiety concerning your welfare.  I am glad to hear that Robert has got such a good place and likes it so well.  Also of Thoms (?) prosperity in his new undertaking.  I hope Mary

Upside down at the top of the page—ending to the letter

Love to John and kisses to the Children from Sister & Aunt Mary

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has entirely recovered from her sickness.  I had a long letter from Jane Simpson which I intend to answer first day I have time but I have been very busy since the raid of the bushwakers into our town.  The first week  Our Minister and family stayed with us as they were burned out and lost everything and then the soldiers camped near us and I had to bake for them for three weeks untill the bakery was started.  And now I have one of the soldiers and his wife boarding with me so you see I have not had much time to write.  I suppose you have read a great deal about the Massacre at Lawrence but you cannot begin to get an idea of it as those of us can who have seen its horrors and the fiendish pleasure they took in witnessing the death agonies of

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 our best citizens.  Murdered in cold blood as in the case of Mr. Fitch in whose death we feel more personal loss than in any other one man killed.  He was awaked on that fatal morning as were most of the town by the yells and shooting of the guerillas who were so near the house that there was no chance of escape.  They saw through the blinds that they were spareing some houses and hoped they would pass theirs but in a few moments there were twenty or more rushed up, came in, and called for the man of the house.  Mr. Fitch was upstairs he walked down to them and as he got to the bottom they shot him in the presence of his young wife and three children.  They then set fire to the house, refusing to take out the body

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 or to permit her to.  Also refusing to permit her take anything out of the house not even some clothes for her baby who was not dressed but this is only one of the many tales of suffering in this place.  but I have not time to write more now as it is time to get supper.  I wish you could get a box and the send the things that Dear Sister Maggie left me by express as it is getting quite cold and I would like them soon.  We will pay the express when they come.  I will send a little money to pay for the box also to buy me a few little articles such as handkerchiefs, pins, needles, thread, and such little things as everyone needs.  All of which cost a good deal more here than there.  If you send the box be sure to write as soon as possible and let us know so as to be expecting it.  Dear Mother I have written this letter in a hury and have not said half that I wanted to but you will excuse it all and believe me your affectionate Mary.

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 Oct. 12  No I did not send this away.  I will write a little more.  Last Wednesday there was a report that the rebbles had again invaded the south east part of our state and nearly all the troops here had been sent in pursuit.  leaving only part of a company (40 men) of infantry and taking with them both the cannon.   so that we feel quite exposed as there is a possibility of an attack from the west by some of the guerilla bands that are becoming so numerous in this part of the county.  we live in a state of constant excitement and I watch from the windows many times at night.  whenever I hear the least noise and I don’t allow Joseph to go to the door if any one comes in the evening preferring to know who is there first as the guerillas have not killed

Written along the left side and top

We know the same heavenly father is able to keep us through the dangers of this terrible time and we desire to leave ourselves and all our interests in his hand knowing that all things will work together for good to those that love him.

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 any women yet.  still we don’t know what they may do if they should come in here again but we hope they will not try it again.  our citizens are all armed and trying to be ready for them if they do come.   but their mode of warfare is so treacherous that we cannot have a fair fight.  their advantage is in the swiftness of their horses and their perfect knowledge they have of all our affairs.  they seemed to know every house and who lived in it and who had money.   they took all the money and jewelry they could find even the wedding rings from the fingers of the wives whose husbands they had butchered.  I never thought it possible that we should see such fiendish actions in this Christian land.  but I fear we have not seen the end.  yesterday we heard of the attack and capture of Gen Blunt’s staff and body guard by the rebs a short distance below Fort Scott.  George Ella, a cousin of Joseph’s and one of the Gens Orderlys was killed.  Robert will remember him.  He was a first rate good boy and we feel sad about it.

Sister Mary (bottom right going up the side of the page)

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Extract from a letter written by Mary Savage to Jane Simpson, [from] Lawrence Nov. 29, 1863

But I intended to have told you something of the raid of the rebels into Lawrence just before sunrise on the 21 (Aug).  I heard the tread of hundreds of horsemen coming in the road above the house and looking out saw the road filled with them and the advance guard stopped at the gate and one of them rode up to the house and knocked at the door and hullowed  but as it was not opened, he rode off.  He had his pistol in his hand and doubtless would would have fired it if Joseph has opened the door.  We did not know what they were till they reached town when they commenced firing as fast as they could and we heard the cries of the frightened people running in every direction to make their

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escape as they shot right into the houses and at every man they could find.   In a few minutes the fires began to burst out all over the town and we thought it was best to be leaving.  We live about a half mile out of town and we expected to have to take it on their return but they went back by another way so our house was saved.  They set fire to nearly every house in town and on their rodd as they left for miles was on continuous line of fire and smoke.  The houses in town that were saved  were put out by the women, many of whom  were very heroic drawing water and putting out fires with those fiends threatening to kill them if they did.  And many of the men owe their lives to the coolness  and exertions of their wives who concealed them in the houses and then kept them from burning.  But I only meant to give you our own experiences when I commenced.

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So I will proceed with it.  We harnessed up as quickly as possible and started for Uncle Forent’s, about four miles from town.  We had not gone more than a mile when we saw one of our neighbors and a member of the same church running from his house and two of the bushwackers  after him.  They were just taking aim at him as we drove up.  Joseph comprehended the whole thing in a moment and jumping from the buggy was over the fence and into the corn field in a second, while I sat almost stupefied in horror at the scene before me.  They shot Mr. Langly three times and I can never efface from my memory the look and cry of anguish that he gave as he fell, the blood running in streams from his wounds.  Joseph came to the edge of the corn and told me to turn round and go back and I did so, but they fired after me and cursing told me to come back.  I did so and they

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said they were not killing women and children (Daphne was with me) but that they were going to kill the man (our hired man) who was with us.  They told him to get out of the buggy.  They accused him of having been in the militia, but I assured them he had not and that he was sick and they let him go.  They threatened me in hopes to get money but I assured them I had none, and told them to examine my pocket, at which they were quite indignant, telling me that they would make me give it to them.  I then stood up and told them to examine the buggy if they did not believe me.  They did so and talking Joseph’s new silver horn, which I had taken to save it, and carried it off with them.  They also took a halter from one of my horses and bidding my go on started for the next house.  They found the horn too large to carry so they smashed in on the fense and left it there and we recovered it and sent it back to Boston to be made over.

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When they were talking to me, the one told the other to go in and see to the fires in the house (a nice brick one) so when they had gone I went in and found both the straw beds burning and put them out drawing water from the well to do so with.  But first I went to Mr. Langly and turning him on his side found he was not yet dead and spoke to him, but he could not speak having been shot through the throat, but he opened his eyes and looked at me.  A woman came at this time with a baby in her arms, and I asked her if she would get some water and bathe the blood from his face and stay with him until help came as I did not dare stay with him on Joseph’s account.  I was afraid he might come to me and they might see him as their horses were hitched to the fense at the next(?) house in plain sight and if they saw our buggy still there

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they would know I was putting out the fire and come back as they did in many other places and set it over again.  The wife of the murdered man had taken some valuables and gone out of the back door and through the cornfield to a neighbor’s not thinking they would kill her husband but that they only wanted plunder.  She did not know that her husband was shot until she returned soon after.  He died the next morning.  We then drove on to Forest’s and stayed there until the rebels left town.  Joseph went round through cornfields till he got near town just as they left it and he was busy till after dark helping to take care of the wounded and dead.  I can give you no idea of the scene which presented itself after they left.  The business part of town a heap of ashes.  and smell of burning flesh and the wail of the bereaved, all mingling together

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as they would discover the remains of their dear ones in the burning embers.  But I have written to much of this already and hope you will excuse me for it as I don’t know where to stop.

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