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C. G. Allen's response to Redpath and Hinton's call for information about John Brown

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[Dec. 1859]

Messrs. Redpath & Hinton,

Dear Friends in the cause of Freedom I have learned with pleasure that a biography of the lamented John Brown is in the course of preparation. A card published in the Kansas Press has just came to hand, requesting those who had an acquaintance with that venerable man in Kansas to furnish you with anecdotes & remenicences concerning him. Having served under him a portion of the time during the difficulties in Kansas, & taking a deep interest in him I hasten to comply with your request. I regret that my ink has been frozen & that there is no other kind in the neighbourhood. Perhaps you can read it by day light if your eyes are good.

I am a Minister of the Gospel & eccelesiastically connected with the Christian Denomination. The author of the proposed work is at liberty to make such use of what I write as she thinks propper. She can relate the facts which I send in her own language if she chooses. She is also at liberty to make such use of my name as she chooses.

If my life is spared I have an account to settle with slavery, not only for its murder of the brave & philanthropic Brown but for many other crimes of which it is guilty.

I doubt not but vengeance heaves the breasts of [XXXXX] of Free men for those crimes.

I came to Kansas in1856. I had heard much of the bravery of Capt. Brown, previous to seeing him. He was by some compared to Ethan Allen, for sagacity & bravery. The first time I saw him was in Lawrence. He was purchasing some mules of

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Col. Eldridge. I saw nothing remarkable in his appearance that impressed me. In a day or two after this word came from Osawatomie that an actack was expected on that place shortly, & an earnest request was sent for men to come & assist in defending it I volunteered among others to go. I think that Brown rode with a company of horsemen of about fifty. I took a different rout in company with about a dozen men all armed with Sharps Rifles. Our rout lay the most the way through the prairie without a road We passed by Black Jack where Brown thrashed a company of Missourians who numbered more than double Brown’s company. Some of my company was in the fight & said that they had pretty warms times there. At night we camped on the open prairie with no other shelter but the canopy of Heaven. We wrapt our blankets round us & used our saddles for pillows. We had failed to arrive at Stanton a town about 6 miles above Osawatomie where we intended to get supper, consequently we had to go without.

The next morning at about 9 o clock we arrived at S with our appetites in good condition to relish a breakfast The rain had commenced pouring down in torrents But we found the town entirely deserted except a man & boy who had came back to take away some of their effects. They told us that the inhabitants left the place the night before They were there, down in the timber unprotected from the storm, some of them were sick of the fever They had heard that the Border Ruffians were coming to plunder & burn the place & scalp the inhabitants. After the rain had ceased we made our way to Osawatomie as hungry as wolves. We arrived there a little past noon. Nearly all the families had left. The men from the surrounding

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had gathered there & built two block houses for shelter in case of an actack They had loop poles & in every way were well constructed as a shelter for defence Our first care was to answer the demands of our voracious appetites. Shortly after our arrival Capt Brown arrived He partook of anything else but the character of a lounger I very soon saw him surrounded by the leading men there talking about the best means for the defence of the place He thought best to meet the enemy at the crossing of the Marai Des Cignes & there Jam a sect of fire into them & if we failed to stop them there to then fall back to the forts. Said he “you may depend they will not come unless they bring a large force.” After talking awhile he said “We are most to public in our conversation let us step one side.” He said among other things that natural fortifications were better than artificial ones. They could not be easily battered down or burnt Our whole force consisted of about 75 men. While there an earnest desire was felt for the Missourians to come. While there one evening it was proposed to go somewhere & get a quantity of arms in possession of the Border Ruffians The fact of there being arms & the place where they were was uncertain. Brown did not approve of the idea of go on an such an uncertain expedition. Said he “They say that ‘Old Brown is rash enough’ if such is the case when he says hold on, you had better hold on, I recollect when I was a boy, that men used to come to my father & say ‘I don’t know what to do’ he would tell them “if they did not know what to do, to be very careful not to do any thing until they found out what to do.’ When you find out where to go & what you are going for then Old Brown is with you.” We were sitting out doors with candle in our midst & looking at a map of

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the country. After conversing awhile, He said: “It is not prudent for us sit out here with a light.” “If the enemy are about we are giving them an excellent opportunity to send a shower of bullets among us.” We then went into one of the block houses & appointed scouts to go out early next morning to see if the enemy were any where about. After conversing awhile we retired to our quarters. The next day near night Brown came riding into town alone liking very good natured. He asked if we wanted any proslave beef He said that he had got some that was number one. That he had been out that day collecting taxes. I afterwards learned that he had taken some fine cattle from the plantation of an outrageous Border Ruffian. Our scouts learned that a large company of Border Ruffians were on their way from Fort Scott to Osowatomie. We concluded that we would save them the trouble of coming clear to O. to have a fight & that we would meet them half way. Brown was not at O. when the news came. About fifth of us started out about nine o Clock at night. After riding about 6 miles we picketed out our horses wrapt ourselves up in our blankets & laid down in the grass for the night. The next morning many of us took breakfast with a Free State setler who lived near by others had provisions with them. We then mounted & after riding about five miles we came to a settler by the name of Rice, Capt. Cline was riding in advance & saw R. first. He came riding back with a smile on his face, saying “There is 120 of them within a mile & a half of us,” I thought it a pretty thing to laugh about for fifty to attack one hundred & twenty. We immediately sent out two scouts in the

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direction of the enemy’s camp & a messenger back to Capt. Brown. Our scouts had been gone but a short time when they returned with two prisoners Those were the first Border Ruffians that I had seen consequently I looked upon them with no small degree of curiosity. They were miserable specimens of humanity They were ragged & dirty. Their clothes & faces were to a considerable extent covered with tobaco spit. Notwithstanding they were treated with the utmost civility they shook as if they expected to be devoured immediately.

They informed us that fifty of their company had gone up the Pottawatomie to burn some houses & grain stacks belonging to Free State men. They seemed perfectly willing to give us any information we asked for relative to their men. They claimed that they were indused to join the Border Ruffians in order to recover some horses that had been stole in their neighborhood. While we were waiting our scouts brought in two more prisoners who were also very much frighened. They had been in sight of the Enemy’s camp. It laid down behind a cornfield on the bottoms near Middle Creek. Presently Capt. Anderson came up with about a dozen men. Our men became so anxious to go & commence the fight that it was hard restraining them. It was feared that the enemy would get wind of us & run of & spoil our fun, if we remained there much longer. Acordingly we concluded that we would commence the play before Brown arrived Capt. Anderson was well acquainted with the ground about the enemy’s camp. He called upon 25 fine men to volunteer to go with him to go around the enemy & cut off their retreat at the crossings of Middle Creek. I was among the volunteers. About one half of them were mounted & the rest on foot. We proceeded with

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the utmost caution crossing the Creek about one half mile before the camp. After crossing we saw a man apparently looking at us about three fourths of a mile above us. After looking for awhile he ran into a house near by. Capt. A. told a Dr. that was along to take the horseman & go to the upper crossing as soon as possible, that we were discovered. He would guard the lower crossing with the footmen. Acordingly we put spurs to our horses & sailed along with the speed of arrows While passing a cornfield some suggested that they might be concealed in there. Where upon the Dr. seemed to contract his body into as small a compass as possible that he might stand a less chance of being hit. When arriving at the crossing we dismounted & hitched our horses After scrutinizing us closely two men started from the house upon a run in the direction of the enemy’s camp. We ordered them to halt, but they paid no regard to it. The Dr told us to fire on them. We cocked our rifles & brought them to our faces. They concluded by this time that discretion was the better part of valour & turned& run towards the house as fast as they had left it. We had not got more than fairly stationed before we heard the crak of a Sharps rifle. Said one “boys the play has commenced,” shortly after this the report of another gun was heard. Then another & another, till for a short time there was almost a continuous roar of guns. After continueing for about a minute the firing ceased. The next moment two horsemen came to the crossing where we were stationed running their horses at their utmost speed. As they came down the bank opposite us they were ordered to halt. They slackened their speed & appeared like stopping but they stuck their

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into their horses & seemed bent on passing us. After ordering them to halt three times the rifles cracked. One of their legs was broken & he lost his ballance in the saddle & fell to the ground crying lustily for quarters His horse was slightly wounded in the side by the same shot that broke his leg. The other one made his escape amid a shower of bullets but not without leaving some blood on the bushes as he rode through them. During the whole affair feelings of the most melancholy character pervaded my mind. Human beings were trying to shed the life blood of each other. What a scene of depravity & wickedness. Who but the Democratic Party & the Administration could be ultimately responsible for it. We were doing nothing more than protecting our lives our homes from being burnt our property from being carried away by ruthless hands. & our wives & daughters from the outrages of the most despicable wretches that ever cursed our land. The riderless horse pursued after the fleeing enemys mounted& rode after him. After following him for about one quarter of a mile I overtook him by the side of a corn field. Just before seizing him by the bridle I heard a firing in the direction of the field. My first thought was that some of the scamps lay concealed in the field & were firing at me. But as I did not hear any bullets whistle I concluded that I was mistaken. Just as I had seized the horse’s bridle I looked up & saw eight of the scamps riding towards me running their horses at their utmost speed. I thought then that I had got myself into business. But as they came up I discovered that they were to badly scared to do any body any harm. They asked me where those men had gone I told them off that way pointing in the direction that they were running As they passed one of their old hats fell off but the owner did not look round

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to see where it had gone to. I was temped to fire on them but a second thought suggested that I had better reserve my fire for a more dangerous position. Upon riding back to our men I saw the wounded Lieutenant. His leg was broken about half way between the ankle & knee & horibly mangled A Sharps bullet had done the dreadful work He had been an editor in Mississippi & was then printing a paper at Fort Scott. I could not but pity him although there seemed to be almost an entire want of manliness in his looks & he was going into an enterprise of the most revolting character. He said the reason that they did not halt was because they had sworn to each other that they would neither give nor take quarters. Soon after my return to our men we heard a tremendous cheering in the direction of the camp. We were well satisfied as to whom the cheering came from & responded by three hearty cheers. We then rode over to the camp & found our men in high spirits They had taken in all fifteen prisoners a considerable amount of provisions & other things necessary to carry on a war. As soon as they got in rifle shot of the camp they fired & continued to advance towards the enemy & load & fire, The Border Ruffians discharged their pieces without injury & then took to their heels. They had waving in their camp a blood red flag, bearing the inscription “Bourbon Rangers.” “Death or our Constitutional Rights.” I seems that they thought that their Constitutional Rights consisted in running & they chose that rather than death. Among the prisoners there was one of the most excentric appearance He was about four feet & a half in hight. His head was very diminuitive in size while he had as big

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a nose as I ever saw on a man’s face. His eyes seemed almost to touch each other. When I saw him he stood with his back against the fence winking like a toad in a thunder shower. When he was seized by one of our men he cried & said if he would let him go he would go right home, that he was just from college & that his father had sent him there.

After remaining in the camp but a short time we proceeded to Mr. Rice’s. On our way we met Old Brown looking very much disappointed because he had not been in the fight. Some of his men gave a warm shake of the hand regretting that they had not been there to participate in the fun. After we arrived at Rice’s Brown addressed us, saying. “Well boys I learn that you have had a fight, have beaten the enemy & not a man of you hurt” “And thank the Lord for it,” Three deafening cheers were then given for Capt. Brown. He then told his men to give us three cheers, which was done with a hearty good will. He then went to riding about saying: If any of you have fresh horses & are not under the orders of your Captain come up on the rise of ground & form into line.” This he repeated several times in a loud clear & determined voice, occasionally saying. “We have got business on hand.” About twenty five followed him, with them he went in pursuit of those Ruffians that had gone up the Pottawatomie After getting refreshments we repaired to near the camp ground of the enemy, where we camped for the night At about nine o clock at night we heard a cow bell rattle as if shaken by a human hand. We very quickly procured one & answered it & a large company of us went & lay behind a fence. Some fancied that they heard their horses snort & one of them Say “By God they have gone,” The next morning Brown came to us

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appearing as active & fresh as if he had had a good nights rest He had followed the company of Ruffians that had gone up the Pottawatomie all night but had not overtaken them Said he. “ You will please give us time to get breakfast & then we will go with you in pursuit of the enemy. If you think best we will go with you without our breakfast, but we would like to have some before starting.”

It was thought best to discharge the prisoners on paroll. When giving them their discharge Captain Share talked to them in a very mild manner warning them of the consequence if they again entered the Border Ruffian Service. Capt Brown listened with a smile on his face. After Share had got through Said he, “Gentleman I would like to say a word to those prisoners,” several responded “say on”, Said he, adressing the prisoners, “I perceive that some of you have to much intelligence to have been led into such an undertaking by deception. You knew very well the nature of the business you wer going on. You may well think that your getting easily dealt by after your men have conducted in the manner that they have In robbing the Free State people they have gone so far as to take the jewelry from the fingers & ears of females. I don’t know that your pockets have been disturbed. You are getting off easily this time but if you are caught in another as dirty a scrape you may guess what your fate will be”

When leaving us one of the most intelligent of the prisoners came & shook hands with me & said that he hoped that we never would be arrayed against each other again. Upon the request of some of Brown’s men I joined them that morning. All but B’s company started for Little Sugar Creek whither the Border Ruffians had fled. After breakfast we followed an

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On the way Brown was quite talkative. His conversation was of the most pleasant & instructive character. One thing I observed that he never said a word that did not mean something He always talked directly to the point & every word was big with meaning. I forgot to say that as we were passing the house near the crossing where I was stationed during the fight of the previous day I told him about the mean leaving it for the camp. He told me that we ought to have taken them prisoners of war as they were carrying information to the enemy. Several men were sitting out in front of the house. B. asked me if they were among them I told him that they were. Said he “Come with me & I will talk to them a little” I went & pointed out the two men. But they positively denied being the men & claimed that they were Free State men. B told them if they were ever detected in carrying information to the enemy or otherwise aiding them, they might depend upon they would be dealt with, On our way to Little Sugar Creek the old man drilled us some in tactics, forming us into line of battle &c. On arriving on the Said Creek we found the company who had preceeded us, preparing their dinner. Brown took us to a house where we dined The occupant told us that the Border Ruffians passed there the night before, headed by Sheriff Brown, terribly frightened He said that Sheriff B. told him that he was afraid that they would all be killed off before morning, that without their knowledge the Free State men came & cut off their picket guard. While some of his men were playing cards, others eating dinner & others sleeping in their tents, Sharps bullets commenced whizing among them giving them the first intimation that the d-d Abolitionist were any where about.

He told us that “the Border Ruffians camped near him previous to going over to Middle Creek.” That the night before

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leaving they had some great speeches in their camp They said that they were not going after plunder but the d-d Abolitionists scalps. After dinner we rode about through the neighbourhood. From all that we could learn Sheriff Brown & his company had sought safety in Missouri We called at a house where a woman by the name of Arthur resided. It was in sight of Sheriff Brown’s house. Mrs. A. told us that her husband had fled to the states for safety. But she could get no tidings from him& she feared that he had been killed. She seemed almost frantic in view of what she was then suffering & her future prospects. She was surrounded by several pretty little children who were poorly clad & appeared to be poorly fed. She said that she had received every abuse from Sheriff B that a fiend could inflict upon a helpless woman He had threatened to burn her house. His men had shot into her house& had taken the money which her husband had left for her to purchase provisions. What she would do she did not know. On hearing this some of our men proposed to go immediately & burn Sheriff Brown’s house. But Capt Brown said in his determined manner “no! that would be to much like Border Ruffianism. We returned to the house where we got dinner & put up for the night As usual we slept out with no shelter but the canoppy of Heaven. We had with us a fugitive Hungarian who had been in some of the most important battles in Hungary. We asked him about [XXXXX] He said that he was like Capt. Brown, he was every where at once. This Hungarian was taken prisoner at the battle of Osowatomie & taken out & shot down in cold blood the next day.

I forgot to mention that we rescued form the Bor. Ruf. on Middle Creek a Free State man by the name of Partridge.

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It was their intention to hang him that afternoon. The poor fellow was killed at the battle of Osowatomie Brown was the first one up in the morning calling his men up. We had already been absent longer than we had orders when we left Lawrence. Captain B Paid the man that entertained us liberally. We there parted with the old man & started for Lawrence we arrived at Osowatomie about two P M. After remaining there about two hours we left & traveled about a mile beyond Stanton where we camped. I did not approve the idea of leaving O so soon. We reached Lawrence the next day a little before night. Our friends were very glad to see us all well They feared from our delay in coming back that we had either been killed or taken prisoners In a few days after our arrival we heard of the battle of O. It was feared that Capt. B was killed The most painful solicitude was felt with regard to his fate. How my heart leaped for joy when I heard that he was safe. The next & last time that I saw him He came in front of my tent where I lay sick unable to sit up & asked Col. Harvey for some of his men, Said he. “I want some of your men to go & assist me in repeling the outrages of the Border Ruffians. I have suffered from Free State men every indignity that they could heap upon me yet I am determined to serve through the war,” Harvey talked rather discouraging. Well said B. “You can think about it & give me an answer after awhile.” This was on Sunday. Gen. Lane was in town & several speeches were made, Brown was sent for to make a speech. He replied “ I would not come if Gen. Lane himself should send for me” He was very strict in his observance of the Sabbath. He would allow no swearing among his men

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His son Frederic was a little previous to the battle of Osowatomie shot down in cold blood. After he fell his mouth hung open & the cowardly rascals would present the muzzles of their guns to his mouth & fire into. I heard several say that they thought Capt. Brown to be insane after the battle of Osowatomie.

There are many other things which I might write which undoubtedly had a tendency in deciding Brown’s future course, but I have already been to tedious you will undoubtedly get them from abler pens.

This imperfect document is now the property of the author of the forthcoming work. She can do as she pleases with it I have written as rapidly as I could move my pen. My children have occasionally cralled over my knees while writing. The facts which I have professed to witness I would repeat under oath, others have been obtained from the most reliable sources.

By all means send me the book when it is published I have no doubt but I shall take pleasure in circulating it. My best regards to the author My adress is Cottonwood Falls, Chase Co. K. T.

Yours in behalf of Freedom

C. G. Allen

P.s. I have been under the impression that Mrs. L. Marie Childs is to be the author of the work & have written with that thing in view. If I am mistaken the author whoever it may has the same privilege that I have granter her



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