The Radical Colonel Jennison

Charles R. Jennison (Image from


According to the Leavenworth Conservative, Col. Jennison delivered at Paola, Kansas, on the 8th September, the following speech:

I am here to-night to speak to soldiers and men capable of making soldiers. I am after men who want to be soldiers in the Army of the Lord — or any other army. I’ll take off this coat of mine right here, because it belongs to a man over in Missouri. And I will say further that the man who owned that coat will never put in any claim for it. This county has done its full duty in this war. You will find the true men of Kansas buried on every battle-field, and you will never find that a single one has disgraced himself or the State. If a private soldier has retreated it has been because his officers were cowards. I challenge any State to produce a record as glorious and gallant as that of Kansas. I am ashamed to ask this county to send forth a single other man. But we must fight again or leave our homes exposed to the enemies of Kansas and of freedom. We will not sacrifice our homes or our principles.

I tell you it is a shame and a disgrace for us to allow a man even to think of treason on the soil of Kansas. If you have such men among you, hang them for thinking it. I am here to ask Abe Lincoln to remove from power every General who is not an unconditional and radical Union man. I pray that he will never hereafter appoint any conservative man. And if he does, I pray to God that he will strike them dead. That’s my constitutional prayer. I am a conservative man to-night, but if I ever get a show at these rebels again I will make up for it. The men of Kansas enlist from principle and not from policy. Our people, old and young, must be in the service or they will not be protected. Your present border army is powerless to exterminate the guerrillas. I can take five hundred men and set it at defiance. The people of Kansas are at the mercy of this conservative policy. Abe Lincoln has been deceived and misguided by Old Gumble and his pimps. That’s where Old Abe and I differ. If he had taken my proclamation, this war would have been ended two years ago.

Do you suppose I will march into Missouri and ask them to take the oath? No — not by a damned sight. If they have protection papers, I will hang them, for real Union men need no written proof of their loyalty. In my next proclamation I will say to every physically able man in the State of Missouri, “You must fight for your homes or you will be put to death.” And the head of the column will make the road so clear that no Copperhead shall ever see the tail end of the command. We will bury the Dred Scott decision bottom side up, and tell them that Copperheads have no rights which loyal men are bound to respect. I put the negro on top and the traitor underneath. Every disloyalist, from a Shang-hai chicken to a Durham cow, must be cleaned out. Adopt this policy and there will be no more Copperheads in Kansas.

You did not fear any invasion from Missouri when Jennison’s regiment was on the border. The officers of that regiment were not closeted up in parlors or sleeping on beds of down when Quantrell and Hayes were on their trail. They were in the saddle, killing traitors, and thus guarding your homes and mine. I don’t denounce any General or any officer, but somebody is responsible for the blood of these innocent children, murdered through their neglect. The motto of my regiment shall be “Death to traitors and freedom to all men.” I will never cease to exterminate rebels until the people of Kansas cry, “Hold, enough!” I say to the colored men, go fight for your country. Fight for yourselves and we will fight for you. To white men I say, enlist in some regiment, but enlist. The 14th is as gallant a regiment as ever was raised, and you will not hurt my feelings by joining it. But enlist somewhere, and thus protect your homes. The 15th will be filled within three weeks from to-day. Its whole duty will be to kill rebels.

A Voice — Have you got the horses?

Jennison — I never had any trouble in the old 7th in getting all the horses I wanted. All the trouble I ever had was in preventing the boys (and particularly old Pardee, over there) from leading off six or seven! But my men must not take anything that will not further the interests of his own regiment. Every man must, of course, be his own judge. This regiment will march with the revolver in one hand and the torch in the other. It will be organized on a military and patriotic, and not on a political basis. We carry the flag, kill with the sabre, and hang with the gallows.

Morning Oregonian (Portland, Oregon) Oct 21, 1863


Read more about Jennison (and other Jayhawkers,)  from the Southern perspective HERE. Scroll about halfway down to : B. Terror in Missouri, The Jayhawkers, Red Legs, Lane, and Jennison.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: