I mentioned in last month’s post I originally intended for my novel, Kizzie’s Kisses, to be a Civil War romance. I even picked out a portrait of an unidentified man in uniform who had been part of the Eleventh Kansas Cavalry to serve as the model for my hero, Leander Jones. If you wish to refer back to that post, you may do so by CLICKING HERE.
Although the Civil War figures into the story—after all, it was the big event taking place in the United States between 1861 and 1865—I changed my direction once I started my research. As soon as I learned of two big challenges the citizens of Salina, Kansas faced, knew I needed to factor them into my story.
First, it is important to keep in mind that although what is now the state of Kansas had included the eastern portion of Colorado when it was the Kansas Territory, its boundaries were changed to what they are currently when it became a state in 1861. In 1862, Salina, the county seat of Saline County, was on the edge of the frontier. Between Salina and the gold fields of Denver and Pike’s Peak, Colorado was a whole lot of wilderness, all claimed by the Plains Indian tribes. The land on which Salina was built and immediately to the west was the traditional buffalo hunting grounds of the Kiowa and Southern Cheyenne.
In April of 1862, citizens of Salina received word that settlers who had developed farms west of the town were being massacred by the Indians. Although none of the sources of the day I found identified the tribe, I suspect is was at the hands of the Southern Cheyenne. Men were killed and scalped, women were “outraged” and killed and children were killed and pinned to the earth with arrows. The marauding band was moving towards Salina itself. When the ranchmen came into the town, after several of their number had been butchered, and confirmed the report, a regular panic seized the community. It was suggested that everyone west of Salina flee to the town for protection. Everyone east flee further east towards Junction City and Fort Riley beyond that,
Those in Salina immediately set to work and built a stockade 50x150 feet, on the north side of what is now Iron Avenue. They finished it just in time. The hostiles, encountering no opposition as they approached the town, assumed it would be an easy manner to kill the residents and destroy the town. However, once they saw the barricade erected and the people prepared to defend themselves, they stopped. After talking it over, they abandoned their plans to attack Salina and left the area. Salina escaped a massacre.
The second challenge the citizens of that town dealt with that year took place on September 17th. About twenty Confederate bushwackers stormed into town early in the morning while most of the town folk were still in bed, The attack was so swift, it caught the people barely awaking completely unprepared and at the mercy of their attackers. Meeting with no resistance, the guerillas attempted no personal injury. However, houses were entered, stores ransacked, and wherever any powder, ammunition, arms or tobacco were found, the marauders appropriated it. The firearms they could not carry off with them, they destroyed, as well as everything thought to be of service to the people in case of pursuit.
When the bushwhackers left, they took with them twenty-five horses and six mules, most of which was the property of the Kansas Stage Company. After they had gone, it was discovered that they had overlooked one horse. R. H. Bishop rode this horse to Fort Riley, covering the distance of 50 miles in five hours, to report the incident. A party of soldiers was sent from the fort. By the time they arrived, the bushwhackers were long gone. Though no one was hurt, it was a great loss in a frontier community to lose their means of protection and travel.
You may find all of the books in the series by CLICKING HERE.