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The Stubbs

by Martha B. Caldwell

May 1937 (vol. 6, no. 2, pages 124 to 131
Transcribed by lhn; digitized with permission of
the Kansas Historical Society.

AFTER the invasion of the polls by the Proslavery forces at the election of March 30, 1855, the Free State settlers began to organize to defend their rights. In Lawrence two companies, of about fifty members each, were formed, and an agent was dispatched to Boston to secure arms. One of these companies, Kansas Rifles No. 1, organized on April 16, 1855, was, according to Joseph Cracklin, [1] its captain, the "first military company organized in Kansas, and the only one that preserved its organization until the close of the war and many years after." [2]

During the summer of 1855 the Kansas Rifles drilled daily and served as part of a "standing army" for the protection of Lawrence. In November of that year when the arrest and rescue of Jacob Branson precipitated the Wakarusa war, they were among the first to enroll in the Free State army, being mustered in on November 27, 1855, as Company A, First regiment Kansas Volunteers, First brigade. This company and another were quartered in the Kansas Free State printing office, during which time the paper was suspended. R. G. Elliott states that Company A was so "vociferous" for an attack on the Proslavery forces that it threatened mutiny when the peace treaty was signed, and it was only when Gov. Charles Robinson assured them that the "unratified and unproclaimed treaty was not a surrender but a triumph of diplomacy" that the mutineers were quelled. [3] Immediately after peace was made the Free State army was disbanded.

About a year after its organization the Kansas Rifles officially adopted the name Stubbs. Most of the men who composed the com-


pany were of short stature, one squad under Sgt. Jonas Colburn being called the "stumpy squad." While in camp on April 6, A. D. Searle moved to change the name to "Stubbs" because the "Stumpies were in the majority." [4] The motion carried and on April 24 a meeting was held whereby the organization was perfected under the new name. [5] In December of the same year the company also endorsed the title of "Dread Guards" as its name in compliment to the ladies of the Dread Female Institute, of Worcester, Mass., who had made and presented each member with a water-proof overcoat. [6] These they proudly displayed in a parade on Christmas day.

During the border trouble of 1856 the Stubbs were continually in the field. They participated in the attack on the Proslavery forces at New Georgia and at Franklin, and they took part in the capture of Fort Saunders and Fort Titus. In September they joined Col. James A. Harvey's command, which, in response to Lane's call for reinforcements, marched to the attack at Hickory Point. Though they succeeded in capturing the place, the adventure proved disastrous. On the return journey to Lawrence they were captured by the federal troops, marched to Lecompton, and imprisoned; some being confined for several months. The prisoners apparently received no undue favors, for they felt impelled to issue an appeal to the "American People" from their "Great Political Prison," in which they set forth the circumstances of their capture and the hardships they endured at the hands of the Proslavery guards. This appeal appeared in the Herald of Freedom, of Lawrence, November 15, 1856, signed by ninety-eight prisoners, at least twenty of whom were members of the Stubbs. The list of names included Capt. A. Cutler, F. B. Swift, E. D. Lyman and L. D. Coleman. Their trial was held at the October term of court. Many were acquitted and some were convicted, six members of the Stubbs being among the latter. By March, 1857, all had either escaped or had been pardoned.

Following the border troubles the Stubbs continued their organization, and in February, 1858, obtained a charter from the Territorial legislature. They also revised their constitution and bylaws. These articles, which are here reproduced, are interesting examples of the rules and regulations governing the many local military organizations popular throughout the country at that time.



WHEREAS, the Stubbs organized themselves, upon the 16th day of April, 1855, for the protection of Lawrence and the people of Kansas; and whereas a Constitution and By-Laws which were then adopted were imperfect in many respects, having been hastily drawn up and adopted at a time when it was more our duty to look after the welfare of Kansas than the perpetuity of our Company;

Therefore Resolved, That we deem it necessary that our former Constitution and By-Laws be altered or amended to meet the present necessities of the Company, and we the undersigned bind ourselves to be governed by the following Constitution and By-Laws:

SECTION 1. This Company shall be known as the "STUBBs," and shall be composed of any number of men not to exceed sixty-four rank and file. SEC. 2. The military officers of this Company shall consist of five commissioned and ten noncommissioned officers, and the civil officers shall consist of six, all of whom shall be elected upon the last Thursday in February in each year, and whose term of office shall be one year; the commissioned officers to be elected by ballot,-all others viva voce.
SEC. 3. The commissioned officers shall consist of one Captain, three Lieutenants, and one Surgeon; and the noncommissioned officers, one Ensign, five Sergeants, and four Corporals; and the civil officers, one Recording and one Corresponding Secretary, one Treasurer, and three Trustees.
SEC. 4. The duties of commissioned and noncommissioned officers shall be the same as lain down in Cooper's Manual, with the exception of fifth Sergeant, whose duty it shall be, in addition to his other duties, to take charge of the field piece, and see that it is kept in perfect order.
SEC. 5. It shall be the duty of the Captain to preside at all of the meetings of the Company, and in case of absence the senior officer present shall preside.
SEC. 6. It shall be the duty of the Recording Secretary to keep a strict account of all the proceedings of the Company, and of all money received by the Company, and to receive and pay over the same to the Treasurer and take his receipt for the same; to keep an account of all fines against members of the Company, and enter them in a book to be kept for that purpose, and to give credit for the same when paid; to keep a journal of all the battles in which the Company took a part, and their action therein.
SEC. 7. It shall be the duty of the Corresponding Secretary to carry on all correspondence for the Company; to keep a copy of all letters sent, in a book to be used for that purpose, and file all letters received; to hand over to the Treasurer all moneys received by letter, and take receipts for the same.
SEC. 8. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to keep a strict account of all monies paid to him belonging to the Company, and to pay over to the Recording Secretary all money from the treasury not otherwise appropriated which he may demand on order signed by himself, and countersigned by the Captain, and no money shall be paid in any other way, and keep a strict account of all such money so paid over, and carefully file away all such orders, and at any time to be ready to make a report when called for by the Company.


SEC. 9. It shall be the duty of the Trustees to receive and preserve all deeds, bonds, or other writings for property, which may be received for the Company, and a duplicate of all leases which may be given or received by the Company, and have them properly recorded in the office of the county tribunal transacting such business, and to keep a correct record of all such papers in a book to be kept for that purpose, and to see that all such writings for the Company be made out in the name of the "Stubbs," and to sign in the name of the Stubbs all deeds, mortgages, leases, articles of agreement, and other writings, when so directed by a vote of the majority of members present at any of the stated meetings of the Company, or at a called meeting, when two thirds of the members shall have been previously notified of such meeting by hand-bills posted or otherwise; to make contracts for the purchase and sale of property, always subject. to a vote of the Company, and to see that deeds be procured where bonds have already been given.
SEC. 10. The Company shall be divided into three rolls-Active, Honorary and Retired Rolls.
SEC. 11. The Active Roll shall consist of all active members of the Company, who shall at all times hold themselves in readiness to go into active service, and shall be subject to fines and other punishments, for disobedience to their officers, or nonattendance of meetings and drills of the Company.
SEC. 12. The Honorary Roll shall be composed of persons who may or may not have been upon the Active Roll of the Company, who shall receive none of the benefits to which active members are entitled, nor take any part in drills or meetings of the Company, but may attend meetings at any time.
SEC. 13. The Retired Roll shall be composed of persons who have been upon the active list, and who have taken part as members of the Company in some of the battles of Kansas. They may or may not attend meetings or drills at their pleasure; and shall be entitled to vote in the Company, but shall be subject in other respects to all the rules and regulations to which active members are subject.
SEC. 14. By-Laws may be altered or adopted at any meeting of the Company, by a vote of the majority present, provided such adoption or alteration does not conflict with this Constitution.
SEC. 15. This Constitution may be altered or amended at any meeting of the Company by a majority vote of the members present, provided that one week's notice in writing shall have been given of such proposed amendment.


I. Any person becoming a member of this Company shall sign his name to the Constitution and By-Laws, and agree to be governed by all the rules of the Company, and bind himself to pay all fines imposed, or suffer such other penalty as shall be inflicted upon him by the Company, for neglect of duty in any respect, and to pay his proportion of taxes levied to defray the expenses of the Company.

II. If any member of this Company shall absent himself from Company meetings, he shall be bound by the action of the members of the Company present at any such meeting, and if absent, unless by sickness, or on parole, shall be subject to a fine of not less than twenty-five cents nor more than one


dollar; provided, that no person living more than five miles from town be compelled to attend weekly meetings.

III. If any member of this Company be guilty of disobedience to superior officers or neglect to attend a regular parade when duly notified, unless absent by sickness or on parole, he shall pay a fine of not less than two, nor more than five dollars, or be expelled from the Company, or fined and expelled.

IV. Each member of the Company shall hold himself accountable to the Company for any injury that may befall any arms entrusted to his care; and shall be fined if he appear upon parade with such arms or accoutrements out of order, soiled or rusted, or with his uniform unclean or out of repair, not less than two dollars nor more than ten, unless a good and sufficient excuse in the estimation of the Company be given, and shall return all such arms, accoutrements and uniform to the officer in command, at such time and place as he may designate, and in good order.

V. The Orderly Sergeant of the Company, or other officer acting as such, for any neglect of duty in notifying members to appear at meetings, drills, or parades of the Company, when so ordered by the Company, or by the commanding officer of the Company, or in cases provided for in these By-Laws, shall be fined for each such offence not less than two dollars nor to exceed twenty-five.

VI. All other officers, for neglect of their duties, shall be fined for each offence at the discretion of the Company, not to exceed five hundred dollars.

VII. This Company shall meet for public parade once in each three months, and on their anniversary, and upon such holidays as the Company may designate, notice being given by the Orderly Sergeant, through one or more papers, or by notices posted in three or more public places in this city, which shall be considered a sufficient notice.

VIII. The Company shall meet for the transaction of business or to drill, on Thursday of every week, and meetings may be called for the transaction of special business, by a call signed by any three of the members.

IX. No person shall become a member of this Company without he first pay an entrance fee of ten dollars, and receive a majority vote of the members present at a stated meeting; provided, nothing in this section be construed into compelling any person whose name is upon the Revised Roll to pay the above fee.

X. In case of any member being sick it shall be the duty of each member of the Company to see that he is properly cared for, and in case a member in good standing becomes destitute, his wants shall be provided for by the Company, and should a member die while thus destitute, the expenses of his funeral shall be borne by the Company.

XI. The civil officers of this Company shall, upon entering on the discharge of their duties, each give bond for the faithful discharge of the business entrusted to their care, in the sum of five hundred dollars.

Because of the territorial tension the Stubbs company was probably a more serious minded organization than similar groups in the Eastern states. However, like other companies, it was partly social in nature, and was popular in Lawrence where its members fre-


quently gave military balls. The Kansas Free State of November 19, 1855, published an account of an elaborate ball given by the company at the Free State hotel just before the Wakarusa war, which was attended by five hundred guests. Another was given Christmas day 1856, shortly after the release of some of the members from the Lecompton prison." The Stubbs also possessed that love of pageantry and the exhibitionism which still prevails in the parades of many secret orders and veteran organizations today. Ample proof of this is seen in the description of the proposed uniform, which was to meet the following specifications:


Hats for Privates

Black Kossuth hat, high crown black feather on right side of hat, fastened up with silver loop and button, Silver cord and tassel encircling hat.


Deep blue cloth hunting frock with cape and belt at waiste, and close coat sleeve, with buttons at waiste and on sleeve, bottom of cape, and skirt trimmed with silver fringe. Silver gilt bayonett in each corner of cape.


Black Cassimere pants with Silver cord 1/16 of an inch in diameter down the outside seam.


For Captain, three Lieutenants, and Surgeon, uniform same as for privates with the exception that where Silver trimmings are used for privates, Gold is used for Officers.

Arms and Equipment

Seventy-five Sharps Rifles, Seventy navy-size Colts Revolvers, Five dress Swords, Five Sashes Ninety Six Cartouch boxes. White patent leather Shoulder Straps and Belts, and Pistol Holster.

An addition to this description of the uniforms also indicated the amount of material to be used. For one captain, three lieutenants, one surgeon and ninety-six privates, the materials were as follows: 275 yds. black cassimere; 96 silver loops and buttons for hats; 100 Kossuth hats; 250 yds. blue broadcloth; 96 silver cords and tassels for hats; 480 yds. silver fringe for coats; five gold loops and buttons for hats; five gold cords and tassels for hats; 25 yds. gold fringe for coats; 12i/2 yds. gold cord 1/16 inch in diameter for pants; 10 gold gilt bayonets for coats; 192 silver gilt bayonets for coats; and 100 black feathers for hats.


It is doubtful whether any similar organization had a sterner record of service in the Civil War than did the Stubbs. When President Lincoln called for troops in May, 1861, they responded immediately. After filling their ranks they proceeded to Fort Leavenworth, where they were mustered into the First regiment of Kansas Volunteer infantry. In completing the organization of the regiment, lots were drawn for rank and that of "D" fell to the Stubbs. The company's officers were F. B. Swift, [10] captain, N. W. Spicer, [11] first lieutenant, and Caleb S. Pratt, [12] second lieutenant. On June 12 orders were issued for six companies of the First regiment to proceed to Wyandotte. Much to the disgust of the Stubbs they were left behind, due to the illness of Captain Swift and the absence of Lieutenant Spicer. [13] But the delay was only for a few days and soon the whole force was under orders to march.

Within two months after organization the First regiment engaged in its first major battle at Wilson creek, one of the most important battles in the West. In this engagement hard fighting fell to the First Kansas and the First Missouri infantry, both of which suffered terrible losses. It is recorded that the Stubbs here displayed the greatest bravery, being one of six companies of the First Kansas ordered by Col. George W. Deitzler to engage a rebel force four times their number. [14] Lieutenant Spicer, who took command after Captain Swift was wounded, wrote of the battle: "At one stroke the officers of our company all fell but myself. After Captain Swift was wounded and disabled, I took command . . . . We were exposed to a galling fire from two directions for over three hours. The men fell around me in every direction. There was a perfect storm of iron and lead. But our men never flinched or moved until ordered. Thirty of our company were killed and wounded, although I only


reported 24." [15] He also quoted Maj. S. D. Sturgis as saying, "The Kansas boys are doing the best fighting I ever saw before." [16] In his official report, Maj. John A. Halderman likewise gave much credit to the First Kansas. "All the officers and men of this command fought with a courage and heroism rarely, if ever, equaled." [17]

For the remainder of 1861 the First Kansas did guard duty along the railroads in Missouri. In February, 1862, it was ordered to Fort Leavenworth to join the contemplated expedition to the southwest. Plans for the expedition were abandoned, however, and the regiment was sent east to reinforce Gen. W. H. Halleck in Mississippi. In February, 1863, the regiment was mounted and served the ensuing eighteen months as mounted infantry, being mustered out of service on June 17, 1864. [18]

An unusually large number of Stubbs received recognition for valiant service. Captain Cracklin stated that twenty-seven out of the sixty held commissions. [19] Milton Kennedy, who was a later captain of the company, in an interview with the editor of the Kansas Tribune, gave some interesting particulars concerning its remarkable record, asserting that "the entire rolls of the company contain 390 names since its first organization and the aggregate on their discharge was eighty-nine. There were fifty-two promotions mostly from the original company, as it was organized at Lawrence, of whom three became colonels." He added, "It is probable that no volunteer company in the service has so large a list or better record for gallantry." [20]

After the war the need for local military companies ceased, and the ranks of the original Stubbs were too much depleted, perhaps, to allow a continuation of the organization. At any rate no account of their meetings is found. At the old settlers' anniversary meeting held at Lawrence in September, 1871, W. I. R. Blackman, the first captain of the Stubbs, called the roll of the company. [21] Only five or six persons answered to their names. The greater part of the absentees were either listed as "dead" or having moved to some other locality.


1. Joseph Cracklin was born in Boston, Mass., May 2, 1816. He was educated in the public schools of Boston, and at the age of sixteen went to sea, where he remained for twelve years, rising to the command of a vessel. Lured to California by the gold rush of 1849, he engaged in mining for two years and then returned home by way of the Isthmus. In 1854 he again set out for the west with the second party of the Emigrant Aid Company. On reaching Lawrence he decided to remain and aid the Free State cause. He was one of the original members of the Lawrence Town Company. As captain of the Stubbs, he took an active part in the border trouble. During the impending attack upon Lawrence in September, 1856, he resigned his Stubbs captaincy to receive a commission as lieutenant colonel from Gen. James Lane. He was again elected captain of the Stubbs in 1857 serving until 1859. In the Civil War Captain Crackling served successively as captain of Company D, Second Kansas Volunteer infantry, battalion adjutant in the Second Kansas Volunteer cavalry and second lieutenant of Hopkins battery of the same regiment. He was mustered out in December, 1862. Returning home, he was under medical care for some time for disabilities caused by a sunstroke received in he service. He then engaged in the real estate business in Lawrence and served as city marshal for a number of terms. He was married in 1847 to Miss Julia A. McDuffy, who died ten years later. In 1858 he married Miss Emily Dunlap. After a long illness he died August 2, 1881.
2. Lawrence Gazette, April 5, 1883.
3. R. G. Elliott to Katharine Mayo, August 6, 1908, Elliott papers, Kansas Historical Society.
4. Leavenworth Press, December 18, 1879.
5. Lawrence Gazette, April 5, 1883.
6. Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, December 13, 1856.
7. The constitution and bylaws of the Stubbs were presented to the Kansas Historical Society by Mrs. Mary S. Learnard of Lawrence, Kansas.
8. Herald of Freedom, January 3, 1857.
9. The original manuscript is in the possession of the Kansas Historical Society, the gift of Thaddeus Hyatt.
10. For biographical sketch of Francis B. Swift see The Kansas Historical Collections, v. 10, p, 482.
11. Newell W. Spicer came to Kansas from Pennsylvania in 1856 with an emigrant party from Chicago. He arrived in Topeka August 13, and immediately joined with the attack on Fort Saunders. During the remainder of the struggle he was continually in the field, rising from the rank of first lieutenant of the Chicago company to the office of adjutant. He became a member of the Stubbs company, and was elected third lieutenant in 1859. He entered the Civil War as first lieutenant of Company D, First regiment Kansas Volunteer infantry in 1861, and was promoted to captain in 1862. In June, 1863, he rose to the rank of colonel.
12. Caleb S. Pratt a native of Massachusetts, arrived in Lawrence September 12, 1854, a member of the second party sent out by the Eigrant Aid Company. He engaged in the real estate business in Lawrence, and from 1858 until his death he held the office of county clerk. He also served as city cerk for several years. As a member of the Stubbs he took a conspicuous part in the territorial struggle. On June 3 1861, he was mustered into the federal service and became second lieutenant of Company D First regiment of Kansas Volunteer infantry. He fell at the battle of Wilson creek, August 10, 1861. He was twenty-nine years old and unmarried.
13. The Kansas State Journal, Lawrence, June 20, 1861. 14. Major Halderman's report of the battle of Wilson creek in w. S. Burke's Military History of Kansas Regiments, Appendix, p. 454.