Letter from Edward Bridgman

Kansas May 25, 1856

Dear Cousin Sidney

I write now to let you know my present situation and a little about the affairs of Kansas....

In some small towns the men are called up nearly every night to hold themsleves in readiness to meet the worst as scouting parties of Alabamians Georgians and Missourians are around continually, plundering clothes yards, horses and cattle, and everything they can lay hold of. A few miles from Lawrence a man was plowing. a party of Southerners came along and being hungry killed his best ox, ate what they wanted, took away some and left the rest. Such like occurrences are almost daily taking place. Last Thursday, news came from Lawrence that she was in the hands of the Ruffians, and that they had demolished the free state Hotel, burned Robinson's house, and destroyed the two printing presses. Almost immediately a company of 30 was raised. There was no reason why I could not go for one, so I borrowed a rifle and ammunition and joined them. The thought of engaging in battle is not a pleasing one, but the free state men are compelled to. Why should I not do [so] as wall as others, I have nothing to hinder me and my life is no dearer to me than the lives of others are to them. At sundown we divided into 2 divisions and took turns in walking. It was really affecting to see husbands and wives bid each other good bye. -- not knowing as they would ever see each other again. yet the feeling and sympathies of the women are as much enlisted in the cause as the men. It is nothing uncommon to see them running bullets and making catriges. One woman yesterday told me that she had often been called up nights to make them....

Tuesday, 27.

Since I wrote the above the Osawatomie company has returned to O. as news came that we could do nothing immediately, so we returned back. On our way back we heard that 5 men had been killed by Free State men. the men were butchered -- ears cut off and the bodies thrown into the river[.] the murdered men (Proslavery) had thrown out threats and insults, yet the act was barbarous and inhuman whoever committed by[.] we met the men going when we were going up and knew that they were on a secret expedition, yet didn't know what it was. Tomorrow something will be done to arrest them. there were 8 concerned in the act. perhaps they had good motives, some think they had, how that is I dont know. The affairs took place 8 miles from Osawatomie. The War seems to have commenced in real earnest. horses are stolen on all sides whenerver they can be taken....

Weds eve.

Since yesterday I have learned that those men who committed those murders were a party of Browns. one of them was formerly in the wool business in Springfield, John Brown[.] his son, (Jn) has been taken today, tho he had no hand in the act, but was knowing to it, but when I write to Maria I will give further particulars[.] Osawatomie is in much fear and excitement[.] News came tonight that a co. of Georgains and Alibamians were coming to make this their headquarters. All work is nearly suspended, the women are in constant fear[.] It was really pleasing to witness the reception of our co,. by the women after they came in to O. [I]t was a little after dark. A long line of women and children stood by the roadside to greet us and joy was depicted on every countenance. hands were heartily shaken and congratulations offered[.] but I must close....

Yours truly, E

It wont be best for me to write my name so you must guess who wote this[.] but very few now attach their full name to a letter

Copyright 1920, Organization of American Historians (OAH). Permission is granted to WGBH Educational Foundation for nonprofit educational uses of this material. All other uses require permission from the OAH.


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