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PART FIRST, THE BORDER WAR.
CHAPTER I. THE OPENING CONFLICT
During the last days of March, 1855, a small army, some 5,000 men as the account runs, marched from the State of Missouri over its western boundary into the neighboring Territory of Kansas. There was no open proclamation of war, and the country generally supposed itself to be in possession of peace at home and abroad. Still here
was a military organization in semblance, belonging to no State legally nor to the United States, commanded by Generals and Colonels and Captains, and accompanied by a train of wagons containing supplies of food and liquor and ammunition. The men were armed with guns and pistols; many of them showed their distinctive weapon in a unique way: bowie-knives
protruding from the tops of their boots. They had been recruited chiefly from the western counties of Missouri, which also contributed the main expenses of the expedition, deerning themselves the vanguard of Southern civilization in the great conflict manifestly approaching and ready to break out on their border. Mighty was the enthusiasm, overflowing into multitudinous streams of oratory from the leaders, who were mostly politicians in line of promotion, and who had the power of evoking in their hearers volley after volley of profanity discharged against the Abolitionists over in Kansas and in the North.
War in peace, then, we behold on the KansasMissouri border during these fair spring days; what does it portend? Such a mass of men could not have been gathered, drilled and organized without money and much previous effort. It is now known that they were members of a secret oath-bound society called the Blue Lodge mainly, though other names of it were current. A fixed, persistent purpose lies back of it, an idea, we must believe; it bodes some struggle impending, whereof this is the first little, distant outbreak, the harbinger of mightier events coming on. So these Missourians march across the border, totally unconscious of the colossal, world-historical drama whose first scene they are enacting.
No doubt could be entertained concerning