|Colonel James Montgomery
2nd South Carolina or 34th USCT
(December 22, 1814-December 6, 1871)
|Colonel James Montgomery
James Montgomery was born on December 22, 1814 at Austinburg in Ashtabula County, Ohio.
James Montgomery was born to James and Mary Baldwin Montgomery. He was cousin of General
Richard Montgomery who fell at the storming of Quebec
He moved to Kentucky in 1837 and became a teacher and itinerant preacher of the "Campbellite"
version of Protestant Christianity. His first wife died shortly after the wedding. His second wife was
The couple moved to Pike County Missouri in 1852 , then Jackson County and finally Bates County.
Finally in 1854 when the Kansas territory was organized they moved Mound City in Linn County in
the Territory of Kansas.
He purchased a farm near the head of Little Sugar Creek about 5 miles west of Mound City for $11.
He was 40 years old six feet tall, lightly built, very thin and with his hair parted in the middle
resembled General Fremont.
He became a leader of the free state men and was a confirmed abolitionists. In 1857 he organized
and commanded a "Self-Protective Company" using it to order pro-slavery settlers out of the
region. During the violent episode of American history referred to as "Bleeding Kansas," James
Montgomery's home was burned and he became an avenging antislavery radical who
indiscriminately led "free-soil raids" on "Border Ruffians" from Missouri and merely proslavery
Kansans. Montgomery's tactics after Clarke's raid were characteristic. To obtain a list of the men
concerned in it he visited Missouri in the disguise of a teacher searching for a school, which he
succeeded in obtaining and actually taught for two weeks -- long enough to get the information he
wished. That secured, the school suddenly closed, and the school-master soon reappeared
transformed into a guerrilla chief. Twenty of the ex-raiders were captured and robbed of their
money, weapons, and horses. An inspiring and courageous figure in defense of his moralistic
antislavery beliefs, Montgomery earned a reputation as a violent warrior raiding, looting, burning
and taking lives, all done with a moralistic certainty justified by command of the Bible and his God.
He never fought with a plan. When John Brown and Montgomery went to liberate Rice. Brown
refused to accompany him after learning he had no plan to attack the town. Montgomery was
successful and later Brown praised the "plan" which Montgomery adopted. He and several others
attempted a rescue of Aaron D. Stevens and Albert Hazlet two of John Brown's men but snow in
Harrisburg Pa prevented the attempt.
In 1859 Montgomery was a candidate for the Territorial House of Representatives. He lost by 9
votes. He was one of the Republican delegates from Linn County to the Republican Convention at
Lawrence on April 11, 1860 which elected delegates to the Chicago Convention which nominated
Rescue Mission John Brown's Men - Stevens and Hazlett
Col Montgomery was recruited by Richard H. Hinton, John W. LeBarnes and Thomas Wentworth
Higginson for a attempt to rescue the last prisoners of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. They
were to meet at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. On February 17, 1860 Higginson and Montgomery met
in Harrisburg to discuss the plan. He was described by Higginson as "lithe, quick, low-voiced
reticent, keen, he seemed the ideal of a partisan leader, and was, indeed, a curious compound of
the moss-trooper and the detective." His men were a group of Kansas men: Carpenter, Pike,
Seamans, Rice, Gardner, Willis, and Silas Soule. Gardner, Willis and Silas Soule had rescued Dr.
Doy from jail in St. Joseph, Missouri. A snowstorm caused them to abandon the plan.
On July 24 1861, Montgomery joined the regiment of 3rd Kansas Union volunteers and was
appointed colonel. He was the second-in-command of the brigade. Discipline was lacking under
Montgomery and the regiment was made part of the 10th Kansas Infantry in April, 1862. Lane's
brigade of which Montgomery was a part of was notorious for it s raids into Missouri at the start of
the war. They sacked Osceola.
Col's Jim. Montgomery and Phillips (New York Herald, 7/14/1861)
Gen. Collamore has recently returned from Linn county. Capt. James Montgomery has decided to
go into the service; he has two companies of infantry and one of cavalry, and will join Col. Phillips'
regiment. Capt. M. will not receive a colonelcy by appointment€”only by election. With Capt.
Jennison he has recently visited Missouri, and looked over matters there. Jennison cut off one
man's ear, but is sorry for it. Capt. Montgomery regrets this occurrence. He says the traitor ought to
have been shot¦.
Follow-up to the Marais des Cygones Assassinations (The Prelude To The War For The
Union in 1885, written by Leverett Spring, State University, Lawrence, Kansas, 1885) The
authorities at Lecompton did not lay the responsibility for a state of things that culminated in the
Marais des Cygnes assassinations wholly or chiefly at the door of pro-slavery men. At all events,
soon after receiving intelligence of them, Governor James Denver placed warrants in the hands of
Deputy Marshal, Captain Samuel Walker for the arrest of James Montgomery. When Walker
reached Raysville, ten or fifteen miles northwest of Fort Scott, he found a large convention in
session. "What are you after?" asked an acquaintance under his breath.
"I've come down to take Montgomery."
"You can't do it. That thing's out of the question."
The marshal concluded that it would be wise to keep his writs out of sight. "I don't know
Montgomery," he said, "and I don't wish to have him pointed out. If he is, I shall have to make an
effort to take him."
The speaking, inflamed by the recent massacre, proceeded with furious energy. Nothing less than
the extinction of Fort Scott -- an infamous nest of border ruffians which was sheltering some of the
Marais des Cygnes murderers -- would pacify the convention. The authorities sent down sheriffs to
arrest Free-State men, but they were unsuccessful.
The sneer brought Walker to his feet. He volunteered to serve any warrants in Fort Scott with which
he might be furnished, and the proposal touched a popular chord. An unexpected difficulty
threatened to frustrate the whole enterprise. Nobody could be found authorized to issue the
necessary papers. "Get a common justice's writ," said Walker, "and I'll go, though as a federal
officer I have no business to serve it."
Walker, escorted by Montgomery incognito, reached Fort Scott on the 30th, and proceeded at
once to the house of George Washington Clarke, who, as leader of the Linn County raid in 1856 as
well as for other reasons, had incurred great unpopularity in Free-State quarters. The marshal
vainly pounded upon the door with his fist, and then tried the butt of his pistol without eliciting any
response. But the town was astir. The street swarmed with Clarke's friends armed to the teeth,
while Montgomery and his band were fully prepared for anything that might happen.
Walker, having procured some heavy iron implement from a government wagon standing near, was
about to renew his attack on the door when Clarke thrust his head from a window, and offered to
surrender. In a few moments the door swung open, and he appeared with his wife clung to one arm,
and his daughter to the other, while in his hands there was an old-fashioned cavalry carbine. Very
properly, Clarke wished to examine the marshal's papers, which that gentleman declined to exhibit,
since legally they were of no account.
"I'll give you two minutes to surrender," thundered the marshal, drawing his pistol. "I heard the click
of rifles about me," Walker related, "as I covered Clarke with my revolver. There was a silence like
death. Nobody said a word. Major Williams held his watch to count the time. I saw nothing except
the border ruffian before me. I was told that pro-slavery rifles were pointed at me while my escort
aimed at Clarke. It was a mighty solemn state of affairs. The two minutes, I think, must have almost
expired when Clarke, white as a sheet, handed me his carbine." Walker afterwards arrested
Montgomery himself, but, later, all the prisoners managed to escape, and he returned to
Thomas Wentworth Higginson (later Colonel of the 1st South Carolina) commented on Montgomery
in this period: Montgomery in Kansas is a noble person, born and reared in Kentucky, and
whatever he does I shall expect to find right when it is understood, though it may take long to
understand it. I was not unprepared for his present course. He wrote to me long ago that the
Missourians were driving him and his friends so hard that they expected to retaliate in self-defense,
though the number is greatly overestimated, as in John Brown's case. (Letters and Journals)
Organizing the 2nd South Carolina USCT
After meetings with abolitionist George Stearns, Kansas Senator Samuel Pomeroy, and President
Lincoln in January 1863, Montgomery was authorized by the War Department to recruit and
organize a black regiment in the Department of the South. He was authorized to raise a regiment of
black soldiers from among the thousands of former slaves who were escaping to the protection of
Union Army lines. Colonel Montgomery traveled to Union-occupied Key West, Florida to recruit the
first 130 black soldiers of his command. Some of these men were conscripted. The men were
transported to Beaufort, South Carolina, and temporarily merged with the First South Carolina
Loyal Volunteers. Higginson said: "Colonel Montgomery arrived last night, with one hundred and
twenty men as the nucleus of his regiment, and he will be sent with us wherever we go, probably.
His military experience will be of unspeakable value to me." (Letters and Journals) The new recruits
were mustered into Federal service on May 22, 1863. Under Montgomery discipline was initially
Throughout 1863 and part of 1864 Montgomery practiced his Jayhawker brand of irregular warfare
in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida
Dr. Seth Rogers on Col. Montgomery
Dr. Seth Rogers was the surgeon for the 1st South Carolina (33rd USCT). He spoke in his diary of
February 25, 1863 of meeting Col. Montgomery: "All this evening I have been squeezing Kansas
history out of Col. Montgomery, a history with which he himself is so completely identified that I have
really been listening to a wonderful autobiography. Col. M. is a born pioneer. Ashtabula County,
Ohio, is his native place. Forty-nine years ago, Joshua R. Giddings and Ben Wade were young
men and Montgomery in his boyhood was accustomed to hear their early pleadings at the bar. So
you see how birth and early surroundings fitted him for a fiercer frontier life. New England life
seems puny beside the lusty life born on the frontier. Of the Colonel's eight children two of his sons
are to hold commissions in his regiment. They are young but as "they don't know the meaning of
fear," and hate slavery he is sure they will get on. In medicine he has a weakness for pellets
instead of pills. It is humiliating that our two strong colonels should exhibit such weak points. So
long as we remain in good health I don't know but this foible of homeopathy is as harmless as any
of the popular vagaries.
Capture of Jacksonville (See letter of Abraham Lincoln to General David Hunter)
Colonel Montgomery's operations Department of the South began with a hundred and thirty men,
recruited in Key West about the middle of February, 1863. With these recently clothed men, but not
yet armed, he accompanied the first South Carolina Volunteers, under command of Colonel
Thomas W. Higginson, on an expedition to Florida. Higginson: "Montgomery is splendid, but
impulsive and changeable; never plans far ahead, and goes off at a tangent. The last tangent is to
leave us tomorrow, go up the river thirty miles on a steamer and strike directly for the interior,
where the slaves are leaving the rebels to watch us here. What make the project odder is that in
forty-eight hours or so, we---i.e., the S.C.V. hope to be under weigh to take and occupy some
upper point, so that by waiting he could strike off from us. But off he goes tomorrow---unless he
changes his mind. His only anxiety is that his men will get their feet so blistered; for they are all Key
West men. That island is only eight miles by two, and that is the longest distance they have ever
walked in their lives."
Later on March 28th Higginson wrote: "Colonel Montgomery has just returned from upriver as far as
Palatka; he landed incautiously and was fired upon." (Letters and Journals) At the evacuation an
incident happens: "I told you in my last journal that Montgomery had brought in thirteen rebel
prisoners; I did not add that he also captured the lieutenant, who afterwards escaped by the aid of
a crowd of female friends who came to take farewell. He crawled away behind their skirts, then ran,
and would not stop, though Montgomery raised his pistol. But M. wouldn't shoot, for he said he
couldn't kill him in his sister's presence---a very characteristic touch. His revolver is unerring; the
other day he shot an alligator in the eye, the only part visible." (Higginson, Letters and Journals)
General Saxton's Order to Higginson for the Expedition
Raids up the Combahee River
On the first day of June at evening, having spent the intervening weeks in drilling and recruiting
and organizing, we set out on a pleasure trip up the Combahee River. We sailed at dark. Our fleet
consisted of the transports John Adams, Harriett A. Weed, and Sentinel, the former two being
armed, while the Sentinel was manned. A few miles up the river the Sentinel posted herself on a
sandbar and true to her name stood there immovable. Nothing could induce her to leave her post.
We transferred the force on her to the little Harriett Weed and proceeded up the river. Our entire
force consisted of two hundred and fifty of Montgomery's men including the Key West men who had
figured at Jacksonville, and a hundred and fifty more recruited about Port Royal.
Higginson: "Montgomery's raid was a most brilliant success, though I don't believe in burning
private houses as he does. Nearly eight hundred contrabands!"
June 26, 1863 Montgomery and the 54th Mass are recalled from St. Simon's Island and put here for
a time, or just across from her on St. Helena Island, where I shall hardly see them. The officers of
the 54th have never had a glimpse of my regiment; this I mention because Stephen seemed to
confound their criticisms on Montgomery's guerrillas with "Cunnel Higgison's reglars" as mine call
themselves (Letters and Journals)
Raiding up the Darien River
Colonel Robert Gould Shaw of the Mass 54th condemned the action he said that Montgomery's
reason for burning the town was that the Southerners must be made to feel that this was a real war,
and that they were to be swept away by the hand of God, like the Jews of old. We are outlawed,
and therefore not bound by the rules of regular warfare.- Shaw would accuse him of being a fanatic
and a "bushwhacker."
Hdqrs Dept South Carolina Georgia and Florida Charleston S C July 4 1863 Brig Gen QA Gillmore
Commanding US Forces Port Royal S C General
In the interest of humanity it seems to be my duty to address you with a view of effecting some
understanding as to the future conduct of the war in this quarter You are aware of course of the
fact that on or about the 2d ultimo an expedition set on foot by your predecessor in command Major
General Hunter entered the Combahee River in South Carolina and seized and carried away a
large number of negro slaves from several large plantations on that stream My present object
however is not to enter upon a discussion touching that species of pillaging but to acquaint you
formally that more than one of the large plantations thus visited and ravaged were otherwise and
further pillaged and their private dwellings warehouses and other buildings wantonly consumed by
the torch All this be it observed rendered necessary by no military exigency that is with no possible
view to the destruction of that which was being used for military purposes either of offense or
defense or in near vicinity to batteries or works occupied by your adversary or which if left standing
could endanger or m any military way affect the safety of your forces or obstruct your operations
either present or future and finally the owners of which were men not even bearing arms in this war
A day or two later another expedition burned about two thirds of the village of Bluffton a summer
resort of the planters of the sea coast of South Carolina an undefended and indefensible place
The best houses were selected for destruction and for the act no possible provocation may be
Later yet the 11th of June the village of Darien in the State of Georgia was laid waste by your
soldiers and every building in it but one church and three small houses burned to the ground there
as at Bluffton no defense having been made or any act of provocation previously committed either
by the owners o f the devastated place or by the soldiery of the Confederate States there or in any
part of this department
Again as far back as the last of March when evacuating Jacksonville in East Florida your troops set
on fire and destroyed the larger part of that town including several churches not assuredly to cover
their embarkation but merely as a measure of vindictive and illegitimate hostility
You have of course the right to seize and hold our towns and districts of country if able to do so
that is to exercise for the time the privilege of eminent domain but not to ravage and destroy the
houses or other property of the individuals of the country The eminent domain and the property of
the Government are legitimate objects of conquest but private property and houses movable and
immovable are not You may appropriate the spoils of the battle field or the booty of a camp which
you have captured or even in extreme cases when aggravated by an improper defense may sack a
town or city carried by storm But the pillage of the open country and of undefended places has long
ago been given up as a usage or legitimate measure of war. At most contributions can be levied
upon and collected of the people and these even says Vattel must be moderate if the general who
resorts to them wises to enjoy an unsullied reputation and escape the reproach of cruelty and
You may indeed waste and destroy provisions and forage which you cannot carry away and which if
left would materially assist the operations of your enemy. But Vattel prescribes that even this must
be done with moderation and according to the exigency of the case. Those who tear up the vines
and cut down the fruit trees are looked upon as savage barbarians unless they do it with a view to
punish the enemy for some gross violation of the laws of nations.
You cannot legitimately devastate and destroy by fire or ravage the country of your enemy except
under the stress of stern necessity that is as measures of retaliation for a brutal warfare on his part
If you do so without an absolute necessity such conduct is reported as the result of hatred and fury
Savage and monstrous excess Vattel terms it .
Ravaging and burning private property are acts of licentiousness unauthorized by the laws of war
and the belligerent who wages war in that manner must justly says Vattel be regarded as carrying
on war like a furious barbarian .
The pillage and destruction of towns the devastation of the open country setting fire to houses the
same publicist expressly declares to be measures no less odious and detestable when done
without absolute necessity. This Vattel expressly says is equally applicable to the operations of a
civil war the parties to which are bound to observe the common laws of war. Even the Duke of Alva
was finally forced to respect these laws of war in his conduct toward the confederates in the
Wheaton is no less explicit than Vattel on all these points He declares that private property and
land can only be taken in special cases that is when captured on the field or in besieged places
and towns or as military contributions levied upon the inhabitants of hostile territory (See page 395
Law of Nations)
The pages of the American publicist furnish the most striking condemnation of the acts of your
soldiery on the Combahee and at Jacksonville Bluff ton and Darien in connection with the burning
by the British of Havre de Grace in 1813 the devastations of Lord Cochrane on the coast of
Chesapeake Bay and in relation to some excesses of the troops of the United States in Canada
The destruction of Havre de Grace was characterized at the time by the Cabinet at Washington as
manifestly contrary to the usages of civilized warfare That village we are told was ravaged and
burned to the astonishment of its unarmed inhabitants at seeing that they derived no protection to
their property from the laws of war.
Further the burning of the village of Newark in Canada and near Fort George by the troops of the
United States in 1813 though defended as legitimate by the officers who did it on the score of
military necessity yet the act was earnestly disavowed and repudiated by the Government of the
United States of that day. So too was the burning of Long Point concerning which a military
investigation was instituted And for the destruction of Saint David's by stragglers the officer who
commanded on that occasion was dismissed the service without trial for permitting it Wheaton on
the Law of Nations page 309.
The Government of the United States then under the inspiration of southern statesmen declared
that it owed to itself and to the principles it ever held sacred to disavow any such wanton cruel and
unjustifiable warfare which it further denounced as revolting to humanity and repugnant to the
sentiments and usages of the civilized world.
I shall now remark that these violations of long and thoroughly established laws of war may be
chiefly attributed to the species of persons employed by your predecessor in command in these
expeditions and should have been anticipated in view of the lessons of history that is negroes for
the most part either fugitive slaves or who had been carried away from their masters plantations.
So apparent are the atrocious consequences which have ever resulted from the employment of a
merciless servile race as soldiers that Napoleon when invading Russia refused to receive or employ
against the Russian Government and army the Russian serfs who we are told were ready on all
sides to flock to his standard if he would enfranchise them. He was actuated he declared by a
horror of the inevitable consequences which would result from a servile war. This course one of
your authors Abbott contrasts to the prejudice of Great Britain in the war of 1812 with the United
States in the course of which were employed the tomahawk and the scalping knife of the savage by
some British commanders.
In conclusion it is my duty to inquire whether the acts which resulted in the burning of the
defenseless villages of Darien and Bluff ton and the ravages on the Combahee are regarded by
you as legitimate measures of war which you will feel authorized to resort to hereafter.
I enclose two newspaper accounts copied from the journals of the United States giving relations of
the transactions in question.
Respectfully general your obedient servant GT BEAUREGARD General Commanding
Headquarters Department of the South
Hilton Head Port Royal S C June 15 1863
Maj Gen HW Halleck
General in Chief US Army Washington D C
Sir: I have made a reconnaissance of Morris Island and its surroundings next to Folly and James
Islands. General Vogdes is in command on Folly Island. All his arrangements thus far have been
defensive. He will openly continue in that attitude; but I have directed him to plant behind the sand
hills on the north end of Folly Island (secretly and without being seen by the enemy) batteries that
will be able to dismount in one hour all the enemy's guns on the south end of Morris Island.
The enemy are constructing a causeway from James to Morris Island across the marsh. I look upon
this as unimportant as against any sudden attempt to get a lodgment on Morris Island as success
would place the causeway under our control.
I have not fully sounded the navy as to the co operation that may be expected from them in getting
upon Morris Island. Probably nothing will be done by them offensively until the arrival of Admiral
Colonel Montgomery with 1,500 colored troops and some artillery now occupies Saint Simon's
Island and will be directed to make raids from that point, and occupy the enemy in that direction. He
will be able, I think, to keep many, if not all, of the Georgia troops in that quarter.
As nearly as I can ascertain there are about Charleston, for its defense, some 10,000 or 12,000
troops (mostly South Carolina militia) and there are about an equal number of Georgia militia
available for the defense of Savannah. Major Duane started north in the Arago yesterday.
Q. A. Gillmore,
Battle of Olustee
In the Florida Campaign, Montgomery was placed in command of a brigade, containing the Fifty-
fourth Massachusetts and First North Carolina Colored Volunteers (later known as the Thirty-fifth
United States Colored Troops). One of his regiments was as yet untried in combat, while the other
was the most famous black unit of the entire war. In the battle his brigade helped protect the
withdrawal of the defeated Union army, allowing it to escape back into the Jacksonville defenses.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION,
Jacksonville, Fla., March 15, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following official report: When the battle of Olustee began
my command, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts and First North Carolina Regiments , was in rear of
the train. Thinking it might be a demonstration intended by the enemy to draw us away from the
train, I immediately disposed my force so as to protect it, at the same time sending an aide to the
front for orders. The aide was hardly out of sight when the fight thickened so rapidly that I moved
forward with the Fifty-fourth without waiting for orders, leaving the First North Carolina to guard the
train. We soon met the aide with orders to bring up both regiments. The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts
was placed on the left of the line, while the First North Carolina moved directly forward. Fresh re-
enforcements of the enemy came up at this time, and the fight, which had slackened a little, broke
out again in all its fury, and continued till sunset, when the troops retired slowly from the field. The
Fifty-fourth, commanded by Colonel Hallowell, lost 1 captain and 2 lieutenants wounded, and 84
men killed, wounded, and missing. The First North Carolina lost in killed, wounded, and missing,
199 men and 10 officers.
I have the honor to be, captain, your most obedient servant,
JAMES MONTGOMERY ,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Capt. P. R. CHADWICK,
He resigned his commission in September 1864 and returned to Kansas.
The Fight for Equal Pay (Forged in Battle The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White
"Col James Montgomery wrote Sen. Henry Wilson, chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs,
that his troops were second to none in effeciency and 'their loyalty and fidelity might put to the
blush some who boast of white skins.'"
He ended his military career as a colonel in the 6th Kansas State Militia where he was active
opposing Confederate General Sterling Price's raid.
After the war he became an Adventist, belonging to the "First Day Adventists," not to the "Seventh
Day Adventists." He was known as a "Soul Sleeper," because he believed in and advocated the
doctrine that from death to the Judgment Day the soul is unconscious or "sleeps." He spent much
time in thought upon religious subjects, and held discussions and preached in Mound City, Fort
Scott and elsewhere from the close of the war to the time of his death.
Original Claim (White Cloud Chief, September 7, 1871)
The Pleasanton Observer says that Col. James Montgomery is now residing on his original claim,
about twelve miles west of Pleasanton, Linn county. The editor visited the colonel's house a few
months since and found it not one whit changed standing just as it had been built, and he was
informed by the owner that it is his design to keep it so during his life. Visitors can, therefore, see
the original fort, unchanged by modern improvements, in which Col. Montgomery sought shelter
after his daring and generally successfully encounters with the pro-slavery invaders.
After the war was over, Col. Montgomery retired to his home in Linn County, and peacefully
followed his occupation as farmer until December 6, 1871, when he died, and was buried upon his
farm. Colonel James Montgomery was later moved and reburied in Soldiers Lot in Mound City, Linn
Obituary (Georgia Weekly Telegraph, January 9, 1872)
Col James Montgomery, of Kansas Free State memory, died at his home in that State last week, at
the age of 58 years. From 1856 to 1861 he was the central figure of the Free State cause in
Kansas. During the war he commanded a regiment of colored troops. He was one of the most
intimate friends and advisers of John Brown. Balt. Sun.
We know it is enjoined upon us to say nothing but good of those who have crossed the dark river,
but we cannot refrain from adding that this was the wretch who wantonly burned Darion, in this
state, and committed all sorts of atrocities on the Georgia and Florida seaboard. He was a fit
companion and friend for that old horse thief and murderer, John Brown, and as they were
diabolical in their lives we hope they have not in death been divided. The knowledge of that fact
would be consolation sufficient for us.
(White Cloud Kansas Chief., December 14, 1871)
Col James Montgomery, of Kansas fame, died last week, at his home in Linn County. For several
years past, he had devoted a portion of his time to preaching. He was a "Soul Sleeper“ the Church
of which Brother Shockey is the great apostle in those high latitudes.
(White Cloud Kansas Chief, February 15, 1872)
Death of Col. James Montgomery.
We received a note yesterday morning from Mr. Zook, of the Pleasanton Observer, announcing the
death of Col. James Montgomery.
He died at his home at 2 o'clock p.m., on Wednesday, December 6, and will be buried at his original
claim, this, Thursday afternoon. During the past summer and autumn Col. Montgomery has been in
very ill-health, but with the energy which marked his character, he fought with disease, and has
traveled from place to place promulgating the religious doctrines he so thoroughly believed in. The
last time I saw him he spoke hopefully of future life, and now he has crossed the river, and another
of our heroes has joined the army gone before.
Col. Montgomery was accustomed to travel from one school district to another, speaking at least
every Sunday, on religious subjects. He belonged to a sect called Soul Sleepers, with whose
dogmas we are entirely unacquainted.
He was a native of Ohio, had been a school teacher, and must have been fifty years old. He lived in
Missouri a few years before coming to Kansas. His name did not become well known until the fall of
1858, when he gained a notoriety, as Capt. Montgomery, and the leader of less than a hundred
anti-slavery settlers in Linn County. They resisted the outrages of the "pro-slavers" (as
Montgomery always called them) at home, and sometimes carried the war across the line, and into
the enemy's country. Some of the "Jayhawkers," on one side, like the "Bushwhackers," on the other
side, were thieves, but James Montgomery was not. We believe he was always and at all times a
man of honor, and no more a "fanatic" than any man is who tries to regulate his life by the golden
We first met him in Elwood, Doniphan County, twelve years ago this month. Thos. Wentworth
Higginson and Richard J. Hinton believed that Hazlit and Stevens two of John Brown's men, could
be rescued from the jail at Harper's Ferry. Brown had been hung on the 2nd of December, and his
two brave companions were soon to suffer the same fate. Their rescue was left to Montgomery. He
came to Elwood with four or five of his most trustworthy men, and with arms. The Hannibal and St.
Joseph was the only railroad across Missouri and afforded the only avenue by which such men
could safely travel through that State. Montgomery assumed some other name, which we have now
forgotten, and he remained with us several days. We had a good chance to study the man, and he
was worth studying.
They went on as far as Harrisburg, where they met their Eastern friends. The expedition failed
there, or on the journey south, on account of the depth of the snow. The men could have been
taken from the jail, but it did not seem probable that they could then be concealed or got out of the
way. The leading actors in this affair will doubtless, at some time, publish its details.
At the beginning of the war, Montgomery became Colonel of the Third Kansas. We think he was the
first of our Colonels who released and employed slaves. He told us that he had overcome the army
regulations by making Negroes teamsters, and this then seemed to him and to us a great anti-
When Negro regiments were organized, Montgomery was called to South Carolina to co-operate
with General David Hunter. His friend Higginson, named above, and also a preacher, was made
Colonel of the first colored regiment there, and Montgomery of another. Neither had much
opportunity to make military reputations, but they did a far greater work in teaching their soldiers
that a white man could be a gentleman and true follower of Christ.
"The life of this man will some day be fitly told. He has left a good name, a bright example of
manliness, honor and truth, and he has gone forward to continue his work.“ Ft. Scott Monitor
|Col. James Montgomery
|"It is always best to take for granted that your opponent is at
least as smart as you yourself are."
Col. James Montgomery
|Col. James Montgomery
|President Abraham Lincoln