Wednesday, September 5, 2012
James Lane was one of the most infamous members of the “Jayhawkers,” a group of pro-Union partisans who operated in Kansas before and during the War.
Known as the “Grim Chieftain,” Lane was as calculating a military leader as he was a politician. In 1861 he orchestrated the sacking of Osceola, Missouri, in which the town was burned and nine residents were executed.
The attack—which was not authorized by the Union—drew the ire of Confederate guerrilla leaders like William Quantrill, who began to target Lane in raids on Union positions. Worried that Lane’s activities were only serving to galvanize the opposition, in 1862 the Union cancelled his command.
Lane continued to play a vital role in the war effort and later made history when he independently organized the 1st Kansas Volunteer Infantry, the first unit of black soldiers to serve in combat during the War.