In the following paragraphs Mr. Smith’s facile pen had told of “The Bloodless Battle of Padonia,” and the article may well be reproduced here:
“Historic Brown county, made famous by the residence of General J. H. Lane, who organized and established the Town Company of Padonia, located four and one-half miles north and a mile west of Hiawatha, the ‘underground’ railroad, the creation of John Brown, and the home and residence of the famous Free-Stater, ‘Nigger’ Jones, was the scene of the bloodless battle, known as the ‘Battle of Padonia.’ In the immediate neighborhood was afterwards to be written that beautiful Kansas poem ‘Walls of the Corn,’ by the late Ellen P. Allerton.
“Brown county, up to the time of the war, had been quite evenly divided as to its Pro Slavery and Free State proclivities. Brown county for several years had slaves upon her soil. Before and after the war was declared, Kansas ‘Jayhawkers’ had been going over into Missouri and taking horses and bringing them back into Kansas. It seems that there lived a man by the name of Cleveland, and a copartner, west of Padonia, who made ‘Jayhawking’ horses a business.
“There was for years a notorious Missouri Border Ruffian by the name of Richardson, who had been coming over in Brown county, stealing horses, cattle and whatever he could lay his hands on, and taking them across the Missouri river between Rulo and White Cloud into Missouri, which kept the early settlers in constant dread and fear lest they would lose their property and lives.
“After Cleveland and his co-associates began to do counter effective work by stealing horses from Missouri and bringing them back into Kansas, there was a notice received by the people of Padonia that the Missouri Border Ruffians intended to come to the town of Padonia, sack the stores, and take all the horses and cattle in the immediate neighborhood back to Missouri with them.
“There was a vigilance committee, headed by Orville Root, a former partner of the late Gen. Jim Lane, who had a reputation as a fighter. He was the store keeper and postmaster at Padonia. There were stacks of prairie hay on a high point of ground near the town of Padonia and in case the Missouri raiders were seen coming, these stacks were to be set on fire. This was to be a signal for the Free State men to hurry to Padonia.
“It was on the 4th day of October, 1861, when the Missouri Guerrilla Raiders, headed for Padonia, Kansas, and Salem, Nebraska, with a force of one hundred and fifty men, crossed the Missouri river near Rulo, going westward to Falls City, they split their force up at Falls City, seventy-five going west to Salem and seventy-five coming south toward Padonia. The settlers received notice by one of the Free State men riding to the nearest house south of Falls City, giving the alarm. All that night Free State men rode on horseback, notifying the settlers along Walnut Creek that the Missouri Border Ruffians were coming. The stacks of prairie hay on the hill were set ablaze as a warning. Minute men rode as far as Hiawatha and notified the Hiawatha militia. About thirty men went from Hiawatha to Padonia’s defense on foot, among whom were our fellow-townsmen, John Barnum and Gregory Amann. Trouble was anticipated and it is said that the captain of the Hiawatha militia company refused to go, claiming that he was indisposed (preferring to remain where the biscuits were the thickest instead of the bullets). When early morning came, about one hundred settlers, armed with every conceivable weapon, from pitchforks to rifles and shotguns, met in the storeroom at Padonia of Orville Root. They waited for dawn to break. In the meantime the Missouri Guerrilla Raiders had arrived at the homestead of the Free Stater, James G. Leavitt, the farm known as the South West quarter of 31-1-17, which he had pre-empted June 4th, 1857, and was known as one of the early Free State settlers. The Raiders had ridden in, seventy five strong, armed to the teeth, dismounted, put up their horses, compelled Mr. Leavitt and his good wife to kill a hog and prepare a meal for them. In the morning before dawn the Free State men had taken up a position on the north side of the Leavitt homestead. They were soon discovered by the bandit sentinel, who immediately notified the bandits of the presence of Orville Root and his Free State men, Mr. Root having been elected to the command. The Missouri Border Ruffians leaving their breakfast posthaste, and running out of the house to their horses, took up a position behind them for protection. There seemed to be moments of hesitancy on the part of the Missouri Guerrillas to start the attack, Root’s men having them practically surrounded and they realizing their critical situation. For some cause or other, they seemed fearful to start the fight, knowing that they were outnumbered and surrounded, Captain Orville Boot having placed his men at every advantageous point around the Leavitt home. It was then that Captain Root showed his special ability as a commander. He sent in two of his best men with a flag of truce, who gave the bandits to understand that they were surrounded, and that they must surrender or that they would all be annihilated. They consented to the terms as laid down by Root’s men, rather than to meet certain death. They tied their horses; and marched in a body around in front of Captain Root’s minute men and laid down their arms, in true military style, seventy-five strong. After Root’s men had possession of their arms, the bandits were compelled to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, a bitter pill for them to swallow. The Ruffians supposed that Root’s men would allow them their horses to ride back home, but in this they were sadly disappointed. Seventy-five as good thoroughbred Missouri riding horses, as one could wish to find in a day, were turned over to Root’s company. It was also discovered that eight of the Missouri raiders were Confederate Rebel soldiers. They were held as prisoners of war, and turned over to the militia, who took them to Hiawatha then to St. Joseph and turned them over to the United States authorities as prisoners of war. The remainder was then ordered by Root to leave Brown county and the State of Kansas on foot. They were escorted out of the county and state to the Missouri river by a detail, some of the bandits being compelled to swim the Missouri, and others crossed on logs. The Hiawatha contingent that had ‘hoofed-it’ to Padonia, all rode back, the proud possessors of fine Southern steeds.
“The bandits afterwards gave out that they were going to return to Padonia and clean things up proper. For several months a vigilant watch was kept by day and night, but the sentries watched in vain. John Barnum says that he was on sentry duty many-a-night, waiting and watching for the expected Missouri raiders.
“The contingent of Border Ruffians that went to Salem took everything they wanted from the Lincoln & Holt store, then ransacked the town, and hastily left, and not until they returned home did they learn the fate of the Southern division of their little army.
“It may be of interest to many to know that our fellow townsman and ex-sheriff, Steve Hunter, was one of the Jayhawkers who participated in the ‘Battle of Padonia,’ and got a fine rifle from the Missouri ruffians as his souvenir. His brother, William Hunter, who rode all night notifying the settlers, received as his memento, a shotgun. Also, our fellow towns-man, John Barnum, who with his brother and about thirty others, was in the Hiawatha contingent that went to Padonia’s defense, his reward being a fine Missouri riding horse. Mr. Barnum says that there were about sixty of the captured horses turned over to the United States government, including the horse that he rode home.
“Gregory Amann was also with the Hiawatha boys. He had just returned from being discharged as a prisoner from Lexington, Missouri. He recognized one of the Rebel prisoners as a fellow who had cursed he and John. Barnum’s brother while they were prisoners of war. Mr. Amann, with a great deal of pleasure, took possession of the fellow’s horse and side arms. The horse was afterwards turned over to the government at St. Joseph.
“The scenes of these Border Ruffian days have passed forever. One would little suspect, viewing the tranquil homestead and farm scenery that surrounds the residence of the late James G. Leavitt, that it was ever the scene of the bloodless ‘Battle of Padonia.’ Nothing but ‘Walls of Corn’ greet one’s eye and yon are impressed by these extracts from that famous poem:
No sentinel guard these walls of corn,
Never is sounded the bandit warder’s horn;
Yet the pillars are hung with gleaming gold,
Left all unbarred though thieves are bold.
Who would have dared, with brush or pen,
As this land is now, to paint it then?
And how would the wise ones have laughed in scorn,
Had prophets foretold these walls of corn,
Whose banners wave in the breeze of morn!
Upon the battlefield of the bloodless “Battle of Padonia.”