An archeological investigation is shedding light on "General Order Number 11," whereby Union soldiers in 1863 - including many vengeful Kansans - laid waste to several counties in Missouri while executing a brutal decree of deportation.
Aired March 7, 2010
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An archaeologist investigates a Civil War campaign to empty part of Missouri. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.
Missourian William Quantrill's 1863 attack on Lawrence, Kansas, is remembered for the massacre of more than 150 townspeople. Less notorious is the reaction of Union forces. Today, Ann Raab a KU doctoral student in archaeology is unearthing the history of General Order No. 11, a decree that emptied four Missouri counties.
Raab: It was a depopulation order. Everyone in those counties, unless they lived within a mile of a Union encampment, had to go. It was mainly meant to eliminate any kind of support - infrastructure, personnel - to any of the guerillas, and hobble their ability to operate on the border. So thousands of people were displaced, in September, right at harvest times, sent out in the fall with no homes. And at this point it was mostly women and children.
Her excavations shed light on Civil War hostility between Missouri and Kansas and are the subject of a recent feature article in Archeology magazine.
Raab: I'm trying to figure out the impact on the civilian population of this endemic warfare that was going on for really a decade. With people just trying to live their life with this constant fighting, it would have an impact on their social structures, economic status and cultural traditions.
According to Raab, the human cost of General Order No. 11 can be found not far beneath the topsoil.
Raab: Every structure in two sites that we found had significant evidence of very intense burning. The rock itself breaks and changes color in a specific way when it's heated to a certain point. We found burned wood, we found burned and melted glass and burned ceramics. So these places went down in a fire.
For more on General Order Number 11, log on to Research Matters dot KU dot EDU. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.
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An archeological investigation is shedding light on "General Order Number 11," whereby Union soldiers in 1863 - including many vengeful Kansans - laid waste to several counties in Missouri while executing a brutal decree of deportation.Read more