In the later part
of 1861, Generals James G. Blunt and Thomas Ewing Jr. organized a body
of scouts to operate on the Missouri border, mainly to give warning of
impending guerrilla raids into Kansas and if possible to fight them off.
Led appropriately by 'Captain' William S. Tough, they also
immediately were to acquire an evil reputation that from all accounts was
leggings dyed red, these men had become the offspring of the notorious
'Jay-hawkers', whose exploits as professional thieves, robbers, murders
and arsonist, attacking anyone who had sympathy for the South and not just
it's cause, had forced the Federal government to 'civilize' them by inscripting
it's members into the ranks of the Union Army. Thus under General Order
Number 3, Jennison's Jay-hawkers had become the Seventh
Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. Charles Jennison and George Hoyt, the inspirational
trio for the original Jay-hawkers, found it increasingly difficult to accept
the ideology of Civility and thus resigned their commands. In a letter
C.R. Jennison penned to the Leavenworth Conservative, explaining
why he was no longer in the army, he wrote:
am informed officially that Gen. R. B. Mitchell uses my regiment principally
in the capacity as kidnappers... I do not enlist to return slaves or protect
rebels but to crush slavery and to kill rebels, and while in the service,
I gave a good deal of attention to these two points. When the Government
adopts that policy, I shall be again a soldier; until that time, I shall
be a citizen."
With his zeal for
plunder and free from any ties with the army, it is assumed that he would
become a prime candidate for some form of involvement with the Red Legs,
who were now practicing the same methods of dealing with rebels as he espoused.
Not only Jennison but others who had deserted the Seventh would welcome
a renewed association with their like-minded. Although no concrete evidence
exists of his involvement, as it's members were not predisposed to writing
letters or keeping diaries and as an organization, not the kind of military
body that kept records or made reports, there can be little doubt that
he had not only become a member but one the leaders of an organization
often called, "The Forty Thieves".
Take me back!