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The Civil War in Missouri

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Thomas Ewing Jr.'s General Order No. 11

"Ruins of Lawrence, Kansas" (Download 2 MB PDF)


  • General Thomas Ewing Jr. received a command under General John Schofield in 1863. With his appointment to this position he faced a great challenge.
  • He would have to deal with the rampant guerilla action on the Missouri-Kansas border, but also stop fighting between loyal Missourians and Kansas Jayhawkers under James Lane. 
  • On August 21, 1863, guerilla William Quantrill attacked Lawrence, Kansas, in what became the largest attack on unarmed civilians in U.S. history until September 11, 2001.
  • Lane and his Jayhawkers demanded retribution and began planning a return attack. General Ewing had already set in motion a plan to deal with guerrilla activity. 
  • He secured agreement from Lane to give his plan a chance to work.

General Order #11


  • On August 25, 1863, General Ewing issued his controversial General Order No. 11. This order required all residents of Jackson, Cass, Bates, and parts of Vernon counties to vacate them. 
  • Those who were Southern sympathizers had to leave Missouri for the Confederacy, while loyalists could find refuge in Federal military posts or other towns. 
  • Troops then reportadly burned houses, shops, and farm buildings to the ground. 
  • Ewing believed that by clearing these counties he would rid guerillas of sanctuaries that they had effectively used throughout the war to escape capture. 
  • This drastic measure resulted in suffering for loyal and disloyal alike. Its extreme nature was depicted by George Caleb Bingham in his painting Order Number 11.
  • However, it had its desired effect. By November 20, 1863, the Missouri-Kansas border was quiet, and Ewing issued Order No. 20, which partially rescinded Order No. 11. 


General order - Under martial law, the commander of military forces and his provost marshals determined law and order instead of a civilian court. The general orders were their commands and took on the power of law. 

Primary Source

"Ruins of Lawrence, Kansas" (Download 2 MB PDF)