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NEWS OF 150 YEARS AGO
November and December of 1859
From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, November 10, 1859.
ANOTHER ARSENAL SACKED.
ANOTHER TOWN CAPTURED.
NO EXCITEMENT WHATEVER.
We copy from the Report of the Congressional Investigating Committee on Kansas affairs, the affidavit of Capt. Luther Leonard, concerning the capture and plundering of the United States military depot at Liberty, Mo., which, as the public are aware, did not elicit the least suspicion of treason among the authorities at Washington! The statement will be found in pages I, 129, 1, 130, and 1,131 of the Report aforesaid:
I am military storekeeper at the Missouri depot, Liberty, Missouri. I have been stationed there ten years last March, having charge of the arsenal, which contains arms and ammunition of all descriptions. On the 4th of December, 1855, my clerk, Mr. Grant, came from town and said there was some talk of their coming down to the arsenal to get arms, but he did not think they would do so. I took no measures of defence, as I never thought they would come, and my clerk told me he did not believe they would come. A little after noon, I saw Judge James T. V. Thompson in the arsenal yard, and I walked up to him, and greeted him civilly, and asked him to walk to my quarters. He declined going to my quarters, and said he would like to look about a little. I took him into the armorer's shop first, and intended going all about with him. We had been there but a short time before I saw through the windows a number of people outside. I wished to go out and see what was going on. In the meantime, a number of men had slipped into the armory where we were. When I wished to go out, there were men at the door who told me very civilly I could not go. One of them was Mr. Bouton, my clerk's (Mr. Grant) father-in-law. I took hold of him, and gave him a little push; but he said, good naturedly enough, it was of no use, as I could not go out. I told him I was an old man, with a dislocated shoulder, and but one eye, and I should not undertake to fight with them. I told Judge Thompson I thought it was poor business for the United States to build arsenals for a mob to break open.
The judge and the others told me there were troubles in Kansas, and they wanted arms, but would do nothing wrong with them. I told the judge this was aggressive on the part of Missouri, and every community was competent to take care of its own affairs, and that the Missourians ought not to interfere. A good deal more was said on both sides, and I felt indignant at the aggression. The judge himself did not say an uncivil word to me. I had not expected any such thing as this when I first saw the judge, or I could have had the gates locked.
The mob proceeded to take arms, forcing the doors, and took three six-pounders, some swords, pistols, rifles and ammunition, powder, balls, &c., as much as they wanted. They broke some doors open. I do not know how they got the keys to get into the powder magazine, which is composed of brick, and had double doors. Captain Price was the leading man in the crowd, as I understood. Mr. Rout was there. I was kept in the room until the men had got all the arms and ammunition they wanted and had gone away-Judge Thompson being the last one when he let me go out, and then he left himself. Some six or eight days afterwards the guns were returned to the arsenal. They were left, I was told, at Colonel Allen's place, some three-quarters of a mile from the arsenal. In the meantime I had reported the facts to Colonel Sumner, and he had sent down a company of dragoons. The men sent to me to know if I would receive the arms, and I told them I was not in command, and referred them to Captain Beall, and they told them to bring them along, and they did so, and they were received. Among the property taken was some artillery harness. I cannot recollect how many sets. There were some deficiencies in the number of rifles, swords, and pistols, and some harness returned, but I cannot state the precise particulars. These deficiencies have never been made up by the citizens of Missouri, but I have been instructed by Colonel Craig, the head of the ordnance department at Washington, to purchase sufficient of such articles to make up the deficiency, and we did so; but the swords, pistols and rifles we have not been able to make up. I do not know how much has been expended in making up this deficiency. Immediately after this robbery I reported the circumstances to Col. Craig at Washington, specifying the number and amount of each of the different articles taken. In the course of the winter he sent the orders to ship the public property to Fort Leavenworth and St. Louis arsenal, giving me a schedule of the amount to be take to each place, which I did as soon as navigation opened.
L. LEONARD, M. S. K.
Steamboat Polar Star, Missouri river, June 10, 1856.
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