Marais des Cygnes Massacre

Wednesday, May 19, 1858

Illustration of the Marais des Cygnes Massacre. Courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society.

Border ruffians led by Charles Hamilton, a settler from Georgia, round up known Free-Staters and open fire on them in a ravine northeast of Trading Post, Kansas. Five of the 11 are killed, and another five are wounded. The survivors of what became known as the Marais des Cygnes Massacre feign death to escape with their lives. Other survivors are released before the massacre begins, owing to their youth, old age, or fellow membership in the freemasons. Earlier in the month, Hamilton had been besieged in his fortified house by a jayhawker force under the antislavery leader James Montgomery.


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