Thomas Ewing Jr.: Frontier Lawyer and Civil War General

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Author and historian Ron Smith discusses his new book about the man best known in Kansas City for issuing the controversial General Order No. 11, forcibly removing Confederate sympathizers in rural western Missouri.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
8:30pm @ Central Library

Historian Ron Smith discusses his new book Thomas Ewing Jr.: Frontier Lawyer and Civil War General.

Smith takes readers back to Bleeding Kansas, with its border ruffians and land speculators, to show how Thomas Ewing Jr. and his family played pivotal roles in the history of Kansas, Missouri, and the nation.

A frontier lawyer and Kansas Supreme Court justice who became a Union brigadier general, Thomas Ewing Jr. is best known in Kansas City for issuing the controversial General Order No. 11 on August 25, 1863, which forcibly removed Confederate sympathizers in rural western Missouri after Quantrill's massacre of Lawrence, Kansas. The action decreased the population of Jackson, Bates, and Cass counties by roughly two-thirds, did not eliminate guerilla attacks on the Kansas-Missouri border, and was criticized at the time as an excessive retaliation on the civilian population.

A confidant of Abraham Lincoln, Ewing courageously defended three of the assassination conspirators and lobbied the key vote to block the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Ewing's father, Thomas Ewing Sr., was a former Whig senator and cabinet member. Foster brother William Tecumseh Sherman commanded many Civil War battles, including the taking of Atlanta and the brutal “march to the sea” that helped to break Southern resistance and end the Civil War.

Smith is an attorney and veteran of the U.S. Navy who began writing Thomas Ewing Jr.: Frontier Lawyer and Civil War General after 10 years of research.

Civil War Wednesday programs formally begin in 2010. They are scheduled for the third Wednesday of every month from January—June, 2010.

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