Five of a Kind, the saga of the Kimberlin Brothers.

Here is yet another example of the meddle of men that rode with Colonel William Clarke Quantrill during the bloody border conflict of the Civil War. The website officers are proud to present Richard Samuel Kimberlin.

Not one liberal Northern writer has ever mentioned Kimberlin’s plight and only a very few Southern writers have ever attempted to make even a cursory notation of the atrocity visited on his family.The Kimberlin family lived in Blue Springs in 1852 having come from the small town of Texas in Washington County, Kentucky. The father’s name was Samuel Kimberlin Sr. Records indicate that a few years prior to the Civil War he moved his family to Blue Springs, Jackson County, Missouri, bringing his slaves with him. The reason he moved was because he had a contract to haul freight in 1856 from Missouri to the government posts out west. In an 1856 family letter Kimberlin said he had heard of old John Brown but “he did not then molest the freighters, for they were well armed. He sent his jayhawkers into the State of Missouri, where most of his depredations were.” There were five Kimberlin brothers: twenty-one year old Isaiah Jeremiah, eighteen-year-old William Grant, sixteen-year-old Richard Samuel Kimberlin II, fourteen-year-old Robert K, and twelve-year-old Julian N.

During the fall of 1862, once the leaves had fallen denying him concealment from roving enemy patrols Quantrill took his company south into Van Buren, Arkansas. With Quantrill’s aid the Southerners along the border had just won three successive victories at the First Battle of Independence, Lone Jack and White Oak Creek besides numerous other skirmishes at Shawneetown, Kansas and Wellington, Missouri. While Quantrill’s company had attached themselves as independent cavalry to Colonel Benjamin Elliott’s Battalion in General John S. Marmaduke’s division Quantrill received leave from his brigade commander General Joseph O. Shelby to travel to Richmond, Virginia to seek a colonel’s commission of partisan rangers. He left his company in command of his adjutant, Lieutenant William Gregg. Before his return to Jackson County in early May 1863 Kansas Jayhawkers and Federal militia wreaked havoc during their barbaric raids and patrols through the Missouri countryside.  

Almost as soon as the Federals learned that Quantrill had gone south Union atrocities increased. Guerrilla Harrison Trow reported: "In mid-winter houses were burned by the hundreds and whole neighborhoods devastated and laid waste." Another guerrilla, Frank Smith recalled that the winter of 1863 was very severe in Jackson County after Quantrill’s men left. "Redlegs began to dash over the border into Jackson and Cass Counties and rob.  They plundered Jackson and Cass Counties, and a great deal of that was conducted by Col. William Penick’s men and the jayhawkers stationed in Independence until Penick’s men came to be known by the name “Penick’s Thieves.” Colonel William Ridgeway Penick was commander of the Fifth Missouri State Militia stationed in Independence. Penick was described as rough and uneducated. He was a radical Unionist who placed a price on the heads of the guerrillas. He stated that the guerrilla problem could be wiped out “if hemp, fire, and gunpowder were freely used.” Penick made it a standard practice to assassinate anyone who was suspected of being in sympathy with the guerrillas.  Below is an image of Colonel William Ridgeway Penick.

On Friday, October 4, 1862 just across the river in Lexington, Kansas Redlegs burned several houses and killed seven men after plundering what they could carry off. The next night, near Lexington, they rode up to John McPhadon’s house after dark and demanded he accompany them. McPhadon’s two daughters were in the house. Redlegs dragged McPhadon a few yards from his house and murdered him. His “crime” was that he had two sons in the Confederate army. Jayhawkers also raided the newspaper offices of the Lexington Expositor and stole its presses. Another newspaper the Lexington Express had already been closed by military order. From a neighboring county, Willard Mendenhall wrote in his diary, “The Redlegs had killed about fifty men in this neighborhood in the last few days.”  

Much had changed during the time the guerrillas had been out of the state. Federal authorities began to demand loyalty oaths and security bonds from Southern sympathizers to guarantee their good behavior as well as assessments from suspected Secessionists. Loyalty oaths were an important weapon against Missourians. Anyone with an important job was required to sign an oath. In effect, it demanded the signer to vow to support the Constitution and not to take up arms against the Federal government. If a person was found in arms who had previously taken the oath, he was immediately executed.  

Missourians were required later to post bonds in conjunction with their oaths. These bonds usually ranged from two thousand to twenty thousand dollars, depending on the property owned by the individual. Yet all it took to revoke the bond and confiscate the money was for a neighbor to accuse the oath taker of disloyalty. On April 23, 1863, the Kansas City Journal announced that the Federal provost marshal general held bonds of “traitors and secessionists” to the amazing sum of twenty million dollars. This government practice was little more than extortion, because people who did not post the requisite loyalty bond were forced from their homes or imprisoned. Once incarcerated, these people had no legal rights, since the Lincoln administration had rescinded most constitutional rights. Corruption was rife in administering the bonds, and many bond funds were seized with little provocation. The bond subterfuge was essentially an artful program of highway robbery. Union Gen. Clinton Fisk remarked on the corrupt provost marshals in his district: “I have the honor to state that it has come to my knowledge that many persons have been arrested and imprisoned for a long time by some of your subordinates upon evidence insufficient to warrant the military authorities restraining citizens of their liberty. Great care should be exercised in the use of arbitrary power confided to provost marshals, and we cannot be too cautious in receiving as truth the statements of apparently good men who seek through the military power the punishment of neighbors for alleged offenses, old grudges, local animosities, and private griefs, to frequently seek adjustment through the military arm of power, much to the scandal and prejudice of honesty and loyalty.”  

Provisional Governor Hamilton Gamble wired President Lincoln that he had stopped assessments by state militia officers and urged that they not be made by U.S. forces as “great distress is produced.” The Missouri congressional delegation on January 6, 1863, presented the president with a memo asking that the assessments be stopped. Nevertheless, many Union commanders levied assessments because they believed they were a constraint on Southern sympathizers. One Union general who did not condone these assessments was John M. Schofield. He informed the president that in counties along the border Gen. Samuel R. Curtis had confiscated Southern property “without any form of trial known to any law, either civil or military.”  Futhermore, Curtis’s General Order No. 35 ordered his provost marshals to banish people “though no specific act of disloyalty can be proven against them.”  

Citizens were considered disloyal simply by letting Confederate soldiers drink from their wells or giving forage to their horses. The steps the Federal government took to put down guerrilla warfare were excessive and intolerant. The list when viewed shows the absence of any kind of respect for civil rights, any compassion for innocent civilians, and a complete lack of disregard for the rules of war. Some are as follows:

1. Hang or shoot all suspected guerrillas or Southern sympathizers on the spot without benefit of trial.  

2. Seize all property of guerrilla soldiers or suspected guerrilla sympathizers.

3. Burn and destroy homes, livestock, and property of all guerrillas and their sympathizers.

4. Refuse the right to vote or hold civil office for any Southern sympathizers or those who refuse to take a loyalty oath.

5. Level loyalty bonds against Southern sympathizers to guarantee their nonsupport of guerrilla activity, then find excuses to accuse them of disloyalty so their property can be seized and sold for profit.

6. Refuse the right of military pardons or paroles or exchanges of guerrilla soldiers as afforded to regular army soldiers.

7. Seize guerrillas’ relatives for imprisonment or banishment from the state.

8. Deny all guerrillas and their sympathizers Constitutional rights when captured as afforded prisoners of war.

9. Seize suspected disloyal citizens and imprison them without benefit of trial or a reading of the charges brought against them in accordance with constitutional law, thus denying the writ of habeas corpus.

10. Deny Southern sympathizers the right to freedom of religion by forcing compulsory prayers in support of the President of the United States and the Federal government.

11. Force citizens in the vicinity of guerrilla activity that results in destruction of property to pay for repairs and to contribute hard labor to repair destroyed property.

12. Use of noncombatants for human shields while on dangerous military operations not in accordance with the rules of war.

A small group of Quantrill’s men remained behind during the winter in order to take care of their families who had been driven from their homes and had their lives devastated. The winter of 1862–63 was unusually cold, and snow covered the ground most of the time. It was a dangerous season for the guerrillas to try to hide.  John McBride, a resident and a Union spy, informed Colonel Penick that he could lead Union soldiers to a guerrilla hideout five miles south of Independence. As a result, on February 7 a Federal patrol surrounded a camp of twelve guerrillas in Jackson County and, after a brief skirmish, captured nine of them. The orders from the Union commander were explicit in this matter, and the prisoners were immediately shot. Here is a post war image of four of the five Kimberlin brothers.  

Colonel Penick in Independence put every man he had in the saddle to try to bring Quantrill’s remaining men to bay. He murdered any Southern sympathizers he could find and burned their homes, forcing them to leave the country and drying up the guerrillas’ base of civilian support. While on patrol six miles south of Independence, Penick sought out and killed Wallace Wigginton, a brother to guerrilla George Wigginton. In the aftermath of the killing, the Federals also took the opportunity to steal all the families’ belongings. In late January 1863, Penick sent a patrol from Independence to burn down thirteen houses of Southern sympathizers along with the Baptist church in Oak Grove.

Lieutenant Coleman Younger who had remained behind to take care of his mother and younger siblings saw his mother’s home burned down in the middle of winter. The day after the burning of the Younger home the same band of Federals torched the home of Cole Younger’s maternal grandmother, Mary L. “Polly” Fristoe, and that of her neighbor, Mrs. Rucker, both of Brooking Township. In Pleasant Hill Dr. Pleasant Lea, father of guerrilla Joseph and Frank Lea had been arrested, tied to a tree and bayoneted to death. Federals also arrested Moses Kerr, father of guerrilla Nathan Kerr. He was taken to Independence, sent back to his home, but before he could get there, he was tied to a tree and shot to pieces. Three of guerrilla Jim Cummins’ family was killed as well as the eleven-year-old son of Henry Morris. Eighty-year-old Howell Lewis was killed along with David Gregg an uncle of Lieutenant William Gregg shot by Jennison himself.

Two other elderly farmers from Blue Springs had been murdered during Quantrill's absence, seventy-year old Jeptha Crawford and seventy-three year old John Saunders. Both had been arrested and taken from their homes on orders from Colonel Penick. Saunders was taken to Independence and shot in front of the house of the Federal commander. Penick’s men then rode to Saunders home and burned it to the ground. Crawford was arrested away from his home then taken back on horseback. He was told to dismount then shot down in cold blood in front of his wife and small children. The Federals then forced Mrs. Crawford and her children from their home and set it ablaze.  

On November 8, 1862 one of Quantrill’s closest friends, fifty-one year old Samuel Kimberlin Sr. was arrested by Federals from Independence, taken to his barn and hung then the barn burned down around him. Kimberlin had a wife and six children. He had taken no side in rebellion and there were no specific charges against him. Guerrilla Harrison Trow who was with Quantrill at the time described the circumstances surrounding the murder. "Colonel Pennick's men came from Independence down to Blue Springs and burned houses, killed old men too old to be in the service. On the road from Blue Springs to Independence they killed John Saunders and a man named Kimberlin, both old men, and left them lying in the roadway. If neighbors had not offered their services the hogs would have eaten their bodies. They burned from two to twelve houses and left the families homeless. The murder of peaceful citizens deeply troubled Quantrill. Frank Smith claimed that after these killings the old men of the region were afraid to be seen out in the daylight and young boys also went into hiding. Probably many other Jackson County boys joined the guerrillas out of desperation and self-preservation and because they had little other alternatives."  

When Quantrill returned to Jackson County in the spring the five Kimberlin brothers, joined Quantrill. Official records indicate that William G. Kimberlin joined Quantrill’s Brigade as a sergeant in Shank’s Regiment riding in Captain Tuck Hill’s company. Isaiah J. Kimberlin also served in Company D, Shank’s Regiment as a private. At one time he was a Southern spy based in Arkansas. He was captured near Sedalia, Missouri but managed to dig himself out of prison the night before he was to be shot. After Richard Samuel Kimberlin joined Quantrill he joined General Sterling Price as a captain in Company D of the 2nd Missouri Cavalry Regiment in Shelby’s Brigade. He transferred to Stonewall Jackson's command and remained with him until Jackson’s death. Kimberlin was at Appomattox. Julian N. Kimberlin joined Quantrill in the fall of 1862 and served in Company D, 2nd Missouri Cavalry; in General Shelby’s Brigade and remained with him until the end of the war. Julian said that the family lived about three miles from the Morgan Walker farm where Quantrill first gained notoriety. After the foiled Jayhawker attack on Walker Julian said that he assisted in burying the dead attackers. Julian goes on to say that "My father and four brothers went out early in the defense of the South. I was too young at that time, but remained at the home and did all that I was able to for Quantrill. Father was severely wounded." He goes on to tell about how his father came home to heal. During the autumn of 1862 his father was tricked by a neighbor named Massey, sent by a Colonel “Pennock” to come to town and sign a paper saying he would not take up arms against the Union. When he did, he was arrested, taken to his own barn and was hanged in front of his wife and the younger children. The home was stripped, as was the barn, then the home, barn and rail fencing was all burned to the ground.  

Richard Samuel Kimberlin and his brothers decided to remain in Texas after the war and organize Confederate Veteran Camps in the Panhandle of Texas. He also organized three Quantrill men reunions. They were held in Sherman and Clarendon, Texas and Chickasaw, Oklahoma. Kimberlin said that “We ask no praise or credit for doing our duty. We owed it to our homes and to our country, and we are satisfied that no man can truthfully say that we did not ‘fight a good fight,’ always keeping the faith that we were right. I entertain a sacred respect for those who were honest in their convictions, but we still hold and will die with a death grip of hatred for the men who shed innocent blood and destroyed the home of my sainted father.” Richard Samuel Kimberlin died the first week in December 1932 in Santa Ana, California at the age of 89.

References: (1). Quantrill of Missouri and Quantrill in Texas by Paul R. Petersen, (2). Frank Smith Manuscript in collection of Paul R. Petersen, (3).  A True Story of Charles W. Quantrell by Harrison Trow, (4). Jacob Hall Family Papers, Jackson County Historical Society., (5). Reminiscences of the Women of Missouri During the Sixties by the UDC, (6). Confederate Veteran magazine, Vol 20, Kansas City Star Aug, 29, 1920. Paul R. Petersen © Quantrillsguerrillas.com. "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay and or image."                                 

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