The Kansas in the Civil War Message Board

Major John Laing's court martial part 6

J.B. Swain

Captain of Co "K" 15th Kans Vol Cav. a witness for the defense was duly sworn in presence of the accused by the Judge Advocate, and examined


By the accused

Q Where were you on the 23d day of October last
A I can't tell anything about dates.

Q Were you near Shawneetown on the Sunday of the battle at Westport.
A I was 3 or 4 miles from there at the time the cannonading was going on.

Q Did you see the accused that day?
A Yes sir, I met him.

Q Where
A On the road leading from Shawneetown to Kansas City

Q Where did you understand the accused was going at the time you met him
A We were making our way to Kansas City to join the command of Gen'l Curtis

Q Did you continue your march to Kansas City
A No sir

Q Where did you go.
A We were continuing our march to Kansas City


until a flag was brought in to us. It looked like it had been shot to pieces. The man who brought it said Gen Curtis command had fallen back to Kansas City and this flag was sent to us to show we could not get through to Westport. The accused expressed his desire to get to the command and several officers spoke up and suggested it would be best to cross the Kansas River.. We tried several crossings and finally crossed the river at Choteau's Crossing.

Q What, if anything did you hear in regard to the condition of affairs at that time at Shawneetown.
A Capt. Young said Shawneetown was taken by the rebels, and that one Lieutenant and 15 of his men had been taken there and that Shawneetown was burning; that he saw it on fire

The witness then retired

George H. Hoyt

Lieut Col. 15th Kansas Vol Cav. a witness for the defense was duly sworn in presence of the accused by the Judge Advocate and examined

By the accused


Q Do you know the accused.
A I do.

Q What opportunities have you had to observe his conduct in battle
A Frequent.

Q State them
A He was engaged with me as a field officer at the Little Blue, during the late Price Raid and he was also with me at the battle of Newtonia

Q State his conduct on those occasions
A It was brave and praiseworthy. At the battle of the Little Blue I reported him specially. The next day at the battle of Byrons ford he was detached from me. At the battle of Newtonia he displayed marked courage and coolness

The witness then retired

Joseph Mackle

1st Lieut and adjutant of the 15th Kansas Vol. Cav. a witness for the defense was duly sworn in presence of the accused by the Judge Advocate and examined

By the accused


Q Are you acquainted with the accused
A I am

Q Have you ever had an opportunity to observe his conduct in battle
A I have.

Q Where
A At Newtonia

Q State what his is.
A Very praiseworthy indeed

The witness then retired

James Wilson

1st Lieut Co. "A" 15th Kansas Vol. Cav. a witness for the defense was duly sworn in presence of the accused by the Judge advocate and examined

By the accused

Q Were you at Bentonville, Ark. in November last on the return march from the Arkansas River.


A Yes sir

Q Were you at the house of one Greenwood said to be a rebel at that time
A I don't remember the name.

Q Were you at a house at Bentonville at that time that was burned.
A Yes sir

Q Did you see the accused there?
A Yes sir

Q What do you know, if anything, concerning the accused making a demand for a certain revolver from a woman at this house.
A I was told that the woman had two revolvers in her pocket and I reported it to Major Laing. I think he told me to get them. I could not get at them very well, and I think he went himself, and I saw him get them. He took two pistols from the woman.

Q Was any other demand made at the time
A I think not.

Q Was any demand made for money by the accused?


A Not that I heard.

Q Did you see a trunk taken out of the ho(use)
A Yes sir, I helped carry it out.

Q Was it broken open?
A I think it was.

Q Did the accused have any thing to do with breaking open that trunk
A I think not.

Q Did he take anything from that trunk
A Not that I know of.

Q What was the condition of that house when the accused came there that time
A I am not positive as to the time he came there. I think he came about the time I did

Q What was the condition of it then?
A It was on fire when I came, and I think he came about the same time

Cross Examination

By the Judge Advocate

Q Who did break open the trunk


A The circumstances were about these: The woman was in the house, sitting on the trunk. The house was on fire and she appealed to some one to help her carry it out and take care of it. I assisted her to carry it out and set it in the yard. I left the trunk a step or two, and there was a a large crowd, a dozen or two of men gathered around it and it was broken open, but I don't know who did it. I think there were perhaps a dozen engaged in it.

Q did you see a silver dish taken out of the trunk?
A No sir

Q Did you see a Lady's gold watch in the trunk?
A No sir

By the Court

Q Were these pistols United States pistols or claimed to be United States property?
A No sir they were not they were short pistols something like dueling pistols

Q Were they private property?


A I don't know about that I suppose they were

Q What became of them?
A I do not know

Q You say the accused took them
A Yes sir

Q Can you say that Maj Laing did not break open that trunk.
A I can not

Q Were these pistols given back to the person who had them?
A I do not know

The witness then retired

Charles R. Jennison

Col 15 Kansas Cavl Vols was recalled for the defense and examined

By the accused

Q Are you acquainted with Major Pennie late of General Blunts staff?
A I am with a man so announced


on Major Genl Blunts staff

Q State what order was delivered by Him to you near the Arkansas River in November last.
A I received an order from Major Pennie to desolate the Country from the Arkansas River to Fort Scott to leave it so bare that a Bird couldn't live in it and to burn every House within 10 miles of the Road. The order was after modified so as to exclude the Country within the state line of Kansas. I asked Major Pennie if that was an order from Maj Genl Blunt. He stated it was and He expected it be carried out. I believe that is about the wording of the order.

Q Who were present at the time
A Maj Laing, Lieut Mackle Captain Norton, Lieut. Goss Capt Thompson. I think Lieut Col. Hoyt and from Circumstances since transpired I have learned that Lieut. Johnson was present whom I


did not remember in my first testimony and several enlisted men

Q Did you ever call the attention of your officers to that order?
A I called the attention of the officers present at the delivery of the order to it. I thought it a strange order and for that reason called their attention to it and asked particularly if it was from Genl Blunt

By the Court

Q After having received that order of Genl. Blunts, through Major Pennie was it published to your brigade or simply the attention of the officers around you called to it
A It was not published by me but the attention of all officers present was called to it as an order coming from General Blunt as one of his orders.

Q That was all the orders you gave to your subordinates?


A Issued no order for I considered it an illegal order and they acted on the responsibility of the order direct from Genl. Blunt

Q You gave no orders to pillage
A Nothing at all. I gave all my officers orders to give receipts for all articles taken necessary for the Command

Q What was the condition of Major Pennie when He delivered that order
A He was the soberest I saw Him on that Campaign. We had been out of whiskey about five days.
***[Note- the above question and answer was lined through as if to be stricken from the record]

The witness then retired

The accused asked to have Mr. Pond, formerly of the 3d Wisconsin Cav. subpoenaed, but who is now out of the service and living in Wisconsin by which he expected to prove that on his arrival at this house it was on fire. That the trunk in question was broken open by another party, and substantially the same facts concerning that, as sworn to by Lieut Wilson


The Judge Advocate admitted that Pond would swear to these facts if present.

The accused moved the court that all that part of Capt Smith's testimony relating to the hanging of prisoners in November last, be excluded from the consideration of the Court as evidence in this case, because he is not charged with hanging of anyone or being accessory to the hanging of any one.

The testimony for the defense being all before the court, the Judge Advocate then proceeded to introduce testimony in rebuttal

Geo. S. Hampton

Capt and AA Genl US Vols. a witness for the prosecution, was duly sworn in presence of the accused and examined

By the Judge Advocate

Q In what capacity were you acting on the 9th of November last.
A I was AA Genl First Division Army of the Border


Q Can you as A.A. Gen'l State what orders were issued to the Brigade commanded by Col Jennison, in regard to the return march to Kansas.
A No sir I cannot.

Q Do you know anything in regard to an order issued by General Blunt to devastate the country between the Arkansas River and Fort Scott.
A I do not know anything about such an order having been issued. I was not with Genl Blunt on the 9th of November last, although A.A. Genl of the Division. He was at the Arkansas river and I was on my way from Fort Scott to join him. His orders were issued by Lieut Eels A.A. Genl.


By the accused

Q How do you know these were issued through Lieut. Eels.
A I saw a copy of a special field order issued by Genl Blunt at the Arkansas river to Col Jennison in regard to his march back to Fort Scott and signed by that officer as A.A. Genl

The witness then retired


The Judge Advocate announced the case closed as far as the testimony was concerned.

The accused asked time to prepare his final defense, which was granted and the case was continued until Tuesday March 14th 1865.