In January, 1862, about two hundred of Jennison's men from Kansas, under Major Herrick, came to Holden, and with former Johnson county Union men for guides, burned forty or fifty homes of the most prominent Southern men in the western part of the county. The raiders carried everything they did not burn. About two days later about fifty of this command destroyed and carried off much property at Columbus. Captain Elliott, of Lafayette county, with his company and quite a number of Johnson county men, met this detachment and killed five and captured two.
|Jennison's Jayhawkers Burned Holden and Columbus Missouri Nearly to the Ground in the dead of Winter - January 1862|
The Jayhawkers retreated, joined the main body under Major Herrick, and Captain Elliott retreated. The Kansans entered Columbus again and burned nearly every house in town.
Charles R. Jennison was born on June 6, 1834 in Antwerp, Jefferson County, New York. His family moved to Wisconsin in 1846 where Jennison studied medicine. Marrying at the age of 20, Dr. Jennison moved to Osawatomie, Kansas in 1858 and to Mound City shortly thereafter. Jennison was considered the most brutal and unscrupulous of the jayhawker. Whereas some other prominent leaders of irregulars in the Bleeding Kansas border conflict shared these traits, Jennison was distinguished by his blatant plunder for personal gain. Jennison cooperated with James Montgomery in opposing pro-slavery settlers and irregulars believed to be in league with Border Ruffians. In command of nine men, Jennison "tried" and hanged Russell Hinds near the state line at Mine Creek for the offense of helping to return a fugitive slave to his master in Missouri. Returning a slave was not only legal, but required at the time under the Fugitive Slave Act. Hinds had rejected the standard $25 reward,($515 in 2005 dollars,) but did accept $5 reimbursement for his expenses in transporting the slave, who had agreed to return to his master while awaiting legal emancipation. The acceptance of the reimbursement was enough to convince Jennison to hand down a death sentence.
Even before the start of hostilities Jennison became a captain of the Mound City Guards on February 19, 1861. Although not with Senator James H. Lane's Kansas brigade during the Sacking of Osceola, Jennison was associated with it and would soon join the fray after receiving a commission as colonel from Kansas Governor Charles L. Robinson on September 4.
On October 28, 1861, Jennison completed the organization and mustering of his 7th Kansas Cavalry. The regiment would become known as "Jennison's Jayhawkers." It immediately took to the field patrolling the Kansas-Missouri border to prevent the secessionist under Sterling Price from crossing. Jennisons was a resolute abolitionist; his sentiments on the matter were the subject of an article in Horace Greeley's New York Daily Tribune. The article reported Jennison as refusing to allow non-abolitionist soldiers to serve under his command, and asserting that "the slaves of rebels can always find a protection in... [his] camp, and [that] they will be defended to the last man and bullet." While the regiment was at Leavenworth, Kansas in April 1862, Jennison, angered over James G. Blunt being named brigadier general in his stead, resigned from the army and turned to banditry as a Redleg.
Following the Lawrence Massacre (Started at Columbus Missouri) Jennison was once again commissioned a colonel and called into service by Kansas Governor Thomas Carney to raise a regiment that would become the 15th Kansas Cavalry on October 17, 1863.
Colonel Jennison commanded a mixed brigade of Kansas militia and volunteers resisting Price's Raid in October 1864. However, in December he found himself under arrest as the result of plundering while returning through Missouri after the pursuit of Price. Jennison was court-martialled and convicted on June 23, 1865, whereupon he was dishonorably dismissed from the service.
Jennison was elected to the Kansas Legislature from Leavenworth County in 1865, re-elected in 1867, and elected to the Kansas State Senate in 1872. He died at Leavenworth, Kansas June 21, 1884.