Alternate Historian Robbie Taylor says, Jerry 'Sockless' Simpson and his Topeka rebellion of 1861 feature in this story by the Ratman. If you're interested in viewing samples of my other work why not visit Ratmanifesto site.
In 1891, former president Grover Cleveland's supporters in Congress vote him the funding to lead a mission in their name to Kansas to see if he can negotiate an end to the errant state's rebellion. President Benjamin Harrison, Cleveland's bitter rival, sends federal troops with him, and a parade sees the former national leader out of Washington and off to the heart of the country - and what will be his most dangerous undertaking.
In 1891, a telegram reaches Jerry 'Sockless' Simpson in Topeka, Kansas, informing him that former President Grover Cleveland, at the head of a large body of soldiers, was coming to Kansas to, in the words of Simpson's unknown informant, 'settle the situation.' Simpson uses the telegram to rally his troops and let them know that, 'Until and unless we receive the justice that we are due, the independent nation of Kansas shall not bend to pressure or oppression!' With the majority of the state's citizens behind him, Simpson has little fear of the small number of soldiers headed west with President Cleveland, but he still mobilizes a welcoming committee to meet them at the border.
In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison holds his first meeting about 'Sockless' Simpson's Kansas rebellion. The already-unpopular Harrison is told by his cabinet that Congress is clamoring for him to retake Kansas or face impeachment. Because of the seeming illegitimacy of his campaign's victory in 1888, President Harrison has been abandoned even by his fellow Republicans, and is facing the twilight of his life in public. He tells his cabinet, 'My personal fortunes do not matter, gentlemen. What matters is the Union that I fought a war to preserve. Kansas will be American again.'
In 1891, the train carrying former President Grover Cleveland and his small company of soldiers pulls into the station at Kansas City, Missouri. The city is in chaos from the political turmoil in neighboring Kansas, and Cleveland's escort is forced to protect him from would-be kidnappers almost immediately. They commandeer another train heading to Topeka and force the engineer to leave the station at gunpoint. 'Quite the auspicious beginning to our mission of peace,' Cleveland says to the colonel commanding his escort. That night, they arrive in Topeka, where they are met by what seems to be the entire city, including Jerry 'Sockless' Simpson, leader of the revolt. 'Mr. President, welcome to the republic of Kansas,' Simpson says to Cleveland as he disembarks the train. 'I trust your stay here will be very rewarding.'
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright receives a telegram from Washington with orders to take command of as many Missouri militiamen as he can organize, and head back into Topeka to rescue former President Grover Cleveland. Major Wainwright begins gathering men and planning his assault. Meanwhile, in Topeka, the Farmer's Council deliberates what Cleveland said to them the day before, and what they can do to stave off the US forces that they are certain are on the way to crush them.
In 1891, the Farmers Council in Topeka informs former President Grover Cleveland that they cannot agree to his request that they surrender control of Kansas back to the former government. 'This is the worst possible decision you could make,' Cleveland tells them. 'We disagree,' Jerry 'Sockless' Simpson tells him. They issue a call for all able-bodied men of the state to stand ready to defend their homes against 'the unjust attack by the false president, Benjamin Harrison.'
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright heads back to Topeka with 200 men at his back, determined to rescue former President Grover Cleveland at all costs. President Benjamin Harrison also asks Congress to authorize an expedition to pacify the farmer's uprising in Kansas and arrest its leader, 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson. Simpson, for his part, is busy organizing nearly 100,000 volunteers to resist the forces being brought to bear from the US government.
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright, commander of the soldiers who had accompanied former President Cleveland to Topeka, breaks out of the camp where he and his men are being kept, and frees a dozen other soldiers, as well. Together, they sneak into the governor's mansion and attempt to spring Cleveland from his guarded room. The former president, though, wishes to stay in an attempt to negotiate with the rebel leader Simpson. 'I cannot give up on peaceful solutions yet,' he tells Wainwright, 'but save your men and get out of the state. Get back to Washington and tell them that I am confident that an answer to this situation can be found without further bloodshed.'
The major reluctantly agrees, and he and his small group slip out of Topeka and head east. When 'Sockless' Simpson is informed of the escape, he harangues Cleveland for several minutes about honor, which the former president sits through patiently. When Simpson finally winds down, Cleveland says, 'Sir, as much as you may question my honor, I am still here when I had the perfect opportunity for escape. My honor in this matter, therefore, has been put on display. Yours, on the other hand, is still a matter of debate. Now, you may continue to berate me, or we can begin working on a solution to all of our problems.'
In 1891, as former President Grover Cleveland feels life slipping away from him, Major Mark Wainwright finally finds a doctor to help him in Kansas City. The doctor performs miraculously, then tells Wainwright, 'All we can do is pray, now, sir. The president is in Gods hands.' As Wainwright silently asks his Maker to spare Cleveland's life, he sees a long train pull into the city. It is carrying troops to pacify Kansas, and he is about to be drafted into their number.
In 1891, General Anthony Franklin appoints Major Mark Wainwright as his staff chief, and has him send a telegram back to Washington describing the loss in Topeka. 'Make sure they know we need more troops,? he tells Wainwright. The depressed major takes a couple of men to help him get through to the telegraph office; a smart move, as it turns out, because, as he is leaving, 'Sockless' Simpson's volunteers cross the border and begin taking over the Missouri side of Kansas City. Wainwright and his men fight their way back to the general, assemble the remainder of their troops, and flee the city. 'I will take that man,? General Franklin vows to Wainwright.
In 1891, the Secretary of War ponders the telegram from General Franklin amid news that Kansas City is entirely under the control of the Kansas rebels. There is also the personal telegram that Major Wainwright had sent, saying that former President Grover Cleveland had died from the gunshot wound he had endured on his escape from Topeka. He had yet to bring this news to President Harrison; Harrison hated Cleveland, so that would be good news. However, him dying as a martyr to America wouldn't be the best thing in the world for Republican political fortunes. He went ahead and went into his appointment with the president ? it wasn't for him to decide the nation's direction, after all. He walked up to Harrison's desk and said, 'Ben, I have some news from the Kansas front...'
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright meets General Anthony Franklin at the temporary headquarters Franklin has set up at the Kansas City train station where he and his troops arrived. Wainwright informs the general of former President Cleveland's dire condition, as well as the immense popular support that 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson and his Farmers Council seem to have inside Kansas. 'Well, we beat Johnny Reb,' General Franklin says, 'and, by God, we'll beat this impudent farmer and his friends, as well. I plan to drive straight into Topeka and take the man prisoner today.'Wainwright, a little shocked at the rashness of the general's plan, says, 'Sir, Simpson has hundreds - probably thousands of supporters in Topeka that are under arms. How many men do you have with you?' Franklin shrugs, saying, '2000. More than enough to take care of this rabble.' Wainwright, despairing, replies, 'Respectfully, sir, I rather doubt that.' Disregarding Wainwright's opinion, General Franklin pushes west with his troops and hits the masses of men that 'Sockless' Simpson had sent to fortify the border. Even though he is outnumbered almost 4-to-1, General Franklin chooses to fight, thinking that his trained soldiers can easily overcome untrained civilians. He is wrong, and is forced to retreat back to Kansas City with less than half of his original force. As his troops drag back into Kansas City, Major Wainwright meets him to say, 'General, sir, President Cleveland is dead.'
In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison orders a day of mourning for the death of former President Grover Cleveland and "the brave soldiers who died to keep us as one nation. Now, to honor their brave, lost lives, it falls upon us to do the work that they sacrificed for - bring our nation back together again". Harrison's words are reported across the US, and even "Sockless" Jerry Simpson reads them in the Topeka Standard. He replies, and has his words sent across the country via wireless: 'When the Great Thief gives up his stolen office and our nation returns to the values that we all can recognize, then Kansas will gladly rejoin the fraternity of the states. But, until that day, we must stand aside, and say that we, as one people, will not stand for such dishonorable wretches staining the halls of our most sacred institutions.' His words also made the papers, and President Harrison was enraged. 'Give General Franklin every last troop he needs,' he told his Secretary of War, 'but, get this man.'
In 1891, the call goes out for volunteers to swell the Union Army's ranks and take back Kansas. Thousands of men answer the call and join up. In Kansas, "Sockless" Simpson's troops stand guard across the state's borders and drill themselves to readiness. Just across those borders, General Anthony Franklin keeps his men ready and tries to locate a telegraph office to report in his location. "There's one every block back east," he complained to Major Wainwright, "but the 'wild west' hides theirs so you can't find them".Major Wainwright was thoroughly sick of the general at this point, but was still unwilling to resign his commission. He also wanted revenge against Simpson, and that kept him going as they tromped through Missouri's wilderness.
In 1891, troops begin heading west to reinforce General Anthony Franklin in Missouri, where he is planning a large-scale siege of Kansas. He sends messengers to the governors of the surrounding states for militia men to handle the main portion of the siege while he uses federal troops to penetrate into Kansas. 'Once we take Topeka, the rest of these rebels should fall like dominoes,' he told the messengers to tell the governors. Major Mark Wainwright, who had been involved in the struggle longer than Franklin, said, 'Sir, I fear that you're underestimating these men. They've proven themselves capable of fighting off trained military - more than once, as you know.' Franklin, stung by the memory of his own defeat at the hands of the Kansans, ordered Wainwright, 'Be quiet, sir. Your defeatist attitude has no place in this campaign - which will be short and successful. Understood?' Wainwright nodded, saluted, and left to see to the few men who had survived the trip to Kansas with him.
In 1891, General Anthony Franklin receives replies from the governors of Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado and the Oklahoma Territory. All pledge their support to his mission, and say that their states stand ready to preserve the Union. He sends them the plans he has drawn up to lay siege to the Kansans and tells them to be ready by May 1st, when he plans to have troops ready to make a run to Topeka. The first reinforcements from Washington have already reached him and are being drilled by Major Mark Wainwright, who has reluctantly become General Franklin's chief aide.
In 1891, a skirmish between a poorly-prepared Nebraskan militia unit and a trigger-happy group of Kansas farmers ends badly for the Nebraskans. They are forced to retreat when a much larger body of Kansas volunteers moves up to reinforce the farmers. They send a report off to General Anthony Franklin in Missouri, who is coordinating the attack on Kansas. He is highly displeased with the militia's effectiveness, and sends Major Mark Wainwright to Nebraska to take command of the siege there. Wainwright is happy just to get away from Franklin, whom he has grown to despise heartily.
In 1891, General Anthony Franklin decides to take back Kansas City, at least the Missouri side, with the reinforcements he has gotten from back east and the help of the Missouri state militia. With almost 4000 men, he moves into the city and imposes martial law in order to stamp down the pandemonium that has been the norm in Kansas City since the fall of the legitimate Kansas government. 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson is informed of this troop movement by wireless, and immediately orders his volunteers on the border with Missouri to converge on Kansas City.
In 1891, scouts from both sides report that a large number of troops are descending on Kansas City, and the citizens of the hapless town begin to flee in panic. Most of them flee to the east, which causes one of the worst disasters of the war. General Anthony Franklin thought the refugee column was Kansans on the move against him, and ordered his men to fire on them. It was only after women and children were seen among the people fleeing that orders to hold fire were given down. General Franklin came to the front, enraged that his orders were being countermanded, and was stunned to see the bodies of hundreds of dead civilians instead of the hardened rebels he had been expecting. He turned command of his troops over to Lt. Colonel Theodore Monteith and collapsed in his command tent, weeping at the senseless murder he had just ordered. Several telegrams soon reached Washington with details of the massacre, and an outraged Congress was demanding that General Franklin be removed from command and court-martialed.
In 1891, the prosecution in General Anthony Franklin's court-martial rests its case after presenting the rather damning evidence present in the reports from the battlefield and the days leading up to it. Franklin's own diary entries about, 'Getting that pompous jackanape, Simpson, and making all these rebels pay,' becomes fodder for the prosecutor. In defense, Captain David Danforth reads sections of Franklin's diary recounting his days as a young man during the Civil War, and his zeal in seeking to preserve the United States from, in his words, 'traitors who would destroy everything good that we stand for.' Danforth rests his case, and the judges dismiss all present while they deliberate over night.
In 1891, 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson, hearing the news that Missouri's new governor doesn't wish to participate in the siege of Kansas, pulls his men away from the Missouri border and sends them north to Nebraska. He also sends a telegram of congratulations to the new governor, Arnold Morgan, and tells him that Kansas has no designs on those who honor its sovereignty. This telegram throws a pall over Governor Morgan's reception of Major Mark Wainwright, who tries to argue that Simpson's Kansas volunteers mean to spread their rebellion across the midwest, and thus endanger Missouri. Morgan shows the telegram to Wainwright, saying, 'Sir, this gives the lie to that rather bold declaration. I mean to make peace with my neighbors.' Wainwright leaves the meeting downhearted, seeing the chances of the Union to win this war dwindling away.
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright returns to the Nebraska headquarters of the troubled Kansas siege with the bad news that the new governor of Missouri intends to provide no support to them. Lt. Colonel Theodore Monteith tells him that there are similar rumblings from Nebraska's leadership. 'It's not looking good, Mark,' Monteith says. 'We need some kind of concrete victory against Simpson, something that will wipe out the stain of the Missouri massacre. I've got something in mind - but it means you're going back into Kansas. I won't order you to do it, but I'd like you to volunteer.' Wainwright, weary as he was of this war, nodded.
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright and a hand-picked team of 10 men cross the Nebraska border in the dark of night and slip into Kansas. Dressed in civilian clothes, they present themselves as volunteers to the Kansas militia-men in the morning; 'I was in the Army fighting the Indians,' Wainwright tells the militia commander, 'I should be able to fight these union boys.' The commander, impressed with Wainwright and his men, assigns them to guard the militia's ammunition dump, just as Wainwright and Colonel Monteith had hoped.
In 1891, as news of the successful Union attack on the Kansas ammunition dump is blazoned across the nation's newspapers, President Benjamin Harrison takes the opportunity to call for a draft to supplement the military. 'Our nation has a grave need of you all in this time of trouble,' he says in the declaration. 'Just as in our great civil war, those of us who know the righteousness of our cause must stand in the heat of battle for our nation. I call upon the Congress to enact this legislation quickly, so that Kansas may, once again, be brought into the brotherhood of states.' Congressional leaders take up debate on the draft bill that very day.
In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison authorizes the draft boards to begin setting up across the country, and young men over the age of 18 and under the age of 25 begin registering to fight in the "war to keep the US whole," as each draft board says to their potential draftees. When news of the draft reaches Kansas, 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson derides it, saying, "They have to force men to fight in their cause. We have plenty of men volunteering to fight them off".In spite of Simpson's bravado, the Farmer's Council running the rebel state seriously considers doing the same; they are only stopped by the realization that everyone who could be drafted is probably already in the front lines, serving with them. They realize that they are about to be overwhelmed by far superior numbers, and a deep panic sets in among them.
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright leads another stab into Kansas from Nebraska, testing the defenses of a new fort near Concordia. The fort repels them, but Wainwright reports back to Colonel Theodore Monteith that the fort is ripe for a full-scale assault. Monteith assembles a force of almost 3000 men and places them at Wainwright's disposal. The Kansans, for their part, send reinforcements to Concordia to see if they can trap the Unionists with hopes of finding a weakened fort.
In 1891, with 3000 men at his back, Major Mark Wainwright marches on the fort at Concordia, Kansas, only to find much stiffer resistance than he had expected. Wainwright's plan had been to take the fort with a few hours of fighting, and use it as a staging ground for further forays deeper into Kansas. Instead, he and his men are bogged down in Concordia, as more reinforcements for the Kansans move towards the fort.As night falls and he pulls his men back unsuccessfully from the fort, the major receives a scout's report that Kansans are blocking their retreat back to Nebraska. Feeling the noose about his neck, Major Wainwright sends 4 scouts on fast horses to slip past the Kansan lines and try to get help from Nebraska, then tells his men, "Get ready. We either take this fort or they'll surround us and chop us to bits".
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright desperately attacks the fort at Concordia, Kansas, hoping to overcome the men inside and use its defenses to protect his forces against the Kansan reinforcements moving to surround them. That night, just as Wainwright sees the lanterns of the approaching soldiers, the fort falls and the major hurries his surviving men to shore up the holes in the fort's walls before the Kansans reached them. "It's going to be a hard day tomorrow, boys," he says to his men.
In 1891, the exhausted Union soldiers repulse the Kansans surrounding the fort at Concordia, but are reduced to half their number by the day-long assault. Major Mark Wainwright examines the defenses, and is certain they will not survive another day. 'It's like the damn Alamo,' he says to his second-in-command, Captain Jeffrey Taylor. He orders Taylor to find the best scout left in their command. He intends to send this man north to Nebraska, slipping through the Kansan lines, to get help. The captain brings him young Allan Duggan, a 17-year old volunteer from Nebraska who says he knows the surrounding countryside like the back of his hand. 'Godspeed, Allan. Our only hopes lie with you.' Duggan takes off from the fort in the dead of night, threading his way through the Kansans.
In 1891, the Kansans are driven from the fort outside of Concordia. Colonel Theodore Monteith walks into the fort to the wild cheers of the men who had been trapped inside. Major Mark Wainwright, nursing a gunshot wound in his shoulder, nonetheless meets the colonel with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. He gives a smart salute to his superior and says, 'Sir, I've never been more happy to see my boss.' Colonel Monteith embraces Wainwright and tells him privately, 'I heard that you were about to accept their terms. I'm glad I could prevent that from happening, Major.' Wainwright nodded and laughed. 'As am I, sir. As am I.'
In 1891, the triumphant news of the victory at Concordia hits the newspapers across the country, further encouraging the Union cause. In Topeka, Kansas, though, the mood is glum. "Sockless" Jerry Simpson meets with the Farmers Council to discuss their next move. "We should bargain with 'em," Councilor Thaddeus Elridge says. "They lost over 2000 men at Concordia. They'll be willing to give us good terms if it means ain't as many of them got to die. 'Sides, what do we really want, now? All we really need is our sovereignty; ain't like we're going to call for the restoration of President Cleveland anymore, is it?"He looked pointedly at Simpson as he said this, and the Socrates of the plains felt the sting of the rebuke. He stood to reply, and strode around the chamber looking at each of his colleagues. "It's true that we can no longer demand that particular injustice be corrected. But, my friends, is all that we stand for power in this state? Are our lofty ideals something that we can just shuck aside as long as we remain in charge here? My friends, we began this crusade in order to right the deep wrongs in this country. We are Americans. And, as Americans, it is our duty to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that our great nation travels along the path of righteousness. Do you think it is traveling along that path now?" There are murmured nos from the council. "Do you think that, if we let them pull victory from this grave defeat that our conflict represents, that they will change course?" The nos grow a little louder, and so does Simpson. "Do you think that, if they win here, they will see any path other than their own as the correct one to take?" The nos are now overwhelming. "Then, my friends, we must commit ourselves to a hard struggle, a long struggle, one we may not win... but one in which we will stand alongside the angels, and they will stand along the path of damnation. And God will see us through, gentlemen. God will see us through". Thunderous applause shakes the legislative chamber as Simpson smirks slightly at the few councilors who still stand against him.
In 1891, 5000 Union soldiers reinforce the fort at Concordia, Kansas, and Colonel Theodore Monteith receives word from Washington that he has been promoted to General. He has a brief ceremony where Major Wainwright pins his new insignia on his uniform. "I hope this won't make you start acting like the last general I followed on this campaign, sir," Wainwright says to him, laughing.General Monteith replies, "I trust that you will keep me honest, Mr. Wainwright". Wainwright smiles and shakes his head. "I'll do my best, sir". As Wainwright turns to leave Monteith's office, the general says, "That's all I'll ever ask of you, Major". Once alone, General Monteith opens the orders that came from Washington with his promotion. These orders detail the 25,000 men who are being moved under his command, who are to be used in the general assault on Topeka planned for June 1st.
In 1891, the first trains full of Union soldiers pull into the train station at Hebron, Nebraska, where they are met by Major Mark Wainwright and prepared for the march down to the fort at Concordia, Kansas."You're about to enter hostile territory, fellows," he warns them, "so, keep your wits about you and maybe you'll live through this. Let your guard down, and these Kansans'll have no hesitation about making you pay for it. Believe me - I've lost more men than you'll ever know on this campaign". With a slight catch in his throat, he concludes, "You're going to help me end it".
In 1891, Topeka is set upon by a rebel force led by 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson, and General Theodore Monteith finds himself outnumbered almost 2 to 1. The civilian population of Topeka is also unsympathetic towards him, and aids the rebels tremendously. By nightfall, Monteith has been forced to abandon all but the eastern third of the city, and has endured heavy casualties to keep that much.A scout brings him word that Colonel Wainwright won't be riding to the rescue this time - the rebels in Kansas City, in coordination with the attack on Topeka, began an uprising designed to keep his forces pinned there. General Monteith sent a messenger under a white flag to Simpson, hoping that negotiating would buy him some time to regroup.
In 1891, 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson sends back General Theodore Monteith's truce messenger with a one-word message: 'Nuts.' Monteith prepares for a retreat out of Topeka, telling his men, 'We'll be back. Have no doubt in your mind about that; we'll be back, and this will soon be over.'He manages to leave Kansas' capitol with surprisingly few casualties; most historians of the era feel that Simpson let Monteith leave without undue resistance because he wanted to preserve his own forces against any coming Union onslaught. Allowing Monteith to retreat unmolested proved a disaster for his comrades in Kansas City, where the general headed to relieve his chief aide, Lt. Colonel Mark Wainwright, who was in a hard fight in the border town.
In 1891, Lt. Colonel Mark Wainwright's forces in Kansas City receive good and bad news - the bad news is that General Monteith was forces to abandon Topeka, Kansas to the rebels. The good news is that Monteith is on his way to Kansas City. This news quickly spreads through the streets in the border town, and rebels begin abandoning the town in droves. Wainwright almost has the town under control by the time that Monteith arrives to mop up. The general arrives very determined to return to Kansas' capitol, and wants Wainwright to spend his every waking moment in planning to make it happen. 'That city will be mine, Mr. Wainwright.' The colonel vows, 'I shall expend all my resources to make it so, general.'
In 1891, at the appointed hour of 10AM, troops from all the surrounding states begin moving into Kansas, and the Union forces in Kansas City and Concordia begin marching on Topeka. 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson and the Farmers Council receive desperate cries for help from all four sides of the state. Simpson had been fairly confident in the ability of his people to fight off the Union soldiers, but the news of their collapse all across the borders frightened even him. They ordered all their border guards to withdraw, and were answered with large-scale defections - most of the volunteers guarded the borders because they lived there, and they didn't want to abandon their homes.
In 1891, the Farmers Council meets for the last time in Topeka, Kansas. Thaddeus Elridge is more than ready to dissolve the council and return to fight in the south. 'This man has promised us Heaven and given us only Hell,' he thunders at 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson. 'It is high time we stopped listening to his golden words and started fending for ourselves. I, for one, will deal with the Union.'
He led about half of the council out of the chamber, a dissolute Simpson weakly calling after them to 'hang together, lest we hang separately!' His invocation of Benjamin Franklin does nothing to sway Elridge's faction, and even those left in the council with him, with a couple of exceptions, withdraw their support. The Kansas rebellion has broken.
In 1891, Kansan resistance crumbles before the combined onslaught of Union soldiers and state militias crossing the border to attack them. The southern region of the state, led by former Farmers Councilor Thaddeus Elridge, defects to the Union side in exchange for a promise to leave their homes intact. Elridge's betrayal opens the way for a huge combined force to target Topeka, where 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson is desperately gathering as many troops of his own as he can.
In 1891, troops from Kansas City and Concordia, along with Kansas volunteers led by Thaddeus Elridge, march on Topeka, hoping to beat reinforcements heading there to shore up 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson. Simpson bustles about the capitol, getting the Kansans still loyal to him ready to endure a seige.
In 1891, Union troops from the fort at Concordia start firing on Topeka, softening it up for the thrust from Kansas City to take out the relatively few defenders left. Although assured by 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson that help is on the way, the citizens of Topeka are growing weary of being the battleground for his war. A number of them start plotting to assassinate the 'Socrates of the plains'.
In 1891, George Nelson, a lifelong Topeka resident and former supporter of 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson, approaches the Kansan leader in the middle of siege preparations and shoots him twice in the face. 'That's for Kansas,' Nelson shouts at Simpson as the leader writhes in agony on the ground. Although many people look menacingly towards Nelson as he walks away from Simpson's corpse, no one lays a finger on him. The town's leaders seize the opportunity to raise a white flag over the capitol building and ask the Union soldiers their terms for surrender.
In 1891, with the surrender of Topeka and the murder of 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson, General Theodore Monteith declares an amnesty for all the Kansas rebels who will turn themselves in during the coming week. Since the previous governor is dead, Monteith appoints Thaddeus Elridge, an erstwhile Farmers Councilor who had switched sides at the end of the conflict, political liaison between his forces and the Kansans.
Elridge makes a quick round of the state, tamping down the fires of rebellion that he had so recently stoked, and reducing the fighting to a few scattered pockets here and there. As this day winds to a close, General Monteith hosts Lt. Colonel Mark Wainwright at the governor's mansion. 'Much better than last time you were here, eh, Mark?' Wainwright had to agree. 'No one's pointing a gun at me this time, sir.' The leaders of the Union expeditionary forces went to sleep that night, secure in the knowledge that they had at last quelled the Kansas Rebellion.
In 1893, Lt. Colonel Mark Wainwright, US Army, retired, returns to Topeka, Kansas at the invitation of Governor Thaddeus Elridge. Elridge wanted Wainwright to participate in the ceremony marking the placement of a memorial to the Kansas Rebellion and all those who fought in the war, and the colonel had agreed to break his vow of never coming farther west than New York for the occasion.
Several of the men and women who had held him captive during his more trying days in Kansas were there, and many of them came up to him privately and asked him to forgive them for their deeds in those days. 'It was a trying time for everyone,' he told them. 'The only individual I have a grudge against is long since dead.' In fact, 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson's assassin, George Nelson, is one of the people who comes up to speak with Wainwright, and the colonel shakes his hand and thanks him for his actions. 'A lot of men on my side would have been happy to trade places with you, Mr. Nelson. I know I'm one of them.' Nelson demurs Wainwright's thanks, and tells him, 'What I did, I did because he wasn't good for my home. I regret the killing I did then every day of my life.' Colonel Wainwright nodded, looking over at the memorial - a great stone circle with the names of all the Kansans and Union soldiers who died in the conflict engraved into it - and says, 'Keep that regret, Mr. Nelson. Maybe then, fewer of these things will need to be built.'
In 1891, having spent the night under lock and key in the governor's mansion in Topeka, Kansas, former president Grover Cleveland meets again with 'Sockless' Simpson. 'Mr. President, I hope you understand that we Kansans didn't undertake rebellion lightly,' Simpson says to Cleveland. 'But, after the travesty of your so-called loss in the last election, we had little hope of justice in matters dealing directly with us unless we took direct action to ensure that justice. I have heard from other leaders in the Progressive movement across the nation, and they are ready to take to the streets in each state.If a man of your stature were to join us, there is nothing we might not accomplish.' Cleveland stood and stared hard into the eyes of the rebel. 'Sir, I fought in a war so that my nation would not be split by rebels seeking to undermine the lawful government of the people. I shall not lend my name to another endeavor to do the same, merely because it might benefit me somewhat.' Simpson sends the former president back to his room, and ponders what his next move might be.
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright and his small band of soldiers reach Kansas City and slip through, thanks to the general chaos in the city. Wainwright sends a telegram back east to Washington to let his superiors know that former President Cleveland has been taken captive, as have the majority of the major's men. He adds that he will proceed on into Missouri and wait for orders at the nearest telegraph office. Meanwhile, President Cleveland is given an audience with the Farmer's Council that, with 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson at its head, has assumed control of Kansas. 'Gentlemen,' he says to them, 'I understand your grievances and desire for redress. I, myself, have felt the cold sting of injustice within recent years, as you well know. But, within our nation's democratic institutions, we have the means for addressing your concerns. This unlawful usurpation of state government will not end well, gentlemen. In fact, given the great power of the nation surrounding you, it can only end in your arrest or death. I implore you, therefore, to surrender the government back to the men who were duly elected to it, and give up before more blood is shed in this useless endeavor.' Although most of the council is moved by Cleveland's words, Simpson stands to answer him. 'Mr. President, although you have spoken eloquently of our great institutions and their ability to right wrongs, your own history gives the lie to that. Your office was stolen out from under you by men who place the pursuit of power and their own personal greed higher than the good of the nation. We saw such men in control here in Kansas. Now they are not.' Addressing the rest of the council, he concludes, 'I would recommend our methods to take care of Washington, rather than Washington's methods to take care of us.
In 1891, in a swift voting session, Congress authorizes President Harrisons use of force to subdue the Kansas rebellion of Sockless Jerry Simpson. Harrison immediately turns to his War Secretary and tells him to 'Do whatever it takes, but bring Kansas back among us.' Secretary Proctor assembles the nation's generals in Washington and tells them to plan out the conquest of Kansas - with as little bloodshed as possible. Simpson, on the other hand, is calling for 'The defense of our home, no matter the price we must pay in blood.'
In 1891, the eastern Kansas border is fortified by volunteers from around the state. Major Mark Wainwright and his band of men encounter part of this fortification as they head to Topeka to free President Grover Cleveland, and the ensuing fight leaves 12 of his men dead; but he wins the engagement. By the evening, they are in Topeka and in pitched battle at the governors mansion, where they steal the former president from the room where is being held. They fight their way out of the city, with only half of their original force left, when a stray shot hits President Cleveland in the stomach. Major Wainwright struggles with his remaining men to Kansas City and desperately searches for a doctor in the chaotic city.
In 1891, Congress authorizes a huge expenditure for an expeditionary force against Kansas. President Harrison's call for men to preserve the Union brings in thousands of volunteers, swelling the ranks of the army. 'Sockless' Simpson continues to drill his men in Kansas, hardening the border against the storm he sees coming. In Missouri, General Anthony Franklin and Major Mark Wainwright finally find a small town with a telegraph office. 'At last,' Franklin says, then orders Wainwright to report back to Washington and give their superiors his location. 'Now, we begin our counter-attack.'
In 1891, General Anthony Franklin begins his long journey back east to face his coming court-martial. In the aftermath of the massacre in western Missouri, Kansas City falls to the Kansans, and Missouri's Governor Silas Trent faces some similar rumblings which threaten to topple him if he continues supplying troops to the federals. He embarks on a statewide trip to apologize and shore up support for at least a defensive force on the Kansas border. He asks Lt. Colonel Theodore Monteith to move his base of operations out of Missouri, and Colonel Monteith sends a telegram to Major Mark Wainwright in Nebraska, telling him that the Kansas siege is about to be commanded from that state.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.