The Civil War in Missouri

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Order to A.O. Runyan and Family to Vacate the District of the Border

1863
MHM Archives

Only four days after the horror of Lawrence, Kansas, Union General Thomas Ewing issued the most severe and ruinous civilian policy in Missouri—the immediately infamous Order No. 11. In an attempt to remove anyone who might be providing food, shelter, and protection to guerrillas, the order forcibly evacuated over 20,000 people from their homes in four western counties—Jackson, Cass, Bates, and parts of Vernon. Left in the wake of the mass exodus lay the charred remains of homes, barns, and fields set afire by marauding Union troops, causing the area to become known as the “Burnt District.” Ewing’s strategy had the desired effect of suppressing guerrilla activity in that region. Three months later the order was removed and residents were allowed to move back after signing an oath of loyalty, but it took years for those counties to recover. This document, an order from Ewing to citizen A.O. Runyan and his family to vacate the border, was just one of many sent to residents. By November 20, 1863, the Missouri-Kansas border was quiet, and Ewing issued Order No. 20, which partially rescinded Order No. 11.