Biography of Col. James Montgomery

Col. James Montgomery, one of the free-state leaders in Kansas and an officer in the Civil war, was a native of Ashtabula County, where he was born in 1814, and was a cousin of the hero of Quebec. In 1837 he went to Kentucky, where he taught school. He moved to Pike County, Missouri, with his family, in 1852, and a year later located in Jackson County in order to be ready to enter Kansas as soon as the territory was organized and the lands opened to settlement. Some of his friends, among whom was Doctor Thornton, knowing him to be opposed to slavery, persuaded him to go to Bates County, Mo., by telling him that he could obtain as good land there as he could in Kansas. He accepted their advice, but quickly became dissatisfied and, returning to Kansas in 1854, purchased a claim from a proslavery settler about five miles from the present town of Mound City. It was not long until he was recognized as a leader by the free-state men of that locality. In 1857 he organized and commanded the “Self-Protective Company,” which had been formed to defend the rights of the anti-slavery settlers, and backed by this company Montgomery ordered some of the most rabid pro-slavery citizens to leave the territory. After their departure, he settled down to improve his claim, but later in the year some of the free-state men of Bourbon County, who had been expelled by George W. Clarke in 1856, returned to take possession of their homes along the Little Osage River. They met with opposition, and called upon Montgomery for assistance. In December he took the field with his company and created so much disturbance that Governor Denver found it necessary to order a detachment of soldiers to that part of the state to preserve order. In 1859 he was a candidate for representative in the territorial legislature, but was defeated by W. R. Wagstaff. On July 24, 1861, he was mustered into the Union army as colonel of the Third Kansas Infantry, but was transferred to the command of the Second South Carolina colored regiment, with which he made a raid into Georgia. This regiment, with Colonel Montgomery in command, distinguished itself at the battle of Olustee, Florida, February 20, 1864. After the war he returned to his home in Linn County, Kansas, where he died on December 6, 1871.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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