The Cottonwood Falls veteran was instrumental in adding a new name to the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame this year.
Lip. Colonel Charles R. Rayl nominated General James Henry Lane for his “visionary warrior leadership skills” that, according to Rayl, placed Lane “in the historical forefront of Kansas.”
According to Rayle’s nomination letter, “General Lane, ‘The Liberator of Kansas,’ came to my attention when I read an article by James P. Muehlberger entitled ‘The Kansas Lawyer Who Saved Lincoln’s Life’ in the February 2011 Kansas Bar Journal.”
“What really impressed me were Lane’s military leadership skills as a member of the Kansas State Militia,” Rayl wrote.
Lane was born in 1814 in Lawrenceburg, Ind. He commanded the 3rd and 5th Indiana Regiments during the Mexican-American War, and was a U.S. Congressman from Indiana from 1853-1855, where he voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Lane moved to Kansas Territory in 1855, where he became involved in the abolition movement. He designed the Topeka Anti-Slavery Institute.
“Lane was very supportive of the Union during the pre-Civil War period,” Rayl wrote. “His vision was to keep the states together as one country and one government, regardless of slavery.”
Rayl said Lane was appointed to the state territorial legislature, serving from 1861-1866.
“He provided experience, skill and the personification of a gallant commander. He was credited with success during the Wakarus war,” Rayl said. “Both President Pierce and his Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, served with Lane in the Mexican War. President Buchanan referred to the Kansans as a lawless people and wanted Kansas admitted as a slave state under the LeCompton Constitution, and in 1857 denounced General Lane as a warlord and a dangerous figure. Lane and the militia continued to skirmish with the Missouri bushwhackers.
“Lane continued to be a vocal supporter of the Union and democracy. President Lincoln asked him to provide security for the President and the White House. He quickly organized 115 supporters, many of whom were Kansas war veterans from the bloody war between pro-slavery Missourians and free state Kansans. He set up camp for the Kansas Brigade at the White House and marched with them down the avenue towards the White House in what would be described in modern terms as a demonstration. Across the Potomac River were thousands of Confederates who dared not engage Lane’s meager force or attempt to assassinate President Lincoln. President Lincoln knew that Lane was an able leader of the troops, including many members of the Kansas Border Patrol, all of whom had six years of combat experience fighting the Missouri frontiersmen.
Rayl said many 19th- and 20th-century historians credit Lane’s leadership, as well as the Border Patrol, with “saving the Republic.”
“President Lincoln appointed Lane a general officer to command the Kansas Brigade, consisting of the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Kansas Volunteer Regiments, which served with distinction along the Kansas-Missouri border protecting what was then the state of Kansas,” Rayl said. “Lane recruited and trained the first regiment of black troops as the First Kansas Colored Volunteers. This was the first black regiment where blacks fought as infantry.”
As a 2009 member of the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame, Rayl said he would be “humbled honored” to have Lane’s name added to the ranks. He attached a range of materials to his nomination, including a dissertation written by a PhD student, theses and books, letters and compiled research.
Lane will be inducted into the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame on Nov. 6 at the Nickell Memorial Armory in Topeka.