James Montgomery (December 22, 1814 December 6, 1871) was a Jayhawker during the Bleeding Kansas Affair and a controversial Union colonel during the American Civil War. Montgomery was a staunch abolitionist and used extreme measures against pro-slavery populations.
He was born to James and Mary Baldwin Montgomery in Austinburg, Ashtabula County, Ohio, on December 22, 1814. He migrated to Kentucky in 1837 with his parents and eventually taught school there. He married, but his first wife died shortly after the wedding, so he married again to Clarinda Evans. They moved to Pike County, Missouri, in 1852, and then to Jackson County and finally Bates County while awaiting the organization of Kansas for settlement.
In 1854 Montgomery purchased land near present day Mound City, Kansas, where he became a leader of local Free-state men and was a fervent abolitionist. In 1857 he organized and commanded a "Self-Protective Company", using it to order pro-slavery settlers out of the region. Conflict with other pro-slavery elements led territorial governor James W. Denver to dispatch U.S. Army soldiers in to restore order. Montgomery at times cooperated with the abolitionist John Brown and considered a raid to rescue Brown after his capture in Virginia, but snow in Pennsylvania upset his plan.
On July 24, 1861, Montgomery was commissioned as colonel of the 3rd Kansas Infantry of U.S. Senator James H. Lane's Kansas brigade, with Montgomery as second-in-command of the brigade. Discipline was lacking under Montgomery, and both the 3rd and 4th Kansas would be consolidated into the 10th Kansas in April 1862. Lane's Kansas brigade was notorious for its Jayhawker-style raids into Missouri at the start of the war, particularly the Sacking of Osceola. Noted historian Albert Castel describes Montgomery as a "a sincere, if unscrupulous, antislavery zealot."
Montgomery was authorized to raise a regiment of African-American infantry in January 1863 that would become the 2nd South Carolina (African Descent). Throughout 1863 and part of 1864, Montgomery practiced his brand of warfare in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
In June 1863, Colonel Montgomery commanded a brigade, including his own 2nd South Carolina and the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, in operations along the coast resembling his earlier Jayhawking raids. The most famous of his controversial operations was the Raid at Combahee Ferry in which 800 slaves were freed. Montgomery led a raid on the coastal town of Darien, Georgia, which he ordered looted and burned even though it was not defended and had not offered any resistance. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw condemned the action, and in a private letter gave Montgomery's reason for burning the town as "that the Southerners must be made to feel that this was a real war, and that they were to be swept away by the hand of God, like the Jews of old." Montgomery stated to Shaw, "We are outlawed, and therefore not bound by the rules of regular warfare."
Colonel Montgomery commanded a brigade in the Battle of Olustee. In 1864 he resigned his commission and returned to Kansas. He ended his military career as colonel of the Sixth Kansas State Militia, active in October of that year during Confederate General Sterling Price's raid.
After the war, Montgomery returned to his Linn County, Kansas, farm, where he died on December 6, 1871.
(from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)