During the early part of the Civil War; Western Missouri was infested with bands of guerrillas, and it was no uncommon occurrence for some of these lawless gangs to cross the border and commit depredations in Kansas. To guard against these incursions, and otherwise to aid the Union cause, a company of border scouts was formed in the year 1862.
As it was an independent organization, never regularly mustered into the United States service, no official record of it has been preserved. The men composing the company became known as "Red Legs," from the fact that they wore leggings of red or tan-colored leather. It was a secret Union military society, organized in late 1862 by General Thomas Ewing and James Blunt for desperate service along the border, and numbered as many as 100 men.
The qualifications for membership in the company were unquestioned loyalty to the Union cause, undaunted courage, and the skillful use of the rifle or revolver. Albert R. Greene, a member of the Ninth Kansas Cavalry, was personally acquainted with many of the Red Legs and was also well acquainted with the nature of their service. Concerning them and their work he said: "There was not one of them but performed valuable service for the Union cause, and, so far as I know and believe, always within the rules of civilized warfare. That the organization was disbanded before the close of the war was owing more to the fact that the necessity for its existence had ceased than because a few of its members had thrown off the restraints of discipline... It is enough to say for the propriety and wisdom of such an organization as the Red Legs, that it did more to protect the homes of Kansas than any regiment in the service, and was the organization of all others most dreaded by William Quantrill."
Their headquarters were at “The Six Mile House."
(Left): Hanging oak near Six Mile Tavern
(Top right): A view of the Missouri River
(Bottom right): The Six Mile House
Photo Courtesy of Kansas Historical Quarterlies