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James Henry Lane also known as Jim Lane (June 22, 1814 – July 11, 1866) was a United States Senator, a Union general and partisan in the American Civil War. Lane was born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where he practiced law when he was admitted to the bar in 1840. He moved to the Kansas Territory in 1855. He immediately became involved in the abolitionist movement in Kansas. He was often called the leader of "Jayhawkers" abolitionist movement in Kansas.

He was a U.S. congressman from Indiana (1853–1855) where he voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Act. But he abandoned that stance when he moved to the Kansas Territory in 1855. He was elected to the Senate from the state of Kansas in 1861, and reelected in 1865. During that time he presided over the Topeka convention.

During the American Civil War Lane raised a brigade of Jayhawkers known as the "Kansas Brigade". He led this force into action against pro-Southern general Sterling Price in the Battle of Dry Wood Creek as Price began an offensive early in the war to retake Missouri for the pro-Confederate state government that had been deposed by pro-Union forces. Lane lost the battle but stayed behind and attacked pro-South pockets in Missouri behind Price. His raids culminated in the Sacking of Osceola, in which Lane's forces killed at least nine men, then pillaged, looted, and then burned the town; these events inspired the novel Gone to Texas by Forrest Carter, which was the basis for the 1976 Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales.

On December 18, 1861 Lane was appointed brigadier general of volunteers. On Mar 21, 1862 his commission was canceled in culmination of an argument over whether a sitting U.S. Senator could concurrently hold the rank of general[1]. However on April 11, 1862 he was reinstated as brigadier general of volunteers with the confirmation of the U.S. Senate. During 1862-1863 he served as recruiting commissioner for the state of Kansas.

Lane was the real target of the event that became the Lawrence Massacre (or Quantrill's Raid) on August 21, 1863. He escaped the raid by racing through a cornfield in his nightshirt.

In 1864 when Sterling Price invaded Missouri, Lane served as a volunteer aide-de-camp to Samuel R. Curtis, commander of the Army of the Border. Lane was with the victorious Union forces at the battle of Westport.

Lane had survived many hardships in his life, including fighting in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. But on July 1, 1866 he shot himself[2] in the head as he leapt from his carriage in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was allegedly deranged, depressed, had been charged with abandoning his fellow Radical Republicans and had been accused of financial irregularities. He died ten days later near Leavenworth, Kansas, a result of the self-inflicted gunshot. Edmund G. Ross was appointed to succeed him in the Senate.


The following places were named in honor of the late senator:

  • Lane University
  • Lane, Kansas
  • Lane County, Kansas

See also[]


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sv:James H. Lane (senator)