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Charles Rainsford Jennison
Charles R. Jennison, ca. 1855-1860
Personal details
Born June 6, 1834 (1834-06-06)
Antwerp, New York
Died June 21, 1884 (1884-06-22) (aged 50)
Leavenworth, Kansas
Political party Republican
Nickname(s) "Doc"
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Years of service 1861–1864
Rank Union Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Commands Jennison's Jayhawkers (7th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry)
15th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry
Col. Charles R. Jennison
Jennison as Union Colonel
Carte de Visite of Charles R. Jennison
Jennison after the war

Charles Rainsford Jennison also known as "Doc" Jennison (June 6, 1834 – June 21, 1884) was a member of the anti-slavery faction during Bleeding Kansas, a famous Jayhawker, and a member of the Kansas State Senate in the 1870s. He later served as a Union colonel and as a leader of Jayhawker militias during the American Civil War.

Early life and Bleeding Kansas

Charles R. Jennison was born on June 6, 1834, in Antwerp, Jefferson County, New York. His family moved to Wisconsin in 1846, where Jennison studied medicine. Marrying at the age of 20, Dr. Jennison moved to Osawatomie, Kansas, in 1858 and to Mound City, Kansas, shortly thereafter.

Jennison was considered the most brutal and unscrupulous of the jayhawkers. Whereas some other prominent leaders of irregulars in the Bleeding Kansas border conflict shared these traits, Jennison was distinguished by his blatant plunder for personal gain. Jennison cooperated with James Montgomery in opposing pro-slavery settlers and irregulars believed to be in league with Border Ruffians.

Civil War

Even before the start of hostilities Jennison became a captain of the Mound City Guards on February 19, 1861. Although not with Senator James H. Lane's Kansas brigade during the Sacking of Osceola, Jennison was associated with it and would soon join the fray after receiving a commission as colonel from Kansas Governor Charles L. Robinson on September 4.

On October 28, 1861, Jennison completed the organization and mustering of his 7th Kansas Cavalry. The regiment would become known as "Jennison's Jayhawkers." It immediately took to the field patrolling the Kansas-Missouri border to prevent the secessionist under Sterling Price from crossing. Jennisons was a resolute abolitionist; his sentiments on the matter were the subject of an article in Horace Greeley's New York Daily Tribune. The article reported Jennison as refusing to allow non-abolitionist soldiers to serve under his command, and asserting that "the slaves of [southerners] can always find a protection in... [my] camp, and they will be defended to the last man and bullet." While the regiment was at Leavenworth, Kansas, in April 1862, Jennison, angered over James G. Blunt being named brigadier general in his stead, resigned from the army and turned to banditry as a Redleg.

Following the Lawrence Massacre Jennison was once again commissioned a colonel and called into service by Kansas Governor Thomas Carney. Jennison raised a regiment that would become the 15th Kansas Cavalry on October 17, 1863.

Colonel Jennison commanded a mixed brigade of Kansas militia and volunteers resisting Price's Raid in October 1864. However, in December he was arrested as the result of plundering while returning through Missouri after the pursuit of Price. Jennison was court-martialled and convicted on June 23, 1865, whereupon he was dishonorably dismissed from the service.


Jennison was elected to the Kansas Legislature from Leavenworth County in 1865, re-elected in 1867, and elected to the Kansas State Senate in 1872. He died at Leavenworth, Kansas June 21, 1884.

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