In preparing for the raid, Quantrill gathered together about 310 men on the Blackwater River in Johnson County, Missouri (actually it is Columbus, Missouri on the Capt. Perdee farm, 1.3 miles west), about 18 miles east of Lone Jack. August 19 he led his company west.
|William Clarke Quantrill (July 31, 1837 – June 6, 1865)|
Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence, Kansas 26 minute Video Link
William Clarke Quantrill, the Missouri guerrilla fighter during the Civil War, and a captain in the Confederate army, was associated with the state less then 5 years, from 1860 until shortly before his death in Kentucky in 1865. Some have rated him one of the ablest and most daring cavalry officers in either the Union or Confederate forces. Quantrill led the sacking/raid/massacre of Lawrence, Kansas August 21, 1863, and more then any other event on the Missouri-Kansas border during the war, this raid aroused feelings in the North.
In preparing for the raid, Quantrill gathered together about 310 men on the Blackwater River in Johnson County, Missouri (actually it is Columbus, Missouri on the Capt. Perdee farm, 1.3 miles west), about 18 miles east of Lone Jack. August 19 he led his company west. South of the Blue River the guerrillas met Colonel John Holt with about 104 men who joined the party. At the head of the central branch of the Grand River, about 4 miles from the Kansas border, another group of 50 men joined them. About 6 p.m., August 20, Quantrill and his men crossed the Missouri boundary into the southwest corner of Johnson County, Kansas. Eleven hours later, just a little after daybreak, the guerrillas attacked the free-soil stronghold of Lawrence. It is indicative of Quantrill's skill that on his march west he out-maneuvered small Union companies stationed at intervals of about 15 miles for a 90-mile stretch along the Kansas border.
With the town unaware of their approach, Quantrill and his men galloped into Lawrence and began pillaging. Between 150 and 200 buildings were burned, and property damages have been estimated as high as $1,500,000. The number killed has been estimated from 143 to 216, while the invaders are reported to have had one man killed and 2 wounded.
After destroying the town, Quantrill and his men retreated to the southeast. Union troops pursued, but succeeded merely in harassing the guerrillas. The impotency of the northerners has been attributed to the fact that many were raw troops who did not how to attack, that were too few troops, and their horses were over-fatigued. Quantrill broke his band into small gangs of 10 to 20 men immediately after entering Missouri, and hardly a day passed that these groups did not have a skirmish with small Union scouting parties.
Quantrill's Raid and the Lawrence Massacre - Another version
William C. Quantrill’s 300 men are armed to the teeth, mostly with multiple, accurate, long-barreled revolvers, and can fire between 30 and 60 rounds each without reloading. They head west and north from near Warrensburg, Missouri(Columbus, Missouri on the Capt. Perdee farm, about 1.3 miles west of Columbus) toward Lawrence, Kansas on August 20th, 1863. Riding all night, they leave a trail of dead Kansans behind, kidnapping locals who guide them toward Lawrence. As their captives familiarity with the trail dwindles, they are murdered with a bullet to the brain and another settler is pressed into fatal service.
In Lawrence, their primary target is Senator Jim Lane, ardent free-stater and anti-Missouri US Senator; looting and murder is a given.
Despite riding through Kansas for nearly 12 hours, no alarm is given. Entering the town at dawn, on August 21st, Quantrill misses Lane, who escapes in his pajamas to a cornfield. His men than embark on a morning of mayhem and murder. Houses and stores are looted and burned, men are shot down in their yards and chased into their houses before being summarily executed. Bodies are dumped down wells and thrown onto the burning pyres of houses.
A bit after 9 a.m., the bushwhacker column leaves Lawrence with 1/4th of the town destroyed and at least 185 dead men scattered about. They withdraw in the same general direction from which they came. A scattered and generally ineffective pursuit, poorly organized by various US and militia forces, cannot intercept Quantrill but does force him to abandon some loot and they kill and capture a small number of stragglers.
In response to the massacre, General Thomas Ewing, commanding the Union District of the Border, issues the (in)famous General Orders No. 11. The Order, in effect, depopulates 3 ½ counties of western Missouri, in an attempt to destroy Confederate guerrilla’s support base and prevent similar future raids.
The Lawrence massacre is unique in the annals of American history. Large-scale massacres are not unknown – in 1862 Dakota Sioux attacked and killed many settlers near St. Paul in Minnesota; a year later, Colorado militia will massacre Indians at Sand Creek in Colorado. These other massacres in American history are all inter-racial or on the edges of frontier and 'civilization'. Lawrence, however, was a model American town and the perpetrators are other white, protestant, Anglo-Saxon Americans.
Quantrill And His Men
On August 19 three hundred bushwhackers began marching westward from the Blackwater River (West of Columbus on the Captain Purdee Farm) in Johnson County, Missouri. Along the way they added 150 more men, making them the largest such force to be assembled at one time during the Civil War. Late in the afternoon of August 20 they crossed the Kansas border south of Aubry. The Union post commander spotted them, but instead of alerting the countryside he merely forwarded word of the incursion to district headquarters in Kansas City - a blunder, which proved fatal for many people.All through the moonless night Quantrill's column rode steadily across the Kansas prairie "like a monstrous snake, creeping upon its prey." At daybreak, August 21, it halted on a hill southeast of Lawrence. Some of his men urged Quantrill to turn back - surely the townspeople had been warned and would be waiting for them. "You can do as you please," replied Quantrill, "I am going into Lawrence!" Then, drawing a revolver, he shouted "Charge!"
Moments later hundreds of long-haired, wild-looking men in slouch hats and sweat-stained shirts pounded down the main street of Lawrence, yelling and shooting. The inhabitants, taken completely by surprise, offered no resistance. Neither did the only soldiers present, two squads of Negro and white recruits who were slaughtered in their tents.
Waving one of the four Colt revolvers he carried in his waistband, he led 450 men into the sleeping antislavery town of Lawrence, shouting, "Kill! Kill! Lawrence must be cleansed, and the only way to cleanse it is to kill! Kill!", soon he saw that the town was his.
Kill they did. His men systematically butchered at least 150 men and boys, most of them unarmed, while their mothers, wives, and daughters were made to watch. (Jim Lane, Quantrill's main target, had managed to escape through a cornfield in his nightshirt.) Then they looted and burned all of the town except the saloon, whose inventory they carried away with them. With a triumphant yell the raiders fanned out, ransacking stores, shops, saloons, and houses, then setting them afire. Every man they encountered they shot down. They did not, however, kill or rape women.
All the while Quantrill enjoyed his return to the town where he had lived as "Charley Hart" and which had driven him away as an outlaw. He ate a hearty breakfast at the hotel of some old friends, then paraded through the streets in a buggy. At 9 a.m. his lookouts reported troops approaching. Quickly the bushwhackers reassembled, then rode out the same way they came in. Behind they left devastation and horror. The business district was in ruins, two hundred houses burned, and the bodies of 150 men sprawled in the streets or under smoldering rubble. An overhanging shroud of smoke darkened the entire town, the "sickening odor of burning flesh" filled the air.
The bushwhackers evaded their wrathful but outnumbered pursuers and by the next morning were back in their favorite haunts in west Missouri. Tactically the raid on Lawrence was a masterpiece, and Quantrill deserves recognition as a highly able cavalry commander. But it was also the most atrocious event of the Civil War. And it gave to Quantrill a reputation that still stands unchallenged - "the bloodiest man in American history."
Ewing's Order No. 11
Nowhere was the looting, burning and murder more vicious and unrestrained than along the Missouri border, which had not seen lasting peace since 1854. Northern and southern guerrillas fought one another there and slaughtered civilians with a murderous abandon unmatched elsewhere in the war.
The leader of the Union guerrillas, or Jayhawkers, was James H. Lane, a cadaverous former United States Senator from Kansas, who considered Missourians "wolves, snakes, devils, and, damn their souls, I want to see them cast into a burning hell." He did his conscientious best to cast them there, following in the wake of an invading force of Confederate troops, first to ravage the homes of those settlers who had dared welcome the rebels, then to burn and plunder whole towns. His actions set the bloody pattern for the atrocities that followed: soon Confederate guerrillas, or Bushwhackers, in the Ozarks were shooting and hanging men "with no charge against them except that they had been feeding Union men."
The best-known Bushwhacker was William Clarke Quantrill, a transplanted Ohioan and one-time schoolteacher who began his wartime career as a Jayhawker, switched sides, and won a captaincy from the Confederacy for helping to capture Independence, Missouri, for the South in 1861. He then gathered together a band of wild young men, most of them more interested in excitement and plunder than States' Rights, and began to raid northern sympathizers wherever they could be found. Jim Lane, Quantrill vowed, would be burned at the stake.
Just four days after Lawrence, Kansas, was ravaged by Quantrill's Confederate guerrillas, the district Union commander, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, retaliated by a drastic measure designed to cut off the raiders' grass-roots support in the bordering Missouri counties. Ewing's Order No. 11, issued on August 25, 1863, was an eviction notice of stunning scope. It gave civilians in three counties and part of a fourth just 15 days to leave their homes and quit Ewing's command, unless they could prove their loyalty to the Union cause - and few of them could.
Scarcely able to grasp what was happening to them, Missourians piled possessions into wagons and set off into the unknown. Chaos was compounded by nightmare when pro-Union guerrillas swept in from Kansas and, joined by some of General Ewing's troops, embarked on an orgy of looting, burning and murder.
Ewing's decree virtually wiped out an entire region: the population in Cass County dropped from 10,000 to 600, and Bates County was left all but empty. Yet his strategy of vengeance failed. The Confederate guerrillas subsisted easily on stray cattle and chickens; they retired from Missouri a few months later, but only because of the onset of cold weather. The following year the irregulars returned to operate with undiminished ferocity, enjoying more sympathy from outraged Missourians all across the state than ever before. And at the end of the Civil War, the natural heirs to this sympathy were the ex-guerrillas in the James gang, in whom many aggrieved citizens of the countryside were disposed to see a last unquenchable flame of the Confederate cause.
Unable to stop sympathetic settlers from supplying the guerrillas, the Union commander, General Thomas Ewing, Jr., brother-in-law of William Tecumseh Sherman, then issued Order No. 11, forcing from their homes every man, woman, and child living in three Missouri border counties and half of a fourth. Ten thousand people were driven onto the open prairie, while bands of jayhawkers plundered and burned the empty houses they left behind, then slashed at their huddled refugee columns, looting wagons, stealing even wedding rings - the region would be known for years as the Burnt District. "It is heart sickening to see what I have seen here ..." wrote a Union officer who tried to maintain some semblance of order during this forced exodus. "A desolated country and men & women and children, some of them almost naked. Some on foot and some in old wagons. Oh God."
Order No. 11 was the harshest military measure imposed on civilians during the Civil War. Like its predecessor, Order No. 10, it was based on the premise that the bushwhackers' sway could be broken by depriving them of their civilian support.
During the next two weeks a mass exodus took place from the area covered by the order. Marauding by Kansas troops and Red Legs intensified the suffering of the refugees. Ewing's efforts to prevent plundering and suppress the Red Legs proved unavailing.
By September 9 most of Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties was a silent desert dotted by chimneys standing above the charred debris of farmhouses. Yet the bushwhackers remained in their customary hideouts, although forced to stay low during the daytime by heavy Union patrolling. Hams and bacon still hung from the rafters of abandoned smokehouses and the countryside was full of stray cattle and chickens left behind by their owners and overlooked by the Red Legs. Hence the guerrillas had no trouble getting plenty to eat, and Quantrill spent most of his time quite comfortably at a house near Blue Springs with his mistress, Kate King.
Late in September Quantrill decided to head south for the winter - not because of Order No. 11 or pressure from Federal troops-but because cold weather had come early and the season for profitable operations was ending. On October 1, with 400 men, he began marching down the border towards the Indian Territory, crossing after several days into Kansas south of Fort Scott.
On the morning of October 6 Quantrill's scouts reported that there was a small Union fort ahead at Baxter Springs. Sniffing an easy victory, Quantrill sent part of his band under Dave Poole to strike the fort from the south while he moved in with the main body on the other side. Poole, who already was in advance, got there first and attacked, but the ninety-man garrison drove him back with the aid of a cannon.
Thirty minutes later Quantrill emerged from some timber several hundred yards north of the fort. Instantly he drew rein. Approaching down the Fort Scott road was a column of wagons escorted by cavalry. By sheer coincidence, he had come upon the headquarters train of Major General James G. Blunt, Union commander of the District of the Frontier!
Blunt's soldiers thought that the bushwhackers, who wore Federal uniforms, were cavalry from Baxter Springs out drilling. Before they realized their mistake Quantrill's men charged, screaming and firing their revolvers. The Union troops broke in panic. Rapidly the better-mounted guerrillas overtook and killed most of them - 89 out of 100. Later the slain were found with their heads pulverized by bullets, their bodies stripped and castrated. Blunt himself escaped only through the speed of his horse.
Quantrill, finding a demijohn of whiskey in Blunt's buggy, proceeded to get drunk - the only time his men ever saw him in that condition. First Lawrence - now Baxter Springs! He had reached the pinnacle of his career, carried there on a wave of blood.
From Baxter Springs the bushwhackers marched through the Indian Territory. On the way, Quantrill informed Sterling Price in the only military report he ever filed that they had killed "about 150 Federal Indians and Negroes." Late in October they crossed the Red River and camped near Sherman, Texas.
On November 2 Price, who now commanded Confederate forces in Arkansas, congratulated "Colonel" Quantrill on his Baxter Springs victory and thanked him for his "gallant struggle" in Missouri. However, he asked for a report on the Lawrence raid so that "your acts should appear in their true light before the world." Like most Southerners, Price discounted Northern stories of wholesale butchery at Lawrence, but he was worried by the charges against the bushwhackers and also uneasy over their "no quarter" policy.
Indeed, the Confederate military authorities did not know quite what to make of Quantrill and his men. Brigadier General Henry McCulloch, commander of the Sub-District of North Texas, who from his headquarters at Bonham had the closest view of them, definitely did not like what he saw. Their mode of warfare, he wrote Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith, head of the Trans-Mississippi Department, "is like that of the savages," and he recommended that the Confederate Government disavow their acts and tell them to stay clear of the Army.
Kirby Smith, however, disregarded McCulloch's advice. The Trans-Mississippi needed fighting men, and whatever else they were the bushwhackers were that. Hence he recommended that McCulloch employ "Colonel Quantrill" to round up deserters, large numbers of whom lurked in the hills and forests of north Texas, a region where many of the settlers were German immigrants and opposed to secession.
Until the Confederate conscription law of 1862 most of the Texas Unionists remained passive. But when faced with the prospect of being forced into the Rebel army, hundreds of them fled to the North or else formed bands, which defied enlistment officers and harassed Secessionists. In the summer of 1862 they set in motion a "peace plot" whereby north Texas would break away from the rest of the state. The Confederates suppressed the conspiracy ruthlessly, hanging sixty-five "renegados" in one day at Gainesville and imprisoning scores of others. Later, in the spring of 1863, another attempted Unionist "counterrevolution" was put down by a regiment of Texas partisan rangers made up of veteran Indian fighters who "never took prisoners but did take scalps." Even so, the "Tories" continued to be so strong in north Texas that McCulloch expressed fear that they might take over the region completely.
|William Clarke Quantrill ca.1860 - Quantrill was only 24 when he was killed in Kentucky|
Hence he adopted Kirby Smith's suggestion and sent Quantrill's men after deserters. But not only did they fail to accomplish their assignment, they themselves began marauding in and around Sherman, which they shot up during a drunken Christmas Day spree (Quantrill apologized and paid for the damages). Thoroughly disgusted, McCulloch early in 1864 proposed that the Missourians be disarmed and arrested. They were, he declared, "but one shade better than highwaymen."
|Headstone Higginsville, Missouri Old Confederate's Home Cemetery (he is buried in 3 places) http://civilwarsaga.com/william-quantrills-three-graves/|
William C. Quantrill (1837-1865)
William Clarke Quantrill was a bushwhacker who practiced an unsavory form of guerrilla warfare during the Civil War, achieving the rank of colonel in the Confederate army. His most infamous act was an assault on Lawrence, Kansas: it resulted in the death of 150 men, women, and children, as his men ("Quantrill's Raiders") pillaged the abolitionist town for three hours and burned buildings. He was fatally wounded by Union troops during a raid in Kentucky
Some of Quantrill's Raiders.........
|Thomas Coleman "Cole" Younger was an American Confederate guerrilla during the American Civil War and later an outlaw with the James-Younger gang. He was the eldest brother of Jim, John and Bob Younger|
|Jesse James and "Little" Archie Clement (From Kingsville, Johnson County, Missouri) Archie Clement was Jesse's mentor. Archie was killed in Lexington, Missouri in 1866.|
Archibald (Archie) Clement or "Little Arch" was a Confederate guerrilla leader in the American Civil War, known for his brutality towards Union soldiers and pro-Union civilians in Missouri.
Archie Clement was born in Moniteau County, Missouri, on January 01, 1846. The family moved to Johnson County in 1853, then to Cass County, then to Kingsville, Johnson county about 1861.
At age 15, Archie enlisted in the Confederate Army and served two months and nineteen days then was discharged.
He joined the guerrillas under William T. Anderson, and became known as Bloody Bill's most trusted compatriot. At age 17, he was Bill Anderson's lieutenant. Archie was a small man, blond and grey-eyed, with a perpetual smile. Standing just over five feet tall and weighing about 130 pounds, Clement's slight stature belied his ferocity, as he was known to be an expert pistol shot and fearless under fire. He was often referred to as "Little Archie Clement."
Most Complete Roster of Quantrill's Raiders - Link
Transcribed from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
Quantrill's Raid.—At the beginning of the Civil war in 1861 William C. Quantrill (q. v.) was living among the Cherokee Indians. He joined a company which entered the Confederate service, serving for a time with Gen. McCullough and later under Gen. Price. The discipline of an organized army was not to Quantrill's taste, however. He wanted more freedom of movement, especially in the privilege of pillaging the homes of those whom he vanquished. Gathering about him a number of kindred spirits he organized a gang of guerrillas and began operations in western Missouri. As his success became more marked he grew bolder and made several raids into Kansas, plundering the towns of Olathe, Shawnee, Spring Hill, Aubrey and a few others. Early in March, 1862, his gang had been declared outlaws by the Federal authorities, but Quantrill cared nothing for the declaration. None of his raids in 1862 extended into Kansas over 15 miles, and the people of Lawrence, being about 40 miles from the border, felt little apprehension that the city would ever be attacked. True, some precautions were taken to guard against a surprise, but they were generally of a desultory character and were not continued. When Gen. Collamore became mayor he secured a small body of troops to patrol the city, but the military authorities concluded such action was unnecessary and the soldiers were ordered elsewhere.
On the night of Aug. 19, 1863, Quantrill assembled 294 men at Columbus, Mo., where they were organized into four companies and quietly the plans were made for an attack upon Lawrence. Two of Quantrill's companies were commanded by Bill Todd and Bill Anderson, "two of the most desperate and bloodthirsty of the border chieftains." Others who accompanied him were Dick Yeager and the James boys, who afterward became notorious. About 5 o'clock on the afternoon of the 20th they crossed the state line into Kansas, within plain view of a camp of a small detachment of Union soldiers, but as the guerrillas outnumbered the troops five to one Capt. Pike, in command of the camp, offered no resistance, contenting himself with sending word of the movement to Kansas City. About 11 o'clock that night they passed Gardiner, where they burned a house or two and killed a man. At 3 o'clock in the morning they went through Hesper. The moon had gone down, and being ignorant of the way, they took a boy from a house and compelled him to lead them to Lawrence. The raiders entered Franklin 4 miles east of Lawrence at the first break of day, but were very quiet, so as not to arouse attention. Two miles east of Lawrence they passed the farm of Rev. S. S. Snyder and shot him in his barnyard. A mile further on they met young Hoffman Collamore, the son of Mayor Collamore, who replied indifferently to their queries about his destination and they fired upon him. Both he and his pony fell, as if dead, but the boy recovered.
Mr. Cordley narrates that when they drew near the town they seemed to hesitate and waver. "Coming from the east," says he, "the town appeared in its full proportions, as the first light of the morning sun shone on it. It is said some of them were disposed to turn back. But Quantrill said he was going in, and they might follow who would. Two horsemen were sent in advance of the troop to see that all was quiet. They rode through the main street without attracting attention. . . . They returned to the main body and reported the way clear. They now moved on quite rapidly but quietly and cautiously. When they came to the high ground facing Massachusetts street, not far from where the park now is, the command was given in clear tones, 'On to the town!' Instantly the whole body bounded forward with the yell of demons. They came first upon a camp of unarmed recruits for the Fourteenth Kansas regiment. They had just taken in their guards and were rising from their beds. On these the raiders fired as they passed, killing 17 of the 22. This diversion did not stop the speed of the general advance. A few turned aside to run down and shoot the fleeing soldiers, but the main body swept on down Rhode Island street. When the head of the column came about to Henry street the command was heard all over that section, "On to the hotel! On to the hotel!" At this they wheeled obliquely to the left and in a few moments were dashing down Massachusetts street toward the Eldridge house. In all the bloody scenes which followed nothing surpassed for wildness and terror that which now presented itself. The horsemanship of the guerrillas was perfect. They rode with that ease and abandon of men who had spent their lives in the saddle amid rough and desperate scenes. They were dressed in the traditional butternut and belted about with revolvers."
These horsemen sat with bodies erect and arms free, "some with a revolver in each hand, shooting at each house or person they passed, and yelling at every bound. On each side of the stream of fire were men falling dead and wounded, and women and children half-dressed, running and screaming, some trying to escape from danger, and others rushing to the side of their murdered friends."
When they reached the Eldridge hotel the raiders expected resistance and paused a moment in contemplation. Capt. A. R. Banks, provost marshal of the state, opened a window, displayed a white shirt, called for Quantrill and surrendered the house to him, stipulating the safety of the guests. The raiders ransacked the hotel, but Quantrill bade the guests to go to the City hotel, where they would be safe. The prisoners lost no time in obeying Quantrill, who, strange to relate, kept his word with them. As soon as the Eldridge house had surrendered, the raiders scattered all over the town in bands of 6 or 8, taking house by house and street by street. Says Cordley: "The events of the next three hours has no parallel outside the annals of savage warfare. History furnishes no other instance of so large a number of such desperate men, so heavily armed, were let perfectly loose upon an unsuspecting and helpless community." Instead of growing weary of their work as the morning advanced they secured liquor that made them more lawless, reckless, brutal and barbarous than when they came. They said they had orders "to kill every man and burn every house," and while they did not fulfill their commands they set about their task as if that were their intention. They were a rough, coarse, brutal, desperate lot of men, each of whom carried from two to six revolvers, while many also carried carbines. The attack had been perfectly planned. Every man seemed to know his place and what he was to do. So quietly were detachments made, every section of the town was occupied before the citizens comprehended what was happening. With a very few exceptions the raiders had their own way. For some four hours the town was at their mercy—and no mercy was shown. Along the business street they did the most thorough work, robbing buildings and shooting the occupants. Then the torch was applied and throughout the town a reign of terror prevailed. Every house had its story of incredible brutality or a remarkable escape. Many were saved by their own quick wit and the bravery of the women.
Quantrill did not return the way he came, for he had information that Maj. Plumb was approaching from the east with a body of troops. After four hours' horrible work all ceased their work of plundering and assembled for departure. To avoid Maj. Plumb they went south, crossing the Wakarusa at Blanton's bridge. They kept up their work of destruction as they went away, burning nearly all of the farm houses they passed. Gen. James H. Lane with a few followers pursued them, as did the regular troops, but the raiders finally escaped to their hiding places along the border. Lawrence spent the following week burying its dead, of which there were 142, as nearly as an estimate could be made. For some time the intense gloom and grief forbade any thought of the future, but the day came when they rallied their spirits and rebuilt their town and homes.
In 1875 the legislature of Kansas appointed a commission "to examine and certify the amount of losses of citizens of the State of Kansas by the invasion of guerrillas and marauders during the years 1861 to 1865. The towns molested had been Lawrence, Olathe, Humboldt, Altoona, Paola and Fort Scott. In 1887 the legislature enacted a law providing for its assumption and payment of these claims for losses. (See Claims.)Pages 524-527 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
By 1863, Kansas had long been the center of strife and warfare over the admission of slave versus free states.
In the summer of 1856, the first sacking of Lawrence sparked a guerrilla war in Kansas that lasted for months. John Brown might be the best known participant in the violence of the late 1850s participating on the abolitionist or Jayhawker side, but numerous groups fought for each side in Bleeding Kansas.
By the beginning of the American Civil War, Lawrence was already a target for pro-slavery ire, having been seen as the anti-slavery stronghold in the state and, more importantly, a staging area for Union and Jayhawker incursions into Missouri. Initially, the town and surrounding area were extremely vigilant and reacted strongly to any rumors that enemy forces might be advancing on the town. However, by the summer of 1863, none of the threats had materialized, so citizen fears had declined and defense preparations were relaxed.
Quantrill himself said that his motivation for the attack was "to plunder, and destroy the town in retaliation for Osceola." That was a reference to the Union's attack on Osceola, Missouri in September 1861, led by Senator James H. Lane. Osceola was plundered and nine men were given a drumhead court-martial trial and executed. Several other Missouri towns and large swaths of the Missouri countryside had been similarly plundered and burned by Unionist forces from Kansas. Castel (1999) concludes that revenge was the primary motive, followed by a desire to plunder. The retaliatory nature of the attack on Lawrence was confirmed by the survivors. "The universal testimony of all the ladies and others who talked with the butchers of the 21st ult. is that these demons claimed they were here to revenge the wrongs done their families by our men under Lane, Jennison, Anthony and Co."
Lawrence was also a headquarters for a band of Redlegs that had initiated a particularly vicious jayhawking campaign in late March 1863. The purported objective of this group was to eliminate civilian support for the Confederate guerillas, but their tactics (executions, arson, and plundering) were employed rather indiscriminately. As one observer noted (apparently a member of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry), “I believe the Red Legs will kill any man in this country for a good horse; and they have glorified themselves considerably over finishing some unarmed sympathizers.” In describing the activities of the Redlegs, Union General Blunt stated, “A reign of terror was inaugurated, and no man’s property was safe, nor was his life worth much if he opposed them in their schemes of plunder and robbery.” It is difficult to quantify the number of civilians killed by the Redlegs, but a letter written from the Lexington area early in the Redlegs campaign (April 1863) stated that the Redlegs had “killed at least fifty men, who were unarmed and heretofore lived in peace and quiet".
Charles Robinson, first Governor of Kansas and eyewitness to the raid, characterized the raid as an act of vengeance. "Before this raid the entire border counties of Missouri had experienced more terrible outrages than ever the Quantrill raid at Lawrence...There was no burning of feet and torture by hanging in Lawrence as there was in Missouri, neither were women and children outraged." Robinson explained that Quantrill targeted Lawrence because "professedly free state men" commenced their reign of terror "as soon as war broke out" and Lawrence was "headquarters for the thieves and their plunder."
Collapse of the Women's Prison in Kansas City
In a bid to put down the Missouri guerrilla raiders operating in Kansas, General Thomas Ewing, Jr. issued in April 1863 "General Order No. 10," which ordered the arrest of anyone giving aid or comfort to Confederate guerrillas. This meant chiefly women or girls who were relatives of the guerrillas. Ewing confined those arrested in a series of makeshift prisons in Kansas City. The women were sequentially housed in two buildings which were considered either too small or too unsanitary, before being moved to an empty property at 1425 Grand. This structure was part of the estate of the deceased Robert S. Thomas, George Caleb Bingham's father-in-law. In 1861 Bingham and his family were living in the structure, but in early 1862 after being appointed treasurer of the state of Missouri, he and his family relocated to Jefferson City. Bingham had added a third story to the existing structure to use as a studio.
At least ten women or girls, all under the age of 20, were incarcerated in the building when it collapsed August 13, 1863, killing four: Charity McCorkle Kerr, Susan Crawford Vandever, Armenia Crawford Selvey, and Josephine Anderson—the 15-year-old sister of William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson. A few days later, Nannie Harris died from her wounds. Survivors of the collapse included: Jenny Anderson (crippled by the accident), Susan Anne Mundy Womacks, Martha "Mattie" Mundy, Lucinda "Lou" Mundy Gray, Elizabeth Harris (later married to Deal), and Mollie Grindstaff. Anderson's 13-year-old sister, who was shackled to a ball-and-chain inside the jail, suffered multiple injuries including two broken legs. Rumors circulated (later promulgated by Bingham who held a personal grudge against Ewing and who would seek financial compensation for the loss of the building) that the structure was undermined by the guards to cause its collapse. However, a 1995 study of the events and affidavits surrounding the collapse concludes this is "the least plausible of the theories." Instead, testimony indicated that alterations to the first floor of the adjoining Cockrell structure for use as a barracks caused the common wall to buckle. The weight of the third story on the former Bingham residence contributed to the resultant collapse.
Even before the collapse of the jail, the arrest and planned deportation of the girls had enraged Quantrill's guerillas; George Todd left a note for General Ewing threatening to burn Kansas City unless the girls were freed. While Quantrill's raid on Lawrence was planned prior to the collapse of the jail, the deaths of the guerrillas' female relatives undoubtedly added to their thirst for revenge and blood lust during the raid.
The attack was the product of careful planning. Quantrill had been able to gain the confidence of many of the leaders of independent Bushwhacker groups, and chose the day and time of the attack well in advance. The different groups of Missouri riders approached Lawrence from the east in several independent columns, and converged with well-timed precision in the final miles before Lawrence during the pre-dawn hours of the chosen day. Many of the men had been riding for over 24 hours to make the rendezvous and had lashed themselves to their saddles to keep riding if they fell asleep. Almost all were armed with multiple six-shot revolvers.
Around 450 guerillas arrived on the outskirts of Lawrence shortly after 5 a.m. A small squad was dispatched to the summit of Mount Oread to serve as lookouts, and the remainder rode into town. Their initial focus was the Eldridge House, a large brick hotel located on the highest point in Lawrence. After gaining control of the building (which then served as Quantrill's headquarters during the raid), Quantrill's force broke into smaller groups that fanned out throughout the town. Over a four-hour period, the raiders pillaged and burned to the ground a quarter of the buildings in Lawrence, including all but two businesses. They looted most of the banks and stores and killed about 150 men and boys. According to an 1897 account, among the dead were 18 of 23 unmustered army recruits. By 9 a.m., the raiders were on their way out of town, evading the few units that came in pursuit, and eventually splitting up so as to avoid Union pursuit of a unified column into Missouri.
The raid was less of a battle and more of a mass execution. Two weeks prior to the raid, a Lawrence newspaper had boasted, "Lawrence has ready for any emergency over five hundred fighting men...every one of who would like to see [Quantrill's raiders]". However, a squad of soldiers temporarily stationed in Lawrence had returned to Fort Leavenworth, and due to the surprise, swiftness, and fury of the initial assault, the local militia was unable to assemble and mount a defense. Most of the victims of the raid were unarmed when they were gunned down by Quantrill's men.
Because revenge was a principal motive for the attack, Quantrill’s raiders entered Lawrence with lists of men to be killed and buildings to be burned. Senator James H. Lane was at the top of the list. Lane was a military leader and chief political proponent of the jayhawking raids that had cut a swath of death, plundering, and arson through western Missouri (including the destruction of Osceola) in the early months of the Civil War. Lane escaped death by racing through a cornfield in his nightshirt. John Speer had been put into the newspaper business by Lane, was one of Lane’s chief political backers, and was also on the list. Speer likewise escaped execution, but two of his sons were killed in the raid. (One of Speer's sons may have been the same John L. Speer that appeared on a list of Redlegs previously issued by the Union military.) Speer's youngest son, 15-year-old Billy, may have been included on the death lists, but he was released by Quantrill's men after giving them a false name. Billy Speer later shot one of the raiders during their exit from Lawrence, causing one of the few casualties among Quantrill’s command while in Lawrence. Charles L. Robinson, first governor of Kansas and a prominent abolitionist may also have been on the list, although he was not killed. According to Richard Cordley, a survivor of the attack:
Ex-Governor Charles Robinson was an object of special search among them. He was one of the men they particularly wanted. During the whole time they were in town he was in his large stone barn on the hillside. He had just gone to the barn to get his team to drive out into the country, when he saw them come in and saw them make their first charge. He concluded to remain where he was. The barn overlooked the whole town, and he saw the affair from beginning to end. Gangs of raiders came by several times and looked at the barn and went round it, but it looked so much like a fort, that they kept out of range.
While many of the victims had been specifically targeted beforehand, executions were more indiscriminate among segments of the raiders, particularly Todd's band that operated in the western part of Lawrence. The men and boys riding with "Bloody Bill" Anderson also accounted for a disproportionate number of the Lawrence dead. The raid devolved into extreme brutality, and according to witnesses, the raiders: killed a group of men who had surrendered under assurances of safety, murdered a father who was hiding in a field with his small child, shot a defenseless man who was laying sick in bed, killed an injured man when he was in the arms of his pleading wife, and bound a pair of men and forced them into a flaming building where they burned to death in horrible agony. Another dramatic story was told in a letter written on September 7, 1863 by H.M. Simpson, whose entire family narrowly escaped death by hiding in a nearby cornfield as the massacre raged all around them:
My father was very slow to get into the cornfield. He was so indignant at the ruffians that he was unwilling to retreat before them. My little children were in the field three hours. They seemed to know that if they cried the noise would betray their parents whereabouts, and so they kept as still as mice. The baby was very hungry & I gave her an ear of raw green corn which she ate ravenously.
The youth of some of the victims is often characterized as a particularly reprehensible aspect of the raid. Bobbie Martin is generally cited as being the youngest victim; some histories of the raid state he was twelve years old, while others state he was fourteen. Most accounts state he was wearing a Union soldier uniform or clothing made from his father’s uniform; some state he was carrying a musket and cartridges. (For perspective on the age of participants in the conflict, it has been estimated that about 800,000 Union soldiers were seventeen years of age or younger, with about 100,000 of those being fifteen or younger.[) Most of Quantrill’s guerrilla fighters were teenagers. One of the youngest was Riley Crawford, who was 13 when brought by his mother to Quantrill after her husband was shot and her home burned by Union soldiers.
The Lawrence Massacre was one of the bloodiest events in the history of Kansas. The Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence survived the attack, but a number of its members were killed and records destroyed.
A day after the attack, the surviving citizens of Lawrence lynched a member of Quantrill's Raiders caught in the town. On August 25, General Ewing authorized General Order No. 11 (not to be confused with Grant's famous General Order of the same name) evicting thousands of Missourians in four counties from their homes near the Kansas border. Virtually everything in these counties was then systematically burned to the ground. The action was carried out by the infamous Jayhawker, Charles "Doc" Jennison. Jennison's raids into Missouri were thorough and indiscriminate, and left five counties in western Missouri wasted, save for the standing brick chimneys of the two-storey period houses, which are still called "Jennison Monuments" in those parts.
A Missouri abolitionist and preacher described the role of the Lawrence Massacre in the region's descent into the horror of total war on the civilian population of Kansas and Missouri:
Viewed in any light, the Lawrence Raid will continue to be held, as the most infamous event of the uncivil war! The work of destruction did not stop in Kansas. The cowardly criminality of this spiteful reciprocity lay in the fact that each party knew, but did not care, that the consequences of their violent acts would fall most heavily upon their own helpless friends. Jenison in 1861 rushed into Missouri when there was no one to resist, and robbed and killed and sneaked away with his spoils and left the union people of Missouri to bear the vengeance of his crimes. Quantrell in 1863 rushed into Lawrence, Kansas, when there was no danger, and killed and robbed and sneaked off with his spoils, leaving helpless women and children of his own side to bear the dreadful vengeance invoked by that raid. So the Lawrence raid was followed by swift and cruel retribution, falling, as usual in this border warfare, upon the innocent and helpless, rather than the guilty ones. Quantrell left Kansas with the loss of one man. The Kansas troops followed him, at a respectful distance, and visited dire vengeance on all western Missouri. Unarmed old men and boys were accused and shot down, and homes with their now meagre comforts were burned, and helpless women and children turned out with no provision for the approaching winter. The number of those killed was never reported, as they were scattered all over western Missouri.
The city seal of Lawrence commemorates Quantrill's attack with its depiction of a Phoenix rising from the ashes of the burnt city.
For his part, Quantrill led his men south to Texas for the winter. By the next year, the raiders had disintegrated as a unified force, so were unable to achieve similar successes. William Clarke Quantrill died of wounds received in Kentucky in 1865, with only a few staunch supporters left. Among these appear to have been Frank James and his younger brother, Jesse James.