A quick note: I'm at a writer's conference through Sunday night, so will just be posting the Wild West posts, but not the helpful links or Feature Friday posts this week. I will also remain behind on commenting, but I WILL visit everyone who drops by and leaves comments! My responses will just be delayed. Sorry!!
William Clarke Quantrill was born July 31, 1837 in Canal Dover, Ohio. His youth is mostly unknown, though it is known that his father was abusive and died of tuberculosis in 1854.
He became a schoolteacher at age 16, also acting as a bookkeeper when his family needed more money. He fled when he was accused of horse theft. He traveled with an army wagon to Utah in 1858 and started gambling for income. He used the name Charles Hart while in Utah, and got into a considerable amount of trouble with friends he met, being accused of murder and more horse thefts. He somehow managed to become a schoolteacher for another year in Lawrence, Kansas, but his past was discovered and he had to take off again, making his way to Missouri in 1860.
In May 1863, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr. issued General Order Number 10. This gave him the right to arrest anyone harboring or helping Border Ruffians, no matter their age or gender. He used this as an excuse to arrest and jail several family members of the Raiders. Unfortunately, the house the women and children were jailed in was not in good shape, and it collapsed on August 13, 1863. Five women died immediately, one died two years later as a result of the collapse, and one lost the use of both legs.
The Raiders responded in kind. At 5 AM, on the morning of August 21, 1863, Quantrill's Raiders, accompanied by about 450 supporters, marched into Lawrence, Kansas, ripping men and boys out of their homes. They murdered 183 males, burning down everything in their way. The Union Jayhawker's, the opposite team of guerrillas, retaliated, and they began hitting back and forth harder and harder, until Quantrill was forced to flee to Texas with his entire force, which promptly split up into smaller groups of raiders. On the way there, though, he and his men killed eighty men at a Union headquarters. This would be referred to as the Barter Springs Massacre.
In Texas, Quantrill was given further missions by the Confederate Army, including catching desserters and Commanches. They failed to catch the Commanches, and they brutally murdered more of the desserters than they brought in, so the Confederates were forced to station other soldiers to defend against the Raiders, their own men. General McCulloch arrested Quantrill on March 28, 1864, but he escaped and fled up to Missouri, joined by his men.
He began losing his power over his men, and became desperate to prove himself. He led those still following him on another raid and massacre on September 27, 1864, in Centralia, Missouri. They raided and burned homes; found 23 unarmed Union soldiers and made them strip down, shooting all but one; they then sent a train on its way with zero people on it, so that it would eventually go out of control and crash.
His desperation growing, he briefly tried to initiate an attack on President Abraham Lincoln in late 1864. There were too many Union officers, though, and he backed off. Instead, he went back to raiding until the day he and his men were apprehended in Kentucky. Shot through the spine (some sources say his chest), he died on June 6, 1865, in a prison in Louisville, Kentucky.
In August 1907, an ex-Michigan cavalry officer claimed to have run into Quantrill on Vancouver Island in Canada. He said he had survived in Kentucky, changed his name to John Sharp, and had traveled around the west, as well as South America, taking on various odd jobs before moving up to Canada. After newspapers spread this story, two men showed up in town then left the next day. John Sharp was found brutally beaten. He died of his wounds without telling the police what had happened. Police never discovered the murderers or the truth.
1. In December of 1860, he killed three Jayhawker's, after pretending to be one of them and going with them on a mission to rescue a man's slaves. That man, Morgan Walker, helped him kill the Union men.
2. Quantrill's Raiders included the James Brothers, the Younger Brothers and Bloody Bill Anderson, who wore a necklace of Yankee scalps as a trophy.
3. The Raiders continued on under different leadership after Quantrill's death. The James-Younger Gang was an extension that broke off of the main group to commit robberies.
4. Considering I've been able to link just about everyone else to Colorado, it's worth mentioning he was around here in 1858 or 1859.
5. In 1860, he started using free black men as bait to capture escaped slaves and return them to their masters for the reward.
6. Four years before his death, Quantrill married a thirteen-year old girl named Sarah Katherine King. She lived with him until his death.
Anyone else terrified by the fact that he was a teacher? Was this a guy just doing his duty, or a bloodthirsty murderer? Did he die in prison or become a Canadian miner?
May you find your Muse.
*Letter Q courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim at clker.com
**Quantrill from LOC archive, Wikimedia Commons
***The grave site of William Quantrill in Higginsville, Missouri - located in the town's Confederate Cemetery ,By KNexus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons