Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quantrill & His Raiders

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!!

uantrill. William Quantrill.

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.

Those he had been running with in Utah were pro-slavery, and it is said they shaped his opinion considerably. He joined the Confederate side in the Civil War and quickly rose in the ranks, becoming a Captain, and eventually a Colonel, and leading a team called Quantrill's Raiders, who used guerrilla techniques to terrorize Union supporters and military members in Kansas and Missouri. He was considered a terrorist by Union sympathizers and a hero by Confederate sympathizers, and his crew was just one of many "Border Ruffians," groups who perpetrated skirmishes along the Kansas/Missouri border.

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
**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


soggy in the corner said...

Wow, that was interesting!Always wondered about Quantrills Raiders. Maybe because of The Outlaw Josie Wales?

Rebecca said...

wow very interesting

Rosaria Williams said...

Another scoundrel who made a living changing names and tricking people. A teacher? Hard to imagine.

Shannon said...

Strangely interesting! I need to

Unknown said...

I'm a bit perturbed he was a teacher...but it explains some of the violence of the times.
Rhia from Five Minute Piece for Inspiration (about #776 on A to Z list).

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

He was a really violent man.

Jess said...

Wow, that was very interesting!! Very creepy, too, and crazy that he was a teacher!! Great Q word :)

So nice to meet you!

Gregg Metcalf said...

Let's just thank God he is dead. I didn't realize ruthless and brutal he was. Another interesting piece.

Chuck said...

I have heard of Quantrill's Raiders but never knew all this detailed information or that the James boys were part of the Raiders. Now I know where the Kansas basketball team got their mascot - Jayhawks.

Sue said...

I think it is interesting that he taught not once but twice, in Ohio and Kansas. Thank goodness 16-year-old kids no longer teacher. I do not even want to imagine the state of the country if that still happened.

What makes a person become violet, let alone a serial killer? I would be interested to know about his childhood. You do not wake up one day and make killer your career choice, or did they then? Was he really innocent of the first accusation that had him ditching Dover, Ohio? Did the Civil War ignite something in him?

Nice post. My first time here, thanks to A to Z. I run Kid Lit Reviews

Andrew Leon said...

I vaguely remember studying this guy when I was in high school, but I didn't remember any of this stuff.

Tina said...

Love the history. What a scoundrel! I'm with you, the fact that he was a teacher makes him extra creepy!
Tina @ Life is Good
Co-Host of the April A to Z Challenge
Twitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

Shannon Lawrence said...

Soggy, are they in that movie? I haven't watched in years. I do remember that one could play a drinking game to the number of times he spits.

Becca, thanks!

Rosaria, horrifying about the teacher part, isn't it?

Shannon, I think there's a lot people don't know about the past (including me) until they really look into it. It's all so fascinating.

Rhia, I found that disturbing, too.

Alex, he truly was.

Jess, great to meet you, too! Creepy is right.

Gregg, scary how brutal some of these people were. Sure, we knew they were involved in violence, but there's violence for the sake of violence and situational violence.

Chuck, ah yes, the Jayhawks! Yikes.

Sue, I agree. Something puts a person on that path. Then again, one can be a sociopath from the beginning, but still take different paths. It would be interesting to know the truth and details about so many of these people's childhoods and early life experiences.

Andrew, I wonder how much of the real detail they would have given?

Tina, definitely extra creepy! Blech.