Quantrill the Rapscallion

My new book, Civil War Rogues, Rascals, and Rapscallions, is the second in my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 At a Time.”  Over the next few days I will be presenting samples from the book, which is available, along with all my other books, at


“At the Vicksburg battlefield park, Missouri’s monument is the only one commemorating both sides of the conflict.  Eminent historian James McPherson noted that “More than any other state, Missouri suffered the horrors of internecine warfare and the resulting hatreds which persisted for decades after Appomattox.” Confederate guerrilla leader William Quantrill, as much as anyone else, is responsible for turning large areas of that state into a no-man’s land of hit-and-run raids, arson, ambush, and murder.  (Battle Cry of Freedom). 

In early 1861 Quantrill joined Confederate General Sterling Price’s forces, and later he created his own army, “Quantrill’s Raiders,” consisting of pro-Confederate bushwhackers.  Among his recruits were William “Bloody Bill” Anderson and Jesse James’s brother Frank.  Over the next several months the group, with Quantrill now officially recognized as part of the Confederate forces, attacked several cities and Union army encampments.  They burned and laid waste as they went in what can only be called a nihilistic spirit.

The group’s most vicious attack was on Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863.     Quantrill led a horde of 450 men against that Unionist town, hoping also to kill Republican Senator Jim Lane.  Quantrill ordered his men to “kill every male and burn every house.” They did, murdering 183 men and burning down 185 buildings.  Quantrill escaped a massive manhunt, even killing some 100 Union soldiers in another raid on the way.  Soon after, Quantrill was praised by Confederate General Price for his “gallant struggle…against despotism and the oppression of our State.”

For a different viewpoint, here is a link to the “William Quantrill Society:


Below is an image of Quantrill:



Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of seven more Civil War books -- with more to come!!

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