William Clarke Quantrill was the leader of the Missouri Partisan Rangers during the Civil War and has the dubious distinction of being one of the “Bloodiest men in the history of America”. He was deemed a criminal by the Union and hailed as a hero by the confederates. Quantrill was not always a southern sympathizer though. That didn’t happen until he became a teamster at Fort Leavenworth. There he enlisted under the name of Charlie Hart and soon befriended some confederacy sympathizers.
About a year before the War Between the States started, Quantrill was resigned to the fact that he would be a farmer. He was living with a Native American family near Lawrence Kansas and then found out that there was a good deal of money to be made by capturing runaway slaves. Always the con man, William Quantrill came up with a plan. He befriended some border ruffians as well as some jayhawkers and decided to play both sides against the middle. He helped the jayhawkers free the slaves and then helped the border ruffians recapture them and got the reward money.
Once the war was underway, Quantrill moved to Texas and hooked up with a Cherokee half breed named Joel Mayes. Mayes was also a confederate sympathizer. Quantrill rode with Joel and his band of sympathizers for a while and learned about the strategies of war. After the Confederates won the battle in Springfield in August of 1861, he joined a confederate army until the end of September. It was then that he moved back to Jackson County and started his own band of guerillas. He found about fifteen men to follow him and would not accept anyone unless their purpose was seeking revenge for personal and family wrongs perpetrated by the Union Army and Quantrill’s raiders were born.
By the time 1863, rolled around Quantrill was commissioned as a Captain as a Missouri Partisan Ranger for his role in helping the Confederate army by ambushing Union troops, attacking Union homesteads and union sympathizing businesses. Quantrill was commissioned right after he assisted the Confederate army in capturing Independence, Mo. At about three o’clock in the morning. Quantrill’s raiders now consisted of about three hundred men.
William Quantrill has gone down in history as one of the bloodiest men in the history of these United States and part of that is because of his raid on the town Lawrence, Kansas where many innocent people were slaughtered. I will have a future article about the Raid on Lawrence and other raids that he had a part of.