August 21, 1863: Raid on Lawrence Kansas


The bloodiest atrocity of the Civil War occurred one hundred and fifty-five years ago.  The Civil War in Kansas and Missouri was war to the knife and the knife to the hilt.   “Captain” William C. Quantrill had been a practitioner in the bloody art of raid and counter-raid since 1861.  He planned the raid to kill Senator Jim Lane, leader of the Jayhawkers of Kansas, in retaliation for Lane’s plundering of Osceola, Missouri in 1861 during which nine pro-Confederate men had been executed following a drum head courtmartial.  The collapse of a house used as a jail for pro-Confederate women in Kansas City, Kansas on August 13, 1863 inflamed Confederate partisans.  Four women were killed, including the 15 year old sister of “Bloody Bill” Anderson, Quantrill’s chief lieutenant.  Gathering 450 raiders, Quantrill rode into Lawrence at dawn on August 21, 1863.

The raiders embarked upon a four hour orgy of murder and plunder of the unarmed citizenry.  Between 185 to 200 men and boys were murdered.  The cut off point for boys was the vague standard of whether they could carry a rifle.  The youngest boy slain was 12 or 14 years old.  No outrages were committed against the women of the town, other than seeing their husbands, brothers and sons, and other male relatives and friends, gunned down before their eyes.  Lane, ironically, escaped by running into a cornfield in his nightshirt.

In the aftermath of the raid, General Thomas Ewing, Jr. issued General Order No. 11 ordering the evacuation of Confederate civilians from four Missouri western counties: (more…)

Published in: on August 21, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on August 21, 1863: Raid on Lawrence Kansas  
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