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1863 August 29: Quantrill’s Raid: “Every person who engaged in the destruction of Lawrence is doomed to suffer death”

September 2, 2013

Quantrill’s Raid—also known as the Lawrence Massacre—took place on August 21, 1863, when William Quantrill led a rebel guerrilla attack on Lawrence, Kansas, a pro-Union town. Between 300 and 400 hundred riders, over the course of four hours, pillaged and set fire to the town, burning to the ground a quarter of the buildings in Lawrence. They also killed between 185 and 200 men and boys, the majority of the male population.

The News.

CINCINNATI, August 25.—Some particulars of the explosion on the steamer City of Madison, at Vicksburg, were received here last night.

The steamer was being loaded with ammunition, and had received nearly a full load, when a negro carrying a percussion shell on board, let it fall, causing its instant explosion.  The boat took fire, and it was soon communicated to the ammunition on board.  The steamer was entirely destroyed.  Out of one hundred and sixty men on board, only four are known to have escaped.  The City of Madison was a large side-wheel boat, owned by Captain J. S. Neal, of Madison, Indiana, and worth about $40,000.

Gold is down to 22 cents in New York.

The British steamer Hebs, while trying to run the blockade off New Inlet, North Carolina, was driven ashore by the gunboat Niphon, and burnt.

North Carolina bids defiance to Jeff. Davis [Jefferson Davis].

Mayor Opdyke [George Opdyke] of New York, vetoed the $3,000,000 appropriation of the N. Y. City Council, passed to exempt the rioters from service, under the draft, on the 25th inst.

He proposes to provide for the exemption only of policemen, active firemen and active militia-men who may be drafted, and to provide for destitute families of citizens who may also be drafted.

The message is a quiet one, and discusses the merits of the questions involved.

The city of Lawrence, Kansas, has been burnt by guerrillas under the notorious Quantrell [sic].  The city was sacked, citizens shot down in cold blood, women ravished in the streets, and in less than four hours a peaceful city of 4000 inhabitants utterly destroyed.  Jim Lane [James H. Lane] and the Kansas boys have taken the trail and blood will again flow on the border.

Ruins of Lawrence, Kansas, from Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (see footnote 1)

Ruins of Lawrence, Kansas, from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (see footnote 1)

KANSAS CITY, Aug. 29.—Quantrel’s [sic] men are scattered in their fortresses throughout the border counties and are still being hunted by our cavalry.  Troops have come from all parts of the district.  Many of them have abandoned their worn out horses and taken to the brush on foot.  They were all mounted at Lawrence, with horses captured there, leading their own back packed with plunder.  Led horses and stolen goods were nearly all abandoned in the chase, before they got far into Missouri.  Over 300 horses have been re-taken by our troops, including some of those taken at Lawrence.  Most of the goods and most of the money stolen has been retaken, and will as far as possible, be restored.

Reports have been read that one more of the number have been killed since last accounts, making 50 in all.  No prisoners have been taken and none will be.  Every person who engaged in the destruction of Lawrence is doomed to suffer death.  The houses and property of all known guerrillas is being burned.  Little Kansas has got her blood up, and will do the job up thoroughly this time.

1.  Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, by Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden (Chicago: McDonnell, 1866-68): 591; available in the UWRF Archives (E 468.7 .G87 1866).

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