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Lawrence Massacre

raid in the American Civil War

The Lawrence Massacre (also known as Quantrill's Raid) was an attack on the town of Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863. The attack was a battle in the U.S. Civil War. The Confederates won the battle, as group of guerillas led by William Quantrill rode into town and shot every man they saw.[2] About 150 people were killed.

Lawrence massacre
Part of the American Civil War
Battle of Lawrence.png
An artist's drawing of the destruction of Lawrence, Kansas, and the massacre of its people by Confederate guerrillas on August 21, 1863
DateAugust 21, 1863
Location
Result

Confederate victory

Belligerents

 United States (Union)

 Confederate States of America

Commanders and leaders
None[1] William C. Quantrill
Units involved
Civilian population of Lawrence
Unmustered recruits
Quantrill's Raiders
Strength
0 300–400
Casualties and losses
164 civilians 40

BackgroundEdit

By 1863, Kansas had had a lot of violence. This is because people disagreed about whether Kansas should allow slavery or not.

In the summer of 1856, the first sacking of Lawrence started a guerrilla war in Kansas that lasted for years. John Brown might be the most famous person involved in the violence of the late 1850s that fought on the abolitionist or Jayhawker side. However, there many groups fought for each side during the "Bleeding Kansas" period.

By the beginning of the American Civil War, Lawrence was already a target for pro-slavery violence. This is because Lawrence was seen as the anti-slavery city in the state and, more importantly, a starting place for Union and Jayhawker attacks into Missouri. At first, the town and area around it were very prepared; they reacted strongly to any rumors that pro-slavery people might be coming to Lawrence. However, by the summer of 1863, this never happened, so the people were not very afraid, and defenses were relaxed.[3]

Reasons for the attackEdit

Retaliation for Jayhawker attacksEdit

Lawrence was a headquarters for a group of Jayhawkers (sometimes called "Red Legs"). They had started a campaign in late March 1863 with the goal to end support from the people for the Confederate guerillas. Union General Blunt described the actions of the soldiers as if "a reign of terror started, and no man's property was safe, nor was his life worth much if he fought them in their plans to rob and steal."[4] Many Jayhawker leaders like Charles "Doc" Jennison, James Montgomery, and George Henry Hoyt attacked Western Missouri. This upset both pro-southern and pro-Union civilians and politicians.[5] The historian Albert Castel says that revenge was the main reason. The Jayhawkers also wanted to steal, but revenge was their main reason.[6]

Quantrill himself said that his reason for the attack was "to steal and destroy the town as revenge for Osceola."[6]

Collapse of the Women's Prison in Kansas CityEdit

The collapse of the Women's Prison in Kansas City is also often believed to have made some people want to join in on the attack.[7]

AftermathEdit

The Lawrence massacre was one of the bloodiest events in the history of Kansas. The Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence wasn't destroyed, but many of its members were killed. Also, many of its records were destroyed.[8]

After the attack, Quantrill brought his men south to Texas for the winter. By the next year, however, the raiders disbanded as a unified force. They were unable to get similar successes. Quantrill himself died of wounds he got in Kentucky in 1865. By that point, he had only a few supporters left. Frank James and his younger brother, Jesse James were some of his supporters.[9]

After Quantrill's attack, the Union built several military posts on Mount Oread. These were built to help guard the rebuilt city. However, no more attacks happened in Lawrence, and these forts were removed.[10][11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. No union commander present
  2. "William Quantrill and the Lawrence Massacre". xroads.virginia.edu.
  3. Castel, Albert (1997). Civil War Kansas. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. pp. 124–6.
  4. Blunt, James G. (May 1932). "General Blunt's Account of His Civil War Experiences". Kansas Historical Quarterly 1 (3): 239. 
  5. Goodrich, Thomas (1992). Bloody Dawn: The Story of the Lawrence Massacre. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. pp. 4–6. ISBN 9780873384766.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Castel, Albert E. (1999). William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 142.
  7. Epps, Kristen (2014). "Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence". Civil War on the Western Border. Kansas City Public Library. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  8. Sellen, Al. "A Brief Outline of Plymouth's History". Plymouth Congregational Church. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  9. Wellman, Paul I. (1961). A Dynasty of Western Outlaws. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 61.
  10. Pollard, Jr, William C. (1992). "Kansas Forts During the Civil War". Kansas History. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  11. Bisel, Debra Goodrich; Martin, Michelle M. (2013). "Camp Ewing: 1864–1865". Kansas Forts & Bases: Sentinels on the Prairie. Charleston, SC: The History Press. ISBN 9781614238683.

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