On August 21, 1863 William C. Quantrill and a band of 450 proslavery yahoos raided Lawrence, Kansas and butchered 182 individuals, including children.
Quantrill and his men staged numerous raids into Kansas during the early part of the Civil War. He was quickly labeled an outlaw by the Union for his attacks on pro Union forces. He was involved in several skirmishes with Jayhawkers (pro Union guerilla bands) and eventually was made a Captain in the Confederate Army. His attitude towards his role in the Civil War drastically changed in 1862 when the Commander of the Department of Missouri, Major General Henry W. Halleck ordered that guerrillas such as Quantrill and his men would be treated as robbers and murderers, not normal prisoners of war. Before this proclamation, Quantrill acted as if he were a normal soldier adhering to principals of accepting enemy surrender. After this, he gave an order to give ‘no quarter’.
Well, of course, he was a criminal and this ‘excuse’ is pitiful.
On August 21, 1863, Quantrill led his band of about 450 men into Lawrence, Kansas. They attacked this pro Union stronghold killing over 150 men, few of them offering resistance. In addition, Quantrill’s Raiders burned and looted the town. In the North, this event became known as the Lawrence Massacre and was vilified as one of the worst events of the Civil War.
We are often wooed by historical images of southern gentleman joining in defense of the South against the tyrannical aggression of the militant Yankees. But Quantrill an his thugs may ring truer not only of the typical southern attitude of the time, (outside of certain genteel quarters of Old Virginia) but the reactionism of this band of thugs also resonates with what we still see today, in decreasing frequency (owing to dilution of the south with new people and sometimes new ideas) in the obnoxious southern racism wrapped in a pseudo-patriotic Southern Flag.
The Civil War was fought to end slavery. And in some people’s mind the war is still on.