The Lawrence Massacre

The residence of F. W. Read was probably visited by more squads than any other place, as it is situated in the heart of the city. Seven different bands called there that morning. Mr. read had been drilled with his company the day before and had left his gun in the store, he started for it but was met at the door by robbers and retreated back into his house. He ran up stairs and raised his head up to look out of the window, when a bullet struck the window sill within six inches of his right eye, the squad piled bedding and books at the foot of the stairs and set it on fire to burn him out but Mrs. Read put the fire out. The next squad were for stealing, after demanding as they (20) all did fire arms at first, they wanted money next and then helped themselves to whatever they could find. They found in the back side of a bureau drawer a little box containing a pair of gold and coral armlets used to loop up the dress at the shoulder of their little girl Addie who had died a few months before. Mrs. Read begged very hard that he would please not take them as they had been her little dead child's and she wanted them to remember her by, the brute replied with an oath "Damn your dead baby, she'll never need them again." The next squad went in the bed-room, turned the clothes all down, one took out a big bowie knife and cut the mattress for a yard while another lit a match to set it on fire, it proved to be a hair mattress and would not burn, they set the clothing on fire but it was put out. The next squad that rode up, only came in the house, he looked and seemed satisfied that there was not much left in the house worth carrying off, on looking around he coolly said "this is all I want Madame" and stepped up to the piano and with one jerk pulled off the piano cover which was a new and very nice one, walked out took the saddle from his horse and put it on for a saddle blanket. The next squad were half drunk and demanded with an oath who had put the fire out, Mrs. Read told them she did and would do it again, the order was given to hold that woman, a villain grabbed her by the wrists and held her in a vice like grasp, while the others piled up bedding and books on a cotton lounge under a window and set it on fire and remained inside until the smoke drove them all on the porch where Mrs. Read was dragged and held till the casing, curtains and (21) drove them all on the porch where Mrs. Read was dragged and held till the curtains and lounge were burning up and out of the top of the window, when they let her go and said, "Damn you, you can have your home now, if you will put it out," and went away. Mrs. Read rushed through the smoke into the bed-room, grabbed a pillow in each hand, and thus protected, shoved against the window which was so burned that it fell out on the ground and the home was saved. The next squad was commanded by and officer who inquired for Mr. Read, and was told that he had gone east for goods. "Where was your store?" She pointed to where Woodward's Drug Store now is, corner Massachusetts and Henry street, and replied there it is all burning up. One man in his squad immediately replied yes there has some one gone east from that store, there had, it was P.R. Brooks who was then clerking for Mr. Read, which showed how well posted they were and that their spies had been here and done their work only too well. Mrs. Read said "you seem to be an officer, look at this house and at that burning store and say if you have not punished us enough." The officer turned to his men and gave the command, "men go away from here and tell all the other squads no to molest these premises any more to-day, this family has been punished enough," and he remained on the porch for one half hour. He was the only one Mrs. Read saw that day that did not act the brute, and is believed to be a man who is of high respectability now living in Missouri. The last man that came was named Skeggs, to tell what he done would make this story too long, he was fiendish and brutal, he staid too long and was (22) killed, the only one of the rebels known to have been killed.

Mr. Thornton had remained in his house till it was in flames. He then ran out and they shop him three times in the hips. Another shot struck him back of the shoulders, and passed clear down his back. Another shot struck his head. The rebel then leaped from his horse with a brutal oath exclaimed: "I can kill you," and pounded him over the head with the butt end of his revolver till he fell senseless from exhaustion. The man was going to shoot again, but Mrs. Thornton ran between them and prevented him, and the brute soon left. Though so terribly shot Mr. Thornton still lived, but two bullets in the hip joints could never be extracted, and he was a cripple for life.

D.W. Palmer, a gunsmith, was wounded and thrown into the flames of his burning shop. Mr. Langley lived about a mile from town. He was a fine old gentleman of sixty. He was a peaceable man, taking no special part in public affairs. He and wife lived by themselves on a small farm. Two of the pickets stationed outside the town came to the house. Mrs. Langley begged them "to be merciful: they were old people and could not live long at best." But her entreaties had not effect, they hunted the old gentlemen around the house and shot him in the yard. The first shot not doing its work they shot him again and again. They then set fire to the house, but through the energies of the old lady the fire was put out and the house saved.

There were many hair - breadth escapes. Many ran to the cornfields near to town; others (23) fled to the "friendly brush" by the river bank. The ravine which runs almost through the center of town, proved a safe refuge to scores. The cornfield west of town and the woods east, were all alive with refugees. Many hid in the "Park" which was planted with corn. Many others who could get no further, hid among the weeds and plants in their gardens. Mr. Strode, colored blacksmith, had a little patch of tomatoes, not more than ten feet square. He took his money and buried himself among the vines. The rebels came up and burned his shop not more than ten feet off but did not discover him.

Mr. Hampson, who had been, shot lay wounded close by a burning building. It would be certain death to show signs of life. His wife, therefore, who stood by him, asked on of the rebels to help carry her husband's body away from the flames. He took hold of Hampson and carried him out of reach of the fire without discovering that he was alive. As soon as she could, his wife helped him on a hand-cart, and covered him up with rags, and then drew the whole away out of danger. The rebels she passed thought her crazy for "drawing off that load of old rags."

One of the most wonderful escapes was that of Rev. H. d, Fisher. We give an account of it in his own words: "When Quantrell and his gang came into our town, almost all were yet in their beds. My wife and second boy were up, and I in bed, because I had been sick of quinsy. The enemy yelled and fired a signal. I sprang out, and my other children, and we clothed ourselves as quick as it was possible. I took the two oldest (24) boys and started to run for the hill, as we were completely defenseless and unguarded. I ran a short distance, and felt I would be killed. I returned to my house, where I had left my wife with Joel, seven years old, and Frank, six months old, and thought to hide in our cellar. I told Willie, twelve years old, and Eddie ten years old to run for life, and I would hide. I had scarcely found a spot in which to secrete myself, when four murderers entered my house and demanded of my wife, with horrid oaths, where that husband of hers was, who was hid in cellar. She replied, "The cellar is open you can go and see for yourselves. My husband started over the hill with the children." They demanded a light to search. My wife gave them a lighted lamp, and they came, light and revolvers in hand, swearing to kill me a first sight. They came within eight feet of where I lay, but wife's self-possession in giving the light had disconcerted them, and they left without seeing me. They fired the house in four places; but my wife by almost superhuman efforts, and with baby in arms, extinguished the fire. Soon after, three others came and asked for me. But she said, "Do you think he is such a fool as to stay here? They have already hunted for him, but thank God! They did not find him." They then completed their work of pillage and robbery, and fired the house in five places, threatening to kill her if she attempted to extinguish it again. One stood, revolver in hand to execute the threat if it was attempted. The fire burned furiously. The roof fell in, then the upper story, and then the lower floor; but a space about six by twelve feet was by great effort kept (25) perfectly deluged with water by my wife to save me from burning alive. I remained thus concealed as long as I could live in such peril. At length, and while the murderers were still at my front door and all around lot watching for their prey, my wife succeeded, thank God, in covering me with an old dress and a piece of carpet, and thus getting me out into the garden and to the refuge of a little weeping willow covered with morning glory vines, where I was secured from their fiendish gaze and saved from their hellish thirst for my blood. I still expected to be discovered and shot dead. But a neighbor woman who had come to our help, aided my wife in throwing a few things saved from the fire over and around the little tree where I lay, so as to cover me more securely."

Hon. S. A. Riggs, District Attorney, was set upon by the vilest ruffian of the lot. His wife rushed to his side at once. After a short parley the man drew his revolver and took aim. Mr. Riggs pushed the revolver aside and ran. The man started after him, but Mrs. Riggs, seized hold of the bridle rein and clung to it till she was dragged round a house, over a wood pile, and through the yard back on to the street again. Mr. Riggs was still in sight, and the man was taking aim at him again, when Mrs. Riggs seized the other rein and turned his horse round, and Mr. Riggs was beyond reach. All this time the man was swearing and striking at her with his revolver, and threatening to shoot her.

Old Mr. Miner hid among the corn in the Park. Hearing the racket around Mr. Fisher's house near by, he ventured to the edge of the corn to gratify (26) his curiosity. He was seen and immediately shot at. He ran back into the corn, but had not preceded far before he heard them breaking down the fence. The corn was evidently to be searched. He ran, therefore, through the corn, and lay down among the weeds beyond. The weeds only partially covered him, but it was the best he could do. He had scarcely laid down when the rebels came dashing through the corn, and stationing a picket at each corner of the field to prevent escape, they searched the field through but found no one. They did not happen to look among the grass almost at their very feet.

Near the center of town was a sort of out door cellar with a very obscure entrance. A woman, whose name we have been unable to obtain, but who ought to be put on record as one of the heroines of that day, took her station at a convenient distance from that cellar. Every poor fugitive that came into that region, she directed into this hidden cellar. Thus eight or ten escaped from the murderers. Finally, the rebels noticing that their victims always disappeared when they came into this locality, suspected this woman of aiding in their escape. They demanded of her that she should show their hiding place. She refused. One of them drew his revolver, and pointing it at her said, "Tell us or I will shoot you." "You may shoot me," answered the brave woman, "but you will not find the men." Finding they could not intimidate her, the left.

Mr. Bergen was wounded and then taken off with six or eight other prisoners. After taking them a short distance, their captors shot all of them dead but Mr. Bergen. He was lying down (27) exhausted from loss of blood, and for some reason they passed him by. There he lay among the dead, feigning death. After lying a short time, a rebel rode up, and discovering he was not dead, took aim at his head and fired. He felt the ball pass and instinctively dropped his head, and the rebel supposing he had completed his work, rode off. His head was now brought under the body of a young man who had been killed with the rest. There he lay, the living under the dead, till the rebels left town. At one time, the young man's mother came to wash the blood from the face of her murdered son. Mr. Bergen begged her not to move her son's body, as his only hope of life was in laying his head under the lifeless corpse.

Several saved themselves by their ready wit. An officer in the camp of recruits, when the attack was made, ran away at full speed. He was followed by several horsemen, who were firing at him continually. Finding escape impossible, he dashed into the house of a colored family, and in the twinkling of an eye, slipped on a dress and shaker bonnet, passed out the back door and walked deliberately away. The rebels surrounded the house, and then some of them entered and searched, but found no prey.

A son of John Speer hid for some time under the side walk. The fire soon drove him into the street, which was full of rebels. He went boldly up to them and offered his services in holding horses. They asked his name, and thinking that the name Speer would be his death warrant, he answered "John Smith, and he remained among them unharmed to the last.

One man was shot as he was running away, (28) and fell into the gutter. His wife thinking him, killed, began to wring her hands and scream. The rebel thinking from this her husband was dead, left. As soon as he was gone, the man said, "Don't take on so, wife, I don't know as I am hit at all." And so it proved.

Mr. Winchell, being hard pressed, ran into the house of Rev. Charles Reynolds, Rector of the Episcopal Church. Mrs. Reynolds at once arrayed him in female attire, and shaved off his moustache with a knife, and set him in a rocking chair with a baby in his arms, and christened him "Aunt Betsie." The rebels searched the house but did not disturb "Aunt Betsie."

Mr. G. Grovenor, had a narrow and almost providential escape. He lived where he now does corner of Berkely and New Hampshire streets. While standing on his porch a rebel rode up within ten feet of him and snapped his pistol at him, it missed fire. It failed the second time, but at that instant, another gang rode up and the leader said "don't shoot that man," and told Mr. Grovenor to go to the cellar or somewhere. The house was now in flames, but he secreted himself in the cellar under the back kitchen, until the danger had passed. One gang ordered Mrs. Grovenor to draw water for themselves and their horses. A young man, more human than the others alighted from his horse, and told her he would draw the water. This young man said he had no idea that any such murderous work was contemplated. He was told, they were going to re-capture some horses that had been stolen. He had not killed anyone nor set fire to any houses and was not going to. (29)

General Lane, who was of course among the first sought for, hearing them coming, jumped from his bed, seized an ax and chopped the door plate from his front door and then fled in his night clothes to the corn field west of his house, taking the door plate with him; passing through the field he obtained clothes from a house on the outskirts of town and commenced to gather a posse for resistance and pursuit.

John Speer had a son 17 years of age who was sleeping in the Republican (italic) office building, and not the slightest trace of him has ever been found. Another son was also brutally murdered.

Mr. Joseph Savage who lives two miles southwest of town had just arose and was out back making his morning toilet. When he heard the tramp of horses feet coming up the road, and presently heard a loud knocking at the door. He supposed the horsemen were Union troops and the caller, a soldier who wished to make some inquiry. After completing his toilet he opened the door, and the man who had evidently come to murder him was just going out the gate. Mr. Savage owes his life to the deliberate manner in which he performed his morning wash.

Among the last brutal murders perpetrated, was the killing of Mr. Stone and two or three others at the City Hotel or Whitney House, where Quantrell had promised protection and as far as he knew evidently kept his word. But two drunken ruffians, came at the last and hearing the weeping and wailing of some women who had just heard that their husbands were lying in the street dead, demanded what all the fuss was about? On being told, they replied, "we'll give you something (30) to cry for," and immediately commenced firing into the hotel which was full of people. The old man stone as he was called, was the first to fall, at least two others were killed and several wounded.

"As the scene at their entrance was one of the wildest, the scene after their departure was one of the saddest that ever met mortal gaze. Massachusetts street was one bed of embers. On this one street, seventy-five buildings, containing at least twice that number of places of business and offices, was destroyed. The dead lay all along the sidewalk, many of them so burned that they could not be recognized, and scarcely be taken up. Here and there among the embers could be seen the bones of those who had perished in the buildings and been consumed. On two sides of another block lay seventeen bodies. Almost the first sight that met our gaze, was a father, almost frantic, looking for the remains of his son among the embers of his office. The work of gathering and burying the dead soon began. From every quarter they were being brought in, until the floor of the Methodist Church, which was taken as a sort of hospital, was covered with dead and wounded. In almost every house could be heard the wail of the widow and orphan. The work of burial was sad and wearying. Coffins could not be procured. Many carpenters were killed, and most living had lost their tools. But they rallied nobly, and worked night and day, making pine and walnut boxed, fastening them together with the burnt nails gathered from the ruins of the stores. (It sounded rather harsh to the ears of friends, to have the lid nailed over the bodies of their (31) loved ones; but it was the best that could be done.) Thus the work went on for three days, till one hundred and twenty-two were deposited in the Cemetery, and many others in their own yards. Fifty-three were buried in one long grave. Early on the morning after the massacre, our attention was attracted by loud wailings. We went in the direction of the sound, and among the ashes of a large building, sat a woman, holding in her hands the blackened skull of her husband, who was shot and burned in that place. Her cries could be heard over the whole desolated town, and added much to the feeling of sadness and horror which filled every heart."

The rebels were in the town from about five o'clock until nine. About that time a body of United States mounted troops, who had left Kansas City the night before, as soon as Quantrell's movement were known, were seen approaching from the east about eight miles distant. The rebel pickets saw them first from the hill where the university now stands. The forces were at once called together and they left town by the road leading south, thus avoiding the troops. These latter struck across the prairie and overtook the rebels about ten miles south of Lawrence. For some reason, no attack was made, and the two bodies marched in sight of each other all day, and at night the rebels escaped to their hiding places in Missouri. The first ten miles of there route out of town was marked by burning farm buildings and haystacks- they continuing their murderous work.

The population of Lawrence was about 2,000, and there could not have been more than (32) 400 men, a very large number being in the army. The proportion of killed among these was vastly greater than in the bloodiest battle of the war. There were left about eighty widows and 250 orphans. The whole number killed was about one hundred and fifty. One hundred and forty-three bodies were found and buried. Several were killed and burned in buildings and their bodies never found, twenty five were wounded, two of whom died a few days after.

There were between 300 and 400 in the company. About one-half were rebel cavalry thoroughly drilled; the other half were the ruffians of the border. They were the same clans who had disturbed the country in the early days of Kansas- "the border ruffians." They remembered their former defeat, and for all these years had been nursing their wrath to keep it warm. The former clan were the most effective, the latter, the most brutal.

Quantrell* was once a school teacher in Ohio. He came to Kansas before the war

* Since the first pages of this book was in print and stereotyped, the publisher has been shown, in the rooms of the state Historical Society, two autograph letters, signed W. C. QUANTRILL. He evidently spelled his name with an "I" instead of an "E" as it is usually written. One of the letters was written when a young man and was full of good advice to his younger brothers in regard to the importance of an education.

and lived in Lawrence six months. He went by the name of Charly Hart. He boarded at the City Hotel, where he kept his prisoners during the slaughter. He became implicated in a horse stealing affair, which at that time was a fatal disease, and left for parts unknown. When the war broke out he found it convenient to take his place on the rebel side of (33) the line. His fate has always been involved in mystery. He has been reported killed at a dozen different times, and has been reported as living in half a dozen different places. There is little doubt however, but he was killed or disabled in the spring following the raid. About June 1864 he very suddenly disappeared from the field of action, and was never present again. There is a belief that he died of wounds and disease some time after this in the hospital at Louisville, which is not unlikely.


Many other states including Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania had severe raids during the war, but none that approached the Quantrell Raid in complete destruction of life and property. The Legislature of their states have assumed the losses and paid the sufferers, while the Legislature of Kansas have never done anything for the widows and orphans, whose husbands and fathers helped cut out from the "Great American Desert" the best and richest agricultural state that God's bright sun ever shone upon.

Notwithstanding there is about money enough in the State Treasury to pay it, or the fact that it would be only a tax of one mill on the dollar each year for four years, if it were necessary to raise the funds that way, there is a moral certainty that the United States would assume the debt and pay back to the state the just claim it has been reserved for the legislature of 1865 to immortalize themselves, by paying a bill for their relief, which in justice they should and we have no doubt but will do. (34)

Partial list of killed and wounded, taken from the Leavenworth Conservative of August 26, 1863:


    • Wm. Williamson.
    • Jno. Green.
    • Danial Palmer.
    • Haron Halderman
    • Mr. Lougley.
    • Saml. Markle.
    • Jno. Anderson.
    • James Woods.
    • Jas. O'Neil.
    • Levi Gates.
    • John Frawley.
    • Watt Griswold.
    • John Gill.
    • Jno.Lawrie.
    • Geo. Coates.
    • Asbury Parker.
    • Mr. Roach.
    • L.L. Swann
    • Fred. Klaus.
    • S.H. Fritch.
    • Fred. Kimball.
    • Mr. Murphy.
    • L. D. Coleman.
    • Jas. Perine.
    • Gen. Geo. W. Collamore.
    • Unknown.
    • Jos. Lowe.
    • Chas. Palmer.
    • Pat Keiff.
    • Unknown.
    • Louis Wise.
    • H.C.trask.
    • S. S. Snyder.
    • Dr. J.F.griswold.
    • Jno. Speer, Jr.
    • S.M. Thorp.
    • Nathan Stone.
    • Abner Griswold.
    • Lemuel Fillmore.
    • Jno. Zimmerman.
    • Mr. Mc. Clellan.
    • Carl Engler.
    • Addison Waugh.
    • Geo. Burt.
    • D.C. Allison.
    • A. reedmiller.
    • Mr. Martha.
    • Jas. Cooper.
    • Eight in one place.
    • Jno. Little.
    • Five in another.
    • Danl. Markle.
    • Jno. S. Crane.
    • Louis Markle.
    • R. C. Dix
    • Aug. Ehles.
    • Young Dix.
    • Henry (a German.)
    • Seven negroes in one house.
    • Saml. Bowers.
    • eight colored in different places.
    • chas. Riggs.
    • Jas. Eldridge.
    • Henry Linback.
    • Judge Carpenter.
    • Wm. Klares.
    • Dulinsky.
    • James Wilson.
    • Saml. Jones.
    • James Watson.
    • R. Martin.
    • Jno. Evans.
    • Mr. MacFarland.
    • J. McFradden.
    • Negro.
    • Ellis (colored).
    • E. P. Fitch.
    • ____Hendrix.
    • Mr. Cornell.
    • M. Meekly.
    • J. Pollock.
    • Saml. Reynolds.
    • Rich Loomis.
    • Phillip Albach.
    • Antoney Giebal.
    • Seven unknown (colored) in one house.
    • Mr. Brant.
    • Jas. Breckelsbauer.
    • Four unknown Germans in other places.
    • Eight unknown in one place.
    • Five unknown in another.
    • Eight unknown (colored) in other places.
    • Four unknown at Hazeltines Boarding House. (35)


    • G.H. Sargent, (died.)
    • G.E. Smith.
    • Young Callamore.
    • C. Livingston.
    • H.W. Baker.
    • Joe Eldridge.
    • Geo. E. Holt.
    • ____Holmes.
    • Jas. Brown.
    • ____Barnard.
    • Wm. Laman.
    • ____Bergen.
    • A.D. Lee.
    • ____Edwards.
    • Jas. B. Finlay.
    • ____Miers.
    • J.W. Thornton.
    • Dennis Berryman.
    • Jno. F. Hampson.
    • Jno. S. Drake.
    • Homer Hays.
    • R. H. Fitts.


    • Mr. Becker
    • Wm. Klefizr.
    • Sanger

  • Killed 134.

  • Wounded 22.

  • Missing 3. (36)

Part One

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