KanColl Books


by Adolph Roenigk


by W. K. Cone
Ut ridentibus arrident, ita stenibus adfient Humani vultis, siris
me stere, dolumdum, est Primum ispsi tibi.

     William C. Quantrell, alone the historic factor and leader in this raid and massacre, was a native of Canal Dover, Ohio, was a young school teacher of good family, and was brought to Kansas by Col. Torry, who for several years in border times, was proprietor of the Torry Hotel, at Paola, Kansas, where I met Quantrell, when I first came to Kansas, in the latter 50’s and later at Lawrence, Kansas, where Quantrell made his home at Mr. Stone’s Hotel. Quantrell did not manifest any sympathy for, nor identity with the Southern cause, but rather with the Jayhawkers and red-legs who were free state people, but the lawless condition on the Missouri border, soon led to the organization Bush-Whacker and Guerrilla bands, with whom Bill Quantrell become Fac-To-Tum, originator and leader of all the field of desperadoes, the chief of ten thousand, and altogether bloody (not lovely) no other cognomen, as applied to Guerrilla bands was ever heard on the Kansas border but Quantrell, and although made up from Missouri rebels, they were not recognized by the Confederate army, nor were the Guerrilla auxiliaries of the Southern cause, as their work of destruction was chiefly upon the lives and property of their own people in Missouri, and their raid upon Lawrence cannot be excused upon any political claim. Their long continued scenes of carnage had sank all human instincts into the spirit of murder and robbery; no battle smoke ever rose above a field of strife, that so darkened earth and sky, and sun, as filled Kansas during her struggle for freedom, and no single event in the twilight of her history more vividly depicts the scene than when the hosts of Satan shall visit earth to wreak revenge. The raid by the Quantrell Guerrillas upon the beautiful young city of Lawrence, Kansas, in the early morning of August 21, 1863.

Did not blood resist, the power of time’s deface,
I might not through memory, the bloody steps retrace.

     The ear may lend credence to the tale, or color to embellish the History; but like a beautiful form without the breath of life, as compared to the matter, when the eye has seen the proof.


     A living witness to the Quantrell raid;
      When the spirit of friends to Quantrell said,
     Wipe out, destroy, let no boasting victor remain,
      Your opportunity can never come again.

     Lawrence was well guarded several months prior to the raid by United States Troops expecting the raid, but the quiet, like the calm that precedes a storm, lulled people into a delusive security, and on the 20th of August all were sent away and that night the raid came, revealing the spy in the person of an attractive young lady from Missouri, who had been in Lawrence several weeks mingling in society, and if there is any varied degree of torture in perdition that spy has deserved the darkest-criminus-particepus. The loss of life and property, and the suffering by this Quantrell raid, is beyond all description and estimate save by those who saw and suffered, of whom but few remain, who can go into memories picture gallery and delineate the scene. Yet so might that loss have been avoided and that page of Lawrence’s history remained bright and fair; First, by retaining the troops a short time longer, the Rebel army of General Price had planned to invade Missouri and Kansas, which they did and after the three days’ battle near Westport, Missouri were defeated and their final retreat south made, and after the Lawrence raid Quantrell’s entire forces went south and were not heard for more in Missouri as Guerrillas.
     Second, there were plenty of weapons in Lawrence and brave men to use them, but the town was surrendered by the Provo Marshall, and the long extended dreams of horror were realized. There was not defenders upon the city walls, no army to attack the besiegers in the rear.
     The raid proper is now in order. On the 21st of August, 1863, at four oclock A. M., just at day dawn, I was writing in my office which was directly across the street from the Eldridge house in the Lieby building. In the south part of town, on the Main Street entrance, there was a tent with about twenty young Federal recruits, mere boys not yet mustered into the military service. Hark! Guerrillas! Guerrillas! They are killing the recruits, and the murderous volleys and wail from the murdered recruits, wafted on the morning air, to wake the populace from the poesy of dreams to the realities of tragedy. The killing of the boy recruits occupied not more than five minutes, when like a flash the bandits rode up the main street and halted in front of the Eldridge House, then one of the finest


hotels in Kansas; Quantrell at the head of the band. My position in my office was less than fifty feet away from Quantrell on his horse; the entire column of bandits, numbering over two hundred, were in my plain view--and as I looked down the line it seemed that Quantrell in this effort had scoured the hills and beaten all the Missouri brush to gather things (numerically) great, in appearance human, in instinct devil, truly a noted band of braves, made up largely of boys that would have ran away at the explosion of a fire-cracker. I had seen bands of Indian warriors with tomahawk and scalping knife--war paint and feather, but they appeared fine and even civilized, when compared to this scurvy outfit before me, all tattered and torn, with looks forlorn, and locks unshorn.
     The Eldridge House that morning was filled with quests, travelers, officers and soldiers on furlough, with many ladies. The first salute from Quantrell was to demand the surrender of the town, a white flag of truce was hung out from an up-story window. I could hear distinctly every word of the parley. Quantrell proposed the condition that if the town was surrendered they would not burn the town, nor kill the people. These terms were at once accepted by the Provost Marshall. Then all the people who were in the hotel were ordered to vacate, and as thy came out of the hotel they were all assembled in the street, taken in charge by Quantrell and his officers and marched to the Stone Hotel on the river bank--east side of town--kept by Mr. Stone and family, early pioneers, and very nice loyal citizens, with whom Quantrell had made his home before Guerrilla time when he was considered an honest citizen, and now in this hour of invasion Quantrell manifested a regard for Mr. Stone and family for favors in former years, so a guard was placed around the Stone Hotel and all the prisoners taken from the Eldridge House were safely guarded and no one was hurt during the raid, with one sad exception. Some of the pickets became drunk and either not knowing, or forgetting the orders from Quantrell for the protection of the hotel, rode up and with shooting and yells ordered all the people to come out of the house. As no one heeded the order, Mr. Stone came out on the porch to reason with the two desperadoes when he was shot and killed. Within about ten minutes from that time Quantrell started on the march with the prisoners for Mr. Stone’s hotel.. I heard Quantrell in front of my office giving orders to his officers which were to first set fire to the Eldridge House and all the houses on the Main Street, then scatter over


the town and set fire to the houses as they went. And I heard Quantrell in loud voice give this important and final order to his forces who were yet assembled en masse around Quantrell, which order was for them not go into any part of the town where the people were firing guns, as they had to hurry away and had no time to engage with the scattered persons at their houses. Very truly was their time in town limited, but their bravery was more limited, for they were cowards and ventured nothing. The order was well followed and in the parts of the town where citizens kept up shooting guns about their houses, the raiders did not venture and no loss was sustained. In a moment after giving this order Quantrell and his gang were scattered. From my office there were three views of the town from which I could see the work of the murderers setting fire to the houses and hear them shooting the people. All who came out of the buildings on the main business street, as well as citizens who came out of their houses in their efforts to escape, were shot and but few were left wounded. Wives who endeavored to shield their husbands with their clothing were ruthlessly pushed aside and the husbands shot. In one case a prominent minister had just completed a fine new residence, in the front yard of which the workmen had left a drain deep enough to shield a person, and the parson law down in this hole and was covered by his wife with the parlor carpet and while the parson was well trampled over was not discovered but his house was burned. And thus the burning and killing went on. My position as an observer was a compulsory one, that my only safety was to remain where I was resulted from my clear conviction that neither Quantrell nor his company would enter any stairway, nor any building, which proved true. I have never heard of any other one having the same plain and undisturbed view of that Quantrell raid from the beginning to the end that I had. The killing of my citizen friends, the falling of burning buildings, and I do not believe there is an exact parallel to this raid in the history of our country. After four hours spent in the most extreme cruelty and destruction when some three hundred citizens had been killed and wounded, and after the Eldridge House in front of my office and all the business houses had fallen in the fire about eight o’clock A. M., I saw the Guerrillas in solid column marching off south, then I realized that I was left and had also better be moving. The house I was in was a stone house and burned slow, but the windows were burned out, the roof was falling in and my margin hole for the exit


was very small, yet I escaped safely, and after being halted a few times by the mounted pickets, Southern Chivalry, F. F. sah! who said as I was crippled they did not want me, so I went safely to the Stone Hotel where the prisoners were. Only one Guerrilla was killed, that by a boy fifteen years old. One incident I must mention. Between a few of the raiders and myself there was a mutual recognition. In 1857 I had taught school in Missouri and some boys who had been on the bad side of that school, I saw among Quantrell’s Guerrilla boys and readily knew them. Thus ends the Quantrell raid, a personal history of which must be written in plain matter of fact words to meet the interest of all readers.

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