Quantrill's Raiders

Quantrill's Raiders

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Quantrill's Raiders

country=Confederate States of America (claimed)
branch=Partisan Rangers, American Civil War
dates=1861–May, 1865
battles=American Civil War
notable_commanders=Captain William Quantrill

Quantrill's Raiders were a loosely organized force of pro-Confederate bushwhackers who fought in the American Civil War under the leadership of William Clarke Quantrill. The name "Quantrill's Raiders" seems to have been attached to them long after the war, when the veterans would hold reunions.


Missouri was fertile ground for the outbreak of guerrilla warfare in late 1861. Secessionists had already been organized to some extent by the proslavery "Border Ruffian" movement of the 1850s, in which Missourians crossed the border into the Kansas Territory in an effort to make it a slave state. Unionists were less well organized, but the populace was nevertheless deeply divided.

In 1861, the campaign between Union and Missouri forces rolled back and forth across the southern half of the state, until finally the governor, Claiborne F. Jackson, and the Missouri State Guard, under the command of General Sterling Price, were largely forced into Arkansas before the end of the year. Across the countryside, however, skirmishes erupted between Unionist and secessionist Missourians, and between secessionists and Union irregulars from Kansas who entered the state to plunder.

The insurgency flared in those areas where Union forces were weakest. As Union soldiers concentrated to fight against Price's State Guard and regular Confederate forces under General Ben McCulloch, few were available to occupy the territory to the rear. It was only in late 1861, as garrisons were established in important towns, that the weaker and more poorly organized Confederate guerrillas were defeated, and stronger, more capable units came together. The most notorious of these was that led by William Clarke Quantrill [ [http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/i_r/quantrill.htm PBS - THE WEST - William Clarke Quantrill ] ] .

Methods and legal status

Quantrill was not the only Confederate guerrilla operating in Missouri, but he rapidly won the greatest renown. He and his men ambushed Union patrols and supply convoys, seized the mail, and occasionally struck at undefended towns on either side of the Kansas-Missouri border. Reflecting the internecine nature of the guerrilla conflict in Missouri, Quantrill directed much of his effort against Unionist civilians, attempting to drive them from of the territory where he operated. Under his direction, Confederate partisans also perfected military tactics such as coordinated and synchronized attacks, planned dispersal after an attack using pre-planned routes and relays of horses, and other technical methods, including the use of the long-barreled revolvers that later became the preferred firearm of western lawmen and outlaws alike. The James-Younger Gang, many of whose members had ridden with Quantrill, applied these same techniques after the war.Quantrill claimed sanction under the Confederate Partisan Ranger Act, which authorized certain guerrilla activities, and apparently he had received a regular Confederate commission as a captain. However, like almost all of the Missouri bushwhackers, he operated outside of the Confederate chain of command. Some of his activities, most notably the massacre of some 200 men and boys, as young as seven years old, in Lawrence, Kansas in August 1863, appalled the Confederate authorities. In the winter of 1862-63, when Quantrill led his men behind Confederate lines into Texas, their often lawless presence proved an embarrassment to the Confederate command. Yet the generals appreciated his effectiveness against Union forces, which never gained the upper hand over Quantrill.

Dissolution and aftermath

During that winter, Quantrill lost his hold over his men. In early 1864, the guerrillas that he had led through the streets of Lawrence returned to Missouri from Texas in separate bands, none of them led by Quantrill himself. Though Quantrill would gather some of his men again at the very end of 1864, the days of Quantrill's Raiders were over.

Quantrill died at the hands of Union forces in Kentucky in May 1865, but his legacy would live on. Many of his men, including Frank James, rode in 1864 under one of his former lieutenants, "Bloody Bill" Anderson, who was killed in October 1864. Much of that group remained together under the leadership of Archie Clement, who kept the gang together after the war, and harassed the Republican state government of Missouri during the tumultuous year of 1866. In December 1866, state militiamen killed Clement in Lexington, Missouri, but his men continued on as outlaws, emerging in time as the James-Younger Gang.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Quantrill's Raiders — Quantrill’s Raiders [Quantrills Raiders] noun [pl] a small independent military group that fought for the ↑Confederate States in ↑Missouri and ↑Kansas during the ↑American Civil War. It was led by Captain William Quantrill …   Useful english dictionary

  • Quantrill’s Raiders — n [pl] a small independent military group that fought for the Confederate States in Missouri and Kansas during the American Civil War. It was led by Captain William Quantrill (1837–65), a former criminal, and included Jesse and Frank James and… …   Universalium

  • Quantrill — can refer to:* William Quantrill, Confederate soldier * Quantrill s Raiders, a guerilla group commanded by William Quantrill * William Clarke Quantrill Society, a society dedicated to the memory of William Quantrill * Paul Quantrill, baseball… …   Wikipedia

  • Quantrill — William Clark Quantrill William Clark Quantrill (* 31. Juli 1837 in Canal Dover, Ohio; † 6. Juni 1865 in Louisville, Kentucky) war ein berüchtigter Partisanenführer im amerikanischen Sezessionskrieg …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • QUANTRILL, William Clarke — (1837–1865)    Historically, Quantrill was a schoolteacher turned Southern partisan, known for developing guerilla hit and run raids of Union sympathizers in Kansas and Missouri. History usually portrays him as a cruel, vicious murderer and… …   Westerns in Cinema

  • Quantrill, William C. — ▪ American outlaw in full  William Clarke Quantrill,  pseudonym  Charley Hart  born July 31, 1837, Canal Dover, Ohio, U.S. died June 6, 1865, Louisville, Ky.  captain of a guerrilla band irregularly attached to the Confederate Army during the… …   Universalium

  • Quantrill, William C(larke) — born July 31, 1837, Canal Dover, Ohio, U.S. died June 6, 1865, Louisville, Ky. U.S. outlaw and Confederate guerrilla. After working as an itinerant schoolteacher, he moved to Kansas, where he failed at farming. By 1860 he was a horse thief and… …   Universalium

  • Quantrill, William C(larke) — (31 jul. 1837, Canal Dover, Ohio, EE.UU.–6 jun. 1865, Louisville, Ky.). Delincuente estadounidense y guerrillero de la Confederación. Después de trabajar como maestro de escuela itinerante se fue a Kansas, donde fracasó en la agricultura. En 1860 …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • William Quantrill — William Clarke Quantrill Born July 31, 1837(1837 07 31) Canal Dover (now Dover), Ohio …   Wikipedia

  • William Clarke Quantrill — William Clark Quantrill William Clark Quantrill (* 31. Juli 1837 in Canal Dover, Ohio; † 6. Juni 1865 in Louisville, Kentucky) war ein berüchtigter Partisanenführer im amerikanischen Sezessionskrieg …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.