Cowboy Biography William Clarke Quantrill Part 2

About the famous cowboy William Clarke Quantrill, history and biography including favorite weapons, famous fights and victims.



Following the defeat of a Union force of 98 men at Baxter Springs, Kans., on Oct. 6, 1863, in which all captives (including noncombatants) were shot to death, Quantrill took his men to Texas. A rivalry for leadership surfaced, and when Quantrill returned to Missouri in 1864, he commanded only a fraction of those once faithful to him. As Union forces tamed the last outbreaks of resistance, Quantrill left Missouri with his small band and struck out for Kentucky in 1865, there to meet his death in a most unheroic manner.

Favorite Weapon: 44-caliber Colt Navy revolver.

Speed on the Draw: As a guerrilla, Quantrill concerned himself less with speed on the draw than with accurate placement of his shots. He became an expert with the revolver, and he drilled his men in marksmanship. After receiving extensive intelligence reports on Union troop movements, he lured his enemies into ambushes or attacked so suddenly and ferociously that speed on the draw proved irrelevant to victory.

Victims: One of his earliest biographers said of Quantrill, "In cruelty and a thirst for blood he towered above the men of his time." But in the true fashion of a 19th-century gentleman, Quantrill never killed women, and unlike his demented cohort William "Bloody Bill" Anderson, he never scalped his victims. On the other hand, he was a master bushwhacker who killed unarmed men with apparent delight.

Leading Fight: Lawrence was a logical target for Quantrill in 1863. Long recognized as the center of antislavery sentiment in Kansas, Lawrence was also the home of leading Jayhawker (pro-Union activist) Jim Lane. Most of the 448 killers who followed Quantrill from Missouri on Aug. 18 carried lists of intended victims, with Lane's name at the top. But the first to die were the innocent farmers who guided the guerrillas toward Lawrence. Quantrill and his men coldly fired slugs through the heads of their benefactors when the guides could no longer be of service. The attack on Lawrence itself began early on the morning of Aug. 21 and lasted four hours, resulting in 142 dead Kansans, 1 dead guerrilla, and property loss--either stolen or destroyed--of approximately $2 million. Although the intention had been to kill Jayhawkers, men and boys were slaughtered indiscriminately. Ironically, one of the few male citizens of Lawrence to escape Quantrill's killers was Jim Lane, who fled into a cornfield in his nightshirt and hid. Saddlebags stuffed with money, jewelry, and anything else that was both valuable and portable, Quantrill and his raiders galloped back to safety in Missouri.

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