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date: 02 March 2021

Quantrill, William Clarkelocked

(31 July 1837–06 June 1865)
  • Albert Castel


Quantrill, William Clarke (31 July 1837–06 June 1865), pro-Confederate guerrilla leader, was born in Canal Dover (now Dover), Ohio, the son of Thomas H. Quantrill, a tinsmith and teacher, and Caroline Clarke. After acquiring a better-than-average education for the time and place, and following his father’s death in 1854, Quantrill taught school in Canal Dover and various other towns in the Midwest before moving to Kansas in 1857. During the next three years he engaged in various occupations—farming, teamstering with an army expedition to Utah, gold prospecting in Colorado—before again teaching school, this time in Stanton, Kansas. In 1860 he moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where under the alias of Charley Hart he became a jayhawker (best defined as a bandit with professed abolitionist sympathies). In December 1860, facing arrest in Lawrence for his criminal activities, he betrayed a group of jayhawkers into an ambush at the farm of Morgan Walker in Jackson County, Missouri, thereby gaining the confidence of the people of that locality, to whom he represented himself as being a native of Maryland and proslavery. After the outbreak of the Civil War he served with Confederate forces in Missouri. Late in 1861 he returned to Jackson County, where he soon became the leader of a guerrilla band, which he led in a series of raids into Kansas and against pro-Union Missourians. Having helped regular Confederate forces capture Independence, Missouri (11 Aug. 1862), he received a captain’s commission as a partisan ranger. By this time he was the most notorious of the many “bushwhackers” operating in western Missouri....

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