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William Quantrill

AKA William Clarke Quantrill

Born: 31-Jul-1837
Birthplace: Dover, OH
Died: 6-Jun-1865
Location of death: Louisville, KY
Cause of death: Murder
Remains: Buried (remains dispersed in several locations)

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Criminal, Military

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Quantrill's Raiders

Military service: Confederate Army (1862-65)

Though it is difficult to ascertain where fact ends and exaggeration begins, it was said that as a child William Quantrill enjoyed nailing snakes to trees, and shooting pigs through the ears just to make them squeal. Often beaten by his father, he was the oldest of eight children, four of whom died in infancy or childhood. As a young man he worked briefly as a school teacher in Ohio and Illinois, then fled horse theft charges to become a gambler in Salt Lake City, where (under the name Charley Hart) he shot and killed a man in an argument over a poker game. In Kansas in 1860, Quantrill joined a group of Jayhawkers -- free state activists -- and accompanied them on a raid in which they intended to free some Missouri slaves. Volunteering to scout the area, he instead returned with the slaves' owner and killed three of the Jayhawkers.

When the Civil War broke out, Quantrill joined the Confederate Army, and fought at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in 1861. He left soon thereafter, complaining that the South was not fighting the war with sufficient ferocity, and instead became leader of a renegade band of some 400 outlaws and guerillas known as Quantrill's Raiders. Never officially sanctioned by the Confederate government, Quantrill's Raiders fought for the Southern cause through banditry, bushwhacking, and brutality, funneling a portion of their gains to the Confederate cause, while splitting most of their spoils amongst themselves.

On 11 August 1862, Quantrill's Raiders fought alongside Confederate forces in battle at Independence, Missouri, just a few miles from Kansas City, and after that victory he was promoted to Captain, though he continued operating primarily outside of military control. On 7 September 1862, Quantrill's band attacked and looted Olathe, Kansas, killing several citizens. On 17 October 1862, the Raiders attacked Shawnee, Kansas, burning the town to the ground and capturing twelve un-armed men, all of whom were soon found dead. Eleven of the twelve were shot through the head.

On his most infamous day, 21 August 1863, Quantrill and his men attacked Lawrence, Kansas -- headquarters for the state's abolitionist Jayhawks. Appearing in the early morning hours, Quantrill and his men looted the town's banks and businesses, lit aflame the homes of suspected Union sympathizers, and left about 180 locals dead. A survivor, Rev. H.D. Fisher, described the carnage: "With demoniac yells the scoundrels flew hither and yon, wherever a man was to be seen, shooting him down like a dog. Men were called from their beds and murdered before the eyes of wives and children on their doorsteps. Tears, entreaties, prayers availed nothing. The fiends of hell were among us and under the demands of their revengeful black leader they satiated their thirst for blood with fiendish delight."

On 6 October 1863, Quantrill engineered a surprise attack on Union forces in Baxter Springs, Kansas, killing about 100 soldiers. Later that month, Quantrill volunteered to help round up Confederate deserters in Texas, but that assignment ended after more deserters were killed than taken into custody. Soon Confederate troops had to be assigned to protect Texans from Quantrill's men, and on 28 March 1864 Quantrill was arrested by Confederate forces, charged with plotting the murder of a Confederate officer. He escaped into Indian territory, pursued by hundreds of Confederate forces.

After this narrow getaway, Quantrill's authority was challenged among his own Raiders, and his band split into several factions. Union forces, meanwhile, hired Edwin Terrell, a guerilla and killer himself, to track Quantrill, who by then had been reduced to commanding only a few dozen men. Quantrill's last battle came in a barn near Taylorville, Kentucky on 10 May 1865, where he was literally caught napping by Terrell's men, and shot in the back as he tried to flee. Paralyzed, he lingered in great pain and died a month later, 27 years of age, in a Louisville hospital.

Initially buried at St. John's Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, Quantrill's grave has been tampered with and his bones have traveled in death as in life. Some of him is believed to lie at his original plot in Louisville, but his skull was retrieved by his mother and later buried at the Fourth Street Cemetery in his home town of Dover, Ohio. The rest of his remains -- three arm bones, two shin bones, and some hair -- are interred at the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site in Higginsville, Missouri.

Father: Thomas Henry Quantrill (tinsmith, d. 7-Dec-1854 tuberculosis)
Mother: Caroline Cornelia Clarke (b. 7-Apr-1819, m. 11-Oct-1836)
Sister: Mary (b. 24-Sep-1838)
Brother: Franklin (b. 12-Nov-1840)
Brother: MacLindley (b 18-Dec-1841, d. 26-Aug-1842)
Sister: Cornelia Lisette (b. 20-Jun-1843, d. 28-Jul-1844)
Brother: Clarke (b. 5-Sep-1847, d. Mar-1848)
Brother: Archibald Rollin (b. 27-Sep-1850, d. 2-Mar-1851)
Brother: Thompson
Wife: Sarah Katherine King ("Katie", b. circa 1848, dated 1861-63, m. 21-Aug-1863, d. 1930)

    Teacher: Santon, OH
    Teacher: Osawatomie, KS (1859-60)

    Burglary Lawrence, KS
    Horse Theft Lawrence, KS
    Kidnapping Lawrence, KS
    Shot in the back (10-May-1865)
    Taken Prisoner of War
    Converted to Catholicism on his deathbed (Jun-1865)
    English Ancestry

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