Lane and Quantrill III

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:04:10
Year Produced: 2009
Description:

In the bloody run up to war during the 1850s, the Territory of Kansas attracted its share of drifters seeking to take advantage of the conflict over slavery. One of those was William Clarke Quantrill.

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Transcript

Lead: In the bloody run up to war during the 1850s, the Territory of Kansas attracted its share of drifters seeking to take advantage of the conflict over slavery. One of those was William Clarke Quantrill.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in Ohio in 1837, Quantrill taught school in Illinois and Indiana before moving to Kansas. He tried farming to no great success and opened a rural school in the free-soil community of Osawatomie. Neither venture lasted long and, by 1860, Quantrill had joined a band of drifters whose allegiance was to the anti-slavery side but whose real occupation was petty theft and murder.

After the election of Abraham Lincoln, war seemed inevitable. In December 1860 Quantrill secretly changed sides and led a group of Quaker abolitionists into a trap during a raid on the plantation of wealthy slave holder Morgan Walker in Jackson County, Missouri. Quantrill became a hero to Southern sympathizers in Western Missouri. Upon the outbreak of war, he served with the Confederate forces but preferred free lance work and, using Jackson County as a base, formed a guerrilla gang which conducted raids on towns and farms with Union sympathies.

In the summer of 1863 Quantrill led a raid on Lawrence, Kansas which forever associated his name with cruelty. Lawrence had been perhaps the most prominent center of abolitionist activity in the state. Quantrill wished to strike at this hotbed of anti-slave agitation and perhaps capture U.S. Senator James Henry Lane, a friend of Abraham Lincoln, former free-soil guerrilla captain and leader of the Union forces in the state.

Falling on the sleeping town, Quantrill and his men looted and burned for most of the day. Lane escaped by hiding in a corn patch at the rear of his house. Others were not so fortunate. The raiders killed 150 men including several young boys. Many of those who hid in their homes were burned alive.

Toward the end of the war, Quantrill's gang fell to fighting each other and broke up into several smaller bands of thieves and criminals. Quantrill himself was fatally wounded in May 1865 in a raid into Kentucky--a full month after Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.