Quantrell's Raid on Lawrence, Kansas

(While the majority of the material on this site is from the 19th century, this article, from a book written in the 40s provides background information pertinent to the situation at Lawrence.―M)

Quantrell's Raid has been referred to in the chapter telling about my mother. In 1904 or 1905, after seeing the memoir which Grandfather Thomas W. Hynes had written nearly thirty years before I urged my father and mother to write their recollections of early days and kept at them until they did so. Father's original manuscript dealt not only with the raid on Lawrence but included some other recollections. Mother's dealt only with the raid. Father subsequently, in 1913, revised his paper and prepared it for the fiftieth memorial observation of the raid and his original manuscript is now in the archives of the Kansas Historical Society.

It seems not out of place to include in this volume of family history of our direct ancestors these two accounts, not as an attempt to tell the full story of the raid, but as personal history.

In the 1920's a former next door neighbor of ours, wrote a series of articles on "Heroic Women of Kansas," devoting one of them to mother. He wrote me at that time, and I answered some questions which he asked, which led to the exchange of several letters over a period of three or four years. In 1929 Mr. Griffith published a book entitled "My 96 Years in the Great West." This volume, the "History of Lawrence, Kansas" by Rev. Richard Cordley, D.D. for more than 50 years pastor of Plymouth Church, Lawrence, and "Quantrell and the Border Wars" by William E. Connolly, all contain long descriptions of the raid on Lawrence, so that there is ample published material in existence. In 1928 or 1929 in the course of our correspondence Mr. Griffith, then nearly 100 years old, sent me an 8 or 10 page manuscript captioned "My Experience in the Quantrell Raid" which, like his book, has some very clear cut statements of conditions of the times, and as an introduction to the statements of father and mother a couple of paragraphs from this paper are quoted to show why the town was so helpless when the blow fell.

"The Civil War was in progress. A great deal of disturbance and civil wars were taking place in Missouri, whose people were divided about equally between loyalty to the Union and loyalty to the South. The City of Lawrence was the headquarters of the Anti-slavery sentiment in Kansas, hence it was an eyesore in the minds of the pro-slavery men. I think it was in July 1863 that secret word came to the Mayor G. W. Collamore, that a raid on the City of Lawrence was contemplated, for the purpose of destroying it. The mayor was alarmed and tried to take measures for the defense. He procured arms and ammunition and proposed to organize the people for defense. He did not succeed in convincing the people that any defense was needed, and the arms and ammunition which he had procured remained locked up in the warehouse. The State of Missouri was then in the hands and control of the U.S. Troops. A large military force was stationed at Leavenworth and General Ewing, who was the Federal Commander in charge of the District, had his headquarters at Kansas City, and there were other Companies of Troops along the border. It was argued that no force of guerrillas could organize within the line of the U.S. Troops and make a successful raid on Lawrence, forty or fifty miles from the state line. This was the general opinion in which I concurred, and Mayor Collamore's effort to organize the people for protection met with no success. "

"There were about twenty U.S. recruits camped near my residence, but they were unarmed and could do nothing, and after the raid their dead bodies lie scattered around their camp. Every one of them was killed."

"Quantrell was an outlaw. In 1860 some underground railroad enthusiast hid a runaway negro under some hay which had been put on the joists of an unfinished barn at Kanwaka, a village near Lawrence, to protect the building. Some children found him and Quantrell who then passed under the name of Charley Hart and one or two others captured the negro and in so doing set fire to the hay and burned the building. The negro was taken to Missouri and sold. Quantrell had also about the same time broken into the powder storage house of Ridenour and Baker and stolen a large amount of powder."

In volume seven of "Kansas Historical Collections" is a statement by my father Samuel A. Riggs which says:

"During the years 1860 and 1861 I was County Attorney of Douglas County. During the year 1860 Quantrell was living and operating in the vicinity of Lawrence under the name of Charley Hart. By that name I prosecuted him in the county, during the summer and fall of 1860, for burglary and larceny in breaking open and stealing from a powder-house of Ridenour and Baker; for arson in setting fire to a barn in Kanwaka township this county, and for kidnapping. These indictments were all pending against him when he disappeared from this county to turn up here again on the fateful 21st of August 1863. He was an outlaw when he took to the bush."

Connolly says that he was indicted for burglary and larceny, and for kidnapping and adds "and there was an indictment aginst him in the Federal Court for horse stealing."

These statements are included to show why father was one of the citizens of Lawrence on the "special list" of Quantrell.

Riggs, Henry Earle, Our Pioneer Ancestors - Being a record of available information as to the Riggs, Baldridge, Agnew, Earle, Kirkpatrick, Vreeland and allied families, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1942

Hit Counter visits since 02/06/2004.
Page updated 05/25/2006