The controversy swirls around William Clarke Quantrill. Some people would consider him a
    patriot of the South, doing his part again Northern tyranny. Others would consider him to be
    a lawless butcher that took advantage of the disarray brought about by the Civil War to
    controversial figure.

    The Man
    Quantrill was born in Ohio in 1837. He decided to become a schoolteacher as a young man
    and started his profession. However, he decided to leave Ohio to try and make more money
    for himself and his family. At this time, Kansas was deeply embroiled in violence between
    pro-slavery and free soil proponents. He had grown up in a Unionist family, and he himself
    espoused Free Soil beliefs. He found it hard to make any more money in Kansas and after
    returning home for a time decided to quit his profession and sign up as a teamster from Fort
    Leavenworth. His mission was to resupply the Federal Army embroiled in a fight against the
    Mormons in Utah. During this mission, he met numerous pro-slavery Southerners who
    deeply affected his beliefs. By the time of his return from this mission, he had become a
    staunch Southern supporter. He also found that he could make much more money through
    thievery. Thus, Quantrill began a much less legitimate career. When the Civil War began,
    he gathered a small band of men and began making profitable hit-and-run attacks against
    the Federal troops.

    His Deeds
    Quantrill and his men staged numerous raids into Kansas during the early part of the Civil
    War. He was quickly labeled an outlaw by the Union for his attacks on pro Union forces. He
    was involved in several skirmishes with Jayhawkers (pro Union guerilla bands) and
    eventually was made a Captain in the Confederate Army. His attitude towards his role in the
    Civil War drastically changed in 1862 when the Commander of the Department of Missouri,
    Major General Henry W. Halleck ordered that guerrillas such as Quantrill and his men would
    be treated as robbers and murderers, not normal prisoners of war. Before this
    proclamation, Quantrill acted as if he were a normal soldier adhering to principals of
    accepting enemy surrender. After this, he gave an order to give 'no quarter'.

    In 1863, Quantrill set his sights on Lawrence, Kansas which he said was full of Union
    sympathizers. Before the attack occurred, many female relatives of Quantrill's Raiders were
    killed when a prison collapsed in Kansas City. The Union Commander was given the blame
    and this fanned the already fearsome flames of the Raiders. On August 21, 1863, Quantrill
    led his band of about 450 men into Lawrence, Kansas. They attacked this pro Union
    stronghold killing over 150 men, few of them offering resistance. In addition, Quantrill's
    Raiders burned and looted the town. In the North, this event became known as the
    Lawrence Massacre and was vilified as one of the worst events of the Civil War.

    The Motive
    What was William Clarke Quantrill's true motivation in attacking Lawrence? There are two
    possible explanations. Quantrill was either a Confederate patriot punishing northern
    sympathizers or a profiteer taking advantage of the war for his own and his men's benefit.
    The fact that his band did not kill any women or children would seem to point to the first
    explanation. However, the group did wantonly kill men who were most likely simple farmers
    many without any real connection to the Union. They also burned numerous buildings to the
    ground. The looting further suggests that Quantrill did not have purely ideological motives
    for attacking Lawrence. However, in response to this, many of the Raiders are said to have
    ridden through the streets of Lawrence yelling 'Osceola'. This referred to an event in
    Osceola, Missouri where Federal Officer, James Henry Lane, had his men burn and loot
    both Loyal and Confederate sympathizers indiscriminately.

    The Legacy
    Quantrill was killed in 1865 during a raid in Kentucky. However, he quickly became a
    celebrated figure of the Civil War from the southern perspective. He was a hero to his
    supporters in Missouri, and his fame actually helped several other outlaw figures of the Old
    West. The James Brothers and the Youngers used the experienced they gained riding with
    Quantrill to help them rob banks and trains. Members of his Raiders gathered from 1888 to
    1929 to recount their war efforts. Today there is a William Clarke Quantrill Society
    dedicated to the study of the Quantrill, his men and the border wars. Looking at Quantrill in
    the context of his times provides an interesting perspective on his actions. To this day,
    people argue whether his actions were warranted. What is your opinion? Quantrill: Hero or
    Villain? Let me know by posting your opinion in the forum.
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