William clarke quantrill was to become a well-known confederate guerrilla leader during the american civil war. Leading a confederate irregular unit along the missouri-kansas border in the early 1860s, which was to include the infamous raid and sacking of lawrence, a town with pro-union sympathies, located in the heart of kansas. Quantrill campaigns, eventually took him into kentucky where he was mortally wounded in a union ambush in may 1865, aged twenty seven.William, the oldest of eight children, was born at canal dover (now just dover), ohio, on july 31, 1837. His father was thomas quantrill, formerly of hagerstown, maryland. His mother, caroline cornelia clark, was a native of chambersburg, pennsylvania. They were married on october 11, 1836, and moved to canal dover the following december. Thomas quantrill was to die on december 7, 1854, apparently of tuberculosis. His death was to place, william as head of the family. Little is known of quantrills life in dover, though it appears that he was raised by his mother in a unionist family. However, he always had a loathing for its free-soil beliefs. After several years working as a teacher in mendota, illinois, quantrill travelled to utah territory with the federal army as a teamster in 1858 as part of the utah war, but left the army there to try his hand at professional gambling. In 1859, this scheme as a gambler failed and, he subsequently failed moving to lawrence, kansas, and again he taught school.When the civil war began in 1861, quantrill claimed he was a native of maryland and may have joined the missouri state guard. However, his dislike of army discipline led him to form an independent guerrilla band by the end of that year. With, a confederate commission as captain, quantrill led this bushwhacker company which, as a force of no more than a dozen men who staged raids into kansas, harassed union soldiers, raided pro-union towns, robbed mail coaches, and attacked unionist civilians. At times they skirmished with the jayhawkers, an undisciplined union militia from kansas who raided into missouri. The union commanders declared him to be an outlaw, despite quantrill apparently holding a confederate commission. When the union army ordered all captured guerrillas to be shot, quantrill ceased taking prisoners and started doing the same. He quickly became known to his opponents as a feared rebel raider, and to his supporters as a dashing, free-spirited hero of the confederacy.The most significant event in quantrill’s guerrilla career took place on august 21, 1863. Lawrence had been seen for years as the stronghold of the anti-slavery forces in kansas and as a base of operation for incursions into missouri by jayhawkers and other pro-union forces. It was also the home of james h. Lane, a senator infamous in missouri for his staunch anti-slavery views and also a leader of the jayhawkers. Moreover, during the weeks immediately preceding the raid, union general thomas ewing, jr., had ordered the detention of any civilians giving aid to quantrill’s raiders. Several female relatives of the guerrillas, including the sister of bill anderson were imprisoned in a makeshift jail in kansas city, missouri. On august 14, the building collapsed, killing four young women and seriously injuring others. Among the casualties was josephine anderson, who was crushed to death and, mary, anderson who was permanently crippled in the collapse. Quantrill’s men believed the collapse was deliberate, action by the union authorities and the event threw the confederate raiders into a fury.Many: modern historian believe that quantrill had actually planned to raid lawrence in advance of the building’s collapse, in retaliation for earlier jayhawker attacks as well as the burning of osceola, missouri but there can be little doubt that the raid was to bring multiple deaths to the citizens of lawrence. Early on the morning of august 21, quantrill descended from mount oread and attacked lawrence at the head of a combined force of as many as 450 guerrillas. Senator lane, a prime target of the raid, managed to escape through a cornfield in his nightshirt, but the bushwhackers, on quantrill’s orders, killed 183 men and boys “old enough to carry a rifle”, quantrill, known to be armed with several french pinfire revolvers, his favourite weapon of choice, carried out several executions personally, dragging many from their homes to kill them before their families. The ages of those killed ranged from as young as fourteen to ninety! When quantrill’s men rode out at 9 a.M., most of lawrence’s buildings were burning, including all but two businesses. His raiders looted indiscriminately and robbed the town’s bankon august 25, in retaliation for the raid, general ewing authorized general order no. 11 (not to be confused with general ulysses s. Grant’s general order of the same name). The edict ordered the depopulation of three-and-a-half missouri counties along the kansas border (with the exception of a few designated towns), forcing tens of thousands of civilians to abandon their homes. Union troops marched through behind them, burning buildings, torching planted fields and shooting down livestock to deprive the guerrillas of food, fodder, and support. The area was so thoroughly devastated that it became known thereafter as the “burnt district”. Quantrill and his men rode south to texas, where they passed the winter with the confederate forces.While in texas, quantrill and his men suffered a major disagreement. His once-large band broke up into several smaller guerrilla companies. One of these bands was led by his notable lieutenant, william “bloody bill” anderson, whose men came to be known for scalping their victims. These scalps were then tied to the saddles and bridles of their horses. Quantrill joined them briefly in the fall of 1863 during fighting north of the missouri river.In the spring of 1865, now leading only a few dozen men, quantrill staged a series of raids in western kentucky. He rode into a union ambush on may 10 near taylorsville, kentucky. Quantrill received a gunshot wound to the chest. He was brought by wagon to louisville, kentucky and taken to the military prison hospital, located on the north side of broadway at 10th street. Quantrill finally succumbed to his wounds on june 6, 1865.In august, 1907, news articles appeared in canada and the united states claiming that j.E. Duffy, a member of a michigan cavalry troop that dealt with quantrill’s raiders during the civil war, had met quantrill at quatsino sound, on northern vancouver island while investigating timber rights in the area. Duffy claimed to recognize the man, living under the name of john sharp, as quantrill. Duffy said that sharp admitted he was quantrill and discussed in detail raids in kansas and elsewhere. Sharp claimed that he had survived the ambush in kentucky, though receiving a bayonet and bullet wound, making his way to south america where he lived some years in chile. He returned to the united states, working as a cattleman in fort worth, texas. He then moved to oregon, acting as a cowpuncher and drover, before reaching british columbia in the 1890s, where he worked in logging, trapping and finally as a mine caretaker at coal harbour at quatsino. However these stories were never proven and, remained unfounded. Quantrill’s actions remain controversial to this day. Some historians view him as an opportunistic, bloodthirsty outlaw; james m. Mcpherson, one of america’s most prominent experts on the civil war today, calls him and anderson “pathological killers” who “murdered and burned out missouri unionists. Others, such as missouri biographer paul r. Petersen, continue to regard him as a daring horse soldier and a local folk hero. Some of quantrill’s celebrity later rubbed off on other ex-raiders jesse and frank james, and cole and jim younger who went on after the war to apply quantrill’s hit-and-run tactics to bank and train robbery. The william clarke quantrill society continues to research and celebrate his life and deeds.Quantrills campaigns and deeds have in the post war environment have seen his exploits immortalised in popular fiction the arrival of cinema have seen him portrayed in film on numerous occasions with varying degrees of accuracy.