Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quantrill's Band of Raiders

Along with "Bloody" Bill Anderson, William Quantrill was another notorious Confederate guerrilla. His most famous act is known as the "Lawrence Massacre." When "Bloody" Bill's sisters were killed and injured after being imprisoned, the Rebel raiders decided the women were attacked intentionally, so they retaliated. Quantrill led his band to Lawrence, Kansas on Aug. 21, 1863, where 183 men and boys "old enough to carry a rifle" was killed before their families' eyes. Their ages ranged from 14 up to 90. Senator Lane, who was a prime target of the raid, escaped through a cornfield in only his nightshirt. Quantrill then went to Texas to escape Union forces who were after him. In the spring of '65, he rode into an ambush, was shot in the chest, and was presumed to be dead.

However, rumors arose about the infamous guerrilla. A stranger by the name of McCoy arrived in Huntsville, Alabama one day, and took the job as circuit rider for the Methodist church, traveling around to country churches to minister. People started noticing similarities in appearance: Quantrill had a tattoo of an Indian maiden on one arm, and the first joint of his little finger was missing, which was the same as McCoy. The rumor escalated when McCoy, after much persuasion, displayed his sharp shooting abilities at a local Methodist church picnic. McCoy's children also recalled how their father always wore long sleeves, even in summer, and how they had once caught him bathing in a stream, seeing the tattoo for themselves.

Like most famous outlaws, Quantrill is believed to have survived his death. Perhaps he decided to become a minister in repentance for the sins he committed during the war, and to ease his conscience. It's a mystery that has yet to be solved.

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