Monday, August 14, 2006
William Quantrill, being from Kansas, was an abolitionist prior to becoming the leader of "The Bushwhackers" of Jackson County, Missouri. December 10,1860 was the turning point in his politics. On this date he joined five young Quaker abolitionists from Lawrence on a slave-stealing raid into Jackson County, Missouri, where they planned to "steal" the slaves of Morgan Walker, who lived near Blue Springs. The 1900 acre Walker farm was located where Pink Hill Park is today just west of Highway 7.
It was daylight when they arrived in the neighborhood. Quantrill left his boys hidden in the bush while he rode on into the Walker farm to survey the situation. At this point he became a turncoat and sold out his "friends." He informed Morgan Walker's son, young Andrew, what was about to take place, and that they should be prepared. Quantrill returned to his troop to await nightfall to begin the raid.
The Walkers rounded up a few neighbors to assist them and setup an ambush as the abolitionists came riding in that evening. One Quaker was killed on the spot, two were wounded and ran for cover and two more escaped back to Lawrence, Quantrill hung back out of harms way during the ambush. The neighbors tracked down the two wounded men and shot them on the spot.
Of course the sheriff was called and Quantrill was taken to jail. They locked him up at Independence in the old 1857 Jackson County Jail on North Main Street the following day. Sheriff John Burns said, "He was locked up for his own protection, as there was talk of lynching him and he would be safer there until the excitement was over."
He didn't stay locked up long, he was released about 8 o'clock that same evening and him and young Andrew Walker spent the rest of the night at a local hotel. Walker and Quantrill would become fast friends from that time on.
Quantrill remained in Jackson County during the winter of 1860-61. In the spring it is said he rode down into the Cherokee Nation, and with the Indians he fought under the Confederate General Mc Culloch at the battle of Wilson Creek near Springfield, Missouri. He also reportedly took part in the Battle of Lexington with Price's army, and then deserted at Osceola during their retreat back south. By Thanksgiving 1861 he returned to Jackson County.
By mid December, Quantrill joined Andrew Walker and eleven other men in pursuit of a band of Kansas Jayhawkers who were looting about four miles north of Blue Springs. At the house of Strother Stone, they found them just after one of the Kansans had struck Mrs. Stone in the face with a pistol. Quantrill shot him on the spot. Two other Kansans were killed in a running battle. This soldier killed by Quantrill was the first Federal soldier killed in Jackson County during the Civil war.
Quantrill's intelligence, education and skill soon made him the leader of a small band of Jackson County farmers who found it necessary to band together to defend themselves and their property from the Jayhawkers. By Christmas of 1861 he had ten men under his command, among those was George Todd of Lee's Summit. 18 year old Cole Younger joined him shortly thereafter along with 19 year old Frank James and his brother Jesse who was 16. These men would become famous in later years.
The "Bushwhackers," who were considered local vigilantes, would ride into fame and go down in the history books under the command of the notorious William Quantrill.
Ref: We Rode With Quantrill by Donald R. Hale printed by Blue & Grey Book Shoppe
To reach Ted W. Stillwell, send e-mail to Stillwellt2001@yahoo.com or call him at (816) 461-4195.