Contact Us Press Room. During the Civil War "free companies" of irregular soldiers, sometimes including renegades, bandits, bushwhackers, and partisans, infested the countryside of Indian Territory present Oklahoma. Apologists claimed a right of retaliatory justice, whereas critics denounced guerrillas as thieves, scoundrels, ruffians, and deserters and decried their propensity for cruelty.
Many were in transit elsewhere or an advance of the regular army. Some were resident or visiting families. Intratribal "blood feuds" were common. Even if the men were enrolled soldiers, ties to command structures could be tenuous. The Confederacy authorized partisans, but units varied in practice. Some acted closely with the army, and others were detached from regular service. William C. Quantrill had a Confederate commission, yet his raiders were not always regarded as part of the army.
However, ambivalence existed if irregulars harassed a common foe. Some Confederates saw Quantrill as a useful officer. Others believed his band to be unmanageable and dangerous. They fought for plunder and disobeyed orders. Such "bad" men were little better than highwaymen, and some were cold-blooded killers. Unionist empathy went to free companies that contested rebel authority, such as Pin Indians or others who took to the brush after Confederates began to treat men not registered for conscription as bushwhackers. Some marauders were Kansas "jayhawkers" or "Red Legs," notorious for plundering cattle and other property.
Even pro-Union Cherokees protested against whites who were sometimes loyal, sometimes rebel, as best suited their purpose of stealing. Irregulars often held southern sympathies.
They operated in rough terrain, ambushed detachments or couriers, and sought resupply from the enemy. They fought if advantageous, or ran away. Occasionally, they deceptively wore Federal uniforms.
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Soon thereafter, he signed on as a teamster with the U. Army expedition heading to Salt Lake City, Utah in the spring of Little is known of Quantrill's journey out west, except that he excelled at the game of poker. He racked up piles of winnings by playing the game against his comrades at Fort Bridger but flushed it all on one hand the next day, leaving him dead broke.
Quantrill then joined a group of Missouri ruffians and became somewhat of a drifter. The group helped protect Missouri farmers from the Jayhawkers for pay and slept wherever they could find lodging. Quantrill traveled back to Utah and then to Colorado, but returned in less than a year to Lawrence, Kansas , in  where he taught at a schoolhouse until it closed in He then took up with brigands and turned to cattle rustling and anything else that could earn him money.
He also learned the profitability of capturing runaway slaves and devised plans to use free black men as bait for runaway slaves, whom he subsequently captured and returned to their masters in exchange for reward money [ citation needed ]. Initially, before , Quantrill appeared to support the anti-slavery side. For instance, he wrote to his good friend W. Lane , a Northern sympathizer, was "as good a man as we have here. He told her the pro-slavery movement was right and that he now detested Jim Lane.
He said that the hanging of John Brown had been too good for him and that, "the devil has got unlimited sway over this territory, and will hold it until we have a better set of man and society generally. In , Quantrill went to Texas with a slaveholder named Marcus Gill. There they met Joel B. Mayes and joined the Cherokee Nations. He had moved from Georgia to the old Indian Territory in Mayes enlisted and served as a private in Company A of the 1st Cherokee Regiment in the Confederate army. It was Mayes who taught Quantrill guerrilla warfare tactics. He would learn the ambush fighting tactics used by the Native Americans as well as sneak attacks and camouflage.
Quantrill deserted General Price's army and went to Blue Springs, Missouri to form his own "Army" of loyal men who had great belief in him and the Confederate cause; they came to be known as " Quantrill's Raiders ". By Christmas of , he had ten men who would follow him full-time into his pro-Confederate guerrilla organization. Gregg, James A. Hendricks, and John W. The most significant event in Quantrill's guerrilla career took place on August 21, 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 pro-Union forces.
It was also the home of James H. Lane , a senator known in Missouri for his staunch anti-slavery views and also a leader of the Jayhawkers. Several female relatives of the guerrillas had been imprisoned in a makeshift jail in Kansas City, Missouri. On August 14, the building collapsed, killing four young women and seriously injuring others. Another of Anderson's sisters, Mary, was permanently crippled in the collapse.
Missouri Partisan Rangers
Quantrill's men believed the collapse was deliberate, and the event fanned them into a fury. Some historians have suggested 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. 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 guerrilla fighters.
Senator Lane, a prime target of the raid, managed to escape through a cornfield in his nightshirt, but the guerrillas, on Quantrill's orders, killed around men and boys that were able to carry a rifle. His guerrillas certainly did not operate in the same way as the commands of partisan rangers such as John Singleton Mosby and John Hunt Morgan, which were much more tightly integrated with the CSA. In late , the Union ordered the imprisonment of all women known to be related to the guerrillas. His other two sisters suffered crippling injuries and disfigurement. Anderson was beside himself with anger and now became dedicated to a single purpose; the killing of as many Union soldiers as possible.
If this could be done while inflicting fear and pain, all the better. The aims and reputation of the Confederacy would henceforth play little if any role in determining his strategy and tactics. Noland was one of five known Black Americans who rode with the Missouri bushwackers.
The Ones Who Walk Away From 1861-1865
Anderson was seen coolly killing fourteen men even as they begged for mercy. By July Anderson had entered the historical record of the war as commander of a group of 30 to 40 guerrillas. Captain George Todd. Todd was born in Montreal and was probably the only Canadian amongst the guerrillas. A man of action, it was said that Quantrill planned, but Todd executed. Though he was described by various sources as being crude, illiterate, hot tempered, callously brutal, a deadly shot, and uncontrollable when drunk, his personal bravery and thirst for action were unquestionable.
Captain Dave Poole. Once he and his men caught nine Union soldiers in a schoolhouse and killed them. When Todd died in , Poole took over his command. Here we have teen-aged Archie Clements. He delighted in taking scalps and slitting throats. The James Brothers, The James Brothers, needless to say, used the skills they acquired as bushwackers to become two of the most famous American outlaws in the post-war period. A common trait of the guerillas was a distaste for discipline. Most had never joined the army, were paroled prisoners or even deserters.
Discipline was light but failure to turn up for an operation could mean death. Colt Navy. The Navy Colt was lighter than the Army Colt and thus preferable to men trying to carry as many as three to six at a time, which provided them with enormous firepower in battle. Revolvers used in close provided overwhelming firepower in any clash with Union troops and the guerrillas carried as many as six each. Pre-loaded six-shot cylinders were carried in the pockets of their guerrilla shirts, allowing the guerrillas to quickly reload their weapons by swapping out the empty cylinders for full ones.
The weapon of choice was the. Their favorite long-arm was the breech-loading Sharps rifle, easy to handle on horseback, especially in its carbine version. The Sharps were large bore single shot rifles with a reputation for long-range accuracy. By both the guerrillas and the Union cavalry were carrying this weapon.
Sawed-off shotguns were also in use and the personal arsenal was usually completed with Bowie knives and tomahawks for hand-to-hand fighting. The guerrillas did not have access to Confederate uniforms, but in any case preferred to wear captured Union uniforms, which allowed them to confuse Union pickets and get close to their enemy, where their rapid-firing revolvers made the difference against muzzle-loading rifled muskets.
Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Louisiana | 64 Parishes
The shirt indicated the relationship the wearer had with its creator, mother, wife, sister or girlfriend and was a symbol of the important role women played in sustaining the guerrillas and nursing their wounds. Missouri was known for the quality of its horses and the bushwackers always had better mounts than the indifferent nags and worn-out plow-horses sent to Union troops in a Civil War backwater like Missouri.
For shelter, they would dig or find a cave in an inaccessible spot deep in the woods and conceal the entrance.
Cooking was done only at night to avoid the smoke being seen and riders would enter or leave individually, each taking a different route and then reuniting at a pre-planned location. In winter, when concealment was difficult, the guerrillas would head south to Texas until the foliage returned in Missouri, though they did not leave drunkenness, mayhem and murder behind in their Texas sojourns.
The Guerrilla Charge. At other times the guerrillas could make ferocious frontal attacks on Union infantry, the rapid fire of their revolvers dealing death and panic among troops armed only with slow-firing muskets and bayonets. The bushwackers never missed a chance to enrich themselves through the war, robbing stagecoaches, trains, shops, storehouses and riverboats alike. Hand-in-hand with this was the terrorization of the civilian population by murder, torture and property destruction.
Union supporters or relatives of soldiers could expect little mercy. In one case, a German was found at the last moment before his hanging to actually be a Confederate supporter. I will hunt you down like wolves and murder you. You cannot escape. Union counter-measures included the death penalty for interfering with the railroads.
Cutting the telegraph led to one captured guerrilla executed and the torching of every home within a ten-mile radius of the cut. With so many guerrillas wearing Union blue, federal troops relied on an elaborate and ever-changing system of hand signals and passwords to separate friend from foe, but Anderson and his lieutenants always appeared to be up to date on these signals. In January , Union authorities recognized that the actions of the Jayhawkers were ineffective in countering the guerrillas but exceptional in turning the people against the Union by their murder, looting and arson.
They were replaced in January by the Second Colorado Cavalry which, unlike the Jayhawkers, were eager to come to grips with the guerrillas rather than just civilians. However, as details of the Lawrence massacre seeped in, Quantrill and his unruly gang were increasingly treated with disdain by the CSA officers. Lacking any real authority from the Confederate Army, bushwacker chieftains relied on respect, charisma, courage and ferocity to hold their commands. Anderson set off on his own with 20 men in March By most of the older guerrillas who fought for the Confederacy had died, gone home or joined the regular Confederate army.
Most of the bands now consisted of reckless and ruthless teenagers with lots of violent energy but little judgement. Many were illiterate farm boys who followed whoever could provide them with revenge, adventure, whiskey and loot.
Quantrill's Guerrillas 1861-1865
Politics provided only a veneer of legitimacy for their violence and descent into depravity. Angered by incidents of scalping by Kansas Jayhawkers, the guerrillas took it up themselves in the summer of As Sterling Price began his last attempt to retake Missouri in September , he encouraged the guerrillas to mount attacks on garrisons and disrupt communications.
The guerrillas swore revenge, and took it on September 27, at the Missouri town of Centralia. Arriving in the morning, the guerrillas looted the town, drinking all the whiskey they could find. A stagecoach rolled in and was promptly robbed before a train arrived. All the passengers were robbed and some murdered except for 25 unarmed Union soldiers.
Clements opened fire on them and the rest of the bushwackers joined in.