Today in Texas History – March28

From the Annals of the Irregulars –  In 1864, William C. Quantrill was captured by Confederate forces after reporting to Bonham.  Quantrill was already notorious at the time for his raid on Lawrence, Kansas in which men and boys were indiscriminately killed and other atrocities, but Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith found Quantrill to be useful to the Confederacy’s goal of instilling fear and terror in the western theatre of the war.  Kirby-Smith order Gen. Henry McCulloch to use Quantrill to help round up the increasingly larger numbers of deserters and draft-dodgers in North Texas. Quantrill’s raiders mostly killed those they found and were pulled from this duty.  Quantrill’s next mission – to track down a band of Comanche raiders – was equally unsuccessful.   Quantrill moved south of the Red River during the winter of 1864, at which time Quantrill’s lieutenant, William (Bloody Bill) Anderson, formed perhaps an even more vicious band.  The two competing renegade groups began raiding Grayson and Fannin Counties and the level of violence became such that regular Confederate forces had to be assigned to protect residents from the activities of the irregular Confederate forces.

General McCulloch finally decided to run Quantrill out of North Texas.  On March 28, 1864, when Quantrill appeared at Bonham as requested, McCulloch had him arrested on the charge of ordering the murder of a Confederate major. Quantrill escaped later that day and returned to his camp near Sherman, pursued by over 300 state and Confederate troops.

Quantrill’s raids in Texas were essentially over and he was supplanted when his gang of bandits elected George Todd, a former lieutenant to Quantrill, as their new leader.  Quantrill and an increasing small band continued raiding.  In Kentucky they were surprised by Union irregulars. Quantrill was shot through the spine, captured and died in a Union prison in Louisville, Kentucky shortly after the end of the war.

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