A Simple Twist of Fate, the Strange Story of Quantrill and His Staff

William Clarke Quantrill was a Civil War guerrilla leader along the western border of Missouri and Kansas. If the South had won the war there would have been statues erected in his memory and countless mothers would have named their children after him. His operations against the Federal army and militia units were so successful that in the year 1863 his were the only victories the South could claim in the Trans-Mississippi Department west of the Mississippi River.

The Board of Directors of quantrillsguerrillas.com are no mere apologists for Quantrill's character and actions during the war for the truth is easily discovered. As a case in point the following illustration and accounts depicting Quantrill and his staff will reveal the cause of the personal feelings and the reason for the intensity of the struggle that came to characterize the no-quarter combat that symbolized Quantrill and his Missouri guerrillas.

William Clarke Quantrill - Born July 31, 1837 Canal Dover, Ohio. While living in Kansas Territory before the war criminal bands of Jayhawkers preyed on everyone regardless of their political beliefs. Two years before the war Quantrill wrote to his mother from Lawrence, Kansas on July 30, 1859 that he and a friend were attacked by Jayhawkers belonging to James Montgomery, a captain in James Lane's militia, and his friend shot and all of their possessions stolen. Some controversy later arose when Quantrill named his friend as being a brother which even if untrue cannot be passed over since historical records indicate that Quantrill went to Lawrence using the alias Charlie Hart and joined Montgomery's Jayhawker company seeking revenge. For several months Quantrill rode as a Jayhawker in the Kansas militia gaining their confidence. He enlisted as a private, was promoted to orderly sergeant, and then rose to the rank of lieutenant. He next associated with the notorious Capt. John Stewart most widely known for burning to death five Missouri settlers in their cabin during a Jayhawker raid.  Quantrill in 1859.

Quantrill next obtained the names of all the men who had taken part in his attack and went to work in a systematic way to get revenge for the wrongs heaped upon him. Quantrill stated that he managed to get one at a time away from the command and never permitted one to get back alive, until, when the war came on, only two were left. The preponderance of evidence supports Quantrill's account as he clearly states the names of some of his victims which can be found in the early territorial records of Kansas. The last of his attackers were killed during the Jayhawker's attack on the Missouri farm of Morgan Walker in December, 1860. Quantrill’s personal vendetta was over but he now had a price on his head—James Lane offered the reward himself.

Late in March 1861, innocently thinking that his personal vendetta against the injustices of the Jayhawkers would go unavenged, Quantrill rode into Kansas to visit his friend John Bennings with whom he had lived while he taught school in Stanton, Kansas. Word of the failed Walker raid was well-known among the Jayhawkers and they were eager to avenge their comrades. Noted Jayhawker Eli Snyder lived only a few miles from Stanton, and when word reached him on March 26 that Quantrill was staying at Bennings’s home, he assembled several gang members and visited Judge Samuel H. Hauser, the justice of the peace. Snyder swore out a warrant for Quantrill’s arrest on the charge of horse stealing, because Quantrill was seen riding a horse different from the one on which he had ridden out of Kansas on the previous December. Hauser wrote out the warrant, but to protect himself from being charged as an accomplice in Quantrill’s potential murder “while escaping,” Hauser stipulated that the local constable, E. B. Jurd, would serve the warrant. Jurd deputized Snyder’s men, and the posse rode to Bennings’s cabin and surrounded it. Quantrill gave himself up. On the trail back to Stanton, Snyder and his men surrounded Quantrill and tried to provoke him. Knowing that any reaction could be construed as grounds to shoot him, Quantrill remained calm. Frustrated, Snyder attempted to shoot Quantrill in the back, but Jurd knocked the gun aside just as he fired. Another ruffian, John S. Jones, tried to shoot Quantrill in the back but his gun misfired. Only after great difficulty did Jurd get Quantrill safely to the county jail. A group of Quantrill's friends soon arrived to assist him. On April 3 Quantrill applied for a Writ of Habeas Corpus on the grounds that his arrest was “malicious, false and illegal.” As a result, the county judge could find no cause to continue holding him and no legal cause for his confinement. He subsequently ordered Quantrill’s release.
Quantrill returned to Missouri where he escorted Marcus Gill into Texas and on his return war was declared.  Quantrill first enlisted as a private in Colonel Joel Bryan Mays' First Cherokee Mounted Regiment organized in the Indian Territory before transferring to Captain Robert Stewarts' Company B, in Colonel Jeremiah Vardeman Cockrell’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment in the 8th Division of the Missouri State Guards where he rose in rank to sergeant during the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. On the 12th day of August, 1862, he was commissioned as a captain of cavalry scouts by Colonel Gideon Thompson following the Southern victory in the 2nd Battle of Independence where Quantrill personally spearheaded the assault. Quantrill also fought in the following battles: Dug Springs, Wilson’s Creek, Lexington, the Independence skirmish, Battle of the Ravines, 1st Battle of Independence, Tate House skirmish, Sam Clark house skirmish, Lowe House skirmish, Shawneetown raid, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Wellington, Lawrence, Baxter Springs, Fayette and Glasgow and many more too numerous to mention. The early cruelty shown to Quantrill by the Kansas Jayhawkers set in motion the savage fighting that engulfed the Missouri-Kansas border for the next five years.

William T. Anderson - Born in Kentucky in 1839. Bill and his family previously lived in Huntsville, Missouri before moving to Kansas before the war. On March 7, 1862 Quantrill successfully attacked the Federal garrison in Aubry, Kansas. Three days after Quantrill’s raid on Aubry, a company from the Eighth Kansas Jayhawker Regiment in Olathe went to Aubry to investigate the raid. Southern sympathizers were sought out and accused of aiding the raiders. William Anderson’s father and uncle were named as such. When the Jayhawker company arrived at the Anderson farm on March 11, William and his younger brother Jim were delivering fifteen head of cattle to the U.S. commissary agent at Fort Leavenworth. When Bill and his brother returned home they found their father and uncle murdered. The brothers then joined Quantrill's company.

Little was heard of Bill Anderson until after August 13, 1863. Federal's arrested Anderson’s three sisters and imprisoned them in Kansas City along with other young women relatives of Quantrill's men. In a few days the soldiers undermined the building causing its collapse. Five women were horribly crushed to death while others found themselves crippled for life. One of Anderson's sisters was killed and the other two horribly mangled in the jail collapse. Many of Quantrill's men claim this atrocity is what precipitated the Lawrence raid. Anderson soon gained the reputation as a vicious fighter never taking any prisoners of his Yankee foes. Anderson was killed on Oct 26, 1864 in Orrick, Mo. leading a charge against the Union invaders. His brother Jim was unable to receive honorable terms of surrender following the war.   

Richard Francis (Dick) Yeager - Born March 28, 1839. Family came from Simpson Co. Kentucky. Yeager was described as five feet ten inches tall with a fair complexion. Early in the war Kansas Jayhawkers under Colonel Charles Jennison plundered the farm of Yeager’s father and stole everything they could find. Judge Yeager had $11,000 in property and $8,000 in personal estate at the start of the war, all stolen by Kansas Jayhawkers. Dick then joined Quantrill becoming one of his most noted officers. His father James Yeager was the presiding judge of Jackson County. The Federals imprisoned his father in St. Louis. After his initial enlistment in the Missouri State Guard Yeager's name appears on Quantrill’s July 6, 1862 company muster roster. He was reenlisted in the regular Confederate army under Quantrill on August 10, 1862 by Colonel Gideon Thompson afterwards rising to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Yeager fought at the 1st Battle of Independence where he was wounded in the shoulder. He also fought in the Westport skirmish, Lone Jack, Lawrence, Baxter Springs and the Wagner fight. Wounded during the battle at Arrow Rock, Missouri in 1864 and while recuperating he was surrounded by 70 Federals. Propped against a tree with his pistols Yeager killed three and wounded eight of his attackers before he was brutally shot down on August 1, 1864.

John Jarrette-Jarrette was born in Nelson Co. Kentucky around 1834. Jarrette married Josephine Younger the sister of Coleman Younger another of Quantrill's officers. Jarrette joined Quantrill in the fall of 1861. His name was on Quantrill’s July 6, 1862 company muster roll as a 2nd Sergeant and he later rose to the rank of captain. During the war Federals burned his relative's homes, murdering the old men, plundering their property and raping the women. Jarrette fought at Prairie Grove and Cane Hill and took part in the Tate House fight, the Battle of the Ravines, the 1st Battle of Independence, Lone Jack, White Oak Creek, the Westport skirmish, Lawrence, Baxter Springs, Centralia and the Wagner fight. During the winter of 1862 while Quantrill was in Richmond Jarrette was made a 2nd lieutenant and put in charge of a cavalry unit under General John S. Marmaduke attached to General Joseph O. Shelby. Jarrette also took part in the Red River Campaign in Texas and Louisiana. Following the war some accounts say Jarrette was called to his front door and shot by former Jayhawkers. The Jayhawkers also shot his wife and set fire to their home with their children still inside, all because he had ridden with Quantrill.

George A. Todd- Born in 1840 in Canada. Todd was described as being six feet tall with a dark complexion, dark straight hair, and high cheekbones. Todd was living in Kansas City in 1860 and working with his father and brother as stonemasons building bridges. After finishing an initial enlistment in the Missouri State Guards Todd joined Quantrill in December 1861 as one of Quantrill’s first fifteen recruits. The Federals in Independence, Missouri imprisoned Todd’s father in a cellar without heat, during the coldest part of the winter, to try to make him tell where his son was. Others say the elder Todd was kept there to force him to help build Fort Union in Kansas City. When he was released, he was so frozen he could not feed himself. Later it was said that he was pressed into service and sent east. The Federals paid a terrible price for their treatment of Todd’s father. The young man became a captain in Quantrill’s company and later rose to second in command. Todd’s name appears on Quantrill’s July 6, 1862 company muster roster as a 2nd Lieutenant. Todd took part in almost all the major engagements and skirmishes of Quantrill’s company during the war fighting at Wilson’s Creek, Carthage, Lexington, the February 1862 Independence skirmish, the 1st and 2nd Battle of Independence, the Lowe House fight, the Clark House fight, the Battle of Wellington, the Westport skirmish, Lamar, Lawrence, Baxter Springs, Fayette, Centralia and the Wagner fight. His fellow soldiers said he was “The incarnate devil of battle, thought of fighting when awake, dreamt of it all night, mingled talk of it in relaxation, and went hungry many a day and shelterless many a night, seeking the enemy for his fill of fight. When Quantrill chose to leave Jackson County in June of 1864 Todd decided to stay with a handful of followers but soon followed Quantrill into Howard County to meet General Price on his final raid into Missouri. Acting as a scout for General Shelby during the 2nd Battle of Independence Todd was shot from his saddle by a sniper. He was killed on October 23, 1864 and buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Independence.

David Francis Marion (Dave) Poole- Born in Lafayette, County, Missouri in 1837. During the war Poole's relatives were tortured and murdered by Kansas Jayhawkers. Federals killed his brother-in-law during the war and plundered the home of his uncle. Poole then joined Quantrill having his name of Quantrill’s July 6, 1862 company muster roll. He had a brother John A. Poole who also rode with Quantrill. Dave Poole was described as small of stature with a long wide beard and mustache and gray eyes. A more capable, desperate, and determined fighter was not to be found in the guerrilla ranks. Poole rose to the rank of captain under Quantrill leading many men from his home county. Poole fought in the February 1862 skirmish at Independence, at the Battle of the Ravines near Pleasant Hill, Missouri, the 1st and 2nd Battle of Independence, Cane Hill and Prairie Grove, Wellington, Lone Jack, Lawrence, and Baxter Springs, the Red River Campaign, Fayette, Centralia, and Westport. At the Battle of Centralia Poole chased the surviving Federals back into town shooting two soldiers off their horses. Poole surrendered on May 21, 1865 in Lexington, Missouri. He then volunteered to ride through the border counties bringing in the rest of the guerrillas so they too could honorably surrender. Afterwards Poole moved to Texas settling in Sherman.

William H. Gregg-Born Feb. 8, 1838. Gregg lived near Stony Point in eastern Jackson County, Missouri in the heart of Quantrill country. Gregg joined the Missouri State Guards on June 1, 1861 as a captain in Colonel Rosser’s Regiment, General Rain’s Division. After his initial enlistment Gregg joined Quantrill in December 1861 as one of his first recruits. Kansas Jayhawkers under Colonel Charles Jennison murdered Gregg's uncle. Jayhawkers also plundered his home and tore the clothes from his mother trying to steal her jewelry. Gregg’s name appears on Quantrill’s July 6, 1862 company muster roll as a 1st Sergeant. During the fall of 1862 his brother and his father were taken prisoner due to his riding with Quantrill. Both were held in confinement for some time before being released. Gregg later became Quantrill’s adjutant and held the rank of lieutenant. Gregg fought at Wilson’s Creek, Prairie Grove, Cane Hill, the Battle of the Ravines, the Independence skirmish, the 1st and 2nd Battle of Independence, Lone Jack, White Oak Creek, the Olathe raid, the Shawneetown raid, Wellington, the Sam Clark house skirmish, Westport skirmish, Lamar, Lawrence, Baxter Springs and Centralia. During the winter of 1862 while the guerrillas were fighting in Arkansas Gregg was sent north to recruit. At Lawrence Gregg's assignment was to raid the bank with the intent to reclaim the money stolen by the Kansas "Redlegs" in order to distribute it to the wives and widows of Jackson County. Gregg recounts being engaged in sixty-five battles and skirmishes in which he took part. He was described as a dashing, fearless, enterprising soldier. He joined Quantrill as a private, and was successfully promoted, by election, to first sergeant and third lieutenant but often he commanded a company. After the war Gregg became a deputy sheriff in Jackson County.

Is it any wonder that these men were never defeated in battle, that their exploits were heralded throughout the South in military dispatches like the following from General Sterling Price: "Colonel Quantrill has with him some 350 men of that daring and dashing character which has made the name of Quantrill so feared by our enemies, and have aided so much to keep Missouri, though overrun by Federals, identified with the Confederacy." If you are interested in further accounts of Quantrill and his men they can be found in: Quantrill of Missouri,Quantrill in Texas, and Quantrill at Lawrence.

Paul R. Petersen © Quantrillsguerrillas.com. "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay and or image." Here Below are images of  frist John Jarrette then George Todd.                                                                                                            



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