The Bloodiest Man In American History

On the flaming Kansas-Missouri border the name of Quantrill struck terror in men’s hearts. He was a cruel and ruthless guerrilla who burned, robbed, and killed without mercy; but legend made of him a hero dashing and bold


We like to think of the Civil War as the last romantic war—as a sort of gallant duel between gentlemen. There was a certain aura of “swords and roses” in the East, but west of the Mississippi, that neglected area of Civil War history, quite a different atmosphere prevailed. Here the fighting was grim, relentless, and utterly savage—a “battle to the knife, and the knife to the hilt.”

“See Those Men! They Have No Flag!”

This previously unpublished account of Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas, was written by Miss Sophia L. Bissell, who with her parents, her sister Arabella, and her brother-in-law, Henry C. Lawrence, was living there on that fateful Angust 21, 1863. Many years later, back in her native Sufffield, Connecticut, Miss Bissell set down her memories of the event; they appear here by courtesy of her great-grandnephew, Edward W. Lawrence of Dover, Massachusetts.—Ed.

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August 21, 1863