Quantrill's Raid on Shawnee Historical Marker
This historical marker shares the history of William Quantrill’s Raid and its connection to Shawnee. The raid is best known for the tragic slaughter of innocent men and the burning of Lawrence, but residents of Shawnee were also victimized by Quantrill and his raiders. This historical marker outside of Shawnee's City Hall shares two attacks on Shawnee which occurred on October 17, 1862, and a second that occurred just prior to the more famous Sack of Lawrence in the summer of 1863.
The historical marker remembering Quantrill's raids on Shawnee, mostly mentions the first burning and raid of Shawnee on October 17th, 1862.
The historical marker for Quantrill's raids on Shawnee sit on the southwest corner of the Shawnee Town Hall.
William Quantrill, a bushwhacker from Missouri who most famously burned and raided not only Lawrence, but also Shawnee.
Backstory and Context
Shawnee is located just 35 miles away from Lawrence and this marker sits in front of the Shawnee Town Hall. The marker shares the town's connection to William Quantrill and his proslavery bushwhackers from Missouri who performed several raids that included the murder of anyone they suspected might harbor antislavery sentiment. Quantrill’s most famous raid took place in Lawrence where his posse murdered 183 men and boys aged 14 to 90. In addition to these murders and theft of property, Quantrill and his posse burned many homes and businesses in Lawrence. Quantrill performed these raids in order to scare and intimidate the people who opposed slavery in Kansas.
The attacks between the Kansas Jayhawkers and the Missouri Bushwhackers occurred mostly during the period known as “Bleeding Kansas,” but acts such as the burning of Shawnee and Lawrence occurred frequently during the Civil War in communities throughout the United States. The attacks on Shawnee and Lawrence, as well as those committed in Missouri in retaliation for these attacks, demonstrate a tragic part of the Civil War.
The first raid on Shawnee took place on October 17th, 1862. On that day, Quantrill and his gang of roughly 140 bushwhackers stormed into town and corralled the residents into the town square which is roughly located where today's City Hall is located. In this first raid, survivors indicated that the bushwhackers stole clothing and horses while also murdering two Shawnee residents. Once Quantrill stole as much property as they could take, his band of bushwhackers set fire to the town. The fire destroyed around twenty buildings that represented most of the structures in the small town at that time.
The second raid took place during the summer of 1863. This raid can be understood today as training and preparation for the larger raid on Lawrence that would take place in August of 1863. The second raid on Shawnee offered a chance for a surprise attack and prepared an escape route for the participants of the planned attack on Lawrence so that they could return to Missouri. The route had to be devoid of Union soldiers, as the bushwhackers would be executed immediately if they encountered any Union troops. The town of Shawnee was small at the time so no Union soldiers were stationed there so by attacking this town, Quantrill reduced the likelihood that area men could rally before the raiders returned to Missouri. The attack on Shawnee also guaranteed that area men would be less likely to know if the initial reports of the attack on Lawrence were part of a planned series of attacks, spreading panic and making it less likely for able-bodied men to search for the attackers as they would fear that their village might be next. that would make it less likely to know the exact nature of the attacks until the raiders had made it back. While it palled in comparison to the Sack of Lawrence, thirteen people were injured in the second raid of Shawnee.
Kendall, Jason, and — Angela Jeppesen. “Quantrill's Shawnee Raids Were 'Practice for the Big One'.”Shawnee Dispatch, 12 Aug. 2013, www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2013/aug/12/quantrills-shawnee-raids-were-practice-big-one/.
The Blue Quasar. “Quantrill's Raid on Shawnee, Kansas.” Quantrill's Raid on Shawnee, Kansas - Battlefields on Waymarking.com, Groundspeak Inc., 2010, www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM30V2_Quantrills_Raid_on_Shawnee_Kansas.