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William Clarke Quantrill Research Collection

Identifier: M243

Scope and Contents

This collection of documents relating to Confederate Army Colonel Willliam Clarke Quantrill was assembled by Ernest A. Walen to aid his personal research on Quantrill.


  • 1858,1860, 1862-1865, 1870, 1884, 1888, 1896-1897, 1903-1910, 1959, 1962-1964

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

William Clarke Quantrill was born at Canal Dover, Ohio, on July 31, 1837, the eldest of eight children. His parents were Thomas Henry and Caroline Cornelia (Clarke) Quantrill. William was a school teacher in Ohio and Illinois for a brief period before going to Kansas with a party of settlers in 1857. Although he filed a claim to a tract of land, he was not suited to the settled farmer's life, and in 1858 he joined an army provision train enroute to Utah. Along the journey, at Fort Bridger and Salt Lake City, Quantrill seems to have assumed the name of Charley Hart and become known as a gambler.

Quantrill returned to Kansas and taught school from the winter of 1859 to 1860. During 1860 he lived in the area of Lawrence, Kansasa, continuing his use of the assumed name, Charley Hart. He was connected with several murders and deaths, and a warrant was issued against him for horse stealing. Fleeing the law in December 1860, Quantrill joined a band of five Missouri abolitionists who planned to free the three slaves of a local farmer, Morgan Walker. Quantrill, however, was pro-slavery and made the band's intentions known to Walker. Quantrill fled to Kansas where he was arrested on the earlier charge of horse stealing but was aided in escaping to Missouri.

At the start of the Civil War, Quantrill was associated with the Confederate Army, and he fought at Lexington, Missouri. He became the chief of a guerilla band which raided and sacked communities throughout Missouri and Kansas and experienced numerous conflicts with Union troops. The Union authorities declared Quantrill and his men outlaws in 1862. The Quantrill gang joined with Confederate troops in capturing Independence, Missouri, in August 1862, and that same year was mustered into Confederate Service, with Quantrill being assigned the rank of captain. On later occasions, Quantrill referred to himself as "Colonel", but no official promotion was ever recorded in the Official Records.

On August 21, 1863, Quantrill, with about 450 men, attacked Lawrence, Kansas, destroying homes, stores, and other buildings. Men, women, and children, reportedly between 150 and 182, were murdered and much of the town burned. Two months later a small group of Quantrill's men defeated a Union force at Baxter Springs, Kansas. Through the latter years of the war, Quantrill and his men continued their guerrilla tactics. When, in early 1865, Quantrill and thirty-three men entered Kentucky, they were surprised by a small Federal force near Taylorsville in Spencer County. Quantrill, fatally wounded in the May 10 encounter, died almost a month later in Louisville, Kentucky.

Captain William H. Gregg was an original member of Quantrill's guerrilla band and one of Quantrill's chief lieutenants. After the gang broke up, Gregg joined the Confederate Army in late 1864. Greg and William Elsey Connelley corresponded about Quantrill in the early 1900's for Connelley's book about Quantrill, during which time Gregg was a resident of Kansas City, Missouri.

William Elsey Connelley (1855-1930) was born in Johnson County, Kentucky. He was the author of many books, among them Quantrill and the Border Wars, Doniphan's Expedition, Mexican War, Memoirs of John James Ingalls, The Heckenwelder Narrative, and The Provisional Government of Nebraska Territories. He was the secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society. Connelley's sentiments were pro-Union and pro-Kansas.

Sara Tappan Doolittle (Lawrence) Robinson (1827-1911) was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts, and became the wife of Dr. Charles Robinson, the first governor of Kansas in 1856. Dr. Robinson became governor again in 1861, and the couple was present in Lawrence, Kansas, on August 21, 1863, the day of Quantrill's raid. Mrs. Robinson was the author of Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior Life in 1855.


0.75 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Research collection about leader of Quantrill's Raiders in Missouri.


The bulk of this collection, Series I, consists of letters and notes from Captain William H. Gregg, who served under Quantrill, to William E. Connelley regarding Connelley's book, Quantrill and the Border Wars (1910). There is also correspondence from Connelley to Gregg; Gregg's manuscript entitled "Quantrill and the Border Warfare"; letters between Charles W. Journey and Connelley dealing with Journey's relative, William McWaters; a letter from Second Lieutenant R. A. Randlett including a letter to him from Colonel John McNeal regarding Randlett's capture; and several newspaper clippings.

The documents in Series I contain information about Quantrill's ancestors, his birth and early life, his excursions in the West, his guerrilla band, some of the men he fought against, other people directly or indirectly involved with him, and his death. They consist largely of personal recollections by participants and spectators, primarily by William Gregg, and often written to William Connelley.

Series II contains miscellaneous information about Quantrill. There are copies of records dealing with Quantrill and his guerrilla band, and letters concerning certain parts of Quantrill's career in the war. Also included are an unsigned, undated pamphlet about the Lawrence Raid, a picture of Frank and Jesse James and Bob and Cole Younger, and a postcard of a Quantrill reunion.

Series III consists of correspondence between Walen and Isobel Baylor Woodson, who was conducting research on Quantrill for Walen, along with several of Walen's drafts of an introduction for his own work, an invoice on the purchase of several research documents, and a letter from Walen's publisher telling Walen how to improve his introduction.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Ernest A. Walen to The University of Southern Mississippi in October 1969.

Existence and Location of Copies

For Digitized Materials from this collection, see: External Documents link at bottom of page.


Copies of books by William E. Connelley about William Clarke Quantrill are available in the Cook and McCain Libraries:

Quantrill and the Border Wars (Cedar Rapids, Ia.: The Torch Press, 1910), call number E470.45 .C75 (McCain).

Quantrill and the Border Wars (Cedar Rapids, Ia.: The Torch Press, 1910) [microform], call number Z1236 .L5 and Z1236 .L5 LAC 15003 (Cook).

Quantrill and the Border Wars (New York: Pageant Book Co., 1956), call number E470.45 .C75 1956 (McCain).

Photograph Log

M243-1 8 x 10, Circa 1870 (Yellowed) Jessie James, Frank James, Bob Younger and Cole Younger in a posed photograph. Interior setting, two sitting, two standing, frontier clothing, each with gun or rifle.

M243-2 3 1/2 x 5 1/2, Color Postcard, Circa 1907 Postcard of the Quantrill Gang Reunion. Approximately 48 men in a field with trees in teh background. Most men look elderly.
William Clarke Quantrill Research Collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001