Quantrill’s War: The Life and Times of William Clarke Quantrill, 1837-1865

St. Martin’s Press, 1996

For career criminal William Clarke Quantrill, the American Civil War was an opportunity to practice legitimately what he loved most: theft, destruction, and murder. He rampaged freely as a military hero, slaughtering hundreds, fighting under the flag of the Confederate Army. Few people realized that Quantrill had no personal convictions. He stood for no principles and believed no more in the Southern ideal than in the Union. He simply lived to kill.

Quantrill’s War recounts the guerrilla raids he carried out with dash and daring, the lightning ambushes he led on horseback, reins in his teeth, Navy Colt revolvers blazing in each hand. Union forces struggled to track him without success. He attracted a following of more than 300 men including Frank James, whose younger brother Jesse later joined them, Cole Younger, and Bloody Bill Anderson. The climax of this disturbing story is Quantrill’s bloodiest battle, the 4-hour sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, where he ordered the massacre of 185 men and boys, killing “every man big enough to carry a gun.” Thoroughly researched and documented, this is a riveting story of murder and revenge.

More Civil War Books by Duane Schultz