Note: This is part two in a series of articles focusing on the inhuman way in which the people of Missouri were treated in the period before, during and after the US war against the South. The quotations below are taken from Paul Petersen’s book Quantrill at Lawrence: The Untold Story.
There has never been an estimate of the total number of innocent Missouri citizens killed, but community after community reported losses by the score. Throughout Missouri and Northern Arkansas, chimneys marking the sites of destroyed homes were called ‘Jennison’s Monuments.’ One Jayhawker in particular, Peter Jackson Bryant of Kansas, boasted of his illegal exploits.
In July our Captain raised a company and went into the army, and I mustered about 50 men and went into Missouri. All the difference between was he jayhawked under Uncle Sam and I under a lieutenancy from Governor Robinson. I marched when I damn well pleased’ he, when he was told to. I kept my plunder if I chose; he didn’t. I took my pay as I went along; he, when he could get it. I have disbanded my squad; he has got to stick until the war is over.
One guerrilla officer noticeably missing was Captain John Thrailkill. Thrailkill was originally from Holt County in Northwest Missouri. He could empathize with his fellow comrades who had just lost their sisters and wives in the Kansas City jail collapse. At the start of the war 20 Federal militiamen invaded the home of his fiancee and killed her invalid father. As a result of this brutal assault, she went insane and died shortly afterward. To avenge her, Thrailkill joined Captain Quantrill, but not before making a solemn vow at his sweetheart’s grave: ‘Blood for blood, every hair in her head shall have a sacrifice.’
Thrailkill eventually killed 18 of the 20 men who caused his fiancee’s death but there were more of his enemies to be found in Lawrence. If it wasn’t for the fact that he had recently been captured on July 19, 1863 and placed in prison, Thrailkill would have undoubtedly been on the Lawrence Raid.
William Gregg remembered that prior to the raid, ’The enemy had been more savage if possible than ever before. They killed numerous old men and boys.’
Besides the remembrances of a large number of citizens killed during the summer of 1863 there was also the vivid memories and recollections of dozens of communities plundered in Western Missouri, many of them being wiped out of existence by the Jayhawkers from Kansas. Not only that, but Jayhawkers also destroyed entire families, killing every male in the household and completely destroying family lines forever.
While in Missouri on a Jayhawker expedition, John A. Martin of the 8th Kansas Regiment, recruited in Lawrence, wrote to his sister:
The country around is a desolation; the ravages of war have laid waste the fields, and ruins mark the spot where once stood costly houses. I have seen since coming down here, the effects of war terribly portrayed, West Point, Missouri was once a thriving town, with large stores, elegant private dwellings, and a fine large hotel. Now soldiers are quartered in the dwellings and horses occupy the storerooms. The hotel was burned down 3 days ago. The houses are all torn to pieces, plastering off, mantles used to build fires, and doors unhinged. I presume the place will be burned as soon as the troops leave. All around…. The same scenes of ruin and devastation greet the eye. Large farms, with crops ungathered, barns and stables falling to pieces, houses deserted, fences torn down, and stock running loose and uncared for. From West Point to Jonesville, I saw not a house occupied and I have been all over the country about here without meeting with a half dozen habited dwelling.