Harper's Weekly, Sept. 5, 1863. Artist's rendition of the raid.
Map drawn by William Elsey Connelley, showing the route followed in pursuing Quantrill after the Raid, undated.
Reverend Richard Cordley, no date.
The Lawrence raid was unique. It differed from any other raid in history. Other raids were made for plunder or for military purposes. The earlier raids of Quantrill and his men were made for plunder largely. They dashed into Olathe at night, ordered all the men to the public square and kept them under guard till they were done. Only one man was killed and he was killed in a fray. Often raids were made for the purpose of putting out of the way some persons who were obnoxious to them. Houses were burned, horses were taken, and other things stolen such as took their fancy. But in no case was there a general slaughter. At Lawrence it was butchery from the first charge to the last shot. The butchering and burning began with their approach and hardly ended with their departure. It was not the picking out of a few obnoxious persons as was the case elsewhere. The killing was indiscriminate and mostly in cold blood. There was no provocation and no resistance. There was nothing to irritate or provoke. The few who resisted fared better than those who did not resist. There were men in Lawrence whom they very naturally would look for. But very few of these were found.
From his book A History of Lawrence, Kansas, 1985.
Hell Let Loose
On August 21, 1863 Quantrill and some four hundred men rode into Lawrence, on a dawn raid, catching the citizens by surprise, in spite of earlier rumors of possible attack. At the end of four hours at least 143 men and teen aged boys, most unarmed and unresisting, were known dead, many killed in front of their wives and children. Most of the business district was destroyed by fire, and many homes were plundered and burned. Lawrence was in ruins and its remaining citizens in shock and despair.
According to an account of the raid written shortly afterwards by Rev. Richard Cordley:
No one expected indiscriminate slaughter. When it was known that the town was in their possession, everybody expected that they would rob and burn the town, kill all military men they could find, and a few marked characters. But few expected a wholesale murder. … A gentlemen who was concealed where he could see the whole , said the scene presented was the most perfect realization of the slang phrase, “Hell let loose,” that could ever be imagined.