For nearly 150 years William Clarke Quantrill has been depicted as both a bloodthirsty opportunist and as a noble son of the South.
His 1863 raid on the civilian population of Lawrence, Kansas, has been decried as the single greatest atrocity of the Civil War. But in recent years there has been an effort to explain that notorious event as a reaction to similar incidents perpetrated by Union troops and Kansas Jayhawkers against pro-Confederacy Missourians.
Now, on the 149th anniversary of the Lawrence raid, Quantrill - portrayed by actor Aaron Worley - gets a chance to explain himself as part of the Library's popular Meet the Past series on Tuesday, August 21, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Conducting the interview is Library Director Crosby Kemper III. The program will be taped by KCPT for later broadcast.
Born in Indiana, Quantrill became a school teacher in Illinois and Indiana, eventually moving to the Kansas Territory where initially he aligned himself with the Free State movement. But over time he turned to cattle rustling and collecting bounties on runaway slaves.
Moving to Texas he became a full-fledged Confederate sympathizer, and in September of 1861 fought for rebel Gen. Sterling Price at the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Missouri.
Thereafter he formed his own guerilla band to fight Union troops and Kansas Jayhawkers along the Kansas-Missouri border. Among the men in his command were the Younger brothers, the James brothers, and "Bloody" Bill Anderson.
The decision to raid the abolitionist stronghold of Lawrence was prompted by the collapse of a Kansas City building in which many women prisoners - the wives, sisters, and sweethearts of various bushwhackers - were killed or injured. Quantrill's men believed the collapse was deliberate and went looking for revenge.
During the raid the bushwhackers killed some 180 men and boys, most of them believed to be unarmed. Union Gen. Thomas Ewing responded with Order No. 11, which ordered the depopulation of Missouri counties along the Kansas border.
Quantrill later led a guerilla band in Kentucky, where he was killed in a Union ambush.
Aaron Worley is an actor living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2009 he portrayed Jesse James for the Meet the Past series.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage on 10th & Baltimore.
Major funding for this season of Meet the Past has been provided by the Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust, Ken and Cindy McClain, and the J. B. Reynolds Foundation.