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The James Gang and Kentucky


Part 3

A number of female relatives of Quantrill’s Raiders were arrested and placed under custody in Kansas City, Missouri, some 13 in all. They were charged with being sympathetic supporters of the Confederacy. At first, the women were treated well, but over a period of time they were treated harshly. The 12th Kansas regiment, their first guards, were very strict with the women. This guard was replaced by Captain Frank Parker and Sergeant George M. Walker of the 11th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment that served as a guard to the town. Contrary to common belief, the building serving as the jail was only six years old and three stories tall with a cellar. The first floor was being used as a store selling liquor and other spirits. The Union soldiers dug a number of holes through the cellar walls and removed part of the central column that supported the three floors. Many of the prison guards serving as jailors, lived in Lawrence, Kansas. The building collapsed August 13th, 1863 killing and crippling the sisters, mothers and wives of many of Quantrill’s Raiders. Three of them were Bill Anderson’s sister and mother, and it was after this incident that he acquired the sobriquet, “Bloody,” Bill Anderson.

A retaliatory raid was led on the town of Lawrence, Kansas after a council of war was held at Pardee’s farm where 294 guerrillas met and confirmed the action. Oddly enough, an apology on the part of the Union Army, and a cease of arrests on Confederate non-combatant women, might have prevented the raid; however, General Ewing, when he got criticized for making war on the women, stated he was increasing the number of arrests and would for the duration.

On the way to Lawrence, the raiders happened upon a Confederate force of about 104 Confederate recruits on a training mission. This force was led by Col. John Holt who joined Quantrill in the raid. He thought the battle, likely to be a skirmish, would provide good training. Along their way, the force had a number of angry volunteers join with them swelling their numbers to about 450 men. When they attacked Lawrence, August 21st, 1863, they massacred as many men and boys as they could find, but made a point of not harming a single woman. The raid was an object lesson, you harm our women and we will kill your men. One hundred and fifty Kansas men and boys were killed, about 20 of them soldiers. Buildings were burned, and there was only one Confederate casualty, a Baptist-Minister from Kentucky, Larkin Skaggs, who got drunk and was left behind. When Skaggs was found, he was killed by the people of Lawrence and scalped by an Indian.

After Lawrence, things became hot for Quantrill, and the year 1864 saw him become morose, ill, and his men like Todd, Anderson, Gregg, and others increasingly led actions of their own. By fall of 1864, Quantrill and his men were being constantly harassed at the same time the Kentucky guerrillas like Marrion, Berry and the high-profile Sue Mundy were at their zenith, and making headlines. Quantrill, on January 1st, moved those 40 men loyal to him to Kentucky. Among them were brothers Bud and Donnie Pence, Oliver and George Shepherd, Frank James and 37 other battle-hardened veterans. When they arrived, they rode with the Kentucky guerrillas and after the war some of Quantrill’s men made Kentucky their home, most notably the Pence brothers. Frank and Jesse James visited their relatives George Hite, and their good friends, the Pence’s. Frank also visited Brandenburg. (See Part 4 next week when a Missouri Sheriff comes to Nelson County to take Bud Pence back to hang, and he meets with some Kentucky Justice.)