BAXTER SPRINGS, Kans. — This week marks the 158th anniversary of the Lawrence Kansas Massacre, and the man responsible for that rampage, left his mark in another Kansas community.
It’s the latest installment in our Destination Kansas series.
Two months after killing 150 men and boys in Lawrence, William Quantrill and his band of confederate guerillas were heading south towards Texas down the military road, when they learned about Fort Blair in Baxter Springs.
“Divides his men into three forces, two forces to attack from one direction from the Fort Site, he’s leading the third force up along Spring River and he’s going to come from the north, basically the northeast side of the Fort Site,” said Mary Billington, Director, Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum.
His luck couldn’t have been better.
Billington says most of the union soldiers stationed at the fort were gone on a foraging mission leaving it protected by a small group of men including the Second Kansas and the 3rd Wisconsin.
“It’s one of the first battles they know that black soldiers fought side by side,” said Billington.
Unable to take the fort, all of Quantrill’s men, now 300 strong, attack another union force of about 100 that happened to be traveling along that same road. Some of Quantrill’s men, now dressed in union uniforms, lead the surprise attack.
“In between the dead at the Fort site, the ones wounded and died there, and the ones killed across the prairie, there was a little over 100 men died that day,” said Billington
Even after survivors were encouraged to surrender, all were executed. Thanks to a map, visitor’s to the city and it’s museum can see each of the locations where both battles on the same day were fought, as well as the final resting place of the dead in the national cemetery.