Bleeding Kansas & the Missouri Border War

They soon surrounded the Confederates, resulting in the capture of about 600 men and two generals – Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke and Brigadier General William L. Cabell. Having lost this many men, Price’s army was doomed. Retreat to friendly territory was the only recourse.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to regain his prestige, Quantrill concocted a plan to lead a company of men to Washington and assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. He assembled a group of raiders in Lafayette County, Missouri, in November and December 1864 with the idea of completing this task. However, the strength of Union troops east of the Mississippi River convinced him that his plan could not succeed. Quantrill turned back and resumed his normal pattern of raiding.

On April 8, 1865 General Robert E. Lee formally surrendered at Appomattox, effectively ending the Civil War. However, while peace was brought to the rest of the land the violence in these two states would continue for years to come.

Fearing capture and execution, Quantrill and his men headed east. In May, 1865, a Unionist irregular force surprised his group near Taylorsville, Kentucky, and in the ensuing battle Quantrill was shot through the spine.

He died at the military prison at Louisville, Kentucky, on June 6, 1865.

Conquered Banner of the Confederacy

Conquered Banner of the Confederacy. Click for prints & products.

The divided state of Missouri suffered the third largest number of engagements during the war at 1,162. Only Virginia and Tennessee had more. 40,000 Missourians joined the Confederate ranks, while nearly three times that number joined the Union Army. When it was over Missouri lost 27,000 of its valiant sons.

Kansas contributed 20,097 men to the Union Army, a remarkable record since the population included less than 30,000 men of military age. Furthermore, Kansas suffered the highest mortality rate of any of the Union states. Of the black troops in the Union army, 2,080 were credited to Kansas, though the 1860 census listed fewer than 300 blacks of military age in the state; most of them came from Arkansas and Missouri.

Members of the guerilla bands, having tasted the excitement of gunplay, were in no mood to lay down their arms meekly and become model citizens, and their resolve to continue their outlaw ways was strengthened by the knowledge that surrender meant the hangman’s noose. Men like Jesse and Frank James, and the Younger Brothers merely shifted their field of endeavor from the political to the financial. Continuing to apply their hit-and-run tactics, bank robberies and train holdups now became endemic, effectively beginning advent of the Wild Wild West and its many outlaws.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2017.

Continue on to Bleeding Kansas Timeline


Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.

Cutler, William; History of the State of Kansas, A.T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883.

The Kansas Collection

Kansas Memory

Kansas State Historical Society

Legends of Kansas: Bleeding Kansas & the Civil War

National Park Service

Territorial Kansas


Birth of Freedom DVD

Birth of Freedom DVD, available at our General Store

Also See:

Civil War Battles in Kansas

Bleeding Kansas/Missouri Border War Timeline

Battle at Fort Blair

Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas

Jesse James – Member of Quantrill’s Raiders

Lawrence, Kansas – From Ashes to Immortality

Osceola, Missouri – Surviving All Odds

William Quantrill – Renegade Leader of the Missouri Border War

William Quantrill – The Man, the Myth, the Soldier by Paul R. Petersen


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