This Day in Texas History:
Confederate Guerilla Leader Arrested by Own Side
March 28, 1864
On this day in 1864, Civil War guerrilla leader William Quantrill was arrested by Confederate forces in Bonham, Texas.
The Ohio native, wanted for murder in Utah by 1860, collected a group of renegades in the Kansas-Missouri area at the beginning of the Civil War. He fought with Confederate forces at the battle of Wilson’s Creek in August 1861 but soon thereafter began irregular independent operations.
Quantrill and his band attacked Union camps, patrols, and settlements. While Union authorities declared him an outlaw, Quantrill eventually held the rank of colonel in the Confederate forces. After his infamous sack of Lawrence, Kansas, and the massacre of Union prisoners at Barter Springs, Quantrill and his men fled to Texas in October of 1863. There he quarreled with his associate, William “Bloody Bill” Anderson, and his band preyed on the citizens of Fannin and Grayson counties.
Acts of violence proliferated so much that regular Confederate forces had to be assigned to protect residents from the activities of the irregular Confederate forces, and Gen. Henry McCulloch determined to rid North Texas of Quantrill’s influence. On March 28, 1864, when Quantrill appeared at Bonham as requested, McCulloch had him arrested on the charge of ordering the murder of a Confederate major.
Quantrill escaped that day and returned to his camp near Sherman, pursued by more than 300 state and Confederate troops. He and his men crossed the Red River into Indian Territory. Except for a brief return in May, Quantrill’s activities in Texas were at an end. Quantrill was killed by Union forces at the very end of the war.