Missouri Irregular Cavalryman, “Quantrill’s Riders”, 1863
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Sculpture: Eduard Pérez
Painting: David Zabrocki
Number of parts of the kit: 3
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At the start of the American Civil War, Missouri and Kansas were neighboring states populated by people with confronted political opinions. From 1854 there were violent episodes among citizens and communities, even inside the same state. So, at 1861, there were already a quite active pro-Confederacy group that concentrated in attacking Union supply lines and also any people who were loyal to the Union or abolitionist.
These groups were commonly known as “Bushwackers” and were led by William Clarke Quantrill. This leader had been a school master before the war but also was known for other different activities; some of them shady like bounty hunting fled slaves and even freed ones. When the war started, he joined the Confederate Army but deserted at the end of 1861 to form his own irregular unit.
Due to their violent pillage and assassination activities, the “Bushwackers“ were not recognized as regular soldiers. They were considered an independent Confederate faction, even if they contributed to make life hard for the Union Army, so they didn’t join the global military operations. Their legacy consist basically in guerrilla actions.
The most famous action of the Quantrill Riders was the “Lawrence Massacre”, on August 21th, 1863. This city on Kansas became an abolitionist symbol and was the setting of horrible crimes against the civilian population. From 1854, the city supported the “Jayhawkers”, other irregular group of opposite orientation of the “Bushwackers“, that instead of fighting against them, simply retaliated against their supporters. For that reason, Quantrill’s men raided the city and killed 164 civilians.
As these fighters were not regular soldiers, they had no particular uniform but they wore very often what is known as “guerrilla shirts”, tailored in bright colors and sometimes with embroidered collar, cuffs and front pockets. They were made at home by the wives and daughters of the family. The main weapon they carried were normally several revolvers, always loaded and ready to use, but sometimes they had also some Sharps rifles and cavalry sabers.