August 21, 1863. The border skirmishes that had been happening between pro-slavery Missouri and anti-slavery Kansas since the 1850s escalated with the burning and slaughter some 180 men in Lawrence.
Led by former Lawrence school teacher and outlaw William Quantrill in a well-planned attack, 400 men rode from Missouri to Lawrence in the morning hours. Much of the town burned and nearly 200 people were killed, some in front of their families. It wasn’t an entirely unprovoked attack. Lawrence had been a gathering place for “Jayhawkers” and other pro-Union fighters, and they’d crossed the border themselves in the past to attack Missouri towns.
And 150 years to the day of this horrific and historic event, the city of Lawrence has organized a unique event: a Community Twitter Project where community members have been given identities of those involved in the battle and will “live” tweet the event starting early on August 21. The tweets have already started, giving some background to those key players in the event. Check out the tweets here or follow #QR1863.
If you’re in the Lawrence area, you can learn more about the raid with the self-guided tour.
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Unprovoked? The residents of places like Osceola would beg to differ. As is always the case, history is written by the victors.
It wasn’t unprovoked, which is stated. The 1860s was a complex and complicated part of history for the area, no question about it.