"Kansas should be laid waste at once." - William Clarke Quantrill
"No more terrifying object ever came down a street than a mounted guerrilla wild for blood, the bridle-reins between his teeth or over the saddle-horn, the horse running recklessly, the rider yelling like a Comanche, his long unkempt hair flying wildly beyond the brim of his broad hat, and firing both to the right and left with deadly accuracy. When a town was filled with such men bent on death, terror ensued, reason and judgment fled, and hell yawned." - William Elsey Connelley, author of Quantrill and the Border Wars
The Civil War is best remembered for the big battles and the legendary generals who fought on both sides, like Robert E. Lee facing off against Ulysses S. Grant in 1864. In kind, the Eastern theater has always drawn more interest and attention than the West. However, while massive armies marched around the country fighting each other, there were other small guerrilla groups that engaged in irregular warfare on the margins, and among these partisan bushwhackers, none are as infamous as William Quantrill and Quantrill's Raiders.
Quantrill's Raiders operated along the border between Missouri and Kansas, which had been the scene of partisan fighting over a decade earlier during the debate over whether Kansas and Nebraska would enter the Union as free states or slave states. In "Bleeding Kansas", zealous pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces fought each other, most notably John Brown, and the region became a breeding ground for individuals like Quantrill who shifted right back into similar fighting once the Civil War started.