On Friday, August 21, 1863 armed gunmen lead by the notorious William Clark Quantrill attacked Lawrence, Kansas, killing approximately 150 men and boys and destroying over a half million dollars of property. Only women and children were spared, with few men escaping.
Quantrill’s Raiders targeted Lawrence because of the town's long support of abolition and its reputation as a center for Jayhawkers and Redlegs, who were free-state militia and vigilante groups known for attacking and destroying farms and plantations in Missouri's pro-slavery western counties.
Quantrill himself claimed that the attack on Lawrence was in direct retribution for the earlier sacking of Osceola, Missouri, a pro-slavery community. The sacking of Lawrence was a bitter reminder of the destructive legacy of slavery, one of the fundamental reasons which started the American Civil War.