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Doc. 119.-the massacre at Lawrence, Kansas.

Statement of William Kempf.1

yesterday, the twenty-first of August, about half-past 4 o'clock, the citizens of Lawrence were surprised to hear a body of cavalry ride rapidly toward the Kansas River. As soon as the first of these men reached the river by.Massachusetts street and the streets east and west of it, they raised a shout, which was repeated down the streets as far as it was possible to hear. The citizens, startled by the noise, rushed into the streets to ascertain the cause. Many of the citizens were then shot down. With the quickness of lightning, the news spread over town that the accursed Quantrell, with his bushwhackers, was in town. The surprise was so complete that it was utterly impossible for the citizens to undertake any thing whatever for their defence. The few who heroically run out with their guns were quickly murdered, as were, in fact, all who showed themselves during the first half-hour. The hills above and the woods below the town were well guarded by guerrillas, so that it was impossible for persons living on the outskirts of town to make their escape. Every thing was done by command, or well understood beforehand by these murderers. After they had spread over town, they commenced to plunder in the most deliberate manner conceivable. Every store was broken open by a few men, guarded against surprise from the inside. The first thing they looked after was the safe; then every thing else of value. Every safe was bursted open when they could not get the key; but they were so well informed about every thing, that they sent, in several instances, to the private residences of persons, demanding the keys for the safes in the stores. Well-informed citizens think they took three hundred thousand dollars in cash along with them. It would seem they took more. They had been in town some time before they commenced burning the buildings.

The inmates of the Eldridge House were roused by somebody violently beating the gong. Most of them soon assembled in the hall, and it was found that not an arm was in the house. Captain Banks told them the best thing they could do was to surrender, and this being agreed upon, Captain Banks took a white sheet, and waved it from the balcony. This was greeted by a universal shout from the guerrillas. The commander of the bushwhackers around the house asked Banks: “Do you surrender this house?” “We do, and hope that you will treat our women and children with decency.” To this the rebels agreed, and Banks asked for Colonel Quantrell. Quantrell was sent for, and soon came. He asked Banks whether he was a Federal officer, and being answered in the affirmative, assured Banks that they would all be treated as prisoners, [400] and should not be molested. They were all searched, and everything valuable taken away from them — even the finger-rings of men and women. The whole house was then ransacked, and every thing of value taken out by the guerrillas. The prisoners were marched over to the Whitney House, and there guarded.

By this time most of the plunder had been secured on horses driven together from all parts of the town. The safes had all been broken, some blown up by powder, others deliberately chiselled open. They picked out the horses, only retaining the best, and driving the poorer ones off.

At about seven o'clock they set fire to the court-house. We heard several explosions, which at a distance would have been taken for cannonshots. We heard some person riding down the street, commanding their friends to burn the stores; and we soon heard the crackling of the fire, and saw most of the buildings east and west of us wrapped in flames. To the south we could not see from the houses we were in.

During all this time citizens were being murdered everywhere. Germans and negroes, when caught, were shot immediately. Many persons were shot down after they had been taken prisoners, and had been assured that they would not be hurt if they would surrender. Messrs. Trask and Baker, and two other citizens, were so taken, and while being marched toward the river as prisoners, after being assured that they would not be harmed, some guerrillas asked their names. Mr. Trask gave the names, when they were immediately fired upon, and all four killed on the spot, except Mr. Baker, who is not expected to live, however. Mr. Dix had been taken prisoner and his house set on fire, when one of the fiends told him, if he would give them his money, he would not be killed; otherwise he would. Mr. Dix went into the burning house, and got a thousand dollars, and handed it over. He was told to march toward the river, and had not proceeded twenty steps when he was shot dead from behind. Mr. Hampson, clerk of the Provost-Marshal, had a revolver, and tried to defend the few things he had saved from the Johnson House. His wife interfered, and they told him if he would surrender he should be treated as a prisoner, and be safe from harm. He surrendered, and was immediately shot from behind, the ball entering near the spine, and coming out below the kidneys in front. The wound is not considered fatal.

In one instance, the wife and a daughter of a man threw themselves over his body, begging for his life; but one of the murderers deliberately thrust his revolver down between the two women, and killed the man.

Before ten o'clock the body of the guerrillas left with their plunder, leaving a guard over the prisoners in town, and a few stragglers. The few persons wounded were wounded at this time by the passing fiends. In the earlier part of the day most persons were fired at from very near, and killed instantly.

One of the first persons out was Colonel Deitzler. Mr. Williamson and myself helped him carry off the dead. The sight that met us when coming out, I cannot describe. I have read of outrages committed in the so-called dark ages, and horrible as they appeared to me, they sank into insignificance in comparison with what I was then compelled to witness. Well-known citizens were lying in front of the spot where their stores or residences had been, completely roasted. The bodies were crisp and nearly black. We thought, at first, that they were all negroes, till we recognized some of them. In handling the dead bodies, pieces of roasted flesh would remain in our hands. Soon our strength failed us in this horrible and sickening work. Many could not help crying like children. Women and little children were all over town, hunting for their husbands and fathers, and sad indeed was the scene when they did finally find them among the corpses laid out for recognition. I cannot describe the horrors; language fails me, and the recollection of the scenes I witnessed makes me sick when I am compelled to repeat them.

The town is a complete ruin. The whole of the business part, and all good private residences are burned down. Every thing of value was taken along by the fiends. No store is left, and it is necessary that the good people of Leavenworth send provisions immediately. Persons who were rich yesterday are now utterly destitute.

One of the first places surrounded was the Eldridge House. It seems the guerrillas demanded a surrender before firing into it. After a short consultation the occupants concluded to surrender, and a white flag (sheet) appeared from the balcony, which was greeted with cheers. Quntrell was sent for, and made his appearance. On being asked what were his intentions, he replied, “Plunder;” he finally agreed that they should be protected, and gave them an escort to a place of safety. The last-named place not being found safe on account of indiscriminate shooting by the men, Quantrell allowed them to go to the Whitney House, kept by Mr. Stone. Quantrell said Mr. Stone once saved his life, and he was not the man to forget past favors. As soon as the Eldridge was surrendered, the house was searched. The inmates of the rooms were aroused from their beds, and their money, jewelry, and other valuables, demanded of them. Some gentlemen from Ohio who occupied one room were not as expeditious as the guerrillas thought, and they commenced firing through the door. One ball took effect in the calf of the leg of one of them. This same man was again shot through the shoulder, but is now doing well at the Merchants', in this city. Soon after, the building was destroyed; whether it was fired or caught from the adjoining buildings, we have not heard. It is supposed that a gentleman who has been connected with L. Levenson & Co., who had a store underneath, was burned.

After the second move, the Eldridge House [401] party, which numbered about sixty, were safely, as they supposed, located in the Whitney House. Quantrell had chosen this place for his headquarters, and swore he would shoot any of his men who attempted to molest any of them. Many people, knowing this, slipped in and were saved. One brute came in upon his horse while the party were going from one place to the other, and was told by one of Quantrell's head men, named Porter, that he would kill him if he did not dry up. Every thing went on very well while Quantrell was there; he promised that he would be the last man to leave the town, and none of his men should return. He took a lunch, and finally ordered the command to move out of the city, which they did. After mounting his horse, he lifted his hat to the ladies, and bowing politely, said: “Ladies, I now bid you good morning. I hope when we meet again, it will be under more favorable circumstances.” Putting spurs to his horse, he was soon out of sight. He was dressed in a dark-colored shirt, blue blouse, and had on a black hat. After Quantrell left, four of his men came back and said they were determined to kill some one out of the crowd — didn't much care who; that they had been promised the privilege of killing all they pleased, and through some reason, Quantrell had been humbugged. One of the party said that he had a sister killed in the prison at Kansas City, and another said that he had a sister shot by Union men; the third said he wanted to kill Miss Lydia Stone, the landlord's daughter; the fourth was a sober man, and seemed anxious to help save the lives of those in the house. It seems that one of the party had forcibly taken possession of a gold ring from Miss Stone, and she informed Quantrell of the fact, who told the fellow if he did not hand it over he would shoot him. But Miss Stone escaped. They wanted also to kill Mr. R. S. Stevens and another man, but they made their escape through a back-door to the bank of the river, where they could be protected by the few soldiers across the river. The men prowled through the house, but did not find what they wanted. Finally they ordered all in the house to form a line outside. This was done. One gentleman answered, Central Ohio. The fellow said that was as bad as Kansas, and shot him, but the wound did not prove fatal. Others were shot. Mr. Stone remonstrated with them, when one of them shot him through the head, killing him almost instantly. The party then left. It is reported that three of them were killed before getting out of town.

The banks were robbed, as well as the safes of the stores and offices. One man gave up all he had, and was then shot down. It is supposed they carried away in greenbacks some ten thousand dollars. The other property — except horses — they took away, was not much. The loss is estimated at between one and two millions.

Among the houses saved was that of ex-Governor Robinson, which, fortunately, is situated on the bank of the river. The guerrillas came and ordered the family (Mr. Robinson not being at home) to take out what they wanted, as they were going to burn it. They then left for town. When they returned, they were greeted with a volley from a small party of the Twelfth Kansas, on the opposite side, and three killed. Thinking the game would not pay, the scamps left.

General Lane had a miraculous escape. He heard the firing, and saw Willis's stable burning, and made tracks through a large corn-field near his house. Inquiries were made by the gang for Lane's house, and a Mr. Spicer was detailed by them to show his house. Placing a pistol to his head they compelled him to pilot them to Lane's house. They could not catch the General, but burnt his house. The General soon after made his appearance, and is now after the murderers.

Eighteen soldiers out of twenty-two, of the Kansas Fourteenth, at their recruiting rendezvous, near Lawrence, were shot; also a number of negroes of the Second colored regiment, were killed.

There were many heroic deeds performed by the ladies. In many instances they placed themselves between their husbands and fathers and danger when the drunken fiends held cocked pistols at them. One lady we hear spoken of and deserves particular mention; her name is Miss Lydia Stone, daughter of the landlord of the Whitney House. She moved round through the crowd doing all she could to alleviate the suffering. The dead body of one person was on fire, and she at once procured water and put it out. When the scoundrels came back a second time, saying they would kill some one, she replied, that: “They might as well kill me as any body.” Heroic deeds were performed by other ladies whose names have escaped us.

One of the most cowardly acts was the shooting at men, women, and children as they passed down under the bank toward the river.

There is no doubt but that Quantrell had spies at Lawrence. One man at the Eldridge House acted as a guide, and pointed out prominent men and things.

One fellow got Captain Banks's uniform and made quite a display with it.

A riding party of two ladies and gentlemen were met just outside the city, and compelled to go back. Quantrell invited the ladies to ride beside him into town, and they did so.

General Collamore was suffocated to death by damps in his well. When he first discovered the guerrillas in town, he went into the well, and his hired man, named Keith, covered it up. After the trouble was over, the man went to the well and found the General at the bottom. He went down after him, and unfortunately met the same fate. A neighbor, named Lowe, passing along, went down to rescue both of them, and was also suffocated.

It was peculiarly noticeable that the fury of the incarnate fiends was particularly directed against the Germans and the few unfortunate negroes who were in the doomed city.

1 Mr. Kempf was an attache of the Provost-Marshal's office at Lawrence.

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Quantrell (11)
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William Kempf (2)
J. A. Dix (2)
James H. Baker (2)
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