Quantrill, William (Clarke)(1836–65) guerrilla chief, bandit; born in Canal Dover, Ohio. He had been living on the frontier as a gambler and thief, and after settling in Kansas (c. 1857), he exploited the disturbance between proponents of slavery and free soil. When the Civil War broke out, he formed a group of irregulars, known as Quantrill's Raiders, that robbed mail coaches, fought skirmishes, and attacked Union communities—the most notorious raid being the massacre of some 150 free-soilers in Lawrence, Kans., in August 1863. As the war was ending, he set out for Washington, D.C., evidently to assassinate President Lincoln, but Federal troops mortally wounded him in Kentucky.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.