Roll call of Quantrill’s victims ends annual Civil War series

Re-enactors gather in South Park for a candlelight vigil on the 144th anniversary of Quantrill's Raid. The names of nearly 200 people killed in the Aug. 21, 1863, raid were read aloud before spectators as a final event of the Civil War on the Western Frontier program.

More than 40 people gathered in South Park on Tuesday night to ensure that the anniversary of William Quantrill’s deadly raid on Lawrence did not pass unrecognized.

“This commemoration is a way of honoring not only the recruits that were killed here by Quantrill, but also the men and boys and baby that were killed,” said Herschel Stroud, a participant.

Re-enactors, guided by the light of lanterns, conducted a service recalling the Aug. 21, 1863, raid on Lawrence by Quantrill and his pro-slavery gunmen.

The vigil marked the conclusion of 13 days of events for the 12th annual Civil War on the Western Frontier program.

The program, organized by Watkins Community Museum of History, has attracted steady crowds of 35 to 60 people to various activities over the past two weeks, including film screenings, dances, musical performances and storytelling presentations.

“We’ve had people from all over the country as well as local citizens,” museum director Rebecca Phipps said, adding that the event drew Kansas University graduates and history buffs from near and far.

Quantrill’s band of about 400 raiders killed about 200 people and reduced much of Lawrence to ashes.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ken Spurgeon of Lone Chimney Films discussed the making of “Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre” at the museum. The crowd then moved to the park, where the re-enactors dressed in period costumes and played the part of residents who lived in Lawrence at the time of the raid.

“It gives the public a sense of embodiment so they can understand and realize what happened on that tragic day in 1863,” Stroud said.

The actors read the names of those killed before leading the crowd in “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

MaryKay Mahoney, a Massachusetts resident who is spending time in Lawrence, attended the events.

“This seems like an appropriate way of remembering that day,” she said.