quantrill's raiders

During the last decades of the 19th century, photographing dead outlaws served several purposes: it showed the power of the law and it garnished the photographer an income when he sold the photographs. In 1907, the photographic postcard became popular, and many photographers republished their images as postcards. They were popular souvenirs of the Wild West. The celebrity status of the James brothers (Frank and Jesse) inspired other families to emulate their exploits. The Younger brothers (Cole, Bob, Jim, and John) rode with the James brothers’ gang. The James-Younger careers began with their service with notorious Confederate bushwhacker and guerrilla William Quantrill, of Quantrill’s Raiders. Their careers extended from 1868 to 1882.

The Dalton brothers (Bob, Emmett, Bill, and Grant) were cousins of the Younger brothers and grew up near Coffeyville, KS. The Jameses and Youngers were local heroes. In 1890, the Daltons decided to form their own gang. They were the last great bandit gang of the west. They specialised in train robbing but did it chivalrously, refusing to take money from women. In February 1891, they were caught robbing the Southern Pacific Train #17 in Alilia, CA. After escaping from jail they recruited some of the toughest, meanest, most unscrupulous gun men in the west. They robbed trains and express offices in Oklahoma and the surrounding area. At Adair, they killed and wounded several people.

In October 1893, they decided to return to Coffeyville and do something the James-Youngers never had - rob two banks at the same time. But it didn’t work. Despite the fact that they were false beards, they were quickly recognised. Townspeople spread the word the Daltons were in town. The Daltons wound up fighting people they knew: their schoolteachers, shopkeepers, bank clerks, and lawmen. At one o’clock, Bob, an expert shot, killed a bank clerk who had gone for his gun, then, running down a street, he next killed two of his childhood boot makers. He then killed a cashier from the First National Bank who had been chasing him. Then the livery stable owner surprised Bob and killed him with a shotgun blast. Marshall Charles Connelly, once Bob’s and Grant’s schoolteacher, killed Grant. Powell (alias Tim Evans) and Broadwell (alias Texas Jack) were killed by a volley fired by a group of men who had armed themselves at the town’s hardware store. Emmett was wounded in the same volley. He had been shot twenty times, but miraculously survived. Bill Dalton was killed with the Dollin gang in 1895. Emmett, released from prison in 1907, became a consultant in Hollywood and appeared in feature filmed. He died in 1937.

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The Colt Model 1851 Navy,

Designed between 1847 and 1850 by Samuel Colt, the Colt Model 1851 would become the revolver that made Colt a household name.  While the Colt Paterson was the first Colt revolver, but it was short lived without many produced.  The Colt Walker was Colt’s first popular design, but it had many flaws that detracted from its functioning.  The Colt Dragoon was an attempt to correct those flaws, yet the Dragoon was a hefty pistol that was usually carried in a saddle holster.  The Colt Model 1851 was a vast refinement over all other previous designs.  It’s simplification allowed it to be mass produced at large numbers.  It was easy to use, compact, easy to hold, and easy to aim, and at only 2.6 lbs, it was light enough to be carried on a belt holster.

Like all cap and ball revolvers, the Colt Model 1851 was a muzzleloader, with each chamber of the cylinder being loaded with powder and a .36 caliber ball. Each chamber was ignited by a percussion cap.  Later, during the Civil War, loose powder and bullet was replaced with combustible paper cartridges. After the Civil War, with the introduction of metallic cartridges, many were converted to use modern ammunition.  The use of the name “Navy” denoted its caliber being .36, while cap and ball “Army” revolvers are .44, it had nothing to do with any military branch.  They were all single action, which meant the user had to cock the hammer before firing. What made the Model 1851 so important was it had all the features that people wanted in a revolver, even up to today.  It was portable, easy to use, simple, reliable, accurate, and affordable.  Thus, it became the most popular revolver produced up to the introduction of the Model 1860.  During the Civil War, it was the 2nd most common pistol issued to both sides, and production continued up to 1873.  Some of the most popular people of the 19th century owned one, including Doc Holiday, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Ned Kelly, Nathan B. Forest, the Texas Rangers, and the Quantrill Raiders.  One of the most popular users of the Model 1851 was the celebrated gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok, who carried an ivory handled pair until his death in 1877.  Interestingly, he never had them converted, preferring them cap and ball years after the introduction of metallic cartridges.  The Model 1851 was also sold around the world, including Britain, Canada, Austria, Russia, Australia, and Turkey.  

For Samuel Colt, the Model 1851 would elevate him from a well to do gunmaker into a wealthy industrialist.  272,000 were produced at Colt’s factories in Connecticut, while another 30,000 were produced at the Colt factory in London.

Quantrill’s Raiders-1906 Reunion- Pro-Confederate “Bushwhackers" 

The first reunion of the men who rode with William Clarke Quantrill was held in September 1898 at Blue Springs, Missouri. They continued to hold annual reunions for thirty-two years, until 1929. Photo State Historical Society of Missouri.

Quantrill’s Raiders were a loosely organized force of pro-Confederate Partisan rangers, "bushwhackers”, who fought in the American Civil War under the leadership of William Clarke Quantrill. The name “Quantrill’s Raiders” seems to have been attached to them long after the war, when the veterans would hold reunions.