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Bushwhackers & Jayhawkers

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  • Jeannette Dunham (1520 - d.)
  • Abraham Rotramel (1812 - 1863)
    21 June 1860 census of Wallace, Benton County, AR, found the Rotramel family living in dwelling #297. Next door in dwelling #296 was brother John Rotramel and family. Daughter Sarah was living with ...
  • John Rotramel (1800 - 1863)
    Gravette News Herald, 16 Nov 1994: "Descendants of John Rotramel recently placed an engraved native stone on the graves of John and his brother, Abraham, who were both killed in 1863 by bushwhackers...
  • Col. Daniel Read Anthony, (USA) (1824 - 1904)
    Read Anthony (August 22, 1824 – November 12, 1904) was an American publisher and abolitionist. Considered colorful and controversial, he published the Leavenworth Times in Leavenworth, Kansas, as well ...
  • Brig. Gen. James "Jim" Henry Lane, U.S. Senator (1814 - 1866)
    Henry Lane also known as Jim Lane (June 22, 1814 – July 11, 1866) was a partisan during the Bleeding Kansas period that immediately preceded the American Civil War. During the war, Lane served as a Uni...

Bushwhacking was a form of guerrilla warfare common during the American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, American Civil War and other conflicts in which there were large areas of contested land and few governmental resources to control these tracts. This was particularly prevalent in rural areas during the Civil War where there were sharp divisions between those favoring the Union and Confederacy in the conflict. The perpetrators of the attacks were called bushwhackers. The term "bushwhacking" is still in use today to describe ambushes done with the aim of attrition.

Bushwhackers were generally part of the irregular military forces on both sides. While bushwhackers conducted well-organized raids against the military, the most dire of the attacks involved ambushes of individuals and house raids in rural areas. In the countryside, the actions were particularly inflammatory since they frequently amounted to fighting between neighbors, often to settle personal accounts. Since the attackers were non-uniformed, the government response was complicated by trying to decide whether they were legitimate military attacks or criminal, terrorist actions.

The term "bushwhacker" came into wide use during the American Civil War (1861-1865). It became particularly associated with the pro-Confederate secessionist guerrillas of Missouri, where such warfare was most intense. Guerrilla warfare also wracked Kentucky, Tennessee, northern Georgia, Arkansas, and western Virginia (including the new state of West Virginia), among other locations.

Pro-Union guerrilla fighters in Kansas were called "Jayhawkers". They were involved in cross-border raids into Missouri.

Jayhawkers and red legs are terms that came to prominence in Kansas Territory, during the Bleeding Kansas period of the 1850s; they were adopted by militant bands affiliated with the free-state cause during the American Civil War. These gangs were guerrillas who often clashed with pro-slavery groups from Missouri, known at the time in Kansas Territory as "Border Ruffians" or "Bushwhackers." After the Civil War, the word "Jayhawker" became synonymous with the people of Kansas, or anybody born in Kansas. Today a modified version of the term, Jayhawk, is used as a nickname for a native-born Kansan, but more typically for a student, fan, or alumnus of the University of Kansas.

In some areas, particularly the Appalachian regions of Tennessee and North Carolina, the term bushwhackers was used for Confederate partisans who attacked Union forces. Residents of southern Alabama used the name in the same manner. Several bushwhacker bands operated in California in 1864.

After the end of the war, the survivors of Anderson's band (including the James brothers) remained together under the leadership of Archie Clement, one of Anderson's lieutenants. In February 1866, they began a series of armed robberies. This group became known as the James-Younger Gang, after the death or capture of the older outlaws (including Clement) and the addition of former bushwhacker Cole Younger and his brothers. In December 1869, Jesse James became the most famous of this group when he emerged as the prime suspect in the robbery of the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri, and the murder of cashier John W. Sheets. During Jesse James's flight from the scene, he declared that he had killed Samuel P. Cox and had taken revenge for Bloody Bill Anderson's death. (Cox lived in Gallatin, and the killer apparently mistook Sheets for the former militia officer.) Throughout James' criminal career, he often wrote to the newspapers portraying himself as a bushwhacker, and rallying the support of former Confederates and other Missourians who were harmed by Federal authorities during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

After the end of the war in 1865, the Mason Henry Gang continued as outlaws in Southern California with a price on their heads for the November 1864 "Copperhead Murders" in the San Joaquin Valley of three men they believed to be Republicans. Tom McCauley, known as 'James' or 'Jim Henry,' was killed in a shootout with a posse from San Bernardino on September 14 of that year, in San Jacinto Canyon, in what was then San Diego County. John Mason was killed by a fellow gang member for the reward in April 1866 near Fort Tejon in Kern County.

In 1867, near Nevada, Missouri, a band of bushwhackers shot and killed Sheriff Joseph Bailey, a former Union brigadier general, who was attempting to arrest them. Among those suspected of his killing was William McWaters, who once rode with Anderson and Quantrill.




Quantrill's Raiders

Bleeding Kansas

James-Younger Gang