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Lawrence blockhouses

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Lawrence blockhouses
Lawrence, Kansas
Typelocal militia blockhouses
Site information
Controlled byLawrence militia
Site history
In useMay 1864 - about April 1865
Garrison information

The Lawrence blockhouses were blockhouses built in the spring of 1864 in Lawrence, Kansas. They were built provide defensive buildings in case of attack by Confederate guerrillas. On August 21, 1863, William C. Quantrill led a group of 400 guerrillas and Confederate Army to attack Lawrence. Lawrence had few defenses. Much of the town was destroyed. About 180 men and boys were killed. A militia became active by spring 1864 to prevent another attack.

Five blockhouses were built by May 1864. One militia group was assigned to stay at each blockhouse. Each blockhouse was built out of logs. They had port holes to be used to aim rifles outside. It is unknown where all the blockhouses were at. One was somewhere in west Lawrence, and two may have been far from town. One was at the intersection of Massachusetts and Winthrop streets; another was at the intersection of Massachusetts and Berkley streets.[1][2]

The exact places are known for only two of the blockhouses. These are:

Both Cordley and Ridenour said some people from the militia were assigned to stay at each blockhouse every night. In late October 1864, towns in Kansas were worried when Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price came close to Kansas City from the east. On October 22, three of the five Lawrence militia groups were sent to the front. This left the other two to stay at the blockhouses and guard Lawrence.[4][5][6]

On October 23, the people of Lawrence heard that the Union army attacking Price were defeated. There was nothing that could stop the Confederates from coming to Lawrence. However, on October 23, it was learned Price's men had been hurt, and they were going south. The two militia groups continued to stay at the blockhouses for about two weeks. The other three groups were busy with following the retreating Confederates.[7]

The nightly guard duty and the use of the blockhouses continued until the end of the Civil War. After that time, nothing more was mentioned of the blockhouses.[8]

References[change | change source]

  1. Richard Cordley,A History of Lawrence Kansas (Lawrence: E. F. Caldwell, 1895), chapter XVII, paragraph 4 (in the Kansas Collection website, at http://www.kancoll.org/books/cordley_history/ ).
  2. Peter D. Ridenour,Quantrill's Raid: Aug. 21,1863 (Lawrence: Douglas County Historical Society, n.d.), pp. 26-7.
  3. William C. Pollard, Jr., "Forts and Military Posts in Kansas: 1854-1865" (Ph.D. dissertation, Faith Baptist College and Seminary, 1997), p. 145 (a copy is in the Kansas State Historical Society archives, Topeka, Kans.).
  4. Cordley, chapter XVII, paragraph 17.
  5. Ridenour, pp. 26-7.
  6. Capt. R. D. Mobley, report, The War of the Rebellion (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1893), Series I, Vol. XLI, Part IV, p.167.
  7. Cordley, chapter XVIII, paragraph 17.
  8. Ridenour, pp, 26-7.