The strikingly beautiful Douglas County Memorial of Honor, whose centerpiece bronze "From the Ashes" by Jim Brothers symbolizes the defiant resurgence of this city after being sacked by Confederate-aligned raiders during the Civil War, occupies a place of pride in front of the 1889 landmark Union Pacific Depot, now a tourist information center.
"From the Ashes," evocatively captures the indomitable will of this community that survived and rededicated itself to "free-soilism" after 21 Aug 1863, the day that James Quantrill and his vicious army of pro-slavery border ruffians overran Lawrence and burned it, killing hundreds of civilians -- men, women, and children, black and white -- solely becuase they were "free soilers" who wanted Kansas to be a free state.
The plaque on the sculptuire reads as follows:
"THE DOUGLAS COUNTY
MEMORIAL OF HONOR
Recognizes the extraordinary sacrifices of ordinary citizens - men and women of Douglas County, Kansas who gave their lives to protect freedom, our community and our way of life. It stands as an eternal symbol of hope, renewal and the indomitable human spirit.
The memorial was presented to Douglas County and the City of Larence by the Douglas County Memorial of Honor Foundation July 3, 2004
Ervin E. Hodges, Chairman"
A harrowing account (we have excerpted it here) of Quantrill's raid and its aftermath can be found here from the newspaper Leavenworth KS Conservative, 24 Aug 1863: (visit link
"LAWRENCE, KANSAS MASSACRE OF AUGUST 21, 1863 BY QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS
Horrible Massacre At Lawrence, Kansas as told by the "Washington Reporter" Washington, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, September 2, 1863
An account of the guerilla chief Quantrill, upon the city of Lawrence, Kansas, on the 20th ult, which we had intended for last week's issue was crowded out, and even now we are compelled to content ourselves with a mere synopsis of the heart sickening details.
On the 20th, as above stated, this desparado with his band of cut-throats, consisting of about 300 crossed the river from Missouri and marched upon Lawrence, and set fire to the town, at the same time shooting many of its unarmed and defenceless citizens. In short, all the accounts of brutal outrages perpetrated since the commencement of this war appear to have been thrown utterly in the shade by this raid from Missouri upon Lawrence. By way of giving our readers an idea of the enormities perpetrated on this terrible occasion we copy the following special dispatch from Leavenworth to the Chicago Tribune, dated four days after the deed of murder and rapine took place:
LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS, August 24
The CONSERVATIVE publishes the following account of the Lawrence massacre from one of its editors, just returned from the ruins:
We arrived in Lawrence at seven o'clock. Flying rumors had painted a terrible picture, but the reality exceeded the report. We found Massachusetts Street one mass of smoldering ruins and crumbling walls, the light from which cast a sickening glare upon the crowds of excited men and distracted women gazing upon the ruins of their once happy homes and prosperous business.
Only two business houses were left upon this street, one known as the Armory, and the other the Old Mill block. About twenty-five houses in all were burned, and only one or two escaped being ransacked and everything of value carried away or destroyed.
. . . .
The offices of the JOURNAL, TRIBUNE, AND REPUBLICAN were of course leveled to the ground. JNO SPEER, JR, of the Tribune, started for his home from the office after the rebels came in. Mr. Murdock, a printer in the office, tried to induce him to accompany him into a well near by, for safety; but he would do nothing but go home to defend the house; which he did, and was killed. Murdock went into the well and was saved.
A younger son of JOHN SPEER, SR (WILLIAM WHO WAS 15 YEARS OLD), killed a rebel and left. The guests at the Eldridge House were ordered out, their rooms pillaged, and some of the people shot. Two men from Ohio were wounded there and are now in this city. Only the presence and preremptory orders of Quantrill prevented the massacre of the occupants.
After they had been marched about on the streets, the rebels were told there was a negro baby in the house. They said: "We will burn the G-- d--d little brat up." And they did. We saw the charred remains, burned as black as the hearts of its murderers.
. . . .
The number of bodies, up to the time we left, was 113, of which about twenty were so badly burnt as to render recognition impossible. (ONE OF WHICH WAS ROBERT SPEER WHOSE BODY WAS NEVER FOUND) There were a number of strangers in town, and when the entire loss is ascertained, we think it will reach 150 killed. Many were doubtless killed by the rebel pickets in the bush.
. . . .
We have seen battle-fields and scenes of carnage and bloodshed, but have never witnessed a spectacle so horrifying as that scene among the smoldering ruins at Lawrence. No fighting, no resistance, but cold blooded murder was there.
. . . .
We were promised security to our lives and property. Our people have been murdered and our property destroyed.
Will the Government protect us, or permit us to protect ourselves?
The telegraph dispatches to the Associated Press have been mutilated, and the military authorities dare not let the truth be told.
Our citizens have sent to Lawrence a long train, taking provisions and clothing. $20,000 has been subscribed by our people for the immediate relief of the sufferers who were left without clothing or food.
Persons just from Lawrence report that the number of dead will reach one hundred and seventy, perhaps two hundred, as bodies are constantly being found.
Robert Speer, 17 years of age, who was sleeping in the Republican office building, and not the slightest trace of him has ever been found. His poor mother would set the table in hopes that he would show up, but he never returned. A memorial stone is in the cemetery in his memory. . . . “[end]