Quantrill Hired as a Bodguard to Protect a Future Mayor of Kansas City Missouri

The Civil War propelled many ordinary individuals into roles they would never have perceived before hostilities began. In December 1860 after a failed Jayhawker raid on the farm of a wealthy Missouri slave-owner, Morgan Walker, due to the warning of a young Kansas schoolteacher, William Clarke Quantrill, Walker introduced Quantrill to his close friend Marcus Gill, another slave-owner who also owned a large farm located on the Kansas border.

Forty-six-year-old Marcus Gill operated a 600 acre cattle farm close to the state line in southern Jackson County where he prospered as a miller, lumber baron, boat builder and stock raiser. Gill and other Missouri farmers sensed that trouble was brewing between the Jayhawkers in Kansas and the slaveholders in Missouri. Many decided to take their families south for protection against Federal military coercion and Jayhawker raids.

On December 31, 1860, when Claiborne Jackson took the oath of office as the new governor of Missouri, his inaugural address implied that Missouri would stand behind the Southern states and asserted that the North had already dissolved the Union by nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act. Since Gill owned several slaves, he decided to move them and the rest of his possessions to Texas for safekeeping, just as did several other slave owners in Jackson County., Gill prepared his family for the trip which included his wife, Mary Jane, six daughters, Leah, Sarah, Susan, Sallie, Mary, Louella, and one small son, William, safely into Texas. His twenty-year-old son, Turner Anderson Gill, had already enlisted in the Missouri State Guard. An older son, twenty-two-year old Enoch, was living in Fayette County, Texas, and had appealed to his father to bring his family to a safer place until the coming hostilities were over.                                        

Marcus Gill was born on April 9, 1814 in Bath County , Kentucky . He was a grandson of Captain Thomas Gill who served in the Revolutionary War. Gill was descended from the Rev. John Gill, D.D., and eminent English Presbyterian minister who emigrated to America. After migrating from Kentucky in 1854 Gill purchased a large farm in Jackson County , bringing his family and over twenty slaves with him to start a new life. He settled ten miles south of Westport , Missouri , on land bordering the state line in New Santa Fe, a small hamlet and trading post consisting of a general store, post office, a church and a stable.

Since being introduced to Marcus Gill, Quantrill had saved his life during a Jayhawker attack earning a reputation as a brave man who knew how to handle a gun. Before the war Gill and many of his neighbors suffered Jayhawker attacks from Kansans who had driven off their stock and assaulted several citizens. On one occasion Gill’s neighbor Jacob Teaford Palmer was driving a herd of hogs to Gill's farm when he was met by a gang of Jayhawkers who drove off the hogs and stole several of his horses. The Jayhawkers then broke into a nearby home with an axe, smashed the furniture and took what they pleased. Another of Gill’s neighbors, thirty-year old Emmett Goss also owned a farm nearby. When the war started Goss quit farming and joined Colonel Charles Jennison’s dreaded 7th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment. Local residents remembered: “From a peaceful thrifty citizen he became suddenly a terror to the border. He seemed to have a mania for killing. Twenty odd unoffending citizens probably died at his hand. He boasted of having kindled the fires in fifty-two houses, and having made fifty-two families homeless and shelterless, and of having killed, he declared, until he was tired of killing.” It was said that Goss’s share of the plunder taken from raids on Missouri homes were spent on drink and prostitutes.

Ironically Goss met his fate by a member of Quantrill's band. Captain George Shepherd’s company of guerrillas met Goss in a skirmish twenty miles north of Cane Hill, Arkansas. Shepherd came upon thirty-two Federals in Company M, of Jennison's 15th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment led by 1stLt Emmett Goss. As soon as Shepherd’s men saw Goss’s command they charged with pistols in each hand. Out of thirty-two Jayhawkers twenty-nine were killed. One escaped, one was taken along as a captive and another released. The guerrillas suffered four killed and an untold number wounded.

Fearing from Jayhawker attacks Gill organized a plan. After hearing of Quantrill’s prowess as a defender of Southern rights and his ability with a gun, he hired Quantrill as a guard to escort him and his family out of the country. He arranged to have Quantrill stay with him until he was able to arrange transportation and stock up on the supplies needed for the trip. John Newman Edwards a fellow Confederate soldier described Quantrill at the time: "His eyes were very blue, soft and winning. Peculiar they were in this that they never were in rest.  Looking at the face, one might say there is the face of a student. It was calm, serene, going oftener to pallor than to laughter. It may be that he liked to hear the birds sing, for hours and hours he would linger in the woods alone. His hands were small and perfectly molded. Who could tell in looking at them that they were the most deadly hands with a revolver in all the border? Perhaps no man ever had more complete mastery over a horse than Quantrell, and whether at a furious gallop or under the simple swing of the route step, he could lean from the saddle and snatch a pebble from the ground." Such prowess as Quantrill possessed was sorely needed along the border.

During the early spring of 1861 Quantrill accompanied Gill and his family south into Texas. Just as they arrived at their destination they heard that the seceded states had fired upon Fort Sumter on April 12. Quantrill returned as quickly as he could and joined the first organized Confederate force he could find. Gill's older sons, In March 1861, Enoch and Turner both joined the Missouri State Guard being assigned to Company A of the 6th Missouri Cavalry under the command of General Joseph O. Shelby. Turner gained his first military experience at the skirmish at Rock Creek, near Independence on June 13, 1861. Serving as a private in the battles of Carthage, Wilson's Creek, and Lexington, Turner quickly rose through the ranks. His army service was brilliant and brought him signal recognition. He was wounded in the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi, and soon afterward was promoted from the ranks to a lieutenancy. In the Battle of Champion Hills, Mississippi, he received a more serious wound. He was taken to Vicksburg for treatment, and became a prisoner of war when that stronghold was surrendered. After exchange he was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department. The command participated in the Atlanta Campaign, fighting under General Hood in Tennessee, and shared in the defense of Mobile. General Lieutenant Gill acquitted himself most creditably, especially in scouting duty, and was promoted to the rank of captain. General Shelby's appointing order stated that the promotion was "for gallantry and merit." Captain Gill, however, would not accept the honor until the company to which he was assigned had expressed its satisfaction, which it did by a unanimous vote. Captain Gill was again wounded in a skirmish in Arkansas. Shelby assigned him to duty as adjutant of Colonel Shanks' regiment where he was engaged in the Battle of Westport, and in others of the later affairs under General Sterling Price. He was commander in frequent important expeditions, ever fulfilling the expectations of General Shelby, who held him in the highest regard.

After the war Turner Gill returned to Missouri getting a law degree from the University of Missouri. As a Democrat Gill was elected mayor of Kansas City in 1875, serving two terms. During his time as mayor he inherited a city that was deeply in debt due to the irresponsible Republican policies of Reconstruction where the Yankees had raided the treasuries of the cities in every Southern state driving them to bankruptcy. Kansas City was unable to pay its bills and was forced to pay its bills with script. Mayor Gill introduced numerous reforms, frustrated dishonest schemes of the Republicans and enforced municipal law vigorously and effectively. Although urged, Judge Gill refused to become a candidate for a third term. He had favorably settled all the matters of dispute, paid off the city's debt, confined its expenditures within the limit of revenue and left a considerable surplus in the treasury. It was in the hot political fights of those years that Judge Gill gained the name of the "Little Giant of the Third Ward." Finishing his term as mayor he subsequently served as the city attorney later becoming a circuit court judge.

It has been consistently proven that the actions of William Clarke Quantrill was an influencing factor in the lives and careers of many of the distinguished individuals that rose to prominence during and after the war as they faithfully and honorably served the public good in many various ways.

Article by: Paul R. Petersen - Author of Quantrill of Missouri, Quantrill in Texas, Quantrill at Lawrence and Lost Souls of the Lost Township.

References: Kansas City Star, Obituary, July 19, 1919

The History of Jackson County, Missouri, Union Historical Company, 1881, pages 979-980:
Walker, Andrew J. Recollections of Quantrill's Guerrillas. Daily Herald, Weatherford, Texas, 1910. pg. 9


Palmer, Jacob Teaford "A Jackson County Citizen Writes of the Time of Quantrill and the Jayhawkers," Tears and Turmoil - Order Number 11, pg. 31, Two Trails Genealogy. 1996


Trow, Harrison. Charles W. Quantrell; A True History of his Guerrilla Warfare on the Missouri and Kansas Border During the Civil War of 1861-1865. Kansas City: n.p. 1923, pg. 118. 223-225


Kansas City Times, May 12, 1872 Green, George Fuller (1968). A Condensed History of the Kansas City Area. Kansas City, MO:Lowell Press. (OCLC40731)


The photo of Marcus Gill was originally published in Quantrill Of Missouri, courtesy of Byron Schutz.



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