Quantrill vs. Quantrell

"The Name, The Facts & The Flags"


Presentation Of Quantrell Flag As Appeared In Harper's Weekly
© Missouri Partisan Ranger Collection


Through the years, there have been many discussions, debates and even arguments on the spelling of William C. Quantrill's name.

Is it Quantrill -or- Quantrell??

There are those even today that do not know the correct spelling due to old newspapers, articles, magazines, Field Orders, etc.

Well, the answer is quite simple and amazing. We owe this debt of solving the mystery to ex Missouri Partisan Ranger, Mr. George Shepherd.

The legend and spelling of the name QUANTRELL came about by a 20 year old girl named Annie Fickle who lived in Lafayette County.

In May of 1862, Annie's family home had been invaded by a company of Federals, and they arrested Annie when she was found to be in the company of a Partisan Ranger.

Later, Annie had been rescued by the Partisans, and she never forgot this. As a token of her appreciation, Annie made a battle flag for the Partisan Rangers.

The flag was made of four layers of black, quilted alpaca, and was three by five feet. Running edgewise through the middle of the flag was the name QUANTRELL in dark red letters.

Annie, in the dead of night, took the flag into Quantrill's camp, wrapped in a piece of plain paper. William C. Quantrill accepted it himself, and gave a deep and heartfelt thank you to Annie.

Quantrill's men then gave 3 cheers, waving their hats, and giving full approvals, honors and recognition to this 20 year old Missouri girl who had risked her life to make this gift.

The men attached the flag to an eight foot pole of oak, attached with 12 nails, and were quite proud!

This flag was carried into many battles, such as Lawrence, Kansas, and was riddled with many bullets. Quantrill even took it with him into Kentucky in 1864, but it has sadly not surfaced since.



© Authors Original Artwork



With that story verified, we can now explore further definitive evidence of the real spelling of William Quantrill's name.

Quantrill wrote often to his Mother, who lived in Canal Dover, Ohio. Many of these letters, and other signed ephemera still survive. The author of this publication has examined several of these authentic letters.

And in every one of his signatures, Captain Quantrill signs his name:

W. C. Quantrill


So, through the years of Federals living in fear of this flag, newspaper and periodicals spellings of the flag, Yankee field reports, etc, the name Quantrell has erroneously stuck.

It was out of a deep and lasting respect for Annie Fickle did the surviving Quantrill Guerrillas allow the printing of the name QUANTRELL upon their reunion ribbons and badges. These men never forgot the courage and strength of a young Missouri girl, who took her life into her own hands, to give the Quantrill men a simple flag.



Through other verifiable accounts, there were other black flags that flew with different companies of Quantrill's men. One such flag was a simple home made black cloth with a white "Q" in the upper lefthand corner:



© Authors Original Artwork


Other black flags are documented that were without motif or motto. They were plain, rectangular pieces of black silk, cotton or alpaca.

Yet, even without a motif, or insignia, these flags were important, and cast fear into the hearts and minds of the invading assassins of Lincoln.



The following is a specimen that purportedly was found by Olathe resident Jonathan Millikan, the day after the September 7, 1862, Raid On Olathe by Quantrill and his men.

The fable goes that it was carried by one Quantrill's men and dropped in the public square.

This is doubtful first, as if it was Quantrill's flag, it would have never been allowed to remain behind, as they carried the day. Accidents are possible, but this is too far fetched.

Anyway, many years later, Jonathan Millikan's son, donated this "flag" to the Kansas State Historical Society sometime in the 1930's.

To cast more doubt on this flag is the fact of it's actual dimensions. The specimen measures 7 by 13 inches. Highly doubtful that a proud and highly motivated group such as Quantrill's men would have had such a tiny standard!!

In actuality, this is probably a turn of the century piece (might be from some lodge, reunion or carnival) and quite probable that it is of Texas origins due to it's design, although it does somewhat vaguely resemble the Confederate First National "Stars And Bars."



© Oil Painting Of Olathe Flag



There have also been Federal reports of a "platypus flag" being used by Quantrill. Do these "educated" Yankee historians understand that the platypus is indigenous & found only in eastern Australia??? Not America...

Why would a group of Missouri boys have a flag with an animal they probably had never even heard of, let alone seen??

The answer is simply Yankee and Redleg myth, folklore, innacuracy, propaganda and revisionism. As much of early 1850 - 1900 history is.

Actually still alive and well today - especially with modern Jayhawkers and Red-legsAnd, sadly, reality still tells us these "spin doctors" are hard at work today. Misguiding and uneducating America and her children.

What a terrible injustice to history. But, so goes Yankee "truth" and their stories. Fanciful iterations of ignornace and lack of edification.









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