"Young boys". Back then, young boys carried guns at age 12. We consider them as young today, but back then they were considered old enough to carry guns and shoot them with accuracy. Quantrill also had "young boys" in his group. Riley Crawford was considered one of the youngest guerrilla. His father was shot by Jayhawkers so his mother took Riley to Quantrill to avenge her husband's death.
Getting to the Lawrence Raid. Senator Jim Lane and his troops (made up of the 3rd and 4th Kansas Volunteer Infantry and the 5th Kansas Cavalry) attacked Osceola, Missouri. They burned the courthouse, held a "kangaroo court" and executed 9 men, then stole everything they could. Three months before the Lawrence Raid, Lane was responsible for killing several hundred people and burning many, many homes. Brigadier General Thomas C. Ewing arrested and jailed 17 women who were related to Quantrill's men. Three were William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson's sisters. The building that they were held in fell. Some say it was ordered weakened, some say hogs rooting under it weakened the foundation. Be that as it may, the building fell. Several of the women were killed and injured. Four days after the collapse of the building, Ewing passed Gener Order 10. General Schofield approved of the order. It banished many guerrilla families and anyone giving aid to the guerrillas from the state. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. Quantrill and his men went to Lawrence mainly because it was the home of Senator Lane to bring him back and put him on trial. Lane escaped by hiding in a corn field in his night shirt. So, there were several things that led to the Lawrence Raid. Quantrill ordered his men to NOT harm women; and every man who could carry a gun was to be killed. Twelve year old males were considered men back then. Cole Younger claimed that one colored woman was killed accidently. Quantrill saved several men from being killed as did Charles Fletcher "Fletch" Taylor.
It may not have been the "best military decision" that Quantrill made, but he only lost one man, Larkin Skaggs. Yes, General Order 11 was passed four days after the attack. Yes, several of Quantrill's men left him because of the raid. Yes, many Confederate Generals frowned upon the attack. But, Quantrill and his men felt it was necessary because of the atrocities created before the raid. As General Sherman supposedly said, "War is hell."
As for sources, I used my book, "The Encyclopedia of Quantrill's Guerrillas" in citing this information. The sources of the information is in the back of the book.
Rose Mary Lankford