The Colonel John T. Coffee Camp #1934, Sons of Confederate Veterans played host to over 230 attendees on April 30th of this year at its eleventh annual heritage dinner, setting a new record for the event.
This year’s guest speaker was retired USMC Master Sergent Paul R Petersen, award winning author of “Quantrill of Missouri”, “Quantrill in Texas” and the newly released “Quantrill at Lawrence”.
Petersen covered a wide variety of topics in his lecture. He is what many consider an expert on Missouri Partisan Ranger, William Quantrill and revealed many previously known facts about the Missouri guerrilla fighter, his tactics and how they affect modern day warfare. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi freedom, Petersen emphasized that Quantrill was a legitimate military leader. So much so that his methods of warfare are taught to our military today.
Mr. Petersen emphasized that he has researched over 150 newspapers of the Civil War era relating to Quantrill and that they reveal many facts that previous historians have ignored in their writings, Petersen goes so far as to make the argument that many of the facts of Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Ks were deliberately misrepresented. One of those facts is the popular belief that Quantrill burned over 300 buildings on his raid to Lawrence, Petersen noted that City of Lawrence, Ks own visitor’s bureau lists a total of only 85 buildings destroyed during the raid.
“Lawrence , Kansas was a legitimate military target that housed over 1000 Union troops at any given time”, Petersen said.
Also attending the event was a reporter from the Kansas City Star who asked “was the Civil War about slavery or states rights?” at which time Mr. Petersen answered her question by saying, “In many of the pictures of the Union Army , the officers were in the front row, followed by the white enlisted me and behind them, the black enlisted men. Quantrill had a black scout by the name of John Noland, the men in Quantrill’s command referred to Noland as a man among men and after the war when he died, he had all white pallbearers at his funeral”.
During his speech Petersen also made note that war is an ugly business and that we need to support the men currently fighting for our country, at which time he received a standing ovation.
Mr. Petersens books are published by Pelican and can be found at all major bookstores and on the web.