"Before this raid the entire border counties of Missouri had experienced more terrible outrages than ever the Quantrill raid at Lawrence...
There was no burning of feet and torture by hanging in Lawrence as there was in Missouri, neither were women and children outraged." Robinson explained that Quantrill targeted Lawrence because "professedly free state men" commenced their reign of terror "as soon as war broke out" and Lawrence was "headquarters for the thieves and their plunder." In a bid to put down the Missouri guerrilla raiders operating in Kansas, General Thomas Ewing, Jr. 10," which ordered the arrest of anyone giving aid or comfort to Confederate guerrillas.
Several other Missouri towns and large swaths of the Missouri countryside had been similarly plundered and burned by Unionist forces from Kansas.
Castel (1999) concludes that revenge was the primary motive, followed by a desire to plunder.
This meant chiefly women or girls who were relatives of the guerrillas.
Ewing confined those arrested in a series of makeshift prisons in Kansas City.
However, by the summer of 1863, none of the threats had materialized, so citizen fears had declined and defense preparations were relaxed.
That was a reference to the Union's attack on Osceola, Missouri in September 1861, led by Senator James H. Osceola was plundered and nine men were given a drumhead court-martial trial and executed.
The women were sequentially housed in two buildings which were considered either too small or too unsanitary, before being moved to an empty property at 1425 Grand.
This structure was part of the estate of the deceased Robert S. In 1861 Bingham and his family were living in the structure, but in early 1862 after being appointed treasurer of the state of Missouri, he and his family relocated to Jefferson City.
As one observer noted (apparently a member of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry), “I believe the Red Legs will kill any man in this country for a good horse; and they have glorified themselves considerably over finishing some unarmed sympathizers.” In describing the activities of the Redlegs, Union General Blunt stated, “A reign of terror was inaugurated, and no man’s property was safe, nor was his life worth much if he opposed them in their schemes of plunder and robbery.” It is difficult to quantify the number of civilians killed by the Redlegs, but a letter written from the Lexington area early in the Redlegs campaign (April 1863) stated that the Redlegs had “killed at least fifty men, who were unarmed and heretofore lived in peace and quiet".
Charles Robinson, first Governor of Kansas and eyewitness to the raid, characterized the raid as an act of vengeance.
However, a 1995 study of the events and affidavits surrounding the collapse concludes this is "the least plausible of the theories." Instead, testimony indicated that alterations to the first floor of the adjoining Cockrell structure for use as a barracks caused the common wall to buckle.