Skip to content

Joseph M. Beilein Jr. | A Man by Any Other Name: Behind the Many Masks of William Clarke Quantrill

Joseph M. Beilein Jr. is an associate professor of history at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, where he teaches courses on the Civil War and military history, and American history more broadly. Dr. Beilein will discuss his findings from his latest book, A Man by Any Other Name: William Clarke Quantrill and the Search for American Manhood. In the book, Beilein brings to life a unique vision of William Clarke Quantrill, the notorious guerrilla in Missouri and Kansas who died in Kentucky.

Few men of the Civil War era were as complicated or infamous as William Clarke Quantrill. Before the war, he shifted from being a fastidious, northern-born schoolmaster to rough frontiersman to confidence man, developing certain notions and skills on his way to becoming a proslavery bushwhacker. He is considered the architect of the Confederate raid on Lawrence, Kansas in August 1863 that led to the murder of 180 mostly unarmed men and boys. Beilein will offer a new look at the life of Quantrill, examining him in the context of nineteenth-century (white) manhood so that we might get a better sense of the man behind the iconic, disreputable name, including a brief but bloody and fascinating time bushwhacking in Kentucky in 1865. There, at Wakefield, Kentucky, between Taylorsville and Bloomfield, he was mortally wounded, dying in Louisville twenty days later.

Beilein is also the author of  Bushwhackers: Guerrilla Warfare, Manhood, and the Household in Civil War Missouri (Kent State, The Civil War Era in the South, 2016) as well as the editor of William Gregg’s Civil War: The Battle to Shape the History of Guerrilla Warfare  (UGA, New Perspectives on the Civil War Era, 2019) and co-editor (with Matthew C. Hulbert) of The Civil War Guerrilla: Unfolding the Black Flag in History, Memory, and Myth (UPK, New Directions in Southern History, 2015).


The Kentucky Civil War Round Table is the largest in the nation in terms of membership. Membership is open to all. Membership fees entitle you to attend five dinner meetings per year in January, March, May, September, and November (each member must pay for his/her own dinner) and the KY Civil War Roundtable newsletters, as well as access to special events.