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William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson

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William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson

Posted: 1245228710000
Classification: Obituary
Surnames: Anderson,Thomason
William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson

Birth: 1840
Death: Oct. 26, 1864

Civil War Confederate Partisan. One of Quantrill's Raiders in the Civil War.

Pioneer Cemetery
Ray County
Missouri, USA
Plot: Military marker in the southwest corner of the cemetery.

William T. Anderson

William T. Anderson
1839 – October 26, 1864
Nickname Bloody Bill
Place of birth Kentucky
Place of death Albany, Missouri
Resting place Pioneer Cemetery
Richmond, Missouri
Allegiance CSA Dixie
Service/branch Partisan Rangers
Years of service 1863-1864
Rank Lieutenant
Unit Quantrill's Raiders
Battles/wars Lawrence Massacre
Centralia Massacre

William T. Anderson a.k.a "Bloody Bill" (born 1839 – died October 26, 1864) was a pro-Confederate guerrilla leader in the American Civil War, known for his brutality towards Union soldiers, Jayhawkers, and pro-Union civilians in Missouri and Kansas.

Early years

Born in Kentucky, Anderson grew up near Huntsville in Randolph County, Missouri with his parents, William C. Anderson, a hat maker, and Martha (Thomason) Anderson. In 1850, his father traveled to California, leaving Anderson and his two brothers, Ellis and James, to provide for the family in his absence. After William Anderson Sr. returned from California, the Anderson family moved to Agnes City Township, Kansas, in 1857.

Anderson worked for a time on a wagon train and allegedly was suspected of horse theft. He supposedly conducted several forays into Missouri, primarily to steal horses. Anderson's father was shot dead in March 1862. Most accounts claim a neighbor did it and that Anderson and his brother Jim later confronted the neighbor, killing him and another man. Now in trouble with the law, Anderson had to leave Kansas.

Anderson as a guerrilla

By the spring of 1863, if not earlier, Anderson and his brother Jim had become bushwhackers and joined Quantrill's Confederate guerrilla company. Anderson later became one of Quantrill's lieutenants. The same year, Union authorities, frustrated by their failure to stamp out the bushwhackers, decided to arrest relatives of the leading members of Quantrill's guerrilla company. Anderson's sisters Mary, Josephine, and Martha were imprisoned with nine other women who were all accused of assisting Confederate partisans. They were housed in a Kansas City, Missouri building which had allegedly been made structurally unsound by Union soldiers, who, it is claimed, removed partitions and posts in an effort to make more space. On August 14 (or August 13 See Lawrence Massacre) the building collapsed killing four of the women including Josephine. Anderson's sister Mary survived but was permanently crippled. This incident has been suggested as the spark for the virulent brutality that Anderson would henceforth demonstrate against Union soldiers and civilians.

During the winter of 1863/1864, Bill Anderson married Bush Smith of Sherman, Texas.

[edit] Raids on Lawrence, Kansas, and Centralia, Missouri

Anderson participated in Quantrill's raid on Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863. About 200 civilian men and boys were reported to have been killed, and many homes and buildings in Lawrence were burned to the ground. Soon afterward, Quantrill led his men on a winter retreat to Texas. There he and Anderson quarreled, and Anderson returned to Missouri in March 1864 at the head of his own guerrilla company.

In 1864 Anderson gained notoriety for his particular savagery against Union soldiers and civilian sympathizers alike. He and his men usually shot their prisoners, and often mutilated and scalped the dead. He sent letters to newspapers in Lexington, Missouri, promising further violence against pro-Union civilians and threatening to take women of Union families as hostages. That year he was joined by a group of recruits who had served briefly with Archie Clement, his own lieutenant; these recruits included Frank James, who had been one of Quantrill's Raiders, and the sixteen-year-old Jesse James. During this time, Anderson's men adopted the practice of dangling the bloody scalps of their victims from their horse bridles.

On September 27, 1864, Anderson led fellow bushwhackers in the Centralia Massacre, looting and terrifying the local populace. They barricaded the tracks of the Northern Missouri Railroad and forced a train to stop. They robbed the civilian passengers, and killed 22 Union soldiers who were returning home on furlough. Anderson left one Union sergeant alive for a possible prisoner exchange; the rest he had stripped, shot, and scalped or otherwise mutilated.

The same day, Union Major A.V.E. Johnston of the newly raised 39th Missouri Infantry Regiment (Mounted) set off with his men to pursue Anderson's band. Anderson, in conjunction with other guerrilla leaders such as George Todd, sent out a detachment that lured Johnston into a trap. After discharging their single-shot rifles and causing light guerrilla casualties, the Union soldiers were overrun by the pistol-wielding bushwhackers. Many fled in a panic as the guerrillas cut them down. Those who tried to surrender were slaughtered. Around 120 mounted infantrymen were killed in the ambush and pursuit. Bodies of the soldiers were decapitated and mutilated by some of the guerrillas.

Anderson's death

At the time of the Battle of Centralia, the Union command was busy opposing a raid by General Sterling Price, at the head of 12,000 Confederate cavalrymen. Price feinted towards St. Louis, made an attack on the federal garrison at Pilot Knob, then turned west, drawing the Union forces south of the Missouri River. Anderson met briefly with Price, but chose to return to the north side of the river, where he faced only local militia.

Union headquarters assigned militia Colonel Samuel P. Cox the task of eliminating the guerrilla leader. On October 26, 1864, Cox managed to locate Anderson in Ray County, Missouri near the hamlet of Albany, which is now part of Orrick, Missouri. Ironically, he used one of Anderson's favorite tactics against him. Cox sent a mounted detachment to lure the guerrillas into an ambush. Anderson led his men in a charge straight into the waiting militiamen, who fired a volley. "Bloody Bill" fell from his horse, shot through the head. His surviving men then retreated. Allegedly, a silken cord with fifty-three knots was found on Anderson. It was claimed to be the number of men he had killed. Human scalps were also found on his bridle. A photograph of Anderson and his wife was found in his pocket, along with a lock of hair from their infant child, confirming his identity.

Cox gave this account of the battle:

I had o­nly about 300 men under my command and gave the word to stand their ground – this fight must be victory or death – and not a man faltered. We dismounted at the wooden bridge leaving our horses in charge of the men with the commissary wagons. Crossing the bridge I stationed my men in the timber and gave explicit instructions not to begin shooting until I gave the command. Lt. Baker was sent ahead to reconnoiter and bring o­n the fight with instructions to retreat through our line. Cas. Morton, now a retired brigadier general, of Washington, D.C., was sent to Baker with the word to start the fight. Baker dashed up to where Anderson and his men were having meal ground and getting provisions, and opened fire. Instantly Anderson and his men were in their saddles and gave chase to Baker, who retreated under instructions and came dashing through our line. Anderson and some 20 of his men came in their historic manner, with their bridle reins in their teeth and revolver in each hand. When my men opened fire, many of Anderson's command went down. Others turned and fled, but the grim old chieftain and two of his men went right through the line, shooting and yelling, and it was as Anderson and o­ne of his men turned and came back that both of them were killed. The celebrated (Capt.) Archie Clement, who had gone through our line with Anderson, kept right o­n across the bridge and stampeded my wagon train and its guards boy [sic] yelling to them to fly as the command was cut to pieces, and thinking it was o­ne of their men, they ran and kept it up until I was a day or two getting them together again. In the hubbub, Clemens escaped. Clell Miller, afterwards a noted bank robber and a desperate character, was wounded in this fight and taken prisoner. It was with difficulty I restrained my men and the citizens from lynching him.

Anderson's remains were taken to Richmond, Missouri, put on public display, and photographed. His body was then dragged through the streets before being buried in an unmarked grave in Richmond's Pioneer Cemetery. In 1908, ex-guerrilla and outlaw Frank James arranged for a funeral service at Anderson's grave. Finally, in 1967 a veteran's tombstone was placed over his grave, incorrectly giving his birth year as 1840.

Death controversy

As with many notorious characters in American history, various people appeared after his death claiming to be Bloody Bill Anderson. During a bank robbery in Gallatin, Missouri in December 1869, Jesse James shot the cashier, mistaking him for Samuel P. Cox, the man James said killed Bloody Bill Anderson. Nevertheless, there are those who insist Anderson had survived.

In 1924, a Brown County, Texas settler named William Columbus Anderson was interviewed by Henry C. Fuller, a staff writer for the "Brownwood Banner-Bulletin". Anderson claimed he was the real Bloody Bill Anderson, with the same name and middle initial as Anderson's father. He said that another guerrilla's body had been mistaken for his own. W. C. Anderson lived in a farmhouse at Salt Creek, near Brownwood, dying in 1927 at age eighty-seven. As with so many cases of purported survivors (including the many claimants to being Jesse James), independent scholars have given no credence to this or other claims.

In popular media

In the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales the title character, played by Clint Eastwood, is visited by a band loosely structured around Anderson and his men. In the movie the meeting occus after the slaughter of Josey Wales' family by Kansas Jayhawkers. Wales agrees to ride with the group to "set things right." In this movie adaptation the character of "Red Legs Terrell" is not based on the real Edwin Terrell or William R. Terrill but most likely on the notorious Redleg killer Capt. William S. Tough.

Also, a movie directed by Byron Werner entitled Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill, portrays him as an undead zombie terrorizing a college debate team being held hostage by a drug dealer. Although the movie is accurate about his killings, it is inaccurate in aspects such as his death and his sister, who, in the film, was said to have been hanged due to her relation with Anderson.

Capt. William Anderson (Bloody Bill)
One of the best known and most feared of all Missouri Confederate guerrillas was William Anderson who, surprisingly, considered himself a Kansan.

William and Martha Anderson, Bill's parents came to Randolph County in 1840. This is the same year Bill was born. He had an older brother Ellis, younger brother James and younger sisters Mary C., Josephine and Martha. Mrs. Anderson's parents, William and Mahala Tomason also lived with the family. Bill's father was a professional Hatter and was a Charter Member of the I.O.O.F. Lodge here in 1847. The family lived north of town on the J.D. Hammet farm and in town near the Rake factory on West Depot Street. They later moved south of town in the Hagar school area to be nearer to relatives. In 1850 Bill's father went with a group of men from the county to the California Gold Fields. During this time away, Bill and his brothers were the heads of the family and their relationship with their sisters was both brotherly and fatherly. Bill attended school in town located near the corner of east Mulberry and north Oak street and the Hagar school south of town. As Pro-Southern settlers the family moved to Agnes City, Kansas in 1857.

It is believed that Bill served in the Missouri State Guard up until the withdrawal from Lexington, at which time he returned home. In March 1862, Bill's father was murdered by Pro-Northern neighbors in some type of dispute.

Born in Randolph County, Mo., he spent his teenage years near Council Grove, Kan., where he was drawn into the Border War when his father, a Southern sympathizer, was shot to death by a prominent Unionist, some say for horse-stealing, others say for simply having pro-slavery views. Whatever the reason, Bill Anderson returned to Missouri and, desiring revenge, joined William Quantrill´s guerrillas.

Up to a few days prior to the 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kan., Anderson seemed content to follow rather than lead. Then, in an attempt to curb the growing guerrilla problem in Missouri, Union soldiers imprisoned a number of the womenfolk of known bushwhackers in a deteriorated building in Kansas City. The building collapsed on August 14, killing some of these women, including Anderson´s sister, Josephine. Another sister was maimed for life. This event, cited by many of the guerrillas as one of the primary reasons for the August 21 raid on Lawrence, intensified Anderson´s hatred and turned him into a Federal soldier´s nightmare.

Stories about Anderson´s rage are legion. It is said he carried a silk cord on which knots were tied for every Yankee he killed. Some report that he cried and even frothed at the mouth during battle. By 1864 his quarrels with Quantrill led him to form a fierce guerrilla band of his own that included 16-year-old Jesse James.

Anderson´s greatest fame came as a result of a massacre and battle with Union soldiers in and around the central Missouri town of Centralia. On September 27, 1864. Anderson accompanied by approximately seventy men, invaded the town of Centralia. Wearing Confederate uniforms, this band of ruthless marauders showed no mercy to the inhabitants as they systematically raided homes and stores, raped, murdered and one report has it that a store of Whiskey barrels were found and Anderson and many of his men drank all the raw alcohol using their shoes as drinking vessels. In a final act of wanton destruction, the entire town was reduced to a burning ruin.

By chance, Anderson decided to check the train schedules and found that a train was due to pass through the station at midday. When the train was forced to stop at the barricade built across the line by Anderson's men, all the passengers, including twenty-six Union soldiers were rounded-up on the depot platform.

A Union officer, Lieutenant Peters, had already recognised Anderson earlier from the train window as it halted at the station. Knowing Anderson's formidable reputation for instantly executing Union officers without trial, Peters wrapped a blanket around himself and jumped from the train in an attempt to hide beneath the platform of the now burning depot. The keen-eyed Anderson spotted Peters bid to desert his troops and shouted to his men -

"Pull that bastard out of there!"

Knowing that he had to get away or be tortured and killed, Peters decided to run for his life. With a sinister coolness Anderson draw a pistol, took aim, and with unnerving accuracy, pumped six bullets into Peters killing him instantly.

Anderson ordered that the remaining twenty-six Union troopers be lined up in an open field. With the feeling that they were certainly going to be slaughtered, most dropped to their knees sobbing and begging for mercy - a sight that Anderson revelled in.

Armed with four Navy Colt pistols in his waistband, a sabre, a hatchet, four rifles and a bag of pistols on his horse, Anderson proceeded to psychologically terrorise his victims by strutting up and down in front of them. Ignoring their pleas for their lives to be spared Anderson stopped, lighted a cigar and then, in a somewhat subdued manner, asked -

"Boys, do you have a Sergeant in your ranks?"

Met with no response, Anderson repeatedly asked the same question with the inference that co-operation would mean that their lives would be spared. Eventually, Thomas M.Goodman took a pace forward and announced his rank.

"Fine, we'll use you to exchange for one of my men that them damned Yankees have caught".

The fearsome lunatic Anderson then withdrew two of his pistols and walked down the line of troopers firing until the chambers of both guns were empty then, he repeated this act twice more until he had murdered all the Union men in cold blood single-handed.

Upon his later escape, Sergeant Goodman reported Anderson's heinous crime to the authorities - but it was too late, the guerilla band had moved on to attack Union troops in neighbouring States.

A short while later, Anderson married a young girl in Texas and settled in a small farmhouse in Ray County, Missouri - although this episode proved to be a temporary respite that did nothing to curtail Bloody Bill's thirst for murder and indiscriminate pillage.

While leading his guerilla band near Orrick, Missouri on October 27th 1864, Anderson was ambushed by Captain S.P.Cox and his Union troops. Anderson was caught completely unaware and was riddled with bullets then left for dead in his saddle. His loyal followers put up a fight to try and recover Anderson's corpse, but they were driven back by superior firepower.

Anderson's body was taken to Richmond, Missouri where it was propped up in a chair and a pistol was placed in the dead man's hand then photographs were taken. A short while later, the Union troopers, full of loathing for the dead man, decapitated Anderson and impaled his head on a telegraph pole at the entrance to the town as a signature to all that the infamous killer was indeed dead. Anderson's torso was roped and tied to a horse then dragged along the streets of Richmond before being dumped in an unmarked grave outside of town.

This account of Anderson's demise has been contested however. One claim has it that another man resembling Anderson was killed at Orrick and Anderson changed his name and escaped to Erin Springs, Oklahoma where he ran a saloon. Yet another report says that Anderson settled in Salt Creek, Brown County, Texas where he lived for some sixty years under an assumed name. There may be an element of truth behind this story since a man resembling Anderson died on November 2nd, 1927 in Salt Creek, and on the bedside table was a photograph of three young women - later identified as Anderson's sisters.

Anderson once said he had killed so many Federals that he “grew sick of killing them.”

Anderson's Family
Not much is not known about Bill's mother, however we do know that he lived with his dad, brothers( Jim and Bob ), and his sisters( Josephine, Mary, and Jenny ).

The Anderson's before the war
In the early 20's, Bloody Bill was powerfully built, handsome and a native Missourian. He lived with his family near Council Grove, Kansas before the war. Even before the war broke out, sources say the Anderson's were bandits, horse thieves, and responsible for at least one murder.
nderson Gang
When the war broke out Bill, Bob, and Jim were quick to become bushwackers. Anderson's Gang soon had a reputation for murderous ferocity which was even worse than Quantrill's and Todd's Gang. Archie Clement was a notable member of Anderson's gang. Clement was a short, slender, blond-haired eigthteen-year-old boy who earned the nickname " Little Archie." Some say he was a born killer and it is even possible that he was even more blood-thirsty than Bloody Bill himself.Eventually, "Little Archie" became Anderson's second-in-command and triggerman. He even adopted the practice of scalping dead Union soldiers.

Female Relations
According to some accounts, Anderson married Bush Smith. He did so against Quantrill's wishes thereby causing a break up between the two. However, Frank Smith( no relation ) says that she was just Anderson's mistress and that he never heard of Anderson marrying her. Moreover, it seems rather unlikely that Quantrill would have cared one way or the other whether Anderson got married or to whom.

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