Spies, Raiders & Partisans

    William Anderson  "Bloody Bill"  1840-October 26, 1864

Bill Anderson learned the bushwhacking trade as a lieutenant in Confederate Capt. William C. Quantrill's band of viscious murderers that rampaged through the states of Missouri and Kansas. Early on, Anderson had earned the name "Bloody Bill", but when one of his sisters was killed and another crippled when the Kansas City jail in which they were confined by Union forces collapsed, he gained even more notoriety as a psychotic cold-blooded killer.

Anderson participated in Quantrill's murderous rampage in the town of Lawrence, Kans., in August 1863, but by the next spring he had argued with Quantrill and, taking many of the guerilla band with him, set out on a new binge of atrocities. He and his 100 raiders preyed on any Union detachments or sympathizers that came within their reach. Federal soldiers would be found scalped, with their throats slit. One dead soldier had pinned to him a note signed by Bill Anderson that said, "You come to hunt bush whackers. Now you are skelpt." Anderson adorned his horse's bridle with the scalps he collected.

On the morning of September 27, 1864, Anderson and his men rode into the small railroad town of Centralia, MO., and began looting and burning and getting drunk. The stopped a passing train, robbed the passengers, and lined up and murdered 24 unarmed Union soldiers. Laughing, they rode out of town. A few hours later, 150 Union cavalry set out after Anderson, only to be ambushed and massacred themselves. The 116 blue troopers killed were found "shot through the head, then scalped, bayonets thrust through them, ears and noses cut off."

One month later, "Bloody Bill" was killed by two bullets in the back of his head in a fight with Union militia in northwest Missouri.

Fascinating Fact:  Anderson's killers propped him up in a chair and had his picture taken. Then they cut off his head and mounted it on a telegraph pole.


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