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Encyclopedia > William T. Anderson
William T. Anderson
William T. Anderson

William T. Anderson a.k.a "Bloody Bill" (1839October 26, 1864) was a pro-Confederate guerrilla leader in the American Civil War, known for his brutality towards Union soldiers and pro-Union civilians in Missouri and Kansas. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... 1839 (MDCCCXXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... is the 299th day of the year (300th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1864 (MDCCCLXIV) was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a leap year starting on Sunday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... Motto Deo Vindice (Latin: Under God, Our Vindicator) Anthem (none official) God Save the South (unofficial) The Bonnie Blue Flag (unofficial) Dixie (unofficial) Capital Montgomery, Alabama (until May 29, 1861) Richmond, Virginia (May 29, 1861–April 2, 1865) Danville, Virginia (from April 3, 1865) Language(s) English (de facto) Religion... “Guerrilla” redirects here. ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... In this map:  Union states prohibiting slavery  Union territories  Border states on the Union side which allowed slavery  Kansas, which entered and fought with the Union as a free state after the Bleeding Kansas crisis  The Confederacy  Confederate claimed and sometimes held territories During the American Civil War, the Union... Official language(s) English Capital Jefferson City Largest city Kansas City Largest metro area St Louis[1] Area  Ranked 21st  - Total 69,709 sq mi (180,693 km²)  - Width 240 miles (385 km)  - Length 300 miles (480 km)  - % water 1. ... Official language(s) English[2] Capital Topeka Largest city Wichita Area  Ranked 15th  - Total 82,277 sq mi (213,096 km²)  - Width 211 miles (340 km)  - Length 417 miles (645 km)  - % water 0. ...


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. Official language(s) English[1] Capital Frankfort Largest city Louisville Area  Ranked 37th  - Total 40,444 sq mi (104,749 km²)  - Width 140 miles (225 km)  - Length 379 miles (610 km)  - % water 1. ... Randolph County is a county located in the state of Missouri. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Largest metro area Greater Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... Agnes City Township is a township in Lyon County, Kansas. ...

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, all accused of assisting Confederate partisans. They were housed in a Kansas City, Missouri building which had been made structurally unsound by Union soldiers, who removed partitions and posts in an effort to make more space. On August 14, the building collapsed, killing four of the women, including Josephine. Anderson's sister Mary survived, but was permanently crippled. This incident has been considered the spark for the virulent brutality that Anderson would henceforth demonstrate against Union soldiers and civilians. Bushwhacking was a form of guerrilla warfare during the American Civil War that was particularly prevalent in rural areas where there were sharp divisions between those favoring the Union and Confederacy in the conflict. ... Quantrills Raiders were a loosely organized force of pro-Confederate bushwhackers who fought under the leadership of William Clarke Quantrill. ... Nickname: Location in Jackson, Clay, Platte, and Cass Counties in the state of Missouri. ... is the 226th day of the year (227th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

During the winter of 1863/64, Bill Anderson married Bush Smith of Sherman, Texas.

Raids on Lawrence, Kansas, and Centralia, Missouri

Anderson participated in Quantrill's raid on Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863, which was meant to avenge the Sacking of Osceola, Missouri by Kansas Jayhawkers nearly two years earlier. 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. Lawrence is a river city in Douglas County, Kansas, United States, 41 miles (66 km) west of Kansas City, along the banks of both the Kansas (Kaw) and Wakarusa Rivers. ... is the 233rd day of the year (234th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1863 (MDCCCLXIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... The Sacking of Osceola was a Union Jayhawker initiative on September 23, 1861, to push out pro-South elements at Osceola, Missouri. ... A jayhawker was a radical guerrilla fighter during the American Civil War. ...

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 dictated or perhaps personally wrote letters to newspapers in Lexington, Missouri, promising further violence against pro-Union civilians and threatening to take women of Union families as hostages. In one of them, he wrote: "I have chosen guerilla warfare to revenge myself for the wrongs that I could not honorably avenge otherwise. I lived in Kansas when the war commenced. Because I would not fight the people of Missouri, my native state, the Yankees sought my life but failed to get me. Revenged themselves by murdering my father, destroying all my property, murdered one of my sisters and have kept the other two in jail for 12 months. But I have fully glutted my vengeance. I have killed many, I am a guerrilla. I have never belonged to the Confederate Army, nor do my men." Lexington is a city located in Lafayette County, Missouri, United States. ...

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. Archie Clement a. ... Alexander Franklin James (January 10, 1843 – February 18, 1915) was an American outlaw and older brother of Jesse James. ... Jesse Woodson James (September 5, 1847–April 3, 1882) was an American outlaw, the most famous member of the James-Younger gang. ...

On September 27, 1864, Anderson led fellow bushwhackers in the Centralia Massacre (Missouri), 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 21 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. is the 270th day of the year (271st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1864 (MDCCCLXIV) was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a leap year starting on Sunday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... Bushwhacking was a form of guerrilla warfare during the American Civil War that was particularly prevalent in rural areas where there were sharp divisions between those favoring the Union and Confederacy in the conflict. ... The Centralia Massacre was an ambush by bushwhackers under Bloody Bill Anderson during the American Civil War in which 22 Union soldiers were executed at the Centralia, Missouri train station on September 27, 1864. ... For other uses, see Sergeant (disambiguation). ...

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 solders were overrun by the pistol-wielding Bushwhackers. Many fled in a panic as the guerrillas cut them down. Those who tried to surrender were executed. Around 120 mounted infantrymen were killed in the ambush and pursuit. Bodies of the soldiers were decapitated and mutilated by some of the guerrillas. The Bushwackers Luke Williams & Butch Miller The Bushwackers were a professional wrestling tag team that also competed as The Sheepherders. ...

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. General Price Sterling Old Pap Price (September 20, 1809 – September 29, 1867) was an antebellum politician from the U.S. state of Missouri and a Confederate major general during the American Civil War. ... Pilot Knob can refer to a number of different entities: Pilot Knob, Missouri, a town One of 103 different summits within the United States. ...

Union headquarters assigned militia Colonel Samuel P. Cox the task of eliminating the guerrilla leader. On October 26, 1864, Cox managed to locate Anderson near in Ray County, Missouri near the hamlet of Albany which is now part of Orrick, Missouri.[1] 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. is the 299th day of the year (300th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1864 (MDCCCLXIV) was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a leap year starting on Sunday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... Ray County is a county located in the state of Missouri. ... Orrick is a city located in Ray County, Missouri. ...

Cox gave this account of the battle:

I had o­nly about 300 men under my command and gave the 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.[2] Archie Clement a. ... Death photo of Clell Miller following botched Northfield robbery Clell Miller (January 9, 1850 - September 7, 1876) (also known as Cleland D. Miller or Clenand Miller or McClelland Miller) was an outlaw with the James-Younger Gang who was killed during the gangs robbery at Northfield, Minnesota. ...

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. Richmond is a city located in Ray County, Missouri. ...

Death Controversy

As with many notorious characters in American history, Bloody Bill Anderson had those who claimed to be him. 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. Gallatin is the name of some places in the United States of America: Gallatin, Missouri Gallatin, New York Gallatin, Tennessee Gallatin, Texas See also: Albert Gallatin This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...

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 his own. W. C. Anderson lived in a farmhouse at Salt Creek, near Brownwood, dying in 1927 at age eighty-seven. Brown County is the name of several counties in the United States: Brown County, Illinois Brown County, Indiana Brown County, Kansas Brown County, Minnesota Brown County, Nebraska Brown County, Ohio Brown County, South Dakota Brown County, Texas Brown County, Wisconsin This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which...

The following arguments against his being Anderson have been made, with his defenders responding as follows:

  • There is the striking, uncanny facial resemblance to Anderson in the photograph of the dead man claimed as Anderson.

The custodian in charge of the famous photograph of Anderson in a black hat with a star has stated her organization has no authentication nor origin of the photo. Thus it might not actually be Anderson.

  • The papers and personal effects found on the dead man by Colonel Cox's men clearly identified him as Bloody Bill Anderson.

W. C. Anderson stated in his 1924 interview that another guerrilla rode Anderson's horse into the ambush and the identification was made based on personal belongings found in Anderson's saddlebags.

  • Why would Anderson flee to Mexico and create a whole new family, abandoning his lawful wife, Bush Smith, and marrying bigamously?

Bill Anderson knew the war was over in Missouri (even though his men would continue to fight it for another 7 months?). Mexico was a destination for many ex-Confederates, as is noted in post-war history.

  • Why would Anderson, after being the most virulent Confederate guerrilla in all of Missouri, suddenly decide he had had enough of the war and flee, abandoning his men and the cause he had fought for so long?

It was a well-known tactic of Quantrill's Guerrillas to scatter in many directions when under attack and later re-group. Anderson simply scattered by himself.

  • In future years, why would Cole Younger and other guerrilla veterans repeatedly visit the Richmond gravesite if Bloody Bill wasn't buried there?

Cole Younger was only reported to have visited the Richmond grave on one occasion. Dr. L. E. Skinner of east Texas stated in the 1924 interview that Cole Younger had a long meeting with W. C. Anderson and came away convinced that this was the Bill Anderson he had served with during the Civil War. However, there is no confirmation of Younger's visit from other sources and Younger may simply have meant that W. C. Anderson had been one of Quantrill's guerrillas.

The Hollywood version

In the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, the title character, played by Clint Eastwood, is visited by Bloody Bill Anderson and his men after the slaughter of Josey Wales' family by Kansas Jayhawkers. Wales agrees to ride with Anderson to "set things right." The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 revisionist Western movie set at the end of the American Civil War starring Clint Eastwood (as the eponymous Josey Wales), Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney, John Vernon, Paula Trueman, Sam Bottoms, Geraldine Keams, Woodrow Parfrey, Joyce Jameson, Sheb Wooley, and Royal... Clint Eastwood (born Clinton Eastwood, Jr. ... A jayhawker was a radical guerrilla fighter during the American Civil War. ...

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.


  • Albert E. Castel, Thomas Goodrich, Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage life of a Civil War Guerilla
  • Edward E. Leslie,The Devil Knows How to Ride: The True Story of William Clarke Quantrill and His Confederate Raiders
  • Thomas Goodrich Bloody Dawn: The Story of the Lawrence Massacre
  • T.J. Stiles

Thomas Goodrich, or Goodricke (d. ... Thomas Goodrich, or Goodricke (d. ...

External links



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