9/27/1864 - A battleground already before the American Civil War even starts, Confederate guerrilla leader, William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson, reminds Northern soldiers on this day what they can expect if caught fighting in Missouri ... a lesson the residents and Union soldiers of Audrain and Boone counties learn in a day of blood letting now known as the Centralia Massacre.
Anderson - 1864
A killer with hatred his excuse, Anderson becomes a master of murder after his father is shot to death by a former Confederate sympathizer and family friend (romantically involved with Anderson's sister, Mary) turned Union Man, Judge A. I. Baker, in the courthouse where the judge practices law (in revenge, Anderson will lock Baker and Baker's brother-in-law in the basement of their Council Grove, Kansas store, and burn the structure down around his enemies ... and for good measure, he burns down Baker's house too while stealing two of the dead man's horses), and locked up for giving comfort to the southern guerrillas, has his 14-year-old sister Josephine die, his 16-year-old sister Molly suffer back and facial injuries, and his 10-year-old sister Martha become crippled for life when her legs are crushed in the collapse of the three-story Union jail in Kansas City.
Rider, to William Quantrill lieutenant, to guerrilla leader himself, Anderson leads the group of men in the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas that kills the most citizen's of the town, but cools on continuing to take orders from his boss after a series of arguments between the two takes place while the band is resting and refitting in Texas. In charge of his own sociopaths with orders from General Sterling Price to disrupt Union operations in the state, when Anderson returns to Missouri in the summer of 1864, he is at the head of a pack of about 75 or so cutthroats that love to collect the scalps and ears of their victims, and includes a 5'1" maniac named Archie Clement that likes to leave notes on the men he turns into corpses, and killer outlaws in training, Frank and Jesse James. Operating with members of Quantrill's and George Todd's bushwakers, on 9/27, Anderson takes his command off to the town of Centralia to explore raiding opportunities in the area.
Quantrill & Todd
Clement & Jesse And Frank James
Finding the town lightly defended, Anderson and about 80 of his men (many dressed in looted Union uniforms) pounce, cutting off the North Missouri Railroad. Looting stores, firing buildings, and drinking any booze they can find (unable to procure enough cups and glasses to go around, the guerrillas raid a shoe store and use new pairs of boots for whiskey mugs), most of the raiders are hammered before 10:00 in the morning ... then a train arrives in town and the murdering begins in earnest. Realizing too late that the men milling about the railroad station in blue uniforms aren't Union soldiers, an entire train and its passengers are delivered into the hands of the bloodthirsty southerners (it is the first Union passenger train to be captured in the war). Everyone moved off the train, the passengers are divided into two groups ... one consisting of 102 civilians, and the second, 23 Union soldiers returning to their homes on leave after fighting in the recently ended battle for Atlanta.
Bushwhackers John Jarrette & Henderson Duvall
Ordered to strip, the men disrobe on the railroad siding and when Anderson calls for a Union officer, thinking he will sacrifice himself for his men, Sgt. Thomas Goodman, steps forward (kept alive to exchange for a prisoner friend of Anderson's, Goodman escapes the next week when the bushwhackers are distracted preparing to cross a river) ... and becomes the only soldier to survive the morning. "Muster them out, Archie," Anderson orders, and with a pistol in each hand, Clement begins gleefully shooting down prisoners, as the other guerrillas about the area then beginning firing into the helpless captives too (and further abuse comes after the soldiers become corpses ... ears and scalps are hacked off, heads decapitated, and bloody cleaved genitals are put in places where they don't belong). Their "work" completed in about three hours (brigand David Poole will count his victims by stepping on each man's body that he has killed), the drunken raiders then ride back to their camp for a rest.
But there will be no rest for the guerrillas, due to the ire of Union Major A.V.E. Johnston, who arrives in Centralia at the head of 155 men of the newly formed 39th Missouri Infantry Regiment (Mounted) shortly after Anderson and his band have left the town in ruins. Revenge in mind, Johnston barks he will get Anderson or eat his supper in Hell as he leads his command after the raiders ... and finds them all too quickly in their camp with the killers of George Todd's guerrilla force, only three miles away from the town they have just raided. Odds not in favor of Johnston's men ... over 300 experienced fighters with repeating weapons face 155 rookie soldiers with muzzle loading, one shot rifles ... and the Northern soldiers receive idiotic orders ... instead of charging into the guerrillas, Johnston has his men dismount and form a battle line and seals his command's fate. Instantly up and in the saddle, Anderson and his men attack ... a volley from the northerners knocks a few raiders down, but then the southerners swarm their prey as their victims try to reload ... and just like that, Johnston and his men are no more (123 out of the 155 men don't make it to evening).
Site Of The Fight Between Johnston And Anderson
And in the thick of things, is 16-year-old Jesse James. With nary a whisker on his face, James had already impressed his companions with his riding abilities and prowess with a pistol or rifle ... now his bravery with bullets flying about is noted. Galloping forward with pistols in hand and reins in his teeth, James heads directly for the leader of the Union soldiers, Johnston, and shoots the man dead (in all, James will shoot six Union soldiers, killing three of them). Back at camp that night, while silently cleaning a pistol, James will accidentally shoot off the tip of his middle finger, a wounding that causes the future outlaw to cry out in pain as he looks at the wound, "If that ain't the dingus-dangest thing," earning his first nickname, to his bushwhacker friends from then on, he isn't Jesse, he's Dingus!
A marked man after Centralia, Anderson shares Johnston's fate less than a month later. Assigned by Union leaders to eliminate Anderson, Lt. Colonel Samuel P. Cox does just that on 10/26/1864, outside of Glasgow, Missouri. Attacking a final time, Anderson is hit by a bullet behind his ear, and dies instantly. No pieces cut off like he use to do to his own victims, the indignity the guerrilla suffers in death is to have his corpse become a picture postcard ... that makes quite a lot of money for Northern businessmen.
Unbounded butchery on the plains of Missouri ... 9/27/1864 ... the Centralia Massacre.