Western Life

“Bloody Bill” Anderson

William T. Anderson is known as the vilest and most notorious confederate guerrilla leader from the civil war. He was a man who killed, butchered and severed countless union soldiers and their sympathizers. Hence, the name given to him, bloody bill, was due to his contribution in the war. He was known as the most dreadful figure by both sides.

There isn’t much known about Anderson’s childhood and early life. So much so that even his birth state is uncertain. Even though he claimed it to be Missouri and said that is where he is from – it is more probable that he grew up in Kentucky in 1838. Anderson’s father was a man who made hats and was on the side on the South. When he moved to Kansas with his family, his views were opposed and he rejected to fight the south. He then started to steal and sell horses in 1862. His father was killed in a brawl over a horse, this led to Anderson taking revenge by killing a judge and his son-in-law. Later, his two sisters were put into prison because of the suspicions of where their loyalties lay. This led to the death of one sister and the other sister was crippled. This incident fuelled Anderson’s hatred for union soldiers.

Anderson then joined the army of a man called William Clarke Quantrill and frightened people in Kansas, Texas, and Missouri. He did one brutal raid after the other. Bushwhackers were a type of soldiers that did not belong to any organized military force. Anderson was one of them. Once during a winter season the group spent in Texas, animosity developed between the two men. This led to Anderson falsely accusing Quantrill of a crime and ran away with his own riders to Missouri.

Anderson commanded the extermination of union soldiers in September 1864 in Missouri. This incident was known as Centralia Massacre. In it, his men were unexpectedly able to capture a passenger train where the bushwhackers executed 24 unarmed union soldiers and then set an ambush which killed around a hundred union military men. This was at the time one of the bloodiest massacres.

Around a month later on 26th October 1864, Anderson was killed in a battle. He was executed by the Missouri State militia. They had found his resting place near Albany Missouri in Ray County. Later his body was taken to Richmond, Missouri where a photograph was taken of his body then the union militia officers decapitated his body.

Historians see Anderson as a sadistic, vile and evil human being with no regard for life. He was deemed a psychotic killer and the name bloody bill was given to him because of his actions. While other historians believe his actions were a result of desperation and the lawlessness of the time he lived in.

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