The True Account of the Short Life of William "Bloody Bill" Anderson.

William T. Anderson was born February 2, 1837, in Randolph County Missouri. In November 1861 Anderson joined a group of Kansans who joined Price in Osceola, Missouri. While traveling there, he battled Lieutenant Colonel L. R. Jewell of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry.

On March 7, 1862 Anderson's father and uncle were hung for being southern sympathizers. This was near the town of Aubry, Kansas. Outraged by this mistreatment of his family. By March 12th, Anderson and his brother Jim had teamed with William Clarke Quantrill and became one of the most noted guerrillas of the Civil War. Below is a previously unpublished image of Captain Anderson.                                  

Anderson was a brave and fierce warrior and there are many stories of his exploits.It has been said if he cared about his life, he would have lost it earlier than he did. In August 1863, acting upon General Ewing's orders, Union troops began to arrest the female relatives of the guerrillas. Among the fourteen women taken into custody were Josephine, Mary and Martha Anderson. Originally the women were confined in the Union hotel.

However some of the women, all of whom happened to be the women related to men of Quantrill's band, were separated from the group and moved into the cellar of a former bank. On August 14, 1863 the former bank building collapsed, after the foundation had been deliberately weakened. Five of the fourteen women imprisoned were killed. All of the non-combatants were injured. Josephine Anderson was among the fatalities. Martha Anderson survived but her legs were crushed. This tragedy drove Anderson to the acts that earned him the moniker "Bloody Bill."

Quantrill was known to spare numerous men, yet "Bloody Bill" never showed any mercy. Anderson carried a silken cord which displayed a knot for each Yankee life he took. By the time of his death, it purportedly displayed 53 knots. Bill claimed he never accepted a recruit unless they could shoot the hands off the town clock with either hand.

Apparently if they could shoot well enough and wanted to kill Yankees, Anderson was not concerned about their age. Many of his men were quite young.Quantrill turned down numerous young men who wanted to join him due to their age, only to have Anderson accept them. Among those young men originally rejected, was a boy from Kearney named Jesse Woodson James.

Anderson and men were heavily armed and they always rode the finest horses. His men were known to take whatever they needed by robbing stores and even robbing banks. It has been said that Anderson is the man who taught Jesse James how to be an outlaw.

Anderson fought at many engagements including Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Pea Ridge, Lawrence, Baxter Springs, Fayette, Glasgow, and Centralia. He was killed on October 26, 1864 near Orrick (now Albany) Missouri. Numerous guerrillas unsuccessfully attempted to retrieve his body, and many of them fell at his side. His body was taken to Richmond Missouri where it was dragged through the streets and then placed on public display. His head was decapitated and placed atop a pole for public display. He was eventually buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery north of town.

On June 11, 1908 Cole Younger held a memorial service for his fallen comrade in arms and in 1967 the grave was finally marked. Images of "Bloody Bill" are extremely rare, even more scarce than images of Captain Quantrill.

©Paul Petersen quantrillsguerrillas.com. "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay."                                                                                                                                            


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