Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Story of Bloody Bill Anderson (part 2)

Taking up where we left off in our first installment of ‘The Story of Bloody Bill Anderson (part 1),’ if you’ll recall, young Bill Anderson and the guerrilla fighters he was with--also referred to as Quantrill’s Raiders--had just persevered in a skirmish with the First Missouri Cavalry at the farm of Samuel Clark, near Pink Hill. If you recall, this story from the past appeared in the winter 1978 issue of Old West magazine.

It was on March 30, 1862, when Anderson and the Quantrill Raiders bumped up against 60 federal soldiers under the command of Captain Peabody. Thanks to the military prowess of Quantrill, half of Peabody’s men were killed during the skirmish.

The next confrontation between Quantrill’s organization and federal troops took place on July the 9th, 1862. Anderson and the rest of Quantrill’s men were camped out on Sugar Creek. It was almost dawn when word reached camp that the First Iowa Cavalry, consisting of 90 men, was approaching.

“Bill Anderson rode low over the withers of his horse’s bridle reins carefully held in the other hand. Some of the guerrillas dropped the reins on their horses necks and held a blazing revolver in either hand. The action was as brief as it was deadly,” says M.W. McCarter, the author of ‘Cord of Death,’ as told in Old West magazine, in the Winter 1978 issue. “I got two of them,” Anderson told McCorkle, “and maybe a third.” “They walked right into it,” McCorkle replied.”and we must have got about fifty of them. Jim Vaughan is running a count right now,”

Bill Anderson Gets His New Name

It was this encounter where Anderson was dubbed “Bloody” Bill Anderson, and the name stuck, McCarter said. After the dust settled a bit, Quantrill made mention of the fact that Anderson appeared to enjoy himself during the firefight. He spoke of how the young lad, originally from Dover, Ohio, (not more than 20 minutes away from WMD offices) screamed “like a Comanche.”

According to the author of the Old West story, Quantrill then said, “Probably we should change your name to ‘Bloody Bill’,” and they did because after that Quantrill and his Quantrill Raiders did exactly that.

The next encounter that Bloody Bill and the Quantrill guerrillas had was at Sears Farm, which was owned by a Confederate sympathizer.

As mentioned before, Quantrill was known for his intuition or military prowess, whichever one it truly happened to be. If you recall, Bloody Bill Anderson acquired the same knack and did use it when planning a mission.

“Quantrill’s intuition, or military genius, led him to anticipate the move of the enemy and to be ready for them. In some instances, he set a deliberate ambush,” says author McCarter.
It was at Sears Farm that the First Missouri and Iowa Cavalry, in conjunction with federal troops, met their match when attempting to overtake Quantrill Raiders. The First’s 120-man detachment, under the command of a Major Gower and a Captain Keogh, road into an extremely well thought out ambush (click on the photo of the magazine page on the right) that led to the deaths of them all.

Quantrill arranged it so it looked like his troops were unaware of the enemy’s approach. This resulted in the cavalry rushing the encampment, thus expending most of their ammunition in the process. It was then that Quantrill’s guerrilla fighters struck, killing every last one of them.

According to McCarter’s account in the slowly-fading pages of Old West magazine, Cole Younger, a well known gunfighter from western times, maintained that Bloody Bill Anderson fired his last couple of rounds into the deceased bodies of those who were already dead.

Bloody Bill Gets His Chance

Near Butler in western St.Clair County, Missouri, Quantrill allowed Bloody Bill to plan an operation with only a few minor changes. Because there was a two-week lull in the fighting, Bloody Bill was ready to lure federal troops into the open. His plan, as you will see, was a resounding success.

A local farmer, a Confederate sympathizer, approached Union troops, telling them that 40 to 50 of Quantrill's men were hanging about his farm. Colonel Warren of the First Iowa Cavalry, believing his story, dispatched J.W. Caldwell to take Quantrill into custody. Although he left the garrison with 140 men, only 40 or 50 returned. Quantrill set up an ambush about a half mile toward Butler and that is where approximately 100 men lost their lives.

It was in that skirmish that Bloody Bill was wounded, taking him out or the action for about two weeks.
“He had taken a rifle ball burn on his upper left arm which was not serious but was extremely painful,” said McCarter.
The encounter that earned Quantrill a field commission, thus making his guerrilla Raiders a recognized organization of the Confederate Army, was that of the capture of Independence, Missouri. On August 15th, 1862, Quantrill was given the rank of Captain.

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