The Death of Bloody Bill Anderson

The Death of Bloody Bill Anderson American History Biographies Famous People Legends and Legendary People Civil Wars Visual Arts

Bill Anderson earned his nickname "Bloody Bill." A raider during America's Civil War, Anderson was one of the most-feared Confederate guerillas. He would kill just for killing's sake, causing people to think that he was a sociopath.

Jesse James joined Anderson in 1864. He learned some things from his self-selected leader.

Anderson's tactics were brutal and deceptive. Chief among the men known as "bushwhackers," Anderson and his ilk would wear the uniforms of their opponents, causing people not to flee (until it was too late).

With his eighty men, Anderson and his guerillas were ruthless in their treatment of people. They were known, among other things, for loading their saddles with the scalps of their victims.

Guided by a lack of morals, Anderson became completely unhinged when he learned that one of his sisters had died in a Kansas City prison collapse, while two others had been injured.

After Anderson and his gang mercilessly killed 22 unarmed Union soldiers who'd been traveling home (by train) for a furlough—and then massacred about 150 more troops who were sent to pursue the guerillas—government officials hired someone to find Anderson.

It took Samuel Cox, a 36-year-old former Army scout, several weeks to find Anderson. He drew Bloody Bill and some of his men into an ambush near a village called Albany (in Ray County, Missouri). It was there that Union soldiers ended the life of Anderson.

This image depicts the body of "Bloody Bill" Anderson, revolver-in-hand.

The following account of his capture and death (from The Devil Knows How to Ride, by Edward E. Leslie, at pages 337-39) provides the background of this picture.

On the morning of October 26, Samuel P. Cox learned through an informant that the Anderson band was in Albany, southwestern Ray County. 

Cox was a veteran of the Mexican war and the Sioux Indian uprising of 1847, and he had served as a major in the Federal militia cavalry early in the war...On this late October morning he was serving without commission at the request of Brigadier General James Craig because, as Craig subsequently and laconically explained, "I believed he would find and whip Anderson."

...The advance soon found the band, skirmished briefly, then fell back.  It was the sort of maneuver the bushwhackers had sometimes used, drawing the enemy into a trap, but Anderson fell for it.

...For a few seconds it seemed they would get clean away, but then, fifty paces to the rear, Anderson threw his arms in the air and fell backward off his horse.  He was dead with two bullets in his head. 

...Anderson's horse was corralled, and human scalps were found affixed to either side of the bridle band.

His body was hauled in a wagon to Richmond, where it was tied in a chair and a revolver placed in the right hand.  A bystander held the head at an angle so Dr. Robert B. Kice, a local dentist and "photographist," could take a picture.

Click on the image for a better view.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
1 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5120stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Sep 24, 2017

Media Credits

Image, U.S. National Archives.

Book cover and quoted passage, Google Books online.


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"The Death of Bloody Bill Anderson" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Sep 24, 2017.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips