September 27, 2019
The engineer squinted in the midmorning sun as he noticed something obstructing the path in the distance. Approaching the station at Centralia, Missouri, he spotted men dressed as Federal soldiers standing close by. By the time the engineer grasped who the men really were, it was too late. Realizing it was a pile of wood blocking the tracks, the engineer was forced to stop.
As the train rolled to a stop, the disguised Confederate guerrillas, or bushwhackers, boarded the cars and began robbing the passengers. Having already pillaged the town, robbed a stagecoach, terrorized the citizens, and raided the bars, the day was only beginning for the 80 drunken rebels. As calls filled the air to present jewelry, money, and any other valuables, one passenger hesitated. Not accepting any form of resistance, a guerrilla shot him on the spot. The same fate awaited a German-American passenger trying to hide a gold watch in his boot.
Finding a group of actual Union soldiers on furlough on board, the guerrillas ordered everyone off the train, separating the civilians from the troops. The 23 Federal soldiers were lined up and addressed by guerrilla leader William T. Anderson. He informed them their fate was in retaliation for the guerrillas killed by Union soldiers in Fayette, an attack which he initiated and lost, stating, “I will show you that I can kill men with as much skill and rapidity as anybody.” The soldiers begged for their lives, insisting they were in Georgia under the command of William T. Sherman and not involved in Fayette. Unfazed, Anderson responded, “I treat you all as one. You are Federals, and Federals scalped my men, and carry their scalps at their saddle-bows.”
Forcing the soldiers to undress, the bushwhackers collected the uniforms as more disguises. Sergeant Thomas M. Goodman saw a chance for hope when Anderson called for a volunteer. Believing sacrificing his live to satisfy Anderson’s need for revenge would spare the lives of his men, Goodman stepped forward. He immediately realized why Anderson was called "Bloody Bill."
On Anderson's cue, his men raised their pistols to fire upon the 22 unarmed soldiers standing behind Goodman. Soldiers scattered, trying to find shelter as the guerrillas raced after them on horseback. Blood stained the streets as they were gunned down, mutilated, and scalped where they fell. Two soldiers entered a home only to be assassinated in front of an ill little girl. Her father ran out into the street to demand the victims be removed only to be mocked by their executioners. Hearing the commotion, Anderson finally rode up to investigate. Discovering the girl suffered from tuberculosis, he climbed off his horse and dragged the two dead men out of the house and into the yard where a third soldier lay.
A little boy watched as another man darted into the blacksmith shop. A guerrilla dismounted his horse following him inside. Moments later a side door swung open as the soldier fled the building. Jumping on the guerrilla's horse, he kicked the animal and headed out of town as fast as he could. When the bushwhacker exited the building, he and his companions tried to shoot him. Lying as flat as he could on the horse’s neck, he avoided his pursuer's bullets, becoming the only known soldier to have escaped execution other than Goodman.
When the September 27, 1864, massacre was over, disfigured and dismembered Federal soldiers lay scattered throughout the town of Centralia. Anderson and his men set the train on fire before sending it down the tracks and then torching the depot. They collected their booty, leaving the citizens to clean up their bloody mess as they left town with Goodman as a hostage to be used for an exchange.
Word reached the Union army quickly, who immediately sent the 39th Missouri Mounted Infantry commanded by Major A.V.E. Johnson. The 155 ill-equipped and green recruits arrived in Centralia by mid-afternoon to meet close to 400 guerrillas. What transpired in the fields outside of town was worse than a massacre. The Union troops dismounted from their horses to the amazement of the guerrillas. Armed with only single shot muzzle loading rifles, they faced bushwhackers carrying repeating rifles and revolvers. Following typical warfare strategy, the soldiers formed a line. As the guerrillas charged on their horses, the soldiers discharged their one bullet. Quickly realizing they did not have time to reload before the enemy was upon them, the soldiers threw down their weapons in surrender as others broke ranks and ran.
Unfortunately, surrender meant nothing to the guerrillas. They chased down the soldiers, including those assigned just to hold the horses, and murdering them as they tried to escape. Of the Union soldiers there, about 125 were killed. Yet the slaughter was still not over as Anderson led his men back to Centralia to attack the few militia left there. While most of those soldiers had already fled, the poor souls remaining received the same fate as the rest.
Goodman, who was able to escape a week after being taken prisoner, exclaimed, “They surrendered. Surrendered as we did at Centralia, with assurances of humane treatment,” yet watched in disbelieve as his fellow soldiers were unceremoniously executed. An officer who observed the field the following day described the scene, stating, “Most of them were shot through the head, then scalped, bayonets thrust through them, ears and noses cut off, and privates torn off and thrust in the mouths of the dying.” Only one wounded soldier survived. On the Confederate side, three men lost their lives with ten men wounded.
Guerrilla warfare was widely common during the Civil War as Southerners pushed back against the Federal troops invading the southern states. Many civilians became resisters instead of fighting for the official Confederate Army as it allowed them to use unconventional tactics which they utilized to evoke chaos. Fighting from behind trees and foliage, which the Union troops referred to as “the bush,” they earned the name bushwhackers. This rogue army notoriously hid among the population, justified their brutality as revenge against Union soldiers who took action against them. Yet murders of innocent civilians, like those of Centralia, proved they were nothing but violent, evil criminals. In addition, by 1864, it was common practice for bushwhackers to also mutilate the dead bodies and even keep body parts, such as scalps, as trophies. As their attacks grew in frequency and maliciousness, leaders like Anderson used Union response and defense as only more justification for their supposed revenge.
The guerrillas created confusion and distrust by Union soldiers who soon learned not to trust anyone as they had no idea who the peaceful citizens were and who the resisters were. This is the atmosphere that led to the death of Anderson’s father and uncle, supposedly at the hands of pro-Union guerrillas, and the beginning of his professed revenge. Another incident with Union troops ended in the death of one sister and life-long injuries to two others, which only fueled Anderson’s hatred for Yankees. Some pro-Union Southerners organized their own guerrilla bands to fight back, but they were not as large or successful as the Confederate ones.
Anderson continued claiming revenge as justification for his actions, yet that was just an excuse for him and all the guerrillas to be despicable. When you attack soldiers, especially unarmed ones, that were not responsible for the initial offense, it's not revenge. Likewise, robbing and killing innocent civilians is not revenge, it is just evil. While other guerrilla leaders showed mercy to their opponents, Anderson’s inhumane behavior earned him the nickname "Bloody Bill." Yet Bill knew his actions were less than ethical, stating he chose guerrilla warfare over fighting for the country “to revenge myself for wrongs that I could not honorably avenge otherwise.” What Anderson and the guerrillas did was not warfare or even revenge, it was pure cold-blooded slaughter.
Understanding the guerrillas’ freedom to work outside the rules of engagement, Confederate Major General Sterling Price utilized the resistance movement in September 1864 as he set out to conquer Missouri. Price already commanded men known for shooting prisoners and blacks, establishing a reputation of undisciplined and destructive troops. Ruthless guerrillas who murdered innocent men, including those who surrendered, and were not bound to the rules of war were the perfect allies Price needed.
"Bloody Bill” eagerly joined Price’s efforts, who recruited Anderson and other guerrillas to disrupt trains, supply lines, and communication sources as well as outright attacking Union outposts. Price’s goal was to take Missouri from the Union so as to influence the upcoming presidential election towards the Confederacy. The bushwhackers were preparing for this invasion at the time of the Centralia Massacre, which is why there were so many available for the Battle of Centralia.
A month after the Centralia Massacre and afternoon battle, Anderson met Missouri’s 33rd Infantry Regiment State Militia, led by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel P. Cox, at the Battle of Albany on October 26. Dying from a single shot to the head, Anderson’s body was put on display, as was common at the time, to show the citizens the vicious, merciless guerrilla was dead. Yet while Anderson’s personal actions were over, his legacy lived on in others.
Three young men, Jesse and Frank James and Cole Younger, were part of Anderson’s band of guerrillas at Centralia, where Jesse is credited as killing Major Johnson. Following the Civil War, the life of robbing stage coaches, trains and banks that they learned under Anderson was much more attractive to the men than an honest living. Therefore, the James-Younger Gang was formed, which stole millions of dollars from hard working people while ruthlessly murdering innocent people as they did during the Civil War. In 1869, the James brothers tried to assassinate Cox, with their failed attempt earning the them the title “outlaws.” Frank James once stated, “What is war for if it isn’t to kill people for a principle?” He forgot the war ended in 1865.
Some historians sympathize with Anderson and excuse his actions because his family members were killed. Democrats and the media use the same forgiveness with ANTIFA as their violence continues to increase while blaming white supremacists for all the current savagery. Yet both groups fit squarely within the Democrat Party and are designed specifically to bring about chaos. (see )
Just like Price recruited guerrillas to work outside the confines of an organized army, ANTIFA has been recruited by progressive activists to do the same. While the guerrillas attacked from behind foliage and hid among the civilians, ANTIFA strikes with masks on so they too can blend in with the civilian population. They attack federal agents like ICE, the civilian forces of the police, and target innocent citizens as progressive mayors order the police to look the other way. White supremacists actually detest President Donald Trump because his daughter is Jewish and he supports Israel, an ideology in line with Democrat Congresspeople Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Bernie Sanders, not Republicans. The only reason white supremacists pretend to like him is because of the left’s non-stop accusations of Trump being a racist. By the left continually calling him a racist no matter what he does, the public will be completely desensitized to the accusation when a real racist runs for office, which is the primary goal of the white supremacists.
Unfortunately, it is not just ANTIFA members who are using guerrilla warfare. For the past three years, people, including children and teenagers, have been physically assaulted simply for wearing a "Make America Great Again” hat. Supporters of Trump have been placed in a group, just as Anderson did with the Federal soldiers, where they are all the same and deserve the same fate. The hateful rhetoric coming from the left and the media have emboldened people, allowing them to pretend they are fully justified in their behavior of assaulting those supporters. It doesn't matter what the individual has or has not done, just by being a member of the group they are allowed to be attacked, isolated, and abused. At least Anderson and the guerrillas had the cover of the war to hide behind. ANTIFA and resisters are being used to stir up chaos in hopes of bringing about a new Civil War.
Liberty, America's current political temperature has not been this toxic and divided since the Civil War. Unfortunately, much of that is by design. Many believe America needs to be saturated in chaos so they can tear apart even its foundation so they can rebuild it upon their progressive utopian ideology. Yet history has shown us that every single time this fundamental transformation has been tried in any country, it only succeeds in enslaving its people. I do fear we are headed towards another Civil War. What is even more frightening is I'm not sure America will survive this one.
That’s my 2 cents.
ANTIFA OF THE