Bloody Bill Anderson - Lies and Sensationalism

More lies and sensationalized stories have been told of William T. Anderson than any other Civil War Border War guerrilla except those of William Clarke Quantrill himself. Anderson was described as “nearly six feet tall, of rather swarthy complexion and had long, black hair, inclined to curl. He wore a big black hat with a plume in it. His shirt was black, with open breast and gold braid bordering it. He carried two revolvers in his belt and two on his saddle.” In the most famous image of Anderson he wears another outfit of black, as you will see below.                                                                                   

The very first lie perpetrated by Northern writers is how Bill Anderson came to ride with Quantrill. The Anderson family along with Mrs. Anderson's sister and husband were all living together in Kansas Territory before the war. Yankees would like us to believe that a neighbor accused the elder Anderson of horse theft then killed him during an argument. In revenge Bill killed the neighbor then fled to Missouri and joined Quantrill. The true account was that Bill Anderson along with his brother were taking a herd of beef and forage to Fort Leavenworth to sell to the U.S. Army.  Following Quantrill’s March 7, 1862 raid on Aubry , Kansas a Federal patrol rode to the Anderson home a few days later knowing them to be Southern sympathizers. The soldiers ended up hanging his father and uncle. When Bill returned and discovered what had happened he and his brother Jim were both riding with Quantrill by March 12.

During the summer of 1863 Federal authorities unable to successfully put down guerrilla attacks turned their attention to the young Southern women living along the border. Women relatives of Quantrill's guerrillas were rounded up and imprisoned in Kansas City.  Bill Anderson had just removed his sisters from Kansas where for a year they lived at various places stopping finally with the Mundy family on the Missouri side of the line near Little Santa Fe. The parents of the Mundy family were dead. One of their sons was in General Sterling Price’s Southern army, and three daughters were at home, Susan Mundy Womacks, Martha Mundy and Mrs. Lou Mundy Gray, whose husband was probably with the guerrillas. The Mundy girls and the three Anderson sisters were arrested as spies. Put in a building that served as a jail the building was undermined by soldiers of the 9th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment who served as provost guards in town.

In only a few days after the supporting structure of their prison was cut away by the soldiers the building collapsed. Five girls were killed, one of them being fourteen year old Josephine Anderson, Bill's sister. Ten year old Martha Anderson's legs were horribly crushed and crippled for life and sixteen year old Molly Anderson suffered serious back injuries and facial lacerations. Both girls would carry their battered bodies and emotional scars for years to come. When asked why he joined Quantrill Anderson replied by saying, “I have chosen guerrilla warfare to revenge myself for wrongs that I could not honorable revenge otherwise. I lived in Kansas when this war commenced. Because I would not fight the people of Missouri , my native State, the Yankees sought my life, but failed to get me. [They] revenged themselves by murdering my father, [and] destroying all my property.” The Federals would soon regret their wanton actions on the Anderson family. Together with his brother James they would cut a devastating path of death and destruction through Missouri striking any and all Union soldiers and Federal outposts they could find. As a result soon after the Kansas City Jail Collapse that killed five young Southern girls Anderson soon was labeled with the sobriquet of Bloody Bill.

Bill Anderson and his men are often labeled as being known to scalp Union soldiers and having their scalps hanging from their saddlebows. This myth is shattered by the statement made by Anderson himself to a Union soldier he took off the train as a prisoner at Centralia, Missouri on September 27, 1864. “You are Federals, and Federals scalped my men, and carry their scalps at their saddle bows.  I have never allowed my men to do such things.”  How the story came about in the Yankee press occurred after October 11, 1864 when Captain John Pringle, a large redheaded guerrilla leader and his own group of guerrillas from the area of Boonville, Missouri rode into town next to Anderson's men to meet with General Sterling Price concerning the guerrillas aiding him on his recent raid into Missouri. Pringle and some of his men reportedly had Federal scalps hanging from their horses’ bridle bits. This inevitably led to the erroneous story being attributed to Anderson and his men.

The most scandalous stories can be found directed towards Anderson's wife, Bush Smith. Even though Anderson's marriage certificate was discovered in the early 1950's and widely divulged Yankee writers still attempt to say Anderson and Bush Smith were not married and that Smith was a prostitute that worked in a local saloon. Thankfully, the truth has been published verifying that sixteen year old Bush Smith worked as a freighting clerk for Benjamin Christian, due to all the men having joined the army. Surprisingly there were five Bush Smiths located in Sherman with three consecutive generations named Bush Smith. Here is an image of the lovely Ms. Smith-Anderson.                                                                          

There are many more historical records available concerning Federal barbarity and atrocity towards Bill Anderson and his family than can be found in Anderson's behavior towards his Union enemies in open battle. Lies and sensationalism are the norms in the Yankee press and carried ad nauseam by Northern writers. But gratefully truthfulness is still held sacred by those who continue in the cause of truth and freedom.

Ref: Paul R. Petersen, Quantrill of Missouri, Quantrill in Texas and Quantrill at Lawrence. Dallas Morning News Historical Archive, October 18, 1929, The Kansas City Star, December 3, 1912 OR, ser. 1, vol. 41, pt. 2, pg 75 William E. Connelley, History of Kansas, Chicago/New York, 1928, pg 632–634.

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

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