|Posted by Jay Longley on December 17, 2015 at 8:10 PM|
I originally posted this very important message on our Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group's message board in August, 2008. I urge all members to read or re-read it now as it's just as relevant and important now as it was when I posted it.
Centralia, Missouri, September, 1864 !
From: "Quantrill In Texas The Forgotten Campaign" by Paul R.
Petersen, Published by Cumberland House Publishing, Copyright 2007,
pages 199, 200, and 201.
I urge all members to carefully read this passage as this excerpt is
where Paul Petersen defies all logic and starts to get in trouble in
his telling of the Bill Anderson story. We have already discussed
how Petersen went all through this book without using a middle
initial in the Guerrilla leader's name. I have also told our members
how Mr. Petersen began advertising his new book in 2006 on the
Missouri in the Civil War Message Board during the time when we were
revealing new facts about Bloody Bill Anderson. For this or some
other reason, the book's publishing was delayed until 2007 and, when
it appeared, it was clear that Petersen had finally broken the trend,
set in the early 1990s, where every writer who wrote books about
Bloody Bill Anderson referred to him as "William T. Anderson". He
needs to be confronted on this question until he is forced to give a
Now, in this excerpt, you will see that Paul Petersen uses J. Frank
Dalton as his primary source about the historically important events
at Centralia, Missouri in September, 1864, almost a month to the day
before the traditionalists, including Petersen, claimed that Bloody
Bill Anderson was killed in a Yankee ambush. This is the same J.
Frank Dalton who visited Colonel William C. Anderson on many
documented occasions in Brown County following the War and who
identified William C. Anderson as being the "Bloody Bill" Anderson he
had served under DURING the War many times. If Paul Petersen felt
that J. Frank Dalton's word was good about what happened at
Centralia, why wasn't his word good when he declared that William C.
Anderson of Brown County, Texas was the man in charge of these
historic events at Centralia? This is another question that needs to
be posed to Paul R. Petersen until he is tired of hearing it. He
should also be asked to provide the name of a single former Guerrilla
who ever said that Colonel William C. Anderson was NOT Bloody Bill
Anderson. Of course, he can't provide any. Now, on with the story
as it was written by Paul Petersen.
"Fifteen-year-old J. Frank Dalton rode with Anderson too and offered
this account: `Fighting under Captain Bill Anderson, he had captured
a passenger train and got a lot of money, most of which was being
sent South to pay the Union troops. On the train were thirty-four
Union soldiers who were being sent South to join the Union army. As
the soldiers showed fight when we ordered them to leave the train, we
had to dispose of them. The Yankee troops saw us and lined up to
One guerrilla recognized a Federal soldier who had testified against
him in court. The soldier was dragged from the train and shot.
The rest of the soldiers surrendered and were taken from the train,
lined up alongside the station, and questioned by Anderson. Recent
atrocities against captured guerrillas played a role in what happened
next, especially since some of Anderson's best men had been shot and
then scalped by Federals in Howard County. He recounted this story
for the soldiers in front of him: `You Federals have just killed six
of my men, scalped them, and left them on the prairie. I will show
you that I can kill men with as much skill and rapidity as anybody.
From this time on I ask no quarter and give none.' He added, `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.'
Sgt. Thomas Goodman was called out of line and spared for an exchange
for one of Anderson's recently captured men. The sixteen militiamen
from Mexico were taken off the train, and they were stood up
alongside the others and shot. Their bodies were shipped back to
Mexico for burial; one of them was buried in Alex Bomar's wedding
suit, which had been earlier stolen.
After Anderson returned to camp, he told Todd what happened in town.
By midafternoon, the guerrillas learned that Federal troops had
mounted a pursuit. These Union soldiers had ridden hard for
Centralia as soon as they saw smoke rising from town. Maj. A.V.E.
Johnson and 150 men of the Thirty-ninth Missouri Militia had been in
pursuit of the guerrillas since learning of the attack on Fayette.
As soon as Johnson viewed the scene at Centralia, he hoisted a black
flag at the head of his column and started toward the guerrilla camp,
leaving only a handful of men behind to guard the town.
Todd saw Johnson coming, and with ten men he rode out to ascertain
the Federals' strength. The odds appeared favorable to him, so he
left a squad to lure Johnson into a trap and rode back to form his
remaining men into a battle line.
When Johnson saw a line of guerrillas facing him five hundred yards
away, he approached within effective rifle range. At two hundred
yards, the Federal commander dismounted his men to fight on foot;
this single act ensured their destruction. The Federals formed a
line, with every fourth man holding the horses for the rest. They
were spread out almost a quarter mile; the guerrillas covered
slightly more ground.
Todd called out the order to advance, and the guerrillas started off
at a slow walk; men and horses instinctively knew what would be
expected in the next few minutes. When the distance between them
closed to a little more than a hundred yards, Johnson's men fired a
volley. Most of the rounds went over the guerrillas' heads, but Sam
Shepherd and Dick Kinney were killed. The guerrillas responded with
a volley from their carbines then flipped the weapons across their
shoulders, drew their revolvers, and spurred their horses into a
run. At the sight of hundreds of heavily armed guerrillas, many of
Johnson's men broke and ran. Those Federals left in line frantically
tried to reload as the guerrillas charged them, their deadly pistol
fire wiping out all resistance. One soldier tried to bayonet Todd,
but he only managed to thrust the cold steel through the back of the
guerrilla leader's saddle; Frank Smith shot the soldier as he rode by.
Whatsoever soldiers were not shot were knocked off their feet by a
solid wall of horseflesh. The guerrillas quickly wheeled their
mounts for another pass, but Johnson's opposition was soon ended.
Smoke hung heavily in the air. Wounded horses ran frantically around
the countryside. David Poole dismounted and counted 123 Federal
dead. Several more were shot from their saddles while trying to
escape back to town.
J. Frank Dalton noted that Jesse James carried a watch and had timed
the fight. The battle lasted exactly five minutes.
After the battle, the guerrillas withdrew toward Boonville. When
word of the battle reached the Union headquarters, more than six
hundred cavalrymen were dispatched to find and destroy the guerrillas.
Todd's men continued west toward Lafayette County. Because the
guerrillas still wore Federal uniforms they were able to ride up to
the Union patrols and wipe them out at close range. On one occasion,
two of Poole's men acted as advance scouts and came running back to
the main body with an entire Federal company in pursuit. Todd
naturally ordered a charge, and Frank Smith claimed that the
guerrillas killed thirty to forty Federals in the ensuing fight.
Only those able to outrun the guerrillas survived.
After Quantrill's return to his hideout in Howard County, some
neighboring Putnam County militia rode into nearby Glasgow and began
stealing, shooting, and burning. When they continued to move south,
they discovered Quantrill's camp near Boonsboro and made a quick
charge. Quantrill barely had time to launch himself into the saddle
and take up James Little, still recuperating from his wounds from
Fayette, behind him and fall back behind John Barker and five other
of his veterans, who withdrew fighting, holding their own for
fourteen miles. They were forced to move their camp until they
received news of Sterling Price's return to Missouri."