Centralia Se Rawlings Lane

"Bloody Bill" Anderson was one of the war's most competent guerrilla tacticians, whose most notorious exploit was the raid on Centralia, Missouri, on September 27,1864 - an attack that exemplifies the daring and bloodthirstiness that were the key to the Bushwhackers' success in the Trans-Mississippi theater. Major-General Sterling Price had entered Missouri from Arkansas leading an army of 12,000 men, with the intention of taking St Louis. To soften up the state's defenses he had instructed Missouri Bushwhackers to harass Union garrisons and disrupt communications. Anderson received the order while camped with about 250 men at a secessionist farmer's house near the small railroad town of Centralia.

At dawn on September 27, Anderson and 30 men rode into the ungarrisoned village, whooping and shooting their pistols in the air to terrify the inhabitants into submission. Anderson wanted to read the St Louis newspapers for information on Price's movements, but his men soon started looting; several got drunk, and set fire to the depot. As Anderson's men ran wild, bursting into homes to demand breakfast and robbing people at gunpoint, a Stagecoach drew into town. The passengers were all robbed, including US Representative James Rollins (the quick-thinking politician

Dr Charles Jennlson, leader of the Kansas Red legs and the most colorful of the Jayhawkers, shown here dressed as a hunter from the Great Plains. Hunting Missouri secessionist civilians and running off horses became his favorite pastimes, and he may have been the first Unionist to arm African Americans, He took part in the mass clearances and pillaging in western Missouri that followed Quantrill's Lawrence raid, (Kansas State Historical Society)

Well-known death photo of "Bloody Bill" Anderson, propped up in a chair after being shot by a lucky Union militiaman. Anderson is posed with one of his Colt Navy revolvers in his right hand and another in the holster on his left side. He wears an elaborately embroidered "guerrilla shirt," an affectation of Trans-Mississippi Bushwhackers. (Courtesy State Historical Society of Missouri)

managed to convince the Bushwhackers that he was a secessionist preacher, but while they spared him they rifled through his valise and stole his silk shirt.) At noon the westbound train pulled in; the guerrillas, despite being drunk and scattered around town, immediately converged. A hastily erected barricade stopped the train and the Bushwhackers ordered all the passengers out. Among them were 25 unarmed Union soldiers on furlough; the Bushwhackers lined them up, took their uniforms, and Anderson asked if there were any officers among them. When Sgt Thomas Goodman meekly identified himself he was ordered out of line. Goodman thought he was a dead man, but to his surprise Anderson gave the order to kill the privates, preferring to keep Goodman to exchange for one of their number who had recently been

Kiosque Louviers

Irregular warfare required constant riding, quickly wearing out horses, and guerrillas and raiders routinely helped themselves to local stock in disputed territory. The civilian populations naturally saw this as theft; the original caption of this period engraving is "Guerrilla depredations." Raiders also often crept into the enemy's military camps to stampede their horses, slipping past or overpowering sentries and driving the horses through the sleeping camp, causing chaos and hampering pursuit. (LoC)

captured. The Bushwhackers then set fire to the train, tied up Goodman, and set off to rejoin their main group hack at camp, but nor before filling up looted boots with stolen whiskey.

At 4pm, Maj A.V.E. Johnston led 158 mounted riflemen from the Union 39th Missouri Infantry into town, led by the smoke from the burning train. Despite being unsure of the enemy numbers Johnston divided his force in two, leaving a small group to guard the town while he led the others in pursuit. When Anderson became aware of them he wiped them out in a carefully prepared ambush (derailed in Plate B}, before galloping back into Centralia and killing the rest of Johnston's men. The Bushwhackers then disappeared into the thick woods of Howard County, and the trail was stone cold before Union troops gathered in sufficient strength to dare to patrol the area. Raids by Anderson's and other irregulars helped Price's campaign by drawing off troops that could have been used against his army. They disrupted mail, stalled riverboat service, and cut miles of telegraph wires, thus hampering the ability of far-flung Union militias to coordinate their actions.

Another incident shows Anderson's use of terrain. Learning on August 28, 1864, that Capt Joseph Parke with 44 men of the 4th Missouri State Militia Cavalry was searching for him, Anderson rode his entire command of a few dozen men down Rawlings Lane, a dead-end road with a heavy rail fence on either side. Satisfied that they had made a clear trail in the dirt, they jumped the north fence and doubled back to the western entrance of Rawlings Lane, where they hid behind a hill. Anderson sent 12 well-mounted men to fire upon the militia and retreat down Rawlings Lane as if in confusion; Parke, thinking he had routed the tail end of Anderson's main force, obediently chased them down the lane, and as soon as he had passed, Anderson charged his rear. Finding themselves trapped, the militiamen panicked, and Parke himself abandoned his men as they retreated in disorder. Eight were killed in the lane, and six more in a running fight stretching over 5 miles to Sulphur Springs, where the militiamen took refuge behind the walls of a deserted house. Not wanting to turn his victory into defeat by attacking a protected position, Anderson drew off.

Since guerrillas liked to attack poorly guarded Union camps, some guerrilla-hunters set up fake campsites to lure them into an ambush. This met with only limited success; there was a good chance that the soldiers would wait all day without spotting any quarry, or get outsmarted and end up being ambushed themselves, (Courtesy State Historical Society of Missouri)

im m-4

.. ■ -ui,- -v .

\

■ \ * »

i & v

m

m' m

H , ,

- ■>■*«-A - '/ ^ ' V

• ■ ; * h : ) ■ ■ L-yfi ~ I %

^ ; 1 r. - V ■ ? ■

•• - . V

— -

TT [ /Mi • ■ ii

i

--v.- , \ 1,

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment