Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla

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University Press of Kansas, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 170 pages
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Nowhere was the Civil War as savage as it was in Missouri—and nowhere did it produce a killer more savage than William Anderson. For a brief but dramatic period, "Bloody Bill" played the leading role in the most violent arena of the entire war—and did so with a vicious abandon that spread fear throughout the land.

A name associated with William Quantrill and Jesse James, Bloody Bill Anderson was known for never taking prisoners. A former horse thief turned bushwhacker, he became the scourge of Kansas and Missouri with a reputation for unspeakable atrocities. Sometimes he left the bodies of dead Federal soldiers scalped, skinned, and castrated. Sometimes he decapitated them and rearranged their heads. Wherever Bloody Bill rode, the Grim Reaper rode alongside.

In telling this story of bitter bloodshed, historians Castel and Goodrich track Bloody Bill's reign of terror over increasingly violent raids. He rode with Quantrill in the infamous sack of Lawrence and killed more victims than any other raider. Then he led the brutal Centralia Massacre, a blood-soaked nightmare recounted here hour-by-hour from firsthand accounts.

More than compiling a chronicle of horrors, Castel and Goodrich have produced the first full-fledged account of Anderson's career. They examine his prewar life, explain how he became a guerrilla, then describe the war that he and his men waged against Union soldiers and defenseless civilians alike. The authors' disagreements on many aspects of Anderson's gruesome career add a fascinating dimension to the book.

Only 26 when he was killed charging an ambush, Bloody Bill Anderson had already become a legend. This book takes readers behind the legend and provides a closer look at the man—and at the face of terror.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mpolino - LibraryThing

If you've ever seen "The Outlaw Josie Wales' you have the backdrop of Bloody Bill Anderson. What I was hoping for was a bit more narrative and lot less historical dissertation. The authors went for so much precision that they killed the story. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lchav52 - LibraryThing

The internecine strife of the War of Northern Aggression was nowhere more savage than in Missouri and Kansas, where Redlegs and Bushwhackers murdered each other long before war broke out elsewhere ... Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Albert Castel is one of the most respected and prolific scholars in the Civil War community. He has won several prizes for his work, most notably the 1993 Lincoln Prize.

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