Bloody Bill Anderson – The Short Life and Savage Times of
a Civil War Guerrilla
by Albert Castel and Thomas Goodrich,
Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1998.

For most interested in WBTS irregular warfare Capt. Bill
Anderson, C.S.A. of Missouri is no stranger indeed. The family
came from Kentucky. One of the reasons for the furious
struggle against Union occupation of Missouri was the
fate of his sisters. They had been arrested near Kansas
City in August, 1863, and jailed. The building they were
kept together with other female prisoners collapsed
and Anderson’s sister Josephine was killed. The collapse
of the prison was one of the reasons for the Lawrence raid
on 21 August, 1863.

Relatively little has been written on Bill Anderson, the
best biography being the short _They Called Him Bloody
Bill – The Missouri Badman That Taught Jesse James
Outlawry_ by Donald R. Hale, privately printed, 1975
(reprinted 1982). It was Hale and his father, Lester C.
Hale, who in 1967 (not in 1969 as it says in the new biography)
placed a government marker on the grave of Anderson
in Richmond, Missouri.

The new biography of Castel-Goodrich ought to have been a
welcome addition to the history of Missouri Confederate
guerrillas. The book provides much facts on the life
of this famous Missouri guerrilla but sometimes the
evidence is treated questionably. There is much speculation
and fiction in the book.

The authors make claims in the book that seem doubtful,
for instance that Quantrill and Bill Anderson were enemies.

Both Missouri and Arkansas did not see many great battles
during the WBTS. Confederate Missouri guerrillas most
of the time operated in commands of between 20 and 50 men.
The technique was to ambush patrols, attack outposts, and
cut communication lines. They were excellent horsemen
and crack shots. The favourite weapon was the revolver and
the guerrillas often carried from four to a dozen of them. Thus they
could keep up a high volume of firepower without having
to reload.

Of Bill’s men most were between sixteen and thirty years old.
They were mainly from Clay, Jackson, Lafayette, Cass and
Johnson Counties.

Those who buy the Castel-Goodrich book about Bill Anderson
should keep in mind that it is more a work of fiction than
of history.

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