Confederate leader William T Anderson led a band into Centralia, Missouri on September 27th 1864 and killed Union soldiers.The autumn of 1864 found Confederate forces in a declining position. Confederate General Sterling Price led an invasion into northern Missouri with his Missouri State Guard. As a part of Prices’ tactics, he encouraged a disruption of railroads and the use of guerrilla fighters. Among these fighters was William T “Bloody Bill” Anderson.
Anderson fought in a small skirmish on September 23rd 1864 about seven miles to the east of Rocheport in Boone County, Missouri. During this fight Anderson’s men killed 11 Union soldiers and three black teamsters. The Union troops countered the next day by killing 6 of Anderson’s men who were captured in Rocheport. As the fighting continued that day more were killed and wounded in the town of Fayette, Missouri.
On September 27th 1864 Anderson and about 30 of his men; all dressed in Union Army uniforms invaded Centralia, Missouri. For three hours they looted the town, terrorized the citizens, and blocked line of the North Missouri Railroad. An approaching train was captured along with its 125 passengers. Included on this train were 23 Union soldiers on leave and heading to their homes in Missouri and Iowa. The Union soldiers were ordered to strip, and then Anderson’s men shot them and desecrated the bodies. Only one of the Union soldiers would survive, Sergeant Thomas Goodman who spent 10 days as a captive. Anderson then had the train set on fire and run down the tracks toward Sturgeon, Missouri.
The newly formed Union 39th Missouri Infantry under the command of Major A V E Johnston arrived in Centralia about 3 pm. Johnston was warned about Anderson and his band of roughly 200 heavily armed men. The Union troop pursued and prepared to fight. Anderson’s men drew them into an ambush, and charged the Union Infantry. The men of the 39th were no match for Anderson and his fighters. Of the 150 some Union soldiers, Anderson’s men killed 123.
Another web site you might worth a look on this subject is http://www.mocivilwar.org/history/battles/centralia.html>Civil War in Missouri