Saturday, October 17, 2009

William "Bloody Bill" Anderson

If you've heard anything about the Civil War
than you've probably heard the name Bloody Bill.
William Anderson was his legit moniker,
an' was known fer' bein' the right-hand man
ta' the infamous William Quantril.
He was born in Jefferson County, Missouri
on February 2nd, eighteen an' thirty-seven,
an' allegedly died in sixty-four.
Well, he wore the grey right from the beginning,
an' by most accounts he
took to the killin', blood, an' gore.
He quickly became infamous,
everyone knew he was a powerful hater,
even before he joined Quantril,
where he became known as the most vicious raider.
Though even while under Quantril
he often ran his own band of guerillas,
usually around sixty-five men.
An' he was feared throughout the border states
of Missouri an' Kansas
as one who was thrilled ta' kill,
plus he enjoyed about every other sin.
Although, he tried ta' claim he only killed "damn Yankees,"
or the equally vile sympathizers an' loyalists.
Yet he would murder a passel of civilians
without evidence,
an' no confessions or royal list.
Now he may have wore the colors of the South,
but he weren't no southern gent.
Jus' like Quantril an' his other friends
he was a no-account plunderer of small towns
that were defenseless.
With large numbers and an arsenal
they used their strength ta' prey on the weak.
Enjoyin' the thrill ta' rape, kill, pillage, an' burn,
an' other acts just as senseless.
Bloody Bill tried ta' claim
what he did was justified
on account of three sisters
who burned in a buildin' an' died.
Further claimin' they was raped,
brutally tortured an' intentionally torched.
'Course there ain't a speck of evidence
ta' support such claims,
it appears they just died in a fire.
And it's not like it's the first time
he's been called a liar.
Records indicate that most folks in his day,
an' most historians sense,
agree on one fact,
that Anderson was a blood lusting lunatic
who had the knack
fer' inflictin' pain an' death on his fellow man.
An' it was known far an' wide
by the Union opposition
that it was rare fer' Bloody Bill ta' take prisoners.
He preferred ta' shoot captives out of hand.
Why even Jim Cummins,
who later rode with Jesse James,
an' had been a member with Quantril,
claimed "the most desperate man I ever met"
was Bloody Bill.
Centralia, Kansas was the perfect example
of the ample viciousness within him.
While attemptin' ta' hook up with troops
under the command of General Sterling Price,
Anderson an' about seventy men plunged into Centralia
on the twenty-seventh of September
in eighteen an' sixty-four.
He was quickly recognized
so townfolk began fleein' homes an' stores.
Knowin' that their town was now at the mercy
of the bloodiest guerilla raider of the war.
Well, a slew of folks were rounded up;
many were executed,
the women were raped.
An' some whiskey barrels were found,
so they all drank hearty
while enjoyin' their merciless killin' party.
Then Anderson soon discovered a train was on its way,
so he ordered his men ta' build a huge barricade
right across the tracks in order ta' stop it.
After all, the more the merrier, as he saw fit.
Of course he was pleasantly surprised
ta' find among the passengers
twenty-six fellers' wearin' soldier blue,
under the command of Lieutenant Peters.
Unfortuantely, Peters was one of them yellow-back leaders,
with a yeller' streak high an' wide.
So he covered himself with a blanket
an' jumped off the train,
leavin' his men ta' get caught,
as he crawled under a platform ta' hide.
Course, he didn't hide very well,
in fact, he was spotted by Bloody Bill,
who said, "Pull that bastard out of there!"
So Peters was caught
like it or not,
an' began ta' shiver an' shake,
on account of he was scared.
Now when Anderson advanced
with pistols in hand
Peters broke free an' tried ta' run.
Yet even with the captive tryin' ta' scurry,
Bloody Bill saw no reason ta' hurry,
so he took careful aim
an' sent six bullets from his gun.
Ya'll can notch up another one fer' Bloody Bill.
He then ordered the remaining troops,
the six plus twenty,
into an open field.
Where he paraded in front of them,
with guns a'plenty,
enjoyin' their tears an' fears,
an' some even squealed.
With four Navy Colts on his belt,
four rifles on his horse,
a sabre, a hatchet,
an' even an' extra bag of pistols on his saddle horn,
Bloody Bill was definitely the vision
of death come a callin'.
An' the snifflin' an' bawlin'
of the younger Yankees
made him feel powerful, like a mighty big man.
So with enough guns at hand
he jus' kept a stallin',
hopin' ta' see some belly-crawlin'
before he did the blue-bellies in.
Then he stopped, an' he pondered,
an' stuck a smelly ol' cheroot in his mouth,
set it ablaze, an' didn't care if it stank.
He jus' stared at his captives with ill-meanin' eyes,
then quietly asked, "Boys,
do you have a sergeant in your ranks?"
Well, their mouths were tight with fear,
so he took ta' coaxin', an' told them some lies.
Yep, he even claimed he would spare their lives,
so Sergeant Thomas M. Goodman stepped forth.
Then Goodman was ushered away,
he'd live ta' see another day,
ta' be used as a prisoner exchange
fer' one of Bill's men held by the North.
Now came the time fer' Anderson's fun,
so with each of his hands he now held a gun,
an' commenced ta' shootin'
as he walked along the rows.
After he quickly emptied one
he would simply draw another,
an' kept it up til they were all in death throes.
That is, all except Goodman, who,
with a bit of luck,
actually escaped ta' tell the tale.
Now fer' a bit of the bizarre,
there came a strange act of normalcy
within all this lunacy.
Within weeks of the slaughter
Bloody Bill married the daughter
of a Texan,
an' brought her back up ta' Ray County, Missouri.
Where they settled briefly on a small farm.
Then back he went to his men an' murderous raids.
But when you're one of the most hated men in the country
it's only a matter of time
before someone puts an end ta' your vicious escapades.
The day was October 27th, eighteen an' sixty-four,
when the incident arrived that many had prayed for.
Scores an' scores who mourned over kin
done in by Bloody Bill,
wanted ta' hear how it happened ta' him,
when he was hurried onto Hell.
It is said to have happened near Orrick, Missouri
while ridin' at the head of his guerilla band.
They were ambushed by some Union troops
with Captain S.P. Cox in command.
A hail of bullets struck Bloody Bill,
dozens in fact,
they say he was dead in the saddle.
And although his men fought wildly ta' retrieve the body,
they found themselves in a losin' battle.
So away they ran ta' save their own hides.
Now if Bloody Bill ever expected
ta' have his remains respected,
he was a bigger fool than he was a bully.
Cuz' he earned every ounce of hate
each trooper had fer' him,
an' they lost their chance ta' make him suffer
before he was dead.
So they took his corpse ta' Richmond,
propped it up fer' some pictures,
perhaps fer' posterity;
then cut off his head.
They then impaled it upon a pole
an' placed it fer' all ta' see at the entrance ta' town.
Later, goin' back fer' the carcass,
an' roped it up in order ta' drag it around.
An' they kept it up til it was butchered
like the butcher he was known ta' be;
then finally dumped it in a shallow unmarked grave.
Now there's a lesson ta' be learned here folks,
yer' probably gonna get treated like you behave.
However, like most legends regardin' the famous,
or in this case, the infamous,
stories later arose claimin' it wasn't Bloody Bill
who died that day.
A case of mistakin' identity with a look-a-like.
An' they claim there's evidence ta' sway
them over ta' that way of thinkin'.
Now it's a fact that most rumors are a waste of breath
an' do nothin' fer' history but add their stink in.
But every once in awhile curious facts pop up
that irritate history like blisters.
Like a ninety year old man dyin'
on eleven-two of nineteen an' twenty-seven,
down in Salt Creek, Texas.
An' on the table next ta' his death bed
was an ol' photograph of three young ladies;
who were later identified as Bloody Bill's long-dead sisters.
Now ya'll can take it fer' what it's worth,
believe this way or that,
but remember there's been way better cons in history,
showin' more things valid, so-to-speak.
Ya' see, it jus' don't figure,
how can a man like Bloody Bill,
who got such a thrill
outta' murderin' people in cold blood, by the multitudes,
just up an' quit cold turkey,
then go off an' live respectfully?
Then many years later,
he's supposed ta' die peacefully in ol' Salt Creek.
So allow me ta' end this tale with an epitaph,
considerin' both facts an' mystery.
We know somewhere lies the body of Bloody Bill,
who earned his place in history,
as well as a hot seat in Hell.

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