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The Battle of Centralia

September 27, 1864 in Centralia, Missouri

Union Forces Commanded by:
Maj. A.V.E. Johnson
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
158+25 141 2 6 missing

Confederate Forces Commanded by:
William "Bloody Bill" Anderson
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
225 - - -

**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Confederate Victory


On the night of September 26, Confederate guerrilla leader William "Bloody Bill" Anderson camped with 225 men at the Singlton farm, 4 miles south of Centralia, Missouri. Early the next morning, he and 30 men rode into the town. For 3 hours, they terrorized the residents, shooting wildly and looting the homes and businesses of Unionists. Several were drunk by the time the stage from Columbia arrived about noon. They forced the passengers into the street and robbed them, moving toward the railroad depot as the westbound train approached from St. Charles.
Quickly, the guerrillas tore up a stretch of track, and when the train stopped, they surrounded it, unloaded the passengers, and robbed them. On board were 25 unarmed Union soldiers, most on furlough. Half of Anderson's men formed a guard and marched the soldiers down the platform."Bloody Bill" questioned them, then ordered them to strip and give their uniforms to his men. When Anderson asked if there were officers or noncommissioned officers among them, one Federal, Sgt. Thomas Goodman of the Missouri Engineers, stepped forward and expected to be shot. Someone pushed Goodman aside and set fire to the train.
On Anderson's order, his men shot the soldiers in cold blood, tied Goodman on a horse, and returned to Singlton's farm. There, to Goodman's amazement, Anderson's men congratulated him for his courage and released him.
That afternoon, Union Maj. A.V.E. Johnson, with 158 men of the 39th Missouri Infantry, reached Centralia. Though the frantic residents warned him of more guerrillas nearby, the officer divided his force, leaving half to restore order; the rest of the companytook off in pursuit of the murderers. A short distance out of town, they spotted 10 horsemen, who led the Federals into a deadly ambush. Unable to escape, Johnson ordered his men, nearly all of them inexperienced recruits, to dismount and form a battle line. Anderson's men charged, killing most of the Federals, including Johnson, then rode back to Centralia, attacking and brutally murdering the remainder of Johnson's command.

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