The Civil War wasn’t fought in the border states like it was in Virginia. It was a no-holds-barred, no quarter given guerrilla war where the leading two Confederate commanders, William Quantrill and William “Bloody Bill” Anderson weren’t even acknowledged by the Confederates. However, these guerrilla fighters did the bloody work for the Confederacy in Missouri and they were the key players in some of the most heinous war crimes that took place during the bloodiest conflict in American history.

Unlike the war in the east which was fought with the standing armies of the North and South, the war in Missouri and Kansas was frequently conducted by quasi-military partisans including the bloody “red legs” of Kansas who likewise were not part of the Union Army but equally as bloodthirsty as their Confederate enemies.

Anderson and his men which numbered close to 400, closed in on the Missouri town of Centralia in the early morning hours of September 27 with about 80 men. Anderson’s men included the brothers Frank and Jesse James as well as Cole and Jim Younger. They would become famous after the war as outlaws in the James-Younger gang.

Some of Anderson’s men were wearing captured Federal uniforms. The guerrilla fighters of Anderson had the same basic outfit. A horse, saddle and bridle and a minimum of four Dragoon pistols. Very few guerrillas carried shotguns or carbines, opting for the firepower of several pistols which meant they didn’t have to reload often. That close-in firepower would prove itself later that day. The basic kit of the guerrilla fighter was shown in the film “The Outlaw Josey Wales” where Clint Eastwood as one of Anderson’s guerrillas carried a slew of pistols.