Boone County Missouri
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Genealogy and History

Boone County, Missouri
The Centralia Massacre
Source: History of Newton, Lawrence, Barry,
and McDonald Counties
The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1888

Among the revolting and horrible crimes of the war the Centralia massacre stands prominent for its dastardly and cold-blooded atrocity.  Monday night, September 26, Anderson's guerrillas, in numbers estimated from 200 to 400, encamped about three miles southeast of Centralia, which is situated on the North Missouri Railroad, in Boone County.  About 10 o'clock Tuesday morning, 75 or 100 of this band went into town, and commenced plundering the stores and depot, breaking open boxes and trunks and appropriating whatever suited them.  At 11 o'clock the stage coach arrived from Columbia with eight or nine passengers.  These gentlemen being unarmed were quickly relieved  of their money and valuables, but were allowed to go to the hotel. 

At 11:30 the passenger train from St. Louis came in sight.  Immediately the guerrillas formed into line, and as the train neared the depot, commenced throwing obstructions on the track and firing at the engineer.  The cars having been stopped, the robbers rushed upon the passengers, men, women and children, taking money, watches and jewelry, together with the contents of trunks and valuables from the express car.  Twenty three Federal soldiers who were on board the train were marched into town, placed in lines, and shot down.  The guerrillas burned the railroad depot and six cars standing near.  After murdering the soldiers and robbing the passengers and the citizens of the town generally, they set fire to the rifled train, and started it on the road toward Sturgeon.  It ran about three miles and then stopping was entirely consumed.  Meanwhile the frightened passengers, glad to escape with their lives, went on their way as best they could, in wagons, on horseback and on foot.

About 3 o'clock of the same afternoon Maj. A.V.E. Johnson of Col. Kutzner's regiment of Missouri Volunteers (the Thirty-ninth), arrived at Centralia with 155 mounted infantry.  An engagment took place in an open field southeast of the town.  Maj. Johnson's men, being armed with long guns, were ordered to dismount.  Their horses became unmanageable, and many of them ran away, leaving the soldiers on foot in the middle of the prarie.  They had fired but one volley when the guerrillas dashed among them, splendidly mounted, and carrying three  or four revolvers apiece.  Part of Johnson's men who were still on horseback attempted to escape, but were overtaken and shot down.  Maj. Johnson himself was killed, together with 122 men of his small command.  Four or five of the remaining few were wounded.  The guerrillas had but three killed and seven wounded.

After the murderers had left town the citizens of Centralia gathered the dead bodies together, and placed them near the railroad.  Many of them wre taken to Mexico for burial that very evening, and seventy-nine were interred in a trench in the eastern part of town.  Afterward this trench  was enclosed by a fence, and at the head of it was placed a limestone monument, fifteen feet high, with the following inscription:

"The remains of Companies A,G and H, Thirty ninth Regiment, Missouri Volunteer Infantry, who were killed in action at Centralia, Mo, on the 27th day of September, 1864, are interred here."

Since the close of the war the remains have been disinterred and re-buried in one common grave in the National Cemetery at Jefferson City.

Death of Bill Anderson:
After the horrible massacre at Centralia the subsequent burning of Danville and the depots at New Florence, High Hill and Renick, Bill Anderson and the most of his men went into Ray County.  On the 26th of October, Lieut.-Col. S.P. Cox of the Thirty-third Enrolled Missouri Militia, learning Anderson's whereabouts, made a forced march to meet him.  On the following day, just one month after the Centralia massacre, Col. Cox came in contact with the guerrilla pickets, and drove them before him into the woods.  He then dismounted his men, threw an infantry force into the forest, and sent forward a cavalry advance which soon engaged Anderson's main body and fell back.  The guerrillas now charged, and Anderson was killed, while his men were forced to retreat at full speed, hotly pursued by the Union cavalry.  Upon the body of Anderson was found $300 in gold, $150 in treasury notes, six revolvers and several orders of Gen. Price. 

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