Friday, September 28, 2012

Centralia Missouri on Sept. 27th 1864 had about a dozen homes, 2 small hotels and a couple of general stores. Most of the 60 or so citizens were Southern sympathizers.

On September 27, 1864, Captain T. William Anderson and about 80 of his men rode into Centralia to obtain information to the wherabouts of the Federal troops in the area. 

In the morning a train from the east coming through Centralia. The passengers on the train were robbed and 23 furloughed Federal soldiers from the 1st Iowa Calvary were taken off the train and all but one Sergeant was shot.

By mid afternoon Major A.V.E. Johnston with a company of 155 Federal troops of the 39th Missouri Mounted Infantry observed the smoke from the depot that was set fire by Anderson's men. Upon arriving in Centralia, Johnston saw the dead Federal soldiers still lying on the ground and became outraged. 

Later that afternoon Major Johnston left 35 of his men in Centralia and the rest headed for Anderson's encampment. Major Johnston saw Anderson and about 80 or so of his men at the bottom of a hill. To Anderson's back was a horseshoe shape wooded area, giving cover to both his right and left. Johnston had every fifth man hold four horses, so that the other men could dismount and take the line with their single shot muzzle loader Enfields. 

Anderson, seeing the Federals dismount, gave the command to attack. Firing their six-shooters they rode through the dismounted soldiers, right on through to the men holding the horses. On Anderson's right flank were Thrailkill and T. Todd. On his left were Gordon and G. Todd. Each commanded about 50 men. After Anderson's men had ridden through Johnston's dismounted infantry the others attacked from both sides. Within three minutes it was all but over. 

Those of the Federals that were able to mount and flee were chased by Anderson's men all the way to Centralia. Many were shot along the way. When Anderson's men arrived in Centralia most of the Federals were looking for a place to hide, or get away if they could. 

When it was all over it was uncertain as to how many of the 39th Missouri Mounted Infantry lived. The record shows that Major Johnston died that day along with 122 other Federal soliders, not counting the 22 from the train. Anderson lost only three of his men.

Photo: Bill Anderson…

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