Battle of Centralia battle field

N Rangeline RD

Historic Civil War battle Field


Photo taken by kjfishman in March 2014




Historic Marker reads:

The Centralia Battle

One of the bloodiest battles of the War between the States was fought here on the afternoon of September 27, 1864. 120 newly-recruited federal soldiers of the 39th Missouri Mounted Infantry Volunteers commanded by Major A.V.E. Johnston, was engaged by 400 veteran Confederate guerrilla forces lead by Captain William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson. The Federal soldiers were armed with a single shot Enfield muskets while the guerrillas fought with Navy Colt revolvers, some having as many as four to six pistols each. Johnston dismounted his men and formed them into a single skirmish line. The guerrillas attacked the Federal soldiers head-on, and on both flanks. The battle lasted only 3 minutes. Johnston and almost every one of his men were killed and later mutilated by the guerrillas. The guerrilla forces lost only 3 men during the battle. One month later near Albany, Missouri, “Bloody Bill” Anderson was ambushed and killed by Federal troops using the same tactics he used at the Battle of Centralia. back

On the morning of September 27, 1864, Confederate Captain William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson with 80 guerrillas entered the town of Centralia to reconnoiter and disrupt traffic on the North Missouri Railroad which ran through town. Before noon a passenger train carrying 23 furloughed Federal soldiers approached the town. The guerrillas piled railroad ties across the tracks and stopped the train. All except one of these Federal soldiers were lined up and executed by Anderson’s men. The guerrillas burned the train depot and returned to camp Southeast of town. That afternoon, Union Major A.V.E. Johston with 155 soldiers from 39th Missouri Mounted Infantry Volunteers rode into Centralia. Johnston was enraged when he saw the massacred soldiers lying on the ground. The citizens of Centralia told him that Anderson was camped about three miles south of town, with a force of approximately 400 guerrillas. Major Johnston swore revenge for his murdered comrades and rode out to confront Anderson and the Guerrillas. Leaving 35 soldiers in Centralia the guerrillas decoyed the Federal command into a field that was surrounded on two sides by dense timber near Young’s Creek.

Sons of Confederate Veterans 1896

Colonel James J. Searcey Camp 1923 Sons of Confederate Veterans 2005

Update Log 

  • January 6, 2020: New photos from kjfishman
  • January 6, 2020: Added by kjfishman


  • kjfishman