On Oct. 26, 1864, a company of Missouri Partisan Rangers led by Captain William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson were camped north of present-day Orrick on land owned by “Riley” Blythe, which was then known as Albany. Major Samuel Cox of Gallatin and 300 men of the 51st and 33rd Missouri Militia Mounted Infantry were a few miles away on the other side of Albany. It is believed that Mrs. Mary Rowland, a Union mother, rode to Major Cox and told him where the Rangers were camped.
What ensued is known as the Battle of Albany, and although it lasted only ten minutes, it’s outcome caused ripples throughout Missouri. William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson, was killed and his death would be a catalyst for the desperado activities that followed the war, most notably that of Jesse and Frank James, both who rode with Anderson. The following is a report dated Oct. 31, 1864, and addressed to “General Craig, Headquarters, 33rd Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia, Hamilton, Missouri.” The report was evidently was made by “an officer” present at Albany on Oct. 27,1864.
We have already forwarded to you a hasty official report of “Cob” Cox’s expedition against the notorious and fiendish bushwhacker Wm. T. Anderson and his rebel crew, but feeling satisfied that there are facts and circumstances connected with the death and capture of Bill Anderson that would be more gratifying to you and perhaps to the public, I have determined to forward you a more detailed account of the expedition and its results which you can have published or not as you may think proper.
The command left Hamilton on Monday the 24th with detailed portions of six companies of the 33rd Regiment Enrolled Missouri commanded by the following company officers to wit: Capts. J. Woodruff, Napoleon B. Brown and Leabo; Lieuts. Samuel Brown and Levi Cline, all of Daviess County, and Lieut. Orem of Caldwell County; also a portion of two other companies, one commanded by Capt. Jones of Cameron and Lieut. James Mylan commanding company of Caldwell home guards organized under Order No.107, in all some 175 men.
We camped at Knoxville that night. Next morning learning that some 75 or 100 bushwhackers were in camp at or near Millville, six or seven miles southeast of us, we marched directly there, with our whole force, except a small guard sent with the wagon train directly from Knoxville to Richmond.
Lieut. Baker commanding company of the 31st Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia whom we joined at Knoxville was sent by a different route to learn the whereabouts of the enemy and report to us at Millville. We had not. been there more than 30 minutes before a messenger came from Lieut. Baker with the information that he had engaged the enemy some three miles east of us. We joined him on the double quick with the whole force along and found him in possession of one prisoner, a blacksmith and his tools, two horses and two guns.
The lieutenant had come upon them shoeing their horses in the woods near their late camp. They were in small force and fed, all making their escape except as before stated. Their camp had moved the evening before as we suppose joining Anderson’s camp near Albany in the southwest corner of Ray County, where we engaged them as hereinafter stated.
We then moved to Richmond and encamped for the night and rested the next day and recruited men’ and horses. We learned the whereabouts of the enemy: 200 of them had passed up the river the night before we got to Richmond just south of town in the bottoms, 120 the night we got there, and others we learned had moved their camps from Hanesville in Clay County and other points, all concentrating near Albany in the Missouri River bottoms.
The next morning, 27th October, the entire force above stated and some 150 more of the 51st Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia under Maj. Grimes of Ray County were marched directly to Albany under the command of S.P. “Cob” Cox of Daviess County.
We came across the rebel pickets some mile east of Albany in the road, 10 or 15 strong. Our advance guard drove them in and through Albany, which is situated in the Missouri bottoms at the foot of the bluffs. The whole command followed up and were dismounted in and south of the town, leaving the 4th man to hold horses. Except that our advance guard of Calvary, consisting of one company of some 40 men under the command of Lt. Baker of Knoxville, Ray County, was sent forward to engage and draw out the enemy.
Our infantry was formed into company lines and marched forthwith into the open woods beyond Albany some 400 yards, and thrown into line of battle extending from a field on the north to a field on the south. Scarcely had the lines been formed when the enemy, who had also been drawn up in line of battle in Calvary force from two to three hundred strong some five or six hundred yards from our line, were engaged by our advance under Lieut. Baker.
And onward came Bloody Bill and his followers in hot pursuit of our advance guard with such hideous J shrieks and fiendish yells that made the very woods ring for miles. Such was Bloody Bill’s mode of warfare. ‘Our advance retired to the rear of the infantry line, which opened the way for them.
The enemy came on in full charge, yelling like Indians without firing a shot until they were within 75 or 80 yards of our line. Then the firing commenced on both sides and was kept up with great fierceness until the enemy came within 40 or 50 yards of our line.
Bloody Bill and some five or six of his associates in crime came dashing considerably in the advance of their line and their chieftain Anderson, with one other supposed to be Lieut. Rains, son of rebel Gen. Rains, charged fearlessly through our lines and were both unhorsed close in our rear.
Anderson fell dead upon the ground within 20 yards of our men, having received two balls in the left side of his head near the ear. The other raised and scrambled off into a field to our left, where he was found dead next day.
The enemy, seeing their leader fall, could stand no longer but fled in wild confusion and returned no more. Our infantry stood firm and fought bravely throughout the contest. Many of the men and officers there deserve especial praise for their gallantry and cool bravery. The retreat of the advance guard to our rear caused a stampede of our horses behind but it was soon checked and did us but little damage.
When the firing ceased, which did not last over 10 minutes before the enemy fled, our advance under Lieut. Baker came in front again and pursued the enemy some two miles, but fell further behind the farther he went.
So the enemy was completely routed. We had four men wounded, three slightly. One James Mulligan, Daviess County, very severely received four balls, one entering the forehead, one through the hips, one through the arm and two fingers shot off; dangerously ill but yet alive. A brave and good man and most excellent soldier. We lost one horse dead on the field, one wounded and since dead.
The enemy lost seven dead men, as stated by a prisoner and young wounded man of theirs, young Miller of Clay County, and some 10 or 12 wounded. But one fell immediately on the field. That was Anderson. Two more were found the next day close by.
The same enemy passed through Millville early that night 25 miles from the battlefield. The battle was fought between two and three o’clock in the evening.
We captured two fine horses in the fight, one supposed to be young Rains’ and the other Anderson’s. The infamous bushwhacker Bill Anderson rode a fine Iron Grey mare with a human scalp tied to the head stall of his bridle on the left rear. He came yelling and shooting and shot until he fell dead and when he fell he was making towards Capt. Woodruff of Daviess County who is another large man and was riding a large gray horse close behind the infantry carrying a flag in his hand.
Bloody Bill had four revolvers buckled around him and two very large ones across his saddle. He was well dressed with rich, clothing. He had on a white wool hat with a long fine black plume in it; wore a fine net undershirt and over it one of fine black cloth most elegantly embroidered on the sleeves and breast; a fine blue cloth vest, and a close-bodied frock coat of excellent drab colored cassimere and pants of same.
He had on his person a fine gold watch and chain and a silver one; $323 in gold and $273 in paper money besides some silver change and small paper currency and $18 in Confederate money.
He also had his own likeness and another supposed to be his wife’s and in his pocketbook was also found a short memorandum which we suppose is from his wife, though he passed himself off through this country for a single man.
After going on to mention certain articles such as a dashing woman would fancy for dress and ornament and some toys for her babe, she winds up thus: ‘Your ever loving and obedient wife until death’ (signed) ‘Bush Anderson, At home Friday evening, April 20th, 1864.’ On the back of same was written: ‘Wm. T. Anderson, Bush Anderson, Grason County, Texas, April 20th, 1864, in pencil mark. Enclosed in this note was a small lock of fine dark chestnut brown hair.
In his pocket was also found a receipt thus: ‘reed, of W.T. Anderson $360. (Signed) Presley Garvis.’ Also two orders thus: ‘Head Quarters Army of Missouri, Boonville 11 October, 1864. Special Order: Capt. Anderson with his command will at once proceed to the north side of the Missouri River and permanently destroy the North Missouri Railroad going as’ far east as practicable. He will report his operations at least every two days. By order of Maj. Gen (Sterling) Price.’
And again: ‘To the officer in charge of the ferry boat: Capt. Anderson and his command will be crossed to the other side of the river after which the ferry boat will await orders on this side of the river. By order of Maj. Gen. Price.’
Both of which there can be no doubt given are genuine and directed by Price. What now can our chivalrous friends of the South say in vindication of their boasted Missouri chieftain General Price: coming into our state under the Confederate flag, leading Missourians and commissioning bushwhackers, yea the infamous, cruel, fiendish Bloody Bill Anderson, for a long time a terror to honest men and women of Missouri.
In his pockets were also found two Rebel flags, one about two feet long and 10 inches wide, another a small but very fine one some foot long and four inches wide, 12 stars on one side and 11 on the other and made of fine silk ribbon. On the middle stripe of which was written on one side, ‘Presented to Capt. Wm. T. Anderson by his friend M.L.R.’ and on the other, ‘Don’t let it be contaminated by Fed. hands.’ As if anything from the hands of such a man as Anderson could be disgraced or be made worse by mortal man. To-the proof of which we need only refer to the cold blooded, heartless and unfeeling butchery of our fellow men at Centralia, unarmed and helpless.
We brought his body off the battlefield and gave it a decent burial in a good coffin, deposited in the extreme south side of the public grave yard in Richmond, marking his resting, place with a head and foot board. Not that we had any respect for him, for God knows we are unable to see how an honest man or woman in Missouri could. But because we respected ourselves and felt that after death his body was but the lifeless remains of a human being and could no longer harm this world and feeling that our cause is a just Holy one we could not forget that we were American citizens and should be guided by feelings of humanity and civilization. God grant that our countrymen in this sanguinary struggle may remember and not disgrace our Anglo Saxon bloom.
After the “Honorable” Burial of Anderson described above, the following was reported by the citizens of Richmond Missouri.