Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"My name is Anderson. They call me Bloody Bill."

May 27, 2009
Posted by Noah

"My name is Anderson. They call me Bloody Bill."

That quote is from Clint Eastwood's seminal mid-1970s movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, and there's a very exciting "Bloody" Bill Anderson related lot in the upcoming Civil War Auction.

A Presentation Sword given to Lt. Col. Porter S. Cox in 1864, in recognition of his role in the killing of infamous Civil War guerrilla fighter “Bloody” Bill Anderson – a member of Quantrill’s Raiders – will lead a June 25 auction of rare and important Civil War artifacts at Heritage Auction Galleries’ Uptown Dallas headquarters. The across-the-board depth of the auction leaves no doubt that Heritage has become the most important auctioneer of Civil War artifacts in the nation.
“This sword is doubtless one of the most tangible touchstones in existence to what is probably the most romanticized, fictionalized and cruelly violent chapter in American Civil War history,” said Dennis Lowe, Director of Civil War Auctions at Heritage, “the merciless ‘no quarter’ bloodletting of the Kansas-Missouri Border War and the guerrilla rampage of Quantrill’s Raiders and ‘Bloody’ Bill Anderson.”

The saber is inscribed on the reverse of the scabbard between the ring mounts, "Presented to/ Lt. Col. Porter S. Cox/ the Officer who whipped Thrailkill/ and killed Bill Anderson the Bandit/ by his friends in St. Joseph, Mo./Nov. 25th 1864.” The sword, up until recently, was owned by Cox’s descendants. It carries with it an estimate of $55,000-$65,000.

During the Civil War, William “Bloody Bill” Anderson tormented Union soldiers. He was a pro-Confederate bushwhacker – men who pillaged for profit, who fed and grew strong on the nourishment of revenge. Among these men, Anderson became one of the most despised of them all. Anderson and his men were known for their savagery against Union soldiers and civilian sympathizers alike. They usually shot prisoners and often mutilated and scalped their victims. It’s been reported that Anderson once said he had killed so many Federals that he “grew sick of killing them.”

Anderson’s spree came to an end in October 1864, when Union militia Lt. Col. Samuel P. Cox caught up with the Kentucky native in Missouri. Cox, assigned by Union commanders specifically to track down Anderson, sent a mounted detachment to lure Anderson and other guerrillas into an ambush. As the gang approached, the militiamen fired a volley and one of the Civil War’s most notorious bushwhackers fell dead.

Shortly afterward, Cox received this presentation sword for the killing of Anderson and fellow bandit John Thrailkill.

The story continued on Dec. 7, 1869, when Jesse James walked into the Davies County Bank in Gallatin, MO – where Cox had been awarded the rank of Colonel for killing Anderson – and summarily shot dead the cashier, declaring to the citizens on his escape that he had avenged the death of his "brother" “Bloody” Bill Anderson by killing Cox. The cashier was Capt. John W. Sheets, not Cox, as Jesse believed.

Cox went on to a successful business career, dying in 1913.

Famously, in modern times, when The Outlaw Josey Wales, as portrayed by Clint Eastwood in the 1976 film, seeks revenge for the murder of his family by Kansas raiders, he casts his lot with the man who identifies himself by saying, "My name is Anderson. They call me Bloody Bill." With this line the legend was re-born for an entire generation of Americans. Anderson is the subject of numerous books and a character based on him appears in the 1976 Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales.

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-Noah Fleisher

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