Centralia Massacre

1898 plat of Centralia, Missouri. Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri - Columbia.

Notable Events:

  • Centralia Massacre (September 27, 1864)

Centralia is a small Missouri town, historically known as the site of a Civil War massacre of 22 Union soldiers who were returning home on leave. Bushwhacker William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson and 80 guerillas (including Frank and Jesse James) stopped a train on the North Missouri Railroad in Centralia, removed the 125 passengers, and then asked for a volunteer among the 23 Union soldiers (presumably to be shot as an example). Instead, Anderson ordered all of the soldiers except for the volunteer to be shot. The town's residents reported that the guerillas scalp the corpses. Today the massacre site is designated by a historical marker, but later on the day of the massacre, nearby Union soldiers were in no mood to memorialize the incident. They pursued Anderson and fought in the Battle of Centralia to the southeast of town.