June 20, 2023
It's hard to imagine anyone being more of a deadly sociopath than William Anderson, better known as "Bloody Bill." Often donning the uniforms of their opponents, Bill and his men, including Jesse James, spread fear throughout Missouri during the Civil War. They were all known for decorating their saddles with the scalps of slaughtered foes. His men called him the Old Man, but Bloody Bill was 23-years-old.
"Bloody Bill's Bloody Scalps"
When Union troops finally brought him down in an ambush and they rounded up his horse they discovered "two fresh scalps on his bridle."
So, here is a touchy—to say the least— subject: where on the bloody Bushwhacker's bridle might he have hung human scalps? To me, it seems like it would freak out the horse. I have asked several cowboys and horsemen I know and they all agreed, most horses would not like the proximity of bloody human hair to be remotely near their face. When I asked Mark Lee Gardner this burning question, he sent me these two ledger drawings, by Lakota warriors illustrating where they displayed their scalps.
I have a hunch, hanging scalps from the bridle bit might be an option (as an extension of the scalp dangling in the above illustration shows). I'm curious, anyone know of any specific description of this brutal custom?
And yes, I must say, this gruesome and brutal tradition during the war in Missouri puts the Apaches in the shade.
"The bodies of the dead, even of a savage enemy shall not be subjected to indignities by civilized and Christian men."
—Colonel H. S. Jarrett