Sunday, June 30, 2024

killer Kids of The Civil War

 June 30, 2025

   Working on a big feature for the September-October issue of True West. Got an ambitious montage going utilizing prints I have colorized and painted over of very young soldiers from both sides in the Civil War.

Killer Kids of The Civil War, Montage #1

Killer Kids

   After the battle of Centralia, rebel troops dallied with the dead Union soldiers and cut off their heads and played with them for some time, putting one head on another body and then when they tired of this they placed the severed heads on spikes and, mounting on horseback, wheeled around, waving the battered, expressionless faces into their comrades faces and and laughing.

   According to the author T. J Stiles, "the rebels walked among the dead, crushing faces with rifle butts and shoving bayonets through the bodies, pinning them to the ground. . .others slid knives out of their sheaths and knelt down to work. One by one, they cut seventeen scalps loose, then carefully tied them to their saddles and bridles. At least one guerrilla carved a nose off a victim. Others sliced off ears, or sawed off heads and switched their bodies. Someone pulled the trousers off one corpse, cut off the penis and shoved it in the dead man's mouth."

   It was a playground of juvenile atrocities. One 16-year-old bushwhacker was credited with killing the Union commander. The proud killer's name was Jesse James. His older brother Frank, 17, later remembered "We rode out of the woods low on our ponies, like Indians."

   They frolicked like this for some time until their commander, "the old man" told them to stop. They called their leader "The Old Man." William Anderson, also known as "Bloody Bill," was 23.

Daily Whip Out: "The Old Man"

"Bloody" Bill Anderson, age 23

   As Michael Fellman puts it in his masterful book, "Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict In Missouri During the American Civil War," "This was a war of stealth and raid, without a front, without formal organization, with almost no division between the civilian and the warrior."

   Civilians were caught in the middle. They often were attacked by troops who were sent to protect them and then again by pro-southern guerillas.

   The Union troops from Kansas were no better. In addition to "casual freebooting" these blue capped soldiers engaged in extortion and felt justified because they believed Missourians should be punished for their secessionist, slaveholding sins, and they subsequently raided, plundered and murdered with a special zeal.

   Heaven help a country when both sides believe the other are not only worthy of extermination but that it is God's will that their enemies cease to exist.

"The more things change, the more they remain the same."

—Old Missouri Saying

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