For many decades Major Samuel P. Cox was widely recognized as the Union man who killed notorious bushwacker William “Bloody Bill” Anderson during an ambush near Richmond, MO, on Oct. 26, 1864. But there is evidence to the contrary. Civil War veteran Adolph Vogel actually killed the infamous Confederate guerilla. This revelation came at Vogel’s death from heart disease in October, 2010, at his home north of Jameson, MO. He was a brother-in-law of James Nelson of Bethany and was 85 years old.
A little more than three years before his death, it came to public light that this Daviess County man was probably the man who shot and killed Confederate guerilla William “Bloody Bill” Anderson, the perpetrator of the Centralia Massacre. Vogel was one of the Missouri Union soldiers who ambushed the guerrilla fighters near Richmond, MO. Vogel’s act of shooting Anderson was deliberately kept secret, known only to Vogel’s family and a few others, for good reason.
The Vogel family offers proof. Papers taken from the body of the guerrilla when he was killed were stored undisturbed in Mr. Vogel’s safety deposit box at the Bank of Coffey until after Vogel’s death. Also a flashy hat, which Anderson wore when he was killed, was given by Mr. Vogel to a his sister, who also lives In Daviess County.
It is thought that this revelation of Vogel’s gunshot killing Anderson was kept quiet at the time for fear of revenge on the part of Anderson’s friends, among whom were the James boys and the Youngers. Publicly, the killing was attributed to Major Cox of Gallatin, the Union officer leading the ambush.
Those fears were late verified.
It was widely known that Jesse James swore to avenge Anderson’s death by killing Major Cox on sight, a threat extending beyond the end of the Civil War. Then in 1869 Captain John Sheets of Gallatin was murdered during a bank robbery when outlaw Jesse James allegedly mistook Sheets for Major Cox. Vogel also knew how Missouri guerrilla survivors still held an intense hatred for Germans who fought in the Union army, in the belief that the Civil War was not in any sense their fight.Cox certainly understood Vogel’s precarious situation when Anderson’s death by ambush was confirmed. Thus, Cox apparently shielded Vogel by accepting both acclaim from an appreciative general public and dangerous notoriety by Anderson’s friends seeking revenge.
Years passed. In the late summer of 1924, however, it came to public notice that it was Mr. Vogel who, in all probability, fired the shot that brought Bill Anderson’s end. It came about through the claim of a man at Brownwood, Texas. This man claimed that he was Bill Anderson; that he had escaped the warring scenes of Missouri of that day, gone to Texas and lived quietly while the public believed him to be dead. His claim was proved false not only by Vogel’s discourses, but also by the fact that the real Bill Anderson would have been much older than the Texas man.
The claim of the Texas man was refuted after Mr. Vogel told his story to the editor of The Republican. The news article it was sent out to many newspapers up and down the Mississippi valley and was widely circulated. Until that time the Texan making his false claim was getting lots of publicity.
Mr. Vogel would not definitely say he was the man who actually killed Anderson in battle, but made this statement: “It is likely that I was the man who killed him, but you can’t be about such things when they happen in a fight of that kind.”
His story of the affair is as follows:
“It happened south of Richmond, Mo., in some heavily timbered bottom land. I was in the Missouri militia, and we were hunting a force of men who were said to be commanded by Anderson. I was under Major Cox of Gallatin.
“We found out that the other fel1ows were near, and we got off our horses and left them behind our lines. You know the guerrillas had always had always attacked the militia when they were on horses and because the horses were not used to gunfire they would stampede, and their riders would be routed. I suspect that is what would have happened to us if we had not known the fight was about to happen. There were not more than a few hundred men on a side.
“The fight didn’t last very long. As I was a bugler, I was the only other man in our battalion, besides Major Cox, who was horseback. We were attacked, but, kept our ground, and in a little bit the other fe1lows were running, routed.
“I saw the body of a man in front at me who looked like he was an officer. He was dressed well, and in his big wide brimmed hat there was a long feather.
“I told Major Cox about him, an he ordered me to take everything off him. We took his pistols, his hat and papers he had on him that told who he was. The hat was just what I wanted and I took it.”
That it actually was Anderson who was killed at that time was verified by the word of a man who now lives at Bethany, but whose family lived near the scene of the ambush when it occurred. They knew Anderson by sight, saw him the evening before he was killed, and knew how he was dressed.
According to a death notice published by the Bethany Republican, Mr. Vogel was born in Germany, but came to the United States when three years old. He was survived by widow, and one daughter.
— some information from the Gallatin Democrat, 1927, as researched by Ron McNeely, Gallatin, MO