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Saber of "Bloody" Bill Anderson killer to be sold

The Cavalry presentation saber of Lt. Col. Porter S. Cox headlines Heritage Civil War auction.
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DALLAS, TX – 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 will lead a June 25 auction in Dallas, Texas. The auction of rare and important Civil War artifacts will be held at Heritage Auction Galleries’ Uptown Dallas headquarters.

“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 guerilla 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".

Further highlights of the auction include, but are not limited to:

"The Union Is Dissolved!" Charleston Mercury Broadside, December 20, 1860:
Possibly the finest specimen known of what is certainly the single most iconic image of the American Civil War. This example recently surfaced at a Lancaster County Pennsylvania estate auction folded in the envelope accompanying it, from "The Safe Deposit Co. of New York” in which it has apparently been housed since the war. Written in pencil on the outside of the envelope, "Charleston Merc. The first Secession publication anounc (sic) the Secession act." Though many copies of the broadside were printed, very few survived, and in recent auction history none in a condition commensurate with this example.
Estimate: $40,000-$60,000

The Inscribed and Dated Civil War Gauntlets of Famed Confederate Cavalry Commander Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee: These gauntlets were doubtless worn by Lee when he led the last Confederate cavalry charge of the American Civil War at Farmville, VA, April 9, 1865. The nephew of Robert E. Lee, Fitzhugh graduated from West Point in 1856, and was severely wounded fighting Comanches in Texas in 1859. At the outbreak of the Civil War he offered his services to his native Virginia, and rapidly rose through the ranks, including Colonel of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, promotion to Brigadier General July 24, 1862, and Major General August 3, 1863. At the Third Battle of Winchester, after having three horses shot out from under him, he was severely wounded. While he was convalescing he was apparently presented with this set of buff leather gauntlets, which clearly show heavy use.
Estimate: $65,000-$85,000

Army of Northern Virginia Pattern Confederate Battle Flag, Captured at Macon Arsenal by the 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry and, of the Five Specimens Known, the Only One in Private Hands:
Howard Madaus, in his seminal 1979 work, The Battle Flags of the Confederate Army of Tennessee describes this exact flag as one of five captured by the 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry. Four of the flags were turned in, this apparently being the fifth, which was retained by its captor. The flag is from The Chicago Historical Society's famed Gunther Collection and is listed in its catalog. A magnificent Confederate battle flag with absolutely impeccable documentation and authentication.
Estimate: $125,000-$150,000

“This is literally just the beginning of this impressive gathering of Civil War items,” said Lowe, “so many of which deserve their own explorations as important pieces of history. It’s also important to note, as collectors have also come to expect, the June 25 Civil War Auction at Heritage will also feature an exceptional selection of Civil War uniforms and head gear.”

For more information on this auction, to read detailed lot descriptions for these, and all other lots, and to download fully-enlargeable color images, go online to, or contact Dennis Lowe at 800-872-6467, ext. 1182, or via email at

To reserve your copy of any Heritage auction catalog, please contact Client Services at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 1150, or visit to order by email.

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