The Saga of Dingus & Buck, The Beginning of the Legend of Frank and Jesse James.

The month of September 2009 at quantrillsguerrillas.com brings us a closer look into the backgrounds of two of William Clarke Quantrill’s more colorful guerrillas: Frank and Jesse James. Probably no more controversy or irresponsible stories have emulated concerning these two brothers but a closer look at their early lives can help us understand their actions during and after the Civil War without bias.  So much has been written about these two brothers that we will only try to relate the most important details concerning them and their wartime careers. Frank's nickname was Buck, Jesse's nickname was Dingus.  Our frist image is the earliest known armed image of Buck, likely taken in 1861.                                                                                                              

Alexander Franklin James was born in Missouri on January 10, 1843. Frank was described as about five feet, eight inches in height, heavy built, full in face, hair and complexion rather light and sandy. Frank was a studious reader and carried the classics in his saddlebags. He was fond of quoting Shakespeare. Frank was serious and straightforward. Neither he nor his brother, Jesse, were ever known to drink. “A man’s a fool to drink,” he said. “It takes away his money and his brains and does him no good in any way.” Jesse Woodson James was born in Missouri on September 5, 1847. Described as being between five foot nine and six feet in height, rather slender built, thin visage, hair and complexion like his brother. Jesse emulated his brother’s reading habits, but instead of Shakespeare his favorite book was the Bible, which he memorized and quoted frequently. We trust you will enjoy this early image of Buck (Frank) armed to the teeth, likely taken early in the War.                                                                    

Frank and Jesse’s father Robert James was a Baptist minister from Clay County, Missouri who had migrated from Logan County, Kentucky.  He helped establish three Baptist churches in Clay County that are still in existence. A few miles south of Independence the Reverend Robert James on occasion came to visit and preach in the Big Cedar Missionary Baptist Church in the Valley of the Little Blue just 8 miles south of Independence in the area that saw the majority of the fighting along the border during the war. While Frank and Jesse were still young the Reverend James ventured west on a missionary trip to help spread the Gospel among the gold seekers and miners in Colorado. There he caught a fever and died. Frank and Jesse’s mother Zerelda then married Doctor Reuben Samuels.  

The James family never owned slaves, but the family was outspoken regarding their Southern sympathies. Frank was eighteen years old when he enlisted in the Confederate army at Centerville, Missouri, on May 4, 1861. Shortly after fighting at the August 10, 1861, battle of Wilson’s Creek, Frank became ill with measles and was hospitalized in Springfield. Union forces then captured the hospital and paroled the prisoners. Back home Frank spoke out in favor of the South and was jailed in Liberty, Missouri. He was coerced into signing an oath of allegiance to the Union on April 26, 1862. Because of his Southern sympathies he was continually harassed by Federal militia so he soon left home and joined Quantrill’s guerrillas. William Gregg and William Gaugh were on a recruiting mission north of the Missouri river when they first met Frank James. Gaugh armed him and along with Gregg encouraged him to join Quantrill. Frank stated, “I heard that Quantrill was in Jackson County, so I decided to enlist under his flag. I met Bill Gregg, Quantrill’s first lieutenant in Clay County, and with him rowed across the Missouri River to Jackson County and joined Quantrill at the Webb place on Blackwater ford of the Sni.” Frank James had this first recollection of his leader: “I will never forget the first time I saw Quantrill. He was nearly six feet in height, rather thin, his hair and moustache was sandy and he was full of life and a jolly fellow. Every man was brave and had absolute confidence in the gallant leader. He had none of the air of the bravado or the desperado about him. We all loved him at first sight and every man under his command was tried and true. He was a demon in battle and did not know what it was to be afraid.  Frank gained an immediate reputation with Quantrill as fellow guerrilla Jim Cummins remarked, “I don’t think Frank James ever had an equal in a running fight.”  

Jesse James was only fourteen years old when the war began. While plowing in a cornfield behind his home in late May 1863, Jesse was suddenly surrounded by a mounted militia detail looking for his brother Frank. Because he refused to disclose any information about his brother or Quantrill’s camp, the soldiers cruelly whipped him with the leather harness and left him bleeding in the field.  When he was able to return to the house he found his stepfather hanging from a tree and his mother desperately trying to cut him down. The Federals had ridden to the front door proclaiming: “You have been entirely too loud in your disloyal expressions and so has your wife. Furthermore, you folks are friendly to that damn cutthroat Quantrill, and you harbor his men. We’ve come to teach you a lesson.” Dr. Reuben Samuel’s hands were tied behind his back, and a rope was tied around his neck then thrown over a coffee-bean tree in the yard and demanded to know where Quantrell was. He did not know, but the soldiers believed he did. So they strung him up three or four times. He was almost dead and as they half dragged him to the house. The captain of the militia said to Mrs. Samuels: ‘Now were going to take him out and shoot him, and let the hogs eat him.’ Oxygen had been deprived from his brain for so long that he remained mentally incapacitated the rest of his life. The troops also abused Zerelda Samuel, Frank and Jesse’s mother, who was pregnant at the time. A neighbor remembered that the Federals visited the home of the James brothers and taking the women, and after stripping them to the waist they tied them to trees and taking a blacksnake whip that they found in the stable they whipped them until they got tired and then they rode away, leaving the women and girls to be cut down and carried into the house by our negro slaves, who washed and bandaged their bleeding backs and bodies and put them to bed. Zerelda’s rough treatment caused her to miscarry.                                                                                                                               

After the militia had gone Zerelda recalled: “Jesse said to me, ‘Ma, look how these soldiers have beaten me.’ I took off his shirt and his back was striped from the rawhides the soldiers had used on him because he would and could not tell where Frank was. But Jesse did not whimper. He saw me crying and said: ‘Never mind, ma. I am going to join Quantrell.’ He was then only 16 yrs. old but was a good rider and marksman. I did not see him for a year but heard Jesse was one of the most daring men in Quantrell’s command.” Federals later returned and beat his mother and 13 year old sister Susan Lavenia James, and later imprisoned them in St. Joseph for two weeks on a diet of bread and water.

Jesse first mentioned joining Quantrill to his neighbor Allen Parmer. Parmer told him he’d better talk to his brother Frank first. Frank tried to talk Jesse out of enlisting but when Jess told him that their mother had been whipped and beaten and that their father had been hung until his attackers thought he was dead, Frank weakened. Frank motioned toward Quantrill and said, “Come and talk to the Colonel.” Quantrill told Frank he had all the “yearlings” he could look after, but when Frank told him what had happened to Jesse and the family back home, and assured the colonel Jesse could even beat him shooting, he agreed to let Jesse enlist after Frank assured Quantrill that he would be responsible for him. Jesse’s horsemanship, weapons handling, fearlessness, and natural leadership soon earned him a prominent place in Quantrill’s command.  Below is a war vintage image of Jesse in a Yankee uniform.                                               

Frank had been operating with Captain Ferdinand Scott in Clay County before joining Captain George Todd’s command under Quantrill. After Jesse enlisted their first battle in Jackson County took place south of Westport, Missouri on June 17, 1863 against the 9th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment.  Because of the remarkable fighting he did that day Bill Anderson invited Jesse to join his company.  Anderson remarked, “Not to have any beard, he is the keenest and cleanest fighter in the command.” William Gaugh described Jesse as being mild and a gentleman while “Frank was bold, reckless and a regular dare-devil.  Frank was the jolliest companion of the two, full of fun and always cutting up in camp while Jess rarely ever said anything.  He was a good man too, never swore or raised hell around camp, and didn’t get drunk; the fact is I don’t know that I ever saw Jesse drink anything.”  

Frank and Jesse were in most of the battles and skirmishes that took place along the Missouri-Kansas border during the war. Frank was credited with fighting at Wilson’s Creek, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, the Battle of the Ravines, the Westport skirmish, Lawrence, Baxter Springs, Fayette, Centralia and the Danville raid. Jesse is known to have fought at the Westport skirmish Lawrence, Baxter Springs, Fayette and Centralia. Their bravery and daring has never been surpassed as evidenced in postwar eye-witness accounts. At the Battle of the Ravines, a stand-up fight taking place on July 11, 1862, by forty of Quantrill’s men, surrounded by 300 Federals in dense underbrush, was reduced to both sides resorting to rocks and clubs. Quantrill’s bold maneuver by attacking in two different directions stunned the Federals and completely threw the enemy off balance. As they reeled back in confusion, Frank James whose horse had been killed during the conflict cut his way through on foot until he found a nearby farm where he found a horse and saddle and rejoined his comrades.  

During September of 1862 Captain Cole Younger with ten men including Frank James attacked a Federal picket outside Independence.Waiting until dark, Younger had two men hold the guerrillas’ horses while he and the rest of the men snuck up on the unwary Federals. Suddenly, like a thunderclap, the guerrillas poured a deadly volley into the picket party with their Navy Colt revolvers, killing seventeen Federals and wounding the rest. The guerrillas managed to capture three horses apiece and made their escape back to their camp.  

While Quantrill traveled to Richmond seeking a commission of partisan rangers his company was assigned as independent scouts for General Joseph O. Shelby’s Iron Brigade. At the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, Quantrill’s men distinguished themselves by their rescue of General Shelby. Shelby had four horses shot out from under him while directing the rear-guard action. Being dismounted Shelby had been surrounded by an enemy force. A command of guerrillas that included Frank and Jesse James was pursuing an enemy patrol when it came across Shelby as he was being surrounded and before he could be led away as a prisoner. Although the guerrillas had only a few men in their force, they stormed the Union position and scattered the enemy, enabling Shelby to escape. Shelby was forever indebted to Quantrill’s men for their outstanding show of bravery. Years after the war Shelby volunteered to act as a character witness at the trial of Frank James.

Many historians believe that Jesse James was not at the Lawrence raid. If this is true then there was only a short window of opportunity to join Quantrill’s company between the date of the raid on August 21st and September 10th when Quantrill started south to Texas and Jesse was known to be riding with the guerrillas. In support of this argument it was during May of 1863 when Federal militia rode to the James farm looking for Frank and not finding him beat Jesse mercilessly and abused the rest of the family. Contemporary historians say that Jesse ran away and joined Quantrill shortly afterward. This more logical account gives Jesse three months to have joined Quantrill.  John Newman Edwards wrote that Jesse was in a June 17, 1863 skirmish over a month before the Lawrence raid. The February 5, 1899 Philadelphia Inquirer mentions that in July of 1863 “Frank and Jesse James, with Captain George Todd’s company of Quantrell’s guerrillas, met Major Ransom’s Federal cavalry on the Pleasant Hill and Blue Springs road and several Federals are killed.” The article goes on to mention “Frank and Jesse James in the sack of Lawrence, Kansas.”  

Jesse’s neighbor, fellow guerrilla Jim Cummins remarked that “Jesse James, Quantrill and Cole Younger fought like devils” at Lawrence and Edwards notes again in his book Noted Guerrillas by mentioning Frank and Jesse fighting bravely on the retreat from Lawrence. There are other numerous eyewitness accounts mentioning Jesse at Lawrence during the raid. An account in the Lawrence Gazette of July 5, 1907 by Lawrence citizen H. B. Leonard in conversation with Andrew Jack Liddil described the guerrillas who were in his father’s house during the raid. Liddil confirmed that they were Todd, Bill Anderson and the James boys. And another account by Lawrence citizen Mrs.Gurdon Grovenor states that it may have been Jesse and Frank that attempted to burn her house, “both of whom were present that day in Quantrill’s command.” And Jesse’s own mother admits in a story reprinted in the September 3, 1922 Lexington Herald that her son Jesse took part in the Lawrence raid. Another eyewitness at Lawrence, Private Dan Thornton of the 14th Kansas Jayhawker Regiment, when he saw the carnage taking place around him he crawled underneath his barn and escaped being seen by the guerrillas. Thornton said he saw the features of the two James boys, and they were indelibly photographed upon his mind.

Another citizen that recognized Jesse James as being in the raid was Mrs. Ana Boettler. “I was living with a woman named Stephens, whose husband was a federal soldier. Jesse James and three or four others of the gang invaded the house with the avowed purpose of killing Stephens.” Another eyewitness stated that Jesse at Lawrence “was but a boy of sixteen, but he boasted of having killed thirteen men in Lawrence.”  

Notorious Jayhawker Hugh Dunn Fisher who managed to hide and save himself from the guerrillas during Lawrence also testified: “Hardly had I secreted myself before four men, armed with revolvers, Jesse James leading the gang, ran into the house and, with oaths, demanded to know of my wife where I was hidden. Finally one of them seized a lamp, and they descended into the cellar, revolvers in hand, with orders to kill me on sight. Several times they were within a foot of me, but almost miraculously I escaped their search. Enraged at their failure, they went back upstairs and set fire to the house in seven places.” It was Frank James who approached Quantrill as the guerrillas were withdrawing back to Missouri that there were about sixty Redlegs who had entered town after their departure and asked Quantrill if he wanted him to take some men back and clean them out since they were only a mile back to town.  

The next large scale battle Frank and Jesse took part in was at Baxter Springs, Kansas. As the Federals under General Blunt broke and ran Jesse James allegedly followed Blunt for several miles, firing at him four times without effect before finally being outdistanced by Blunt’s superior horse. While the guerrillas rested in Sherman, Texas word was brought to Quantrill that criminals were preying on the local citizens around McKinney, Texas. Quantrill rode into McKinney with about 100 men, including Frank and Jesse James. Quantrill immediately arrived with a company of his best men and surrounded the swamp known as Finch Park where the bandits were hiding. As the day progressed, Quantrill’s men captured 42 bushwhackers and marched them to the town square. Once there Quantrill’s men hung all 42 men from a limb on the southeast corner of the square by the large public well.”
On their way back to Missouri Quantrill and twelve guerrillas including Jesse James killed seven Federals on patrol. Once back in Jackson County Frank and Jesse James with six other guerrillas crossed the Missouri River on a raft and attacked a Federal garrison in Camden, Ray Country. They surprised and captured a Federal militiaman named Bradley Bond. A few years earlier Bond headed the scouting party that killed four Clay County citizens and hanged the James’s’ stepfather and insulted their mother. Bond pleaded for his life, but Jesse coolly repeated his past crimes to him before shooting him. The following day the same group of guerrillas caught Alvas Dailey on the road. Dailey had been part of the scouting party with Bond when they visited the James’s’ home. Frank James shot Dailey.  Before withdrawing across the river, the guerrillas left ten Federals killed and seven wounded.

During the summer of 1864 in the Valley of the Little Blue Frank James with forty guerrillas under George Todd annihilated a Federal company of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry. Frank killed three Federals in the initial charge. Some of the Federals at this engagement were mounted on better horses and managed to escape. Frank James followed the routed enemy in sight of Independence killing his fourth man within fifty steps of the picket post. Below is an image of Frank James and Little Archie.                                                                                         

On their way to Howard County in the fall of 1864 Jesse James now riding with Bill Anderson found themselves surrounded by 300 militiamen and 150 Kansas Redlegs under Col. Edwin C. Catherwood.  The guerrillas made a mad dash through the Federal lines but lost several men in the process. Anderson’s horse was shot out from under him. Archie Clements took him up behind him as they escaped. Leading the charge, seventeen-year-old Dock Rupe was shot from his saddle. Riding next to him was Jesse James, who was wounded during the attack. While riding to his brother’s aid Frank James was wounded in the face and leg.  

Later Frank James recalled the Battle of Fayette on September 20, 1864. “We charged up to a blockhouse made of railroad ties filled with port holes and then charged back again. The blockhouse was filled with Federal troops and it was like charging a stone wall only this stone wall belched forth lead.” Frank James said, “I was mightily scared. It was the worst fight I ever had.” Almost immediately Garrett M Groomer and George McMurtry were killed in the first charge on the blockhouse. Guerrillas Dick Kinney and Jesse James volunteered to bring McMurtry’s body out from under the hail of fire. Oliver Johnson, who stood six feet two, was wounded six times. Johnson, shot through the hips, fell on a slight rise only a short distance from the blockhouse. Frank James volunteered to go after Johnson’s body. They were in plain view of the Federals, who peppered them with bullets. They got as close to the ground as they could and finally managed to get Johnson’s body rolled up in a blanket then brought back to the rear.  

Following the Fayette battle Frank and Jesse found themselves next to each other at the Battle of Centralia. Most of the Federal fire was over the guerrillas’ heads, but the initial volley killed three and wounded three others. One of the dead, Richard Kinney, had been one of the most desperate fighters among the guerrillas. His pistol, which he gave to Frank James just before he died, had forty-eight notches on the handle, one for each Federal he killed. Kinney was Frank James’s closest friend, and James said that it hurt him when he heard Kinney cry out, “Frank, I’m shot!” He added, “He kept on riding for a time and I thought his wound wasn’t serious.” James reported that Frank Shepherd was riding next to him on his right when Shepherd was struck in the head. “The blood and brains from Shepherd splashed on my pants’ leg as he fell from his horse.” Frank’s brother Jesse was riding on his left. Frank James reported: We couldn’t stop in that terrible charge for anything. Up the hill we went yelling like wild Indians. Such shrieks, you will never hear as broke the stillness of that September afternoon. On we went up the hill. Almost in a twinkling of an eye we were on the Yankee line. They seemed terrorized. Not a single man of the line escaped. The few who attempted to escape Frank James and four others followed into Centralia killing them all along the road. Frank was credited with overtaking and killing eleven. Frank James claimed that his brother Jesse killed the Federal commander Maj. A.V. E. Johnson. Jesse was wounded during the battle then carried off by William Gaugh and taken to safety.  Frank Dalton noted that Jesse James carried a watch and timed the fight. The battle lasted exactly five minutes.  

During the last battle of the war in Missouri Frank and Jesse found themselves riding with George Todd at the 2nd Battle of Independence on October 21-22, 1864. Todd was killed outside of town. After laying Todd’s body to rest Frank and Jesse joined Dave Poole’s company of guerrillas and continued for the next three days as Shelby’s advance scouts. After that the brothers split up to avoid both being killed in the same engagement. Hopefully one brother would survive and make it back home to take care of their remaining family. Jesse along with twenty-six guerrillas accompanied George Shepherd back to Texas where their sister Susan Lavenia James was living in Sherman.  Jesse was still suffering from the wound he received at Centralia. Frank James following Quantrill into Kentucky.                                                                                            

During Quantrill’s last skirmish at the Wakefield farm in Kentucky where he lay dying Frank James was staying at the Sayres home near Bardstown. When they heard the news of Quantrill’s plight, Frank James spoke up immediately, “Volunteers to go back?  Who will follow me to see our chief, living or dead?” Quantrill refused to be moved and Frank tearfully told his beloved leader goodbye. On September 26, 1865 Captain Henry Porter, rounded up what remained of Quantrill’s band and together they surrendered at Samuel’s Depot to a Captain Young and received their paroles. Most of them managed to return to Missouri when the war ended but found that they were not welcomed because they had fought with Quantrill. Donnie Pence and his brother Bud remained in Kentucky after their surrender. The Pence’s were originally from Clay County, Missouri. During the war Donnie was wounded several times. Once when he was shot and surrounded by a hundred Federals and having his horse killed pinning him underneath Frank James seeing the fate that awaited him rode back and rescued him from his dangerous position. He and Frank remained close friends after this and Frank often visited him after the war staying in his home. Frank was even credited with teaching Sunday School at the New Salem Baptist church down the road from Samuel’s Depot.

As the remaining guerrillas in Texas under Archie Clements made their way back into Missouri they met stiff Federal resistance. The advance element with Jesse James killed more than twenty militiamen as they pushed toward Jackson County. At Kingsville in Johnson County, Missouri, they killed another ten Federals in a small skirmish. Clements agreed to find out what terms he could get for his men. On April 15, with Jesse James, Jesse Hamlet, Jack Rupe, Willis King, and John Vanmeter, Clements entered Lexington under a flag of truce. Maj. J. B. Rogers, the provost marshal, told them that they would have to relinquish their horses and weapons and submit to the laws of the state. Such terms meant the unhorsed and unarmed guerrillas would have been as sheep among wolves. After convincing Rogers that there were men who would kill them on sight to settle old scores from the war, the guerrillas were allowed to keep their horses and weapons. After agreeing to return the next day to formally accept the surrender terms, Clements and his companions mounted and rode off.

Upon leaving town under a flag of truce the guerrillas were fired upon at point blank range by an approaching advance guard of eight Federal soldiers. As the guerrillas returned fire four of the Federals were killed outright and two were wounded. The main column of sixty cavalrymen of the Johnson County militia and the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry followed up the attack and soon overtook the guerrillas. Clements and Jesse James rode away swiftly, side by side, turning and firing at their pursuers. One Wisconsin trooper on a swift black horse advanced ahead of the rest and closed in on James.  When they were within ten feet of each other, both fired. James killed the trooper with a bullet through the heart. Before he knew it another Wisconsin trooper was upon him. James managed to kill his horse, but the trooper shot Jesse through the right lung. The rest of the Federals rushed upon him, killing his horse, then continued after Clements. While James lay wounded in the middle of the road, other Federals rode past him and fired at him as he lay bleeding under his horse. Clements looked back and saw his colleague fall. He also saw sixty Federals firing at the prostrate body and believed that Jesse James had been killed. Yet James managed to pull himself from under his horse and crawled into the nearby woods. Five Johnson County militiamen pursued him, maintaining a constant fire. He killed the foremost Federal before firing and shattering the pistol arm of a second soldier. The wounded guerrilla kicked off his heavy cavalry boots and tried to escape. But the three remaining soldiers kept after him relentlessly. With a bullet in his right side, James had trouble raising his pistol. As the Federals came closer, he reinforced his right hand with his left and shot the trooper closest to him out of the saddle. The remaining two soldiers soon gave up the chase. James managed to stagger four or five hundred yards before he collapsed and fainted at the edge of a nearby creek. Here he lay for two days, bathing his wound and burning with fever. He was sent to be cared for by his mother in Nebraska, where she was living as a fugitive. Three years later, through her efforts, he was back in the saddle.  

Jesse’s brother Frank was at first not permitted to return to Missouri. When he did finally return to his home in Clay County, he was challenged by four soldiers. Daring him into some provocation, Frank forced the issue by killing two of the Federals instantly. The third was wounded seriously while the fourth managed to shoot Frank in the hip, causing a grievous wound. Friends carried him into hiding and summoned a doctor who saved his life. Both brothers eventually returned home, and Jesse’s wounds improved even more. Historian Homer Croy noted: “Frank had been farming it, but they were postwar sufferers. Their horses had been stolen. Prices were at starvation levels; it took hard scratching to make a living. Meanwhile, Jesse had good days and bad days. Sometimes he would be up and around; then his wound would open and he would have to go back to bed. As he got better he began to go the Baptist church in Kearney; not only that, but he sang in the choir.” He was a devout believer and was never known to swear or use foul language.                                          

The hunt for the guerrilla brothers continued by Federal vigilantes. On February 18, 1867, five militiamen rode to the James farm in Kearny, Missouri, looking for the former guerrillas. The weather was bitterly cold, and Jesse was in bed with a fever. His stepfather, Dr. Reuben Samuel, heard the militiamen on the front porch and inquired what they wanted. When they demanded he open the door, Dr. Samuel asked Jesse what he should do. His stepson replied, “Help me to the window that I may look out.” There was snow on the ground, and the moon was shining. He saw that all the horses hitched to the fence had cavalry saddles. Jesse decided either to drive them away or die. While a militiaman was hammering on the door with the butt of his pistol, Jesse placed his pistol up to the inside of the door and fired.When the soldier cried out and fell dying, Jesse threw open the door with a pistol in each hand and fired rapidly. A second man was killed as he tried to run, and two more were seriously wounded.  A fifth soldier escaped in the darkness. With this act, Jesse and his brother were forced to take to the bush as outlaws.  

Guerrilla William Gaugh recalled that “Often during the war Frank and Jesse would get to talking of what they would do after the war was over, and they would say that there were certain men who would never let them live at home, men who had sworn to kill them. These men hounded them after the war when they did come home and made them leave…I have advised them, if they could, to go away somewhere and settle down and live quiet, honest lives. They were willing to do that, but said that wherever they were they were hunted out, exposed and made to leave.”  

Denied an opportunity to live in peace, the James brothers turned to outlawry. They were not only brave but very proud men and they were men who would not let anyone drive them from their homes.  Their crimes were considered a fair blow at Northern carpetbaggers who were enriching themselves in the economic turmoil after the war. Guerrilla Harrison Trow observed: “Some [former Confederates] were killed because of the terrible renown won in the four years war; some were forced to hide themselves in the unknown of the outlying territories, and some were persecuted and driven into desperate defiance and resistance because they were human and intrepid. The same Southern sympathizers they had known during the war supported them despite their crimes. Many of their victims were the railroad barons they viewed as plunderers exploiting the people left destitute by the war. The banks they robbed allegedly were connected to their former Northern enemies. When the gang’s career came to an end in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1876, the targeted bank was believed to hold a great deal of money belonging to Union General Benjamin F. “The Beast” Butler.                        

Those former guerrillas who did not flee the country were forced to take to the bush. James Cummins from Clay County grew up in the same neighborhood as the James brothers and attended the same Baptist church. After the war Cummins commented, “When the war was over and I wanted to settle down they [Federals] would not let me, but pursued me with malignant hatred.” Another of Quantrill’s men.William Gaugh, tried to return home to Kansas City after the war, but his neighbors would not let him.  He was forced to flee to a farm in Florence, Kansas. Morgan T. Mattox returned back home after the war, but a mob gathered when they found out he had ridden with Quantrill and attempted to hang him on the streets of Platte City, Missouri. He escaped and was chased from his home.  He was forbidden to see his family for years afterward. He finally settled in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where he had a reputation as an outstanding citizen. John Jarrette, a former captain under Quantrill, was living with his family in St. Clair County, Missouri. A mob gathered at his door and shot Jarrette’s wife when she opened it. They also shot Jarette then set the house on fire with the couple’s children still inside. On January 20, 1866, Sheriff Holmes of Harrison County, Missouri, tried to serve a warrant for the arrest of Bill Reynolds in Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Missouri, for crimes committed during the war. Holmes and deputy James Copeland found Reynolds with two other guerrillas, George T. Maddox and N. P. Hayes. When Holmes tried to arrest Reynolds, a fight erupted in the street. The officers killed Hayes and wounded Reynolds, but Reynolds managed to kill both lawmen. Maddox was captured by civilians and turned over to other lawmen. Reynolds fled to his mother’s house, where he was followed and captured.  Next is a photo of Jesse taken in 1874.                                

During the summer of 1866 the governor of Kansas submitted to the governor of Missouri a list of three hundred men who had taken part in the 1863 Lawrence Raid. Scores of Quantrill’s former guerrillas met untimely deaths merely for being associated with Quantrill during the war. Former guerrilla Coleman Younger remarked: “When the war ceased, those of the guerrillas who were not hung or shot, or pursued by posses till they found the hand of man turned against them at every step, settled down to become good citizens in the peaceful walks of life, and the survivors of Quantrill’s band may be pardoned, in view of the black paint that has been devoted to them, in calling attention to the fact that of the members of Quantrill’s command who have since been entrusted with public place not one had ever betrayed that trust.”  

After evading capture for many years Jesse was assassinated on April 3, 1882. Months later Frank surrendered to the legal authorities and lived out the rest of his life in relative peace. Frank feared that, after his death, someone would steal his body, so he requested that he and his wife be cremated rather than buried. Frank died on February 15, 1915.  

References:Quantrill of Missouri and Quantrill in Texas, Paul R. Petersen; Dallas Morning News Historical Archive, October 18 1929; Louisville Kentucky Journal, September 29, 1901;The Lexington [Kentucky] Herald, September 3, 1911;The Miami Herald Record, October 11, 1914

The Kansas City Star, May 2, 1882; The Lexington Herald, September 3, 1922 ; Newspaper Article by Marcel Wallenstein “She Stood Up to Quantrill and Saved Husband,” Kansas Collections, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence; Kansas City Star, July 19, 1903; Shelby and his Men or The War in the West, John Newman Edwards; Lexington [Kentucky] Herald, September 3, 1911; Omaha Morning World Herald, September 25, 1897; West Virginia Wheeling Register, December 20, 1892, taken from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat; Richard Cordley, A History of Lawrence, Kansas, Omaha World-Herald, March 29, 1903; Kansas City Star, October 8, 1949; Lucas Collection, Sherman Public Library, Sherman, Texas; Kentucky-Town (Texas) Baptist Church records.

©Paul R. Petersen– Quantrillguerrillas.com. Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this or copyrighted essay and/or image."



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