Today we feature a portrait of Jesse James. The picture was taken in 1864.
Jesse James rode with the "Bloody Bill" Anderson Raiders in the Civil War. It was during his stint as a Confederate Raider that he learned the art of Guerrilla warfare, and the tactics of successful raiding . . . hitting an unsuspecting area with overwhelming force, fast speed, and then disappearing into the countryside.
After the Civil War, many of the confederate raiders did not receive the same amnesty offer given regular confederate forces. With the end of the war, these raiders were in effect wanted men. A number of the Quantrill and Anderson raiders banded together to form the James-Younger gang. The gang was hugely successful. They used the guerrilla tactics they had learned in the war to plan their robberies. It was the use of these tactics that made them the most successful bank robbers of the Old West era.
I grew up on a ranch in West Texas. The ranch was bought by my Grandfather from Allen Parmer, who was a member of the James-Younger gang. Parmer was also married to Jesse James sister. My grandfather was a friend of both Frank James, and Allen Parmer. Frank James was sometimes seen in our community, visiting my Grandfather.
I spent much of my youth with a shovel in hand, digging holes searching for some of the James Gang loot. I was convinced that it would be buried some where on our ranch. It never struck me that Parmer would have dug up the loot and taken it with him when he sold the property, if he had in fact ever even buried any there. Anyway, I never found anything, but did get pretty good at digging holes.
It was on this date, February 13, in the year 1866 that the James Gang robbed their first bank, in Liberty Missouri.