Jesse James was only 14 when the War of Northern Aggression began and was too young to be accepted by the Confederate Army or by Quantrill’s irregular forces.
While plowing in a field behind his home in late May of 1863, young Jesse was suddenly surrounded by a mounted detail of Union soldiers. Because he refused to answer after being repeatedly asked about the location of his brother Frank and Quantrill’s camp, the detail severely whipped Jesse with bull whips and left him bleeding in the field. Half crawling to the house, he found his stepfather Reuben hanging from a tree and his mother desperately trying to cut him down while his young sister Susan and Sarrah Samuel watched in Horror. Dr. Samuel had been left hanging by the Federal [Yankee] invaders after several unsuccessful attempts to get information from him about his stepson’s whereabouts.
He did not die from the hanging but oxygen had been deprived from his brain so long he would remain mentally incapacitated the rest of his life. Although Jesse was now only 15 years of age, the tragic events of the day inspired him to wait no longer and he left to join Quantrill’s ranks.
After Jesse James became a Confederate guerrilla fighter, his leadership and fighting abilities were recognized quickly.
Jesse James was the one who shot down the Federal Major Johnson who with a force of mounted infantry had attempted to capture Bloody Bill Anderson.
The Federal forces were decimated ferociously near Centralia, Missouri. Jesse and his brother Frank also rescued the captured General Jo Shelby and his staff from the Federals in Arkansas. Jesse eventually drifted into Indian Territory and participated in battles at Cabin Creek and other localities.
When he heard the war ended, Jesse and a “sizable group of his associates” approached a Federal garrison at Lexington, Missouri, under a white flag, with plans to surrender. Jesse was seriously wounded with a “bullet in his right lung and in one leg.” James suffered greatly from these wounds the rest of his life.
Jesse James was 'never again known to officially surrender.'
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