Friday, May. 22, 2009

Frank and Jesse James

Two of the Wild West's most infamous outlaws, Jesse James and his older brother Frank cut their teeth as Confederate guerrillas in the Civil War. In September 1864, for instance, as part of a group of rebels led by Bloody Bill Anderson, they held up a train, looted it and killed 22 of the 23 unarmed Union soldiers on board, scalping several. After the war, reeling from the South's defeat, they roamed from Iowa to Alabama and Texas, robbing banks, holding up trains, and looting stagecoaches, shops, and unlucky passers-by. One of their biggest coups came in 1866, when they were among the outlaws to pull off the first known daylight bank robbery, killing a bystander and walking away with $58,000. Despite their violent crimes, in the turbulent postwar South the James brothers were widely considered patriots. Even today, romanticized in literature, they are viewed as popular legends.

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