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Bloody Bill Anderson, Sgt. John Baker, John Jarrette, Jesse James, Frank James
Battle of Centralia, Missouri - September 27, 1864
The Civil War was fought differently in Kansas and Missouri than the rest of the country. In Virginia, Maryland, and Tennessee, armies of thousands would face each other in great lines of battle. In the West, battles were more often skirmishes of less than a couple of hundred men. Guerrilla tactics, surprise attacks, and ambush were the tools of the day and southerners fought by the code of the feud. The population had mixed loyalties between North or South, which caused suspicion as to who was friend or foe. Adding to the confusion southern combatants often did not wear uniforms and sometimes dressed in federal jackets. It was in the early summer of 1864 that a young 16 year old Jesse James joined Bloody Bill Anderson’s Raiders under the command of William Quantrill to ride with his older brother Frank.
On the afternoon of September 27th Anderson and about 80 of his men rode out of the federal town of Centralia, leaving behind death and destruction. Much of the town was on fire and 22 non-combatant federal soldiers had been killed.
When Anderson and his men rejoined Captain George Todd’s cavalry unit back at camp, word spread of what had happened. Captain Todd chastised Anderson for what had been done. What they didn’t know was that the federals were already in pursuit. Federal Major AVE Johnston commander of the 39th infantry were mounted and on the trail with about 155 troops. After viewing the destruction and death in Centralia the federal commander vowed revenge, and a black flag was carried by his column indicating no quarter was to be given by his men for any wounded or captured prisoners.
Major Johnston’s column was soon discovered by Anderson’s rear guard scouts led by Dave Pool who galloped back to camp warning their brethren. Instantly the camp jumped into action as Anderson’s and Todd’s raiders readied for battle. As the rebels mounted their horses they formed into squads of ten to twenty men. Two miles from Centralia at the rise of a golden yellow hayfield the federals formed a line of battle on foot. Johnston’s men were infantry soldiers carrying long-barreled, muzzle loading Enfield rifles. Johnston ordered his men to fix bayonets.
Frank James would later recount, “John Koger, a funny fellow in our ranks, watched the Yankees get down from their horses, and said: ‘Why, the fools are going to fight on foot! God help em.” Anderson riding his new mount, smiled and leaned over to Archie Clement and said, “Not a damned revolver in the crowd!” But actually commander Johnston stood next to his horse with a six shooter in his hand.
The troopers dismounted their horses, checked their equipment, tighten their horse’s girths, and remounted pulling their pistols. At the command they moved forward in line, slowly at first. The line move toward the enemy at a walk, then to a trot up the hill. They heard the federal commander scream “ready aim fire!” Frank James said when they heard the enemy officer’s command, “We were lying behind our horses (necks), a trick that Comanche Indians practiced.” When the federals fired their rifles nearly all the shots went over their heads. But three raiders were hit. Two of them, Richard Kinney and Frank Shepherd were Frank’s best friends riding on either side of him. Shepherd was killed out right and fell from his horse. Kinney was shot and pulled back, although he was able to cling to his horse. He would die soon afterward. Several horses went down as well. The federal line only got off only one shot. At 200 yards Anderson shouted “Charge” and with a bloodcurdling rebel yell the line leaped into a thundering gallop. Frank continued, “On up the hill, almost in the twinkling of an eye we were on the Yankee line.” The federal line quickly broke and a wild panic of fighting and fleeing took place. During the fight Jesse engaged and killed Major Johnston the union commander. All the federals who stood their ground and fought were killed, including a number who ran away. Ten of the raiders were wounded, a number had been bayoneted, and three were killed. Describing the battle Frank James said, “We never met many Federal soldiers that would fight us on equal terms. They would either outnumber us or would run away.”
The battle was Jesse’s first big victory.
After the war, Jesse James and his brother Frank would become some of the most notorious outlaws of the West.
General R. E. Lee with the Buck Family
Bel Air House - Front Royal, VA - July 22, 1863
It had been an arduous march south from the bloody fields of Gettysburg for the Army of Northern Virginia. Torrential rains had flooded the Potomac River delaying the southern army’s retreat to the relative safety of Virginia. With US General George Meade’s Federal forces closing in, Lee’s army was finally able to cross the Potomac on July 13th. Still in pursuit, General Meade’s cavalry crossed the Potomac farther down river, East of the Blue Ridge Mountains and began to occupy a number of passes around Loudoun County.
As hats, coats and uniforms began to dry out, the Army of Northern Virginia arrived at the Shenandoah River. Across the river was the town of Front Royal, and Lee ordered his engineers to quickly build another pontoon bridge. On July 22 the southern army crossed the bridge into Front Royal.
A wealthy businessman and prominent citizen of Front Royal, William M. Buck sought out General Lee at the pontoons, to invite him and his staff for refreshments at his home Bel Air House. Lee welcomed the kind invitation and rode to the manor house with some members of his staff. There he was introduced to the Buck family. Nineteen year old Lucy Buck wrote of the encounter in her diary. “The old gentleman greeted us with such a warm, fatherly manner.” General Lee along with his staff including Majors Taylor and Talcott enjoyed fresh buttermilk while Lucy and her sister Nellie entertained with songs of the south.
This brief respite of time with the Buck family had been most welcome for General Lee, but upon returning to his army he warned his staff, “We must now prepare for harder blows and harder work.”
Nellie Grandstaff Koontz
Edinburg Mill - Virginia, 1862
Nellie Ellen Koontz was born in Edinburg, Virginia on January 13, 1845. She was a beautiful, precocious, and strong willed child, being raised by her parents William J. Koontz and Elizabeth Ann Grandstaff. Nellie’s mother was the daughter of Major George Grandstaff, an old US Army veteran of the Mexican War and owner of the Edinburg Mill.
As the American Civil War raged throughout much of the country in 1862, Nellie was a 17 year old teenager going to school, working on the farm, and helping her grandfather at the mill. Little did she know she would become a heroine in the Shenandoah, when the “Yanks” came calling 1864.
Women did what they could to help in the war effort. As men left to join the army, the responsibilities of raising children and running the farm became theirs. Many served as nurses, helping wounded soldiers, often times in their own homes. Woman applied their skills at making clothing, blankets, quilts and even socks, for the army.
But despite the war, life went on. Friendships were made. Eligible young girls would attend parties and dances to meet young men. They would write letters to their sweethearts who were away serving in the army, hoping for their safe return.
In the autumn of 1864 the war would arrive in the little town of Edinburg. Union General Philip Sheridan sent his soldiers to burn down the Grandstaff Mill and anything of value to the Confederate Army. Nellie and her cousin Melvina galloped to Sheridan’s headquarters to plead with him for mercy, as their grandfather was a US war veteran. Sheridan rescinded his orders for the destruction of the mill, and the two girls galloped back to Edinburg saving the mill in the nick of time.
After the war was over, Nellie married Newton French McCann and the couple would have three children. After a long and happy life, Nellie passed away in Edinburg on September 19, 1927. To this day the legend of her exploits during the Civil War lives on in the Shenandoah Valley.
General Stonewall Jackson & Lt. Colonel Turner Ashby
Warm Springs, Morgan County - Western Virginia
January 4, 1862
General Stonewall Jackson had a number of goals he wanted to accomplish during his January 1st 1862 expedition to several towns under the occupation of Federal troops in western Virginia. Jackson’s main priority was the defense of the Shenandoah Valley. As such he would need to clear out the Federal garrison in the town of Berkeley Springs, also known as Bath, from troops under the command of US Brigadier General Frederick W. Lander. With his northern flank secured he would then turn his attention to the Federal garrison of 5000 men located in Romney under the command of Brigadier General Benjamin F. Kelley. After taking Romney, General Jackson planned to attack the Federal garrison and railroad hub of Cumberland Maryland. Also on the agenda was to sever or disrupt the lines of supply and transport of the enemy by destroying as much of the B&O Railroad as possible.
The expedition would also test Jackson’s newly formed army. He would learn which officers under his command he could trust and count on, and those he could not. His troops would also be tried under difficult circumstances during winter conditions, against multiple foes. In short Jackson would learn “who was worth his salt”.
On the comfortable sunny day of January 1st Confederate troops marched from Winchester towards Berkeley Springs. Jackson’s cavalry under the command of Lt. Colonel Turner Ashby led the way, followed by four brigades of infantry. The travel was easy at first, moving over flat terrain, but in the late afternoon a cold front blew through, dropping temperatures that night into the teens. The column halted at Pughtown for the night after covering 8 miles. The next day the army was on the move again pushing against a blinding snow storm. Miraculously the army was able to cover another 7 miles and camped at Unger’s Store.
By the middle of the afternoon the next day Jackson’s force had marched another eleven miles in the snow and elements of Ashby’s Cavalry had engaged the enemy 3 miles outside of Berkeley Springs. That night as the army camped in the woods near the enemy garrison of 1400 troops, another half a foot of snow fell.
The morning of January 4th the Stonewall Brigade again dug out of the snow. As the troops crawled out from under their snow-laden blankets, half-frozen, they were cursing General Jackson as the cause of their sufferings. Unbeknownst to them, the General lay close by under a tree, also snowed under, and heard all their complaints. Without a chastisement he too crawled out from under a snow covered blanket. Shaking the snow off, he made a humorous remark to the nearest men, who had no idea he had arrived during the night and lain down amongst them. News of what had happened spread throughout the ranks in short order, and fully reestablished his popularity. It was fortunate at that time for the troops to learn the metal of their leader as they were soon to go into battle.
The attack at Berkeley Springs was not as coordinated as Jackson had planned. General Loring, one of Jackson’s commanders “managed to scatter the rest of his command all over the countryside - except toward the front”. Exasperated, General Jackson rode into the confusion and took charge. By mid afternoon Jackson dashed into the city with his escort, ahead of his own skirmishers. The enemy had high-tailed it out, retreating to the town of Hancock.
Stonewall had learned much about his command that day, and he and his Stonewall Brigade established headquarters in Strother’s health resort in Berkeley Springs. Phase one of his expedition was difficult, but a success. His next test was the garrison at Romney.
They picked their way through the high country of western Virginia, led by Major General Thomas J. Jackson. Just a year earlier, he was an obscure mathematics professor at V.M.I., jokingly called "Tom Fool" Jackson by his students. Now he was the famous "Stonewall" Jackson, hero of First Manassas and defender of the Shenandoah Valley. On this winter expedition, designed to destroy a concentration of Federal forces near Romney, Virginia, he would battle the enemy, the weather and problems within his own command.
Heavy snow and ice posed a severe challenge on this expedition, but Jackson and his Stonewall Brigade persevered. What lay ahead after difficulties and defeats was the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. It would be a campaign ranked by historians to come as among "the most brilliant in history," and it would give Stonewall Jackson almost legendary stature. "
He lives by the New Testament and fights by the Old," historian Douglas Southall Freeman would later note. "
A man he is of contrasts so complete that he appears one day a Presbyterian deacon who delights in theological discussion and, the next, a [modern day] Joshua." Striking were the contrasts of his life at war. A humble, gentle, and compassionate husband and father, when summoned to fight he was a ferocious, relentless and remarkably successful warrior. Always, he was devout, disciplined and devoted to duty. "
Through life," he once advised, "let your principle object be the discharge of duty." Before another winter would cloak Virginia's highlands, Stonewall Jackson would rank among the great military leaders of history.
In the spring of 1861, he was described as the most promising officer in the United States Army. Hero of the Mexican War, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, capturer of the radical John Brown, Col. Robert Edward Lee was highly thought of by old "Fuss and Feathers" himself General Winfield Scott.
On April 18th, at the request of Abraham Lincoln, Lee was summoned to Washington and met with Francis P. Blair, where he was offered field command of the entire Union Army. Lee politely declined. Virginia had voted to secede the day before.
It was at his Arlington estates that Lee confronted the greatest dilemma of his life. He had turned down Lincoln's offer to climb to the highest pinnacle of any man's military career thus remaining loyal to the State of Virginia and his family ties to the South. But the winds of war were sweeping around him and soon orders to duty would follow. Lee spent the evening alone in his wife's flower garden next to their home. A special place for the Lee family, the garden served not only as an area for Mary Lee's rose cultivation, but also as a favorite gathering place and retreat for all members of the family. It is there where Lee would make his momentous decision that would change the course of American history.
At midnight Saturday the 20th of April, Lee wrote his letter of resignation from the United States Army. On the 21st the Governor of Virginia asked Lee to take command of the state militia. Lee explained that he could never draw his sword against his native state. When he was called upon to take command of Confederate forces, Lee left his beloved Arlington behind, destined never to return. For four years his brilliant, charismatic leadership would inspire the Army of Northern Virginia and the people of the South.
I am excited for the first time to depict one of the most important moments in our nation's history. A collection of General Lee prints would not be complete without this depiction of Lee before the toils of war would age his appearance. Lee would never have dreamed that night that his family's beautiful garden and estates would soon be turned into the final resting place for thousands of soldiers, and later would become a national cemetery, our country's most sacred ground.