June 1, 2023
Out on the frontier border country a jury of your peers just might be around a campfire.
Daily Whip Out: "Los Jurados"
Meanwhile, found this faded photo of "Mrs. Jesse James" in my files while looking for something else. Intriguing, yes?
Okay, back to the campfires where we meet this guy.
Daily Whip Out: "A Campfire Killer"
I was actually thinking of these bad boy Bushwhackers:
L to R: Archie Clements, Dave Pool
& another Border Ruffian
Casual Killers & Egregious Scallawags
I have been taking a deep dive into the Jesse James world and it is pretty brutal and bad. And, by bad, I mean, shockingly brutal. So much worse than I remembered from previous glancing articles about the legendary outlaw and where he came from.
As T. J. Stiles puts it, in his masterful "Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War," "Missouri's war was small-scale, intensely personal, and intensely vicious." The Bushwhackers saw their victims as "traitors and heretics who deserved the worst kind of fate." They also believed "a man must murder for respect."
Stiles goes on to describe this guerrilla insurrection as a "movable kingdom of terror," that created a culture of atrocity, because most of the combatants ceased to think of their enemies as "human beings."
Of course, the Border Ruffians had defenders, some of them quite eloquent: the Missouri journalist John Newman Edwards described the Bushwhackers as, "men driven to desperation by the unceasing persecution of Federals and militia, they had been outlawed and hunted. . .They accepted the black flag as an emblem, because it suited their ideas of murder—and having no hope themselves, they left none to their victims."
But, here is the depressing part.
"Perhaps nothing destroys a political system more quickly and efficiently than paranoia. The situation can be grave enough when one party to a quarrel believes the worst of the other, when it pictures its opponents as conspirators. But when both sides see the other as ruthless, treacherous, and unwilling to abide by the rules, then all room for compromise disappears."
—T. J. Stiles describing the border situation in pre Civil War Missouri, but also nailing our current political predicament
"Some people say you shouldn't bang your head against a wall. Tell that to the woodpecker."