The Last Ride Of Jesse James

By  | May 15, 2018 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News

Jesse Woodson James (September 5, 1847 – April 3, 1882) was an American outlaw, guerrilla, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer from the state of Missouri and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang. Jesse and his brother Frank James were Confederate guerrillas or Bushwhackers during the Civil War. They were accused of participating in atrocities committed against Union soldiers, including the Centralia Massacre. After the war, as members of various gangs of outlaws, they robbed banks, stagecoaches, and trains.

…..But did you know….The final robbery in Jesse James’ criminal career was to steal a payroll from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

It was a rainy, windy Friday on March 11, 1881 when Alexander Smith, receiver of materials, returned from Florence, Ala., with $5,240.18.  The money was a payroll for laborers in the Blue Water Camp at the Muscle Shoals Canal Project on the Tennessee River.

But when Smith stopped between Shoal Creek and the camp to open a gate, Jesse James, Wood Hite and William “Whiskey Head” Ryan brandished their weapons and quickly unarmed Smith.  They took the payroll out of the inner pocket of his coat, and the gold and silver coins in a bag hanging from the pommel of his saddle.

The gang forced Smith to ride nearly 20 miles in a rainstorm before releasing him and generously allowed him to keep his horse, his own money and his gold watch.

News of the arrest traveled fast.  With local authorities growing suspicious, Jesse and Frank departed Nashville immediately with their families.  Frank headed for safer territory in Virginia, while Jesse went to St. Joseph, Mo., where he lived under the name Thomas Howard.

The Blue Water Camp robbery is historically significant because it was the final robbery in Jesse James’ long career.  The James gang was in decline by the late 1870s after the death or arrest of all the former Confederate guerillas that made up the original group. 

sources: Wikipedia and US Corp of Engineers/Lee Roberts

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