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Going South, Fall of 1864
TODD’S death fell upon the spirits of his men as a sudden bereavement upon the hearts of a happy and devoted family. Those who mourned for him mourned all the more tenderly because they could not weep. Nature, having denied to them the consolation of tears, left them the infinite intercourse and remembrances of comradeship and soldierly affection.
The old bands, however, were breaking up. Lieutenant George Shepherd, taking with him Matt Wyman, John Maupin, Theo. Castle, Jack Rupe, Silas King, James and Alfred Corum, Bud Story, Perry Smith, Jack Williams, Jesse James and Arthur Devers, Press Webb, John Norfolk and others to the number of twenty-six, started south to Texas, on the 13th of November, 1864. With Shepherd also were William Gregg and wife, Richard Maddox and wife, and James Hendrix and wife. These ladies were just as brave and just as devoted and just as intrepid in peril or extremity as were the men who marched with them to guard them.
Jesse and Frank James separated at White River, Arkansas, Frank to go to Kentucky with Quantrell, and Jesse to follow the remnant of Todd’s still organized veterans into Texas.
Besides killing isolated squads of Federals and making way for every individual militiaman who supposed224 that the roads were absolutely safe for travelers because General Price and his army had long been gone, Shepherd’s fighting for several days was only fun. On the 22nd, however, Captain Emmett Goss, an old acquaintance of the Fifteenth Kansas Cavalry, Jennison’s, was encountered, commanding thirty-two Jayhawkers.
Of late Goss had been varying his orgies somewhat. He would drink to excess and lavish his plunder and money on ill-famed mistresses, who were sometimes Indians, sometimes negresses, and but rarely pure white. He was about thirty-five years old, square built, had broad shoulders, a swaggering gait, stood six feet when at himself, and erect, had red hair and a bad eye and a face that meant fight when cornered—and desperate fight at that.
November 22, 1864, was an autumn day full of sunshine and falling leaves. Riding southward from Missouri Lieutenant Shepherd met Captain Goss riding northward from Cane Hill. Shepherd had twenty-six men, rank and file. It was an accidental meeting—one of those sudden, forlorn, isolated, murderous meetings not rare during the war—a meeting of outlying detachments that asked no quarter and gave none. It took place on Cabin Creek, in the Cherokee Nation. Each rank arrayed itself speedily. There were twenty-six men against thirty-two. The odds were not great—indeed they never had been considered at all. There225 came a charge and a sudden and terrible storm of revolver bullets.
Nothing so weak as the Kansas detachment could possibly live before the deadly prowess and pistol practice of the Missourians. Of the thirty-two, twenty-nine were killed. One, riding a magnificent race horse, escaped on the wings of the wind—one, a negro barber, was taken along to wait upon the Guerrillas, and the third, a poor emaciated skeleton, as good as dead of consumption, was permitted to ride on northward, bearing the story of the thunderbolt.
Among the Missourians four were killed. In the melee Jesse James encountered Goss and singled him out from all the rest. As James bore down upon him, he found that his horse, an extremely high-spirited and powerful one, had taken the bit in its teeth and was perfectly unmanageable. Besides, his left arm being left weak from a scarcely healed wound, it was impossible for him to control his horse or even to guide him.
Pistol balls were as plentiful as the leaves that were pattering down. However, James had to put up his revolver as he rode, and rely upon his right hand to reinforce his left. Before he could turn his horse and break its hold upon his bit, Goss had fired upon him four times. Close upon him at last James shot him through and throug............
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