The lost cause The trials of Frank and Jesse James

James P. Muehlberger

Book - 2013

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Subjects
Published
Yardley, PA : Westholme c2013.
Language
English
Physical Description
xiv, 255 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781594161735
1594161739
Main Author
James P. Muehlberger (-)
  • Grand River country
  • The murder of Captain John W. Sheets
  • Rivers of blood and iron
  • Ravenous monsters of society
  • A private in Virginia
  • Showdown with Frank and Jesse James
  • The trial of Clell Miller
  • The arrest and trial of Bill Ryan
  • The death of Jesse James
  • The attempted assassination of Major Samuel P. Cox
  • The trial of the century
  • Aftermath and revelations.
Review by Booklist Reviews

The criminal activities and mythology of the James-Younger gang were inextricably linked to the so-called "Lost Cause" delusion of die-hard Confederate sympathizers. The James brothers and other members of their gang fought with the Quantrill raiders, who terrorized Union sympathizers in Missouri and Kansas during the Civil War. Those who bought into the positive view of the gang after the war saw them as resisters against the injustices of Reconstruction. Muehlberger is an attorney and amateur historian who uses an obscure legal proceeding taken against Jesse James to demolish that myth while examining some aspects of their depredations as well as the efforts of state governments and the Pinkerton Agency to thwart them. Jesse James, in particular, is viewed here as a clever self-promoter but also a cold-blooded killer with sociopathic tendencies. This is an often fascinating and provocative revisiting of the careers of these legendary "bad men." Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Lawyer and legal historian Muehlberger's investigation of Jesse and Frank James's criminal careers and their connection to a little-remembered legal case involving a horse named Kate, a young lawyer, a Confederate-sympathizing newspaper editor, and lasting memories of the chaos Missouri experienced during the Civil War reveals a fascinating historical story. Muehlberger asserts that current perception of the James-Younger gang derives from years of sensational dime novels and Kansas City Times editor John Newman Edwards's propaganda campaign in favor of the legendary outlaws. He also argues that the turbulent atmosphere of Missouri during the Civil War and the James's involvement with Southern guerillas who terrorized pro-Union sympathizers led to the development of a Robin Hood-type legend instead of any factual investigation of Jesse and Frank's crimes and motives. The legal case surrounding a robbery/murder in Gallatin, MI, and lawyer Henry McDougal's use of a property-loss suit is the springboard for a well-documented and well-researched tale that reads like a thriller. VERDICT Recommended for general readers, historic true crime buffs, legal and crime scholars, and those who enjoy myth busting.—Amelia Osterud, Carroll Univ. Lib., Waukesha, WI [Page 90]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Relying on rigorous research into Missouri court archives, Kansas City, Mo., lawyer Muehlberger tells the fascinating story of the murder that landed Frank and Jesse James in the headlines long before the latter's ignominious end. In December 1869, the bandit brothers walked into a bank and shot the cashier at point-blank range. Initially considered the big bang that kicked off the Jameses' spree of bank and train robberies, the murder was instead, according to Muehlberger, a premeditated and misdirected act of retribution in response to the killing of the brothers' Confederate guerilla leader, "Bloody Bill" Anderson, during the Civil War. In the ensuing manhunt, the editor of the Kansas City Times, a Rebel sympathizer, tried to paint the brothers as defenders of the old Southern guard, while a young lawyer, the governor of Missouri, and the legendary Pinkerton detectives sought to present the men as they really were—thieves and murderers. All the front-line players receive Muehlberger's close attention, and his history works well as both a thrilling Wild West drama and an insightful portrait of a country trying to rebuild under the burden of still-simmering resentments and conflicting loyalties. Photos, illus. & maps. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The true story behind the legendary outlaw gang, a Civil War vendetta, and the forgotten court documents that helped seal their fate.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The True Story Behind the Legendary Outlaw Gang, a Civil War Vendetta, and the Forgotten Court Documents That Helped Seal Their Fate On a dreary December 7, 1869, two strangers entered the Daviess County Savings and Loan in Gallatin, Missouri. One of the men asked the cashier for change and then unexpectedly raised a revolver and shot him at point-blank range. Until now, this crime has been considered the first of a string of bank and train robberies committed by Jesse James, his brother Frank, and other gang members. But a story has circulated for more than a century that the case was actually brought to trial by a young Missouri lawyer—and it was through this case that twenty-two-year-old Jesse was first identified as a criminal to the country. But until recently no evidence for such an action could be found. After years of painstaking searches through dusty court archives across Missouri, defense attorney James P. Muehlberger finally discovered the historic documents in 2007. These fascinating and important records reveal that the gunmen were forced to leave behind a magnificent thoroughbred that linked James to the murder and, more intriguing, that the attack was not a bank robbery at all, but a calculated assassination in retribution for a Civil War killing. The Lost Cause: The Trials of Frank and Jesse James is a thoroughly researched, thrilling account of the rise, pursuit, and prosecution of the legendary outlaw gang. Beginning with the newfound evidence of the Gallatin bank teller murder, the author explains how Jesse James attempted to avenge the death of his Confederate partisan leader, “Bloody Bill” Anderson, but shot the wrong man. Having lost his thoroughbred, Jesse stole another horse. Newly minted lawyer Henry McDougal brashly sued Jesse and Frank James for the loss of property, which would hang the murder on their heads. While Jesse professed his innocence and remained at large, his case was taken up by John Newman Edwards, editor of the Kansas City Times. Through Edwards’s pen, the James brothers were transformed from petty criminals to noble outlaws still fighting for Southern honor—the “Lost Cause.” Not fooled by Edwards’s rhetoric and populist appeal, McDougal and others, including Pinkerton detectives and the governor of Missouri, led a behind-the-scenes fight to bring down the gang. As the author explains, they first prosecuted lesser gang members, and by infiltrating the group, the authorities slowly unraveled the gang, with Jesse being shot by a paid informant in 1882. Frank James gave himself up, and in what was called the “trial of the century,” he was exonerated on all charges and retired to become a notable horse racing official until his death in 1915. Combining true crime, western adventure, and the transformation of America into a modern nation, The Lost Cause is engaging, entertaining history.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The True Story Behind the Legendary Outlaw Gang, a Civil War Vendetta, and the Forgotten Court Documents That Helped Seal Their Fate The Lost Cause: The Trials of Frank and Jesse James is a thoroughly researched, thrilling account of the rise, pursuit, and prosecution of the legendary outlaw gang. Beginning with the newfound evidence of the Gallatin bank teller murder, the author explains how Jesse James attempted to avenge the death of his Confederate partisan leader, “Bloody Bill” Anderson, but shot the wrong man. Having lost his thoroughbred, Jesse stole another horse. Newly minted lawyer Henry McDougal brashly sued Jesse and Frank James for the loss of property, which would hang the murder on their heads. While Jesse professed his innocence and remained at large, his case was taken up by John Newman Edwards, editor of the Kansas City Times. Through Edwards’s pen, the James brothers were transformed from petty criminals to noble outlaws still fighting for Southern honor—the “Lost Cause.” Not fooled by Edwards’s rhetoric and populist appeal, McDougal and others, including Pinkerton detectives and the governor of Missouri, led a behind-the-scenes fight to bring down the gang. As the author explains, they first prosecuted lesser gang members, and by infiltrating the group, the authorities slowly unraveled the gang, with Jesse being shot by a paid informant in 1882. Frank James gave himself up, and in what was called the “trial of the century,” he was exonerated on all charges and retired to become a notable horse racing official until his death in 1915. Combining true crime, western adventure, and the transformation of America into a modern nation, The Lost Cause is engaging, entertaining history.