Jesse James: Avenger or Cold-Blooded Killer?

Recently PBS’s American Experience re-aired an old documentary about Jesse James. The authors and so-called Jesse James historians on that particular show tried to strip Jesse James of his folk-hero status and paint (smear) him and those he rode with as “terrorists” or cold-blooded psychopathic killers. Why? Only they can answer that; but I have come to the conclusion that they (the authors and so-called Jesse James historians on that show) suffer from a lack of knowledge regarding not only Jesse but also in regards to certain aspects of Civil War history and the effects that war in general can have on a person, especially victims of war atrocities.

Below is a rebuttal to the views expressed by those who tried to tarnish the name of Jesse and the men he rode with. The second is an article about a Civil War sniper by the name of Jack Hinson. I feel the article about Jack Hinson compliments the rebuttal.

Jesse James: Avenger or Cold-Blooded Killer?
by Betty Dorsett Duke

“Jesse James’ legendary status began in his own time and still attracts world-wide fascination. he is referred to as America’s Robin Hood (Avenger), a robbin’ hood, an outlaw, a patriot and a terrorist. Terrorist seems to be used out of place in this instance due to it being a modern word often misused to abuse one’s enemies – is it revealing of those who use it to describe him? Whatever the case may be the debate will probably never end because one man’s Robin Hood is another man’s terrorist. some claim the Border War between Missouri and Kansas rages on, and when one hears accounts like those on the PBS American Experience’s Jesse James, one gets the feeling that the Civil War, the battle between the North and South, is also still being fought with words instead of bullets…” Read the full article here:

Jack Hinson: The Civil War Sniper
Story by David LaPell

I recently came across this article at and felt it compliments the article I posted on February 12th.
The following is an excerpt: “At the outbreak of the Civil War Hinson owned a flourishing plantation in Stewart County, Tennessee. The wealthy father of ten children, Hinson opposed secession, had actually freed his slaves prior to the Emancipation Proclamation and even once had General Ulysses S. Grant over for supper. This being the case Hinson decided to sit out the war, refusing to choose a side even when one of his sons enlisted in the Confederate Army. Unfortunately for Hinson, the atrocities of war would choose a side for him in 1862 when a Union Patrol picked up his Hinson’s sons, George and John (who like their father were not affiliated with either side) while out hunting for game. The Union soldiers from the 5th Iowa Cavalry assumed the two Hinson boys were rebel guerillas despite their pleas of innocence. The two were disarmed, tied to a tree and then shot. As a further outrage, a lieutenant with the company used his sword to decapitate the two and set their heads on posts around the Hinson farm. Jack Hinson swore revenge.” Read the full article here:

We shouldn’t judge a person by the canvas of the time in which they lived.


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