top of page

The James Gang and Kentucky


Part 4

The Kentucky partisans allowed Quantrill’s men to join with them. Bill Marrion, Henry Clay Magruder, Sue Mundy, Sam Berry, Isaiah Coalter and William Davison all rode combined actions with Quantrill and his men. The Kentucky men’s underground supporters who furnished remounts, food, hiding places and most importantly intelligence on the Union Army’s movements, accepted Quantrill’s men after being vouched for by Marrion. Quantrill’s men were wearing stolen Union Uniforms, and were initially looked at suspiciously. These supporters included James Heady Wakefield, Dr.’s Isaac and Noel McClasky, Nelson County Judge Samuels, Dr. Thomas, and locally in Meade County the Hamilton and Richardson families.

On or about March 11th, 1865, Bill Marrion was leading about 13 men in the area of Bewleyville, Kentucky, when they were attacked by about 200 men of the 17th Kentucky Cavalry. Peyton Long and another soldier were sent out to confront the force, while the rest of Marrion’s men including Bud and Donnie Pence, Lieutenant Porter, Frank James, and six others. Being out-numbered by twenty to one, Marrion ordered a retreat, and Payton Long took a bullet to the bowels, shot directly in his belt buckle between the U and the S. He died the next day. Marion ordered his men to disperse naming a place and time to rendezvous the next day.

Donnie Pence followed Frank James through a farm gate, and he was behind James about 100 feet, when a bullet hit Pence’s horse which fell on him. James, seeing his friend’s position, returned to Donnie and pulled him from under his horse, with bullets hitting all-about them. Frank got Donnie on the horse and jumped up behind him, and they made their escape.

On May 10th, 1865, Union Independent Scout Ed Terrell caught up with Quantrill’s men in a battle at James Heady Wakefield’s farm in Spencer County. Quantrill was mortally wounded and died the first week in June at the military prison in Louisville. Clark Hockensmith and John Glasscock were killed, and the other 10 or so men made their escape. On July 12th, 1865 all of Quantrill’s Raiders, except for two others and John McCorkle who surrendered in Winchester, Kentucky, took the oath to support the Union at Samuels Depot in Deatsville, Kentucky. That group included Frank, James, Bud and Donnie Pence, the Shepherd brothers, Lieutenant John Porter, and some 10 others, who were treated very honorably by Lieutenant Masten Campbell and Captain Young of the 54th Kentucky Mounted Infantry. These units had fought each other for over five months, earning the respect of each for the other.

Bud and Donnie settled in Kentucky, except for occasional trips back to rob Missouri banks with the James gang. Quantrill’s men were well liked by the Kentuckians. Bud was so well liked he was elected Town Marshal of Taylorsville, Kentucky, and Donnie was appointed chief deputy of Nelson County and later he was sheriff for some 27 years. Each brother married one of Judge Samuels daughters. Judge Samuels even helped Bud escape from an arrest by Sheriff John W. Francis, from Missouri. Francis was engaged in an election, and wanted a high-profile arrest to help defeat his opponent. He came to Deatsville, in March, 1868, to arrest Bud Pence for robbing the bank of Liberty, Missouri, although, the Richmond and Independence banks were also freshly robbed. Missouri exacted revenge on Quantrill’s men, without a trial. Felix Bradley and Dick Burns were taken from jail and strung up by vigilantes. Payne Jones was killed in a shootout, and Andy Maguire and James Devers were also lynched by hanging. Judge Samuels was a Democrat and a Confederate, disinclined to turn over his future son-in-law to Francis.

Just as Francis was all but complete with his arrest, a Sheriff Samuels, kin of the judge, arrived at Judge Samuel’s house and took Bud into custody. A little while later, Bud managed to escape out the back door while Sheriff Samuels kept Francis busy in the next room. Francis swore, upon returning to Missouri, Bud would suffer the same fate as James Devers. He was wrong and left Nelson County chagrinned and empty handed.

(Read concluding, Part 5 next week, when Frank and Jesse, and Bud, Donnie, and Chief Deputy Hunter meet Yankee Bligh and two Louisville Policemen in a Chaplin, Kentucky hotel bar.)