September 27, 1864. Seventeen-year-old Jesse James puts the first notch on his gun.
He, his brother Frank and other members of Bloody Bill Anderson’s Confederate guerrillas had just ransacked Centralia, MO (and executed 23 unarmed Union soldiers). A federal force led by Major A.V.E. Johnston went after them.
Jesse and others charged the Union force on horseback. It’s said 123 out of 155 bluecoats died, many as they tried to surrender. Frank James later claimed that Jesse himself shot and killed Major Johnston. It would not be Jesse’s last victim.