Screenplay Excerpt – Northfield Bank Raid 09/07/1876
(UPDATE:11/07/2011. Almost finished with adjustments. The Minnesota Historical Society recently digitized certain documents, which give further testimony by eye-witnesses into the gunfight. This information, along with conflicting testimony by Younger in both a separate hand-written letter, and his personal published autobiography, is being incorporated into my book’s prose.)
(Please Note: The screenplay for “Western Legend” is registered with the Writer’s Guild of America West and has been Copyrighted with the Library of Congress.)
Nothing too elaborate today — just a mess of type for your reading pleasure. Thursday’s post on My Summer Box Office included so many pics and YouTube links, that every time I log onto my blog, it takes two minutes. So, I decided to replace the main blog page with an excerpt from the original screenplay from which my novel “Western Legend” is based on. Below the scripted scene, you will find the corresponding passages from the novel, for comparison and reference.
This script, originally titled “American Western,” began with a one page treatment I fiddled with in 1992 while watching the Pilot episode of The X-Files. After I saw “Tombstone” and “Wyatt Earp,” I added to the treatment. I had no way of knowing that I would eventually write eleven drafts of this sucker between 2003 and 2007. Let alone the various drafts of the novel which followed.
Below is much of the Northfield sequence. This incident has been portrayed in films and on cable, but unfortunately, never this close to the way it actually happened. You can click WESTERN LEGEND PHOTO GALLERY at the top of the blog page for pics that will give you visual reference of the town of Northfield, Minnesota in 1876.
For those who’ve never read a screenplay before, keep in mind (EXT.) means “Exterior,” in other words, Outside. (INT.) means “Interior,” in other words, Inside. The SCENE HEADINGS have all been underlined. Additional HEADINGS which are NOT labeled with EXT. or INT., are merely separate set-pieces of the same location.
Everyone has their own script style based on the various “accepted” current formats. I learned in the 1980’s, so my own style mirrors the accepted formatting guidelines of that era. Pay not attention to the little Astrix that keep popping up on the left; those are only there because WordPress kept giving me issues with the formatting.
EXT. OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN – 4’TH STREET BRIDGE
The Eight Men mount eight horses and fall into formation in three separate echelons: the first comprised of three men, then two, then three again. Spacing each echelon apart by roughly forty yards, the first five men ride to where they can see Mill Square beneath them, past Ames Mill and the 4’th Street Bridge.
A signal is given, and the initial echelon pass the Mill and ride across the Bridge at a leisurely clip: THE FIRST JAMES BROTHER (identical in appearance to the SECOND,) SAMUEL GEORGE WELLS (alias CHARLIE PITTS), and ROBERT (BOB) EWING YOUNGER. WE SEE them split up …
EXT. SCRIVER BLOCK – DIVISION & 4’TH STREETS
… Two arriving from Division St., & One from 4’th, meeting up at the ‘First National Bank of Northfield,’ housed in Scriver Building. Local CITIZENS stare, curious.
GEORGE E. BATES & C. O. WALDO, standing in doorway of Bates’ Store. They note the First Three Men arriving, and marvel at their noble appearance.
DIVISION STREET – 4’TH STREET
The Three Men dismount, tie up their horses, and walk down to the corner of Lee & Hitchcock Dry Goods Store. Once there, one Man sits on drygoods boxes stacked in front of the store, while the other two lean against the staircase banister.
EXT. OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN – 4’TH STREET BRIDGE
TWO more of the Eight Men now rode up to the foot of the Bridge. THOMAS COLEMAN (COLE) YOUNGER & WILLIAM McLELLAND (CLELL) MILLER. Cole looked back at the third echelon, and nodded. The nod was reciprocated by THE SECOND JAMES BROTHER.
Cole snaps his pocket watch shut, nods to Clell, and they cross the Bridge.
The last THREE immediately ride up and replace them at the foot of the Bridge: The Second James Brother, JAMES (JIM) HARDIN YOUNGER, and WILLIAM STILES (alias BILL CHADWELL).
EXT. 4’TH STREET – DIVISION STREET
The First Three Men spot the second Two of their party approaching down Division St., and begin walking toward the bank.
VOICE OF CITIZEN
It’s a St. Albans raid …
J.S. ALLEN & SON (HARDWARE STORE)
J.S. ALLEN has followed the First Three, a few steps to the corner of Scriver Building — there he watches them enter through the wide open folding doors of the Bank — and he watches those doors close behind them. He looks around the street, others have seen this as well, and stare, curious. Allen’s breathing becomes erratic. After a beat, he moves past the corner of Lee & Hitchcock’s, walks toward the bank.
INT. FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF NORTHFIELD
The Three rush the counter, pulling their heavy pistols. The First James Brother hurdles the desk at the left, and Pitts & Bob Younger through the two foot window, their boots scratching the counter …
Placing the barrels to the heads of JOSEPH LEE HEYWOOD (seated on cashiers seat at end of counter,) ALONZO E. BUNKER, and FRANK J. WILCOX (both seated at the desk, center floor).
The smell of alcohol on their breath, clearly makes one or two of the bankers queasy.
Throw up your hands, for we intend to rob the bank, and if you holler we will blow your God Damned brains out !
FIRST JAMES BROTHER
Which of you is the cashier ?
He is not in …
Instantly, the two men upon the counter jump down and get close enough that the Bankers can smell alcohol on their breath.
EXT. DIVISION STREET – BANK
In the street, the Second Two Men, Cole Younger and Clell Miller are now tying up their horses at the bank. They watch traffic in the street, closely. Division Street is 80 ft. wide, and crowded. Clell lights a pipe, unconcerned.
DRUG STORE – DIVISION STREET
DR. HENRY M. WHEELER is seated in a rocking chair outside the Drug Store, talking to friends. His eyes range the street, locking on Cole Younger and Clell Miller, conspicuously standing near their horses, looking around. Without saying a word, Wheeler stands, steps into the street. Then he spots J.S. Allen approaching the bank doors, peering with profound interest.
INT. NORTHFIELD BANK
CHAOS. OVERLAPPING SHOUTING as the Three Robbers accost the three bank employees, with ‘You are the cashier,’ each time provoking a denial out of Heywood, Bunker, and Wilcox. Bob Younger orders Bunker and Wilcox on their knees, and demands the location of the cash drawer. Wilcox points, and Younger open the drawer, finding only nickels, he drops them to the floor.
EXT. DIVISION STREET – BANK
Wheeler, giving the bank a wide birth, eyes Cole and Clell. He’s starting to put it all together. He makes eye contact with Clell, and Clell spins around, placing his back to Wheeler. Wheeler now moves to where he can see inside the bank, just as …
… J.S. Allen makes it to the bank doors, and reaches to open them, just as Clell’s gloved hand reaches out, and closes them, softly. Now Clell grabs Allen by his collar, aims muzzle of a .44 caliber pistol right in his face —
What’s happening here ?
(past pipe, low)
Don’t you holler, If you do, I’ll blow your damned head off.
Allen catches breath, backs off quickly.
Get your guns boys, they’re robbin’ the bank !
Cole reels, draws and points a pistol at Wheeler –
Get outta here, dingus !
Wheeler runs to the Dampier Hotel, screaming ‘Robbery !’
SEVERAL CITIZENS appear before them with shovels, boards, anything they could find handy; SHOUTING, and making quite a racket, trying to drive the Two Men away.
Cole and Clell exchange a look, mount their horses, and ‘in tandem’ FIRE in the air ! Citizens in the street scatter. And J.S. Allen runs back toward his store as …
EXT. OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN – BRIDGE
Jim Younger, Bill Chadwell & the Second James Brother, pull their firearms, and ride at full gallop into town …
EXT. DIVISION STREET – BANK
Clell steps his horse close to the doors, pleads through the glass —
Hurry up, boys —
INT. NORTHFIELD BANK
— they’ve given the alarm !
WHIP PAN to the First Three Men, still getting nowhere, they glance around at one another … eyes of all three eventually landing on Heywood, still at Cashier’s seat. The First James Brother levels his long barreled navy colt at Heywood’s head –
FIRST JAMES BROTHER
You are the cashier; now open the safe you goddamn son-of-a-bitch.
(references safe in vault)
It’s a time lock and cannot be opened now.
INSERT OF SAFE AND THE ‘YALE CHRONOMETER TIME-LOCK’
First James Brother steps into the vault to take a look at the safe inside — and Heywood lunges, closes the door on him; catching his hand and an upper angle of his shoulder in the door. Pitts and Younger are in shock at this action. Bob Younger grabs Heywood by the collar, pulls him away and opens the vault door. James Brother steps out, his eyes wide and locked on Heywood. He wrings out his wrist in pain.
FIRST JAMES BROTHER
(to Bob Younger)
Seize the silver; put it in the bag.
First James Brother pushes Heywood down to the floor, steps over him, places a knife across his throat, drawing blood.
FIRST JAMES BROTHER (CONT’D)
Damned liar ! You’ll open that safe, or I’ll cut your damned throat; you understand me !?
Pitts has stepped inside the vault, removes a grain sack from his pocket, marked H.C.A. He weighs the silver, disregards it, removes $12 in scrip and pockets it. Spotting a locked tin-box on the bottom shelf, he aims, shoots it open. The SHOT ECHOES. Pitts covers his ears, in pain. Inside the box are only papers.
EXT. SCRIVER BLOCK
The last Three Raiders gallop past, joining Cole and Clell, all FIRING into the air and at the ground, zigzagging up and down Division & 4’th streets SHOUTING: “Go back inside, you sons-of-bitches !”, “Get inside !”, “Get back inside, you sons-of-bitches.” Elias Hobbs and Justice Streeter throw rocks at them each time they pass.
INSERTS – VARIOUS POV’S
from inside establishments, at the ensuing melee. Shocked Citizens scatter all over Scriver Block SCREAMING !
GEORGE E. BATES’ STORE – FRONT DOOR
Mr. Bates runs into his store, quickly grabs a shotgun, appears at the door and pulls the trigger. The weapon misfires. He rushes back, reappearing quickly with an old, empty six-shooter. Using the pistol as a ruse, he aims at two of the Robbers as they pass.
GEORGE E. BATES
Now I’ve got you !
In response, both men turn, firing. SHOTS pierce and shatter the glass behind Bates.
drunken, walks out of an underground pub, and down the street into the line of fire. The Five Robbers shout at him, but he shakes his head, speaks only Swedish. A STRAY SHOT grazes above his eye.
INT. J.S. ALLEN & SON (STORE)
INSERTS: J.S. ALLEN is passing out firearms to the CITIZENS OF NORTHFIELD, many with price tags still attached.
EXT. SCRIVER BLOCK
ANSELM R. MANNING runs into street with a breech-loading Remington rolling block rifle, hastily aims and his shot goes wild. Manning aims, fires again, and his rifle jams. He fiddles with it. G. E. Bates calls out to Manning …
GEORGE E. BATES
Jump back now, or they’ll get you !
Manning turns, running back to his store to fix the rifle …
J.B. HYDE and JAMES GREGG now appear in the street, both with ineffective shotguns.
ELIAS STACY fires upon Clell Miller with a shotgun loaded with Birdshot, and peppers him in the face and upper chest. Clell is knocked from his horse, but quickly remounts, blood smeared upon his face. His horse spins around and around, and Stacy aims and fires again, this time hitting Clell in the back.
INT. DAMPIER HOTEL – UPSTAIRS ROOM
WE HEAR Wheeler’s footsteps pounding the stairs, fast. He races into the room, with an old Civil War Army Carbine Rifle. Going straight for an open window, turns finding CHARLIE DAMPIER right behind him, feeding him ammunition. Frantically, Wheeler loads the weapon, rests the rifle on an open window-sill, aims … His first shot is a miss. Quickly, he reloads.
EXT. SCRIVER BLOCK
George E. Bates hears a REPORT over his head, and flinches as Clell is hit just below the left shoulder … by Wheeler’s rifle.
Bates turns, sees Wheeler up in the window reloading, turns again, watches Clell’s horse makes a faltering plunge forward and then suddenly stop. Clell pitches over with his face to the ground. For a moment, he attempts to rise up on his elbows, then rolls over dead.
Cole dismounts, with his horses reins still in his hands. He moves to Clell and jostles him. Within the moment, Cole takes Clell’s pistols and cartridge belt, rolls onto his back. As his own cover fire, he repeatedly cocks and fires the pistols, in both directions. Then, remounts his horse.
Manning reappears, creeps to the corner. MR. WALDO calls out to him …
Take good aim before you fire.
Simultaneously, Cole is fired upon from both sides of the street. Manning hits Cole in shoulder — Wheeler (from the window) shoots off his hat.
Manning now climbs the outside stairway at the corner of Scriver Block, aims carefully 70 yards away at Chadwell — farthest south on Division St.
Chadwell is shot through the heart, and his horse starts up the street. Chadwell begins to reel to and fro in the saddle, and falls to the ground, opposite Eldridge’s store.
INT. NORTHFIELD BANK
First James Brother struggles with Heywood. Bob comes to his aid. Heywood gets loose, runs around the counter –
First James Brother grabs Heywood, slams pistol over the back of his lower neck, drags him back to the vault –
FIRST JAMES BROTHER
Open it !
He fires off a wild shot ! Bunker goes for a small derringer pistol off a shelf below the teller’s window, and Pitts snatches and pockets it. When he turns away, Bunker sprints around the corner, and heads for the back door …
HALLWAY – BACK ALLEY
Pitts races after Bunker … Standing in the open back doorway, he aims at the fleeing man, and fires — hitting Bunker in the collarbone, and quickly turns away. Bunker is seen stumbling, running toward Water Street, terrified … He runs toward Dr. Combe’s Office …
They’re robbing the bank ! Help !
Before returning to the bank lobby, Pitts pauses. He hears the echo of gunfire. And it’s a jarring racket.
The game is up and we are beaten !
Bob moves to a window, peeks out, spots a riot outside. Pitts re-emerges and joins Bob at the door. A second later, both reluctantly head outside. Behind them, the First James Brother hurdles the counter — but with one hand on the counter, he turns …
As Heywood staggers back to his desk, sits, opens a drawer, the James Brother fires a shot that misses Heywood. The banker had quickly ducked under the counter.
Now the James Brother lunges across the counter, places the pistol near the top of Heywood’s head, and fires; striking the banker in the temple. Heywood pops up, spills blood on the desk blotter, staggers forward, and falls.
EXT. DIVISION STREET – SCRIVER BLOCK
A BARRAGE OF UNENDING GUNFIRE THUNDERS, SHOTS RICOCHET EVERYWHERE. The First James Brother is the last to step out, and ZING — A SHOT goes right by his ear ! The Three have stepped out into a war zone.
Several SHOTS daisy-chain, striking the ground around the Men, with increasing rhythm. Bullets WHIZ BACK & FORTH. The Men find DOZENS OF CITIZENS firing from windows up and down the street, and the ground on both ends of the street. The Men are under fire from below and above …
– RIFLES (PRICE TAGS ATTACHED) FIRING FROM WINDOWS !
– THE MUD BEING RIDDLED WITH BULLET HITS !
– BUILDING FACES ARE DEFILED AND WINDOWS SHOT OUT !
– CHILDREN, WATCH FROM BEHIND BARRELS, HOLDING THEIR EARS.
BACK TO SCENE
The First Three Men quickly mount their horses …
J. B. HYDE arrives on scene with double barreled shotgun, fires off both barrels, striking Pitts in both the shoulder and wrist, and retreats to reload …
Manning fires on Bob Younger, and Bob hides behind his horse. So Manning shoots the horse in the head. Bob jumps behind some boxes stacked underneath the stairwell, at the corner of Scriver Building. (where the first echelon had waited earlier)
Bob and Manning play peek-a-boo for a few seconds, until Manning fires a shot that shatters Bob’s right elbow. Bob scrambles behind the crates and under the girders. Then Wheeler, up in the window across, fires, hitting Bob in the right thigh. Bob winces, his pistol changes hands, he grips his right leg in pain. He returns fire a few times.
Fatefully, Bob steps out and begins limping back up the street. Spotting Bates aiming at him, he strains to keep a steady hand, fires a shot which grazes Bates’ cheek and nose.
SECOND JAMES BROTHER
We’re beat; let’s go !!
The James Brothers (now both on the same horse,) head back across the Bridge. Right behind them, Charlie Pitts, Jim Younger are following, when Jim is hit from two different angles, in the left shoulder and the back of the right leg. He continues on, with Cole following up the rear …
Suddenly, Bob Younger reaches opposite Mr. Morris’s Store –
My God, boys; hold on ! Don’t leave me; I’m shot !
Cole turns, rides back for brother Bob. Pulls him up onto his horse, rides across the Bridge.
SIX MEN RIDE OUT OF TOWN, speeding across the Cannon River Bridge …
SERIES OF SHOTS OF SCRIVER BLOCK
Drifting Gunsmoke over a broken Crowd …
Damage done to area …
William Stiles (Bill Chadwell) lies dead in the street …
Clell Miller lies dead in the street …
And from CHAPTER 9: NORTHFIELD
Eight men mounted eight horses and fell into formation in three separate echelons. The first comprised three men, then two, then three again. After spacing these echelons apart by roughly forty yards, the first five nonchalantly rode for-ward to where they could see much of Mill Square beneath them. A horseshoe shaped blending of two streets, Division and 4th, also known as Bridge Square due to its approxima-tion to the 4th Street Bridge.
The first echelon included a James Brother—both were reportedly favoring a mustache, and were difficult to tell apart—Samuel George Wells, alias Charlie Pitts, and Robert “Bob” Ewing Younger. The three rode on, passing Ames Mill, crossing over the 4th Street Bridge, and riding down into the Square.
Splitting up rather quickly, these first three horsemen were seen taking alternate routs toward a mutual destination. While two took the long way around, eventually arriving at the bank via the opposite end of Division, the third simply fol-lowed 4th directly across the Square. And when all three ar-rived, they tied their horses in front of the bank and strolled several yards alongside the large Scriver Building to the cor-ner of Lee & Hitchcock Dry Goods Store. One sat atop a dry-goods box stacked there, while the others leaned against the banister of a staircase that ran up the side of the building di-agonally. This large, prominent building faced Division to the South, and along with other businesses, housed the bank.
Catching sight of the three men, a few local citizens took second and even third glances at them. Their appearance was remarked as, “marvelous”.
The aforementioned George E. Bates, and another man, C.O. Waldo, a “commercial trav-eler” from Council Bluffs, were both standing in the doorway of Bates’ Store located across the street when the men rode in. Bates and Waldo had a brief, trivial discussion regarding the appearance of the men whom town scuttlebutt had la-beled cattle buyers. And following this, they withdrew to the far end of the store to look over sample trusses, which are structural frameworks designed to hold up a roof or building corner.
* * * *
Elsewhere, the second echelon, including Thomas Cole-man “Cole” Younger and William McLelland “Clell” Miller, was now stationed a few feet behind the Bridge. Cole turned his head, and nodded at the men of the last echelon, several yards back. The nod was reciprocated by one of the three men.
Years later, Younger credited this “third man” as “Woods.” Research has revealed that both Jesse and Frank ap-pear to have used the aliases, “Woodson,” and “Howard” on numerous occasions, and even appear to have traded them routinely, so as to confuse specific identity, in case said aliases were discovered.
Cole snapped his pocket watch shut; nodded to Clell.
And with that, the two galloped across the bridge into town.
Behind them, the Second James Brother, along with James “Jim” Hardin Younger, and William Stiles, alias Wil-liam Chadwell, began riding forward to replace them at the foot of the bridge.
* * * *
Not a moment later, the first three men, already posi-tioned at Lee & Hitchcock’s, spotted the second two ap-proaching and began walking toward the bank. The voice of a citizen was distantly heard, shouting, “It’s a St. Albans Raid!” But due to the sound of street traffic, few heard this muffled plea.
J.S. Allen, in apron, had left his nearby hardware store and walked a few steps to the corner of Scriver Building—the very spot where the first three men had been seconds earlier. Once there, Allen watched as the initial three entered through the wide open folding doors of the bank, and then watched as those doors suspiciously closed behind them.
It took a beat for it to sink in. But once it had, Allen slowly moved past the corner of the dry goods store, and be-gan walking toward the bank. He looked around the street and saw a few others looking toward the bank as well. His breathing quickened, and incrementally, his pace quickened.
Meanwhile, inside the First National Bank, Charlie Pitts, Bob Younger, and the first James Brother pulled their heavy pistols and rushed the bank counter. The first man immedi-ately hurtled directly through a narrow two-foot teller’s win-dow, flanked by a thirty-inch-high glazed rail, while the other two men jumped upon the counter and squatted, preparing to pounce. Their heavy boots left lasting scuff-marks on the counter, which remain visible today. Each man quickly ex-tended an arm and placed the barrel of his pistol close to the head of one of three men—Joseph Lee Heywood, seated upon a cashier’s seat at the far right end of the counter, Alonzo E. Bunker, and Frank J. Wilcox, both seated at the adjoining counter to the left.
“Throw up your hands, for we intend to rob the bank, and if you holler we will blow your God Damned brains out!” barked Charlie Pitts.
“Which of you is the cashier?” the James brother de-manded.
Heywood was defiant, and said, with almost disinterest, “He’s not in.”
Instantly, the two men upon the counter jumped down and got close enough that the bankers could smell the alcohol on their breath.
Out on the noisy street, Cole and Clell had dismounted and were tying up their horses near the bank, while also watching traffic in the eighty-foot-wide thoroughfare. Younger was on the lookout for trouble. While Clell, sport-ing a white linen handkerchief around his neck, a new shirt with gold sleeve-buttons, a matching gold ring, and a John Hancock felt hat, began to pack his pipe, completely uncon-cerned.
On the porch of a drugstore not far away, twenty-two-year-old Dr. Henry M. Wheeler was seated in his father’s rocking chair, talking to a couple of friends. As his gaze fell upon the street, it locked on Cole and Clell, both of whom were suspiciously standing near their horses, ranging the street around them. Without saying a word, Wheeler stood and stepped into the street—and soon spotted J.S. Allen moving closer to the bank, evaluating the bank’s closed doors with profound interest.
Inside the bank, there was only chaos.
The three robbers were repeatedly accosting the three bank employees with, “You are the cashier,” each time pro-voking a denial out of Heywood, Bunker, and Wilcox.
Bob Younger ordered Bunker and Wilcox on their knees and demanded the location of the cash drawer. Wilcox pointed, and Younger opened the drawer, finding only a roll of nickels; which he promptly removed and dropped with a clunk to the floor.
Back outside, Wheeler continued moving slowly across the street, glaring at Cole and Clell. Cole instantly turned his back to him, so he focused on Clell. Anyone could see that Clell Miller needed a shave. But many initially missed that in spite of Miller’s finer clothes, he was wearing two different types of boot—one of finer leather, the other a cheap brand. Wheeler was starting to put it all together now. Clell spotted Wheeler staring at him, and spun around. Wheeler continued walking. He wanted to see inside that bank.
J.S. Allen arrived at the bank doors, reached out and opened them—and Clell Miller’s gloved hand reached out and closed them again, softly. Instantly, Clell grabbed Allen by his collar, pulling him close. Allen’s gaze was filled with Clell’s blue eyes. Then it was filled with the muzzle of the bandit’s .44 caliber pistol.
“What’s happening here?” Allen demanded.
“Don’t you holler,” Clell said in heavy whisper past his pipe. “If you do, I’ll blow your damned head off.”
Allen caught his breath and backed off quickly.
At that instant Wheeler’s voice was heard among street traffic, shouting, “Get your guns, boys, they’re robbin’ the bank!”
Cole reeled. He drew and pointed his pistol point blank at Wheeler.
“Get out of here, dingus!” Cole shouted.
Wheeler began running to the Dampier Hotel at the near opposite side of the street, screaming, “ROB-BERY!”
Several citizens were now in the street with shovels, boards, and anything else they could find handy, shouting and making a lot of racket. It was a futile attempt to drive the robbers away.
Cole and Clell looked at each other, mounted their horses, and in-tandem fired their pistols into the air. Citizens in the street scattered. And fast. J.S. Allen began running back toward his store.
The last three men at the Bridge heard the dual gunshots, pulled their revolvers, and galloped into Mill Square.
At the exterior bank entrance, Clell stepped his horse close to the doors and pleaded through the glass, “Hurry up, boys—they’ve given the alarm!”
Back inside the bank, the initial three men were still getting nowhere. After hearing Clell’s message, they glanced around at one another, before all turned to stare at Joseph Lee Heywood, still upon the cashier’s seat. Charlie Pitts lev-eled a long-barreled pistol at Heywood’s head, and in a harsh voice said, “You are the cashier. Now open the safe you god-damn son-of-a-bitch.”
Heywood referenced the safe within the vault. “It’s a time-lock and cannot be opened now.”
It was later revealed that the time-lock had never been set. If any one of the men had tried to open the safe door, they would have instantly discovered this. How much, or how little currency was actually within the vault at the time, was never publicly revealed.
The men focused their attention on the Yale Chronome-ter Time-Lock mounted onto the safe, and visible through the open vault. The man noted as being slim and dark skinned, with a black mustache, probably the James brother, confi-dently stepped inside to take a closer look at the safe—and Heywood suddenly lunged forward, closing the newly in-stalled Detroit Safe Company’s door on him; catching his hand and an angle of his upper shoulder in the door.
Pitts and Younger were truly shocked.
Bob Younger grabbed Heywood by the collar, jerked him from the vault door, and opened it. Released, the James brother stepped forward, his stare locked hard on Heywood. Ringing out his wrist in extreme pain, he reportedly refer-enced the interior shelves of the walk-in vault, motioned to Bob, and said, “Seize the silver—put it in the bag.” Then he pushed Heywood to the floor with little effort. He stepped over him, pulled a knife and placed it across the banker’s throat, drawing blood.
“Damned liar!” he said. “You’ll open that safe, or I’ll cut your damned throat! You understand me?”
Bob, meanwhile, had promptly stepped inside the vault, and procured a two-bushel flour or grain sack marked H.C.A., from his coat pocket. And though initially he weighed the fifteen dollars worth of silver with one hand, for some unknown reason his head shook with belligerence, and he disregarded it. Instead, he chose to remove twelve dollars in scrip—paper money—from a shelf, before spotting a curi-ous locked tin-box on another lower shelf. Stepping back, he aimed carefully, and shot the box open. The blast echoed within the small space, and Bob belatedly cupped both ringing ears with gloved hands. Shaking it off, and angry as hell, he flipped open the lid of the busted box. Inside were only pa-pers such as land deeds.
Out in the street, the last three men galloped around a corner onto Scriver Block, joining Cole and Clell. This made five raiders now firing in the air and at the ground, while zig-zagging up and down Division and 4th, shouting variations of: “GET BACK INSIDE, YOU SONS-OF-BITCHES!” And Elias Hobbs and “Justice” Streeter were throwing rocks at them each time they passed.
Northfield’s more prominent took cover in establish-ments as gunfire tore through windows and partitions, just missing many of them. The wife of George E. Bates was a good example. She was standing in the second story of Messrs. Skinner & Drew’s Store, when a .44 ball crashed through the wall within just a few inches of her. Others like her watched helpless from behind broken windows as their neighbors scattered all over the block, shouting and screaming at the sight of the raiders.
Mr. Bates went into his store, quickly grabbed a shotgun, appeared at the door and pulled the trigger. The weapon mis-fired, and he rushed back inside, reappearing quickly with an old, empty six-shooter. As a ruse he aimed the weapon at the two of the men as they passed, shouting, “Now I’ve got you!” In response, both of the men instantly turned and fired upon him, their shots piercing and shattering the glass window be-hind him. Bates apparently repeated this action several times, each instance achieving the same response from the various men on horseback.
Down the street, a man named Nicholas Gustafson stepped right into the line of fire as he exited a pub intoxi-cated, with curious, yet ubiquitous interest. The men on horseback variously shouted at him to get out of the way, but Gustafson was a recent arrival to Northfield, as well as the U.S., and spoke only Swedish. Members of the James-Younger Gang barked orders and shouted obscenities at him while waving their guns in the air. But Gustafson had little comprehension of the meaning, and a moment later he was grazed above the eye by a stray shot. A shot which wouldn’t immediately kill him, but strangely put him in critical condi-tion less than a day later, and result in his death within a week. In a later interview, Cole Younger attributed that shot to “Woods.”
While J.S. Allen passed out firearms—many with price tags still attached—to citizens within his store, forty-three-year-old Anselm R. Manning exited his own hardware store with a breech-loading Remington rolling block rifle. Aiming hastily at one of the men on horseback terrorizing the street, he fired. But his shot went wild. Then Manning aimed and fired again. This time, his rifle jammed. As he fiddled with it, Mr. Bates called out to him, “Jump back now, or they’ll get you!” Manning instantly turned, and ran back to his store to repair the weapon.
Additional citizens now appeared in the street, armed and eager to find a target. J.B. Hyde and James Gregg, both with ineffective shotguns, attempted to aid in the town’s de-fense. A reverend named Ross Phillips, his weapon unknown, and Elias Stacey who was armed with a shotgun loaded with birdshot, each appeared, firing upon the raiders. And finally, Stacey’s shot sprayed much of Miller’s face and upper chest, and penetrated one of his eyes, off center. The result was de-scribed by one eye-witness as, “…a bloody mess.” The blow had even knocked Miller from his horse. He quickly re-mounted with blood smeared across a very stunned expres-sion. But Stacey had only fired one barrel, and as Clell’s horse spun around and around, Stacey fired again, this time closer, and hitting Miller directly in the back.
At this moment, Wheeler was speeding up the stairs of the Dampier Hotel with an old Civil War Army carbine rifle he had possibly obtained from the hotel lobby. It was re-ported that he requested the hotel’s owner and operator, Charlie Dampier to obtain some cartridges for the rifle. Now, racing into an upstairs room, he first found an open window, then turned to find Mr. Dampier handing him cartridges for the old rifle. Wheeler loaded a round quickly, rested the rifle upon the open window sill and searched for a target. His first shot was a miss. Quickly, he reloaded.
Down in the street, Mr. Bates was moving past the Ho-tel, when he heard a report over his head and flinched, seeing Clell Miller hit a third time just below the left shoulder. Bates turned sharp and looked in the direction of the previous re-port, finding Wheeler in the open hotel window, loading the rifle a third time. Bates turned sharp again and watched as Clell’s horse plunged forward, then suddenly stopped, re-mained on its forelegs, and allowed its rider to pitch forward and fall face first into ground still muddy from previous rain. Once on the ground, Clell attempted to rise up on his el-bows, but then merely rolled over, dead.
Cole arrived, dismounted, hit the ground and crawled to Clell. He jostled Miller several times, but quickly realized Clell Miller was already gone. Cole quickly took Clell’s pis-tols and cartridge belt, rolled onto his back and in two direc-tions, gave his own cover fire. After several shots, he jumped up and mounted his horse, which hadn’t strayed far, its reins still within his grip.
Manning reappeared in the street, creeping to the corner of Scriver Building. Mr. C.O. Waldo called out to him, “Take good aim before you fire!” Cole was then simultaneously fired upon from both sides of the street. Manning’s rifle finally found a target, striking Cole in the shoulder. Wheeler had re-turned to the hotel window, having run out of cartridges and “hastened” for more. He was just in time to shoot off Younger’s hat.
Manning now proceeded to climb the outside staircase which hugged Scriver Building. Halfway up, he carefully aimed seventy yards away, at Bill Chadwell, farthest South on Division, and fired. He shot Chadwell through the heart, sending his horse with Chadwell still on it up the street in Manning’s direction. Chadwell’s body began to reel this way and that, and fell to the ground directly opposite an estab-lishment known as Eldridge’s Store. His horse then bolted all the way to a local livery stable. Citizens of Northfield would later remove unspent cartridges from a belt around Chad-well’s waist, and many more from his pockets.
Back inside the bank, and concurrently, the first James brother still struggled with Heywood. Bob Younger came to his aid, but Heywood still managed to get loose and run around the corner toward the entrance, screaming, “Murder!” The James brother quickly followed, grabbing Heywood and slamming his pistol over the banker’s lower neck, dragging him back to the vault.
“Open it!” he said, firing off a wild shot, hoping to in-timidate Heywood.
At that instant Bunker went for a small Derringer pistol on a shelf below the teller’s window. But Pitts snatched it before Bunker could get to it, pocketing the little gun in his coat. Pitts then turned away, and Bunker dashed off; stum-bling around the corner into the narrow hallway adjoining the bank lobby, and racing for the rear exit. Pitts made chase, and when Bunker exited onto Water Street, Pitts fired, hitting Bunker once in the upper shoulder. Now utterly terrified, and possibly in shock, Bunker ran for the office of a doctor by the name of “Combe,” screaming every step of the way, “They’re robbing the bank! Help!”
Before returning to the bank lobby, Pitts paused. He could hear the echo of a jarring racket coming from around front.
In the bank, the men all turned to see Cole ride up to the doors and shout through the glass, with desperation, “The game’s up boys and we’re beaten!”
Cole’s brother Bob moved around the counter to the front doors and peered out the windows. What he saw alarmed him. The men inside the bank had simply assumed that regardless of the noise, their brothers in arms outside had the situation under control. When Pitts re-emerged from the rear of the office, he ran straight to join Bob at the door. Both men now knew their attention had wavered. Reluctantly, the two men exited through the folding doors and onto the side-walk. Behind them, the first James brother hurtled the side counter. But then, with one hand remaining on the counter, he turned back and watched as Heywood staggered back to his desk, sat down, and opened a drawer. In pure spite, the James brother fired, and missed. Heywood had spotted him a second before, and quickly ducked, almost under the counter. The James brother lunged, leaning across the teller’s win-dow, placing his pistol very near the top of Heywood’s head, and fired, striking Heywood in the temple. Heywood popped up. Then turning, he staggered a step, and fell. Drops of his blood were later found on a desk blotter.
He lived a few moments, breathing easy, but unable to speak.
The three robbers had left behind the grain sack, and a linen duster; possibly torn from its wearer during the preced-ing scuffle.
Out on Division, a barrage of unending gunfire thun-dered, and shots ricocheted everywhere.
The first James brother, the last to step out, found him-self witness to a war zone. He was truly shocked. With a quick look around, the men spotted dozens of citizens firing upon them from windows up and down Division Street, many using rifles with price tags dangling from their barrels and trigger guards. Adding to the gang’s dilemma, there were ad-ditional citizens firing from behind cover, on the ground all around them.
Quickly, the ZING of a shot went right by the James brother’s ear, and the three men moved to take horses, with a daisy-chain of shots striking ground all around them.
Now J.B. Hyde returned to the scene with a double-barreled shotgun. Quickly, he fired off both barrels, striking Charlie Pitts in both the shoulder and wrist, before retreating to reload.
It was during these confusing moments that Manning’s aim found Bob Younger. But just before Manning fired, Younger spotted him, dismounted, and used his horse as cover. In response, Manning shot the horse in the head! Find-ing his back to the Scriver Building, Bob turned and lunged behind some crates stacked underneath the stairway. Then, for several seconds, Bob Younger and Manning played a pecu-liar game of peek-a-boo, with Bob using both the crates and the steel girders of the staircase for cover. Manning fired a shot, which shattered Bob’s right elbow, and Bob began scrambling to keep any part of himself out of Manning’s line-of-sight. This, however, left him vulnerable to Wheeler, who up in the window across, fired and hit Bob in the right thigh. Bob winced, shifted his pistol to his other hand, and gripped his leg in pain. In his defense, he fired two, maybe three shots through the girders of the staircase, but shots continued in his direction, unabated, and soon Bob realized he was sur-rounded—and worse—separated from the other men. Fate-fully, Bob Younger simply stepped out and began limping up the street in the direction of his party. And swiftly spotting Bates aiming at him, Bob strained to keep his hand steady, be-fore firing a shot which grazed Bates’ cheek and nose.
The voice of the second James brother was heard stress-fully shouting, “We’re beat—let’s go!”
Due to Frank having been shot in the calf at some point during the shooting, he had difficulty mounting on his own, and thus the James brothers would share a horse. At this time, they galloped from Division, across 4th, and headed over the bridge and out of town. And Charlie Pitts and Jim Younger, both on horses, were right behind them. But as Jim galloped away, he was hit in the left shoulder and the back of his right leg.
Cole Younger was the last to follow. As he raced to catch up, he heard his brother Bob shouting, “My God, boys! Hold on! Don’t leave me—I’m shot!” Cole then rode back to the area opposite an establishment referred to as Mr. Morris’s Store, leaned over, and pulled his brother up onto the horse.
J.B. Hyde then reportedly fired a reloaded shotgun at Bob Younger, striking him in the wrist as the men fled; possi-bly shooting off his thumb.
The remaining men fled through Mill Square and back across the 4th Street Bridge. Now on the run, they left behind the dead bodies of two of their party, drifting gunsmoke propagating all over Scriver Block, extensively damaged and defiled building faces—a large area of town, up and down both Division and 4th Streets, resembled an actual war zone—and the legacy of a melee which would be well re-membered by history.