Josey Wales (1817-) was an American gunfighter and former Confederate bushwhacker from Missouri who, during and after the American Civil War, became infamous for his vendetta against Captain Bill Terrill's Unionist Redlegs and for his refusal to surrender to the Union even after the fall of the Confederacy.
Josey Wales was born in Missouri to a family of Scottish and Welsh descent, and he became a farmer along the Kansas border, settling down with his wife and young son Josey Jr. A Democrat, he chose to remain neutral after the American Civil War broke out and the Confederacy seceded. However, in late 1863, a band of Unionist "Redlegs" commanded by Captain Bill Terrill rode to Wales' farm as Wales worked his plough, and Wales ran to his farm at the sound of smoke and screams. He found his wife being dragged out of the burning house by the Redlegs as his son, trapped in the burning building, called for help, but, before Wales could intercede, Terrill slashed Wales across the face with his sword, knocking Wales unconscious. When Wales woke up, he found that his farm had been burned down and his wife and son with it, and he was forced to bury his loved ones nearby, building a makeshift cross to mark their gravesite.
Wales grew enraged at his family's loss and searched the debris of his home for his revolver, which he located under the burnt wood. He practiced shooting his gun against a wooden post while nursing his desire for revenge against the Redlegs, and his shots caught the attention of the bushwhacker William T. Anderson and his band of raiders. Anderson and his men rode up to Wales as he sat next to his family's gravesite, and Anderson introduced himself as "Bloody Bill" and asked if the Redlegs were responsible for the deaths of Wales' family. Anderson responded that Wales would find them up in Kansas, and he revealed that the Redlegs were with the Union, and that he and his raiders were headed up to Kansas to "set things aright." Wales responded, "I'll be coming with you," and he joined Anderson's raiders without hesitation.
Wales went on to ride with Anderson's Confederate bushwhackers as they raided Unionist Kansas, taking part in running gunfights and the hangings of captured Redleg irregulars. He also fought in several cavalry battles, including the Skirmish at Albany, Missouri on 26 October 1864, during which Anderson was mortally wounded. At the end of the war in April 1865, Wales' superior Captain John V. Fletcher solemnly returned to the bushwhackers' rural camp and told the men that all they had to do was ride into the nearby Union camp, raise their right hand, and swear an oath of loyalty to the United States, after which everyone could take up their horses again and go home. When an elderly soldier asked if the Union would give the bushwhackers full amnesty, Fletcher said that they would, and that everyone else had done it but them. When nobody seemed eager to walk to the camp, Fletcher hopelessly declared, "I'm going in, boys; I've had enough," and, as Fletcher began to leave, more men rose to join him.
As almost everyone stood up, the young bushwhacker Jamie Bottoms asked Wales if he was going to join the others, but Wales simply told Jamie that he best join the others. Soon, Wales was the only one still sitting at the campsite, and Fletcher himself walked over to Wales and asked him if he would join them. Wales said that he would not go with them, and Fletcher warned Wales that the government would come after him as a result. Fletcher also warned him that there was nowhere he could go to get away from them, and Wales defiantly responded, "I reckon that's true." Fletcher then wished Wales good luck, and, after a brief stare between the two men, Fletcher - unsuccessful in trying to help Wales - turned around and rode off with his men.
Wales proceeded to perch himself on a rock and use a telescope to watch the bushwhackers ride to James Henry Lane's Union camp to surrender. Fletcher and his men were surprised to see that Captain Terrill was one of the officers supervising the surrender, and, when Fletcher told Lane that all of his men but one, Josey Wales, had agreed to surrender with him, Lane ordered Terrill to currycomb the countryside and "beat the brush and root out everything disloyal from a Shanghai rooster to a Durham cow." Fletcher was amused when Lane gave Terrill five men to take down Wales, and Lane proceeded to give Fletcher a fistful of cash and told him to accompany Terrill as he searched for Wales. However, Fletcher said that he had enough of the Senator's money and told him to leave him and Wales be, before dropping the money and saying that he was finished with Lane. As Wales looked at the camp with the telescope, he noticed two men creep over to a tent and enter it, causing Wales to realize that the Union soldiers were plotting an ambush. He rode towards the camp, but he was too late, as the Union officer administering the loyalty oaths called the bushwhackers "Verminous, lying, Missouri scum," and a Gatling gun opened fire on the surrendering men and massacred them. Wales made his way to the Gatling gun and killed its crew before turning the gun against the Union soldiers, mowing several of them down and even threatening the Senator's safety. Bottoms rode over to Wales and asked him to escape with him, but, in spite of Bottoms' warning that Wales could not kill all of the Union soldiers Wales said that he had nothing better to do. Bottoms then revealed that Fletcher was in it with the Union and that he had set a trap, causing Wales to pause and say that he never could have figured that Fletcher had betrayed him. When Wales noticed that Bottoms had been wounded, Wales decided to join him in riding off to the bushes, and Lane commissioned Fletcher to hunt Wales down, although Fletcher warned Lane that Wales was a man who lived by the feud, and that he would now have to kill Wales.
Wales and Bottoms rode through the woods, where Bottoms asked Wales not to hold back on riding fast on his account, only for Wales to assure him that he was not holding back. Bottoms then said that there would be enough posses in South Missouri to start another war, and he also said that, if they tried riding instead of thinking, they would be hanging by a rope by nightfall. When Bottoms asked where the two men were headed, Wales said that they were headed for the Indian Nations, which would be a great place to hole up and get Bottoms healed up. Bottoms then asked if they would ride back and get Fletcher, and Wales agreed.
After the two men reached a clearing, Wales heard riders coming up behind them, so the two men had their horses lay on the ground and laid prone behind them (while holding the horses down by their necks), using them as cover. The riders rode past without detecting the two Confederate deserters, abd Wales told Bottoms that he could now let his horse stand up. The two men then rode to a ferry crossing, where they found the ferryman Sim Carstairs singing "Dixie" while staring at them. Wales told Carstairs that he could give his ferry some business, while dodging Carstairs' question about his name; he also told Carstairs that he and his acquaintance would rest a while at a nearby house, which Carstairs said was Grannie Hawkins's store. A carpetbagger, Percy Long, who was also waiting for the ferry told Wales that he was in luck, and he lifted a bottle of Major Best's tonic and said that he had just the thing for cramps. Wales simply spat out his tobacco and told Carstairs that he would need half a side of bacon, 10 pounds of beef jerky, and 20 pounds of horse grain. He also asked Carstairs to tell "Old Grannie" that he would need a lot of clean bandages and a boiled poultice for a bullet wound in a hurry.
When Wales dismounted his horse in front of the store, Hawkins said that he must be Josey Wales; when Wales asked him how she knew that, she said that soldiers had come by to look for him two hours earlier. She also said that the soldiers claimed that Wales had killed his own men, causing an infuriated Jamie to call them "lying blue scumbellies", and she said that the soldiers saw Wales as "a hard-put and desperate man" and planned to "heel and hog (him) to a barn door." However, she said that the "big talk" was "doodlyquot", and she threw poultices to Wales and asked him to keep them damp during his travels. Grannie told Wales that he could pay her when he saw her again, and Wales remarked to himself, "I reckon so."
Wales and Jamie then joined Carstairs and the carpetbagger aboard the ferry, and the carpetbagger approached Wales and said that his friend could use some help from the $1 tonic. Wales sarcastically said that the tonic could do anything, and, when the carpetbagger agreed and said that it helped with just about everything, Wales spat his tobacco on the carpetbagger's coat and asked, "How's it with stains?" When the barge reached the other side of the river, the men were alerted by a gunshot from the other bank, and a group of armed horsemen ordered Carstairs to bring the barge back to them. Carstairs told Wales that he would try to delay the soldiers by pretending that something was wrong with the ferry until Wales and Jamie could escape, but Jamie advised Wales that Carstairs would try and bring the soldiers across as fast as he could, as there was no way that he would be holding up a ferry. Wales agreed, saying that he reckoned that there was a nice reward out for them by then. Wales decided to wait, as he believed that there were 40-50 horses ahead of them (based on the tracks on their side of the river), and he saw it best to put some time between the riders on their bank and the riders preparing to cross the river.
As the ferry approached, Jamie warned Wales, who drew a sniper rifle from his horse. The carpetbagger told Wales that it would be unreasonable to think that he could kill the soldiers before they killed him, and said that there was such a thing in America as justice. Wales responded, "Well, Mr. Carpetbagger, we've got something in this territory called the Missouri boat ride." He proceeded to shoot the rope which the ferrymen Carstairs and Lemuel were using to pull the ferry barge across the Missouri River, stranding his pursuers and causing some to fall into the river to their deaths.
Wales and Jamie then set up camp, where Wales tended to Jamie's wounds and admitted that they were bad. Jamie said that, if he died, he was "prouder than a game rooster" to have rid with Wales. He then confided that, because he never had a mother, his father had done the needlework on his embroidered undershirt, and that his father didn't want anyone to know, as it was unthinkable for a grown man to do that for his own kid. He also said that his father had sung "Rose of Alabama" while sewing on the flowers, and, as Jamie sang the song, Wales heard two men approaching through the shrubs and reached for his pistol.
Just then, the bounty hunters Abe Fairfield and Lige Kelrey emerged from the shrubs with their rifles drawn and warned Wales not to reach for his pistol. Lige excitedly cheered, "We got the Josey Wales, Abe!", and he commented that he had seen him ride side-by-side with "Bloody Bill". He then warned Abe that Wales was "meaner than a rattler and twice as fast," and Abe asked Wales, "You're a real bush hog, ain't you, Mr. Josey Wales?" The two men then had Wales back up at gunpoint, and Abe ignored Lige's advice to shoot Wales where he stood and asked Wales to drop his gun belt. Wales did so, and an arrogant Abe told Lige, "You pull his teeth, he's harmless as a heel hound." He then had Lige call over Benny, who had their horses, and Abe was distracted when Jamie resumed singing "Rose of Alabama", asking Wales who he was. Wales said that he was just a boy who had a fever, and Abe had Lige kick Jamie and tell him to "shut up". This angered Wales, and Jamie asked for his father after he was kicked. Abe angrily told Jamie that his father wasn't there, and told him to shut up once again. Jamie then said "I got the gold right here, Pa," and, when Abe asked him what gold, Jamie said that it was the gold he and Josey had taken from the bank. Abe had Lige approach Jamie to take the gold, even though Wales said that Jamie was crazy, and, when Lige lifted Jamie's blanket, Jamie fatally shot Lige in the chest, while Wales used a pistol hidden in his coat to shoot Abe twice, killing him. Jamie then commented, "Thought you could use some help," and Josey told Jamie that, if he caught Jamie's bullet holes leaking, he would whomp him with a knotted plow-line.
The two men then got ready to leave, and, while Jamie said that he wished they had time to bury the two bounty hunters, Wales cursed them and spat his tobacco on Abe's heat, saying that buzzards had to eat, just like worms. The two men then rode off, riding through the rain until they were 10-20 miles from the Indian Territory. As the two men camped in the rain, Jamie thanked Josie for saving his life, and he told Josey that he wasn't scared of death anymore. Wales then left the tent and spied a nearby camp, so he returned to Jamie and told him, "We can start working our way through now, boy." However, he was surprised to see Jamie's lifeless eyes staring upwards, and a saddened Josie shut Jamie's eyes and mounted his body on the back of his horse. Wales then prayed to God, saying "This boy was brought up in...a time of blood and dying, and never questioned a bit of it. Never turned his back on his folks or his kind. I rode with him, I got no complaints. The bluebellies will give you a better burial than I can, boy." He then frightened Jamie's horse with a gunshot, causing the horse to take Jamie's lifeless body through the Union camp and trick the Union soldiers there into chasing him, mistaking him for Wales.
Soon, Wales arrived in the Indian Territory, where he got the jump on an armed Native man, Lone Watie, who had prepared to ambush Wales as he rode past, only to find a riderless horse galloping past him and Wales cocking a gun behind him. Wales introduced himself to Watie, who said that he had heard that Wales would be coming that way, and that he had heard that a man could get rich on the reward money if the man could kill Wales. Wales said that it looked like Watie was trying to make some money, but Watie said that he was actually looking to gain an edge, as he suspected that Wales would be the type to sneak up behind him with a gun. Wales said that it wasn't supposed to be easy to sneak up behind an Indian, and Watie said that, while he was an Indian, in "the Nation" the others called the Cherokee the "civilized tribe," as they were easy to sneak up on. He then said that white men had been sneaking up on the Cherokee for years, and he revealed that his "fine woman" and their two sons died on the Trail of Tears. Just then, he said that the white man was sneaking up on him again, and he turned to see that Wales had walked to his hut nearby and was hitching his horse.
Watie joined Wales at the house and said that he had worn his frock coat in Washington DC before the war, as he belonged to the "Five Civilized Tribes"; he commented that they had dressed themselves up like Abraham Lincoln. He also said that he and the other Natives got to meet the Secretary of the Interior, who told them, "Boy! You boys sure look civilized." Watie recounted how the Secretary congratulated the Indians and gave them medals for looking so "civilized", and that they told the Secretary how their land had been stolen and their people were dying, only for the Secretary to tell them, "Endeavor to persevere." He, John Jumper, Chilly McIntosh, Buffalo Hump, and Jim Pock Mark were then stood in a line and photographed, and the newspaper said, "Indians Vow to Endeavor to Persevere." Watie said that the Indians thought about that for a long time, and, when they had thought about it enough, they declared war on the Union. Watie was surprised to see that Wales had fallen asleep and was snoring, causing an amused Watie to smile and shake his head. When he awoke, Wales found that Watie had placed a horned toad in front of his face, and he saw that Watie was burning his frock coat and hat. Watie told Wales that a horned toad could tell him where to go, and said that, while he used to know such things when he was young, he forgot much of that knowledge after he was "civilized". Watie said that the toad told them that they should go to Mexico, so Wales stood and told Watie that he could take his horned toad down Mexico way, as he had some unfinished business in Missouri. Watie then said that he had heard that General Joe Shelby and a few of his men had refused to surrender and were going down to Mexico, and Watie said that he would join them. Wales was perplexed, as he was unaware that there were others who hadn't surrendered, and Watie revealed that he hadn't surrender, although his horse had, and that his horse was probably pulling a wagon in Kansas by then. Wales then asked Watie if he was planning on walking to Mexico, and Watie responded that there was a trading post near the Creek nation. Wales also asked if Watie had anything to eat, so Watie said that he had a piece of hard rock candy, lifting a ruby and saying that it was not for eating, but just for looking through. Wales told Watie that he would get him a horse, and he then set out for the trading post.
When Wales arrived at the trading post, he found the white man Zukie Limmer beating a female Native employee of his for accidentally dropping a bottle of wine meant as a gift for two Native traders who had come to Limmer with muskrat and beaver pelts, and Limmer stopped beating the woman after Wales stared at him. Wales then walked in as two rowdy traders attempted to molest the woman, and Wales asked Limmer if he had horses for sale. A nervous Limmer said that the horses belonged to the two men, and Wales ignored Limmer's offers of free beer, stared at the men as they struggled with the woman, and asked Limmer if the men would be available for business before long. One of the men, Yoke Benlin, asked Limmer for some of the beer, only to draw a gun upon turning around and tell his friend Lenny M. Hemne that they had captured Wales. Yoke asked Wales to slowly ease his pistols out of his holster and hand them to him with their butts up, but Wales quickly wheeled the guns around and shot both Yoke and his accomplice dead. Wales then asked Limmer, "You say those horses belong to them pilgrims?" He proceeded to leave the trading post, and, as he walked among the trees, he saw a group of riders arrive at the trading post, signifying that the law was once again at his heels.
Wales was then surprised to hear a gun cocked at the back of his head, and Watie greeted him, telling him that he had been preparing to get the jump on Wales, and that only an Indian could sneak up on Wales like that. Wales said that he figured as much, confusing Watie, and Wales agreed that only an Indian could be as sneaky; just then, the woman from the trading post cocked her gun at Stand Watie's head. Watie then gave up and sat down, and Wales said that he she was from the trading post and had been caught up in some kind of trouble. Watie said that the girl could not come to Mexico with them, but Wales said that, now that Watie had his horse, Watie would ride alone. Watie told Wales that he had seen a lot that day, seeing patrols of soldiers all day. The girl then proceeded to speak to Watie in a Native language, and Watie translated that the girl was Navajo, but had been captured by the Cheyenne and was violated by one of the bucks of the Arapahos, whose sign was the dirty nose sign cut into her nose; the Cheyenne chief Black Kettle had figured that the girl did not resist enough.
Wales asked if Watie could get the girl to shut up, but she remained very talkative even into the night, when the three of them set up camp. Watie continued to translate, saying that the girl didn't know that Zukie Limmer was selling alcohol when she came to work for him, and that, while he beat her, nothing ever happened between them. He also said that the girl saw Wales as a great warrior, and considered herself as belonging to Wales for what he did for her. Wales had Watie translate that he didn't want anyone to belong to him, and Watie then said that the meal was good, and that he would take up teepee living if all of the food was as good. Watie also said that the girl thought that he was some kind of Cherokee chief, and Wales sarcastically said that he wondered where she got that idea.
The next morning, Wales woke up Watie and told him that the mangy hound who had come to accompany them could join them, saying that "everybody else" seemed to be joining him as well; he then spat out his tobacco onto the dog's head. The three fugitives and the dog soon arrived in the American Southwest, riding into a rural town in Texas. Wales walked into the general store, where he overheard an elderly woman, Sarah Turner, telling the store owner that she would not purchase the molasses because it was from Missouri, as she stated her belief that anything from Missouri had a taint on it. Her husband told her to watch out, as there were, "Lots of nice elements from Missouri coming West." The woman responded, "Nothing nice comes from Missouri. And treading lightly is not my way." She then told Wales that she and her husband were from Kansas, and that they were proud Jayhawkers. The store owner Travis Cobb said that he knew how the woman felt, as he was a "Hoosier" (from Indiana), only for the woman to say that she didn't think much of Hoosiers either. After the Kansans left, the shopkeeper told Wales that the woman might get in trouble talking like that, as there were "too many folks around (there) with thin skin," and "lots of Southern boys (were) getting into trouble (there)." Cullen Baker and Captain Bob Lee were fighting in Fannin County, as were Bill Longley, Creed Taylor, and all the other Taylors in Gonzales, having killed Simp Dixon over in Cotton Gin. The shopkeeper bragged that he had a picture postcard of how Dixon was killed by being weighed down with lead, and he then mentioned how Josey Wales was supposed to be coming to Texas, although he opined that Wales wouldn't come through the town, as he was already rumored to have killed 50-60 men. Wales then paid $3 for his supplies, and, when the shopkeeper said that the regulators must be able to pay a lot of money to the man who could identify Josey Wales, Wales responded, "Reckon so," and he proceeded to walk out.
Along the way, Wales bumped into the carpetbagger from earlier, and the carpetbagger recognized Wales while trying to sell him his snake oil. He then shouted, "My God, it's Josey Wales!" The US Army soldiers Jerome V. Janney, Anthoney G. Boden, Wess R. Oston, and Dain H. Dry proceeded to turn and stare at Wales, and a defiant Wales asked them, "You going to pull those pistols or whistle 'Dixie'?" When the soldiers reached for their guns, Wales shot three of them dead in quick succession, while Watie shot another. Wales then pushed the cowering carpetbagger into a pile of horse manure, and he and Watie fled town on their horses as Little Moonlight briefly held back their pursuers by blocking the town's main road with her horse and another. Wales and Watie slowed down once they were in the wilderness, and Watie lamented that they might not see the "little Navajo girl" ever again, while Wales said that he had come to like her, but said, "it's always like that." When Watie asked Wales what he meant, Wales said that, whenever he got to liking someone, "they ain't around long." Watie then joked, "I notice when you get to disliking someone they ain't around long neither." He then asked Wales how he knew which soldier was going to shoot first, so Wales told Watie that the one in the center had a flap holster, making him in no itching hurry. The one second from the left had scared eyes, but the one on the far left had "crazy eyes", leading to Wales deducing that he would make the first move. When Watie asked about the one on the right, Wales said that he paid him no mind, as Watie was there to save him.
Back in town, Fletcher and Terrill caught up to the site of the shooting, where Cobb boastfully told them that he could identify Wales as he posed with the bodies of the US soldiers killed in the shootout. Terrill believed that Wales would be headed north with the "renegade Indian", but Fletcher deduced that Wales would then turn southwest and head for Mexico. Terrill decided that the searchers would go towards Mexico as well, but Fletcher told Terrill to have his bounty hunters head north while they went with Terrill's soldiers to the southwest, as Fletcher decided that he didn't want to hear that Wales was dead, but to see that Wales was dead.
Not long after, Little Moonlight rejoined Wales and Watie after nearly accidentally killing Watie in an ambush, and they ventured into the desert. They set up camp along a creek, where Wales and Watie each stared at Little Moonlight as she cleaned her leg with water, subtly acknowledging that each of them were attracted to her. That night, Wales was woken up by the group's dog, and he was surprised to see Little Moonlight laying on top of Stand Watie, who told Wales that he was right about Watie not being that old after all.
The next day, the three of them rode deeper into the desert, and Watie said that there would not be too many men west of there, as they were headed into Comanche country. Little Moonlight dismounted to look at the ground, where Watie was surprised to see wagon tracks. He said that the Comanche did not use two-wheeled wagons, and Little Moonlight identified the tracks as those of the Comancheros. Watie explained that the Comancheros traded liquor and guns to the Comanche for horses, and that they traded women as wel. When Wales asked how many Comancheros there were, Watie guessed between eight and nine horses and a couple of carts. They then ran up a ridge and observed a Comanchero camp below them, and they found that the Kansan family had been taken captive, with the father dead and the elderly mother grieving for her husband. Wales lamented the fates of the "poor pilgrims from Kansas", saying that they mustn't be too proud then.
Wales then watched as the Comancheros took the young woman Laura Lee from the back of her family's wagon, tore her shirt to reveal her breast and tore down her trousers, and felt her up before the Comanchero leader Ciril E. Forebaugh pushed aside the bandit Septimo Navarro and lectured his men, telling them that Chief Ten Bears wanted his women clean. Forebaugh claimed that, clean, the woman could be traded for 20 Comanche horses. Just then, Lone Watie accidentally let a rock slide down the hillside as he himself slid back down towards Wales, leading to the Comancheros riding around the hillside and capturing Lone Watie, who was tied up and sent with Laura Lee and her mother to accompany the Comancheros to Ten Bears for sale. Wales responded by riding in front of the convoy with a white flag attached to his sniper rifle, leading to four Comancheros riding out to parley with him. The four men offered to buy Wales' horse for a good price, but, after Wales spat out his tobacco, the men grew hostile and Mal H. Bates demanded that he give them the horse, leading to Wales shooting them with the sniper rifle and with his two revolvers. Wales proceeded to gun down Bertie Brandly, Grady P. Merideth, Pedro Partida Valencia, Aramis Jiménez Laureano, Forebaugh, and the other outlaws; Little Moonlight killed Septimo Navarro as he tried to flee from Wales.
Wales then cut Lone Watie, Sarah Turner, and Laura Lee free of their bonds, and Wales told Watie that they would have been halfway across Mexico by then, but for "that crazy squaw". Laura Lee then begged Wales to help her, as she spotted Comanche warriors approaching, and Wales decided that they should leave before the Comanche could avenge their dead friends. The party rode off with the Lees' wagon and their horses, and they set up camp in the woods, where Sarah Turner told Wales that she and her family had been headed out to their son's ranch, which was near the town of Santo Rio at Blood Butte. While Wales walked over to Laura Lee, who told him of how clouds were like dreams floating across a sky-blue mind, Sarah Turner talked to Lone Watie (whom she simply called "Indian") and called Wales a "cold-blooded killer," saying, "He's from Missouri...where they're all known to be killers of innocent men, women, and children. However, when Watie asked if she would rather be riding with the Comancheros, she decided that she wouldn't.
Ultimately, when the party reached Santo Rio, they found it to be a tiny ghost town, with Wales riding past two gruff cowboys. Wales then entered the Lost Lady saloon, where he found a prostitute singing to a few patrons. When Wales ordered whiskey, the people laughed, and the woman asked if he would like anything else; Wales then requested beer. One of the men told Wales that it had been a while since someone ordered a drink in town, and that, since the silver in Santo Rio ran out, the people had also run out, followed by the whiskey and the beer. Wales walked out after one of the men said that it was nice to see a "high-roller" come through town, and, while the man thought that he had accidentally offended Wales, he and the others were surprised when Wales entered the saloon with a box of liquor, saying that they would drink the "Comanchero brand" of whiskey. Sarah Turner then claimed that they weren't in Santo Rio, as her son Tom Turner said that Santo Rio was a thriving place, but one of the men said that, once the silver was gone, so was the thriving. The prostitute then asked Sarah if she was the mother of the Tom Turner whose Crooked River Ranch was over by Blood Butte, and, when Sarah said that she was, the prostitute introduced herself as "Rose of Santo Rio" and said that Tom must have written all about her. Sarah said that her son had lost interest in women after his wife Lucy died, and that he had been killed in the border war by Missouri ruffians while "a proud member of Senator Jim Lane's Redlegs, fighting for the just cause." One of the men in the saloon, Chato Verros, offered his service to Sarah as the mother of his former employer, and Sarah told the men in the saloon of how she was grateful to finally find manners in the wilderness, relating how her husband Grandpa Samuel and her brother-in-law Uncle Enoch had fallen prey to Comancheros during the journey.
As Sarah spoke with the patrons, Wales noticed the two men from earlier looking around the town, causing Wales to grow suspicious. One of them entered the saloon and said that he was looking for Josey Wales, so Wales identified himself. The man told Wales that he was wanted, and Wales said that he reckoned he was popular. He then asked the man if he was a bounty hunter, and, when the man said that he had to find some kind of a living those days, Wales quipped, "Dying ain't much of a living, boy." He then told the man that he could just ride off, and that dying wasn't necessary, and the man momentarily left before returning and telling Wales that he had to come back. Wales said that he knew, and he proceeded to outdraw the bounty hunter and shoot him in the chest, causing him to fall back through the saloon doors and onto the street, dead.
Wales and the others proceeded to ride out of town, coming across a Comanche hunting party along the way. Wales tried to approach them, but they instead whooped and rode off with their antelope-laden horses. Wales then returned to his party, and Chato told him that Ten Bears was the greatest Comanche warchief, but he was angry, meeting with US Army ("Bluecoat") generals each year and being pushed further across the Great Plains by them each year. While General William Tecumseh Sherman came with promises, Ten Bears did not plan to move any further.
Later that day, they reached the Crooked River Ranch, where Sarah insisted that Wales put his men to work chopping wood, and grew annoyed when Wales simply stood by as she swept the ranch's floor, saying that she didn't take him for a loafer. However, by that night, the party had settled in at the ranch and held a small celebration about their accomplishment. Watie then told Wales that Grandma Sarah said that moving into the ranch was the first time she had a place of her own, and he said that Grandma also said that the ranch was now the party's home. Wales said that he was glad to know that there would be a man to supervise things, and he said that he would drop in from time to time, probably just to hole up. When Watie asked Wales why he didn't just stay with them and be their partner, Wales disagreed with Watie's claim that his pursuers would forget him, saying, "You know there ain't no forgetting."
The next day, he watched Laura Lee and her grandmother sing a song of praise before the grandmother prayed, thanking God for bringing them to the ranch, and she also said, "And thanks a lot for Josey Wales...who you changed from a murdering bushwhacker on the side of Satan to a better man in time to deliver us from the Philistines." Just then, Wales ran over to Watie, helping an injured Watie from his horse; Watie told Wales that Ten Bears had captured Travis and Chato, and that he would be at the ranch in the morning. Little Moonlight pointed out a Comanche warrior on a cliffside, so Wales distributed rifles to the women in the ranch and gave them instructions on how to fight back; Watie also put on his "death face" with warpaint.
The next morning, Wales rode out on horseback, and Watie guessed that he was going down into the valley to kill Ten Bears and as many of his men as he could. Upon hearing this, Laura Lee ran out of the house and called for Wales, who ignored her and rode off. Wales rode to the Comanche camp and met with Ten Bears, whose warriors surrounded Wales as Travis and Chato - buried up to their necks in sand - watched. When Wales introduced himself, Ten Bears told Wales that he had heard of him, the "Gray Rider", who would not make peace with the "Bluecoats". Ten Bears told Wales that he could go in peace, but Wales said that he would not, and that he had nowhere to go. Ten Bears said that Wales would then die, and Wales said that he had come to the camp either to die with Ten Bears or to live with him.
Wales then told Ten Bears, "Dying's not hard for you and me. It's living that's hard...when all you ever cared about has been butchered or raped. Governments don't live together. People live together. Governments don't give you a fair word or a fair fight. I've come here to give you either one. Or get either one from you. I came here like this so you'll know my word of death is true. And that my word of life is then true. The bear lives here, the wolf, the antelope, the Comanche. And so will we. We'll only hunt what we need to live on, same as the Comanche does. And every spring when the grass turns green and the Comanche moves north, he can rest here in peace, butcher some of our cattle and jerk beef for the journey. The sign of the Comanche, that will be on our lodge. That's my word of life." When asked of his "word of death" by Ten Bears, Wales said, "It's here in my pistols and there in your rifles. I'm here for either one." Ten Bears responded that Wales offered what the Comanche already had, and Wales agreed, although he said that he was promising Ten Bears life, and that men could live together without butchering one another. Ten Bears paused and said, "It's sad that governments are chiefed by the double-tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanches to see. And so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carry the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life...or death. It shall be life." The two men then cut open their palms and clasped each other's hands to signify their blood oath, and Ten Bears stated, "So will it be," to which Wales responded, "I reckon so."
Wales returned home with the two freed ranchers to much fanfare, and Laura Lee gave Wales a chain braided from her hair to hold a watch, although she was surprised to hear that Wales did not own a watch yet. She then asked if the group could play a song for Wales, but Wales admitted that he didn't know too many songs. However, he suggested "The Rose of Alabama", so the group began to sing and play the song for Wales, who, like Laura Lee, confessed that he didn't know how to dance. However, they improvised, joining in the revelry.
That night, Wales and Laura Lee talked about their homes, with Lee saying that Kansas was always golden and smelled like sunshine. Wales said that he always heard that there were three kinds of suns in Kansas: sunshine, sunflowers, and "sons of b*tches." Laura Lee laughed and said, "Well, at least we're known for something." She then related how she had heard a joke about Missouri, and about how the people from the state were always saying, "Show me," and, when she said the joke, Wales was unamused, and joked that they taught dumb jokes to pretty girls in Kansas. She then said that they taught other things, and he then whispered, "Show me," as they began to kiss. In the middle of the night, however, Wales woke and decided to ride into town to face his pursuers, and he told Watie - who had also awoken - to get nice dresses for the ladies when he rode into town. He also asked Watie to get something nice for Laura Lee for when he came back in the spring, and Watie tearfully agreed. He then lamented, "Sometimes trouble just follows a man," but, as he turned to look at Watie, he realized that his friend has left, so he set out on his horse.
Before Wales could ride out, he found Terrill sitting atop his horse and smiling at him, and Terrill's Redlegs soon came up behind him. Terrill told Wales that he was alone now, but Watie opened the window of the house and said that Wales was not quite alone; he then aimed a gun at the Redlegs. Soon, the other occupants of the ranch aimed their guns out of the windows as well, and Wales defiantly spat his tobacco. After a tense standoff, a shootout erupted, and Wales was shot from his horse, only to continue killing the Redlegs; Watie took pleasure in "showing (the) palefaces something." Grandma Sarah claimed that the "freebooters" were "a slander to Kansas" for attacking innocent women, and the ranchers fought off and killed all of the attacking Redlegs.
Wales then gave chase to the fleeing Terrill, despite running out of ammunition. He cornered him in a shack in Santo Rio, where he shot his unloaded guns at Terrill several times to taunt him. Terrill, afraid and infuriated, drew his cavalry sabre to attack Wales, but Wales grabbed Terrill's arm and, after a brief struggle, shoved the sword into Terrill's chest and killed him. Terrill fell to the ground and died within seconds, and Wales - his revenge complete - returned to the ranch.
Some time later, Wales returned to the saloon in town, where he heard the bartender, Ten Spot, telling some patrons about a shootout that occurred in Monterrey, Mexico. When Wales walked in, he was greeted as "Mr. Wilson", and Ten Spot told "Wilson" that he was telling two Texas Rangers, Perley O. Harmony and Bradley Z. Shipp, about an outlaw who once came through town, as well as introducing the Rangers' fellow searcher, Fletcher. Fletcher recognized Wales, but said nothing, and Wales heard Ten Spot describe how Wales had taken on five pistoleros in Monterrey and killed three of them before he was cut down. Rose identified the man as Josey Wales, causing the Rangers to say that Wales must be dead, and Rose said that Wales sure was dead. Ten Spot then signed an affidavit for the Rangers, who bade farewell to "Mr. Wilson" as they headed out. Ten Spot told them to stop in the next time they came back that way, but the Rangers said that they reckoned they wouldn't be back that way.
Fletcher, who lingered behind, told Ten Spot that he didn't believe that five pistoleros could do in Josey Wales, causing Rose to say that it might have been six or ten. Fletcher opined that Wales must still be alive, and, as Wales turned to walk away, Fletcher said that he would go down to Mexico to find him. Wales turned and asked, "And then?" Fletcher walked up to Wales and responded, "He's got the first move. I owe him that. I'll try to tell him that the war is over." Fletcher saw Wales' wound dripping blood onto his shoes, so he asked, "What do you say, Mr. Wilson?" Wales responded, "I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war." Wales then mounted his horse and rode off, secure in his secret life at the ranch with Laura Lee and his friends.