Wednesday, January 16, 2013


1/16/1934 - Seeking a new partner after the arrest of W.D. Jones in November, and to assuage some of the still burning hatred for the penal facility that abused him during his two year stay there, Clyde Barrow orchestrates a deadly escape from the notorious Eastham Prison Farm.


Contacted by recently released burglar James Mullen on behalf of Clyde's former partner Raymond Hamilton (who is serving a 263-year sentence for the robbery and murder of grocer John Bucher), the plan for an escape from the prison is two loaded .45s will be hidden in an area where Hamilton can get to them while out on a wood and brush cutting work detail and on a designated day to follow, Clyde will support the break with his own weaponry and a getaway vehicle.  Simple, easy ... not!


Break agreed to ... pistols provided by Clyde are placed under a small bridge in a rubber tire inner tube by Mullen and Hamilton's younger brother Floyd, the weapons are retrieved by prison trusty Fred Yost, and then passed on to another member of the plot, thirty-one-year-old bank robber Joe Palmer (the third member in on the escape is to be former Clyde partner Ralph Fults, but when Fults is transferred to another part of the prison system, bandit Hilton Bybee takes his place).  Now armed, the crashout goes down the next morning.


In the night, Clyde, accompanied by Bonnie and Mullen, drives his latest ride, a black Ford V-8 coupe, out to the spot he has selected for Hamilton to meet him at and the trio wait for dawn to arrive.  In the heavy ground fog of early Tuesday morning, Plow Squads One and Two are let out of Eastham and begin their work on the countryside.  Assigned to Squad Two, a group too far from the road to successfully flee, Hamilton switches places with another convict ... a change to the established routines of the prison which is immediately noticed by guard Olin Bozeman, who relays the information to the nearest shotgun carrying high rider, thirty-three-year-old Major Crowson.  Seeing what is coming, before Crowson can do anything about Hamilton, Palmer walks over, pulls his .45 and shoots the mounted guard in the stomach at point-blank range.  Grievously wounded, Crowson fires his shotgun as he falls from his horse but hits nothing.  More accurate with his weapon than Crowson, Hamilton then takes out Bozeman with a shot that hits the man in the hip.  Path now briefly open (the gunfire has alerted other guards that an escape is now in progress), the escapees run for the road knowing Clyde is close.  Seizing the sudden opportunity to also escape, Palmer, Hamilton, and Bybee are joined by a career criminal from Oklahoma named J.B. French, and by Henry Methvin, a twenty-one-year-old hoodlum from Louisiana serving a ten-year term for car theft and attempted murder. 


Supporting the flight of the convicts, Clyde, hearing the gunfire, fires his Browning Automatic Rifle into the air, an action that causes all the nearby guards to hit the ground and seek cover.  At the same time, Bonnie honks the Ford's horn to guide the escapees to the car.  Out of breath from there short run, the men soon show up at the vehicle (less French, who has veered away from the group and run in another direction ... and will be captured a few days later) and a problem with the escape is discovered ... the coupe can barely contain five individuals, and now there are seven that need its transportation.  Sardine time, everyone squeezes in and using back roads, Clyde makes his way to the town of Hillsboro where he gasses up, then it is off to the small burg of Rhome where fresh clothing is provided to the escapees by Clyde's brother L.C. and Floyd Hamilton, and Mullen leaves the group.  Ready to expand his criminal activities, the new Barrow Gang consists of Clyde, Bonnie, Raymond Hamilton, Joe Palmer, Hilton Bybee and Henry Methvin ... there will soon be more robberies on Clyde's resume ... and more murders!


In the aftermath of the escape, Major Crowson, his intestines punctured by the bullet Palmer sent into his belly, dies later in the month.  Incensed at the escape and death, guessing Clyde is probably responsible, the general manager of the Texas prison system, Lee Simmons, convinces the governor to let him hire a bounty hunter capable of finally putting the outlaw's reign of terror to an end ... and Simmons has just the man for job in mind, a forty-nine-year-old former Texas Ranger reputed to have killed fifty-three individuals in gunfights that he hires on February 10th ... lawman and gunfighter extraordinaire, Frank Hamer.


The beginning of the end for Bonnie & Clyde, Hamer is now on their trail, and the Judas that will betray them for a Texas pardon of his many crimes is now riding beside them in the person of Henry Methvin ... the outlaw lovers have 102 days left to live. 


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