Friday, May 1, 2015

An Illustrated History of Jonah Hex (Appendix A)



Appendix A: Service Record of Lieutenant Jonah Woodson Hex,
4th & 7th Cavalry, Confederate States of America

*Note: This section contains references to stories not yet covered
in the main history project.*

On April 12, 1861, the newly-formed Confederate Army opened fire upon Fort Sumter in South Carolina.  Tensions had been high between the North and South for months, and the arrival of a simple supply ship at a Union-occupied fort within Southern borders was the last straw.  The fight lasted only a day, with the only fatalities occurring during a flag-lowering ceremony inside the fort on the 14th, when an accidental explosion killed two Union soldiers.  These were the first two men to die a in a civil war that would last for almost exactly four years and leave an indelible mark upon the country that can still be seen today.

Seeing as how Jonah Hex literally wears his participation in that conflict upon his sleeve, it seems proper to devote some space exclusively to the character's wartime experiences.  Over the past four decades since his creation, there have been multiple mentions of those experiences by both Jonah himself and other characters, but when you compare those mentions against the real-life historical record, certain questions arise.  Could Hex have really participated all the battles he's supposedly been in?  How did he end up serving in two different cavalry regiments, and what state were they based out of?  And most importantly, why did Hex side with the Confederacy when he was against slavery?

What follows is a unofficial timeline of events based on what evidence we have, starting with an incident that occurred a couple of years before Fort Sumter...

1859: The Death of Cassie Wainwright - Like many future Confederates, Hex had spent some time with the Union Army, though in his case, he never officially joined.  His experience on the frontier led to him becoming a scout at an unnamed fort under the command of Colonel Marcus Wainwright, somewhere in Comanche territory (which encompassed a rather large area between Kansas and northern Texas by this time in history).  It was there that 21-year-old Jonah became engaged to Cassie, the colonel's daughter, who was fated to die thanks to the greed of a half-dozen other scouts that robbed the regiment's payroll (see Jonah Hex #65-71 for more on that).  Why does our timeline start here?  Because it's the last dated event in Hex's personal history prior to the Civil War.  There's a two-year gap between him vowing revenge on the men who left Cassie to die and his first dated appearance in Confederate gray, which took place during Christmas 1861 on the Turnbull plantation located in Richmond, Virginia (as seen in Weird Western Tales #29).  We have no idea what happened to him between Point A and Point B: he made a comment in JH#65 that he had been hunting those men right up until the War broke out (and having no luck at all in locating them), but where exactly did that hunt lead him?

The narrative in Jonah Hex (vol.2) #36 mentions that "there is no record of his having owned slaves or his living among the Southern community with which he chose to align during the conflict."  I take that to mean Jonah was living an itinerant lifestyle prior to the War, with no fixed address nor a steady job.  This fits with the notion of him spending every waking moment tracking those former scouts, and it's pretty much the same way he lived his life after the War.  Despite any lack of official record putting him in the South pre-1861, I do believe that, at some point during his wanderings, Jonah not only ended up in Richmond, he also met and befriended Jeb Turnbull.  Sadly, the majority of tales involving Jeb are flashbacks revolving around the Fort Charlotte Massacre, so our knowledge of the young man prior to his death is scant.  However, we do have a lot of personal interaction between Hex and the Turnbulls in the aforementioned WWT#29, and going by some of the lines spoken during those scenes, it gives the impression that Jonah was a familiar face in their household long before the War broke out:




In retrospect, it's certainly strange to see Quentin Turnbull being so friendly with Jonah Hex, but I imagine that friendliness is why Quentin took Jonah's "betrayal" so badly.  We'll discuss these scenes -- as well as Fort Charlotte -- a bit more later on, as we need to move on right now to the next landmark on our timeline.

April 17, 1861: Virginia Secedes from the Union - Occurring just five days after the Battle of Fort Sumter, this would've been a rather significant moment in Jonah's life, presuming that he was indeed in Virginia at this point in time.  The Civil War was just getting started, and Jonah would soon have to choose which side he was on.  Keep in mind, however, that not everyone in Virginia was in favor of secession (what we now call West Virginia was originally formed by the northwestern counties that wished to stay with the Union), so just because Jonah may have been on Virginia soil doesn't mean he automatically had to join the Confederacy.  Even if we try to take into account what state Jonah may have truly considered "home" as a possible influence on his decision, the waters just get muddier: Joe Lansdale personally characterized Hex as a fellow native of Texas (which seceded in February 1861), while Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray revealed in All Star Western #0 that Jonah had been born in Missouri (a slave state that remained loyal to the Union) and lived there for a decent portion of his childhood -- his family eventually moved to Colorado, a territory that (according to JHv2#36) eventually sent four thousand men to serve in the Union forces.  And of course there's the fact that Jonah was formerly a slave to the Apache...why would Jonah fight to keep others in chains, having experienced it himself?  Luckily, Jonah himself speaks very plainly on the subject at hand in Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such #2:




Though that comic came out in 1995, the attitude expressed within it can be seen throughout every decade of Hex history: his unshakeable devotion to whatever he believes to be right, as well as his lack of any racist tendencies (or as Bat Lash put it in Jonah Hex (vol.2) #24, Jonah has a "policy of hating all men equally.").  So it's safe to say that, at the start of the War, slavery was a non-issue for Jonah Hex.  He simply disagreed with what he saw as the North's policies oppressing the South, and felt that the Yankees should mind their own damn business, therefore he joined the Confederacy to defend the South's right to make their own decisions (there's also the ironic possibility that the Turnbulls -- a slave-owning family living in what would become the capital of the Confederacy -- may have influenced Jonah's decision).  In April 1861, this probably seemed like the most logical choice, but in a couple of years' time, that choice would come back to haunt him.

September 1861: Organization of the 4th Regiment, Virginia Cavalry - Here's one of the points where Jonah's fictional life unravels under careful scrutiny.  We were first told in Weird Western Tales #29 that Jonah was a member of the 4th Cavalry (no state listed), but by Jonah Hex #13, references begin appearing for the 7th Cavalry (again, no state listed).  The 4th Cavalry isn't mentioned again until Jonah Hex (vol. 2) #46, when Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray retell some of the events of WWT#29, namely the Fort Charlotte Massacre (oddly enough, Michael Fleisher himself retold those events in JH#35, but Jonah's inexplicably said to be in the 7th that time around!).  There are few other references to Jonah's cavalry regiment during Palmiotti & Gray's run, but when it does come up, they put him with the 7th again (with the exception of JHv2#70, where they toss out a claim that Jonah was in the 66th Infantry, but since that issue was one long hallucination, I ain't gonna take it as gospel).  Aside from those two mentions -- both of which involve Fort Charlotte -- the 4th Cavalry is nonexistent in Hex history, and could be written off as a continuity error if not for the real-world connections that regimental number has to the Civil War.

Historically, there was both a 4th and 7th Regiment in the Virginia Cavalry.  Records state that the 7th Cavalry was made up mostly of men from the northern Virginia counties, as well as some from Maryland and what is now West Virginia, whereas some members of the 4th Cavalry were recruited from the city of Richmond, as well as a few central counties.  With our previous presumption that Jonah was in Richmond when the War broke out, it seems likely that both he and Jeb would've been assigned to the 4th when they joined up.  When you take into account that there's no mentions of Jonah participating in any battle prior to September 1861 -- when the 4th completed its organization -- the likelihood rises even higher, especially since the 7th was organized in May 1861, meaning those men were possibly on the frontlines for four months before Jonah, Jeb, and the rest of the 4th was ready to go.

Speaking of which, there is a scene at the beginning of Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such #1 where Jonah is tending to a dying friend, a former private by the name of Tex Smith.  Smith asks Jonah to mark his grave with the sword he got off of a Yankee at First Manassas (or as it's known in the North, the First Battle of Bull Run).  This battle took place on July 21st, so obviously Private Smith was in the fight by then, but that doesn't necessarily mean Jonah was as well: there's no dialogue in the scene that implies Jonah was present at First Manassas/Bull Run, nor are there references in any other comic to his participation in that battle.  So while the two men knew each other, and possibly met during wartime, they may have not have served in the same unit...or at least, they may not have at the beginning of the War.  Due to mergers and reassignments, not every man ended their service in the same unit they started with.  That's the most likely real-world reason why Jonah Hex would have two different cavalry numbers attributed to him: he started his Confederate military career with the 4th, and ended it with the 7th.

December 25, 1861: Slave Revolt on the Turnbull Plantation - The first eight months of the War were somewhat quiet, with only a few major battles noted in the history books, none of which we have specific record of Jonah participating in.  We don't know how much action he and Jeb Turnbull had seen by the time Christmas rolls around, but when they go back to Richmond, Virginia on a three-day pass and visit Jeb's father Quentin in WWT#29, we can tell by the three chevrons on their left sleeves that the two young men have both achieved the rank of sergeant.  They gave Quentin a gift upon arrival: an eagle-headed cane that belonged to a Union general, though it's not said how exactly they obtained it, nor which general it belonged to.

By that evening, their joyous reunion was interrupted by some newly-purchased slaves who'd stolen rifles in an attempt to overthrow their masters, killing at least two hired hands and setting fire to the barn in the process.  Jonah joined the Turnbulls in quelling the revolt, but he didn't look too pleased with himself when he gutshot one of the slaves, nor did he agree with the brutal flogging that Quentin administered on the slaves afterward.  It's likely that, when he and Jeb returned to their unit, Jonah was a little more aware of the true stakes involved in this War, and a silent battle with his conscience had begun.

April 6-7, 1862: Battle of Shiloh - In "The Last Bounty Hunter" (from the legendary Jonah Hex Spectacular) George Barrow claims that his father fought alongside Hex at Shiloh -- AKA the Battle of Pittsburg Landing -- in Tennessee.  Sadly, this is a throwaway line, with no wartime flashbacks involved -- nor is there a real-world record of either the 4th or 7th Virginia Cavalry participating in that battle -- so we can neither confirm nor deny the truth of it.  However, if Barrow's father did indeed fight alongside Hex during the War, it does make you wonder if Hex had ever saved the elder Barrow's life in battle, thereby giving him the chance to father the man who'd one day kill Jonah Hex!

September 1862: Hex's Special Mission for "Stonewall" Jackson - Though we can't pin a specific day on this one, we can estimate that the first part of flashback tale related in Jonah Hex #37 occurred right before the Battle of Harper's Ferry in Virginia (that area is now part of West Virginia).  History notes that Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was attacking Harper's Ferry as early as September 10th, so we can presume this tale begins right around that date.  The flashback shows that both Hex and Jackson were on separate scouting missions at the time, and the young man came to rescue when the general was ambushed by Union troops.  Since he introduced himself as Lieutenant Jonah Hex, we know that his promotion must've come through somewhere in the past nine months (he also says he's with the 7th Cavalry, and there's even a "7" on his uniform collar, but we're gonna ignore all that).  Jackson was grateful for Hex's assist, and soon informed him of the assault on Harper's Ferry, then asked the lieutenant if he was willing to undergo a solo mission, wherein he'd destroy one of the bridges crossing the Potomac River:




As with most Jonah Hex stories, it's doesn't go all that smoothly, but Lt. Hex did indeed blow up the bridge as General Jackson ordered, and even managed to get back to camp for a personal congratulations from the general prior to Jackson's unit moving on.  It's not specified if the general is referring to them advancing on Harper's Ferry, or the mad dash he and his men will make after that battle -- which was over by September 15th -- in order to bolster Lee's troops at the Battle of Antietam (AKA Sharpsburg) in Maryland on September 17th...which leads us to a bigger continuity glitch than that "7" on Jonah's collar.  On the very first page of Weird Western Tales #31, as he rides into the town of Wolverine to visit an old Army buddy named Dave Prentice, he wonders if the man has "changed a mite since we fought the Yankees together at Antietam."  Trouble is, in Jonah Hex (vol. 2) #13, Palmiotti & Gray claim that Jonah was at Fort Donelson in Tennessee on September 18th, which is over 700 miles away from Antietam.  Not even Jonah Hex could cover that distance in one day!

To make this work, we'd have to presume that Jonah is referring not to the famous battle, but to some minor skirmish near Antietam on another date.  We'd also have to presume Jonah didn't participate in the battle at Harper's Ferry at all, save for blowing up that bridge, thereby giving him time to not only rejoin his unit (remember, Hex was on a separate scouting mission when he ran into Jackson, who was not his C.O.), but also about 5-7 days for all of them to travel to Tennessee (we'll even presume there was a train and/or boat involved in that travel, 'cause that's a damn long way to march).  The logistics of this are still close to impossible, but since the next landmark on our timeline has multiple references to back it up, we can't exactly gloss over it.

Mid-September 1862: Raid on Fort Donelson - This incident and the three other landmarks that follow all come from Jonah Hex (vol. 2) #13, the first part of Palmiotti & Gray's "Origin of Jonah Hex" three-issue arc (an abbreviated version of them was included in All-Star Western #0).  Fort Donelson was an actual fort located near the Cumberland River in Tennessee, and was originally held by the Confederates until it fell into Union hands in February 1862 (the battle where General Ulysses S. Grant earned his nickname of "Unconditional Surrender").  A year later, the Confederates tried to take back the fort but failed due to lack of firepower, so we can presume by the dates in this issue that Jonah participated in an earlier attempt to reclaim the fort.  Under the cover of both darkness and a heavy rain, Lt. Hex and two other men snuck onto a Union supply wagon and, once it had been brought into the fort, attacked the guards at the gate so they could let Confederate troops inside.  The incoming Rebs were soon cut down by a Gatling gun, and when the Union officers were examining the dead, the colonel in charge recognized Hex (a year into the War, and he's already got a reputation!).  The colonel ordered his men to bayonet any surviving Rebel soldiers, leaving Hex alive to "make an example of him".

September 18, 1862: Blood Spilled on the Cumberland River - Palmiotti & Gray cite a specific date for this, but it's uncertain how long Hex had been held prisoner at Fort Donelson by this point (it's possible this occurs the morning after the failed raid, since this is a daylight scene).  Clad in only a Confederate flag and tied to a Saint Andrew's cross affixed to a log raft, Hex was whipped repeatedly across the face and chest before being set adrift upon the Cumberland River as a warning to any Southerners who might come across him.  It's unknown how long he spent in that horrific condition, but we can guess by the artwork that at least two full days and nights passed before Jonah was rescued:




By some miracle, the head of the family that found him was a doctor, therefore giving the nearly-dead lieutenant a chance to survive, though that certainly didn't mean his problems were over.

September 22, 1862: Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation Announced - The wheels were actually set in motion as far back as July 1862, but it wasn't until after the Union's victory at Antietam that President Lincoln unveiled the Proclamation to the public.  It should be noted that only those states not already under Union control were affected by the Proclamation when it was finally implemented on January 1, 1863, meaning Tennessee -- a Confederate state under the rule of a Union-backed military government at the time of drafting -- was exempted from this.  Still, the Proclamation was major news no matter where one lived, and the doctor who tended Jonah's wounds just so happened to be reading aloud to his family from an article in the Clarksville Leaf when Jonah woke up from his ordeal (the presence of the newspaper indicates that Hex is still in Tennessee, but he may not be in Clarksville itself), so we can presume this scene in JHv2#13 must've occurred around the same time as the announcement.

January 17, 1863: Hex Rejoins the Fight - Nearly four months pass before we see Jonah again, and though he appeared to be fully healed by this time, he was still staying with the family who rescued him.  Considering that the doctor had previously told Jonah he'd have to leave as soon as he was able due to Union troops moving into the area, this seems odd, and there's even a scene where the doctor's son remarked, "Now that President Lincoln signed papers saying that slaves are ta be set free, I reckon you'd want ta get back ta the Army," followed by, "I don't even know your name."  Admittedly, Jonah's voice wasn't up to snuff yet -- the doctor commented earlier that "I suspect it will remain a coarse whisper" thanks to what the Federals did to him -- but he could talk, not to mention write, so why hadn't he told them his name yet?  More than that, why was he still there if his presence put that family in danger?

This is pure speculation, but I imagine that Jonah had done a good amount of thinking over those past four months about the War and his place in it.  The passing of the Emancipation Proclamation meant that he couldn't ignore the slavery aspect of the conflict anymore, but unfortunately, he was still conscripted to the Confederate Army, and as they point out in JHv2#36, "The punishment for desertion from the Confederate ranks was death", so it's possible that Jonah may've decided the best course of action was to disappear and let his superiors think he was among those killed at Fort Donelson.  Perhaps Jonah had already spoken with the doctor about this decision, as it appears he wasn't a slave-owner himself -- his family resides within a rather large house, but there's no scenes featuring servants of any sort, black or white -- for all we know, Jonah was still there because the doctor was arranging to have Jonah snuck out of Tennessee.  As for Jonah keeping mum about his name, that might've been for the family's safety, in case soldiers from either side came around after he was gone: if they didn't know who he truly was, they couldn't reveal the information.

Even if this was the case, it was rendered moot when a trio of thieves masquerading as Confederate soldiers broke into the house, murdering the doctor and forcing themselves upon his wife.  Jonah killed all three of them in the merciless manner we're accustomed to seeing, and after helping to bury the doctor, Jonah finally hit the road, dressed in Confederate gray once more.  Did seeing those thieves disgracing the uniform sway him to put it on again?  To be certain, the one he was wearing had to have come off one of them, since his had been stripped off at Fort Donelson.

Late-January, 1863: The Fort Charlotte Massacre - There's been three full retellings of this incident over the past four decades of Jonah's publishing history -- WWT#29, JH#35, and JHv2#46 -- with little variation between, but that doesn't necessarily mean we know everything there is to know about it.  For one, we can't pin down exactly where this occurred, as there is no Fort Charlotte listed in any real-world Civil War record.  Historically, two forts in the United States have carried that name -- one near Mobile, Alabama and the other in South Carolina -- so perhaps in the DCU's version of history, one of these old forts was reinstated by the Confederacy, only to be captured by the Union and put to their use (like what happened to Fort Donelson).  Or it could be that this Fort Charlotte was completely unrelated to either of them, and was located in an entirely different area (we know it's within fifty miles of a marshy field containing red clay, and that's near someplace called Henderson Plateau, but I can't find any place by that name).  Also, since we have no specific date, we don't know how much time passed between Jonah leaving that home in Tennessee and meeting up with his regiment (not to mention how he found them after being away for 4 months!), nor do we know how long Jonah waited before he confessed to his friend and comrade-in-arms Jeb Turnbull that his heart was no longer in the fight, and he planned on surrendering to the Union troops at Fort Charlotte:




Of course, it wasn't as cut-and-dry as all that, and Jonah's noble-minded solution to his conundrum led to the inadvertent capture of thirty-five members of his regiment, many of whom died when they tried to escape.  Jonah managed to get kill the fort's C.O. to avenge the death of his friend Jeb, but that wasn't enough to keep the survivors -- as well as Jeb's father, Quentin Turnbull -- from branding him a traitor.  It should be noted, however, that there's no record of the Confederate Army arresting Jonah Hex for treason, much less punishing him for deserting his post, and the lieutenant went on to serve under the Rebel flag for another two years.  Considering how long those men carried a grudge against Jonah, it seems reasonable that at least one of them would've tried to bring him up on charges.  If so, did they fail due to lack of evidence?  Perhaps this is why all references to the 4th Cavalry disappear after Fort Charlotte: Jonah may have requested a transfer to another regiment in order to get away from his former friends who now treated him as a pariah.  As for the matter of Jonah continuing on with the Confederacy after he'd made it clear that he didn't want to fight to uphold slavery, I daresay his back-to-back experiences with how inhumane the Yankees could be overshadowed his moral quandary.  Jonah most likely felt that he couldn't trust the word of either side now, but since he'd already thrown his lot in with the South, that was the side he'd stick with.


Early 1863: Incident at Vicksburg - In Jonah Hex #25, the bounty hunter goes to Lawrenceville, Kansas to visit an old cavalry buddy, who now owns a newspaper.  When Jonah arrives, the news office is on fire, and Jonah rushes in to help, saying, "Nate Ashin lost his good right arm savin' me f'um gettin' sliced in half by a Yankee saber at Vicksburg...an' now seems as good a time as any tuh tell 'im how much Ah've appreciated livin' all these past thirteen years since then!"

Due to the vagary of Jonah's reference to Vicksburg and the number of battles that took place near there, it's hard to figure out an exact date for this one.  We can narrow it down to 1863, since the story is dated 1876 and Jonah says thirteen years have passed since Ashin saved his life.  It could be Jonah's referring to the Siege of Vicksburg, which took place May 18th-July 4, but seeing as how the next two landmarks on our timeline -- which take place around that same period -- are both roughly a thousand miles away from Vicksburg, Mississippi and he'd have to cross that distance twice to make this work, it seems unlikely (it's the same problem that keeps us from placing Jonah at the Battle of Antietam back in September 1862).  The most likely answer is Jonah took part in an earlier, smaller skirmish at some point between January (after the Fort Charlotte Massacre) and April (when he'd have to head back east to Virginia and the next landmark on the timeline).

May 2, 1863: "Stonewall" Jackson Fatally Wounded - We return to Jonah Hex #37 for the second part of that flashback tale.  It's been nearly eight months since Jonah had his run-in with General Jackson, and though that previous encounter ended well for both men, this one would not.  Halfway through the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia -- which raged on for over a week -- Jackson was returning to camp in the middle of the night, only to be shot by Confederate troops, who mistook his group for a Union cavalry force.  In the real world, it was members the North Carolina 18th Infantry regiment that made the error, but in DCU history, it's said that Lieutanant Jonah Hex was the first to open fire.  The general was hit three times and would eventually die of complications from pneumonia on May 10th.

In All-Star Western #19, Palmiotti & Gray confirm that this tale also exists in "The New 52" timeline when somebody asks the bounty hunter point-blank, "You shot Stonewall Jackson, didn't ya, Hex?", to which Jonah replies, "On accident."

July 1-3, 1863: Battle of Gettysburg - The only references to this infamous battle are in Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo #4, and they're done in passing, with no flashbacks to be seen (at least not for the reader).  The first one occurs after Doc “Cross” Williams stuffs Hex into a barrel and forces him to guzzle down some of his zombie-making elixir.  Though Jonah promptly vomits it up, he admits in the narrative that the stuff has affected him somewhat: “That night was long and as cold as a well digger’s ass.  I fought the Battle of Gettysburg all over again...and we lost again.”   Later on in that issue, once Jonah’s escaped and nursed back to health by a kindly farmer, we’re witness to a poignant exchange.  As the farmer loans him a horse, he confesses that he knows of Jonah’s outlaw status (long story short: Jonah’s been having some rotten luck lately).  “I was at Gettysburg too, Mr. Hex,” the farmer says.  “I was a private.  I seen how you did, and you damn sure ain’t no backshootin’ coward like that poster says.”

“That was a bad day for everyone,” Jonah replies, and you can actually see a tear rolling down his cheek when he says it.  Sadly, Jonah has never elaborated upon what exactly happened to him at Gettysburg, and we can’t infer anything else about his involvement in the battle due to the vagary of these two references.  We do know for certain that members of both the 4th and 7th Virginia Cavalry were present during the Gettysburg campaign, and that roughly 52,000 men were either dead, wounded, or missing by the time it was through, so no matter where or when Jonah came into that mess, there’s little chance he came through it unscathed.  That could be reason enough for him to keep his mouth shut about it.

1864: The Spoils of War - We can only put the vaguest of dates on this flashback from Jonah Hex #30, the first part of a three-issue tale.  The flashback begins when, according to the narration, Jonah's mind "races back a decade", and since the third part in JH#32 is dated 1874, we can presume the first part takes place around 1864.  We can't say for certain where this all takes place, however, other than it happens near an arroyo with some sparse woodland nearby.  Lieutenant Hex was scouting out the path being taken by a Union paymaster's wagon when a couple of Yankees took him by surprise.  They knocked him out and brought him back to camp for questioning, but other than name, rank, and serial number (which starts with 573, for those curious), he told them nothing.  Luckily for Hex, one of the members of his regiment, Corporal Eddie Cantwell, followed their trail and, after making the Yankees think they were under attack from a whole platoon, mowed them all down with their own Gatling gun.  Hex was appalled, and told Cantwell he had no right to kill all those Union soldiers since they'd already surrendered (despite the treatment Jonah had previously received from Yankees on two other occasions, it appears that he wasn't willing to stoop to their level when it came to prisoners of war).  Hex also didn't approve of Cantwell's idea to take the Yankee payroll for themselves, even when Cantwell threatened to shoot Hex, who eventually talked the soldier into doing the right thing and turning the money over their superiors, so as to fatten the Confederate war chest.

October 1864: Flushing out Yankee Spies - Back in 1999, there was a 12-part miniseries written by John Ostrander called The Kents, detailing the settlement of Superman’s adopted family in Kansas of the 1850s/60s.  By issue #8 -- which takes place during the final years of the Civil War -- we’re treated to a scene with Wild Bill Hickok telling some fellow Union scouts about a spy mission he and Nathan Kent (Jonathan Kent's ancestor) had just gotten back from (in truth, Hickok really did spy on Confederate forces for the Union, and even dropped out of sight for about a year due to it).  Seems the two of them had gotten caught behind enemy lines, and even worse, they were in the same camp as Jonah Hex, who knew Hickok was a spy, so the two men got out of camp as quickly as they could by riding their horses across the river the camp is located by.  Hex spotted them and opened fire, but they were too far out of range by that point, so he settled for yelling at them, "Maybe we'll meet again, Hickok -- when I don't hafta kill ya!"

Thanks to the mention of the Battle of Westport within the text -- which occurred on October 23-25, 1864 -- we know this took place in Missouri, with the river mentioned being either the Big Blue River or the Marais des Cygnes.  This would be the furthest west Jonah has been sighted during the entire War (the second-furthest being Vicksburg, Mississippi).  It's not impossible, just odd, though perhaps he'd been sent out there on another "special mission", like when General Jackson kept him away from his regiment for a spell in Jonah Hex #37.  Another oddity is that Jonah is shown to already have his famous facial scar:




Since we know those Yankees at Fort Donelson back in Jonah Hex (vol. 2) #13 whipped him across the face, I suppose we can write this off as an exaggeration of the damage done.  The oddest thing of all, however, is Hickok's claim that he and Jonah were already acquainted prior to the events of Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo (remember that zombie elixir I mentioned earlier?  Ol’ Wild Bill got a snootful of it, courtesy of the Doc, and has a couple of shootouts with Hex throughout the story).  There doesn’t seem to be any indication in that miniseries that Hex recognizes Hickok to any degree prior to the Doc telling Hex outright who the big zombie cowboy is, and even when Hex does refer to Hickok by name, he seems somewhat doubtful.  Since the flashback in The Kents comes about from Hickok spinning a yarn, with no input whatsoever from Hex himself, it's hard to say whether or not the two men really had encountered each other before that day.  Since Lieutenant Hex's reputation had already spread through the Union ranks after only a year of fighting -- as evidenced by the officers at Fort Donelson knowing who he is on sight -- it could be that Hickok merely spotted Hex in that camp, and decided to build up his own reputation by claiming that Hex knew who he was as well.

April 23, 1865: Laying Down Arms - We're back to Jonah Hex #30 again, this time to witness Jonah's final surrender to Union forces.  This occurred two weeks after General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia on April 9th, and just over one week after President Abraham Lincoln's assassination on April 14th.  Since it took a while for word to get around about Lee's surrender, fighting continued on for over a month, so it's conceivable that Lieutenant Hex and his regiment -- here referred to as the 7th Light Cavalry -- were still battling Yankees just prior to their surrender at the Federal stockade in Lynchburg, Virginia.  The circumstances behind this are unknown, though it should be noted that they entered the stockade unaccompanied by Union soldiers, so it could be this was a voluntary surrender and not one forced upon them at gunpoint.  Considering what happened to Jonah two years earlier at Fort Charlotte, what could've persuaded him that he wasn't leading the men under his command into a trap that day in Lynchburg?  With no further information available, the question will remain unanswered.

1866: Same Uniform, Different Meaning - Jonah Hex (vol. 2) #36 seems the best place to end our timeline, for not only is it one of the few post-Civil War tales to show Hex without his infamous scar, it also does its best to explain why he still wears Confederate gray.  Set in Pulaski, Tennessee, roughly 530 miles southwest of Lynchburg, Virginia (and just over 100 miles south of Clarksville...did Jonah perhaps pay a visit to the Tennessee family that sheltered him after his ordeal at Fort Donelson?), we learn that the former Confederate originally kept his uniform simply because he had nothing else to wear.  Like many veterans of the War, he was stranded far from home with little more than the clothes on his back, so this was more a matter of necessity than a moral or political statement.  It was only after crossing paths with a group of white supremacists who mistook Jonah for a man with similar inclinations -- and making them pay dearly for the error -- that Jonah apparently decided to continue wearing the uniform long after the need passed.  As the narration near the end of the story informs us, "His insistence on wearing the Confederate uniform until the day of his death in 1904 stands as a symbol of personal shame, a cross to bear.  For he knew that anyone who saw the gray colors would greet him with hatred and revulsion.  Those who saw the gray coat and extended a hand, in friendship and the recognition of an idea which promoted the subjugation of another race, did so at their own peril."




Though our timeline ends here, we know very well what fate had in store for Jonah Hex after he departed Pulaski, Tennessee.  Somewhere on the horizon is a reunion with his adopted Apache tribe, as well as "The Mark of the Demon" they will bestow upon him, followed by his decision to become a bounty hunter.  The events of those four long and bloody years will resurface at unexpected moments for the rest of his life, however, as will the people he met during that time, so in a way, the Civil War can never truly end for Lieutenant Jonah Woodson Hex.





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