TALES OF THE WILD WEST; Story Behind Tees Hero Who Fought in American Civil War - and Had Links to Buffalo Bill

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Byline: MIKE MORGAN

A TEESSIDE author has written a Gone With The Wind-style yarn about a Middlesbrough man who not only fought in the American Civil War, but also had a connection with Buffalo Bill's famous Wild West Show.

Harry Dixon Jessop was a larger-than-life character who, aged just 15, joined a ship and sailed to make his fortune in America.

On arrival, livewire Harry jumped ship. But things went badly awry when he was conscripted into the Confederate Army and had to fight as an elite cavalryman for a cause he did not believe in - slavery.

Author Chris Carter, 52, of Thornton Street, North Ormesby, became fascinated with Jessop's story after seeing his grave in Linthorpe Cemetery.

He said: "Despite having to fight for supporters of slavery, unlike many, he stayed loyal to his friends and comrades fighting in many of the Southern states.

"He took part in the sieges of Atlanta (of Gone With The Wind fame) and Savannah and, in one of the last acts of the war, his regiment acted as escort to rebel President Jefferson Davis during his flight through the Carolinas.

"He came through the war unscathed, although he saw some terrible sights."

One of the many savage conflicts Harry was involved in was the Battle of Fort Sanders, fought on December 29, 1863 in Tennessee, as part of the Confederate's attempt to stop General Sherman marching on Chattanooga.

After the war, Harry made his way back to Hull, eventually building his own business as a stevedore in Middlesbrough.

He helped load the ship at Hull docks used by one of the Buffalo Bill Wild West shows touring Britain in the late 1800s. …