Charles Bowles (aka Black Bart), was an English born American Western Outlaw. Known as a “Gentleman Bandit”, he was noted for his stylish dress and the verses of poetry he would leave behind after a robbery. Noted for stagecoach robberies, he was quite active in Northern California and Oregon in the 1870s and 1880s. Coming to America to cash in on the California Gold Rush of 1849, he was joined by his 2 brothers (who would die from illness contracted during their expedition). Bowles also joined The Union Army in 1861, serving with General Sherman in his “March To The Sea” Campaign in 1864. After the War, Bowles (as per legend), got into an argument with several Well Fargo Agents. This argument would set his tone for his after War activities. Bowles began to rob Well Fargo Stages between 1875 and 1883. He was reputed to have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in takes.
He was noted for using an old flour sack with holes cut out for eyes. His last robbery got him shot 4 times (but he escaped). He unfortunately left several personal items which lead Lawmen to his true identity. He was arrested and charged with just his last robbery. He did 4 years before being released in 1888. Through with crime, he settle in Vislalia, California. He checked into a local hotel one day – then disappeared. What happened to Black Bart is still an enduring mystery. Bart's nickname was in reference to his dark clothes that he wore. He never shot anyone in the course of his crime. He was partial to twin matching .44 Caliber Colt Single Action Revolvers. Their barrels were cut down to 3-inches. This type of modification earned the weapons the name of “Hideaways”. Bart also preferred to use a Modified Shotgun (12-Gauge Double Barrel Sawed Off).