Is Jackson Cole Alive? Is He Based on a Real Union Soldier?

The final episode of Paramount+’s Western series ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ reveals that Jackson Cole, a former Union soldier, is alive but in the custody of Texas Ranger Esau Pierce. In the sixth episode of the show, Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves hands Cole over to Esau for the murder of Rockrose Plantation owner James Neblett. Cole killed Neblett for burning down his slaves after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. When Bass learns that Cole didn’t reach the court in Texas, he, along with the viewers, assumes that Esau killed the prisoner. His presence in the former Confederate soldier’s estate reveals the brutal nature of the latter! SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Subject of Esau’s Torture

When Bass Reeves hands Jackson Cole over to Esau Pierce for the prisoner’s trial in Texas, the deputy marshal knows that the Texan judge will sentence the murderer to death. Still, he finds relief in the expectation that Cole will at least get a fair trial in court. However, when Bass learns that only the black man’s boots reached the court in Texas, he assumes that Esau killed the prisoner to eliminate the legal proceedings. But during Bass’ visit to Esau, he sees Cole chained up with several marks of torture on his body. Esau ties up the black man to make him suffer rather than seeing him getting executed to have a fast death.

Esau’s existence is governed by hatred. As a former Confederate soldier, he sees black people as just slaves and inferior creatures who deserve to suffer in chains that eliminate their freedom. Even after the abolition of slavery, he has a group of slaves in his estate, who were seemingly kidnapped by him or in other words, “Mr. Sundown.” Such a man cannot tolerate Cole’s life ending without him experiencing unbearable agony. Thus, he takes the law into his own hands to torture the former Union soldier. He wants the rebellious Cole to believe that black men should always remain slaves, irrespective of what the country’s constitution says, and fear the white men.

Cole, the same man who killed a plantation owner named James Neblett for murdering his fellow black brothers, gets forced to call Esau, a slave hunter, “sir.” Leaving Cole to live in chains is the punishment Esau gives him instead of death since the former kills the pride of the black man. The Texas Ranger must have wanted the prisoner to starve to death after suffering more torture but Bass comes to his rescue. After killing Esau, the deputy marshal collects the money saved by the former and gives it to Cole for him and other slaves who have been living at the estate to rebuild their lives.

Cole is Not Based on a Real Person

Jackson Cole is a fictional character creator Chad Feehan and his team of writers conceived for the period drama. However, the character has immense significance in the narrative of the show. Before meeting Cole, Bass is a deputy marshal who blindly follows the law without trying to challenge or question it. He keeps his personal notions of justice and law aside to follow the books of rule to the word. The black man even believes that the law treats every race and community the same way. The conversations Bass ends up having with Cole while taking him to Texas change the deputy marshal for good.

After meeting Cole, Bass realizes that the law of the land only serves the whites. As a former slave, he understands why Cole had to kill a plantation owner who was burning down several black people to prevent them from cherishing their independence. In Bass’ view, Cole’s actions were necessary to save the lives of several more people from his community. Still, he is forced to accept that the black man has to get executed for the same actions. Cole delivered justice to Neblett’s victims by killing the man. Bass even draws inspiration from the prisoner’s “crime” to kill Esau after abandoning the law.

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