No ratings or reviews yet. Be the first to write a review. Best-selling in Fiction See all. Blue Moon by Lee Child , Hardcover. Martin, Save on Fiction Trending price is based on prices over last 90 days. The Hobbit by J. You may also like. Bill Granger Books. Books Bill Pronzini. I thought I had seen fun in a Texas cattle stampede, been astonished in a mustang chase; but it wasn't a marker, and it made me believe that Methuselah was right when he suggested that the oldest could 'live and learn.
He could have enjoyed this lesson. Although 'blanket Indians' living wild , they have for a long time been friends of the Government, and have done excellent service under command of the justly-celebrated Major Frank North, whose famed Pawnee scouts have always been a terror to the Sioux nation. As Major North was in poor health at that time, this delicate task fell to me.
As I don't like to be long-winded, I'll pass over the scenes and incidents of wild Indian camp life, the magnificent sight of a moving village of "nature's children," looking like a long rainbow in the bright colors of their blankets, beads, feathers, war paint, etc. Early in the evening, as we were about making camp, my old friend, Baptiste, the interpreter, joyfully remarked: "Jack, the blanket is up three times — there will be fun and fresh meat to-morrow.
There was a great powwowing that night, and all the warriors were to turn out for the grand buffalo hunt, leaving the squaws and papooses in the village. Just before daybreak, there was a general stir and bustle on all sides, giving evidence of the complete preparations making for the coming events. As it was dark, and I busied in arranging my own outfit, thinking of the grand sight soon to be witnessed, and wondering how I would 'pan out' in the view of my 'red brothers,' I had not noticed the manner of their own arrangements in an important particular that I will hereafter allude to.
At a given signal all started, and, when the first blue streaks of dawn allowed the moving column to be visible I had time to make an inspection of the strange cavalcade, and note peculiarities. I saw at once, placed at a disadvantage, the "white brother. I had started fully equipped : bridle, saddle, lasso, rifle, pistol, belt, etc. They, with as near nothing in garments as Adam and Eve, only breech clout and moccasins, no saddle, no blanket, not even a bridle, only a small mouth rope, light bow and a few arrows in hand; in fact, not an ounce of weight more than necessary, and, unlike myself, all scudding along at a marvelous rate, leading their fiery ponies, so as to reserve every energy for the grand event in prospect.
Taking it all in at a glance, your 'humble servant,' quite abashed, let go all holts and slipped off his critter, feeling that the Broncho looked like a Government pack mule. I at once mentally gave up the intention of paralyzing my light-rigged side pards in the coming contest. As they were all walking, I thought the buffalo were quite near; but what was my surprise, as mile after mile was scored, that I gradually found myself dropping slowly but surely behind, and, so as not to get left, compelled every now and then to mount and lope to the front, there to perceive from the twinkling eyes of friend "Lo" a smile that his otherwise stolid face gave no evidence of.
How deep an Indian can think, and it not be surface plain, I believe has never been thoroughly measured. Just imagine this 'lick,' kept up with apparent ease by them for sixteen to twenty kilometers, and you may get a partial idea of your friend Jack's tribulations. Fortunately, I kept up, but at what an expense of muscle, verging on a complete "funk," you can only appreciate by a similar spin. About this time a halt was made, and you bet I was mighty glad of it. Suddenly two or three scouts rode up. A hurried council was held, during which the pipe was passed.
Everything seemed to be now arranged, and, after a little further advance, again a halt, when, amid great but suppressed excitement, every Indian mounted his now almost frantic steed, each eagerly seeking to edge his way without observation to the front. About two hundred horses almost abreast in the front line, say one hundred and fifty wedging in half way between formed a half second line, and one hundred struggling for place — a third line; the chiefs in front gesticulating, pantomiming, and, with slashing whips, keeping back the excited mass, whose plunging, panting ponies, as impatient as their masters, fretted, frothed, and foamed — both seemed molded into one being, with only one thought, one feeling, one ambition, as with flashing eye they waited for the signal, "Go," to let their pent-up feelings speed on to the honors of the chase.
Their prey is in fancied security, now quietly browsing to the windward in a low, open flat, some meters wide and three to four kilometers long, on top of a high divide, concealed from view by risings and breaks. Gradually they approach the knoll, their heads reach the level, the backs of the buffalo are seen, then a full view, when Pi-ta-ne-sha-a-du Old Peter, the head chief gives the word, drops the blanket, and they are "off.
Thunder and lightning! Talk of tornadoes, whirlwinds, avalanches, water-spouts, prairie fires, Niagara, Mount Vesuvius and I have seen them all except old Vesuvius ; boil them all together, mix them well, and serve on one plate, and you will have a limited idea of the charge of this "light brigade. With a roar like Niagara, the speed of a whirlwind, like the sweep of a tornado, the rush of an avalanche, the suddenness of a water-spout, the rumbling of Vesuvius, with the fire of death in their souls, they pounce on their prey, and in an instant, amid a cloud of dust, nothing is visible but a mingled mass of flying arrows, horses' heels, buffaloes' tails, Indian heads, half of ponies, half of men, half of buffalo, until one thinks it a dream, or a heavy case of '"jim-jams.
I just anchored in astonishment.
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Where are they? Over the plains in all directions they go, as the choice meat hunters cut them out, while in a jumbled mass, circling all around is the main body. The clouds of dust gradually rise as if a curtain was lifted, horses stop as buffaloes drop, until there is a clear panoramic view of a busy scene all quiet, everything still save a few fleet ones in the distance ; horses riderless, browsing proudly conscious of success; the prairie dotted here, there, everywhere with dead bison; and happy, hungry hunters skinning, cutting, slashing the late proud monarch of the plains.
I was so interested in the sight that I came near being left, when fortunately a lucky long-range shot the only one fired during the day at a stray heifer saved my reputation. In about two hours every pony was loaded, their packing being quite a study that would need a deserved and lengthy description. It was wonderful. As I had walked a great deal, I proposed to return on horseback, and for that I chose the shorter way to reach the camp.
Every pony was packed down only mine, seeing which "Peter's papoose" 'the sun chief' invited himself up behind. Talk of gall—an Indian has got more cheek than a Government mule. He laughed at my objections, but as he had loaned me the pony I had to submit. He even directed the gait, and kept up a continual jabbering of 'Wisgoots, ugh!
De goinartsonse stak-ees, ugh! A reproduction, as far as practical, of the method of buffalo hunting, will be a feature of a Buffalo Bill's "Wild West," with a herd of bison, real Indians, hunters, and Western ponies. The denizens of the Eastern States of the Union are accustomed to regard the West as the region of romance and adventure. And, in truth, its history abounds with thrilling incidents and surprising changes. Every inch of that beautiful country has been won from a cruel and savage foe by danger and conflict.
In the terrible wars of the border which marked the early years of the Western settlements, the men signalized themselves by performing prodigies of valor, while the women, in their heroic courage and endurance, afforded a splendid example of devotion and self-sacrifice. The history of the wagon trains and stage coaches that preceded the railway is written all over with blood, and the story of suffering and disaster, often as it has been repeated, is only known in all of its horrid details to the bold frontiersmen, who, as scouts and rangers, penetrated the strongholds of the Indians, and, backed by the gallant men of the army, became the vanguard of Western civilization and the terror of the red man.
Among the most stirring episodes in the life of the Western pioneer are those connected with the opening of new lines of travel, for it is here, among the trails and canyons, where lurk the desperadoes of both races, that he is brought face to face with danger in its deadliest forms. No better illustration of this fact is furnished than in the history of the famous Deadwood coach , the scarred and weather-beaten veteran of the original "star route" line of stages, established at a time when it was worth a man's life to sit on its box and journey from one end of its destination to the other.
It will be observed that it is a heavily built Concord stage and is intended for a team of six horses. The body is swung on a pair of heavy leather underbraces, and has the usual thick "perches," "Jacks," and brakes belonging to such a vehicle. It has a large leather "boot" behind, and another at the driver's foot-board. The coach was intended to seat twenty-one men—the driver and two men beside him, twelve inside, and the other six on top.
As it now stands, the leather blinds of the window are worn, the paint is faded, and it has a battered and travel-stained aspect that tells the story of hardship and adventure.
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Its trips began in , when the owners were Messrs. Owing to the long distance and dangers, the drivers were always chosen for their coolness, courage, and skill. In its first season the dangerous places on the route were Buffalo Gap, Lame Johnny Creek, Red Canyon, and Squaw Gap, all of which were made famous by scenes of slaughter and the deviltry of the banditti.
Conspicuous among the latter were "Curley" Grimes, who was killed at Hogan's Ranch; "wooden-Legged" Bradley, who was killed on the Cheyenne River; "Dunk" Blackburn, who is now in the Nebraska State Prison, and others of the same class, representing the most fearless of the road agents of the West.
On the occasion of the first attack, the driver, John Slaughter, a son of the present marshal of Cheyenne, was shot to pieces with buckshot. He fell to the ground, and the team ran away, escaping with the passengers and mail, and safely reached Greely's Station. This occurred at White Wood Canyon. Slaughter's body was recovered, brought to Deadwood, and thence carried to Cheyenne, where it is now buried. The old coach here received its "baptism of fire," and during the ensuing summer passed through a variety of similar experiences, being frequently attacked.
One of the most terrific of these raids was made by the Sioux Indians, but the assault was successfully repelled, although the two leading horses were killed. Several commercial travelers next suffered from a successful ambush, on which occasion a Mr. Liebman, of Chicago, was killed, and his companion shot through the shoulder.
After this stormy period, it was fitted up as a treasure coach, and naturally became an object of renewed interest to the robbers; but, owing to the strong force of what is known as "shotgun messengers" who accompanied the coach, it was a long time before the bandits succeeded in accomplishing their purpose.
Among the most prominent of these messengers were Scott Davis, a splendid scout, and one of the self-appointed undertakers of many of the lawless characters of the neighborhood; Boone May, one of the best pistol shots in the Rocky Mountain region, who killed Bill Price in the streets of Deadwood, together with "Curley" Grimes, one of the road agents; Jim May, a worthy brother—a twin in courage if not in birth.
Few men have had more desperate encounters than he, and the transgressors of the law have had many an occasion to feel the results of his keen eye and strong arm whenever it has become necessary to face men who are prepared to "die with their boots on. These men constituted a sextet of as brave fellows as could be found on the frontier, and their names are all well known in that country.
At last, however, some of them came to grief. The bandits themselves were old fighters. The shrewdness of one party was offset by that of the other, and on an unlucky day the celebrated Cold Springs tragedy occurred.
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The station had been captured, and the road agents secretly occupied the place. The stage arrived in its usual manner, and without suspicion of danger the driver, Gene Barnett, halted at the stable door. An instant afterwards a volley was delivered that killed Hughey Stevenson, sent the buckshot through the body of Gail Hill, and dangerously wounded two others of the guards. The bandits then captured the outfit, amounting to some sixty thousand dollars in gold.
On another occasion the coach was attacked, and, when the driver was killed, saved by a woman—Martha Canary, better known at the present time in the wild history of the frontier as "Calamity Jane. When Buffalo Bill returned from his scout with General Crook, in , he rode in this same stage, bringing with him the scalps of several of the Indians whom he had met. When afterwards he learned that it had been attacked and abandoned and was lying neglected on the plains, he organized a party, and, starting on the trail, rescued and brought the vehicle into camp. With the sentiment that attaches to a man whose life has been identified with the excitement of the far West, the scout has now secured the coach from Colonel Voorhees, the manager of the Black Hills stage line, and hereafter it will play a different role in its history from that of inviting murder and being the tomb of its passengers.
And yet the "Deadwood Coach" will play no small part in the entertainment that has been organized by Buffalo Bill and partners for the purpose of representing some of the most startling realities of Western life, in a vivid representation of one of the Indian and road agents' combined attacks. Among the many features of "The Wild West" not the least attractive will be the advent in Europe of a band of veritable "cowboys," a class without whose aid the great grazing pampas of the West would be valueless, and the Eastern necessities of the table, the tan-yard, and the factory would be meagre.
These will be the genuine cattle herders of a reputable trade, and not the later misnomers of "the road," who, in assuming an honored title, have tarnished it in the East, while being in fact the cowboys' greatest foe, the thieving, criminal "rustler.