An Autobiography of Buffalo Bill (Colonel W. F. Cody)
Buffalo Bill (William Frederick Cody)
Part 4 out of 5
and forage for the hunting trip. Besides these there were three or four
horse-ambulances in which the guns were carried, and in which members
of the party might ride when they became weary of the saddle. I
accompanied the expedition at the request of General Sheridan. He
introduced me to everybody and gave me a good send-off. As it was a
high-toned outfit I was to accompany, I determined to put on a little
style myself. I dressed in a new suit of light buckskin, trimmed along
the seams with fringe of the same material. I put on a crimson shirt,
elaborately decorated on the bosom, and selected a big sombrero for my
head. Then, mounting a showy horse which was a gallant stepper, I rode
down to the fort, rifle in hand.
The expedition was soon under way. First in line rode General Sheridan,
followed by his guests; then the orderlies. Then came the ambulances,
in one of which were carried five greyhounds, brought along to course
antelopes and rabbits.
With the ambulance marched a pair of Indian ponies belonging to
Lieutenant Hayes, captured during an Indian fight. These were harnessed
to a light wagon, which General Sheridan occasionally used. These
little animals, thirteen hands high, showed more vigor and endurance
than any we brought with us.
During our first night in camp the members of the party asked me
hundreds of questions about buffaloes and buffalo hunting. The entire
evening was spent in talk about buffaloes, together with stories of the
Plains, the chase, and the war, which was then fresh in the minds of
all of us. We closed the evening by christening the camp, Camp Brown,
in honor of the gallant officer who was in command of the escort.
We breakfasted at four the next morning and at six we were in the
saddle. Everyone was eager to see the buffaloes which I had promised
would be met with during the day. After a march of five miles the
advance guard which I commanded sighted six of these animals grazing
about two miles away.
Acting upon my suggestion, Lawrence Jerome, Livingston, Heckscher,
Fitzhugh, Rogers, and Crosby, with myself as guide, rode through a
convenient canon to a point beyond the herd, and to windward of them;
the rest of the party made a detour of nearly five miles, keeping
behind the crest of a hill.
We charged down on the buffaloes at full gallop, and just then the
other party emerged from their concealment and witnessed the exciting
The buffaloes started away in a line, single file; Fitzhugh, after a
lively gallop, led us all. Soon he came alongside the rear buffalo, at
which he fired. The animal faltered, and with another shot Fitzhugh
brought him to the ground. Crosby dashed past and leveled another of
the herd, while Livingston dropped a third. Those who were not directly
engaged in the hunt now came up and congratulated the buffalo killers.
Fitzhugh was hailed as the winner of the Buffalo Cup. There was general
sympathy for Heckscher, whose horse had fallen and rolled over him,
thus putting him out of the race.
The hunt being over, the column moved forward through a prairie-dog
town, several miles in extent. These animals are found throughout the
Plains, living together in a sort of society. Their numberless burrows
in their towns join each other and the greatest care is necessary in
riding among them, since the ground is so undermined as easily to give
way under the weight of a horse.
Around the entrance to each burrow earth is piled to the height of at
least a foot. On these little elevations the prairie-dogs sit on their
haunches, chattering to each other and observing whatever passes on the
They will permit a person to approach very closely, but when they have
viewed him they dive into their holes with wonderful celerity. They are
difficult to kill. If hit they usually succeed in getting underground
before they can be recovered.
Rattlesnakes and little owls are found in great numbers in the
prairie-dog towns, living in the same burrows. We killed and cooked a
few of the prairie-dogs, and found them very palatable.
A short distance beyond the prairie-dog town we found a settlement of
five white men. They Proved to be the two Clifford brothers, Arthur
Ruff, Dick Seymour, and John Nelson. To the last I have already
referred. Each of these men had a squaw for a wife and numerous
half-breed children. They lived in tents of buffalo skins. They owned a
herd of horses and a few cattle, and had cultivated a small piece of
land. Their principal occupation was hunting, and they had numbers of
buffalo hides, which they had tanned in the Indian fashion.
Upon reaching Pleasant Valley on Medicine Creek the party divided into
two detachments, one hunting along the bank of the creek for elk and
deer, the other remaining with the main body of the escort.
The elk hunters met with no success whatever, but the others found
plenty of buffaloes and nearly everybody killed one before the day was
done. Lawrence Jerome made an excellent shot. He was riding in an
ambulance, and killed a buffalo that attempted to cross the line of
march. Upon crossing the Republican River on the morning of the
twenty-sixth we came upon an immense number of buffaloes scattered over
the country in every direction. All had an opportunity to hunt. The
wagons and troops moved slowly along toward the next camp while the
hunters rode off in twos and threes. Each hunter was rewarded with
Lawrence Jerome met with the only mishap. He was riding Buckskin Joe,
which I had lent him, and, dismounting to get a steady shot,
thoughtlessly let go of the bridle.
The horse decided to do a little hunting on his own account. When last
seen that day he was ahead of the buffaloes, and gaining, while his
late rider was left to his own reflections. Three days later Joe,
saddled and bridled, turned up at Fort McPherson.
We pitched our camp for the night in a charming spot on the bank of
Beaver Creek. The game was so abundant that we remained there the next
day. This stopping-place was called Camp Cody, in honor of the reader's
humble servant. The next day was spent in hunting jack-rabbits,
coyotes, elk, antelope, and wild turkeys.
That we had a splendid dinner may be seen from the following
BILL OF FARE
Broiled Cisco; Fried Dace
Salmi of Prairie Dog; Stewed Rabbit; Filet of Buffalo aux
Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Green Peas
Champagne Frappe, Champagne au Naturel, Claret, Whisky, Brandy, Ale
I considered this a fairly good meal for a hunting party. Everybody did
justice to it.
The excursionists reached Fort Hays on the morning of October second.
There we pitched our tents for the last time. That same afternoon
General Sheridan and his guests took the train for the East. They
expressed themselves as highly pleased with the hunt, as well as with
the way they had been guided and escorted.
General Davies afterward wrote the story of this hunt in a volume of
sixty-eight pages, called "Ten Days on the Plains." In this chapter I
have taken the liberty of condensing frequently from this volume, and
in some cases have used the general's exact language. I ought to insert
several lines of quotations marks, to be pretty generally distributed
through the foregoing account.
After the departure of General Sheridan's party we returned to Fort
McPherson, and found General Carr about to start on a twenty days'
scout. His object was more to take some friends on a hunt than to look
for Indians. His guests were a couple of Englishmen and Mr. McCarthy of
New York, the latter a relative of General Emory. The command consisted
of three companies of the Fifth Cavalry, one company of Pawnee Scouts,
and twenty-five wagons. Of course I was called to accompany the
One day, after we had been out for some little time, I arranged with
Major North to play a joke on Mr. McCarthy. I took him out on a hunt
about eight miles from the camp, informing Major North about what time
we should reach there. He had agreed that he would appear in the
vicinity with his Indians, who were to throw their blankets around them
and come dashing down upon us, firing and whooping in the true Indian
This program was faithfully carried out. I had been talking about
Indians to McCarthy, and he had become considerably excited, when just
as we turned a bend in the creek we saw a band of them not half a mile
away. They instantly started after us on the gallop, yelling and
"McCarthy," said I, "shall we run or fight?"
He did not wait to reply. Wheeling his horse, he started at full speed
down the creek. He lost his gun and dropped his hat, but never once did
he look back to see if he were pursued. I tried to stop him by shouting
that the Indians were Pawnees and our friends. He did not hear me, but
kept straight on, never stopping his horse till he reached the camp.
I knew he would tell General Carr that the Indians had jumped him, and
that the general would at once start out with troops. So as soon as the
Pawnees rode up, I told them to remain there while I rode after my
When I had reached camp, he had given the alarm, and the general had
ordered out two companies of cavalry to go in pursuit of the Indians.
I told the general the Indians were only Pawnees, and that a joke had
been put up on McCarthy. I neglected to tell him who had put up the
joke. He was fond of a joke himself, and did not get very angry. I had
picked up McCarthy's hat, which I returned to him. It was some time
before it was discovered who was at the bottom of the affair.
It was while I was stationed at Fort McPherson, where Brevet-Major-General
W.H. Emory was in command, that I acted as guide for Lord Flynn, an
English nobleman who had come over for a hunt on the Plains. I had been
recommended to him by General Sheridan.
Flynn had served in India with the British army. He was a fine
sportsman and a splendid shot, and secured many heads and skins while
he was with me. Money meant little to him. He insisted on paying all
the bills, spending his money lavishly on both officers and men when he
was at the Post.
Once, when we ran out of liquid refreshments while on the hunt, we rode
thirty miles to a saloon, only to find it closed. Lord Flynn inquired
the price of the place, found it to be $500 and bought it. When we
left, after having had all we needed to drink, he gave it--house, bar,
stock, and all--to George Dillard, who had come along with the party as
a sort of official bartender.
Sir George Watts-Garland also made a hunt with us. He was an excellent
hunter and a thorough gentleman, but he lacked the personality that
made Lord Flynn one of the most popular visitors who ever came to the
Early in January, 1872, General Forsythe and Dr. Asch, of General
Sheridan's staff, came to Fort McPherson to make preparations for a
grand buffalo hunt to be conducted for the Grand Duke Alexis. General
Sheridan was desirous of giving the Russian nobleman the hunt of his
life. He wanted everything ready when the Grand Duke arrived, so that
he need lose no time at the Post.
By way of giving their distinguished guest a real taste of the Plains,
the two officers asked me to visit the camp of the Sioux chief, Spotted
Tail, and ask him to bring a hundred of his warriors to the spot on Red
Willow Creek, which, at my suggestion, had been selected as the Grand
Spotted Tail had permission from the Government to hunt buffalo, a
privilege that could not be granted to Indians indiscriminately, as it
involved the right to carry and use firearms. You couldn't always be
sure just what kind of game an Indian might select when you gave him a
rifle. It might be buffalo, or it might be a white man. But Spotted
Tail was safe and sane. Hence the trust that was reposed in him.
Forsythe and Asch, after accompanying me to the site I had found for
the camp, returned to the Post, while I set out to confer with Mr.
Spotted Tail. The weather was very cold, and the journey was by no
means a delightful one. I was obliged to camp out with only my
saddle-blankets to protect me from the weather, and only my vigilance
to protect me from the Indians. Spotted Tail himself was friendly, but
some of his young men were decidedly hostile. My activities as a scout
had made me many enemies among the Sioux, and it is not their nature
easily to forget old grudges.
At the close of the first day I made camp on a tributary of Frenchman's
Fork, and built a little fire. The night was bitter cold, and I was so
busy keeping warm that I got very little sleep. The next afternoon I
began to notice fresh horse tracks and the carcasses of recently killed
buffaloes. I knew that I was nearing an Indian camp. It was not policy
to ride boldly in among the Indians, as some of them might be inclined
to shoot me first and discover later that I was a friend of Spotted
Tail. So I hid my horse in a low ravine and crawled up a hill, from
whose summit I obtained a good view of the country.
When night fell, I rode into camp unobserved. As I entered the camp I
wrapped my blanket, Indian fashion, about my head, so that the redskins
would not at once recognize me as a white man. Then I hunted about till
I found Spotted Tail's lodge. The old chief was stretched lazily out on
a pile of robes as I looked in. He knew who I was and invited me to
In the lodge I found Todd Randall, an old white frontiersman, who was
Spotted Tail's friend and agent, and who had lived a great many years
with the Indians. Randall, who spoke the Sioux jargon perfectly, did
the interpreting, and through him I readily communicated to the chief
the object of my visit.
I said that the warriors and chiefs would greatly please General
Sheridan if they would meet him in about ten sleeps at the old
Government crossing at the Red Willow. I said that a great chief from
far across the water was coming to visit them, and that he was
especially anxious to meet the greatest of the Indian chiefs.
Spotted Tail replied that he would be very glad to go. He added that on
the morrow he would call his men together and select from them those
who were to accompany him. He told me I had acted very wisely in coming
first to him, as it was known to him that some of his young men did not
like me, and he knew that they had hasty tempers. He expressed himself
as pleased that they had not met me outside the village, and I assured
him that I was equally pleased that this was so.
The chief then called his squaw, who got me something to eat, and I
passed the remainder of the night in his lodge. Having informed the old
man that this was no ordinary occasion, and that he would be expected
to do the job up right, I returned to the Post.
When the day set for the Grand Duke's arrival came there was a brave
array at the station to meet him. Captain Hays and myself had five or
six ambulances to carry his party, Captain Egan was on hand with a
company of cavalry and twenty extra saddle-horses, and the whole
population of the place was gathered to see the great man from Russia.
The train came in, and from it stepped General Sheridan. A fine figure
of a man was towering above him. This was the visitor.
I was presented to the Grand Duke as Buffalo Bill, the man who would
have charge of the hunt. I immediately ordered up the saddle-horse I
had selected for the nobleman, also a fine horse for General Sheridan.
Both men decided to ride for a few miles before they took seats in the
When the whole party was mounted they started south, Texas Jack acting
as guide until such time as I could overtake them. The Grand Duke was
very much interested in the whole proceeding, particularly in the
Indians. It was noticed that he cast frequent and admiring glances at a
handsome red-skinned maiden who accompanied old Spotted Tail's
daughter. When we made camp my titled guest plied me with questions
about buffaloes and how to kill them. He wanted to know whether a gun
or a pistol was the proper weapon and whether I would be sure to supply
him with a horse that was trained in buffalo hunting.
I told him that I would give him Buckskin Joe, the best buffalo horse
in the country, and that all he would need to do would be to mount the
animal and fire away every time he saw a buffalo.
At nine o'clock in the morning we were all galloping over the prairies
in search of big game. I waited till everyone was ready, and then led
the party over a little knoll that hid the herd from view. In a few
minutes we were among the buffaloes.
Alexis first chose to use his pistol. He sent six shots in rapid
succession after one bull, at a distance of only twenty feet, but he
fired wildly, and did no damage whatever. I rode up to his side, and,
his pistol having been emptied, gave him mine. He seized it and fired
six more shots, but not a buffalo fell.
I saw that he was pretty sure to come home empty-handed if he continued
this sort of pistol practice. So I gave him my old "Lucretia" and told
him to urge his horse close to the buffaloes, and not to shoot till I
gave him the word. At the same time I gave Buckskin Joe a cut with my
whip which sent him at a furious gallop to within ten feet of one of
the biggest bulls in the herd.
"Now is your time," I shouted to Alexis. He fired, and down went the
buffalo. Then, to my amazement, he dropped his gun, waved his hat in
the air, and began talking to members of his suite in his native
tongue, which I of course was totally unable to understand. Old
Buckskin Joe was standing behind the horse that I was riding,
apparently quite as much astonished as I was at this singular conduct
of a man he had accepted in good faith as a buffalo hunter.
There was no more hunting for the Grand Duke just then. The pride of
his achievement had paralyzed any further activity as a Nimrod in him.
Presently General Sheridan came riding up, and the ambulances were
gathered round. Soon corks were popping and champagne was flowing in
honor of the Grand Duke Alexis and his first buffalo.
Many of the newspapers which printed accounts of the hunt said that I
had shot the buffalo for the Grand Duke. Others asserted that I held
the buffalo while the Grand Duke shot him. But the facts are just as I
have related them.
It was evident to all of us that there could be little more sport for
that day. At the request of General Sheridan I guided the Russians back
to camp. Several of the others in the party decided to indulge in a
little hunt on their own account, and presently we saw them galloping
madly over the prairie in all directions, with terrified buffaloes
flying before them.
As we were crossing a stream on our way back to camp we ran into a
small band that had been frightened by some of these hunters. They came
sweeping across our path, not more than thirty feet away, and as they
passed Alexis raised his pistol and fired generally into the herd. A
buffalo cow fell.
It was either an extraordinary shot or a "scratch," probably the
latter. The Duke was as much astonished as any of us at the result, but
we gave him three rousing cheers, and when the ambulance came up we had
a second round of champagne in honor of the prowess of our
distinguished fellow hunter. I began to hope that he would keep right
on killing buffaloes all the afternoon, for it was apparent that every
time he dropped an animal a basket of champagne was to be opened. And
in those days on the Plains champagne was not a drink that could be
indulged in very often.
I took care of the hides and heads of the buffaloes the Grand Duke had
shot, as he wanted them all preserved as souvenirs of his hunt, which
he was now enjoying immensely. I also cut the choice meat from the cow
that he had killed and brought it into camp. At supper he had the
pleasure of dining on buffalo meat which he himself had provided.
Eight buffaloes were killed by Alexis during the three days we remained
in camp. He spent most of his time in the saddle, and soon became
really accomplished. After he had satisfied himself as to his own
ability as a buffalo killer he expressed a desire to see how the
Indians hunted them. He had never seen bows and arrows used in the
pursuit of game. Spotted Tail, who had joined the hunt according to his
promise, picked out some of his best hunters, and when Alexis joined
them directed them to surround a herd. They were armed with bows and
arrows and lances.
I told the Grand Duke to follow one particularly skillful brave whose
name was Two Lance, who had a reputation for being able to drive an
arrow clear through the body of a bull. The Indian proved equal to his
fame. He hauled alongside of an animal, and, bending his powerful bow,
let fly an arrow, which passed directly through the bulky carcass of a
galloping brute, who fell dead instantly. The arrow, at the Grand
Duke's request, was given to him as a souvenir which he doubtless often
exhibited as proof of his story when some of his European friends
proved a little bit skeptical of his yarns of the Western Plains.
When the visitor had had enough of buffalo hunting, orders were given
to return to the railroad. The conveyance provided for Alexis and
General Sheridan was an old-fashioned Irish dogcart, drawn by four
spirited cavalry horses. The driver was old Bill Reed, an
overland-stage driver, and our wagon-master. The Grand Duke vastly
admired the manner in which he handled the reins.
On the way over, General Sheridan told his guest that I too was a
stage-driver, and Alexis expressed a desire to see me drive.
"Cody," called the general, "come back here and exchange places with
Reed. The Grand Duke wants you to drive for a while."
In a few minutes I had the reins, and we were racing across the
prairie. We jogged along steadily enough, despite a pretty rapid pace,
and this did not suit General Sheridan at all.
"Shake 'em up a little, Bill," he told me as we were approaching
Medicine Creek. "Show us some old-time stage-driving."
I gave the horses a sounding crack with the whip, and they jumped into
their work with a real interest. The load was light and their pace
increased with every second.
Soon they were fairly flying over the ground, and I had all I could do
to maintain any control over them. At last we reached a steep hill, or
divide, the further side of which sloped down to the creek. There was
no brake on the wagon, and the four horses were not in the least
inclined to hold back, appearing to be wholly unconcerned as to what
It was impossible to restrain them. My work was cut out for me in
keeping them on the track. So I let them set their own pace down the
hill. The wagon bounded and rebounded from the bumps in the road, and
my two distinguished passengers had to keep very busy holding their
However, when they saw that the horses were being kept in the road they
assumed an appearance of enjoying themselves. I was unable to slacken
the pace of the horses until they dashed into the camp where we were to
obtain a relay. There I succeeded in checking them.
[Illustration: STAGE-COACH DRIVING WAS FULL OF HAIR-RAISING
The Grand Duke and the general said they had got a lot of enjoyment out
of the ride, but I noticed that thereafter they were perfectly willing
to travel at an easier pace.
When we arrived at North Platte, the Grand Duke invited me into his
car, and there, over a few bottles of champagne, we went over all the
details of the hunt. He said the trip was one which he would never
forget and professed himself as wholly unable to thank me for my part
As I was leaving the car one of his suite approached me, and, extending
a big roll of greenbacks, begged me to accept it as a slight token of
the Grand Duke's appreciation of my services.
I told him I could take nothing for what I had done. He then handed me
a small jewel box, which I slipped into my pocket without examining,
and asked if I would not also accept the magnificent fur overcoat which
Alexis had worn on the hunt.
I had frequently admired this coat, which was made of many fine Russian
furs. I was glad to receive it as a remembrance from one of the most
agreeable men I had ever guided on a hunting expedition.
After leaving us Alexis telegraphed to the most famous of New York
jewelers and had made for me a wonderful set of sleeve-links and a
scarf-pin, studded with diamonds and rubies, each piece in the form of
a buffalo head, as large as a silver half-dollar.
Reporters who accompanied the expedition telegraphed the story of this
order to their New York newspapers. When later I arrived in New York,
after this present had been given me, some of the papers said that
Buffalo Bill had come to New York to buy a shirt on which to wear the
jewelry given him by the Grand Duke Alexis.
Shortly after this, General Ord, who had accompanied the hunting party,
rode over with me to Fort McPherson. On the way he asked me how I would
like to have a commission in the regular army. General Sheridan, he
said, had suggested that I ought to have a commission, and the matter
could be arranged if I desired it.
I thanked the general, and asked him to thank General Sheridan. But
though a commission was a tempting prize, I preferred to remain in the
position I was holding. He said that if at any time I felt that I
wanted a commission, I only needed to ask for it, and it would be given
All I looked forward to was the life of the Plains. It was enough for
me to be in the saddle, trusting each day to find some new adventure.
Army life would mean a great deal of routine, and routine was something
I could not endure.
So, giving up forever any hope of wearing an officer's shoulder-straps,
I was about to turn back to the prairies to see what new opportunities
for excitement offered, when a strange new call came to me.
General J.J. Reynolds, who had just arrived at Fort McPherson with the
Third Cavalry, called me into the office one day and told me that he
had a letter, railroad tickets, and five hundred dollars for me.
Furthermore he informed me that a thirty days' leave of absence was
awaiting me whenever I wanted to take it.
All this was the doing of the "Millionaires' Hunting Party," headed by
James Gordon Bennett and the Jeromes, which I had guided the year
I was, in short, invited to visit my former charges in New York, and
provided by them with money and mileage, and leisure for the trip.
Of course going to New York was a very serious business, and not to be
undertaken lightly. The first thing I needed was clothes, and at my
direction the Post tailor constructed what I thought was the handsomest
suit in the world. Then I proceeded to buy a necktie, so that I could
wear the present which had come in the little box from the Grand
Duke--a handsome scarf-pin. The Grand Ducal overcoat and a new Stetson,
added to the wardrobe I already possessed, completed my outfit. Almost
everything I had was on my back, but just the same I borrowed a little
trunk of my sister, so as to impress New York with the fact that I had
as many clothes as any visitor from the West.
At the last minute I decided to take along my buckskin suit. Something
told me that some of the people I had met in New York might want to
know just how a scout looked in his business clothes. Mrs. Cody was
much astonished because I did not ask for my brace of pistols, which
had accompanied me everywhere I had gone up to that time.
She had great confidence in these weapons, which more than once had
saved my life. She wanted to know what in the world I would do without
them if I met any bad men in New York. I told her that I supposed there
were policemen in New York whose business it was to take care of such
people. Anyway, I was going to chance it.
On my arrival at Omaha I was met by a number of friends who had heard
of my expected descent on New York. They drove me at once to the United
States Court, where my old friend, Judge Dundee, was on the bench. The
minute I entered the courtroom the judge rapped loudly with his gavel
"This court is adjourned while Cody is in town." He joined the party,
and we moved on to the Paxton Hotel, where a banquet was arranged in my
I left for Chicago the next day. On arriving there, I was met at the
depot by Colonel M.V. Sheridan, brother of General Philip Sheridan, my
old friend and fellow townsman. "Mike" Sheridan, with his brother, the
general, was living in a beautiful house on Michigan Avenue. There I
met a number of the old officers with whom I had served on the Plains.
I was still wearing the wonderful overcoat that had been given me by
the Grand Duke Alexis, and it was a source of continuous admiration
among the officers, who pronounced it the most magnificent garment of
its kind in America.
The splendor of the general's Michigan Avenue mansion was new to me;
never before had I seen such vast rooms and such wonderful furnishings.
It was necessary to show me how the gas was turned on and off, and how
the water flowed in the bathroom. I moved around the place in a daze
until "Mike," taking pity on me, escorted me to a barroom, where I was
more at home. As we were partaking of a cocktail, a number of reporters
from the Chicago papers came in. They had been told of my visit and
plied me with questions. In the papers the next morning I found that I
had had adventures that up to that time I had never heard of. The next
evening I had my first adventure in high society, and it proved more
terrifying to me than any Indian fight I had ever taken part in.
Finding I had no proper raiment for a big ball, which was to be given
in my honor, "Mike" Sheridan took me to the clothing department of
Marshall Field's, where I was fitted with an evening suit.
The general's valet assisted me into these garments that evening. My
long brown hair still flowed down over my shoulders and I was
determined to go to the barber's and have it sheared before I made a
public appearance, but General Sheridan would not hear of this. He
insisted that I crown my long locks with a plug hat, but here I was
adamant. I would go to the party in my Stetson or I would not go to the
party at all.
The ball was held at the Riverside Hotel, which was then one of the
fashionable hostelries of Chicago. When I was escorted in, I was told
to give the colored boy my hat and coat--to this I violently objected.
I prized the coat beyond all my earthly possessions and intended to
take no chances with it. I was finally persuaded that the boy was a
responsible employee of the hotel and reluctantly gave him the garment.
Then I suffered myself to be led into the ballroom. Here I met a bevy
of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. Fearing every minute that
I would burst my new and tight evening clothes, I bowed to them all
around--but very stiffly. To the general's request that I join in the
next dance I entered a firm refusal. I knew no dances but square
dances, so they got up an old-fashioned quadrille for me and I managed
somehow to go through it. As soon as it was over, I hurriedly escorted
my fair partner to her seat, then I quickly made my way to the barroom.
The man behind the bar appreciated my plight. He stowed me away in a
corner behind the icebox and in that corner I remained for the rest of
Several times the general and his friends came down to "moisten up,"
and each time I heard them wondering aloud what had become of me. When
the music stopped and the party broke up I emerged from my
hiding-place. The next morning I reported to the general and explained
to him that I was going back to the sagebrush. If New York were like
Chicago, I wanted to be excused. But he insisted that I continue my
At eleven o'clock the next morning he thrust me into a Pullman car,
which was in charge of Mr. Angel, an official of the Pullman Car
Company, and was taking a private party to the East.
Two of my millionaire hunting companions, J.B. Heckscher and Colonel
Schuyler Crosby, met me at the station and drove me to the Union Club.
That night I was told to put on my evening clothes and accompany them
to a theater. Heckscher was very much disturbed when he saw the Chicago
clawhammer that had been purchased for me.
"It will do for tonight," he said, "but tomorrow I'll send you to my
tailor and have him make you some clothes fit for a gentleman to wear."
We saw Edwin Booth in a Shakespearean play. I was told that all my
wealthy hunting friends would join me at breakfast the next morning. I
was up at seven o'clock and waiting for them. The hours dragged slowly
by and no guests arrived. I was nearly famished, but did not dare eat
until the company should be assembled. About eleven o'clock, when I was
practically starved, Mr. Heckscher turned up. I asked him what time
they usually had breakfast in New York and he said about half-past
twelve or any time therafter up to three.
At one, the gentlemen all made their appearance and were somewhat
astonished at the amount of breakfast I stowed away, until they were
told that I had been fasting since seven o'clock that morning.
During my visit to New York, I was taken by Mr. James Gordon Bennett to
Niblo's Garden, where I saw "The Black Crook." We witnessed the
performance from a private box and my breath was fairly taken away when
the curtain went up on the fifth act. Needless to say, that was the
first time I had ever witnessed a musical show and I thought it the
most wonderful spectacle I had ever gazed upon.
The remainder of my visit in New York was spent in a series of dinners
and theater parties. I was entertained in the house of each gentleman
who had been with me on the hunt. I had the time of my life.
After I had had about all the high life I could stand for the time
being I set out for Westchester, Pa., to find the only relative I knew
in the East. My mother was born in Germantown. Her sister had married
one Henry R. Guss, of Westchester.
I found on reaching Westchester that my relative was one of its most
important citizens, having the Civil War title of general. I found his
home with no trouble, and he was very delighted to see me. An old lady,
who was a member of his household, he introduced to me as my
grandmother. His first wife, my Aunt Eliza, was dead, and he had
married a second time. He also introduced me to his son, Captain George
Guss, who had been in the army with him during the Civil War.
It was not until we had talked of old family connections for an hour or
more that they discovered that I was Buffalo Bill; then they simply
flooded me with questions.
To make sure that I would return for a second visit, the young people
of the family accompanied me back to New York. I was due for a dinner
that evening, so I gave them a card to Mr. Palmer, of Niblo's Garden,
and they all went to see "The Black Crook."
When I reached the club I was given a telegram from General Sheridan
telling me to hasten to Chicago. He wanted me to hurry on to Fort
McPherson and guide the Third Cavalry, under General Reynolds, on a
military expedition. The Indians had been committing serious
devastations and it was necessary to suppress them summarily. At the
dinner, which was given by Mr. Bennett, I told my New York friends that
I would have to leave for the West the next day. When the party broke
up I went directly to the Albemarle Hotel and told my cousins that we
would have to start early the next morning for Westchester. There I
would remain twenty-four hours.
When we reached Westchester, my uncle informed me that they had
arranged a fox hunt for the next morning, and that all the people in
the town and vicinity would be present. They wanted to see a real scout
and plainsman in the saddle.
Early next morning many ladies and gentlemen, splendidly mounted,
appeared in front of my uncle's residence. At that time Westchester
possessed the best pack of fox hounds in America. Captain Trainer,
master of the hounds, provided me with a spirited horse which had on a
little sheepskin saddle of a kind on which I had never ridden. I was
familiar neither with the horse, the saddle, the hounds, nor
fox-hunting, and was extremely nervous. I would have backed out if I
could, but I couldn't, so I mounted the horse and we all started on the
We galloped easily along for perhaps a mile and I was beginning to
think fox-hunting a very tame sport indeed when suddenly the hounds
started off on a trail, all barking at once. The master of the hounds
and several of the other riders struck off across country on the trail,
taking fences and stone walls at full gallop.
I noticed that my uncle and several elderly gentlemen stuck to the road
and kept at a more moderate gait. The eyes of the spectators were all
on me. I don't know what they expected me to do, but at any rate they
were disappointed. To their manifest disgust I stayed with the people
on the road.
Shortly we came to a tavern and I went in and nerved myself with a
stiff drink, also I had a bottle filled with liquid courage, which I
took along with me. Just by way of making a second fiasco impossible I
took three more drinks while I was in the bar, then I galloped away and
soon overtook the hunters.
The first trail of the hounds had proved false. Two miles further on
they struck a true trail and away they went at full cry. I had now got
used to the saddle and the gait of my horse. I also had prepared myself
in the tavern for any course of action that might offer.
The M.F.H. began taking stone walls and hedges and I took every one
that he did. Across the country we went and nothing stopped or daunted
me until the quarry was brought to earth. I was in at the death and was
given the honor of keeping the brush.
At two o'clock that afternoon I took my departure for the West. Mr.
Frank Thompson, of the Pennsylvania Railroad, who had ridden my famous
buffalo horse, Buckskin Joe, on the great hunt, sent me to Chicago in
his own private car.
At the station in Chicago I was met with orders from General Sheridan
to continue straight ahead to Fort McPherson as quickly as possible.
The expedition was waiting for me.
At Omaha a party of my friends took me off the train and entertained me
until the departure of the next train. They had heard of my evening
clothes and insisted on my arraying myself therein for their benefit.
My trunk was taken to the Paxton Hotel and I put on the clawhammer and
all that went with it. About fifty of my Omaha friends accompanied me
to the train; in my silk hat and evening dress I was an imposing
spectacle. But I expected to change into my Plains clothes as soon as I
got into the car. However, these plans were sadly upset. Both my
friends and I had forgotten my trunk, which in the hour of my greatest
need was still reposing in a room in the Paxton Hotel, while in clothes
fit only for a banquet I was speeding over the Plains to a possible
At Fort McPherson, my old friend, "Buffalo Chips," was waiting for me.
He had been left behind by General Reynolds to tell me to overtake the
command as soon as possible. He had brought out old Buckskin Joe for me
The expedition was already well on its way north into the Loup country
and had camped at Pawnee Springs, about eight miles from McPherson
Station, the night before.
Poor old Buffalo Chips almost fell dead when he saw how I was dressed.
The hat especially filled him with amazement and rage, but there was
nothing else to do. I had to go as I was or go not at all.
The champagne with which my Omaha friends had filled my stateroom I
gave to the boys at the station. I did not have to urge them to accept
it. They laughed a good deal at my stovepipe hat and evening dress, but
because of the champagne they let me off without as much guying as I
would otherwise have received.
Jumping on our horses, we struck out on the trail of the soldiers. It
was about one o'clock when we overtook them. As we neared the rear
guard, I pulled off my overcoat and strapped it behind my saddle. I
also put my hair up under my stovepipe hat and galloped past the
command, to all appearances fresh from a New York ballroom.
"Look at the dude! Look at the dude!" they shouted as I rode among
them. Paying no attention to them, I galloped up and overtook General
Reynolds. Saluting him, I said:
"General, I have come to report for duty."
"Who in thunder are you?" he demanded, looking at me without a sign of
recognition in his eye.
"Why, general," I said, "I am to be your guide on this expedition."
He looked at me a second time, and a grin spread over his face.
"Can it be possible that you are Cody?" he asked. I told him that I was
"Let down your hair," he commanded. I took off my hat, and my hair fell
over my shoulders. A loud yell went up from both officers and enlisted
men, as the word went up and down the line that the dude they had been
bedeviling was none other than Buffalo Bill.
Texas Jack and the scouts who were ahead had heard the noise and came
"Welcome back, old chief!" shouted Jack, and the scouts gathered around
me, shaking my hand and congratulating me on my safe return from the
dangers and the perils of the East.
The general asked me how far it was to the Loup Fork. I said it was
about eight miles and offered to proceed there ahead of the command and
select a good sheltered camp. This I did. The adjutant accompanying the
detachment helped me and laid out the camping spot, and when the
command pulled in they disposed themselves for the night in a beautiful
grove of timber where there was plenty of firewood and good grass for
the horses and mules. Soon the tents were up and big fires were
crackling all around.
I accepted with thanks General Reynolds's invitation to mess with him
on the trip. After dinner, before a big log fire, which was being built
in front of the general's tent, the officers came up to meet me. Among
those to whom I was introduced were Colonel Anthony Mills, Major
Curtiss, Major Alexander Moore, Captain Jerry Russell, Lieutenant
Charles Thompson, Quartermaster Lieutenant Johnson, Adjutant Captain
Minehold, and Lieutenant Lawson. After this reception, I went down to
visit the scouts in camp. There the boys dug me up all kinds of
clothes, and clothes of the Western kind I very sadly needed.
White had brought along an old buckskin suit. When I had got this on
and an old Stetson on my head, and had my favorite pair of guns
strapped to me and my dear old "Lucretia Borgia" was within reach, I
felt that Buffalo Bill was himself again.
The general informed me that evening that Indians had been reported on
the Dismal River. At breakfast the next morning he said that a large
war party had been committing devastations up and down the flat. His
scouts had discovered their trail going north and had informed him that
they would probably make camp on the Dismal. There they were sure to be
joined by other Indians. He asked my opinion as to what had best be
I told him it was about twenty-five miles from the present tent to the
Dismal River. I said I had better go on, taking White with me, and try
to locate them.
"I've heard of this man White," said the general. "They tell me that he
is your shadow and he follows you every place you go." I said that this
was true and that I had all I could do to keep him from following me to
New York. "It would break his heart," I said, "if I were to leave him
behind now." I added that Texas Jack knew the country thoroughly and
that he could guide the command to a point on the Dismal River where I
could meet them that night. The general said:
"I have been fighting the Apaches in Arizona, but I find these Sioux
are an entirely different crowd. I know little about them and I will
follow your suggestions. You start now and I will have the command
following you in an hour and a half."
I told White to get our horses at once and also to tell Texas Jack to
report to me. When the latter reported I told him the general wanted
him to guide the command to the course of the Dismal. When he got
there, if he didn't hear from me in the meantime, he was to select a
White and I set out, riding carefully and looking for the trail. We had
traveled about ten miles when I found it. The Indians were headed
toward the Dismal. Presently another trail joined the first one, and
then we had to begin extremely careful scouting.
I didn't follow the Indian trail, but bordered the left and struck the
river about five miles above the Fork. There we turned down-stream.
Soon on the opposite side we saw a party of Indians surrounding a herd
of elk. I didn't approach them closely, neither did I follow down the
stream any further. We kept parallel with the course of the river, and
soon stopped at the foot of a high sandhill. From here I knew I could
get a view of the whole country.
I told White to remain there until I came back, and, jumping off old
Joe, I cautiously climbed the hill.
From behind a big soapweed--a plant sometimes called Spanish Dagger--I
got a view of the Dismal River, for several miles. I immediately
discovered smoke arising from a bunch of timber about three miles below
me. Grazing around the timber were several hundred head of horses. Here
I knew the Indian camp to be located.
I slipped down the hill, and, running to old Joe, mounted, telling
White at the same time that I had located the camp. Then we began
circling the sandhill until we got two or three miles away, keeping out
of sight of the Indians all the time. When we felt we were safe we made
a straight sweep to meet the command. I found the scouts first and told
Texas Jack to hold up the soldiers, keeping them out of sight until he
heard from me.
I went on until I met General Reynolds at the head of the column. He
baited the troop on my approach; taking him to one side, I told him
what I had discovered. He said:
"As you know the country and the location of the Indian camp, tell me
how you would proceed."
I suggested that he leave one company as an escort for the wagon-train
and let them follow slowly. I would leave one guide to show them the
way. Then I would take the rest of the cavalry and push on as rapidly
as possible to within a few miles of the camp. That done, I would
divide the command, sending one portion across the river to the right,
five miles below the Indians, and another one to bear left toward the
village. Still another detachment was to be kept in readiness to move
straight for the camp. This, however, was not to be done until the
flanking column had time to get around and across the river.
It was then two o'clock. By four o'clock the flanking columns would be
in their proper positions to move on and the charge could begin. I said
I would go with the right-hand column and send Texas Jack with the
left-hand column. I would leave White with the main detachment. I
impressed on the general the necessity of keeping in the ravine of the
sandhills so as to be out of sight of the Indians.
I said that, notwithstanding all the caution that we could take, we
were likely to run into a party of hunters, who would immediately
inform the camp of our presence. In case of discovery, I said, it would
be necessary to make our charge at once.
General Reynolds called his officers together and gave them my
suggestions as their instructions. In a very few minutes everything was
moving. I accompanied Colonel Mills. His column had crossed the Dismal
and was about two miles to the north of it when I saw a party of
Indians chasing elk.
I knew that sooner or later--probably sooner--these Indians would see
me. I told Colonel Mills he had better send the scout back to General
Reynolds and make all haste to charge the village. We had no way of
sending word to Major Curtiss, who led the other flanking column, and
we had to trust to luck that he would hear the firing when it started.
Colonel Mills kept his troops on the lowest ground I could pick out,
but we made our way steadily toward the village.
Inside of half an hour we heard firing up the river from where we were.
Colonel Mills at once ordered his troops to charge. Luckily it collided
with the Indians' herd of horses, which were surrounded, thus depriving
most of the braves of their mounts.
Men were left to guard the animals, and, taking the rest of the
company, we charged the village, reaching it a little after the arrival
of General Reynolds. The attack was not as much a surprise as we had
hoped for. Some of the Indian hunters had spied the soldiers and
notified the camp, but General Reynolds, coming from the south, had
driven all the Indians on foot and all the squaws and children toward
the sandhills on the north. Mills came pretty near finding more Indians
than he was looking for. Their force largely outnumbered ours when we
collided, but Major Curtiss came charging down from the north just at
this instant. His arrival was such a complete surprise that the Indians
gave up and began waving the white flag. Then all firing ceased.
On rounding them up we found that we had captured about two hundred and
fifty warriors, women, and children, most of whom were from the Spotted
The general had the Indians instantly disarmed. Most of their tepees
were up and they were ordered to go into them and remain there. We
placed a sufficient guard around the whole camp so that none could
escape. On the arrival of the wagon-train, for which a scout had been
sent, the command went into camp.
Taking me aside, General Reynolds said:
"I want you to send one of your fastest men back to Fort McPherson. I
am sending dispatches to General Ord, asking for instructions."
I selected White to make this trip, and he was ready for duty in five
We were then sixty-five miles from Fort McPherson Station. I told White
that the matter was urgent and that he must get to that telegraph
office as soon as possible. At ten o'clock the next morning he rode
into our camp with a telegram to General Reynolds. The general was
ordered to disarm all the Indians and send them under guard of a
company of cavalry to the Spotted Tail Agency.
General Reynolds was very much delighted with the success of the
expedition. On his arrival at the Fort he received congratulations from
General Ord and from General Sheridan. General Sheridan asked in his
telegram if Cody had gone along. The general wired back that Cody had
gone along and also wrote a letter telling General Sheridan how he had
reported in evening dress.
Of course the papers were soon full of this raid. Al Sorenson of the
Omaha _Bee_, who had seen my evening clothes and silk hat in Omaha,
wrote an extremely graphic story of my arrival on the Plains. I soon
found that the officers and men in the Third Cavalry knew all about the
During the spring of '72, the Indians were rather quiet. We did a
little scouting, however, just to keep watch on them. One day, in the
fall of that year, I returned from a scouting expedition, and as I
passed the store there were a lot of men crowded in front of it. All of
them saluted me with "How do you do, Honorable!" I rode straight to the
general's private office. He also stood at attention and said:
"Good morning, Honorable."
"What does all this 'Honorable' mean, General?" I demanded. He said:
"Of course, you have been off on a scout and you have not heard, but
while you were gone you were nominated and elected to represent the
twenty-sixth district of Nebraska in the Legislature." I said:
"That is highly complimentary, and I appreciate it, but I am no
politician and I shall have to tender my resignation," and tender it I
My refusal to serve as a lawmaker was unqualified. I knew nothing about
politics. I believe that I made a fairly good justice of the peace, but
that was because of no familiarity with the written law. I merely
applied the principles of fair-dealing to my cases and did as I would
have been done by. The Golden Rule was the only statute I applied.
I inquired how to free myself formally from the new honors that had
been thrust upon me, and soon another man was serving in my stead--and
quite welcome he was to the pay and credit that might have been mine.
I returned back to the Plains for employment, but there was nothing to
do. The Indians, for a wonder, were quiet. There was little stirring in
the military posts. I could have continued to serve in one of them if I
had chosen, and the way was still open to study for a commission as an
officer. But army life without excitement was not interesting for me,
and when Ned Buntline offered me a chance to come East and try my
fortunes as an actor I accepted.
I accepted with misgivings, naturally. Hunting Indians across a stage
differed from following them across the Plains. I knew the wild western
Indian and his ways. I was totally unacquainted with the tame stage
Indian, and the thought of a great gaping audience looking at me across
the footlights made me shudder.
But when my old "pards," Wild Bill and Texas Jack, consented to try
their luck with me in the new enterprise I felt better. Together we
made the trip to New York, and played for a time in the hodgepodge
drama written for us by Ned Buntline himself.
Before any of us would consent to be roped and tied by Thespis we
insisted on a proviso that we be freed whenever duty called us to the
The first season was fairly prosperous, and so was the second. The
third year I organized a "show" of my own, with real Indians in it--the
first, I believe, who ever performed on a stage. I made money and began
to get accustomed to the new life, but in 1876 the call for which I had
been listening came.
The Sioux War was just breaking out. I closed the show earlier than
usual and returned to the West. Colonel Mills had written me several
times to say that General Crook wanted me to accompany his command.
When I left Chicago I had expected to catch up with Crook at the Powder
River, but I learned en route that my old command, the gallant Fifth
Cavalry, was on its way from Arizona to join him, and that General
Carr, my former commander, was at its head.
Carr wanted me as his guide and chief of scouts, and had written to
army headquarters in Chicago to learn where I could be reached.
As soon as this news came to me I gave up the idea of overtaking Crook.
I hastened to Cheyenne, where the Fifth Cavalry had already arrived,
and was met at the depot there by Lieutenant Charles King, adjutant of
the regiment, who had been sent by General Carr from Fort D.A. Russell.
In later years, as General Charles King, this officer became a widely
popular author, and wrote some of the best novels and stories of Indian
life that I have ever read.
As I accompanied the lieutenant back to the fort, we passed soldiers
who recognized me and shouted greetings. When we entered the Post a
great shout of "Here's Buffalo Bill!" arose from the men on the parade
ground. It was like old times, and I felt a thrill of happiness to be
back among my friends, and bound for one of the regular old-time
campaigns. The following morning the command pulled out for Fort
Laramie. We found General Sheridan there ahead of us, and mighty glad
was I to see that brave and able commander once more. Sheridan was
accompanied by General Frye and General Forsythe, and all were en route
for the Red Cloud Agency, near the center of the Sioux trouble, which
was then reaching really alarming proportions. The command was to
remain at Laramie for a few days; so, at General Sheridan's request, I
accompanied him on his journey. We were able to accomplish little in
the way of peace overtures.
The Indians had lately committed many serious depredations along the
Black Hills trail. Gold had been discovered there in many new places,
and the miners, many of them tenderfoots, and unused to the ways of the
red man, had come into frequent conflict with their new neighbors.
Massacres, some of them very flagrant, had resulted and most of the
treaties our Government had made with the Indians had been ruthlessly
On my return from the agency, the Fifth Cavalry was sent out to scout
the country between there and the Black Hills. We operated along the
south fork of the Cheyenne and about the foot of the Black Hills for
two weeks, and had several small engagements with roving bands of
Indians during that time.
All these bands were ugly and belligerent, and it was plain from the
spirit they showed that there had been a general understanding among
all the redskins thereabout that the time had come to drive the white
man from the country.
Brevet-General Wesley Merritt, who had lately received his promotion to
the colonelcy of the Fifth Cavalry, now took command of the regiment. I
regretted that the command had been taken from General Carr. I was fond
of him personally, and it was under him that the regiment made its fine
reputation as a fighting organization. I soon became well acquainted
with General Merritt, however, and found him to be a brave man and an
The regiment did continuous and hard scouting. We soon believed we had
driven all the hostile Indians out of that part of the country. In
fact, we were starting back to Fort Laramie, regarding the business at
hand as finished, when a scout arrived at our camp and reported the
massacre of General Custer and his whole force on the Little Big Horn.
This massacre occurred June 25, 1876, and its details are known, or
ought to be known, by every schoolboy. Custer was a brave, dashing,
headlong soldier, whose only fault was recklessness.
He had been warned many times never to expose a small command to a
superior force of Indians, and never to underestimate the ability and
generalship of the Sioux. He had unbounded confidence, however, in
himself and his men, and I believe that not until he was struck down
did he ever doubt that he would be able to cut his way out of the wall
of warriors about him and turn defeat into a glorious and conspicuous
The news of the massacre, which was the most terrible that ever
overtook a command of our soldiers, was a profound shock to all of us.
We knew at once that we would all have work to do, and settled grimly
into the preparations for it.
Colonel Stanton, who was with the Fifth Cavalry on this scout, had been
sent to the Red Cloud Agency two days before. That night a message came
from him that eight hundred warriors had left the agency to join
Sitting Bull on the Little Big Horn. Notwithstanding instructions to
proceed immediately by way of Fort Fetterman to join Crook, General
Merritt took the responsibility of endeavoring to intercept the
Cheyennes and thereby performed a very important service.
For this job the general selected five hundred men and horses. In two
hours we were making a forced march back to War Bonnet Creek. Our
intention was to reach the Indian trail running to the north across
this watercourse before the Cheyennes could get there. We arrived the
At daylight the next morning, July 17, I proceeded ahead on a scout. I
found that the Indians had not yet crossed the creek. On my way back to
the command I discovered a large party of Indians. I got close enough
to observe them, and they proved to be Cheyennes, coming from the
south. With this information. I hurried back to report.
The cavalrymen were ordered to mount their horses quietly and remain
out of sight, while General Merritt, accompanied by two or three aides
and myself, went on a little tour of observation to a neighboring hill.
From the summit of this we saw the Indians approaching almost directly
toward us. As we stood watching, fifteen or twenty of them wheeled and
dashed off to the west, from which direction we had come the night
Searching the country to see what it was which had caused this
unexpected maneuver, we observed two mounted soldiers approaching us on
the trail. Obviously they were bearing dispatches from the command of
It was clear that the Indians who had left their main body were intent
on intercepting and murdering these two men. General Merritt greatly
feared that they would accomplish this purpose. How to aid them was a
problem. If soldiers were sent to their assistance, the Indians would
observe the rescuers, and come to the right conclusion that a body of
troops was lying in wait for them. This of course would turn them back,
and the object of our expedition would be defeated.
The commander asked me if I had any suggestions.
"General," I replied, "why not wait until the scouts get a little
nearer? When they are about to charge on the two men, I will take
fifteen soldiers, dash down and cut them off from their main body. That
will prevent them from going back to report, and the others will fall
into our trap."
The general at once saw the possibilities of the scheme. "If you can do
that, Cody, go ahead," he said.
I at once rushed back to the command and jumped on my horse.
With fifteen of the best men I could pick in a hurry I returned to the
point of observation. I placed myself and my men at the order of
General Merritt, and asked him to give me the word at the proper time.
He was diligently studying the country before him with his
field-glasses. When he thought the Indians were as close to the
unsuspecting scouts as was safe, he sang out:
"Go on now, Cody, and be quick about it. They are going to charge on
The two soldiers were not more than a hundred yards from us. The
Indians, now making ready to swoop down, were a hundred yards further
We tore over the bluffs and advanced at a gallop. They saw us and gave
battle. A running fight lasted for several minutes, during which we
drove them back a fairly safe distance and killed three of their
The main body of the Cheyennes had now come into plain sight, and the
men who escaped from us rode back toward it. The main force halted when
its leaders beheld the skirmish, and seemed for a time at a loss as to
what was best to do.
We turned toward General Merritt, and when we had made about half the
distance the Indians we had been chasing suddenly turned toward us and
another lively skirmish took place.
One of the Indians, who was elaborately decorated with all the
ornaments usually worn by a great chief when he engaged in a fight, saw
me and sang out:
"I know you, Pa-ho-has-ka! Come and fight with me!"
The name he used was one by which I had long been known by the Indians.
It meant Long-Yellow-Hair.
The chief was riding his horse to and fro in front of his men, in order
to banter me. I concluded to accept his challenge. I turned and
galloped toward him for fifty yards, and he rode toward me about the
same distance. Both of us rode at full speed. When we were only thirty
yards apart I raised my rifle and fired. His horse dropped dead under
him, and he rolled over on the ground to clear himself of the carcass.
Almost at the same instant my own horse stepped into a hole and fell
heavily. The fall hurt me but little, and almost instantly I was on my
feet. This was no time to lie down and nurse slight injuries. The chief
and I were now both on our feet, not twenty paces apart. We fired at
each other at the same instant. My usual luck held. His bullet whizzed
harmlessly past my head, while mine struck him full in the breast.
He reeled and fell, but I took no chances. He had barely touched the
ground, when I was upon him, knife in hand, and to make sure of him
drove the steel into his heart.
This whole affair, from beginning to end, occupied but little time. The
Indians, seeing that I was a little distance from my pony, now came
charging down upon me from the hill, in the hope of cutting me off.
General Merritt had witnessed the duel, and, realizing the danger I was
in, ordered Colonel Mason with Company K to hurry to my rescue. This
order came none too soon. Had it been given one minute later two
hundred Indians would have been upon me, and this present narration
would have had to be made by some one else. As the soldiers came up I
swung the war-bonnet high in the air and shouted: "The first scalp for
It was by this time clear to General Merritt that he could not ambush
the Indians. So he ordered a general charge. For a time they made a
stubborn resistance, but no eight hundred Indians, or twice that
number, for that matter, could make a successful stand against such
veteran and fearless fighters as the Fifth Cavalry. They soon came to
that conclusion themselves and began a running retreat for the Red
For thirty-five miles, over the roughest kind of ground, we drove them
before us. Soon they were forced to abandon their spare horses and all
the equipment they had brought along. Despite the imminent risk of
encountering thousands of other Indians at the Agency, we drove our
late adversaries directly into it. No one in our command had any
assurance that the Indians gathered there had not gone on the warpath,
but little difference that made to us. The Fifth Cavalry, on the
warpath itself, would stop at nothing. It was dark when we entered the
reservation. All about us we could see the huddling forms of
Indians--thousands of them--enough, in fact, to have consummated
another Custer massacre. But they showed no disposition to fight.
While at the Agency I learned that the Indian I had killed in the
morning was none other than Yellow Hand, a son of old Cut Nose, who was
a leading chief of the Cheyennes. The old man learned from the members
of Yellow Hand's party that I had killed his son, and sent a white
interpreter to me offering four mules in exchange for the young chief's
war-bonnet. This request I was obliged to refuse, as I wanted it as a
trophy of the first expedition to avenge the death of Custer and his
The next morning we started to join the command of General Crook, which
was encamped at the foot of Cloud Peak in the Big Horn Mountains. They
had decided to await the arrival of the Fifth Cavalry before proceeding
against the Sioux, who were somewhere near the head of the Big Horn
River, in a country that was as nearly inaccessible as any of the
Western fastnesses. By making rapid marches we reached Crook's camp on
Goose Creek about the third of August.
At this camp I met many of my old friends, among them being Colonel
Royal, who had just received his promotion to a lieutenant-colonelcy.
Royal introduced me to General Crook, whom I had never met before, but
with whose reputation as an Indian fighter I was of course familiar, as
was everybody in the West. The general's chief guide was Frank Grouard,
a half-breed, who had lived six years with Sitting Bull himself, and
who was thoroughly familiar with the Sioux and their country.
After one day in camp the whole command pulled out for Tongue River,
leaving the wagons behind. Our supplies were carried by a big
pack-train. Down the Tongue we marched for two days of hard going,
thence westerly to the Rosebud River. Here we struck the main Indian
trail leading down-stream. From the size of this trail, which was not
more than four days old, we estimated that at least seven thousand
Indians, one of the biggest Indian armies ever gathered together, must
have gone that way. It was here that we were overtaken by Captain Jack
Crawford, widely known East and West as "The Poet Scout." Crawford had
just heard of the Custer massacre, and had written a very creditable
poem upon receipt of the news. His pen was always ready, and he made
many epics of the West, many of which are still popular throughout the
Jack was a tenderfoot at that time, having lately come to that country.
But he had abundant pluck and courage. He had just brought dispatches
to Crook from Fort Fetterman, riding more than three hundred miles
through a country literally alive with hostile Indians. These
dispatches notified Crook that General Terry was to operate with a
large command south of the Yellowstone, and that the two commands would
probably consolidate somewhere on the Rosebud. On learning that I was
with Crook, Crawford at once hunted me up, and gave me a letter from
General Sheridan, announcing his appointment as a scout. He also
informed me that he had brought me a present from General Jones, of
"What kind of a present?" I inquired, seeing no indication of any
package about Jack.
"A bottle of whisky!" he almost shouted.
I clapped my hand over his mouth. News that whisky was in the camp was
likely to cause a raid by a large number of very dry scouts and soldier
men. Only when Jack and I had assured ourselves that we were absolutely
alone did I dare dip into his saddle pockets and pull forth the
treasure. I will say in passing that I don't believe there is another
scout in the West that would have brought a full bottle of whisky three
hundred miles. But Jack was "bone dry." As Crawford refused to join me,
and I was never a lone drinker, I invited General Carr over to sample
the bottle. We were just about to have a little drink for two when
into camp rode young Lathrop, the reporter for the Associated Press to
whom we had given the name of Death Rattler. Death Rattler appeared to
have scented the whisky from afar, for he had no visible errand with
us. We were glad to have him, however, as he was a good fellow, and
certainly knew how to appreciate a drink.
For two or three days the command pushed on, but we did not seem to
gain much on the Indians. They apparently knew exactly where we were
and how fast we were going, and they moved just as fast as we did.
On the fourth day of our pursuit I rode about ten miles ahead of the
command till I came to a hill which gave a fine view of the surrounding
country. Mounting this, I searched the hills with my field-glasses.
Soon I saw a great column of smoke rising about ten miles down the
creek. As this cloud drifted aside in the keen wind, I could see a
column of men marching beneath it. These I at first believed to be the
Indians we were after, but closer study revealed them as General
I forthwith dispatched a scout who was with me to take this news to
Crook. But he had no more than gone when I discovered a band of Indians
on the opposite side of the creek and another party of them directly in
front of me. For a few minutes I fancied that I had made a mistake, and
that the men I had seen under the dust were really Indians after all.
But very shortly I saw a body of soldiers forming a skirmish line. Then
I knew that Terry's men were there, and that the Indians I had seen
were Terry's scouts. These Indians had mistaken me for an Indian, and,
believing that I was the leader of a big party, shouted excitedly: "The
Sioux are coming." That is why the general threw out the skirmish line
I had observed.
General Terry, on coming into the Post, ordered the Seventh Cavalry to
form a line of battle across the Rosebud; he also brought up his
artillery and had the guns unlimbered for action, doubtless dreading
another Custer massacre.
These maneuvers I witnessed from my hill with considerable amusement,
thinking the command must be badly frightened. After I had enjoyed the
situation to my heart's content I galloped toward the skirmish line,
waving my hat. When I was within a hundred yards of the troops, Colonel
Wier of the Seventh Cavalry rode out to meet me. He recognized me at
once, and convoyed me inside the line, shouting to the soldiers:
"Boys, here's Buffalo Bill!" Thereupon three rousing cheers ran all the
way down the line.
Colonel Wier presented me to General Terry. The latter questioned me
closely and was glad to learn that the alarm had been a false one. I
found that I was not entitled alone to the credit of having frightened
the whole Seventh Cavalry. The Indian scouts had also seen far behind
me the dust raised by Crook's troops, and were fully satisfied that a
very large force of Sioux was in the vicinity and moving to the attack.
At General Terry's request I accompanied him as he rode forward to meet
Crook. That night both commands went into camp on the Rosebud. General
Terry had his wagon-train with him, so the camp had everything to make
life as comfortable as it can be on an Indian trail.
The officers had large wall-tents, with portable beds to stow inside
them, and there were large hospital tents to be used as dining-rooms.
Terry's camp looked very comfortable and homelike. It presented a sharp
contrast to the camp of Crook, who had for his headquarters only one
small fly-tent, and whose cooking utensils consisted of a quart cup in
which he brewed his own coffee, and a sharp stick on which he broiled
his bacon. When I compared these two camps I concluded that Crook was a
real Indian fighter. He had plainly learned that to follow Indians a
soldier must not be hampered by any great weight of luggage or
That evening General Terry ordered General Miles, with the Fifth
Infantry, to return by a forced march to the Yellowstone, and to
proceed by steamboat down that stream to the mouth of the Powder River,
where the Indians could be intercepted in case they made an attempt to
cross the stream. The regiment made a forced march that night of
thirty-five miles, which was splendid traveling for an infantry
regiment through a mountainous country.
Generals Crook and Terry spent the evening and the next day in council.
The following morning both commands moved out on the Indian trail.
Although Terry was the senior officer, he did not assume command of
both expeditions. Crook was left in command of his own troops, though
the two forces operated together. We crossed the Tongue River and moved
on to the Powder, proceeding down that stream to a point twenty miles
from its junction with the Yellowstone. There the Indian trail turned
to the southeast, in the direction of the Black Hills.
The two commands were now nearly out of supplies. The trail was
abandoned, and the troops kept on down the Powder River to its
confluence with the Yellowstone. There we remained for several days.
General Nelson A. Miles, who was at the head of the Fifth Infantry, and
who had been scouting in the vicinity, reported that no Indians had as
yet crossed the Yellowstone. Several steamboats soon arrived with large
quantities of supplies, and the soldiers, who had been a little too
close to famine to please them, were once more provided with full
stomachs on which they could fight comfortably, should the need for
One evening while we were in camp on the Yellowstone at the mouth of
the Powder River I was informed that Louis Richard, a half-breed scout,
and myself, had been selected to accompany General Miles on a
reconnaisance. We were to take the steamer _Far West_ down the
Yellowstone as far as Glendive Creek. We were to ride in the
pilot-house and keep a sharp look-out for Indians on both banks of the
river. The idea of scouting from a steamboat was to me an altogether
novel one, and I was immensely pleased at the prospect.
At daylight the next morning we reported on the steamer to General
Miles, who had with him four or five companies of his regiment. We were
somewhat surprised when he asked us why we had not brought our horses.
We were at a loss to see how we could employ horses in the pilothouse
of a river steamboat. He said that we might need them before we got
back, so we sent for them and had them brought on board.
In a few minutes we were looking down the river, the swift current
enabling the little steamer to make a speed of twenty miles an hour.
The commander of the _Far West_ was Captain Grant March, a fine chap of
whom I had often heard. For many years he was one of the most famous
swift-water river captains in the country. It was on his steamer that
the wounded from the battle of the Little Big Horn had been transported
to Fort Abraham Lincoln, on the Missouri River. On that trip he made
the fastest steamboat time on record. He was an excellent pilot, and
handled his boat in those swift and dangerous waters with remarkable
With Richard and me at our station in the pilothouse the little steamer
went flying down-stream past islands, around bends, and over sandbars
at a rate that was exhilarating, but sometimes a little disquieting to
men who had done most of their navigating on the deck of a Western
pony. Presently, far away inland, I thought I could see horses grazing,
and reported this belief to General Miles. The general pointed out a
large tree on the bank, and asked the captain if he could land the boat
"I can not only land her there; I can make her climb the tree if you
think it would be any use," returned March.
He brought the boat skillfully alongside the tree, and let it go at
that, as the general could see no particular advantage in sending the
steamboat up the tree.
Richard and I were ordered to take our horses and push out as rapidly
as possible to see if there were any Indians in the vicinity.
Meanwhile, General Miles kept his soldiers in readiness to march
instantly if we reported any work for them to do.
As we rode off, Captain March, sang out:
"Boys, if there was only a heavy dew on the grass, I could send the old
craft right along after you."
It was a false alarm, however. The objects I had seen proved to be
Indian graves, with only good Indians in them. On arriving at Glendive
Creek we found that Colonel Rice and his company of the Fifth Infantry
which had been sent on ahead by General Miles had built a good little
fort with their trowel bayonets. Colonel Rice was the inventor of this
weapon, and it proved very useful in Indian warfare. It is just as
deadly in a charge as the regular bayonet, and can also be used almost
as effectively as a shovel for digging rifle-pits and throwing up
The _Far West_ was to remain at Glendive overnight. General Miles
wanted a scout to go at once with messages for General Terry, and I was
selected for the job. That night I rode seventy-five miles through the
Bad Lands of the Yellowstone. I reached General Terry's camp the next
morning, after having nearly broken my neck a dozen times or more.
Anyone who has seen that country in the daytime knows that it is not
exactly the kind of a place one would pick out for pleasure riding.
Imagine riding at night, over such a country, filled with almost every
imaginable obstacle to travel, and without any real roads, and you can
understand the sort of a ride I had that night. I was mighty glad to
see the dawn break, and to be able to pick my way a little more
securely, although I could not increase the pace at which I had driven
my horse through the long, dark night.
There was no present prospect of carrying this out, however. After I
had taken lunch, General Terry asked me if I would carry some
dispatches to General Whistler, and I replied that I would be glad to
do so. Captain Smith, Terry's aide-de-camp, offered me his horse, and I
was glad to accept the animal, as my own was pretty well spent. He
proved to be a fine mount. I rode him forty miles that night in four
hours, reaching General Whistler's steamboat at four in the morning.
When Whistler had read the dispatches I handed him he said:
"Cody, I want to send information to General Terry concerning the
Indians that have been skirmishing around here all day. I have been
trying to induce some member in my command to carry them, but no one
wants to go."
"Get your dispatches ready, general," I replied, "and I'll take them."
He went into his quarters and came out presently with a package, which
he handed me. I mounted the same horse which had brought me, and at
eight o'clock that evening reached Terry's headquarters, just as his
force was about to march.
As soon as Terry had read the dispatches he halted his command, which
was already under way. Then he rode on ahead to overtake General Crook,
with whom he held a council. At General Terry's urgent request I
accompanied him on a scout for Dry Fork, on the Missouri. We marched
three days, a little to the east of north. When we reached the buffalo
range we discovered some fresh Indian signs. The redskins had been
killing buffalo, and the evidences of their work were very plain. Terry
now called on me to carry dispatches to Colonel Rice, who was still
encamped at the mouth of Glendive Creek on the Yellowstone. This was
about eighty miles distant.
Night had set in with a storm. A drizzling rain was falling, which made
the going slippery, and made the blackness of the Western Plains still
blacker. I was entirely unacquainted with the section of the country
through which I was to ride. I therefore traveled all night and
remained in seclusion in the daytime. I had too many plans for the
future to risk a shot from a hostile redskin who might be hunting white
men along my way.
At daylight I unsaddled my mount and made a hearty breakfast of bacon
and hardtack. Then I lighted my pipe, and, making a pillow of my
saddle, lay down to rest.
The smoke and the fatigue of the night's journey soon made me drowsy,
and before I knew it I was fast asleep. Suddenly I was awakened by a
loud rumbling noise. I seized my gun instantly, and sprang toward my
horse, which I had picketed in a hidden spot in the brush near by where
he would be out of sight of any passing Indians.
Climbing a steep hill, I looked cautiously over the country from which
the noise appeared to come. There before me was a great herd of
buffalo, moving at full gallop. Twenty Indians were behind it, riding
hard and firing into the herd as they rode. Others near by were cutting
up the carcasses of the animals that had already been killed.
I saddled my horse and tied him near me. Then I crawled on my stomach
to the summit of the hill, and for two hours I lay there watching the
progress of the chase.
When the Indians had killed all the buffalo they wanted they rode off
in the direction whence they had come. This happened to be the way that
I hoped to go on my own expedition. I made up my mind that their camp
was located somewhere between me and Glendive Creek. I was not at all
eager to have any communication with these gentlemen. Therefore, when I
resumed my journey at nightfall, I made a wide detour around the place
where I believed their camp would be. I avoided it successfully,
reaching Colonel Rice's camp just after daybreak.
The colonel had been fighting Indians almost every day since he
encamped at this point. He was anxious that Terry should know of this
so that reenforcements might be sent, and the country cleared of the
redskins. Of course it fell to my lot to carry this word back to Terry.
I undertook the mission willingly enough, for by this time I was pretty
well used to night riding through a country beset with perils, and
rather enjoyed it.
The strain of my recent rides had told on me, but the excitement bore
me up. Indeed, when a man is engaged in work of this kind, the
exhilaration is such that he forgets all about the wear and tear on his
system, and not until all danger is over and he is safely resting in
camp does he begin to feel what he has been through. Then a good long
sleep usually puts him all right again.
Many and many a time I have driven myself beyond what I believed was
the point of physical endurance, only to find that I was ready for
still further effort if the need should arise. The fact that I
continued in rugged health during all the time I was on the Plains, and
have had little illness throughout my life, seems to prove that living
and working outdoors, despite its hardships, is far better for a man
than any sedentary occupation can possibly be.
I started back to overhaul General Terry, and on the third day out I
found him at the head of Deer Creek. He was on his way to Colonel
Rice's camp. He was headed in the right direction, but bearing too far
east. He asked me to guide his command in the right course, which I
did. On arriving at Glendive I bade good-by to the general and his
officers and took passage on the _Far West_, which was on her way down
the Missouri. At Bismarck I left the steamer, and proceeded by rail to
Rochester, New York.
It has been a great pleasure to me to meet and know and serve with such
men as Crook and Miles. I had served long enough on the Plains to know
Indian fighters when I saw them, and I cannot close this chapter
without a tribute to both of these men.
Miles had come to the West as a young man with a brilliant war record,
having risen to a major-general of volunteers at the age, I think, of
26 or 27.
He took naturally to Indian fighting. He quickly divested himself of
all the tactics that were useless in this particular kind of warfare,
and learned as much about the Indians as any man ever knew.
Years later, when I was giving my Wild West Show in Madison Square
Garden, General Miles visited it as my guest.
The Indians came crowding around him, and followed him wherever he
went, although other army officers of high reputation accompanied him
on the visit.
This Indian escort at last proved to be almost embarrassing, for the
general could not go to any part of the Garden without four or five of
the braves silently dogging his footsteps and drinking in his every
When this was called to my attention I called one of the old men aside
and asked him why he and his brothers followed Miles so eagerly.
"Heap big chief!" was the reply. "Him lickum Injun chiefs. Him biggest
White Chief. Heap likum." Which was really a very high tribute, as
Indians are not given to extravagant praise.
When we have met from time to time General Miles has been kind enough
to speak well of me and the work I have done on the Plains. I am very
glad to have this opportunity of returning the compliment.
Crook was a man who lived and fought without any ostentation, but who
had high courage and used rare judgment. The fact that he had command
of the forces in the West had much to do with their successes in
subduing the hostile red man. Indeed, had not our army taught the
Indians that it was never safe, and usually extremely dangerous, to go
on the warpath against the Big White Chief, organizations might have
been formed which would have played sad havoc with our growing Western
I am and always have been a friend of the Indian. I have always
sympathized with him in his struggle to hold the country that was his
by right of birth.
But I have always held that in such a country as America the march of
civilization was inevitable, and that sooner or later the men who lived
in roving tribes, making no real use of the resources of the country,
would be compelled to give way before the men who tilled the soil and
used the lands as the Creator intended they should be used.
In my dealings with the Indians we always understood each other. In a
fight we did our best to kill each other. In times of peace we were
friends. I could always do more with the Indians than most white men,
and I think my success in getting so many of them to travel with my
organization was because I understood them and they understood me.
Shrewd as were the generals who conducted the fight against the
Indians, I believe they could have done little without the services of
the men who all over the West served them in the capacity of scouts.
The adventures of small scouting parties were at times even more
thrilling than the battles between the Indians and the troops.
Among the ablest of the scouts I worked with in the West were Frank
Grouard and Baptiste Pourier. At one time in his childhood Grouard was
to all intents and purposes a Sioux Indian. He lived with the tribe,
hunted and fought with them, and wore the breech-clout as his only
He met some hunters and trappers while living this life. Their language
recalled his childhood, and he presently deserted his red-skinned
friends and came back to his own race.
His knowledge of the tongues of the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Crow Indians
and his marvelous proficiency in the universal sign language made him
an extremely desirable acquisition to the service.
Grouard and "Big Bat" (Baptiste Pourier) were the two scouts that
guided Lieutenant Sibley, a young officer of experience and ability, on
a scout with about thirty officers and John Finnerty of the Chicago
_Times_, a newspaper man who was known all over the West.
At eight o'clock at night they left their halting-place, Big Goose
Creek, and in the silent moonlight made a phantom promenade toward the
Little Big Horn.
Presently they made out the presence of a war party ahead of them, and
one of the scouts of this outfit began riding around in a circle, which
meant that the enemy had been discovered.
There were too many Indians to fight in the open, so Grouard led the
soldiers to a deep thicket where there were plenty of logs and fallen
timber out of which to make breastworks.
The Indians repeatedly circled around them and often charged, but the
white men, facing a massacre like that of Custer's men, steadily held
them at bay by accurate shooting.
Soon red reenforcements began to arrive. The Indians, feeling that they
had now a sufficient advantage, attempted another charge, as the result
of which they lost White Antelope, one of the bravest of their chiefs.
This dampened their ardor, but they kept up an incessant firing that
rattled against the log breastworks like hailstones.
Fearing that the Indians would soon start a fire and burn them out,
Sibley ordered a retreat. The two scouts were left behind to keep up a
desultory fire after night had fallen, in order to make the Indians
think the party was still in its breastworks. Then the other men in
single file struggled up the precipitous sides of the mountain above
them, marching, stumbling, climbing, and falling according to the
character of the ground they passed over.
The men left behind finally followed on. The temperature fell below
zero, and the night was one of suffering and horror. At last they
gained a point in the mountains about twenty-five miles distant from
Halting in a sheltered cave, they got a little sleep and started out
just in time to escape observation by a large war-party which was
scouting in their direction.
At night the jaded party, more dead than alive, forded Tongue River up
to their armpits. Two were so exhausted that it was not considered
advisable to permit them to plunge into the icy stream, and they were
left on the bank till help could be sent to them.
Those that got across dragged themselves over the trail to Crook's
camp. The rocks had broken their boots, and with bleeding feet and many
a bullet wound they managed to get within sight of the camp, where two
men of the Second Cavalry found them and brought them in.
Sibley's men threw themselves on the ground, too exhausted to go
another step. Hot food was brought them, and they soon were strong
enough to go to Camp Cloud Peak, to receive the hospitality and
sympathy of their comrades. The two men who had been left behind were
brought in and cared for.
This expedition was one of the most perilous in the history of the
Plains, and the fact that there were any survivors is due to the skill,
coolness, and courage of the two scouts, Grouard and Pourier.
My work on the Plains brought me many friends, among them being some of
the truest and staunchest that any man ever had. You who live your
lives in cities or among peaceful ways cannot always tell whether your
friends are the kind who would go through fire for you. But on the
Plains one's friends have an opportunity to prove their mettle. And I
found out that most of mine would as cheerfully risk their lives for me
as they would give me a light for my pipe when I asked it.
Such a friend was old "Buffalo Chips," who certainly deserves a place
in these memoirs of mine.
One morning while I was sitting on my porch at North Platte, playing
with my children, I saw a man limping on crutches from the direction of
the Post hospital. He was a middle-aged man, but had long, flowing
white hair, and the most deeply-pitted face I have ever beheld.
Noticing that he seemed confused and in trouble, I sent the children
out to bring him to me. He came up haltingly, and in response to my
questioning told me that he had been rejected by the hospital because
he had been a Confederate soldier and it was against their rules to
accept any but Union veterans.
I turned the stranger over to my sister, who prepared a meal for him
while I went over to the adjutant's office to see what could be done. I
met General Emory in the adjutant's office, and on my promise to pay
the ex-Confederate's bills, he gave me an order admitting him to the
hospital. Soon my new protege, who said his name was Jim White, was
duly installed, and receiving the treatment of which he stood in sore
In a few weeks he had nearly recovered from the wound in his leg which
had necessitated the use of his crutches. Every day he came to my house
to play with the children and to care for my horses, a service for
which he gruffly refused to accept any pay.
Now and then he would borrow one of my rifles for a little practice. I
soon discovered that he was a splendid shot, as well as an unusually
fine horseman. My surprise at these accomplishments was somewhat
lessened when he told me that he had spent his four years' war service
as one of General J.E.B. Stuart's scouts. Stuart had no other kind of
men in his command.
For years, wherever I went, no matter how dangerous the errand, my new
friend went along. The first time he followed me I still remember
vividly. I had left the Post on a five days' scout, and was
particularly anxious that no one should know the direction I was to
When I was four or five miles from the Post I looked back and saw a
solitary horseman riding in my direction about a mile in my rear. When
I stopped he stopped. I rode on for a little way and looked around
again. He was exactly the same distance behind me, and pulled his horse
up when I halted. This maneuver I repeated several times, always with
the same result. Considerably disquieted by this mysterious pursuit, I
decided to discover the reason for it. I whipped up my horse and when I
had put a sandhill between myself and the man behind I made a quick
detour through a ravine, and came up in his rear. Then I boldly rode up
till I came abreast of him.
He swung around when he heard me coming, and blushed like a girl when
he saw how I had tricked him.
"Look here, White," I demanded, "what the devil are you following me in
this way for?"
"Mrs. Cody said I could follow you if I wanted to," he said, "and,
well, I just followed you, that's all."
That was all he would say. But I knew that he had come along to keep me
from getting hurt if I was attacked, and would rather die than admit
his real reason. So I told him to come along, and come along he did.
There was no need for his services on that occasion, but a little later
he put me in debt to him for my life. He and I rode together into a
border town, where there were a few gentlemen in the horse-stealing
business who had reason to wish me moved along to some other sphere. I
left White to look after the horses as we reached the town, and went
into a hotel to get a nip, for which I felt a very great need. White
noticed a couple of rough-looking chaps behind the barn as he put the
horses away and quietly slipped to a window where he could overhear
"We'll go in while he is taking a drink," one of them was saying, "and
shoot him from behind. He'll never have a chance."
Without a word to me, White hurried into the hotel and got behind the
door. Presently the two men entered, both with drawn revolvers. But
before they could raise them White covered them with his own weapon and
commanded them sternly to throw up their hands, an order with which
they instantly complied after one look at his face.
I wheeled at the order, and recognized his two captives as the men I
was looking for, a pair of horse-thieves and murderers whom I had been
sent to apprehend. My revolvers were put into instant requisition, and
I kept them covered while White removed the guns with which they had
expected to put me out of their way.
With White's help I conducted these gentlemen forty miles back to the
sheriff's office, and they walked every step of the way. Each of them
got ten years in the penitentiary as soon as they could be tried. They
either forgave me or forgot me when they got out, for I never heard of
either of them again.
In the campaign of 1876 I secured employment for White as a scout. He
was with me when Terry and Crook's commands separated on the
Yellowstone. By this time he had come to copy my gait, my dress, my
speech, and even my fashion of wearing my hair down on my shoulders,
though mine at that time was brown, and his was white as the driven
We were making a raid on an Indian village, which was peopled with very
lively and very belligerent savages. I had given White an old red-lined
coat, one which I had worn conspicuously in a number of battles, and
which the Indians had marked as a special target on that account.
A party of Indians had been driven from among the lodges into a narrow
gorge, and some of the soldiers, among them Captain Charles King, had
gone after them. As they were proceeding cautiously, keeping tinder
cover as much as possible, King observed White creeping along the
opposite bluff, rifle in hand, looking for a chance at the savages
huddled below, and hoping to distract their fire so they would do as
little damage as possible to the soldiers who were closing in on them.
White crawled along on all-fours till he reached a stunted tree on the
brim of the ravine. There he halted, brought his rifle to his shoulder
in readiness to aim and raised himself slowly to his feet. He was about
to fire, when one of the Indians in the hole below spotted the
red-lined coat. There was a crack, a puff of smoke, and White toppled
over, with a bullet through his heart. The coat had caught the
attention of the savages, and thus I had been the innocent means of my
friend's death; for, with the soldiers pressing them so hard, it is not
likely that any of the warriors would have wasted a shot had they not
thought they were getting Pa-ho-has-ka. For a long time the Indians
believed that I would be a menace to them no more. But they discovered
their mistake later, and I sent a good many of them to the Happy
Hunting-Grounds as a sort of tribute to my friend.
Poor old White! A more faithful man never took a trail, nor a braver.
He was a credit to me, and to the name which General Sheridan had first
given him in derision, but which afterward became an honor, the name of
When Terry and Crook's commands joined on the Yellowstone both commands
went into camp together and guards were placed to prevent surprise. The
scene was typical of the Old West, but it would astonish anyone whose
whole idea of warfare has been gained by a visit to a modern military
post or training camp, or the vast camps where the reserve forces are
drilled and equipped for the great European war.
Generals Crook, Merritt, and Carr were in rough hunting rigs, utterly
without any mark of their rank. Deerskin, buckskin, corduroy, canvas,
and rags indiscriminately covered the rest of the command, so that
unless you knew the men it was totally impossible to distinguish
between officers and enlisted men. However, every one in the commands
knew every one else, and there was no confusion.
A great part of that night was spent in swapping stories of recent
experiences. All of them were thrilling, even to veteran campaigners
fresh from the trail. There was no need of drawing the long bow in
those days. The truth was plenty exciting enough to suit the most
exacting, and we sat about like schoolboys, drinking in each other's
tales, and telling our own in exchange.
A story of a personal adventure and a hairbreadth escape in which
Lieutenant De Rudio figured was so typical of the fighting days of the
West that I want my readers to know it. I shall tell it, as nearly as I
can, just as it came to me around the flickering fire in that
picturesque border camp.
De Rudio had just returned from his adventure, and he told it to us
between puffs of his pipe so realistically that I caught several of my
old friends of the Plains peering about into the darkness as if to make
sure that no lurking redskins were creeping up on them.
In the fight of a few days before De Rudio was guarding a pony crossing
with eight men when one of them sang out:
"Lieutenant, get your horse, quick. Reno (the commander of the outfit)
is retreating!" No trumpet had sounded, however, and no orders had been
given, so the lieutenant hesitated to retire. His men left in a hurry,
but he remained, quietly waiting for the call.
Presently, looking behind him, he saw thirty or forty Indians coming
full gallop. He wheeled and started to get into safer quarters. As lie
did so they cut loose with a volley. He leaned low on his horse as they
shot, and the bullets sang harmlessly over his head.
Before him was a fringe of thick underbrush along the river, and into
this he forced his unwilling horse. The bullets followed and clipped
the twigs about him like scissors. At last he gained the creek, forded,
and mounted the bank on the other side. Here, instead of safety, he
found hundreds of Indians, all busily shooting at the soldiers, who
were retreating discreetly in the face of a greatly superior force. He
was entirely cut off from retreat, unless he chose to make a bold dash
for his life right through the middle of the Indians. This he was about
to do, when a young Indian, who had observed him, sent a shot after
him, and his horse fell dead under him, rolling over and over, while he
managed to scramble to his feet.
The shot had attracted the attention of all the Indians in that
immediate neighborhood, and there were plenty of them there for all
offensive purposes. De Rudio jumped down the creek bank and hid in an
excavation while a hail of bullets spattered the water ahead of him and
raised a dozen little clouds of dust at his feet.
So heavy had this volley been that the Indians decided that the bullets
had done their work, and a wild yell broke from them.
Suddenly the yell changed to another sort of outcry, and the firing
abruptly ceased. Peering out, De Rudio saw Captain Benteen's column
coming up over the hill. He began to hope that his rescue was at hand.
But in a few minutes the soldiers disappeared and the Indians all
started off after them.
Just beyond the hill was the noise of a lively battle, and he made up
his mind that Reno's command had rallied, and that if he could join
them he might be saved.
Working his way softly through the brush he was nearing the summit of
the slope when he heard his name whispered and saw three of his own
company in the brush. Two of them were mounted. The horse of the third
had been killed.
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