1846-1917 Buffalo Bill.

Buffalo Bill's own story of his life and deeds; this autobiography tells in his own graphic words the wonderful story of his heroic career; online

. (page 16 of 26)
Online Library1846-1917 Buffalo BillBuffalo Bill's own story of his life and deeds; this autobiography tells in his own graphic words the wonderful story of his heroic career; → online text (page 16 of 26)
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his name would be mentioned in the special orders for gallantry ;
sure enough, when we returned both he, myself and the whole
command received complimentary mention in a special order.
This he certainly deserved for he was a brave, energetic, dashing
little officer. The war bonnets which I had captured I turned
over tc General Carr, with the request that he present them to


General Aogur, whose daughters were visiting at the post at the


Shortly after this, another expedition was organized at Fort
McPherson for the Republican river country. It was com-
manded by General Duncan, who was a jolly, blustering old fel-
low, and the officers who knew him well said that we would have
a good time, as he was very fond of hunting. He was a good
fighter, and one of the officers said that an Indian bullet never
could hurt him, as he had been shot in the head with a cannon
ball which had not injured him in the least ; another eaid the ball
glanced off and killed one of the toughest mules in the army.

The Pawnee scouts, who had been mustered out of service dur-
ing the winter of 1369 and '70 we reorganized to accompany
this expedition. I was glad of this, as I had become quite at-
tached to one of the officers, Major North, and to many of the
Indians. The only white scout we had at the post, besides my-
self at that time, was John Y. Nelson, whose Indian name was
Sha-Cha-Cha-Opoyeo,* which interpreted means Ked-Willow-
Fill-the-Pipe. This man is a character in his way; he has a
Sioux squaw for a wife, and consequently a half-breed family.

We started out from the post with the regimental band play-
ing the lively air of " The Girl I Left Behind Me." We made
but a short march that day, and camped at night at the head of
Fox creek. Next morning General Duncan sent me word by his
orderly that I was to bring up my gun and shoot at a mark with
him ; but I can assure the reader that I did not feel much like
shooting anything except myself, for on the night before I had
returned to Fort McPherson and spent several hours in inter-
viewing the sutler's store in company with Major Brown. 1
looked around for my gun and found that I had left it behind.
The last I could remember about it was that I had it at the sut-
ler's store. I informed Major Brown of my loss, who said that

* Who is still shooting Indians from the top of the ola Dead wood stage
coach in the Wild West show.


is a nice scout to start out without a gun. I replied that that
was not the worst of it, as General Duncan had sent for me to
shoot a match with him, and I did not know what to do ; for if
the old gentleman discovered my predicament, he would very
likely severely reprimand me.

"Well, Cody," said he, "the best you can do is to make
some excuse, and then go and borrow a gun from some of the
men, and tell the General that you lent yours to some man to go
hunting with to-day. While we are waiting here, I w r ill send
back to the post and get your rifle for you. " I succeeded in
obtaining a gun from John Nelson, and then marching up to
the General's headquarters I shot the desired match with him,
which resulted in his favor.

This was the first scout the Pawnees had been out on under
command of General Duncan, and in stationing his guards
around the camp he posted them in a manner entirely different
from that of General Carr and Colonel Royal, as he insisted
that the different posts should call out the hour of the night
thus :


" Post No. 1, nine o'clock, all is well! Post No. 2, nine
o'clock, all is well ! " etc.

The Pawnees, who had their regular turns at standing upon
guard, were ordered to call the hour the same as the white soldiers.
This was very difficult for them to do, as there were but few of
them who could express themselves in English. Major North
explained to them that when the man on post next to them should
call out the hour, they must call it also as nearly like him as
possible. It was very amusing to hear them do this. They would
try to remember what the other man had said on the post next
to them. For instance, a white soldier would call out: " Post
No. 1, half-past nine o'clock, all is well ! " The Indian standing
next to him knew that he was bound to say something in English,
and he would sing out something like the following:

" Poss number half pass five cents go to ! I don't care I ' '

This system was really so ridiculous and amusing that the


General had to give it up, and the order was accordingly counter-

Nothing of any great interest occurred on this march, until one
day, while proceeding up Prairie Dog creek,* Major North and
myself went out in advance of the command several miles and
killed a number of buffaloes. Night was approaching, and I be-
gan to look around for a suitable camping ground for the com-
mand. Major North dismounted from his horse and was resting,
while I rode down to the stream to see if there was plenty of
grass in the vicinity. I found an excellent camping spot, and
returning to Major North told him that I would ride over the hill
a little way, so that the advance guard could see me. This I did,
and when the advance came in sight I dismounted and laid down
upon the grass to rest.


Suddenly I heard three or four shots, and in a few moments
Major North came dashing up towards me, pursued by eight or
ten Indians. I instantly sprang into my saddle, and fired a few
shots at the Indians, who by this time had all come in sight, to
v he number of fifty. We turned our horses and ran, the bullets
Jying after us thick and fast my whip being shot from my
nand and daylight being put through the crown of my hat. We
were in close quarters, when suddenly Lieutenant Valkmar came
galloping up to our relief with several soldiers, and the Indians
seeing them whirled and retreated. Aa soon as Major North got
in sight of his Pawnees, he began riding in a circle. This was a
sign to them that there were hostile Indians in front, and in a mo-
ment the Pawnees broke ranks pell-mell and, with Major North
at their head, started for the flying warriors. The rest of the
command pushed rapidly forward also, and chased the enemy for
three or four miles, killing three of them.

But this was a wrong move on our part, as their village was on
Prairie Dog creek, while they led us in a different direction ; one

* Near the lonely camp where I had so long been laid up with a broken leg,
when trapping years before with Dave Harrington.



Indian only kept straight on up the creek a messenger to the
village. Some of the command who had followed him, stirred

up the village and
accelerated i t s
departure. We
finally got back
to the main force,
and then learned
that we had made
a great mistake.
Now commenced
another stern

The second
day that we had
been following
these Indians we
came upon an old
squaw, whom
they had left on
the prairie to die.
Her people had
built for her a
little shade or
lodge, and had
given her some
provisions, suf-
ficient to last her
on her trip to the
Happy Hunting
grounds. This
the Indians often
do when pursued
by an enemy,
and one of their number becomes too old and feeble to travel any
longer. This squaw was recognized by John Nelson who said she



was a relative of his wife. From her we learned that the flying
Indians were known as Pawnee-Killer's band, and that they had

lately killed Buck's surveying party, consisting of eight or nine
men; the massacre having occurred a few days before on Beaver


creek. We knew that they had had a fight with the surveyors,
as we found quite a number of surveying instruments, .which had
been left in the abandoned camp. We drove these Indians
across the Platte river and then returned to Fort McPherson,
bringing the old squaw with us ; from there she was sent to the
Spotted Tail agency.

During my absence, my wife had given birth to a son, and he
was several weeks old when I returned. No name had yet been
given to him and I selected that of Elrno Judson, in honor of Ned
Buntline; but this the officers and scouts objected to. Major
Brown proposed that we should call him Kit Carson, and it was
finally settled that that should be his name.

During the summer we made one or two more scouts and had
a few skirmishes with the Indians : but nothing of any great im-
portance transpired. In the fall of 1870, while I was a witness
in a court-martial at Fort D. A. Russell I woke up one morning
and found that I was dead broke, this is not an unusual occur-
rence to a frontiersman, or an author I may add, especially when
he is endeavoring to kill time and to raise necessary funds I sold
my race-horse Tall Bull to Lieutenant Mason, who had long
wanted him.

In the winter of 1870 and 1871 I first met George Watts Gar-
land, an English gentleman, and a great hunter, whom I had the
pleasure of guiding on several hunts and with whom I spent some
weeks. During the winter I also took several parties out on the
Loupe river country hunting and trapping. Although I was
still chief of scouts I did not have much to do, as the Indians
were comparatively quiet, thus giving me plenty of time for

In the spring of 1871 several short scouting expeditions were
sent out from Fort McPherson, but all with minor results.


About this time General Emory was considerably annoyed by
petty offenses committed in the vicinity of the post, and as there
was no justice of the peace in the neighborhood, he was anxious


to have such an officer there to attend to the civilians ; one day
he remarked to me that I would make an excellent justice.

" General, you compliment me rather too highly, for I don't
know any more about law than a government mule does about
book-keeping, " said I.

' That doesn't make any difference," said he, " for I know
that you will make a good 'Squire." He accordingly had the
county commissioners appoint me to the office of justice of the
peace, and I soon received my commission.

One morning a man came rushing up to my house and stated
that he wanted to get out a writ of replevin, to recover posses-
sion of a horse which a stranger was taking out of the country.
I had no blank forms, and had not yet received the statutes of
Nebraska to copy from, so I asked the man:

" Where is the fellow who has got your horse ? "

" He is going up the road, and is about two miles way," re-
plied he.

" Very well," said I, " I will get the writ ready in a minute
or two." I saddled up my horse, and then taking my old re-
liable gun, " Lucretia," I said to the man: " That's the best writ
of replevin that I can think of ; come along, and we'll get that
horse, or know the reason why." We soon overtook the stranger,
who was driving a herd of horses, and as we came up to him,
I said: "Hello, sir; I am an officer, and have an attachment
for that horse," and at the same time I pointed out the animal.

" Well, sir, what are you going to do about it? " he inquired.

"I propose to take you and the horse back to the post,"
said I.

" You can take the horse," said he, " but I haven't the time
to return with you."

66 You'll have to take the time, or pay the cost here and now,"
said I.

" How much are the costs? "

" Twenty dollars."

"Here's your money," said he, as he handed me the green-


I then gave him a little friendly advice and told him that ha
was released from custody. He went on his way a wiser and a
poorer man, while the owner of the horse and myself returned
to the fort. I pocketed the twenty dollars, of course. Some
people might think it was not a square way of doing business,
but I didn't know any better just then. I had several little cases
of this kind, and I became better posted on the law in the course
of time, being assisted by Lieutenant Burr Ileilly, of the Fifth
Cavalry, who had been educated for a lawyer.


One evening I was called upon to perform a marriage cere-
mony. The bridegroom was one of the sergeants of the post.
I had " braced up " for the occasion by imbibing rather freely
of stimulants, and when I arrived at the house with a copy of the
Statutes of Nebraska, which I had recently received, I felt some-
what confused. Whether my bewilderment was owing to the
importance of the occasion and the large assembly, or to the
effect of Louis Woodin's "tanglefoot," I cannot now distinctly
remember but my suspicions have always been that it was due
to the latter cause. I looked carefully through the statutes to
find the marriage ceremony, but my efforts were unsuccessful .
Finally the time came for the knot to be tied. I told the couple
to stand up and then I said to the bridegroom: " Do you
take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife, to support and
love her through life?"

" I do," was the reply.

Then addressing myself to the bride, I said: " Do you take
this man to be your lawful wedded husband through life, to love,
honor and obey Mm ? "

" I do," was her response.

' ' Then join hands, ' ' said I to both of them 5 * I now pronounce
you to be man and wife, and whomsoever God and Buffalo Bill
have joined together let no man put asunder. May you live long
and prosper. Amen."

This concluded the interesting ceremony, which was followed



by the usual festivities on such occasions. I was highly com-
plimented for the elegant and eloquent manner in which I had
tied the matrimonial knot.

Duriug the summer of 1871, Professor Marsh, of Yale College,
came out to McPherson with a large party of students to have
a hunt and to look for fossils. Professor Marsh had heard of
the big bone which had been found by the Pawnees in the Nio-
brara country, and he intended to look for that as well as other
bones. He
ingly se-
cured the
of Major
F. North
a nd the
Paw nees
as an
escort. I
was also
to a c -
the bone-
and would


so had it not been for the fact that just at that time I was ordered
out with a small scouting party to go after some Indians.


The day before the Professor arrived at the fort I had been
out hunting on the north side of the North Platte river, near
Pawnee Springs, with several companions, when we were sud-
denly attacked by Indians, who wounded one of our number,
John Weister. We stood the Indians off for a little while, and
Weister got even with them by killing one of their party.


The Indians, .however, outnumbered us, and at last we were
forced to make a run for our lives. In this we succeeded and
reached the fort in safety. The General wanted to have the
Indians pursued and said he could not spare me to accompany
Professor Marsh.

However, I had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of
the eminent Professor, whom I found to be not only a well-
posted person, but a very entertaining gentleman. He gave me
a geological history of the country, told me in what section fos-
sils were to be found, and otherwise entertained me with several
scientific yarns, some of which seemed too complicated and too
mysterious to be believed by an ordinary man like myself; but
it was all clear to him. I rode out with him several miles, as he
was starting on his bone-hunting expedition, and I greatly en-
joyed the trip. His party had been provided with government
transportation and his students were all mounted on government
horses. As we rode along he delivered a scientific lecture and he
convinced me that he knew what he was talking about. I finally
bade him good-bye and returned to the post. While the fossil-
hunters were out on their expedition we had several lively little
skirmishes with the Indians. After having been absent some
little time Professor Marsh and his party came back with their
wagons loaded down with all kinds of bones and the Professor
was in his glory. He had evidently struck a bone-yard, and
" gad! "* wasn't he happy! But they had failed to find the big
bone which the Pawnees had unearthed the year before.

* A favorite expression of the Professor's.






OST McPHERSON was in the center
of a fine game country, in which
buffalo were particularly plentiful, and
though fairly surrounded by hostile In-
dians, it offered so many attractions for
sportsmen that several hunting parties
braved the dangers for the pleasure of
buffalo-chasing. In September, 1871, General

Sheridan brought a number of friends out to the
post for a grand hunt, coming by way of North
Platte in a special car, and thence by govern-
ment wagons to the fort, which was only
eighteen miles from that station.

The party consisted of General Sheridan, Law-
rence R. Jerome, James Gordon Bennett, of the
New York Herald; Leonard W. Jerome, Carroll
Livingston, Major J. G. Hecksher, General Fitz-
{%* hugh, General H. E. Davies, Captain M. Edward

Rogers, Colonel J. Schuyler Crosby, Samuel John-
son, General Anson Stager, of the Western Union Telegraph
Company; Charles Wilson, editor of the Chicago Evening Jour-
nal; General Rucker, Quartermaster-General, and Dr. Asch
the two last named being of General Sheridan's staff. They
were met at the station by General Emory and Major Brown,
with a cavalry company as escort and a sufficient number of
vehicles to carry the distinguished visitors and their baggage.

A brisk drive of less than two hours over a hard and smooth
road brought them to the fort, where they found the garrison,
consisting of five companies of the Fifth Cavalry, under the
command of General Carr. out on parade awaiting their arrival.


The band played some martial music, and the cavalry passed
very handsomely in review before General Sheridan. The guests
were then most hospitably received, and assigned to comfortable

Lieutenant Hayes, the quartermaster of the expedition, ar-
ranged everything for the comfort of the party. One hundred
cavalry under command of Major Brown were detailed as an
escort. A train of sixteen wagons was provided to carry the
baggage, supplies, and forage for the trip; and, besides these,
there were three four-horse ambulances in which the guns were
carried, and in which members of the party who became weary
of the saddle might ride and rest. At General Sheridan's re-
quest I was to accompany the expedition ; he introduced me to
all his friends, and gave me a good send-off.

During the afternoon and evening the gentlemen were all en-
tertained at the post in a variety of ways, including dinner and
supper parties, and music and dancing; at a late hour they re-
tired to rest in their tents at the camp which they occupied out-
side the post named Camp Rucker, in honor of General


At five o'clock next morning a cavalry bugle sounded the
reveille, and soon all were astir in the camp, preparatory to pull-
ing out for the first day's march. I rose fresh and eager for the
trip, and as it was a nobby and high-toned outfit which I was to
accompany, I determined to put on a little style myself. So I
dressed in a new suit of light buckskin, trimmed along the seams
with fringes of the same material ; and I put on a crimson shirt
handsomely ornamented on the bosom, while on my head I wore
a broad sombrero. Then mounting a snowy white horse a gal-
lant stepper I rode down from the fort to the camp, rifle in
hand. I felt first-rate that morning, and looked well.

The expedition was soon under way. Our road for ten miles
wound through a wooded ravine called Cottonwood canon, inter-
secting the high ground, or divide, as it is called, between the


Platte and Republican rivers. Upon emerging from the canoe
we found ourselves upon the plains. First in the line rode Gen-
eral Sheridan, followed by his guests, and then the orderlies.
Then came the ambulances, in one of which were carried five
greyhounds, brought along to course the antelope and rabbit.
With the ambulances marched a pair of Indian ponies belonging
to Lieutenant Hayes captured during some Indian fight and
harnessed to a light wagon, which General Sheridan occasionally
used. These little horses, but thirteen hands high, showed more
vigor and endurance than any other of the animals we had with
us. Following the ambulances came the main body of the escort
and the supply wagons.

We marched seventeen miles the first day, and went into camp
on Fox creek, a tributary of the Republican. No hunting had
as yet been done; but I informed the gentlemen of the party
that we would strike the buffalo country the next day. A hun-
dred or more questions were then asked me by this one and that
one, and the whole evening was spent principally in buffalo talk,
sandwiched with stories of the plains both of war and of the
chase. Several of the party, who were good vocalists, gave us
some excellent music. We closed the evening by christening the
camp, naming it Camp Brown, in honor of the gallant officer, in
command of the escort.

At three o'clock next morning the bugle called us to an early
start. We had breakfast at half -past four, and at six were in
the saddle. All were eager to see and shoot the buffaloes,
which I assured them we would certainly meet during the day.
After marching five miles, the advance guard, of which I had
the command, discovered six buffaloes grazing at a distance of
about two miles from us. We returned to the hunters with this
information, and they at once consulted with me as to the best
to attack the " enemy."


Acting upon my suggestions, Fitzhugh, Crosby, Lawrence
Livingston, Hecksher and Rogers, accompanied by my-


Photo by D. F. Barry.



self as guide, rode through a convenient canon to a point beyond
the buffaloes, so that we were to the windward of the animals.
The rest of the party made a detour of nearly five miles, keep-
ing behind the crest of a hill. We charged down upon the buf-
faloes at full gallop, and just then the other party emerged
from their concealment and witnessed the exciting chase. The
buffaloes started off in a line, single file. Fitzhugh, after a
lively gallop, led us all and soon came alongside the rear buffalo,
at which he fired. The ani-
mal faltered, and then with
another shot Fitzhugh brought
him to the ground. Crosby
dashed by him and leveled an-
other of the herd, while
Livingston dropped a third.
Those who were not directly
engaged in the hunt now came
7ip and congratulated the men
upon their success, and Fitz-
hugh was at once hailed as the
winner of the buffalo-cup,
while all sympathized with*
Hecksher, whose chance had
been the best at the start, but
who lost by reason of his
horse falling and rolling over

The hunt being over, the column moved forward on its march,
passing 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 "
adjoin each other, so that great care is necessary in riding
through these places, as the ground is so undermined as often to
fall in under the weight of a horse. Around the entrance to
their holes the ground is piled up almost a foot high ; on these
little elevations the prairie-dogs sit upon their hind legs, chatter-



ing to each other and observing whatever passes on the plains.
They will permit a person to approach quite near, but when they
have viewed him closely, they dive into their dens with wonder-
ful quickness. They are difficult to kill, and if hit generally
succeed in crawling underground before they can be captured.
Rattlesnakes and small owls are generally found in great num-
bers in the prairie-dog towns, and live in the same holes with
the dogs on friendly terms. A few of the prairie dogs were
killed, and were found to be very palatable eating.

A short distance beyond the dog town we discovered a settle-
ment of five white men, who proved to be the Clifford brothers,

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Online Library1846-1917 Buffalo BillBuffalo Bill's own story of his life and deeds; this autobiography tells in his own graphic words the wonderful story of his heroic career; → online text (page 16 of 26)