Print
Category: The Life of Hon. William F. Cody, Known as Buffalo Bill, the Famous Hunter, Scout and Guide An Autobiography
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

It was in the spring of 1861, while I was at Horseshoe, that the eastern-bound coach came in one day loaded down with passengers and baggage, and stopped for dinner; Horseshoe being a regular dinner station as well as a home station. The passengers consisted of six Englishmen, and they had been continually grumbling about the slow time that was being made by the stages, saying that the farther they got East the slower they went.

"These blarsted 'eathens don't know hanything habout staging, hany-'ow," remarked one of them.

"Blarst me bloody heyes! they cawn't stage in this country as we do in Hingland, you know," said another.

Their remarks were overheard by Bob Scott, who was to drive the coach from Horseshoe to Fort Laramie, and he determined to give them satisfaction before they got over his route. Scott was known to be the best reinsman and the most expert driver on the whole line of the road. He was a very gentlemanly fellow in his general appearance and conduct, but at times he would become a reckless dare-devil, and would take more desperate chances than any other driver. He delighted in driving wild teams on the darkest nights, over a mountain road, and had thus become the hero of many a thrilling adventure.

It happened on this day he was to drive a team of six pony express horses, which had been only partially broken in as a stage team. As the stock-tenders were hitching them up, Bob, who was standing by, said, "I'll show them Englishmen that we 'blarsted heathens' do know something about staging in this country." We all knew from Bob's looks that something was up.

It required several men to hitch up this frisky team, as a man had to hold on to each one of the horses by the bits, while they were stringing them out. The Englishmen came out from dinner, and were delighted to see the horses prancing and pawing as if anxious to start.

"Ha! my deah fellah, now we will 'ave a fine ride this hafternoon," said one of them.

"By Jove! those are the kind of 'orses they hought to 'ave on hall the teams," remarked another.

"Are you the lad who is going to drive to-day?" asked another of Bob.

"Yes, gentlemen," answered Bob, "I'll show you how we stage it in this country."

Bob mounted the box, gathered the lines, and pulling the horses strongly by the bits, he sang out to the Englishmen, "All aboard!" Bob's companion on the box was Capt. Cricket; a little fellow who was the messenger of the coach. After everybody was seated, Bob told the stock-tenders to "turn 'em loose."

We, who were standing around to see the stage start out, expected it would go off at a lively rate. We were considerably surprised, therefore, when, after the horses had made a few lively jumps, Bob put on the big California brakes and brought them down to a walk. The road, for a distance of four miles, gradually rose to the top of a hill, and all the way up this ascent, Bob held the impatient team in check.

"Blarst your heyes, driver, why don't you let them go?" exclaimed one of the passengers, who had all along been expecting a very brisk ride. Every once in a while they would ask him some such question, but he paid no attention to them. At last he reached the top of the hill, and then he suddenly flung three of the lines on the left side of the team, and the other three on the right side. He then began "playing the silk to them,"--that is to say, he began to lash them unmercifully. The team started off like a streak of lightning, so to speak, without a single rein being held by the driver. Bob cried out to the Englishmen, saying, "Hold on, gentlemen, and I'll give you a lively ride, and show you how to stage it in the Rocky Mountains."

His next movement was to pull the lamps out of the sockets and throw them at the leaders. The glass broke upon their backs and nearly set them wild, but being so accustomed to running the road, they never once left the track, and went flying on down the grade towards the next station, eight miles distant, the coach bouncing over the loose stones and small obstacles, and surging from side to side, as an eggshell would in the rapids of Niagara. Not satisfied with the break-neck rate at which they were traveling, Bob pulled out his revolver and fired in rapid succession, at the same time yelling in a demoniacal manner.

By this time the Englishmen had become thoroughly frightened, as they saw the lines flying wildly in every direction and the team running away. They did not know whether to jump out or remain in the coach. Bob would occasionally look down from his seat, and, seeing their frightened faces, would ask, "Well, how do you like staging in this country now?" The Englishmen stuck to the coach, probably thinking it would be better to do so than to take the chances of breaking their necks by jumping.

As the flying team was nearing the station, the stock tender saw that they were running away and that the driver had no control over them whatever. Being aware that the pony express horses were accustomed to running right into the stable on arriving at the station, he threw open the large folding doors, which would just allow the passage of the team and coach into the stable. The horses, sure enough, made for the open doorway. Capt. Cricket, the messenger, and Scott got down in the boot of the coach to save themselves from colliding with the top of the stable door. The coach would probably have passed through into the stable without any serious damage had it not been for the bar or threshold that was stretched across the ground to fasten the doors to. This bar was a small log, and the front wheels struck it with such force that the coach was thrown up high enough to strike the upper portion of the door frame. The top of the coach was completely torn off, and one of the passenger's arms was broken. This was the only serious injury that was done; though it was a matter of surprise to all, that any of the travelers escaped.

The coach was backed out, when the running gear was found to be as good as ever. The top was soon patched up, a change of team was made, and Bob Scott, mounting the box as if nothing had happened, took the reins in hand, and shouted, "All aboard!" The Englishmen, however, had had enough of Bob Scott, and not one of the party was willing to risk his life with him again. They said that he was drunk, or crazy or both, and that they would report him and have him discharged for what he had already done.

Bob waited a few minutes to give them an opportunity to take their seats in the coach, but they told him most emphatically that he could drive on without them, as they intended to wait there for the next stage. Their traps were taken off, and Bob drove away without a single passenger. He made his usual time into Fort Laramie, which was the end of his run. The Englishmen came through on the next day's coach, and proceeded on to Atchison, where they reported Bob to the superintendent of the line, who, however, paid little or no attention to the matter, as Bob remained on the road. Such is the story of the liveliest and most reckless piece of stage-driving that ever occurred on the Overland stage road.

 

powered by social2s