Category: The Life of Hon. William F. Cody, Known as Buffalo Bill, the Famous Hunter, Scout and Guide An Autobiography
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Upon reaching Fort McPherson, I found that the Third Cavalry, commanded by General Reynolds, had arrived from Arizona, in which Territory they had been on duty for some time, and where they had acquired quite a reputation on account of their Indian fighting qualities.

Shortly after my return, a small party of Indians made a dash on McPherson Station, about five miles from the fort, killing two or three men and running off quite a large number of horses. Captain Meinhold and Lieutenant Lawson with their company were ordered out to pursue and punish the Indians if possible. I was the guide of the expedition and had as an assistant T.B. Omohundro, better known as "Texas Jack" and who was a scout at the post.

Finding the trail, I followed it for two days, although it was difficult trailing because the red-skins had taken every possible precaution to conceal their tracks. On the second day Captain Meinhold went into camp on the South Fork of the Loupe, at a point where the trail was badly scattered. Six men were detailed to accompany me on a scout in search of the camp of the fugitives. We had gone but a short distance when we discovered Indians camped, not more than a mile away, with horses grazing near by. They were only a small party, and I determined to charge upon them with my six men, rather than return to the command, because I feared they would see us as we went back and then they would get away from us entirely. I asked the men if they were willing to attempt it, and they replied that they would follow me wherever I would lead them. That was the kind of spirit that pleased me, and we immediately moved forward on the enemy, getting as close to them as possible without being seen.

I finally gave the signal to charge, and we dashed into the little camp with a yell. Five Indians sprang out of a willow tepee, and greeted us with a volley, and we returned the fire. I was riding Buckskin Joe, who with a few jumps brought me up to the tepee, followed by my men. We nearly ran over the Indians who were endeavoring to reach their horses on the opposite side of the creek. Just as one was jumping the narrow stream a bullet from my old "Lucretia" overtook him. He never reached the other bank, but dropped dead in the water. Those of the Indians who were guarding the horses, seeing what was going on at the camp, came rushing to the rescue of their friends. I now counted thirteen braves, but as we had already disposed of two, we had only eleven to take care of. The odds were nearly two to one against us.

While the Indian reinforcements were approaching the camp I jumped the creek with Buckskin Joe to meet them, expecting our party would follow me; but as they could not induce their horses to make the leap, I was the only one who got over. I ordered the sergeant to dismount his men, and leaving one to hold the horses, to come over with the rest and help me drive the Indians off. Before they could do this, two mounted warriors closed in on me and were shooting at short range. I returned their fire and had the satisfaction of seeing one of them fall from his horse. At this moment I felt blood trickling down my forehead, and hastily running my hand through my hair I discovered that I had received a scalp wound. The Indian, who had shot me, was not more than ten yards away, and when he saw his partner tumble from his saddle, he turned to run.

By this time the soldiers had crossed the creek to assist me, and were blazing away at the other Indians. Urging Buckskin Joe forward, I was soon alongside of the chap who had wounded me, when raising myself in the stirrups I shot him through the head.

The reports of our guns had been heard by Captain Meinhold, who at once started with his company up the creek to our aid, and when the remaining Indians, whom we were still fighting, saw these reinforcements coming they whirled their horses and fled; as their steeds were quite fresh they made their escape. However, we killed six out of the thirteen Indians, and captured most of their stolen stock. Our loss was one man killed, and one man--myself--slightly wounded. One of our horses was killed, and Buckskin Joe was wounded, but I didn't discover the fact until some time afterwards as he had been shot in the breast and showed no signs of having received a scratch of any kind. Securing the scalps of the dead Indians and other trophies we returned to the fort.

I made several other scouts during the summer with different officers of the Third Cavalry, one being with Major Alick Moore, a good officer, with whom I was out for thirty days. Another long one was with Major Curtis, with whom I followed some Indians from the South Platte river to Fort Randall on the Missouri river in Dakota, on which trip the command ran out of rations and for fifteen days subsisted entirely upon the game we killed.

In the fall of 1872 the Earl of Dunraven and Dr. Kingsley with several friends came to Fort McPherson with a letter from General Sheridan, asking me to accompany them on an elk hunt. I did so, and I afterwards spent several weeks in hunting with the Earl of Dunraven, who was a thorough sportsman and an excellent hunter. It was while I was out with the Earl, that a Chicago party--friends of General Sheridan--arrived at Fort McPherson for the purpose of going out on a hunt. They, too, had a letter from, the General requesting me to go with them. The Earl had not yet finished his hunt, but as I had been out with him for several weeks, and he had by this time learned where to find plenty of elks and other game, I concluded to leave him and accompany the Chicago party. I informed him of my intention and gave him my reasons for going, at the same time telling him that I would send him one of my scouts, Texas Jack, who was a good hunter, and would be glad to accompany him. The Earl seemed to be somewhat offended at this, and I don't think he has ever forgiven me for "going back on him." Let that be as it may, he found Texas Jack a splendid hunter and guide, and Jack has been his guide on several hunts since.

Among the gentlemen who composed the Chicago party were E.P. Green,--son-in-law of Remington, the rifle manufacturer,--Alexander Sample, Mr. Milligan, of the firm of Heath & Milligan, of Chicago, and several others, whose names I do not now remember. Mr. Milligan was a man full of life, and was continually "boiling over with fun." He was a regular velocipede, so to speak, and was here, there, and everywhere. He was exceedingly desirous of having an Indian fight on the trip, not that he was naturally a blood-thirsty man but just for variety he wanted a little "Indian pie." He was in every respect the life of the party, during the entire time that we were out. One day while he was hunting with Sample and myself we came in sight of a band of thirty mounted Indians.

"Milligan, here's what you've been wanting for some time," said I, "for yonder is a war party of Indians and no mistake; and they'll come for us, you bet."

"I don't believe this is one of my fighting days," replied Milligan, "and it occurs to me that I have urgent business at the camp."

Our camp was five or six miles distant on the Dismal river, and our escort consisted of a company of cavalry commanded by Captain Russell. The soldiers were in camp, and Milligan thought that Captain Russell ought to be at once notified of the appearance of these Indians. Knowing that we could reach the camp in safety, for we were well mounted, I continued to have considerable amusement at Milligan's expense, who finally said:

"Cody, what's making my hat raise up so. I can hardly keep it on my head."

Sample, who was as cool as a cucumber, said to Milligan: "There must be something wrong with your hair. It must be trying to get on end."

"It's all very fine for you fellows to stand here and talk," replied Milligan, "but I am not doing justice to my family by remaining. Sample, I think we are a couple of old fools to have come out here, and I never would have done so if it had not been for you."

By this time the Indians had discovered us and were holding a consultation, and Milligan turned his horse in the direction of the camp. I never believed that he was half as scared as he seemed to be, but that he was merely pretending so that we could enjoy our joke. However, we did not wait any longer but rode into camp and notified Captain Russell, who immediately started with his company to pursue the band.

While we were riding along with the company Milligan said to Sample: "Now, Alick, let them come on. We may yet go back to Chicago covered with glory."

We struck the trail going north, but as we had not come out on a scout for Indians, we concluded not to follow them; although Milligan was now very anxious to proceed and clean them out.

The hunt came to an end in a day or two, and we escorted the visiting hunters to North Platte, where they took the train for Chicago. Before their departure they extended to me a very cordial invitation to come to their city on a visit, promising that I should be well taken care of.

Soon after this I had the pleasure of guiding a party of gentlemen from Omaha on a buffalo hunt. Among the number were Judge Dundy, Colonel Watson B. Smith, and U.S. District Attorney Neville. We left Fort McPherson in good trim. I was greatly amused at the "style" of Mr. Neville, who wore a stove-pipe hat and a swallow-tail coat, which made up a very comical rig for a buffalo hunter. As we galloped over the prairie, he jammed his hat down over his ears to keep it from being shaken off his head, and in order to stick to his horse, he clung to the pommel of his saddle. He was not much of a rider, and he went bouncing up and down, with his swallow-tails flopping in the air. The sight I shall never forget, for it was enough to make a "horse laugh," and I actually believe old Buckskin Joe did laugh.

However, we had a splendid hunt, and on the second day I lariated, or roped, a big buffalo bull and tied him to a tree,--a feat which I had often performed, and which the gentlemen requested me to do on this occasion for their benefit, as they had heard of my skill with the lariat. I captured several other buffaloes in the same way. The gentlemen returned to Omaha well pleased with their hunt.

In the fall of the year, 1872, a convention was held at Grand Island, when some of my friends made me their candidate to represent the Twenty-sixth District in the legislature of Nebraska; but as I had always been a Democrat and the State was largely Republican, I had no idea of being elected. In fact I cared very little about it, and therefore made no effort whatever to secure an election. However, I was elected and that is the way in which I acquired my title of Honorable.


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