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THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES
OF BUFFALO BILL

 

CHAPTER II.
MY FIRST LOVE AFFAIR
.
Common school advantages were denied us in the early settlement of Kansas, and to provide a means for educating the few boys and girls in the neighborhood of my home, a subscription school was started in a small log-cabin that was built on the bank of a creek that ran near our house. My mother took great interest in this school and at her persuasion I returned home and became enrolled as a pupil, where I made satisfactory progress until the evil circumstance of a love affair suddenly blasted my prospects for acquiring an education.

Like all school-boys, I had a sweetheart with whom I was 'dead in love"-in a juvenile way. Her name was Mary Hyatt. Of course I had a rival, Stephen Gobel, a boy about three years my senior-the " bully " of the school. He was terribly jealous, and sought in every way to revenge himself upon me for having won the childish affections of sweet little Mary.

The boys of the school used to build play-houses or arbors among the trees and bushes for their sweethearts. I had built a play-house for Mary, when Steve, as we called him, leveled it to the ground. We immediately had a very lively fight, in which I got badly beaten. The teacher heard of our quarrel and whipped us both. This made matters worse than ever, as I had received two thrashings to Steve's one; I smothered my angry feelings as much as possible under the humiliating circumstances, and during the afternoon recess built another play-house, thinking that Gobel would not dare to destroy a second one; but I was mistaken, for he pushed the whole structure over at the first opportunity. I came up to him just as he finished the job, and said:-

"Steve Gobel, the next time you do that, I'll hurt you." And I meant it too; but he laughed and called me names.

At recess, next morning, I began the construction of still another play-house, and when I had it about two-thirds finished, Steve slyly sneaked up to the spot and tipped the whole thing over. I jumped for him with the quickness of a cat and clutching him by the throat for a moment I had the advantage of him. But he was too strong for me, and soon had me on the ground and was beating me severely. While away from home I had some way come into possession of a very small pocket dagger, which I had carried about with me in its sheath, using it in place of a knife. During the struggle this fell from my pocket, and my hand by accident rested upon it as it lay upon the ground. Exasperated beyond measure at Steve' s persistence in destroying my play-houses, and smarting under his blows, I forgot myself for the moment, grasped the dagger and unthinkingly thrust it into Steve's thigh. Had it been larger it would probably have injured him severely; as it was, it made a small wound, sufficient to cause the blood to flow freely and Steve to cry out in affright: "I am killed! O! I am killed!"

The school children all rushed to the spot and were terrified at the scene. "What's the matter?" asked one. "Bill Cody has killed Steve Gobel," replied another.

The uproar reached the teacher's ear, and I now saw him approaching, with vengeance in his eye and a big club in his hand. I knew that he was coming to interview me. I was dreadfully frightened at what I had done, and undecided whether to run away or to remain and take the consequences; but the sight of that flag-staff in the school teacher's hand was too much for me. I no longer hesitated, but started off like a deer. The teacher followed in hot pursuit, but soon became convinced that he could not catch me, and gave up the chase. I kept on running, until I reached one of Russell, Major & Waddell's freight trains which I had noticed going over the hill for the West. Fortunately for me I knew the wagon-master, John Willis, and as soon as I recovered my breath I told him what had happened.

"Served him right, Billy!" said he, "and what's more, we'll go over and clean out the teacher."

"Oh no; don't do that," said I, for I was afraid that I might fall into the hands of the wounded boy's friends, who I knew would soon be looking for me.

"Well, Billy, come along with me; I am bound for Fort Kearney; the trip will take me forty days. I want you for a cavallard driver."

"All right," I replied, "but I must go home and tell mother about it, and get some clothes."

" Well, then, to-night after we make our camp, I'll go back with you."

 

PURSUED BY THE WOUNDED BOY'S FATHER.
The affray broke up the school for the rest of the day as the excitement was too much for the children. Late in the afternoon, after the train had moved on some considerable distance, I saw Steve's father, his brother Frank, and one of the neighbors rapidly approaching.

"Mr. Willis, there comes old Gobel, with Frank and somebody else, and they are after me-what am I going to do?" I asked.

"Let 'em come," said he, "they can't take you if I've got anything to say about it, and I rather think I have. Get into one of the wagons-keep quiet and lay low. I'll manage this little job. Don't you fret a bit about it."

I obeyed his orders and felt much easier.

Old Gobel, Frank and the neighbor soon came up and inquired for me.

"He's around here somewhere," said Mr. Willis.

"We want him," said Gobel; " he stabbed my son a little while ago, and I want to arrest him."

"Well, you can't get him; that settles it; so you needn't waste any of your time around here," said Willis.

Gobel continued to talk for a few minutes, but getting no greater satisfaction, the trio returned home.

When night came, Willis accompanied me on horseback to my home. Mother, who had anxiously searched for me everywhere- being afraid that something had befallen me at the hands of the Gobels-was delighted to see me, notwithstanding the difficulty in which I had become involved. I at once told her that at present I was afraid to remain at home, and had accordingly made up my mind to absent myself for a few weeks or months-at least until the excitement should die out. Mr. Willis said to her that he would take me to Fort Kearney with him and see that I was properly cared for, and would bring me back safely in forty days.

Mother at first seriously objected to my going on this trip, fearing I would fall into the hands of Indians. Her fears, however, were soon overcome, and she concluded to let me go. She fixed me up a big bundle of clothing and gave me a quilt. Kissing her and my sisters a fond farewell, I started off on my first trip across the plains, with a light heart, too, notwithstanding my trouble of a few hours before.

The trip proved a most enjoyable one to me, although no incidents worthy of note occurred on the way. On my return from Fort Kearney I was paid off the same as the rest of the employees. The remainder of the summer and fall I spent in herding cattle and working for Russell, Majors & Waddell.

I finally ventured home-not without some fear, however, of the Gobel family-and was delighted to learn that during my absence mother had had an interview with Mr. Gobel, and having settled the difficulty with him, the two families had become friends again, and I may state, incidentally, that they ever remained so. I have since often met Stephen Gobel, and we have had many a laugh together over our love affair and the affray at the school-house. Mary Hyatt, the innocent cause of the whole difficulty, is now married and living in Chicago. Thus ended my first love scrape.

In the winter of 1856-57 my father, in company with a man named J. C. Boles, went to Cleveland, Ohio, and organized a colony of about thirty families, whom they brought to Kansas and located on the Grasshopper. Several of these families still reside there.

It was during this winter that father, after his return from Cleveland, caught a severe cold. This, in connection with the wound he had received at Rively's-from which he had never entirely recovered-affected him seriously, and in April, 1857, he died at home from kidney disease.

This sad event left my mother and the family in poor circumstances, and I determined to follow the plains for a livelihood for them and myself. I had no difficulty in obtaining work under my old employers, and in May, 1857, I started for Salt Lake City with a herd of beef cattle, in charge of Frank and Bill McCarthy, for General Albert Sidney Johnston's army, which was then being sent across the plains to fight the Mormons.

 

MY FIRST FIGHT WITH INDIANS.
Nothing occurred to interrupt our journey until we reached Plum Creek, on the South Platte River, thirty-five miles west of Old Fort Kearney. We had made a morning drive and had camped for dinner. The wagon-masters and a majority of the men had gone to sleep under the mess wagons; the cattle were being guarded by three men, and the cook was preparing dinner. No one had any idea that Indians were anywhere near us. The first warning we had that they were infesting that part of the country was the firing of shots and the whoops and yells from a party of them, who, catching us napping, gave us a most unwelcome surprise. All the men jumped to their feet and seized their guns. They saw with astonishment the cattle running in every direction, they having been stampeded by the Indians, who had shot and killed the three men who were on day-herd duty, and the red devils were now charging down upon the rest of us.

I then thought of mother's fears of my falling into the hands of the Indians, and I had about made up my mind that such was to be my fate; but when I saw how coolly and determinedly the McCarthy brothers were conducting themselves and giving orders to the little band, I became convinced that we would "stand the Indians off," as the saying is. Our men were all well armed with Colt's revolvers and Mississippi yagers, which last carried a bullet, and two buckshots.

The McCarthy boys, at the proper moment, gave orders to fire upon the advancing enemy. The volley checked them, although they returned the compliment, and shot one of our party through the leg. Frank McCarthy then sang out, " Boys, make a break for the slough yonder, and we can then have the bank for a breastwork."

We made a run for the slough which was only a short distance off, and succeeded in safely reaching it, bringing with us the wounded man. The bank proved to be a very effective breastwork, affording us good protection. We had been there but a short time when Frank McCarthy, seeing that the longer we were corralled the worse it would be for us, said:-

" Well, boys, we'll try to make our way back to Fort Kearney by wading in the river and keeping the bank for a breast-work."

We all agreed that this was the best plan, and we accordingly proceeded down the river several miles in this way, managing to keep the Indians at a safe distance with our guns, until the slough made a junction with the main Platte River. From there down we found the river at times quite deep, and in order to carry the wounded man along with us, we constructed a raft of poles for his accommodation, and in this way he was transported.

Occasionally the water would be too deep for us to wade, and we were obliged to put our weapons on the raft and swim. The Indians followed us pretty close, and were continually watching for an opportunity to get a good range and give us a raking fire. Covering ourselves by keeping well under the bank, we pushed ahead as rapidly as possible, and made pretty good progress, the night finding us still on the way and our enemies yet on our track.

 

HOW I KILLED MY FIRST INDIAN.
I, being the youngest and smallest of the party, became somewhat tired, and without noticing it I had fallen behind the others for some little distance. It was about ten o'clock and we were keeping very quiet and hugging close to the bank, when I happened to look up to the moon-lit sky and saw the plumed head of an Indian peeping over the bank. Instead of hurrying ahead and alarming the men in a quiet way, I instantly aimed my gun at his head and fired. The report rang out sharp and loud on the night air, and was immediately followed by an Indian whoop, and the next moment about six feet of dead Indian came tumbling into the river. I was not only overcome with astonishment, but was badly scared, as I could hardly realize what I had done. I expected to see the whole force of Indians come down upon us. While I was standing thus bewildered, the men, who had heard the shot and the war-whoop and had seen the Indian take a tumble, came rushing back.

"Who fired that shot?" cried Frank McCarthy.

"I did," replied I, rather proudly, as my confidence returned and I saw the men coming up.

"Yes, and little Billy has killed an Indian stone-dead-too dead to skin," said one of the men, who had approached nearer than the rest, and had almost stumbled upon the corpse. From that time forward I became a hero and an Indian killer. This was, of course, the first Indian I had ever shot, and as I was not then more than eleven years of age, my exploit created quite a sensation.

The other Indians, upon learning what had happened to their advance fired several shots without effect but which hastened our retreat down the river. We reached Fort Kearney just as the reveille was being sounded, bringing the wounded man with us

After the peril through which are had passed it was a relief to feel that once more I was safe after such a dangerous initiation.

Frank McCarthy immediately reported to the commanding officer and informed him of all that had happened. The commandant at once ordered a company of cavalry and one of infantry to proceed to Plum Creek on a forced march-taking a howitzer with them-to endeavor to recapture the cattle from the Indians.<

The firm of Russell, Majors & Waddell had a division agent at Kearney, and this agent mounted us on mules so that we could accompany the troops. On reaching the place where the Indians had surprised us, we found the bodies of the three men whom they had killed and scalped, and literally cut into pieces. We of course buried the remains. We caught but few of the cattle; the most of them having been driven off and stampeded with the buffaloes, there being numerous immense herds of the latter in that section of the country at the time. The Indians' trail was discovered running south towards the Republican river, and the troops followed it to the head of Plum creek, and there abandoned it, returning to Fort Kearney without having seen a single redskin.

The company's agent, seeing that there was no further use for us in that vicinity-as we had lost our cattle and mules-sent us back to Fort Leavenworth. The company, it is proper to state, did not have to stand the loss of the expedition, as the government held itself responsible for such depredations by the Indians.

On the day that I got into Leavenworth, sometime in July, I was interviewed for the first time in my life by a newspaper reporter, and the next morning I found my name in print as "the youngest Indian slayer on the plains." I am candid enough to admit that I felt very much elated over this notoriety. Again and again I read with eager interest the long and sensational account of our adventure. My exploit was related in a very graphic manner, and for a long time afterwards I was considerable of a hero. The reporter who had thus set me up; as I then thought, on the highest pinnacle of fame, was John Hutchinson, and I felt very grateful to him. He now lives in Wichita, Kansas.

 

ON THE ROAD TO SALT LAKE
In the following summer Russell, Majors and Waddell entered upon a contract with the government for transporting supplies for General Albert Sidney Johnston's army that was sent against the Mormons. A large number of teams and teamsters were required for this purpose, and as the route was considered a dangerous one, men were not easily engaged for the service, though the pay was forty dollars per month in gold. An old wagon master named Lew Simpson, one of the best that ever commanded a bull-train, was upon the point of starting with about ten wagons for the company, direct for Salt Lake, and as he had known me for some time as an ambitious youth, requested me to accompany him as an extra hand. My duties would be light, and in fact I would have nothing to do, unless some one of the drivers should become sick, in which case I would be required to take his place. But even more seductive than this inducement was the promise that I should be provided with a mule of my own to ride, and be subject to the orders of no one save Simpson himself.

The offer was made in such a manner that I became at once wild to go, but my mother interposed an emphatic objection and urged me to abandon so reckless a desire. She reminded me that in addition to the fact that the trip would possibly occupy a year, the journey was one of extreme peril, beset as it was by Mormon assassins and treacherous Indians, and begged me to accept the lesson of my last experience and narrow escape as a providential warning. But to her pleadings and remonstrances I returned the answer that I had determined to follow the plains as an occupation, and while I appreciated her advice and desired greatly to honor her commands, yet I could not forego my determination to accompany the train.

Seeing that it was impossible to keep me at home, she reluctantly gave her consent, but not until she had called upon Mr. Russell and Mr. Simpson in regard to the matter, and had obtained from the latter gentleman his promise that I should be well taken care of, if we had to winter in the mountains. She did not like the appearance of Simpson, and upon inquiry she learned, to her dismay, that he was a desperate character, and that on nearly every trip he had made across the plains he had killed some one. Such a man, she thought, was not a fit master or companion for her son, and she was very anxious to have me go with some other wagon-master; but I still insisted upon remaining with Simpson.

"Madam, l can assure you that Lew Simpson is one of the most reliable wagon-masters on the plains," said Mr. Russell, "and he has taken a great fancy to Billy. If your boy is bound to go, he can go with no better man. No one will dare to impose on him while he is with Lew Simpson, whom I will instruct to take good care of the boy. Upon reaching Fort Laramie, Billy can, if he wishes, exchange places with some fresh man coming back on a returning train, and thus come home without making the whole trip."

This seemed to satisfy mother, and then she had a long talk with Simpson himself, imploring him not to forget his promise to take good care of her precious boy. He promised everything that she asked. Thus, after much trouble, I became one of the members of Simpson's train. Before taking our departure, I arranged with Russell, Majors & Waddel that when my pay fell due it should be paid over to mother.

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE BULL-TRAIN OUTFIT.
As a matter of interest to the general reader, it may be well in this connection to give a brief description of a freight trail. The wagons used in those days by Russell, Majors & Waddel were known as the "J. Murphy wagons," made at St. Louis specially for the plains business. They were very large and were strongly built, being capable of carrying seven thousand pounds of freight each. The wagon-boxes were very commodious-being about as large as the rooms of an ordinary house-and were covered with two heavy canvas sheets to protect the merchandise from the rain. These wagons were generally sent out from Leavenworth, each loaded with six thousand pounds of freight, and each drawn by several yokes of oxen in charge of one driver. A train consisted of twenty-five wagons, all in charge of one man, who was known as the wagon-master. The second man in command was the assistant wagon-master; then came the is extra hand," next the night herder; and lastly, the cavallard driver, whose duty it was to drive the lame and loose cattle. There were thirty-one men all told in a train. The men did their own cooking, being divided into messes of seven. One man cooked, another brought wood and water, another stood guard, and so on, each having some duty to perform while getting meals. All were heavily armed with Colt's pistols and Mississippi yagers, and every one always had his weapons handy so as to be prepared for any emergency.

The wagon-master, in the language of the plains, was called the "bull-wagon boss; " the teamsters were known as " bull-whackers; " and the whole train was denominated a "bull-outfit." Everything at that time was called an "outfit. " The men of the plains were always full of droll humor and exciting stories of their own experiences, and many an hour I spent in listening to the recitals of thrilling adventures and hair-breadth escapes.

 

THE TRAIL.
The trail to Salt Lake ran through Kansas northwestwardly, crossing the Big Blue River, then over the Big and Little Sandy, coming into Nebraska near the Big Sandy. The next stream of any importance was the Little Blue, along which the trail ran for sixty miles; then crossed a range of sand-hills, and struck the Platte River ten miles below old Fort Kearney; thence the course lay up the South Platte to the old Ash Hollow Crossing, thence eighteen miles across to the North Platte, near the mouth of the Blue Water, where General Harney had his great battle in 1855 with the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. From this point the North Platte was followed, passing Court House Rock, Chimney Rock and Scott's Bluffs, and then on to Fort Laramie, where the Laramie River was crossed. Still following the North Platte for some considerable distance, the trail crossed the river at old Richard's Bridge, and followed it up to the celebrated Red Buttes, crossing the Willow Creeks to the Sweet Water, passing the great Independence Rock and the Devil's Gate, up to the Three Crossings of the Sweet Water, thence past the Cold Springs, where, three feet under the sod, on the hottest day of summer, ice can be found; thence to the Hot Springs and the Rocky Ridge, and through the Rocky Mountains and Echo Canyon, and thence on to the great Salt Lake Valley.

In order to take care of the business which then offered, the freight for transportation being almost exclusively government provisions, Russell, Majors & Waddell operated 6,250 wagons, for the hauling of which they used 75,000 oxen, and gave employment to 8,000 men; the capital invested by these three freighters was nearly $2,000,000. In their operations, involving such an immense sum of money, and employing a class of laborers incomparably reckless, some very stringent rules were adopted by the firm, to which all their employees were made to subscribe.

In this code of discipline was the following obligation: "I, do hereby solemnly swear, before the Great and Living God, that during my engagement, and while I am in the employ of Russell, Majors & Waddell, that I will under no circumstances use profane language; that I will drink no intoxicating liquors of any kind; that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as will win the confidence and esteem of my employers, so help me God . "

This oath was the creation of Mr. Majors, who was a very pious and rigid disciplinarian; he tried hard to enforce it, but how great was his failure it is needless to say. It would have been equally profitable had the old gentleman read the riot act to a herd of stampeded buffaloes. And he believes it himself now.

 

A BUFFALO STAMPEDE.
Nothing transpired on the trip to delay or give us any trouble whatever, until the train struck the South Platte River. One day we camped on the same ground where the Indians had surprised the cattle herd in charge of the McCarthy brothers. It was with difficulty that we discovered any traces of anybody ever having camped there before, the only landmark being the single grave, now covered with grass, in which we had buried the three men who had been killed. The country was alive with buffaloes. Vast herds of these monarchs of the plains were roaming all around us, and we laid over one day for a grand hunt. Besides killing quite a number of buffaloes and having a day of rare sport, we captured ten or twelve head of cattle, they being a portion of the herd which had been stampeded by the Indians two months before. The next day we pulled out of camp, and the train was strung out to a considerable length along the road which ran near the foot of the sand-hills, two miles from the river. Between the road and the river we saw a large herd of buffaloes grazing quietly, they having been down to the stream for a drink.

Just at this time we observed a party of returning Californians coming from the west. They, too, noticed the buffalo herd, and in another moment they were dashing down upon them, urging their steeds to the greatest speed. The buffalo herd stampeded at once and broke down the hills; so hotly were they pursued by the hunters that about five hundred of them rushed through our train pell-mell, frightening both men, and oxen. Some of the wagons were turned clear round, and many of the terrified oxen attempted to run to the a w hills, with the heavy wagons attached to them. Others turned around so short that they broke the wagons tongues off. Nearly all the teams got entangled in their gearing, and became wild and unruly, so that the perplexed drivers were, all unable to manage them.

The buffaloes, the cattle and the drivers were soon running in every direction, and the excitement upset nearly everybody and everything. Many of the cattle broke their yokes and stampeded. One big buffalo bull became entangled in one of the heavy wagon-chains, and it is a fact that in his desperate efforts to free himself he not only actually snapped the strong chain in two, but broke the ox-yoke to which it was attached, and the last seen of him he was running towards the hills with it hanging from his horns. A dozen other equally remarkable incidents happened during the short time that the frantic buffaloes were playing havoc with our train, and when they got through and left us our outfit was badly crippled and scattered. This caused us to go into camp and spend a day in replacing the broken tongues and repairing other damages, and gathering up our scattered ox-teams.

 

CAPTURED BY DANITES.
The next day we rolled out of camp and proceeded on our way towards the setting sun. Everything ran along smoothly with us from that point until we came within about eighteen miles of Green River, in the Rocky Mountains-where we camped at noon. At this place we had to drive our cattle about a mile and a half to a creek to water them. Simpson, his assistant George Woods and myself, accompanied by the usual number of guards, drove the cattle over to the creek, and while on our way back to camp we suddenly observed a party of twenty horsemen rapidly approaching us. We were not yet in view of our wagons, as a rise of ground intervened, and therefore we could not signal the train-men in case of any unexpected danger befalling us. We had no suspicion, however, that we were about to be trapped, as the strangers were white men. When they had come up to us, one of the party, who evidently was the leader, rode out in front and said:-

"How are you, Mr. Simpson?"

"You've got the best of me, sir," said Simpson, who did not know him.

"Well, I rather think I have," coolly replied the stranger, whose words conveyed a double meaning, as we soon learned. We had all come to a halt by this time and the strange horsemen had surrounded us. They were all armed with double-barreled shot guns, rifles and revolvers. We also were armed with revolvers, but we had had no idea of danger, and these men, much to our surprise, had a got the drop on us and had covered us with their weapons, so that we were completely at their mercy. The whole movement of corralling us was done so quietly and quickly that it was accomplished before we knew it.

"I'll trouble you for your six shooters, gentlemen," now said the leader.

"I'll give 'em to you in a way you don't want," replied Simpson.

The next moment three guns were leveled at Simpson. "If you make a move you're a dead man," said the leader.

Simpson saw that he was taken at a great disadvantage, and thinking it advisable not to risk the lives of the party by any rash act on his part, he said: "I see now that you have the best of me, but who are you, anyhow?"

"I am Joe Smith," was the reply.

"What l the leader of the Danites?" asked Simpson.

"You are correct," said Smith, for he it was.

"Yes," said Simpson, " I know you now; you are a spying scoundrel."

Simpson had good reason for calling him this and applying to him a much more opprobrious epithet, for only a short time before this, Joe Smith had visited our train in the disguise of a teamster, and had remained with us two days. He suddenly disappeared, no one knowing where he had gone or why he had come among us. But it was all explained to us now that he had returned with his Mormon Danites. After they had disarmed us, Simpson asked, "Well, Smith, what are you going to do with us?"

"Ride back with us and I'll soon show you," said Smith.

 

DESTRUCTION OF THE TRAIN BY MORMONS.
We had no idea of the surprise which awaited us. As we came upon the top of the ridge, from which we could view our camp, we were astonished to see the remainder of the train-men disarmed and stationed in a group and surrounded by another squad of Danites, while other Mormons were searching our wagons for such articles as they wanted.

"How is this ?" inquired Simpson. "How did you surprise my camp without a struggle? I can't understand it."

"Easily enough," said Smith; "your men were all asleep under the wagons, except the cooks, who saw us coming and took us for returning Californians or emigrants, and paid no attention to us until we rode up and surrounded your train. With our arms covering the men, we woke them up, and told them all they had to do was to walk out and drop their pistols-which they saw was the best thing they could do under circumstances over which they had no control-and you can just bet they did it."

"And what do you propose to do with us now?" asked Simpson.

"I intend to burn your train," said he; "you are loaded with supplies and ammunition for Sidney Johnston, and as I have no way to convey the stuff to my own people, I'll see that it does not reach the United States troops."

"Are you going to turn us adrift here?" asked Simpson, who was anxious to learn what was to become of himself and his men.

" No; I am hardly so bad as that. I'll give you enough provisions to last you until you can reach Fort Bridger," replied Smith; "and as soon as your cooks can get the stuff out of the wagons, you can start."

"On foot?" was the laconic inquiry of Simpson.

"Yes, sir," was the equally short reply.

"Smith, that's too rough on us men. Put yourself in our place and see how you would like it," said Simpson; "you can well afford to give us at least one wagon and six yokes of oxen to convey us and our clothing and provisions to Fort Bridger. You're a brute if you don't do this."

"Well," said Smith, after consulting a minute or two with some of his company, ; "I'll do that much for you."

The cattle and the wagon were brought up according to his orders, and the clothing and provisions were loaded on.

"Now you can go," said Smith, after everything had been arranged.

"Joe Smith, I think you are a mean coward to set us afloat in a hostile country without giving us our arms," said Simpson, who had once before asked for the weapons, and had had his request denied.

Smith, after further consultation with his comrades, said: "Simpson, you are too brave a man to be turned adrift here without any means of defence. You shall have your revolvers and guns." Our weapons were accordingly handed over to Simpson, and we at once started for Fort Bridger, knowing that it would be useless to attempt the recapture of our train.

When we had traveled about two miles we saw the smoke arising from our old camp. The Mormons after taking what goods they wanted and could carry off, had set fire to the wagons, many of which were loaded with bacon, lard, hardtack, and other provisions, which made a very hot, fierce fire, and the smoke to roll up in dense clouds. Some of the wagons were loaded with ammunition, and it was not long before loud explosions followed in rapid succession. We waited and witnessed the burning of the train, and then pushed on to Fort Bridger. Arriving at this post, we learned that two other trains had been captured and destroyed in the same way, by the Mormons. This made seventy-five wagon loads, or 450,000 pounds of supplies, mostly provisions, which never reached General Johnston's command to which they had been consigned.

 

AT THE POINT OF STARVATION.
After reaching the fort, it being far in November, we decided to spend the winter there with about four hundred other employees of Russell, Majors & Waddell, rather than attempt a return, which would have exposed us to many dangers and the severity of the rapidly approaching winter. During this period of hibernation, however, the larders of the commissary became so depleted that we were placed on one quarter rations, and at length, as a final resort, the poor, dreadfully emaciated mules and oxen were killed to afford sustenance for our famishing party.

Fort Bridger being located in a prairie, all fuel there used had to be carried for a distance of nearly two miles, and after our mules and oxen were butchered we had no other recourse than to carry the wood on our backs or haul it on sleds, a very tedious and laborious alternative.

Starvation was beginning to lurk about the post when spring approached, and but for the timely arrival of a westward-bound train loaded with provisions for Johnston's army some of our party must certainly have fallen victims to deadly hunger.

The winter finally passed away, and early in the spring, as soon as we could travel, the civil employees of the government, with the teamsters and freighters, started for the Missouri River, the Johnston expedition having been abandoned.

On the way down we stopped at Fort Laramie, and there met a supply train bound westward. Of course we all had a square meal once more, consisting of hard tack, bacon, coffee and beans. I can honestly say that I thought it was the best meal I had ever eaten; at least I relished it more than any other, and I think the rest of the party did the same.

On leaving Fort Laramie, Simpson was made brigade wagonmaster, and was put in charge of two large trains, with about four hundred extra men, who were bound for Fort Leavenworth. When we came to Ash Hollow, instead of taking the usual trail over to the South Platte, Simpson concluded to follow the North Platte down to its junction with the South Platte. The two trains were traveling about fifteen miles apart, when one morning while Simpson was with the rear train, he told his assistant wagonmaster, George Woods and myself to saddle up our mules, as he wanted us to go with him and overtake the head train.

 

ATTACKED BY INDIANS.
We started off at about eleven o'clock, and had ridden about seven miles, when-while we were on a big plateau, back of Cedar Bluffs-we suddenly discovered a band of Indians coming out of the head of a ravine, half a mile distant, and charging down upon us at full speed. I thought that our end had come this time. Simpson, however, was equal to the occasion, for with wonderful promptness he jumped from his jaded mule and in a trice shot his own animal and ours also and ordered us to assist him to jerk their bodies into a triangle. This being quickly done we got inside the barricade of mule flesh and were prepared to receive the Indians. We were each armed with a Mississippi yager and two revolvers, and as the Indians came swooping down on our improvised fort we opened fire with such good effect that three fell dead to the first volley. This caused them to retreat out of range, as with two exceptions they were armed with bows and arrows and therefore to approach near enough to do execution would expose at least several of them to certain death.

Seeing that they could not take our little fortification, or drive us from it, they circled around several times, shooting their arrows at us. One of these struck George Wood in the left shoulders inflicting only a slight wound, however, and several lodged in the bodies of the dead mules; otherwise they did us no harm. The Indians finally galloped off to a safe distance, where our bullets could not reach them, and seemed to be holding a council. This was a lucky move for us, for it gave us an opportunity to reload our guns and pistols, and prepare for the next charge of the enemy. During the brief cessation of hostilities, Simpson extracted the arrow from Wood's shoulder, and put an immense quid of tobacco on the wound. Wood was then ready for business again.

The Indians did not give us a very long rest, for with another desperate charge, as if to ride over us, they came dashing towards the mule barricade. We gave them a hot reception from our yagers and revolvers. They could not stand or understand the rapidly repeating fire of the revolver, and we checked them again. They circled around once more and gave us a few parting shots as they rode off, leaving behind them another dead Indian and a horse.

For two hours afterwards they did not seem to be doing anything but holding a council. We made good use of this time by digging up the ground inside the barricade with our knives and throwing the loose earth around and over the mules, and we soon had a very respectable fortification. We were not troubled any more that day, but during the night the cunning rascals tried to burn us out by setting fire to the prairie. The buffalo grass was so short that the fire did not trouble us much, but the smoke concealed the Indians from our view, and they thought that they could approach close to us without being seen. We were aware of this and kept a sharp look-out, being prepared all the time to receive them. They finally abandoned the idea of surprising us.

 

A TIMELY RESCUE.
Next morning, bright and early, they gave us one more grand charge and again we "stood them off." They then rode away half a mile or so and formed a circle around us. Each man dismounted and sat down, as if to wait and starve us out. They had evidently seen the advance train pass on the morning of the previous day, and believed that we belonged to that outfit and were trying to overtake it; they had no idea that another train was on its way after us.

Our hopes of escape from this unpleasant and perilous situation now depended upon the arrival of the rear train, and when we saw that the Indians were going to besiege us instead of renewing their attacks, we felt rather confident of receiving timely assistance. We had expected that the train would be along late in the afternoon of the previous day, and as the morning wore away we were somewhat anxious and uneasy at its non-arrival.

At last, about ten o'clock, we began to hear in the distance the loud and sharp reports of the big bull-whips, which were handled with great dexterity by the teamsters, and cracked like rifle shots. These were as welcome sounds to us as were the notes of the bagpipes to the besieged garrison at Lucknow, when the re-enforcements were coming up and the pipers were heard playing, "The Campbells are Coming." In a few moments we saw the lead or head wagon coming slowly over the ridge, which had concealed the train from our view, and soon the whole outfit made its appearance. The Indians observed the approaching train and assembling in a group they held a short consultation. They then charged upon us once more, for the last time, and as they turned and dashed away over the prairie we sent our farewell shots rattling after them. The teamsters, seeing the Indians and hearing the shots, came rushing forward to our assistance, but by the time they reached us the red-skins had almost disappeared from view. The teamsters eagerly asked us a hundred questions concerning our fight, admired our fort and praised our pluck. Simpson's remarkable presence of mind in planning the defense was the general topic of conversation among all the men.

When the teams came up we obtained some water and bandages with which to dress Wood's wound, which had become quite inflamed and painful, and we then put him into one of the wagons. Simpson and myself obtained a remount, bade good-bye to our dead mules which had served us so well, and after collecting the ornaments and other plunder from the dead Indians, we left their bodies and bones to bleach on the prairie. The train moved on again and we had no other adventures except several exciting buffalo hunts on the South Platte, near Plum Creek.

We arrived at Fort Leavenworth about the middle of July, 1858, when I immediately visited home. I found mother in very poor health, as she was suffering from asthma. My oldest sister Martha, had, during my absence, been married to John Crone, and was living at Leavenworth.

 

ENGAGE IN TRAPPING.
I had been home only about a month, after returning from Fort Bridger, when I again started out with another train, going this time as assistant wagon-master under Buck Bomer. We went safely through to Fort Laramie, which was our destination, and from there we were ordered to take a load of supplies to a new post called Fort Wallace, which was being established at Cheyenne Pass. We made this trip and got back to Fort Laramie about November 1st. I then quit the employ of Russell, Majors & Waddell, and joined a party of trappers who were sent out by the post trader, Mr. Ward, to trap on the streams of the Chugwater and Laramie for beaver, otter, and other fur animals, and also to poison wolves for their pelts. We were out two months, but as the expedition did not prove very profitable, and was rather dangerous on account of the Indians, we abandoned the enterprise and came into Fort Laramie in the latter part of December.

Being anxious to return to the Missouri River, I joined with two others, named Scott and Charley, who were also desirous of going East on a visit, bought three ponies and a pack-mule, and we started out together. We made rapid progress on our journey, and nothing worthy of note happened until, one afternoon, along the banks of the Little Blue River, we spied a band of Indians hunting on the opposite side of the stream, three miles away. We did not escape their notice, and they gave us a lively chase for two hours, but they could find no good crossing, and as evening came on we finally got away from them.

We traveled until late in the night, when upon discovering a lone, deep ravine which we thought would make a comfortable and safe camping-place, we stopped for a rest. In searching for a good place to make our beds, I found a hole, and called to my companions that I had found a fine place for a nest. One of the party was to stand guard while the others slept. Scott took the first watch, while Charley and I prepared our beds.

 

A HORRIBLE DISCOVERY.
While clearing out the place we felt something rough, but as it was dark we could not make out what it was. At any rate we concluded that it was bones or sticks of wood; we thought perhaps it might be the bones of some animal which had fallen in there and died. These bones, for such they really proved to be, we pushed one side and then we lay down. But Charley, being an inveterate smoker, could not resist the temptation of indulging in a smoke before going to sleep. So he sat up and struck a match to light his old pipe. Our subterranean bed-chamber was thus illuminated for a moment or two; I sprang to my feet in an instant for a ghastly and horrifying sight was revealed to us. Eight or ten human skeletons lay scattered upon the ground!

The light of the match died out, but we had seen enough to convince us that we were in a large grave, into which, perhaps, some unfortunate emigrants, who had been killed by the Indians, had been thrown; or, probably, seeking refuge there, they had been corralled and then killed on the spot. If such were the case they had met the fate of thousands of others, whose friends have never heard of them since they left their Eastern homes to seek their fortunes in the far West. However, we did not care to investigate this mystery any further, but we hustled out of that chamber of death and informed Scott of our discovery. Most of the plainsmen are very superstitious, and we were no exception to the general rule. We surely thought that this incident was an evil omen, and that we would be killed if we remained there any longer.

"Let us dig out of here quicker than We can say Jack Robinson," said Scott; and we began to "dig out " at once. We saddled our animals and hurriedly pushed forward through the darkness traveling several miles before we again went into camp. Next morning it was snowing fiercely, but we proceeded as best we could, and that night we succeeded in reaching Oak Grove ranch which had been built during the summer. We here obtained comfortable accommodations and plenty to eat and drink-especially the latter.

Scott and Charley were great lovers and consumers of " tanglefoot " and they soon got gloriously drunk, keeping it up for three days, during which time they gambled with the ranchmen, who got away with all their money; but little they cared for that, as they had their spree. They finally sobered up, and we resumed our journey, urging our jaded animals as much as they could stand, until we struck Marysville oil the Big Blue. From this place to Leavenworth we secured first-rate accommodations along the road, as the country had become pretty well settled.

It was in February, 1859, that I got home As there was now a good school in the neighborhood, taught by Mr. Devinny, my mother wished me to attend it, and I did so for two months and a half-the longest period of schooling that I ever received at any one time in my life. As soon as the spring came and the grass began growing, I became uneasy and discontented, and again longed for the free and open life of the plains.

 

OFF FOR PIKES PEAK.
The Pike's Peak gold excitement was then at its height, and everybody was rushing to the new gold diggings. I caught the gold fever myself, and joined a party bound for the new town of Auraria on Cherry Creek, afterwards called Denver, in honor of the then Governor of Kansas. On arriving at Auraria we pushed on to the gold streams in the mountains, passing up through Golden Gate and over Guy Hill, and thence on to Black Hawk. We prospected for two months, but as none of us knew anything about mining we met with very poor success, and therefore concluded that prospecting for gold was not our forte. We accordingly abandoned the enterprise and turned our faces eastward once more.

When we struck the Platte River, the happy thought of constructing a small raft-which would float us clear to the Missouri and thence down to Leavenworth-entered our heads, and we accordingly carried out the plan. Upon the completion of the raft, we stocked it with provisions and " set sail " down the stream. It was a light craft and a jolly crew, and all was smooth sailing for four or five days.

When we got near old Julesburg we met with a serious mishap. Our raft ran into an eddy, and quick as lightning went to pieces, throwing us all into the stream, which was so deep that we had to swim ashore. We lost everything we had, which greatly discouraged us, and we thereupon abandoned the idea of rafting it any further. We then walked over to Julesburg, which was only a few miles distant. This ranch, which became a somewhat famous spot, had been established by "Old Jules," a Frenchman, who was afterwards killed by the notorious Alf Slade.

 

A PONY EXPRESS RIDER.
The great pony express, about which so much has been said and written, was at that time just being started. The line was being stocked with horses and put into good running condition. At Julesburg I met Mr. George Chrisman, the leading wagonmaster of Russell, Majors & Waddell, who had always been a good friend to me. He had bought out "Old Jules," and was then the owner of Julesburg ranch, and the agent of the pony express line. He hired me at once as a pony express rider, but as I was so young he thought I was not able to stand the fierce riding which was required of the messengers. He knew, however, that I had been raised in the saddle-that I felt more at home there than in any other place-and as he saw that I was confident that I could stand the racket, and could ride as far and endure it as well as some of the old riders, he gave me a short route of forty-five miles, with the stations fifteen miles apart, and three changes of horses. I was required to make fifteen miles an hour, including the changes of horses. I was fortunate in getting well broken animals, and being so light, I easily made my forty-five miles on time on my first trip out, and ever afterwards.

I wrote to mother and told her how well I liked the exciting life of a pony express rider. She replied, and begged of me to give it up, as it would surely kill me. She was right about this, as fifteen miles an hour on horseback would, in a short time, shake any man " all to pieces; " and there were but very few, if any, riders who could stand it for any great length of time. Nevertheless, I stuck to it for two months, and then, upon receiving a letter informing me that my mother was very sick, I gave it up and went back to the old home in Salt Creek Valley.

 

The Autobiography of Buffalo Bill Continued

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