THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES
OF BUFFALO BILL
AN INGLORIOUS SERVICE.
Following the breaking out of the great Civil War in 1861, a general
desertion of stage-drivers and express riders took place, a majority
of whom were natural rovers, and always looking out for change of
employment. I was not an exception, and as it had now been nearly a
year since I saw my mother, while reports of her ill health
frequently reached me, I decided to pay her a visit, and at the same
time determine, if government service promised better pay and more
excitement than I had been getting out of my engagement with the
express company, to join the army. In pursuance of this resolve I
went to Leavenworth, which was at that time an important outfitting
post for the West and Southwest.
While in the city one day I met several of the old, as well as the
young men, who had been members of the Free State party all through
the Kansas troubles, and who had, like our family, lost everything at
the hands of the Missourians. They now thought a good opportunity
offered to retaliate and get even with their persecutors, as they
were all considered to be Secessionists. That they were all
Secessionists, however, was not true, as all of them did not
sympathise with the South. But the Free State men, myself among them,
took it for granted that as Missouri was a slave State the
inhabitants must all be Secessionists, and therefore our enemies. A
man by the name of Chandler proposed that we organize an independent
company for the purpose of invading Missouri and making war on its
people on our own responsibility. He at once went about it in a very
quiet way, and succeed in inducing twenty-five men to join him in the
hazardous enterprise. Having a longing and revengeful desire to
retaliate upon the Missourians for the brutal manner in which they
had treated and robbed my family, I became a member of Chandler's
company. His plan was that we should leave our homes in parties of
not more than two or three together, and meet at a certain point near
Westport, Missouri, on a fixed day. His instructions were carried
out, and we assembled at the rendezvous at the appointed time.
Chandler had been there some days before us and, thoroughly
disguised, had been looking around the country for the whereabouts of
all the best horses. He directed us to secretly visit certain farms
and collect all the horses possible, and bring them together the next
night. This we did, and upon reassembling it was found that nearly
every man had two horses. We immediately struck out for the Kansas
line, which we crossed at the Indian ferry on the Kansas River, above
Wyandotte, and as soon as we had set foot upon Kansas soil we
separated with the understanding that we were to meet one week from
that day at Leavenworth.
Some of the parties boldly took their confiscated horses into
Leavenworth, while others rode them to their homes. This action may
look to the reader like horse-stealing, and some people might not
hesitate to call it by that name; but Chandler plausibly maintained
that we were only getting back our own, or the equivalent, from the
Missourians, and as the government was waging war against the South,
it was perfectly square and honest, and we had a good right to do it.
So we didn't let our consciences trouble us very much.
We continued to make similar raids upon the Missourians off and on
during the summer, and occasionally we had running fights with them;
none of the skirmishes, however, amounting to much. The government
officials hearing of our operations, put detectives upon our track,
and several of the party were arrested. My mother, upon learning that
I was engaged in this business, told me it was neither honorable nor
right, and she would not for a moment countenance any such
proceedings. Consequently I abandoned the jay-hawking enterprise, for
such it really was.
After abandoning the enterprise of crippling the Confederacy by
appropriating the horses of non-combatants, I went to Leavenworth,
where I met my old friend, Wild Bill, who was on the point of
departing for Rolla, Mo., to assume the position of wagon master of a
government train. At his request to join him as an assistant I
cheerfully accompanied him to Rolla, where we loaded a number of
wagons with government freight and drove them to Springfield.
BUSTED AT A HORSE-RACE
On our return to Rolla we heard a great deal of talk about the
approaching fall races at St. Louis, and Wild Bill having brought a
fast running horse from the mountains, determined to take him to that
city and match him against some of the high-flyers there; and down to
St. Louis we went with this running horse, placing our hopes very
high on him.
Wild Bill had no difficulty in making up a race for him. All the
money that he and I had we put up on the mountain runner, and as we
thought we had a sure thing, we also bet the horse against $250. I
rode the horse myself, but nevertheless, our sure thing, like many
another sure thing, proved a total failure, and we came out of that
race minus the horse and every dollar we had in the world.
Before the race it had been "make or break" with us, and we got
"broke." We were "busted" in the largest city we had ever been in,
and it is no exaggeration to say that we felt mighty blue.
On the morning after the race we went to the military
headquarters, where Bill succeeded in securing an engagement for
himself as a government scout, but I being so young failed in
obtaining similar employment. Wild Bill, however, raised some money,
by borrowing it from a friend, and then buying me a steamboat ticket
he sent me back to Leavenworth, while he went to Springfield, which
place he made his headquarters while scouting in Southeastern
A DUEL IN THE STREET
One night, after he had returned from a scouting expedition, he took
a hand in a game of poker, and in the course of the play he became
involved in a quarrel with Dave Tutt, a professional gambler, about a
watch which he had won from Tutt, but who would not give it up.
Bill told him he had won it fairly, and that he proposed to have
it; furthermore, he declared his intention of carrying the watch
across the street next morning to military headquarters, at which
place he had to report at nine o'clock. To which boast Tutt replied
that he would himself carry the watch across the street at nine
o'clock, and no other man would do it.
"If you make the attempt one of us will have to die at the hour
named," was the answer Bill returned, and then walked carelessly
A challenge to a duel had virtually been given and accepted, and
everybody knew that the two men meant business. At nine o'clock the
next morning, Tutt started to cross the street. Wild Bill, who was
standing on the opposite side, told him to stop. At that moment Tutt,
who was carrying his revolver in his hand, fired at Bill but missed
him. Bill quickly pulled out his revolver and returned the fire,
hitting Tutt squarely in the forehead and killing him instantly.
Quite a number of Tutt's friends were standing in the vicinity,
having assembled to witness the duel, and Bill, as soon as Tutt fell
to the ground, turned to them and asked if any one of them wanted to
take it up for Tutt; if so, he would accommodate any of them then and
there. But none of them cared to stand in front of Wild Bill to be
shot at by him. Nothing of course was ever done to Bill for the
killing of Tutt.
Autobiography of Buffalo Bill Continued