Doniphan’s Thousand

Doniphan's ThousandAs a young man Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan had no plans on being a military man. Born in Kentucky, Alexander went to college to be a lawyer, later practicing in Missouri. A far cry from what would become Doniphan’s Thousand.
           
But, the courtroom wasn’t enough excitement for Alexander. When the war with Mexico broke out in 1846 the 1st Missouri Mounted Volunteers were formed, and Alexander was voted their colonel. Now, the Missouri Mounted didn’t comprise of professional military men. They were a rag-tag group of men who looked more like tramps than spit and polish soldiers of the regular military. And Alexander wasn’t a strict disciplinarian as an officer. But “Doniphan’s Thousand” as they were known were impressive in battle.
               
In December of 1846 Alexander and 500 of his men assisted General Wool in his invasion of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. On their way to Chihuahua, Alexander and his men ran into a force of 1,200 Mexican soldiers just outside of El Paso, Texas. Although outnumbered more than 2 to 1, they took on the Mexican forces, and on December 27 occupied El Paso.
 
Continuing on to Chihuahua, Alexander discovered that General Wool had retreated back. Rather than turning back also, Alexander summoned the other half of his “Thousand” and proceeded to attack Chihuahua unassisted. This time he was completely outnumbered 4 to 1. But, once again they quickly overcame their opponent. Within six months Alexander and his men reached the Gulf Coast. At the coast they were picked up by boat, and transported to New Orleans, where they returned to Missouri and their normal occupations.
 
Within a few months U. S. troops occupied Mexico City, and the war was over. Although the professional military got the credit for the victory, were it not for rag-tag volunteers like Doniphan’s Thousand, it surely wouldn’t have happened when it did.

Crazy Horse’s Final Battle

Crazy Horse's Final BattleIt was the end of June of 1876. Crazy Horse, along with Sitting Bull, had just completed the greatest victory of the Indians over the U. S. military with the defeat of George Custer at Little Big Horn. The American people demanded revenge. These were the events that lead to Crazy Horse’s Final Battle.
           
So, General Nelson Miles mounted a winter campaign. It was thought that by keeping the Indians on the run throughout the winter would be devastating to them. General Miles convinced a number of Indians to return to their reservations. Meanwhile, Sitting Bull took his people into Canada.
               
Crazy Horse along with his over 1,000 Sioux and Cheyenne also refused to surrender. But he stayed in Montana. Being constantly pushed, Crazy Horse and his people were suffering from starvation and sickness.
 
Then on January 8, 1877, in the last battle Crazy Horse was ever to be engaged, General Miles came across his camp on the Tongue River. Miles opened up with howitzers, forcing the Indians to retreat to the hills in a snowstorm. With ammunition gone for their rifles, they were using only bows and arrows to defend themselves.
 
Using the blinding snowstorm as shelter, Crazy Horse’s people were able to escape. With their shelters, food and winter clothes left behind, they spent a miserable winter.
 
Although Crazy Horse wasn’t ever defeated in battle, he realized that General Miles would eventually hunt his people down and destroy them. So, in May of 1877, less than a year from his great victory at Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse along with his rag-tag group of 217 men and 672 women surrendered to the military.
In September 1877, four months after surrendering to U.S. troops under General George Crook, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska.

Chuckwagon: Apple Water

Apple WaterApple Water:

Roast two tart apples until they are soft; 
put them in a pitcher, 
pour upon them a pint of cold water, 
and let it stand in a cool place an hour.

It is used in fevers and eruptive diseases, 
and does not require sweetening.

From An 1888 Cookbook

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

Nathan Meeker of Horace Greeley’s New York Herald

Nathan Meeker of Horace Greeley’s New York HeraldNathan E. Meeker started out as an agricultural writer for Horace Greeley’s New York Herald. He had a particular interest in cooperative farming and living. So Horace Greeley sent him to study what the Mormons were doing in this area. On January 6, 1870 Nathan headed west. But, when he got to Colorado, Meeker decided Colorado was a good place to start his own communal colony. So he started the temperance colony of Greeley, Colorado.
           
Things didn’t progress well, and in a few years Nathan was penniless. To generate income, and pay off debts, he became the Indian agent for the White River Ute Reservation.
               
Nathan Meeker not only believed that work was fun; he was passionate in spreading his message. He decided that the Ute Indians should be farmers.
 
This didn’t sit well with the free-spirited Ute who traditionally were nomadic teepee-dwellers following the buffalo herds. In addition, what Nathan didn’t know about Indian culture, was more than exceeded by his lack of tact. One of his policies was that any Indian who didn’t work the fields wouldn’t eat.
 
Within a year things were so out of hand that Meeker called for troops to quiet the Ute Indians. Knowing the military was on its way, the Ute struck first. They went after the symbol of their hatred, the Indian Agency.
 
All of the agency male staff was killed with Nathan Meeker, impaled to the ground in his own back yard.
 
This wasn’t the first, or the last attempt to make hunter tribes into agricultural Indians. But, it sure was the biggest failure.
Nathan Meeker of Horace Greeley’s New York Herald

Old West Book Review: Butch Cassidy My Uncle

Butch Cassidy My UncleButch Cassidy My Uncle, Bill Betenson, High Plains Press (1-800-552-7819), $1995, Paperback. 300 pages, Photographs, Notes, Bibliography, Index.

Back in the 1960s, most of us who love western movies went to see a flick called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Paul Newman and Robert Redford played the important roles, and we came away impressed and intrigued having seen a cowboy movie we were told was based on facts.

Butch and Sundance were real, and most of their exploits have been delved into now that Hollywood brought the pair to light.  So much has been written and told about Butch Cassidy, that one family member Bill Betenson, the great-grandson of Butch’s youngest sister, decided to try to set the record straight.  Butch Cassidy came from a large and mostly law-abiding family.  Except for one uncle, Dan Parker, who spent time in the Detroit House of Corrections for holding up a store, the rest of the Parkers were embarrassed by Butch’s outlawry.

This book begins with the early life of Butch, whose real name was Robert LeRoy Parker, telling of his youth, schooling and employment.  Betenson has access to family memorabilia, plus he has done an admirable job of searching through historical documents, newspaper articles, and public records as well as visiting many of the places where Butch lived.

Butch (a nickname he acquired after working as a butcher), seemed easily attracted to life on the wild side.  He did have real jobs in ranching and mining, and his employers always spoke highly of his good manners and careful attention to his duties.  But he was also intrigued with adventure and easy money.  At various times he took up with characters of questionable integrity, and was therefore involved in a variety of robberies. He rode with a gang holed up in the wilds of Utah.  Robbing banks, stagecoaches, trains and even horse rustling were the usual endeavors.  Butch spent most of his adult life hunted by sheriff’s posses, cavalry units and detectives working for Pinkertons

This book is filled with family photos and various scenes from Butch’s past, including images of his friends and relatives, besides members of the gang when he hooked up with Harry Longabaugh, (the Sundance Kid).  Butch traveled with Sundance and a variety of other gang members, even going as far away as New York City, joined by an attractive young woman known as Ella Place.  Butch, Sundance and Ella finally drifted to South America where authorities in the United States continued to hunt them.  They wound up in Argentina, and even bought a cattle ranch where they planned to start anew.  But alas the Pinkertons and other law enforcement people seemed always lurking nearby.

Again the trio got involved in bank robberies, and conflicting reports has them either killed in South America, or having gotten away due to some other American outlaws killed by police, being mistakenly identified as Sundance and Butch.  This of course led to all the modern day controversy. Did Butch die in South America?  Did he really come home years later as some of his friends and relatives insist?  It has long been told, even in the movie, that Butch and Sundance died in a hail of lead in South America after they robbed a bank.  However, there is a strong case told here that while Sundance may have died there, Butch survived and returned years later to the United States.

The last chapter of the book delves into all of the available information the author has gleaned pointing to Butch’s return.  The author writes an intriguing account in a forthright manner without trying to sway the reader’s opinion one way or the other.  This book is a treasure of factual information about the life and times of Butch Cassidy, and most likely the best written so far.  It’s another good one from High Plains Press.

Editor’s Note:  The Reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many published books, including the novel Nine Days at Dragoon Springs, published by Silk Label Books, P. 0. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988 (845-726-3434) www.silklabelbooks.com.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

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