Title: Wild West Show Opens | Madison Square Garden Crowded with an Enthusiastic Audience

Periodical: New York Times

Date: March 30, 1899

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Madison Square Garden Crowded with an Enthusiastic Audience.


Mayor Van Wyck and Richard Croker Also Attended—Chief Item of the Programme Battle of San Juan.

The whoop of the cowboy and the Indian, the crack of the prairie pistol, the shriek of the Cossack, the plaintive melody of the Hawaiian, and the thunder of rifles in mimic warfare all blended in one at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show last night. Madison Square Garden was thronged. Seated in the box of honor were Major Gen. Miles, Rear Admiral Philip, Mayor Van Wyck, Richard Croker, Corporation Counsel Whalen, and a number of ladies.

Buffalo Bill has many new and interesting features in his show this year. Among them may be mentioned the representation of the battle of San Juan Hill, a number of Russian riders led by a real Russian nobleman, Prince Luika; three Filipinos, one of them a woman who rides with the stirrups around her ankles; a dozen or more of Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and John McCarthy, a man with a marvelous voice. Mr. McCarthy does the announcing and explaining from an elevated position in the rear of the Garden, and last night he talked for over two solid hours loudly enough to be plainly heard by every one, and without the aid of a megaphone.

The chief item on the programme was the representation of the battle of San Juan. The lights were turned low, giving a twilight effect and the detachments of Rough Riders, Garcia's Cuban scouts, and infantry and cavalry came on field, marching with a slow, weary step, the colored boys singing "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town To-night." Following them were pack mules bearing cases, and some more scouts. The sentries were picketed, tents were pitched[,] and the lights went out.

Then the sun rose with a sudden and un-poetic burst of electric light, the bugles sounded, and the troops marched away to San Juan Hill, which was built on the Fourth Avenue end of the Garden. Spaniards dotted the papier maché slopes, and looked through big glasses for the American intruders. As the first of the Cuban scouts stepped stealthily on the sawdust, the Spaniards began firing from the top of the hill. The Americans rushed in and opened fire. Three regulars rushed from somewhere with a Gatling gun, which seemed powerful enough to blow San Juan Hill itself to eternity. Finally a mad rush was made up the hill, and the Stars and Stripes were planted amid cheers from the spectators.

Annie Oakley and Johnny Baker did some dexterous shooting with rfles at clay balls, and Col. Cody took a hand at this himself, and gave an exhibition of sharpshooting while riding at full speed. Indians gave war dances, robbed mail coaches, and destroyed a settler's cabin. There was also a herd of once wild buffaloes, which Buffalo Bill and some of his cowboys punctured with paper cartridges, and some broncho riding by the cowboys and Rough Rider McGinty from Arizona, which was clever and exciting. A group of Mexicans illustrated the use of the lasso. Battery D, Fifth Regiment, United States Army, and a detachment of the Sixteenth Lancers, British Army, the Garde-Kürassiers of Kaiser Wilhelm's army, and the veterans of the Sixth United States Cavalry were seen in military exercises, athletic sports, and horsemanship. Every number was warmly applauded except the three Filipinos, whom the programme designated as "Filipino Rough Riders." They got a round of hisses, but did not seem to know the difference.

The street parade of the show took place yesterday morning. It had been postponed from the day before on account of the rain, but the cold wind yesterday was hardly less disagreeable. The half gale nearly blew some of the women riders from their saddles, and made horseback parading very uncomfortable.

The line of march was followed as laid out in the programme, being confined principally to Fifth and Fourth Avenues, between Fifty-eighth Street and Astor Place. Along the entire route there were tremendous crowds. There were composed chiefly of boys, girls, nurses, and baby carriages.

Col. Cody led the parade, seated on a massive iron gray stallion that had seen service in Puerto Rico. Following him were the cowboys, Indians, Hawaiians, and Filipinos, Cubans, Arabs, Cossacks, and Rough Riders. The parade consumed about two hours, and most of the boys who marched with it as it started followed it from street to street until it was again swallowed up in the recesses of Madison Square Garden.