Title: Buffalo Bill's Show | Realistic Exhibition Again Delights the Public

Periodical: The Washington Post

Date: April 20, 1899

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Realistic Exhibition Again Delights the Public.


Wild West Performance Brought Its Huge Caravan of Picturesque Features to the City—Crowd Recognizes Many Old Friends in Parts of Programme—Colonies Represented by Cubans, Filipinos, and Hawaiians—Cheer British Colors.

"Buffalo Bill" and his Congress of Rough Riders of the World again made their appearance in Washington yesterday. Picturesque as ever, replete with gorgeous uniforms and thrilling scenes, and breathing that romantic atmosphere of wild West life and adventure, the great show appealed to all alike. Aside from the addition of some features inspired by the events of last year, the performance contained little that was really new. Many of the acts, such as the fight for the Deadwood coach, and the exhibition of cowboy fun, were practically the same as they have been for many years, so that even the petty incidents could be re-called by the man whose last visit to Buffalo Bill dates back to the period of childhood.

This sameness has been maintained for quite a sufficient reason, as each feature, both in its original conception and presentation, was admirably adapted to the needs of the occasion. The similarity of the scenes this year to those of many years past was pleasing rather than monotonous. At the same time, it should be said that while certain acts are old, the show as a whole annually presents striking novelties. This is one of the prime reasons of Col. Cody's success. From a wild west show of Indians and cow boys, he has gradually developed a spectacle in which romantic characters from every quarter of the globe are brought into play. An original idea connected with military life and adventures never escapes him, and the incidents of greatest public interest each year are admirably woven into his venture. This was particularly well illustrated yesterday. Several Hawaiians, Filipinos, and Cubans have been added to the congress, while a new act depicts in a thrilling manner the battle of San Juan Hill. Two performances were given yesterday, one at 2 p. m. and the other at 8 o'clock in the evening.

The Street Parade.

At 9:30 in the morning the usual street parade began to move from the place of encampment, corner North Capitol and M streets, by circuitous route to the State, War, and Navy building and back to the camp. The entire aggregation of rough riders and other performers, with their coaches and artillery, were out, and all along the line of parade were gathered to witness the spectacle. Long before the hour set for the afternoon performance the visitors began to arrive at the encampment, where long lines of picturesque canvas and gorgeous paintings announce the presence of Buffalo Bill and his allies. The small boy and large band of loiterers were much in evidence, and many urchins made it their business to climb trees or to secure other vantage points from which they could catch a glimpse of the mysteries within. Seats were arranged all along three sides of the inclosure, leaving the further end opposite the grand stand for the entrance and exit of the riders. Huge canvases were painted in a manner supposed to represent the scenery of Cuba and of the American West. When the performance was about to commence, nearly all the space except that in the two further sections on the side was occupied.

A cowboy band, after regaling the spectators for some time with martial and other music, opened the official programme by playing the "Star Spangled Banner." The announcer, with a trumpet-like voice, called out the names of the various Indian tribes, Cossacks, Arabians, and American cavalry as they came rushing in on horseback for the grand review. This opening feature is the same as it has always been, and it has remained the same because it could hardly be improved upon. As the Indians, tribe after tribe, rode in, with their chief whipping his horse to the topmost speed following after, as the German Uhlans, the Cossacks, Bedouins, and all the other representatives of the International Congress of Rough Riders filed in, the vast gathering cheered, applauded, and cheered again.

Cheer British Colors.

Quite an ovation was accorded to the band of British guard bearing the national colors, and a cheer went up from one end of the stand to the other as the American cavalry, with the Old Glory Standard, made their appearance. Among the new representatives who have recently joined the congress, three Filipinos were noted, as well as a band of Hawaiians, who rode up slowly singing their native melodies. Besides there was a detachment of Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and several other veterans of the late war. When all the riders were in line, and the poor Indians had yelled themselves hoarse shouting an Indian hurrah of..welcome for every squad. Col. W. F. Cody, as usual, swept into the arena on his magnificent spirited horse, and formally introduced his congress of rough riders of the world. A picturesque melee of rough riding in which Cossack and Indian, Arab, and Filipino were brought into conjunction closed this number.

Miss Annie Oakley then gave a performance at sharpshooting, and though she was not as successful at shooting the balls thrown into the air as at other times, her feat was, nevertheless, marvelous, and won generous rounds of applause. Races and artillery drills followed, and then the representation of the prairie emigrant train rescued from Indians by Buffalo Bill and his scouts was given. The old illustration of the pony express came next on the programme, while an interesting exhibition of lasso throwing was given be a group of Mexicans.

A Martial Scene.

The next number on the programme was new. It was in two scenes, the first representing the march and bivouac of detachments of soldiery in Cuba, the second showing the storming of San Juan Hill. The first scene was arranged with realism, the soldiers marching in, dusty, and apparently weary of foot, while they tried to keep up their drooping spirits by singing "A Hot Time in Old Town." A long curtain with a painted background was drawn aside, and something that was supposed to resemble the scene before San Juan Hill was shown. Suddenly the American regiments appeared at the left side with artillery and infantry. First they crept up slowly amid a terrific fire from both sides. A few men on both sides fell, and uniformed lads with the hospital Corps rushed into the thickest of the fight to place their comrades on litters. Finally, the American party stormed the fort in a rush. The little drama had been well arranged, and was admirably adapted to the circumstances.

The interesting group of Arab horsemen, whose gymnastics have delighted many thousands during the past few years, then made their appearance. Johnny Baker, the celebrated marksman, was next, and then the Cossacks, the rough riders of Russia entered. A cowboy race followed. The number known as cowboy fun, which Col. Cody inaugurated with his first performance, again was full of interest and excitement. Indian dances and games, followed by a picturesque millitary musical drill, were next on the programme, and then some horsemen from the Sixth United States Cavalry showed what American soldier boys could do as members of an international congress of rough riders.

The other numbers on the programme have all been seen before. Col. Cody while riding horseback at high speed shot the balls thrown into the air, the thrilling buffalo hunt was once more represented, as well as that old stand-by, the attack on the Deadwood mail coach, and the rescue by Col. Cody and the cowboys. A race by Indian boys on bareback horses was also among the numbers. The programme closed with the attack on the settler's cabin, bringing out the Indians and the cowboys. The latter were closely followed by all the other performers, who made a final appearance and saluted the assembled audience.

The attendants yesterday afternoon and evening included many prominent residents of Washington, including the Russian Ambassador, Gen. Gilmore. Commissioner of Pensions Evans, and ex-Gov. Richards, of Wyoming. Several well-known people have announced their intention of attending to-day's performances.