Title: Expert Rough Riding | Performed by the Indians and Cowboys with Buffalo Bill

Periodical: Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Date: May 10, 1894

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Performed by the Indians and Cowboys With Buffalo Bill.

An All-Summer Camp of Wild West Sports on the City's Southern Shores That Eclipses Any Circus—Some Interesting Doings at a Preliminary Reception.

In ye days when ye savages roamed in ye lands—
  Vive la Captain John.
And ye Indian papooses dug holes in ye sands—
  Vive la Buffalo Bill.

These days have returned to Brooklyn, and may be enjoyed at Ambrose park, or more explicitly, Third avenue and Thirty-seventh street, where the Wild West show of Buffalo William has pitched its tepees and corralled its ponies. There the wonderful West of a few years ago has been revived in all its rugged and romantic splendors. Its plains, prairies and mountain passes, the log cabin of the frontiersman, the wigwam of the Sioux, the burly bison, the pony express the lumbering treasure coach of the overland route to Deadwood, the Mexican with his lariat, the cowboy with his broncho and the cavalry troops of the United States army, all are there in picturesque grouping. Then, also, there are rough riding people from foreign lands; the Cossack of the Russian steppes, the French chasseurs, the German uhlans, Irish lancers of the British service, Arabs of the great desert, and finally, chief figure of them all, is William F. Cody, ex-scout, ex-colonel and ex-legislator, the handsome, long-haired, mustached and imperialed Buffalo Bill, the object of more hero worshiping by young America than any other character in national history.

Such, in general, is the personnel of the show that has driven its claim stakes on the outskirts of the town and will begin on Saturday to gather in the small and large coin of its citizens, great and little.

There was a private exhibition of the camp yesterday for the benefit of a hundred or more newspaper men, who were escorted to the grounds by Major John M. Burke and there turned over to the courtesies of Buffalo Bill and Nate Salsbury, of former Troubadour fame, whose stories and bon mots fill in every interval of walking or waiting. Between his recounting of experiences abroad and the retaliative quips of Colonel Cody and Major Burke the afternoon was made most enjoyable.

A general survey of the grounds was first in order. These extend from Thirty-second to Thirty-seventh street, between Second and Third avenues, and embrace twenty-two acres. They are surrounded by a ten foot fence of corrugated steel, against which the knife of the small boy is futile, though Nate Salsbury says the South Brooklyn youngsters have begun to attack it with chisels and drills. The entire outfit counts 758 persons, and as they all live on the grounds, in 140 tents, the appearance outside of the arena is that of a tented city. The walks and avenues are laid out after the fashion of primitive Western towns. A log cabin, dubbed scoop shanty, serves as a press headquarters. Every detail of Western life is carried out with scrupulous fidelity to the original pattern. After a peep into the tepees, where the braves and squaws reclined on blankets while the papooses tumbled about like young bears on the floor, the trip to the arena was made. It is an immense space, 312x455 feet, shut in on three sides by a grand stand that will seat 20,000 persons and is backed by realistic scenery representing the Little Big Horn, where Custer's last stand was made. Back of the river and mountains are the stables with their 800 horses, all fresh from the plains. After the tour of the stables Buffalo Bill made a hearty round up of the guests with:

"Boys, have you mouths?" and brought all to a substantial luncheon, at which a little jolly speechmaking was done.

The rehearsal followed the repast and was a most exhilarting spectacle. The ensemble of riders is a wonderful picture. First enter the Indians in squads of twenty or so, painted and caparisoned like rainbows, yelling like mad and riding like imps, without stirrup or saddle. One night after another the bands dash in, apparently coming up the mountain pass till 135 stand in the foreground. Then follow the chasseurs, uhlans, Irish lancers, Cossacks, Arabs, cowboys and cavalrymen in squads of forty till the arena contains more than four hundred riders on mustangs. They dart about in various evolutions and rush wildly at the grand stand till it seems that they must go over the seats, but they come to a dead halt one foot from the boards. At last enters Buffalo Bill, looking like a picture on the grand Kentucky thoroughbred, Duke, that General Miles presented to him.

Colonel Cody grows old with grace and, though on the shady slope of life, presents a face and form that command admiration. His tall figure, tapering from the shoulders, is as erect as a pine of the forest and is suggestive of great strength. His eye is full, round, keen, commanding, yet frank, and his profile, with the clean cut nose, would make a model for a Roman sculptor. With his high topped riding boots, sombrero and kerchief about the neck, he looked every inch the hero scout of the Western novels. His mount was superbly trained and he sat in the saddle during rapid evolutions in a way that made it seem as though the horse and rider were a single creation.

The riding of the cowboys, Indians and cavalrymen was as exhilarating as a sea fight. It made the observers' blood tingle and nerves vibrate to see these specimens of hardy manhood sit in saddles or on bare backs and never see daylight under them while the horses plunged and ran like stags before the hounds.

It was only a partial rehearsal, but there were a number of other features equally royal and entertaining, among them being glass ball shooting on horseback by Buffalo Bill, some marvelous rope throwing by Vincenti P. Oropeza, and the riding of bucking bronchos by cow boys. The Buffalo hunt with twenty-one wild bison in the arena and a dozen other features were omitted.

A cowboy band furnished music during the rehearsal, and among the spectators was General McCook, under whom Colonel Cody served as a scout. The Indians in the show are all young fighting bucks and none of the decrepit sots of the reservation type. They are mostly Sioux and include Yanktons, Brules, Ogallas, Uncapapas, Minneconjous and Sans Arcs. The foreign riders number forty of each, and, as all are superb specimens, there is a rich ethnological feature in the show.

It is a great show in every way. It is genuine and natural; those are its distinguishing characteristics. It is picturesque, yet not pictorial nor in any way artificial and fanciful. It is real, an open air, actual reproduction of the lives of peculiar people that hold a fascination over every one who can thrill with the watching of physical prowess and manly accomplishment.

It is all so natural that one is transported to the West and made to realize that in truth was the real life of these men. There is no trick or absurd posing, and a circus becomes a tawdry affair indeed by comparison. It is no gentle canter about a little ring, but a grand dash across the open, with stops that make a greenhorn watch for the man to go over the horse's head.

The pony express riders changed horses on a run and the mail coach, the original one that ran between Cheyenne and Deadwood twenty years ago and has a history of eight men killed in it, was driven in to be attacked. John Nelson, the old time driver, now 78 years old, sat on the seat and shot back at the Indians until the cowboys and soldiers came to the rescue. The soldiers were part of the same band that entered the battle of Wounded Knee with General Custer, and Bugler Connolly, who sounded the charge on that bloody occasion, now blows the blast in Cody's show.