Title: An Hour with General Cody

Date: May 29, 1891

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FRIDAY, MAY 29, 1891



Some time since the Franco-German War there has arisen on the eastern outskirts of Aix-la-Chapelle a long range of barracks, built of pale yellow bricks, relieved by steep pointed roofs, slated turrets and tapering pinnacles, borrowed from some mediæval Rhenish castle. The Elsass-strasse, which leads to the Kasernen-platz, is barely completed, and the Düppelstrasse, branching off abruptly to its right, apparently leads to nowhere, ending almost before it begins, in a broad tract of pasture land where only a week since a herd of cows were grazing in all the security of undisturbed possession. It is here that General Cody has pitched his camp and was to be found yesterday morning busily engaged in writing dispatches to Scout's Rest Rock Ranch [2] in his tent, while Mr. George C. Crager, his Sioux interpreter, was personally conducting Kicking Bear and a dozen of his companions who were waging war against General Miles six short months ago in the wilds of South Dakota on a pilgrimage to the tomb of the great white chief Charlemagne the Great. Short Bull, the Indian Messiah of last November, would have been of the party, but he got an awkward fall at the inaugural performance and was consequently compelled to remain in his teepee with his injured foot swathed in bandages and his sufferings assuaged by the tender care of the faithful Medicine Horse Woman, whose only request to the victorious Americans was to be hanged to the end of the same rope as my lord Tatonka Petetchela. [3] Rapid removals do not, of course, admit of those artistic arrangements which half the British peerage admired so greatly at West Kensington in 1887, when four Kings rode at once in the Deadwood coach with the Heir-Apparent to the Throne of England on the box, but even while on the march General Cody knows how to make himself comfortable. The entrance is guarded by Charley, a smart Cingalese youth who has taken the place of Johnny Baker, now married to pretty Della Ferrell [4] (for matrimony is not so sternly forbidden in the precincts of the Wild West as card-playing and ardent spirits) and promoted to the full dignity of a sharpshooter. It was Johnny Baker who opened the tent door to the great dukes and lords of the Jubilee year; to day it is Charley from Colombo, but the welcome you receive from the stalwart ex-Member of the Legislature of Nebraska is as warm as ever. He rises promptly from the desk littered with envelopes bearing graphic wood-cuts of the Cleveland Bays and Clydesdales at Scout's Rest which would delight the eyes of Mr. Burdett-Coutts, [5] seats you in a low chair covered with the skin of a mountain lion slain in the Rocky Mountains, and at once begins a cheery talk over old times. General Cody has not known what rest means for fifteen years. When he went back to America last autumn he hoped for a brief respite from work, but it was not to be. Before he had time to rejoin his family circle at North Platte, the Indian uprising assumed formidable proportions, and the gentle giant who chats to you so pleasantly of the high jinks of the Jubilee was sent with his life in his hand to capture Sitting Bull from the midst of his fanatical followers on the banks of the Grand River. [6] General Cody has brought back very few of his war trophies with him, but piled up amongst photographs and newspapers on the [?] Governor [?] commission to "proceed to the [missing] the Indian troubles and use your influence to quiet excitement and remove apprehensions on the part of the people;" the other General Nelson Miles's cordial letter of thanks for services rendered to America at a dangerous and critical juncture.



General Cody must finish his American mail before he can talk at length of the recent troubles, so Mr. Salusbury, upon whose capable shoulders the Barnum mantle of "the greatest showman" has now descended, and who looks in from his tent next door to greet your arrival obligingly offers to show you round. Somehow or other the Wild West in the rough fascinates you far more than when permanently fixed up as it was in London. Mr. Salusbury as he strolls along explains lucidly the working of the forty-five cars, the movable platforms, the folding chairs (which may be counted by the thousands), the novel system of "oleovapor" lighting, [7] the Draconian rules and regulations, and the mysteries of speedy removal. To-morrow at 4.30 p.m. Buffalo Bill will take off his broad-brimmed sombrero for the last time to a German audience. Twenty hours later he will make his first bow to the inhabitants of Brussels on the Tenbosch Plain. Mr. Salusbury entertains great hopes of Belgium, for has not King Leopold braved Indian fire in the Deadwood coach? And nobody came oftener to West Kensington than Queen Marie Henriette. If anything testifies more eloquently than another to the excellent organisation of Buffalo Bill's great show it is the enthusiasm of the old hands. A few paces from the entrance you come to the dainty little boudoir-tent in which that charming markswoman Miss Annie Oakley (reported dead and married times without number) is busy with embroidery as if there was no such thing as a rifle in the world; next door you see Miss Georgia Duffy and Della Ferrell looking quite as sprightly as they did four years back, and with them is a bonnie new recruit, Miss Nellie Pugh. [8] Last, but not least, in the "ladies' row" comes "Mamma" Whittaker (the widow of Barnum's celebrated circus-man "Pop" Whittaker), who personates the settler's wife in the Indian attack scene, is in perpetual charge of the wardrobe and medicine chest departments, and has, it is rumoured, once more perpetrated matrimony at Munich. Mrs. Whittaker is the mother of the camp, and her employers have no more loyal or enthusiastic servant. By the time you reach the long line of "teepees" with their numerous supports and rudely painted canvas covers Mr. Crager (who, by the way, sent the American papers the first news of the Indian surrender) has brought back his Indians from their visit to the Münster. They did not see the sacred shin-bone of the mighty Emperor, but they have puzzled over the inscription "Carolo Magno," and you solemnly shake hands with Yankton Charley, Kicking Bear, Has-no-Horses, Sorrel Horse, Scatter, and Wounded-with-many-Arrows. Their faces (several of them not unpleasing) were thickly smeared with red and yellow earth paints in honour of the American Consul, to whom they paid a visit on their way to Charlemagne's tomb. They all spoke favourably of their visit to Europe, and even the faithful Medicine Horse Woman dressed his bruises. More interesting than any of the rest was little John Burke No Neck, sole male survivor of the fatal fight at Wounded Knee on December 30, 1890. His father, mother, brothers, and sisters all perished, and the last of the No Necks (the name is a facetious one) [9] has lived to see the resting-place of Charlemagne and put on flesh rapidly under the fatherly care of the man, who, if a paternal Government would have allowed him, could doubtless have brought in Sitting Bull without bloodshed. Next to Jule Keen, the treasurer, perhaps the most important man in the social economy of the Wild West is John Keanan, the cook, who hails from Limerick. His kitchen on wheels is drawn up between the dining-tents of the Indians and the Cowboys. Keanan quotes Shakspeare while basting his huge joints, for the followers of Buffalo Bill (240 all told) are blessed with the best of appetites, and the general always dines and sups with his men. Our advent spoils   the soliloquy of Lady Macbeth by the aid of which he is preparing an enormous cauldron of asparagus. By this time the post must have gone, and the chief of the Salusbury Troubadours, who has, in his pre-showman days, acted before every English-speaking race in the world, takes you back across the vast arena to the headquarters of Brigadier-General Cody.


"The crisis we passed through," says the courageous slayer of Yellow Hand, as he leans back in a seat over which a robe of pole-cat skins had been carefully thrown, "was a far graver one than most people think. At one time there was a possibility of 300,000 men taking the field against us, and even armed with such weapons as these (showing you a formidable pronged axe from the Wounded Knee battlefield), they might give us a good deal of trouble, but most of them are also good shots with the rifle. The proximate cause of the uprising was an outbreak of religious enthusiasm based on a misapplication of the Christian doctrine regarding the coming of the Messiah. The Indians have always clung to a belief that a Saviour would be vouchsafed them. Short Bull, whom you have just seen hors de combat, was regarded as one of those Messiahs, and the Sioux medicine men fully persuaded the Indians that they were able to give them bullet-proof 'ghost-shirts.' The prompt action of General Nelson Miles, a splendid soldier who fought his way from the ranks to a major-generalship during the Civil War, has, for the time at least, damped their ardour and dissipated their delusions, but unless the business is carefully dealt with other disturbances may ensue. I prohibit the 'ghost dance' in my camp, as it stirs up fanaticism, and even the friendly Indians used to try and justify their actions by the proceedings of the Salvation Army. The Indians are fatalists, and they came at last to believe that even if they were killed (and over 200 of them lay dead in the the winter. [?] would rise again in lute performance of promises made is absolutely necessary, and on this the continuance of the peace won by Nelson Miles's prowess will greatly depend.


"I had just got back from my German tour," continues General Cody, "when I received a telegram to meet General Miles at Chicago to discuss the situation. I had only set foot on American soil a week before, and the upshot of our talk was that I set out with Dr. Frank Powell (White Beaver), Robert Haslam, and John Keith to bring in Sitting Bull. The Indian craze was at its height; the tribesmen had been worked up into a state of religious frenzy, and most of our friends gave us up as lost. Travelling 700 miles in four days by horseback, stage, buck-board, and railway-cars, we reached a point within seventeen miles of the Grand River camp, when we were overtaken by a mounted courier. Jealousy and diplomacy had intervened, and the order for Sitting Bull's arrest was countermanded. A few weeks later, the engagement at Wounded Knee took place. I had nothing else to do but to go out with the Militia in joint command with General Colby, but I have since taken over the three-and-twenty 'pacified' Indians you have just seen with the concurrence of the Secretary of the Interior. Six months ago, they were our enemies on Pine Ridge and Rosebad Agency; to-day, they are at Aix, and to-morrow they will be at Brussels. Before their term with me finishes, I must take the orders of Government for their disposal. Yet," he adds, placing his hand on a packet of unmistakably official correspondence, "in spite of the letters there are people who have thrown doubts on the authenticity of Short Bull and his companions."


General Cody has brought back to Europe a large collection of war photographs. In one of them you see the grim face of Big Foot, lying dead and half buried in the snows of Wounded Knee Creek; in another he shows you General Custer's old regiment, now commanded by General Forsyth, going under canvas after the fight; Kicking Bear, Short Bull, and John Burke No-Neck are all the subjects of characteristic portraits, the views of Pine Ridge Agency, the Catholic Mission close by, the Indian Scouts at drill, and the hostile Indian encampment are all interesting in their way, and General Miles certainly bears a remarkable resemblance to the Duc d'Aumale. [10]



General Cody generally wears on his middle finger a ring of remarkable beauty on which two L.'s are interwoven on blue enamel surrounded by diamonds. He puts it off, of course, when he dons his embroidered leather jerkin, his riding breeches and jack-boots, but he values it extremely as the gift of the Prince-Regent of Bavaria. Nowhere (except perhaps in London) has the Wild West met with so warm a reception as in Munich, and Price Leupold took the keenest interest in the bucking-horses, and the old controversy as to whether their evolutions are or are not the result of training. The Prince was determined to see for himself, so he turned up one morning at sunrise, had one of the mustangs saddled before him and took it kindly when a sudden bound caused the steed, the rider, His Royal Highness, and a cowboy who tried to save him, to roll ignominiously in the dust. Prince Leupold was convinced that the buck-horses were untaught, and next day he sent the ring to General Cody and other souvenirs to his companions in the accident of the arena.


There is one subject about which the General can hardly trust himself to speak with calmness. Not content with first protesting against the Sioux prisoners being allowed to accompany him to Europe, and afterwards throwing doubts on their genuineness, certain irresponsible societies in America have been unpatriotic enough to assert that the Indians of the Wild West are cruelly treated, badly paid, neglected, and ill-fed. The shouts of glee raised by the jovial red-skins during their midday meal yesterday would certainly have confounded these persistent calumniators; but, seriously speaking, the whole of these accusations are as gratuitous as they are false. The cause of pacification would have gained considerably if the Minister of the Interior had been able to persuade Buffalo Bill to take 600 Indians with him instead of sixty. While in Europe they are treated with almost paternal care, and receive from £5 to £15 a month, while everything possible is done both for their comfort and amusement; and, at least as regards the captive Sioux, their ultimate destination will be settled by the American Government. Black Heart has been with General Cody five years, and his appearance bears eloquent testimony to his good treatment, while Red Shirt, who reigned supreme at West Kensington, is now a sergeant in the United States Army—the highest rank an Indian can possibly attain. No man has carried the American flag in Europe more honourably than the man who has never failed to respond to his country's call, and it certainly seems hard that the only aspersions on his conduct should come from a narrow-minded and bigoted coterie of busybodies on the other side of the Atlantic.

1887 AND 1891.

The Wild West Show has gained rather than lost in the interval which has elapsed between General Cody's leaving London in 1887 and his opening at Luds in June, 1891. [11] Some faces, however, are missing. Frank Richmond, the orator, whose strident voice and clear enunciation so greatly charmed the Queen, died at Barcelona; Captain Fred Matthews, the driver of the Deadwood coach, has also gone over to the great majority, and one or two of the stalwart cowboys of the Jubilee have returned to the pleasures of real life. Tony Esquival and Tom Webb, who have each been seven years with the show still go through their feats of horse-taming and are as happy as their comrades Heck, Bob, Harry, Joe, and Franz. Miss Annie Oakley (it may be as well that the various noblemen assigned to her in the Jubilee year should know she is Mrs. Butler), shoots better than ever, and one may safely prophesy a great English success for her fellow-marksman, little Johnny Baker. The admirers of muscular development will certainly be satisfied with the proportions of Frank Hammitt and Gus Yale who each stand 6ft. 4in. in their stockings. Long experience has enabled Mr. Salusbury to perfect his executive arrangements and the whole performance of sixteen distinctitems is gone through without a hitch or wait in less than two hours. John Nelson the veteran scout, still sits on the Deadwood coach, which continues to hold together in spite of the weight of the Royalty it has carried, and the vividness and reality if the stirring "tableaux" illustrating Indian life, manners and warfare in the Wild West have been enormously and effectively increased. From Luds [11] General Cody will move gradually towards London where he and Mr. Salusbury purpose opening their Winter Show somewhere about Christmas. Mr. Salusbury is far too astute a man to tell you half the novelties, surprises and scenic effects he has up his sleeve, but if the Winter Show is only half as good as that which has taken the old city of Charlemagne by storm, other caterers for public amusement in the English metropolis will have to look to their laurels somewhere about Boxing Day.

Note 1: Once the government seat of Charlemagne, Aix-la-Chapelle, a west-central German city, is located just across the border from Belgium, and is now known as Aachen, Germany. [back]

Note 2: Scout's Rest Rock Ranch refers to William F. Cody's Scout's Rest Ranch near North Platte, Nebraska. [back]

Note 3: Tatonka Petetchela is Lakota (Tatonka Ptecela) for the name Short Bull. [back]

Note 4: Della Ferrel (~1869-1896), born in Colorado, was a cowgirl and trick rider who performed with Buffalo Bill's Wild West in England, France, and Italy during the first European tour. Ferrel married Johnny Baker. [back]

Note 5: William Burdett-Coutts (1851-) was an Englishman who served as a Member of Parliament and later wrote The Brookfield Stud, about the old English breeds of horses. [back]

Note 6: The Grand River is a tributary of the Missouri River in South Dakota. [back]

Note 7: The oleo-vapor lamp, a type of Wells light, was portable, required only eight to ten minutes to heat, and produced a large, bright flame that was smokeless and supposedly weather-proof. [back]

Note 8: Georgia Duffy and Nellie Pugh were riders who performed with Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Europe. [back]

Note 9: "No Neck" is a genuine Lakota Sioux name with the first record listed as being born in 1835 on the U.S. Indian Census Roll at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. [back]

Note 10: Henri Eugène Philippe Louis d'Orléans, Duc d'Aumale (1822-1897) son of King Louis-Philippe I of France, had an active military and political life, retiring from public service in 1883 to pursue research and writing. [back]

Note 11: Leeds, England, where Buffalo Bill's performed from June 20 through July 4, 1891. [back]