Title: Buffalo Bill Picture Shown

Periodical: The Moving Picture World

Date: March 14, 1914

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"Buffalo Bill" Picture Shown

Audience of Distinguised Government Officials View Remarkable Subject in Washington.

As the result of the expedition made by Colonel William F. Cody, better known the length and breadth of the continent and abroad as "Buffalo Bill," and other famous warriors, American history will still further be preserved through the medium of the moving pictures. These gentlemen have just returned from an expedition to South Dakota and have brought with them more than 30,000 feet of film, nearly every foot of which contains some breath of excitement and adventure.

To reproduce these scenes of the Indian wars of North America it required the service of some 3,000 men, women and horses; some of the scenes requiring up to 2,000 individuals in their production, and the action extends over more than 2,000 miles of territory. Those interested left Chicago for the Pine Ridge Indian Agency in South Dakota and from September 26, to November 1, last, they were busily engaged in real, hard work.

The story is well told by Colonel Cody, who explained his object in taking these pictures before an audience of which the Hon. Franklin K. Lane, secretary of the interior; other members of President Wilson's cabinet, members of both branches of Congress, and other dignitaries, which gathered at the New Home club, on Jackson Place, Washington, D. C.; Friday evening, Feb. 27, to witness the first exhibition of these most wonderful pictures. "My object and desire," said Buffalo Bill, "has been to preserve history by the aid of the camera with as many of the living participants in the closing Indian wars of North America as could be procured. It is something that has never been done before; that is, to preserve our old wars for future generations by living or moving pictures.

"I first broached the subject to Secretary of War Lindley M. Garrison and Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane, and they approved of taking these remarkable pictures, provided they could be made historically correct, and would tell the story of the old Indian wars and the progress of the Indian up to the present time. Secretary Garrison gave me permission to use the United States troops for this expedition, and Secretary Lane authorized the mobilization of the Indians necessary for the purpose.

"Then I looked around and found as many of the old-time army officers as are now living, who had actually participated in these campaigns and events that occurred twenty-five to forty years ago, and I finally succeeded in getting them to agree to appear in reproducing these battles with the aid of the modern camera, true to life and history. My efforts were rewarded in securing such men as: Generals Nelson A. Miles, Jesse M. Lee, Frank D. Baldwin, Marion P. Maus, and Charles King, and Colonel H. G. Sickles, now of the 12th United States Cavalry. These men, of course, were then younger, and with less rank than they have at the present time.

"We then proceeded to the Pine Ridge and 'fought' the Indians at the Battle of Warbonnet Creek. We have reproduced the campaign of 1890 and 1901, known as the Ghost Dance or Messiah Craze War, which included the capture of Chief Big Foot and his followers, December 28th; the Battle of Wounded Knee, December 29th, under the command of General James William Forsyth, with the 7th Cavalry, and the Battle of the Mission, December 30, 1890, where General Guy V. Henry went to the relief of the 7th Cavalry; the Battle of Summit Springs, fought on June 11, 1869, on the eastern borders of Colorado, under command of General Eugene A. Carr, and the battle known as Warbonnet Creek, fought on July 17, 1876, under command of General Wesley Merritt, at which time General Charles King was adjutant of the 5th United States Cavalry."

Since the taking of these pictures some of the participants have died and others, perhaps more especially the Indians, are too old to again go through the stirring times of the old days.

Of the Indians, "Short Bull," still a moving spirit in a more moderate religious sense among his people, led in person hundreds of warriors, many veterans of the warpath of the powerful Red Cloud, Ogallalla and Spotted Tail Brule, Sioux, through the familiar scenes. The greatest difficulty encountered in getting these men together was to convince them that the purpose of this mobilization was merely to reproduce the wars and not to annihilate them, for when they saw the Hotchkiss guns, the rifles, revolvers and cases of ammunition, there was a feeling of unrest, as though the time had come when they were to be gathered in by the Great Spirit through the agency of the white men. When this feeling was finally dispelled one of the Indians, who felt disgruntled because he was not allowed to enact the part of a chief, tried to prevent a continuance of the work by causing the withdrawal of the Indians.

Other difficulties which presented themselves was the coming of a blizzard following a "take" in the Bad Lands and a portion of the return trip was made through the snow, giving however, an excellent opportunity to the cameramen to depict the hardships experienced by the troops in the old days, for they were successful in getting a picture of the troops on the march through the snow.

In assigning places to participants in these pictures, no particular parts were given out to other than the leading characters — all were told to simply reenact the parts taken by them at the original battles. Thus another difficulty presented itself for the Indians refused to remain "dead" after being "killed" unless they were absolutely without ammunition and then they would roll over that they might get a better view of the antics of their brothers. Thus, often comedy is injected into an otherwise very serious affair. No five-cent novel of our boyhood days is nearly as exciting as are these pictures; the war dances of the Indians in the native costumes, the encircling of the camps of the settlers, the killing of settlers and Indians and the burning of camps and tepees, horse rustling, scalping, real battles between red-skins and troops, wonderful rescues, and other hair-raising thrillers are all to be found in the reels. The effect of the pictures on an audience was evidenced by the alternate handclapping, cheers, and hisses which greeted individual action when viewed by the aforementioned gentlemen, who make laws and do other things in the interest of the country, and their families.

Following the "action," one is carried into more peaceful scenes where Indian boys and girls in the uniforms of the schools which they attend are seen saluting the American flag, Indian-farmers bringing in the results of a season's work, the schools, agencies, and other modern buildings, and we may also see the last word in civilization, a seven-passenger touring car.

The picture was produced by the Essanay Company under the direction of Vernon M. Day and Theodore Wharton.