Wyoming Territory was the Wild West in 1860
[stextbox id=”manonhorse”]Wyoming Territory was a pretty wild place in the1860’s and right into the 20th Century. The entire Territory was open range to various tribes of Indians, including the Cheyene, Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone. Some have said the Comanche found their way that far north, too. One thing is certain, though. Wyoming Territory was a dangerous place to be in those days.[/stextbox]
Against this backdrop, Voyle Glover has written Bloody Wes Teague, a novel set in Wyoming Territory. Cheyenne is little more than a rail head and vigalantes rule many of the smaller towns and camps. Some men are buying land, starting ranches, bringing in small herds, and beginning the settlement of this wild territory.
Weston Teague fits into this setting well. He’s a big man, muscular from the hard work on his ranch, and hardened by the harsh environment he’s worked and lived in all his life. Teague is the son of a former Sheriff in Texas who was gunned down in front of Wes when he was still a child. He’d later grow up and become a lawman known for his fairness, but perhaps better known for being very good with a gun. Indeed, after a gun fight with five outlaws in which only one of the outlaws survived, he became known as “Bloody” Teague to many in Texas.
Wyoming was good for Teague. It brought him out of the blistering heat of Texas, something he’d grown weary of, but it also brought him to a land where he could earn a good living not having to shoot other men. He quickly became a pillar of the growing Cheyenne community. His ranch was only twenty miles from Cheyenne.
Teague meets and falls in love with a beautiful woman on a Colorado ranch. He had come there to buy cattle. She is there visiting her father’s ranch. Abitha Claymore is the daughter of a rich rail magnate who owns a ranch, but who lives, with his family, in New York City. Teague follows Abitha to New York City, proposes, and in a very short time, they are in Wyoming, settling that Territory with other men and women who came to the American West to make a new home for themselves, and to bring law and order.
But, one day trouble arrives. Abitha is home with her main, Maria, when James Wood, the foreman of her father’s ranch, and a man bitter over losing Abitha to Teague, rides up with several men. In spite of the fact that Abitha is very obviously pregnant, he kidnaps Abitha and her maid., forcing them to ride into the mountains, intending to take her back to Colorado over the mountains.
Teague takes up the chase and soon catches up with them. He is forced to surrender after Wood threatens to kill Abitha. This scene follows:
[stextbox id=”manonhorse”]He had Teague’s hand tied in the front which permitted him to hold the reins of his horse, then walked over to Abitha, who was still sitting on the ground. “My, my, it was touching seeing you two.” He turned and looked at Teague with a grin, then patted Abitha on the swollen stomach and said, “I’ll raise the kid for you, Teague.”
It was too much for the big man. All the anger and rage he’d controlled erupted like a pent up dam that had burst. He leaped at the smiling man with the strange green eyes, then went crashing to the ground as the man behind him smashed the butt of the rifle against his head. When he awoke, he was sitting in a saddle. He could feel the moist blood that soaked his shirt, and his head ached with a dull throb.
The riders moved out of the grove of trees keeping close to the river, with Wood’s man in the lead, followed by Abitha, then Maria, then Teague, and at the rear, Wood. They reached the crossing. Wood ordered the women to cross first, with the other man.
They reached the other side and were made to get off their horses. Then, Wood motioned for Teague to move into the river. At the crossing, the waters were shallow, but downstream, the water crashed into a broiling froth against large boulders lying hidden just beneath the surface in the river. Teague moved his horse slowly into the river.
He’d just reached midpoint in the river when Wood called out, “Hold up, Teague!”
He turned in his saddle and looked back at Wood. The man had pulled his revolver, and it was pointed directly at Teague’s back. The man was grinning, and a maniacal laugh sounded from him. The man was laughing as though someone had just told him a joke.
Teague said, “I really thought this is what you meant all along. Frankly, I expected to be shot when I walked out of the trees.”
Wood shouted, “Abitha! You watching this? Watch your husband die!”
Teague didn’t wait for the shot. He flung himself out of the saddle. Something akin to the kick of a horse thudded into his side as he fell, and knew he’d been shot. He heard Abitha scream, then the shock of icy cold water hit him, and he was tumbling down the river, rolling, trying to stand, getting bowled over, and groaning with pain as he slammed into rock after rock. He managed to wrench a hand free from the rope, but it seemed to make little difference.
He rolled down the river like a small log, hitting one obstacle after another. Teague could not see the pitiful sight of his wife standing there watching him disappear, heartbroken, the tears flowing freely down her dirty face, and suddenly so tired and so empty that she slumped over in a dead faint. He could not see the spreading stain of red that darkened her dress, nor could he hear the scream of anguish from Maria as she tried to help Abitha.[/stextbox]
You can steal from a man and he may forgive you. Beat a man, and he may try to hurt you. But, harm someone he loves, touch his family, and he’ll not forgive you. And, if you harm the wife of a man like Weston Teague, he won’t just hurt you. One man, a marshal in the little town where Teague finally catches up with Wood, said this to Tyrel Claymore, Abitha’s father:
[stextbox id=”gunman”]“Your foreman shore made a fool’s play when he tangled with that man, sir. I know who he is, and I reckon if your foreman had knowed what I know, he’d have never took up a hand against that man. There’s some men in Texas still get nervous when there’s talk of Wes Teague.” He wiped the gun and stuck it into a soft deer casing, then continued, “Had a rep for bein’ a fair man, mind you, but sudden. Awful sudden. I reckon ‘Bloody’ Teague was ‘bout the hardest man Texas ever saw, Mr. Claymore.”[/stextbox]
Enjoy this magnificent western fiction tale of the Old West where hard men ruled, and where it took tough men who were fighters to tame the outlaws and the lawless riders who flooded the West after the Civil War.
Interesting Facts About Wyoming History
After the Union Pacific Railroad had reached the town of Cheyenne in 1867, the region’s population began to grow steadily, and the federal government established the Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868. Nearly all of Yellowstone National Park lies within the far northwestern borders of Wyoming. Wyoming was the location of the Johnson County War of 1892. On December 10, 1869, territorial Gov. John Allen Campbell extended the right to vote to women, making Wyoming the first U.S. state to grant suffrage to women. In addition, Wyoming was also a pioneer in welcoming women into politics. Women first served on juries in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870); Wyoming had the first female court bailiff (Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in 1870); and the first female justice of the peace in the country (Esther Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). Also, in 1924, Wyoming became the first state to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in January 1925. The Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone were but a few of the original inhabitants.
Sy Causey is a careful man, one used to the dangers of the wild, western frontier. His skill with weapons has been honed by years of living in a harsh land and facing hard men. Causey meets a woman and is smitten. He takes a job hunting wolves for her father’s ranch, but soon learns that the real reason he’s hired is to hunt a man–a man more wolf than man.
Sy Causey soon learns that he’s tracking a man with skills to match his own. Indeed, the man has an uncanny ability to evade Causey. Finally, Causey is trapped and nearly killed. When he is found by a ranch hand, he returns to the ranch, only to discover that the woman he loves has been taken by this strange man no one has seen face to face.
Causey sets out on the trail and soon learns who he is tracking. He knows the man very well. They’d grown up together.
Get this exciting western novel today!
WATCH A GREAT WESTERN MOVIE – FREE – AN ALAN LADD WESTERN
by S. C. Gwynne
The subtitle of the book is “Quanah Parker and The Rise and Fall of the Comanches, The Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. ”
While the book details the capture of a white female child named Cynthia Parker, who would later marry one of the Comanche chiefs and would give birth to the most famous Comanche chief, Quanah Parker, the book delivers so much more. It gives background to the reader such that one comes away with a greater appreciation for the Quanah Parker story. I have read many history books on the American West in my day, but never have I read one that was so compelling, captivating, and so well done. Not only is this book chock-full of facts, but the facts are displayed in a way that while on the edge of entertaining, they are seen by the reader almost like one watches a painter paint a beautiful picture. In this case, Gwynne paints a picture of the Texas West during the time of the Comanche Indian nation’s absolute rule over that part of the West that is riveting.
I know a lot about the West and I know a lot about the Indians that populated the West. But, Empire of the Summer Moon gave me many, many facts that I did not know. I did not know, for example, the ferocity and savagery of the Comanche. Gwynne reveals a side of the Comanche Indian that was only truly known by the Indians themselves and those who were prey to frequent raids on white and Mexican settlements throughout Texas and Mexico.
The Comanche were the best light cavalry in the entire hemisphere, if not the planet. Gwynne says of the Comanche: “No one could out ride them or outshoot them from the back of a horse.”
[stextbox id=”basic” float=”true”]The horse was a prized possession for the Comanche because it was their Jeep, their tank, their car, their truck, and their fighter jet all rolled into one.[/stextbox]
When it came to fighting, the Comanche had no equal. They could do things from the back of a horse that was extraordinary. The author quotes George Catlin, one of the most famous artists of the old West, particularly his work depicting the various Indian tribes of the American West. Catlin wrote of the Comanche the following:
“Amongst their feats of writing there is one that has astonished me more than anything of the kind I have ever seen or expect to see in my life – a stratagem of war, learned and practiced by every young man in the tribe; by which he is able to drop his body on the side of his horse at the instant he is passing, effectively screened from his enemies’ weapons , as he lays in a horizontal position behind the body of his horse, with his heels hanging over the horse’s back… In this wonderful condition, he will hang whilst his horse is at fullest speed, carrying with him his bow and shield and also his long lance 14 feet in length.”
Gwynne notes that from this position a Comanche warrior “could lose 20 arrows in the time it took a soldier to load and fire one round from his musket; each of those arrows could kill a man at 30 yards.”
It is no wonder that for decades the Comanche were unstoppable on the battlefield. There was only one force that ever defeated them and routed them, and that was only for a short time, and when that force was disbanded for a number of years, there was no one capable of pursuing and punishing the Comanche. That force? Capt. John Coffee Hays and his Texas Rangers. It was unfortunate for Texas that none of the higher-ups in Texas or in the American Congress or in the American military learned and emulated the tactics of Hays and the Texas Rangers. Capt. Jack, as he was fondly called by his men, was unique. He was the quintessential Westerner, the hero who would later be the model for thousands of Hollywood movies and countless dime novels.
Hays took his men and trained them to fight the Comanche using their own tactics. Gwynne does an excellent job in presenting well-researched facts about Hays and the Texas Rangers in those early years in the 1840s. He goes on to give great detail as to exactly what Hays did, including how the men were equipped and trained. He writes:
“Hays, in particular, paid a good deal of attention both to his Comanche foes and to his Lipon Apache scouts, learning from them how to ride, fight, track, make camp…Like Comanches, the Rangers often traveled by moonlight, navigating by river courses and the North Star, and dispensing with fires altogether, making cold camps and eating hardtack or other uncooked rations. Hays’s men with sleep fully clothed and fully armed, ready to fight in a minute’s notice. They crossed rivers even in freezing weather, swimming by the side of their horses. None of this behavior had any precedent in American military history. No cavalry anywhere could bridle and saddle horse in less time than the Rangers.”
Hays took the fight to the Comanche and was able to beat them because of his work in training his men with their weapons, and in utilizing the tactics of the Comanche. But, he was a tactician and heart and Gwynne does a superb job at showing, in detail, the tactics employed by Hayes and the Texas Rangers that made them so successful. It was unfortunate that all of that training and all of that success was lost immediately on the resignation of Hays and the disbanding of the Texas Rangers for a few years.
I highly recommend Empire of the Summer Moon. It is the best book you could possibly find on the history of early Texas and the Comanche Indians.
[amazon_link id=”1416591060″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ][/amazon_link]
Western Fiction Characters Diverse
Writers of western fiction vary in their treatment of characters, especially the lead characters and the villians. Zane Grey, for example, always portrayed the hero as this solitary figure, typically with a past, taciturn to a fault, and possessed of sterling character when it comes to women, particularly the heroine that he is destined to rescue or protect.
Louis L’Amour made his protaganists strong, virile men, suited to the rugged environment in which he found himself. L’Amour’s hero also was a man good with a gun and possessed of honesty and solid moral character. But, his main characters often had something else. They had family that were strong and had great influence on them and how they turned out. L’Amour was good about that. The Sackett series if a good example of how L’Amour tied in the family to his stories. It made the reader feel almost like they knew the family, and they liked them. When a Sackett showed up, the reader wanted to like him because L’Amour had painted such a great picture about the family and had built up the strengths that ran in the family.
Max Brand is a writer of western fiction that many modern readers of westerns are ignorant. Frederick Schiller Faust wrote under the pen name of Max Brand and his westerns became best sellers across the land. He was known for taking a character, giving him the most unlikely of characteristics for a hero, then bestowing the character with prowess unmatched in weapons, or strength, or endurance, or a combination of qualities that turned the character into a formidble opponent for all “badmen.” [stextbox id=”custom”]Brand’s heros did feats that were amazing and beyond the abilities of the ordinary human. His books were fun to read, but you came away knowing they were pure fantasy. [/stextbox]
Some Writers of Western Fiction Better Than Others with their Characters
When one reads a western by any writer, realize that you’re reading something that comes from the imagination of the writer, and you’re viewing a picture of a man or woman who has been shaped with words by that writer into a character that the writer felt was appropriate for the times and the environment. Sometimes (as with Brand), the characters are pure fantasy, and then at times, as with L’Amour, there’s enough truth and real-life qualities found in the character to make them more than believable, but become real in the minds of the reader. The reader comes away saying to himself, “You know, I betcha there really was a character out there in the Old West like him!”
That brings back a reader every time.