Buffalo Bill Cody: The Man behind the Legend

By Robert A. Carter | Go to book overview
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Triumph—and Tragedy

In July 1874, after his show closed in Boston, Cody went back to Fort McPherson, where he was hired as a guide at $150 a month for the Big Horn Expedition commanded by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Anson Mills. Will's tour of duty with Mills lasted from August 7 to October 2. The expedition did not result in any Indian fights and thus received little attention. The command consisted of five companies of cavalry, two com/ panies of infantry, four Pawnee scouts, and “citizens: Two guides (Mr. Cody or 'Buffalo Bill' and Tom Sun), six scouts, twenty packers, and thirty teamsters; one ambulance, 28 wagons, and 70 pack mules”—a sub/ stantial force.

A man named White was mentioned by Colonel Mills as one of the scouts; his grave marker reads “Jonathan White.” White had come to Fort McPherson for medical treatment of an injured leg but was refused admis/ sion to the post hospital until Cody intervened and offered to pay the bill. White, who had served the Confederacy under J. E. B. Stuart, was a fine rifle shot and an excellent horseman. After his recovery, he attached him/ self to Cody.

Said Captain King in Campaigning with Crook: “For years he had been Cody's faithful follower—half servant, half 'pardner.' He was Bill's 'Fidus Achates'; Bill was his adoration.… He copied Bill's dress, his gait, his carriage, his speech—everything he could copy; he let his long yellow hair fall low upon his shoulders in wistful imitation of Bill's glossy brown curls. He took more care of Bill's guns and horses than he did of his own and so, when he finally claimed, one night at Laramie, the right to be known by some other title than simple Jim White—something descriptive, as it were, of his attachment for Cody and life-long devotion to his idol 'Buffalo Bill,' a grim quartermaster dubbed him 'Buffalo Chips,' and the name was a fix/ ture.” Buffalo chips, or bois de vache, were the dried dung that was used for


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