August 2017 Readers’ Letters | HistoryNet MENU
Lakota veterans of the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn (from left) Gall, Crawler, Low Dog, Antelope Running and Rain-in-the-Face pose at the Standing Rock Agency in the Dakotas.

August 2017 Readers’ Letters

By HistoryNet Staff
5/25/2017 • Wild West Magazine

Low Dog
The photo on P. 56 in the June 2017 Wild West [see above] is incorrectly captioned. The Lakota warrior in the middle of the photo is Low Dog, not Crow King. Love your magazine!

Mike Pitt
Evansville, Ind.

Editor responds: Good eye, Mike. Our source had it wrong, and you’re right to crow.

Fort Belknap
If Sherry Robinson, the writer of “Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos” [February 2017], can say Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight drove a herd of 2,000 Longhorns bound for Fort Sumner in New Mexico Territory, why say they came from “north-central Texas” and not Fort Belknap, the true starting point, which is in north-central Texas? Fort Belknap is as important in Western history as Fort Sumner. Belknap the town, next to Fort Belknap the military post, was the first seat of Young County, Texas. Graham has been the county seat since the 1870s.

Robert C. Youngblood
Graham, Texas

Editor responds: No disrespect meant to Fort Belknap. To be specific, however, Goodnight and Loving mingled their herds some dozen miles south of Fort Belknap and set out from rural Young County, Texas. They sold their beef to the Army at Fort Sumner.

Rip and Rain
I thoroughly enjoyed the April 2017 issue. The article by Mike Coppock on Rip Ford [“Rip Ford’s Risky Ranger Raid”] was one of the best I have read, and the artwork by Frederic Remington (the best Western artist, in my opinion) made it something special. One question for Mike: What type of pistols did the Texas Rangers use on this raid, since they didn’t get the 1851 Navy? Was it the Colt Paterson?

The one thing I didn’t like was that the cover featured the cowardly murderer Rain-in-the-Face, who was openly proud over his murder of unarmed noncombatants, a sutler and veterinarian. A great warrior, indeed. [Re. “Rain of Death,” by John Koster:] The author’s last line, “They [Lakotas] were never known to be cannibals,” is simply incorrect. There are a number of documented cases of Lakota human flesh consumption. Famed mountain man James Clyman described how a Sioux medicine man bit off chunks of a dead Arikara’s/Ree’s flesh during the June 1823 O’Fallon/Leavenworth expedition against the Arikara villages (see James Clyman’s Journal of Mountain Men, Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Mont., 1984, pp. 16–17). Father Pierre-Jean De Smet also noted in his eyewitness accounts of Sioux/Lakota Indian behavior, “They insult and trample underfoot the mutilated corpses; they tear off the scalps, roll in the blood like ferocious animals and often devour the quivering members of those who still breathe” (see Hiram Chittenden and Alfred Richardson’s Life, Letters and Travels of Father Pierre-Jean De Smet 1801–1873, Francis P. Harper, New York, 1905, pp. 248–49). Check the sources, available at any well-stocked college library. It was unfortunate for all concerned, especially the troopers of the doomed 7th U.S. Cavalry, that Rain was not executed on the spot at Fort Lincoln. That was a case of “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Aaron Robert Woodard
Hartford, S.D.

Mike Coppock responds: In the 1850s the Texas Rangers’ revolver of choice was the Colt .44 Dragoon, according to Charles Robinson’s The Men Who Wore the Star. The state did not provide firearms to the Rangers; they were expected to furnish their own weapons. John Koster responds: According to Wikipedia, the one instance in which the Sioux reportedly practiced cannibalism was probably fictitious, a story fabricated to justify taking away their land and culture. However, cannibalism among the Aztecs, Iroquois and Tonkawas (the latter described in Mike Coppock’s profile of Rip Ford) was an observed fact.

Washington Territory
I enjoyed the Gunfighters and Lawmen article “Death and Prophesy in Goldendale, Washington” [by Rita Ackerman, February 2017]. Growing up, my grandfather told us often of the experience of his father, who arrived in Washington Territory in 1888 to meet cousins and set up a dry goods store. The train stopped in Klickitat, where my great-grandfather was to meet his family and make his way with them to Ellensburg and then Roslyn. According to great-grandpa, there was a scaffold just outside the train depot. As he approached a crowd surrounding a condemned man, a lawman allegedly asked my great-grandpa, “Sir, is this man guilty?” To which my great-grandfather replied, “I presume so, if you’re hanging him.” I am certain there are many combinations of this story, but regardless, it’s nice to see Washington Territory get its due in Wild West research.

Julia Bricklin
Studio City, Calif.

Coolidge Man
Thank you for the Ghost Towns article [by Gregory Lalire, April 2017] about my father, William R. Allen, and the town of Coolidge, Mont. I spent much of my childhood years roaming the area around the Elkhorn Mine, and the article brought back many memories. My father had great faith in the possibilities of this mine and never wavered in them.

William R. “Bill” Allen Jr.
Kimberly, Idaho

‘Just following common sense and applying basic semantics, a native American is an American citizen born in the United States’

American Indians
Three cheers to Wild West for choosing the term American Indian over the phony, politically correct expression Native American. Just following common sense and applying basic semantics, a native American is an American citizen born in the United States.

Jiri Cernik
Needmore, Pa.

Wounded Knee
The Wounded Knee battle/massacre was one of the most horrific events ever in the West. Stories about how the whole thing got started and then ended will always be the most remembered and also most talked about Western history. American Indians cannot forget the number slaughtered. I will never forget, either. Keep all those stories about Wounded Knee alive.

Daniel Duane Couchman
North Las Vegas, Nev.

Editor responds: Visit HistoryNet.com/topics/wounded-knee to read what Wild West and other HistoryNet titles have written on the topic. Our December 2017 issue will also feature an article about Wounded Knee.

Dinner Guests
I am Zacharias Bones, modern-day mountain man, trapper, trader, frontiersman and wayward traveler. I’d like to tell you about a brief happening in Great Bend, Kan., in 1981. I belonged to an organization called Gunfighters of the Great Plains, and one day we did 10 gunfights on the courthouse square and raised $1,100 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Afterward, we went to the nearest bar and had a drink. We still had on our guns, loaded up with black powder, and someone said, “If you will turn around and shoot your guns off, I will take your picture.” And so we did. The place became real smoky. We did not realize it, but the paper wadding that came out of the guns drifted slowly down on the dinner of a man who just happened to be sitting there. We offered to buy his dinner, but the man, who was from New York, refused. He asked if we usually shot up an establishment after entering it. We looked at each other and said, “Hell, yes, we do it almost every day, especially after we have robbed a bank.” He just said, “Oh,” and walked away. Imagine the stories he told when he got back to New York.

Zacharias Bones
Wichita, Kan.

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