Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody were considered heroes and the greatest plainsmen of their time. They were larger than life, legendary characters. They knew where to locate water, good grass for livestock, sheltered campsites, and game for hunting. They knew how to survive the blistering heat and terrific thunderstorms of summer and the subzero blizzards of winter. They could avoid Indians or act as trackers following the trails of Indians as well as desperados. They were expert marksmen and did not back down from a fight. They rushed in where others held back. Hickok, a frontier wagon and stagecoach driver, became a Union spy during the Civil War, furthering his reputation after the war as a frontier Army scout, gunfighter, and lawman. Cody, who claimed to ride for the Pony Express, served in the Union Army, and became legendary as an expert buffalo hunter and Army scout. Hickok and Cody were good friends and experienced a series of adventures together. Hickok traveled to Deadwood, Dakota Territory, during the 1876 Black Hills goldrush where he was assassinated by Jack McCall. Cody continued scouting for the Army and after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, won a one-on-one duel with a Cheyenne warrior, Yellow Hair. Cody went on to become one of the most well-known showmen in the world with his Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody: Plainsmen, the fourth book in the Legendary West series, explores the lives of these two well-known characters.
William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok are often confused for each other. And why not? They were both famous American frontiersmen, they were friends, and they shared similar nicknames. Bill Markley’s Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody: Plainsmen of the Legendary West examines and then weaves together the many tales about these two western characters. It covers their childhoods and growth into adults, their lifelong friendship, and their many adventures in the American West. They led complicated lives, often made more difficult to understand by the legends which grew up around them, legends they made little effort to discourage. Markley has carefully researched Hickok and Cody, separating fact from fiction and creating a narrative that is both entertaining and informative. Anyone who reads this book is not likely to confuse the two Bills for each other again.
If you have ever wondered what made time-honored legends Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody tick, this book is for you. Author Bill Markley, an accomplished and trusted historian of western American history, spent several years sifting through an abundance of materials to gain a better insight into the characters of these two remarkable men. As is always the case with history’s legends, some of the information discovered about them may be accurate, some may be speculative, and some outright fabrication.
Markley acknowledges this jumble of truth and fiction from the outset, making clear what he found to be true and dependable stories and what he found to be anything from highly questionable to complete invention. This caveat gives the reader the autonomy to draw their own conclusions about the lives of these legends.
This well-written, well-documented, and thoroughly enjoyable book that examines the complex lives of Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody is a must-have for everyone’s arsenal of resources on the American West.