Cody, of course, in the Wild West Show, made the most of it, and the Duel became
more and more elaborate, so that ultimately it became like Cody was fighting
all 500 Indians. An excerpt is printed below.
The Chapter begins with a description of General Merritt, on a forced march, near
present day Van Tassell, Wyoming, with Cody several miles ahead acting as a scout,
observing two horsemen who are about to be attacked by the Indians:
Discovering the Indians, he at the same time beheld two horsemen whom he saw
to be whites, riding along unconscious of the presence of foes.
He knew that they must be scouts bearing
dispatches, and at once determined
to save them for they were riding in a direction down one valley that would
bring them directly upon the red-skins, who had already seen them, and had
sent a force of thirty warriors out to intercept them.
Instantly Buffalo Bill dashed over the ridge of the hill that concealed him
from the view of the Cheyennes, and rode directly toward the band going to
attack the two white horsemen.
They halted suddenly at sight of him, but, seeing that he was alone,
they started for him with wild yells.
But still he kept on directly toward them, until within range, when he
opened upon them with his matchless Evans rifle, a thirty-four-shot
repeater, and a hot fight began, for they returned the fire.
This was just what Buffalo Bill wanted, for the firing alarmed the horsemen
and placed them on their guard, and he knew that the Indian volleys would
be heard at the command and hasten them forward.
Having dropped a couple of red-skins and several ponies, Buffalo Bill
wheeled to the rightabout, dashed up to the top of a hill, and, signaling
to the two whites to follow him, headed for the command at full speed.
As he had anticipated,
the two men were scouts with important dispatches for General Merritt, and Bill's bold act had not only saved their lives, but also the dispatches, and the result of it was that the Fifth Cavalry went at once into line of battle, while the Cheyennes also formed for battle, though evidently surprised at being headed off at that point.
But they saw that they were double the force of the whites, and were
determined upon a fight, and their chiefs reconnoitered carefully
their foes' strength and position.
Buffalo Bill also volunteered to go out and get a closer look at them,
to see what they were up to, and General Merritt told him to do go,
but not to venture too near and expose himself.
As he left the line two Indian horsemen also rode out from among
their comrades, and one was some lengths in front of the other.
At a glance Buffalo Bill saw that the two were full chiefs, and
they had not advanced far toward each other when he discovered that
he was the especial object of their attention.
But though one waited, the other came on, and the scout and the chief
came within a hundred yards of each other.
Then the Indian cried out in his own tongue:
"I know Pa-e-has-ka the Great White Hunter and want to fight him."
"Then come on, you red devil, and have it out," shouted back Buffalo Bill,
and forgetting General Merritt's orders not to expose himself, and to
the horror of the regiment, every man of whom saw him, as well as did the
Indians, he dashed at full speed toward the chief, who likewise, with a
wild yell rode toward him.
Together both fired, the chief with his rifle, and Buffalo Bill with his
revolver, and down dropped both horses.
Buffalo Bill nimbly caught on his feet, while the Indian was
pinned by one leg under his and with his war-cry the scout rushed
As he advanced the chief succeeded in releasing his leg from beneath his
horse and again fired, as did Buffalo Bill, and both of them with revolvers.
The Indian's bullet cut a slight gash in Bill's arm, while he struck
the red-skin in the leg, and the next instant sprung upon him with his
knife, which both had drawn.
The hand-to-hand fight was hardly five seconds in duration, and Buffalo
Bill had driven his knife to the broad red breast, and then tore from
his head the scalp and feather war-bonnet, and waving it over his head,
shouted in ringing tones:
"Bravo! the first scalp to avenge Custer!"
A shout of warning from the cavalry caused him to turn quickly and he
beheld the second chief riding down upon him at full speed.
But Bill turned upon him, and a shot from his revolver got him another
But hardly had he stooped to tear it from the skull, when the Indians,
with wildest yells, charged upon him.
They were nearer to him than was the regiment, and it looked bad for
Buffalo Bill; but the gallant Fifth charged in splendid style, met the
Indians in a savage fight, and then began to drive them in wild confusion,
and pushed them back into the Agency a sorely whipped body of Cheyennes,
and grieving over heavy losses.
Upon reaching the Agency Buffalo Bill learned that the two Indians he
had killed in the duel were Yellow Hand and Red Knife, and Cut Nose, the
father of the former swore some day to have the scout's scalp.
But Buffalo Bill laughed lightly at this threat, evidently believing
the old adage that "A threatened man is long lived."
Later, some contend, however,
that Cody didn't really scalp Yellow Hand, he merely lifted up his hair.