” Slaughtered for a Pastime”
” Shall the Buffalo Go? Reminiscences of an Old Buffalo Hunter”
Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, Vol. XV, May 1883, New York,
Original vintage wood engraving, 1883
On loan from Historic Photographs by Imagi Gallery
Newton Kansas Mar 29 1883
Stonewall Jackson’s Death-bed.
“Yes,“ said a well-to-do businessman of Atlanta to a Constitution, representative yesterday, “that buffalo robe is old, worn, faded, ugly and worm eaten, but I wouldn’t take $5,000 for it.“
“Then are not as sensible as I thought you were,” replied the reporter as he eyed the buffalo robe spread out on the floor.
“Sensible or not, I mean it. I have been offered one and two hundred dollars repeatedly, and once had an offer of five hundred. See,” continued the speaker, pointing to the faded hieroglyphic on the inside of the robe, “that was painted by a Sioux Indian artists seventy years ago, and for many winners Warm the body of one of the greatest chiefs that tried ever produced. That road was his treasure, and for it he fought and many of his best braids died.”
“That’s a good speech and well delivered, but it sounds like a snake story,” remarked this cedar shover, as the gentleman paused out of breath.
“No, it is no snake story and I will show you why I value that robe so much. My father was a Georgian and when Georgia sent her soldiers to the Mexican war he shouldered his gun and went along. From the time he left home till the treaty of peace was signed he staid with his regiment, and when at last he came home that robe was all he brought with him. He put great story by it, and always kept it in his room. To his family he told how got it. One day he was scouting with a detachment of his regiment and came upon a band of Indians. A fight was the result and after a few volleys the Indians retreated, or rather who could did so. Among the wounded was an old chief and when the soldiers came up to where he lay on the battlefield there was some talk of killing him, for he was recognized as the most heartless, cruel and fearless Indian on the plains, but my father interfered, and from his own canteen the water before the wounded chiefs parched lips. That is what is were mortal, and soon all new that the cruel, heartless chief was dying. Just before death he beckoned my father to his side and by signs gave him that robe. That is how it came into the family.”
“And that is why would not take $5,000 for it?”
“No, not exactly. When the late war came on I enlisted, and when my old father sent my tricks to the camp, he sent that robe. I did not want to take it because it was so cumbersome, but when he insisted I yielded. Well, I went to Virginia, and while trotting around after Stonewall Jackson, I lost the robe. I was greatly worried over my loss and used every exertion to recover the old robe. Every body in my regiment knew of the robe, it’s history, and its loss, and every one an I opened for it. Well, about the time of the Cross Keys and Fort Republic fights I learned one day that my robe was in Stonewall Jackson’s tent. I went to see and sure enough it was there. When I looked into the tent old Stonewall was lying on the robe. Finally I mustered courage to tell him of my loss. He heard my story with patients and said that the robe had been brought to him about a week before by an Alabama soldier. He offered to surrender it but I couldn’t take it and told him to keep it – at the same time giving him its history – and I would get it after the war, if he did not lose it. Well, he kept it. At the battle of Chancellorsville he received his death wound, and he died on that robe, and I believe some of that red which looks like paint is some of the heroes blood. After his death I claimed the robe – then doubly dear to me – and sent it home. Now would you take $5,000 for it? I can prove every word of my story true.”