May 11, 2011Getting set to do a new batch of True West Moments for the Westerns Channel next month. My producer, Jeff Hildebrandt, is lining up the shoot in New Mexico. i am developing 14 scripts, plus the pilot for a proposed new segment which we will also shoot in and around this historic location.
Meanwhile, I have been asked a couple of questions:
I enjoy most of your magazine very much. I would be interested to see an article concerning the recent program on the History Channel about Frank Finkle who claimed to be the only survivor from Custer's command at the Little Bighorn. Keep up the good work.
I didn't see the show, but our Distinguished Professor Paul Andrew Hutton has and here is his response:
"The Finkel story is like Dracula--how many stakes through the heart you gotta do? But, it had nice production values and we want all the western history we can get on History Channel."
Another gentleman asked me about the Wild Bill Hickok vs. Dave Tutt gunfight and whether there is any provinance on Hickok utilizing two hands when he shot Tutt. I asked the renowned Joseph Rosa to weigh in on this one and here is his response:
"Concerning the way Hickok held his pistol when he fired just once at Tutt, I first read about the double-handed hold (one sees something similar in the ridiculous acrobatics employed in the CSI and other copy shows, reportedly because of the recoil of modern weapons) when it was reported that Hickok used a Colt's Dragoon revolver which when loaded was five pounds in weight. But contemporary reports indicate that he used a Colt's Navy revolver, one handed. Indeed, when we had the original street plans checked for distance, etc., it was discovered that based upon the positions of both men, Hickok shot Tutt through the heart at 75 yards. What is most remarkable, however, is the fact that Dave was standing duelling fashion, that is sideways on when he fired and then received Hickok's ball. This was established when the doctor's report was examined. He said that Hickok's bullet entered at the fifth rib on the right side, passed through the heart, and emerged at the fifth rib on the left. A most remarkable shot, but not one that I am sure Hickok would had wanted to repeat too often!"
Another question I got, is where the yellow neckerchiefs came from in 1950s cavalry movies. Jim Hatzell helps me out on this one:
"The US Army never issued out scarves of ANY color in the Frontier Army. The yellow scarf thing is a Hollywood invention. If you look at many of the old John Ford movies even he did not use yellow. John Ford went on the record saying that when he was doing his U S Cavalry "Trilogy" that he got a lot of the look for the mounted men from Frederic Remington paintings. There is a quote I really like by Pvt William O Taylor who fought with Reno's column at the Little Big Horn where he describes the uniform of the regular fighting man from the hat to the boots.One sentence goes 'A cheap, course, outing shirt, the color of a dusty road, and shy of buttons, was garnished by a large handkerchief that had once been white, the sleeves rolled up to the elbow.'
"My guess is that the US Cavalry on campaign wore whatever kind of rag they could find just like the Texas cowboy riding drag with a cowherd on their way to a Kansas railhead. There were certain times when a Regiment would adopt a 'style'.....many of Custer's men in the Michigan Regiment wore a red bandana to copy the boss......many Rough Riders in Cuba wore the dark blue bandana with white polka dots.....and I've seen modern day US Cavalry outfits wearing a black Stetson hat with....yes, a yellow scarf around their neck (The trumpeter in "Apocalypse Now") which I'm sure was adopted from some cheezy 1950's western. I hope this helps. I'm off to make more TV shows today....this time at Mount Rushmore. Have a great day."
Today is the anniversary of the Wham Payroll Robbery at Bloody Run, on the road between Fort Grant and Fort Thomas. Incredible story (see Classic Gunfights) and the bad guys (Mormon farmers from Pima, Arizona) got away with it!
Rattlesnake Kate, Osmosis, Part IV
Saved from a fiery death on Rattlesnake Ridge and raised on a cattle ranch, Rattlesnake Kate battles the evil forces of green (you know, those home grown terrorists who hate cowboys and ranching).
"Every girl wants to be beautiful, but it comes with a price."
—Doctor Wigglesworth, commenting on the tragic curse of Rattlesnake Kate