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The Log of a Cowboy

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The Log of a Cowboy
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Author(s): Andy Adams
Date Published: 2010/08
Page Count: 240
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-177-5
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-178-2

A first hand account of the days of the Great Cattle Trails

The term 'cowboy' has become emblematic of all that is evocative of the 'frontier America' of the nineteenth century. Yet the real cowboys were actually a select group whose unglamorous task it was to move the great herds of cattle from their grazing ranges to the rail-heads and tables of a hungry and ever growing population. They endured rough country, all the weather that nature could hurl at them and the danger of attack by bandits and Indians. This book was written by one of their number and within its pages he has brought to life the days of the Wild West and the great cattle drives. Displaced from their Georgia home after the Civil War the author's family moved to Texas and so began this cowboy's intimate acquaintance with moving beef on the hoof along the long, dangerous and dusty trail to the north. The adventures, sights and experiences of this vanished way of life make essential and vital reading for all those fascinated by the great days of the early frontier. Available in softcover and hardcover with dust jacket.

Amid jeers of derision from our outfit, the trail cutters drove off their three lonely “Window Sash” cattle. We had gained the point we wanted, and now in case of any trouble, during inspection or at night, we had the river behind us to catch our herd. We paid little attention to the threat of our disappointed callers, but several times Straw’s remarks as to the character of the residents of those hills to the westward recurred to my mind. I was young, but knew enough, instead of asking foolish questions, to keep mum, though my eyes and ears drank in everything. Before we had been on the trail over an hour, we met two men riding down the trail towards the river. Meeting us, they turned and rode along with our foreman, some distance apart from the herd, for nearly an hour, and curiosity ran freely among us boys around the herd as to who they might be.<br>
Finally Flood rode forward to the point men and gave the order to throw off the trail and make a short drive that afternoon. Then in company with the two strangers, he rode forward to overtake our wagon, and we saw nothing more of him until we reached camp that evening. This much, however, our point man was able to get from our foreman: that the two men were members of a detachment of Rangers who had been sent as a result of information given by the first herd over the trail that year. This herd, which had passed some twenty days ahead of us, had met with a stampede below the river, and on reaching Abilene had reported the presence of rustlers preying on through herds at the crossing of the Colorado.<br>
On reaching camp that evening with the herd, we found ten of the Rangers as our guests for the night. The detachment was under a corporal named Joe Hames, who had detailed the two men we had met during the afternoon to scout this crossing. Upon the information afforded by our foreman about the would-be trail cutters, these scouts, accompanied by Flood, had turned back to advise the Ranger squad, encamped in a secluded spot about ten miles northeast of the Colorado crossing. They had only arrived late the day before, and this was their first meeting with any trail herd to secure any definite information.<br>
Hames at once assumed charge of the herd, Flood gladly rendering every assistance possible. We night herded as usual, but during the two middle guards, Hames sent out four of his Rangers to scout the immediate outlying country, though, as we expected, they met with no adventure. At daybreak the Rangers threw their packs into our wagon and their loose stock into our remuda, and riding up the trail a mile or more, left us, keeping well out of sight. We were all hopeful now that the trail cutters of the day before would make good their word and return. In this hope we killed time for several hours that morning, grazing the cattle and holding the wagon in the rear. Sending the wagon ahead of the herd had been agreed on as the signal between our foreman and the Ranger corporal, at first sight of any posse behind us. We were beginning to despair of their coming, when a dust cloud appeared several miles back down the trail. We at once hurried the wagon and remuda ahead to warn the Rangers, and allowed the cattle to string out nearly a mile in length.<br>
A fortunate rise in the trail gave us a glimpse of the cavalcade in our rear, which was entirely too large to be any portion of Straw’s outfit; and shortly we were overtaken by our trail cutters of the day before, now increased to twenty-two mounted men. Flood was intentionally in the lead of the herd, and the entire outfit galloped forward to stop the cattle. When they had nearly reached the lead, Flood turned back and met the rustlers.<br>
“Well, I’m as good as my word,” said the leader, “and I’m here to trim your herd as I promised you I would. Throw off and hold up your cattle, or I’ll do it for you.”<br>
Several of our outfit rode up at this juncture in time to hear Flood’s reply: “If you think you’re equal to the occasion, hold them up yourself. If I had as big an outfit as you have, I wouldn’t ask any man to help me. I want to watch a Colorado River outfit work a herd,—I might learn something. My outfit will take a rest, or perhaps hold the cut or otherwise clerk for you. But be careful and don’t claim anything that you are not certain is your own, for I reserve the right to look over your cut before you drive it away.”<br>
The rustlers rode in a body to the lead, and when they had thrown the herd off the trail, about half of them rode back and drifted forward the rear cattle. Flood called our outfit to one side and gave us our instructions, the herd being entirely turned over to the rustlers. After they began cutting, we rode around and pretended to assist in holding the cut as the strays in our herd were being cut out. When the red “Q” cow came out, Fox cut her back, which nearly precipitated a row, for she was promptly recut to the strays by the man who claimed her the day before. Not a man of us even cast a glance up the trail, or in the direction of the Rangers; but when the work was over, Flood protested with the leader of the rustlers over some five or six head of dim-branded cattle which actually belonged to our herd. But he was exultant and would listen to no protests, and attempted to drive away the cut, now numbering nearly fifty head. Then we rode across their front and stopped them.<br>
In the parley which ensued, harsh words were passing, when one of our outfit blurted out in well feigned surprise,—<br>
“Hello, who’s that, coming over there?”<br>
A squad of men were riding leisurely through our abandoned herd, coming over to where the two outfits were disputing.<br>
“What’s the trouble here, gents?” inquired Hames as he rode up.<br>
“Who are you and what might be your business, may I ask?” inquired the leader of the rustlers.<br>
“Personally I’m nobody, but officially I’m Corporal in Company B, Texas Rangers—well, if there isn’t smiling Ed Winters, the biggest cattle thief ever born in Medina County. Why, I’ve got papers for you; for altering the brands on over fifty head of ‘C’ cattle into a ‘G’ brand. Come here, dear, and give me that gun of yours. Come on, and no false moves or funny work or I’ll shoot the white out of your eye. Surround this layout, lads, and let’s examine them more closely.”