Last of the Great Scouts
Army Life At Fort M'Pherson
IN the spring of 1870 Will proceeded to put into effect the determination of the previous
year--to establish a home in the lovely country of the westerly Platte. After preparing
quarters wherein his family might be comfortable, he obtained a leave of absence and
departed for St. Louis to fetch his wife and daughter Arta, now a beautiful child of three.
The fame of "Buffalo Bill" had extended far beyond the plains, and during his month's
sojourn in St. Louis he was the object of a great deal of attention. When the family
prepared to depart for the frontier home, my sister-in-law wrote to me to ask if I did not
wish to accompany them. I should have been delighted to accept the invitation, but at that
especial time there were strong attractions for me in my childhood's home; besides, I felt
that sister May, who had not enjoyed the pleasure of the St. Louis trip, was entitled to the
So May made a visit to McPherson, and a delightful time she had, though she was at first
inclined to quarrel with the severe discipline of army life. Will ranked with the officers,
and as a result May's social companions were limited to the two daughters of General
Augur, who were also on a visit to the fort. To compensate for the shortage of feminine
society, however, there were a number of young unmarried officers.
Every day had its curious or enlivening incident, and May's letters to me were filled with
accounts of the gayety of life at an army post. After several months I was invited to join
her. She was enthusiastic over a proposed buffalo-hunt, as she desired to take part in one
before her return to Leavenworth, and wished me to enjoy the sport with her.
In accepting the invitation I fixed a certain day for my arrival at McPherson, but I was
delayed in my journey, and did not reach the fort until three days after the date set. May
was much disturbed. She had allowed me three days for recuperation from the journey,
and I had arrived on the eve of the buffalo-hunt. Naturally, I was too fatigued to rave over
buffaloes, and I objected to joining the hunt; and I was encouraged in my objecting by the
discovery that my brother was away on a scouting trip.
"You don't think of going buffalo-hunting without Will, do you?" I asked May.
"Why," said she, "we can never tell when he will be in camp and when away; he's off
scouting nearly all the time. And we can't get up a buffalo-hunt on five minutes' notice;
we must plan ahead. Our party is all ready to start, and there's a reporter here from an
Omaha paper to write it up. We can't put it off, and you must go."
After that, of course, there was nothing more to be said, and when the hunting-party set
forth I made one of it.
A gay party it was. For men, there were a number of officers, and the newspaper man, Dr.
Frank Powell, now of La Crosser for women, the wives of two of the officers, the