If there is one part in the History of the United States that has been so Skewed as to make it Unrecognizable to Actual Reality, it is the "COWBOY" GLORY YEARS OF POST CIVIL WAR AMERICA.
This Era, running roughly from 1865- 1900, has been portrayed on Television and in Movies as the Triumph of the Rough Individualist and Independent Self- Starter, over the Horrors of the Savage Frontier and the Wild Indigenous Population that Slaughtered the Innocent at the Drop of the Hat.
Yes, there were plenty of examples of Courageous and Heroic Actions that we can point at as Living up to this Admirable Image. The Majority of those Americans who Migrated West were Hard Working and Law Abiding Individuals trying to carve out a life for Themselves, and Their Families.
Unfortunately, these people who were the BACKBONE of settling the West, are often pushed aside to Glorify MURDEROUS OUTLAWS, RUTHLESS CATTLE AND LAND BARONS, CORRUPT OFFICIALS etc. This Fantasy of the Old West, A Product of the Entertainment Industry, has attempted to Create Heros out of some of the Most Vile Human Beings in American History.
THE OUTLAWS- If Gunning Down Unarmed Citizens, and Stealing from those who had Very Little is your idea of Heroic Actions, this is the group for you. These were not Self- Controlled Gunmen who Hated Killing, that was just an accepted part of the Business. Bank Employees, Stage Coach Drivers, Guards, and Passengers, Small Ranchers and Sheep Herders were just a few of those who were Mercilessly Cut Down by these "ROBIN HOODS OF THE WEST."
Some of these would become Well Known as Members of Individual Gangs; THE JAMES GANG, THE DALTONS, THE RENOS, or as Lone Guns involved in Clashes between Two Parties like RANGE WARS. Finally, you had those who would Draw Down on anyone for a price. Giving a "Man a Chance" before Shooting Him is a Largely Fictional Creation made to Romanticize the Actions of Cold- Blooded Murderers.
Of Course, there were those who used the Badge, or a Full Wallet, to do most of the Dirty Work for them.
In Future Posts well take a look at the REAL LIVES AND DEATHS OF THE "LEGENDARY OUTLAWS OF THE WILD WEST."
(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON1/20/2015)