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Thus far, Sharpe's Havoc is easily the weakest installment of the series. The trope of the treasonous British officer was overused two books back and this time Sharpe does not even have anything interesting to do for most of the novel, hanging around for around a hundred pages at a mansion while his nemesis du jour engages in mustache-twirling evil around Portugal, presumably only prevented from tying the love interest du jour on railroad tracks by the Age of Steam still being just ar Good grief.
The trope of the treasonous British officer was overused two books back and this time Sharpe does not even have anything interesting to do for most of the novel, hanging around for around a hundred pages at a mansion while his nemesis du jour engages in mustache-twirling evil around Portugal, presumably only prevented from tying the love interest du jour on railroad tracks by the Age of Steam still being just around the corner. The one-note villains are a bunch of malevolent incompetents right up to Marshal Soult, which somewhat lessens the impact of our heroes finally prevailing.
Kicking the ass of an imbecile is not a great feat of derring-do. That said, Cornwell still has a way with compulsively readable prose and his battle depictions are the usual excellent fare. He also knows his history and I appreciate the historical notes at the end of the novel, telling whose thunder Sharpe stole this time and which parts of the tale were Cornwell's own imagination, which a matter of historical record. Eminently skippable. Jan 04, Robert rated it it was ok Shelves: xseason. It took forever to get involved in the story, to the point that I skipped it entirely and moved on to subsequent volumes.
When I finally forced myself to push through it, it read much longer than its page count and had a hurried, abbreviated, barely outlined ending that could have been fleshed out into a novel of its own rather than tacked on as the final thirty pages of this one. Additionally, it shortchanged the antagonist, didn't wrap up thew love interests storyline, and was altogether disap It took forever to get involved in the story, to the point that I skipped it entirely and moved on to subsequent volumes.
Additionally, it shortchanged the antagonist, didn't wrap up thew love interests storyline, and was altogether disappointing. May 22, Carol Storm rated it liked it. This one looks good, but I'm going to mark it "did not finish" for now. Feb 11, Alan Braswell rated it really liked it. All that one would expect from a Bernard Cornwell novel Great battle scenes. Bit of humor.
Sharpe (novel series)
Terrific setting. Impeccable sciences with the main character Adding something to the scene. Seventh in the Richard Sharpe military fiction series revolving around a lieutenant promoted up from the ranks. The action encompasses a retreat from Soult out of Oporto just before Wellesly arrives. My Take It's an interesting contrast between the "superior" upperclass blue blood values and those of scum from the gutter.
Cornwell is a bit heavy-handed in it but he certainly gets the point across beautifully. I can't read his Sharpe series without wanting to find my own pistol! Cornwell keeps the Seventh in the Richard Sharpe military fiction series revolving around a lieutenant promoted up from the ranks. Cornwell keeps the tension on as we skulk, scurry, and fight. I can almost smell the gunpowder and I could swear my ears were ringing from the fury of battle. Cornwell describes the life so well that my feet ache, my body freezes, and I wallow in the comfort of a hot cup of tea.
If you've ever been frustrated by an idiot boss or commander, you will adore Lieutenant Sharpe! The Story Trapped in Oporto by duty and Captain Hogan's command to rescue the runaway Miss Savage, Lieutenant Sharpe again finds himself cut off from the rest of the army as the French pour into Oporto. By lucky chance, or the grace of the gods, he finds rescue and reinforcements in Lieutenant Jorge Vicente of the 18th and together they escape into the vineyards.
The newly-married Miss Savage, er, Mrs. Unfortunately for the new Mrs. Christopher, it is war and Col. Christopher must be about his duties. A week turns into three and Sharpe can't have the men lounging even if the French seem to be ignoring the property. It must be prescience that has them fortifying a ruined tower on a hill on the property as shortly after another visit by Col.
Christopher—and the loss of his telescope to him, a troop of French soldiers attack. It's the memory of Christopher's reaction to the remark about the Judas tree that has Sharpe on edge and the only thing that warns them. And it's Sharpe's keen observations and quick intellect that get them off the hill and across the river making it possible for their surprise attack.
The Characters Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is in the second battalion of the 95th Rifles and Captain Hogan of the Royal Engineers has been delaying paperwork and snitching funds to keep Sharpe and his Rifles protecting him as they map the countryside. Lieutenant Jorge Vicente and Sergeant Macedo with what remains of his 18th regiment, the second of Porto aids Sharpe and his men in escaping the city. Colonel James Christopher has been sent out by the Foreign Office to determine if the Portuguese prefer the French or would be willing to fight with the English.
Captain Argenton is a French officer with information about a possible mutiny amongst the French army if Marshal Soult intends to crown himself king. Kate Savage holds the country house and its vineyards along with the port shipping business in trust for when she marries. Brigadier General Vuillard is a sadistic bully with no concept of honor although a Bonapartist through and through. Lieutenant Colonel Waters , the senior exploring officer, receives Sharpe's message about the three sunken barges. And a brief mention of Lt.
Shraphnel and his contribution to the war effort. The Cover The cover is an explosive radial gradient of oranges to browns with a French cavalry charge and a gun pointing toward them. Christopher at the bridge. Mar 16, Martin rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction , reviewed. I thoroughly enjoyed the "first" three Sharpe novels set in India with their fast paced action, likeable characters and intriguing side plots.
When the fresh baked Lieutenant left India and set out to join the 95th I could hardly wait for my order of the next two books to arrive. But, boy, was I in for a disappointment. Sharpe's Trafalgar was a serious letdown and the following Sharpe's Prey was despite some redeeming qualities almost as bad.
I was close to giving up on Sharpe and move on with l I thoroughly enjoyed the "first" three Sharpe novels set in India with their fast paced action, likeable characters and intriguing side plots. I was close to giving up on Sharpe and move on with life. Sharpe's Rifles was to be the final chance I was willing to give the series, and I am glad I did, because this novel made me feel the spirit of Sharpe's Indian adventures again. Not quite as good, but good enough to make my hopes rise again.
Sharpe's Havoc ties in a few months after Sharpe's Rifles. He and his half batallion of the 95th that were separated from their main force in the preceding book are witness to the battle of Porto and the subsequent capture of the town by French forces. Joined by a young Portuguese lieutenant and his men they try to join with the British army, but get stuck in a small village in the mountains.
A siege of their makeshift fortress, betrayal by a slimy agent of the Foreign Office, last stands and a damsel in distress ensue. Highly recommended. Feb 06, Ensiform rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , war , historical. Portugal, cut off from the main British army, Sharpe and his rifles are sent to find a missing British girl, then fall under the command of one Colonel Christopher, a suspiciously Machiavellian spy. This being Sharpe, the educated, disdainful and scheming Christopher is a traitor, and soon Sharpe is marching for revenge, and to take back his nicked telescope a nice touch.
This is more of the same grand Cornwell fiction, all high drama, detailed ordnance and a lot of bloodshed. While it ma Portugal, cut off from the main British army, Sharpe and his rifles are sent to find a missing British girl, then fall under the command of one Colonel Christopher, a suspiciously Machiavellian spy.
Wellesley himself, for example, is cold, but admires Sharpe. All in all, this is a fine historical page-turner; a sympathetic anti-hero and impossible odds spice up the also interesting information on period weaponry and styles. Mar 07, Artur Peniche rated it it was amazing Shelves: my-library , english-edition.
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Ah another tale of Sharpe's riflemen. Although this is another well written work by Corn Ah another tale of Sharpe's riflemen. Although this is another well written work by Cornwell, this is probably my favorite book of him due to the fact that I was able to atleast try to figure it out the places where the events have occurred and whenever I have some free time I will seek those spots Like Museu Soares do Reis aka Palacio das Carracas. Looking forward to read the next Chapter Feb 07, Deanne rated it really liked it Shelves: history , war.
Took a while to get into but then the story took off, there are the usual things that get you interested. Our hero, though I still keep seeing Sean Bean, even though Sharpe has black hair. A character to hate and you hope will get it right where it hurts, plus a history lesson on the Napoleonic wars and fighting wars years ago.
Typically entertaining tale featuring the best British rifleman ever, Richard Sharpe. This book is set in and covers the French foray into Portugal. Listened to the audio read by the always impeccable Patrick Tull. Oct 30, Joan rated it liked it Shelves: gutsy-and-raw , great-cover , historical , paperback , good-fun-romp , strongstars , gratuitous-violence. Another decent read. A little too predictable in some respects and maybe a tad too gory n places for a comfortable read, but the details are good and the characters come alive in the story.
The Sharpe series of historical fiction novels are always exciting and this was no exception. Richard Sharpe faces impossible odds in this story several times but each time he escapes and most of his men are spared. By his side is his friend Sgt. Harper and together they uncover a opportunistic traitor in the British army and spend most of the book trying to hunt him down. The story got a bit bogged down as Sharpe and his men are climbing hills and fording rivers to try and stay ahead of the Fr The Sharpe series of historical fiction novels are always exciting and this was no exception.
The story got a bit bogged down as Sharpe and his men are climbing hills and fording rivers to try and stay ahead of the French but throughout it all, Cornwall makes the reader feel like you were right there with his vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of every scene. He is truly a master when it comes to describing all aspects of armed conflict during a variety of eras in history.
Another superb installment in the Sharpe series. A double crossing English man rude enough to pinch Sharpe's treasured Telescope given to him from Wellesley , a young English woman's virtue, a Portuguese comrade and the French pouring all over Porto. The action is relentless, the research meticulous and the history true to for Another superb installment in the Sharpe series. The action is relentless, the research meticulous and the history true to form and especially resonant to anyone that has been to this fine City.
Couldn't be handled better. Dec 18, Janice rated it really liked it Shelves: action-thriller , not-kept-library. As usual, Sharpe once again foils the enemy's plans, circumvents the bad apples in the English army, rescues the damsel in distress, and causes a good deal of havoc along the way.
Though, again as usual, he doesn't end up with the girl. I continue to enjoy these enough that it makes me wonder what makes them so different from Cornwell's other books. Can't figure it out, but I guess it doesn't matter. The French are out of Portugal, though the historical note assures me they'll be back, which is As usual, Sharpe once again foils the enemy's plans, circumvents the bad apples in the English army, rescues the damsel in distress, and causes a good deal of havoc along the way. The French are out of Portugal, though the historical note assures me they'll be back, which is evident as Wellesley has just arrived, so Waterloo is still in the future.
And certainly Sharpe can't miss the Battle of Waterloo. Jan 23, Chris Bartholomew rated it it was amazing. A rare 5 star book for me. A work of historical fiction following the exploits of Lieutenant Sharpe during the Wellington campaign to push the French out of northern Portugal. Loved the writing by the author particularly his description of the heat of battle and how he has created a character that is perfectly imperfect.
The plot never seems contrived even when you would think it would be forced to by events, boxing the Lieutenant into situations that appear to have not logical conclusion.. The plot never seems contrived even when you would think it would be forced to by events, boxing the Lieutenant into situations that appear to have not logical conclusion This was the first book I've read by the author and definitely will not be the last. Apr 21, Brian V rated it really liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. Many lost but army is saved to fight again. Use of rifles and the shift in how warfare will be conducted. It is the spring of and a small British army is stranded when the French invade northern Portugal. Sharpe b British routed from Spain, evacuate from port in N Spain. The senior lieutenant in the battalion became a captain and Sharpe, as the senior second lieutenant, became a lieutenant.
The promotion takes place after Sharpe's Prey , but before Sharpe's Rifles. By early Sharpe is in Spain with the 95th Rifles, undertaking the terrible hardships of the rearguard of the retreat to Corunna. Captain Murray is mortally wounded during the battle, and leaves his Heavy Cavalry sword to Sharpe, giving him his signature weapon used in all the subsequent books.
Cut off from the main body of the army, he is forced to take command of a handful of surviving but mutinous riflemen including Patrick Harper , while protecting a small party of English missionaries and assisting Spanish Partisans in the temporary liberation of the city of Santiago de Compostela Sharpe's Rifles.
Sharpe's surviving riflemen that began the retreat to Corunna were:. Some Rifleman were awarded the rank of Chosen Man. Chosen Men were the Napoleonic eras equivalent of today's Lance Corporal. Whilst one step below the NCO Non-commissioned Officer ranks, the Chosen Man was selected from the ranks to lead a sub-unit of the Company, often for their intelligence and ability. The rank was unofficial insomuch as it was used only within the Company, with Commanding Officers able to promote and demote at will those who were chosen to wear the single white armband which denoted Chosen Men.
They were usually spared ordinary duties, and often went on to become NCOs. In the Sharpe television series the rank of Chosen Man is used to denote a special unit within the company, where all the Riflemen are Chosen Men, giving Sharpe a group of comrades with which he can form a stronger bond than is the norm between officers and the army's lowest ranks.
After making their way to Portugal, and taking part in the Battle of the Douro , Sharpe and his surviving 30 Riflemen are attached to the Light Company of the South Essex a fictional regiment as part of Wellesley's Peninsula Army. Some of the men Sharpe commanded in the South Essex were:. As well as the South Essex , Sharpe found himself commanding another regiment of Rifles. Sharpe takes part in a number of notable actions, either with the South Essex, or on detached duty for Major Michael Hogan , Wellesley's head of intelligence. These include the capture of a French Imperial Eagle at the Battle of Talavera in , and storming of the breaches at Badajoz.
Over this period he rises in rank from lieutenant through captain to major , eventually taking unofficial command of the entire regiment. His intelligence work for Hogan and Wellesley brings him the long lasting enmity of the fictional French spymaster Pierre Ducos , who conspires several times to destroy Sharpe's career, reputation and life.
Sharpe possibly appears in Simon Scarrow 's The Fields of Death , although his surname is not confirmed. A Major in the 95th Rifles called Richard and who, "unusually for an officer Prior to the Battle of Waterloo , Sharpe is appointed aide to the Prince of Orange , so finally achieving the rank of Lt. Disgusted by the Prince's dangerous incompetence during the course of the battle, Sharpe deserts his post after making an attempt on the Prince's life , but comes to the aid of his old regiment, Prince of Wales Own Volunteers formerly the South Essex , steadying the line and preventing a French breakthrough.
Wellesley then gives him command of the unit for the remainder of the battle Sharpe's Waterloo. In Sharpe, now retired and living as a farmer in Normandy , is commissioned by the Countess of Mouromorto to find her husband, Don Blas Vivar, who has disappeared in the Spanish colony of Chile ; both she and her husband had encountered Sharpe in , during the events leading up to the assault on Santiago de Compostella. En route Sharpe finally meets Napoleon , in exile on St Helena.
During the earliest chronological books Sharpe is a redcoated Private and later Sergeant, and so his uniform and weapons largely are in line with Army regulations. His first sword and officer's sash are taken from the dead in the wake of the battle of Assaye, although no specifics are given on the weapon. By the time of Sharpe's Prey as a junior Rifle officer, although carrying a regulation curved sabre, Sharpe has begun carrying a rifle as well, and is noted to prefer a heavier sword like the cutlass used by the Navy.
In Sharpe's Rifles Sharpe acquires his signature weapon and clothing for the first time. Captain Murray, mortally wounded in the Corunna retreat, leaves his Heavy Cavalry sword to Sharpe who had broken his own sword in the battle. In the final battle of the novel Harper kills a French Chasseur, and Sharpe takes his overalls and boots which he wears with his Rifleman's Green Jacket from then on. As Sharpe, like the majority of his men, also carries a French ox-hide pack more of his equipment is French than British.
Sharpe continues to wear his Green jacket even whilst serving in a redcoat battalion out of pride in the elite regiment, as does Harper and all of the other riflemen. Sharpe's sword is once again broken in the novel of the same name, and Sharpe gravely wounded with all of his equipment lost.
A new Heavy Cavalry sword is acquired by Harper and refurbished and sharpened by him as a gift to Sharpe to aid in his recovery. Even after defeating Colonel Leroux and taking his sword, Sharpe continues to use the sword made for him by Harper, and also takes Leroux's overalls and boots to replace his old pair. Sharpe also possesses a telescope from the time he is made an officer.
September 23rd Sharpe, the son of a prostitute, has almost no memory of his mother, and no knowledge of his father. The author, Bernard Cornwell, in answer to a query on his website, wrote a riddle which he claims contains the father's identity: "Take you out, put me in and a horse appears in this happy person! Bernard announced on 27 Jul 18, on his website that Sharpe's father was a French Smuggler and that is all he knows!
Sharpe is both a romantic and a womanizer; In Sharpe's Rifles , Harper notes that "He'll fall in love with anything in a petticoat. I've seen his type before. Got the sense of a half-witted sheep when it comes to women. In India Sharpe asks for permission to marry Mary Bickerstaff, who later leaves him Sharpe's Tiger , and has a brief affair with Simone Joubert, who bolts with gems he left with her for safe keeping Sharpe's Triumph , Sharpe's Fortress.
His relationship with Lady Grace Hale in has a more lasting impact; the birth of his first child, who dies only a few hours after his mother, leaves Sharpe deeply distressed.
Teresa bears Sharpe a daughter, Antonia Sharpe's Company , in , and marries Sharpe in , but is murdered a year later by the renegade Obadiah Hakeswill Sharpe's Enemy. Sharpe leaves his daughter to be raised by Teresa's family, and, as far as is known, never sees her again. For some years Sharpe carried a small portrait of Jane Gibbons , taken from her brother's murdered body Sharpe's Eagle. In , he returns to England to fetch reinforcements, and meets, elopes with, and marries Jane Sharpe's Regiment.
Sharpe remains faithful to his second wife, until she herself proves disloyal; when Sharpe is falsely accused of theft and murder, she embarks on an adulterous affair with Sharpe's former friend Lord John Rossendale and steals the fortune Sharpe had accumulated in London. It is while searching for evidence to clear his name that Sharpe meets and falls in love with Lucille Castineau nee Lassan , the widow of a French officer killed in Russia Sharpe's Revenge , Sharpe's Waterloo. Although unable to marry while Jane lives, Sharpe settles with Lucille on her family estate in Normandy and raises two children, Patrick-Henri, who becomes a French Cavalry Officer and a character in Bernand Cornwell's The Starbuck Chronicles , and Dominique, who ultimately marries an English aristocrat.
By , Patrick-Henri, then a colonel in the Imperial Guard Cavalry observing the Union and Confederate armies during the American Civil War , mentions that his mother is "very lonely" so it may be assumed that Sharpe has died sometime before that date. The Sharpe Companion gives Sharpe's year of death as , though this is never stated in any of the books. This is contradicted in the Television adaptation Sharpe's Challenge , set in , in which Sharpe claims that Lucille has already died. Despite being a fictional hero, Sharpe is often portrayed as the driving force in a number of pivotal historical events.
Cornwell frankly admits to taking license with history, placing Sharpe in the place of another man whose identity is lost to history, or sometimes "stealing another man's thunder". Most of the herds would run from three to sixty animals, with an average of around fifteen. In these small herds the buffalo traveled and fed, scattered over the plains, but each one separate and apart from the other herds. Whenever they stampeded they did come together and charged as one vast, solid herd. But when the fright passed they'd separate into their peculiar small herd formation.
Do keep these small herds in mind: they were important to us in our hunting; in fact formed the basis of our attack. Let me tell you how. At the head of each of these little herds would be its leader. But the leader wasn't a courageous, old bull, ready and willing to whip the universe. It wasn't a bull at all. It was a cow, a sagacious old cow who by the power of her intellect had made herself a leader. Buffalo society, you see, was a matriarchy, and the cow was queen. Wherever she went, the others, including the big bulls who should have known better than follow a woman, went.
When she stampeded, they stampeded. When she got into trouble, they didn't know what to do. And our job as runners was to get her into trouble as soon as we could. Then the rest was easy. But I am getting ahead of myself and will presently tell you how we used the old cow and the small herds to their undoing. The buffalo was indigenous to the plains region of the West, and there were two main herds, the northern and the southern.
There wasn't a strict line of demarcation between them, and they frequently overlapped, but within broad general limits, the northern herd remained up north and the southern herd stuck pretty well to the southern areas. If you will look at a map of the Western half of the United States, I can point out the buffalo ranges. They are covered today by the two Dakotas and Montana and northern Wyoming, where the northern herd ranged, and by Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, parts of Texas, Colorado, and southern Wyoming, for the southern herd. The buffalo was a migratory animal with a small orbit.
He merely followed the feed, "follored the feed," as the runners, who were not purists or English majors, used to put it, and you would find the herds usually along the beds of Western streams -- the Brazos, Red, Powder, Republican, and other rivers. Buffalo running as a business got started around ; I got into it in , when the rampage was at its height.
The whole Western country went buffalo-wild. It was like a gold rush or a uranium rush. Men left jobs, businesses, wives and children, and future prospects to get into buffalo running. They sold whatever they had and put the money into outfits, wagons, camp equipment, rifles and ammunition. I needn't talk. I did it myself. And why not? There were uncounted millions of the beasts -- hundreds of millions, we forced ourselves to believe. And all we had to do was take these hides from their wearers. It was a harvest.
We were the harvesters. Most of us were Western men and, as I have suggested, veterans of the Civil War, at loose ends, wanting adventure, feeling the discomfort of claustrophobia at being cooped up in houses and towns after adventure in war. And most of us were young. I, for instance, was hardly more than a kid, but in those days on the frontier men matured early, and I felt myself very much of a man in Some of the runners were older men, some of them mountain men who had watched the beaver peter out but wanted to make a fast dollar wherever they could. In the beginning these older runners, with their more mature judgment and experience, made the better showing.
They had the know-how. But in time we youngsters learned the ropes, and did all right. And I could shoot with the best of them. And I was more restless, after serving in the Civil War as a bugler because I was too young to fight, than most of the others. And I had nothing to look forward to in civilization. I didn't know exactly what I wanted, and the chances are I got into the buffalo running business quite by accident.
It did, in the form of two older men. To me then they seemed ancient, but chances are both were around They took an interest in me, but I was already interested in them, because they seemed to typify ideal citizens to me, rugged outdoorsmen to whom nothing of the arcana of the outdoors was secret. Let me describe them, because I think they may be typical of men on the frontier of that day. McRae first. He was of Scotch descent, born in America. He was medium-sized, with blue-gray eyes, brown hair. He was an all-around shot, roper, killer, cook and skinner. He had punched cows, dealt faro. He ran away from a nagging wife to the quietude of the buffalo ranges.
At least he claimed it was quiet in comparison. Vimy had a blackish-red complexion, blue-black hair, jet black eyes. He was a French-Indian breed, born in Canada, a typical voyageur. He was the best knife and tomahawk thrower in the whole southwest, but only a fair shot.
Vimy knifed a lumber jack in a squabble over a girl and had to take it on the run. He had one of his rival's ears with him as a pocket-piece. He was a God-send at your shoulder in time of crisis. These two and I became fast friends, and I had the grace, years later, to place them side by side in a Waco cemetary Catholic, although McRae was a rank Presbyterian. Bob wanted to sleep in Texas, and Vimy wanted to be where Bob was. I'd been listening to old fellows around saloons in San Antonio and elsewhere, and was all afire with the idea of being a real buffalo hunter.
I mentioned it to McRae. I remember my first buff. I was shooting a borrowed. I hired a guide and a wagon outfit, and was off. We hadn't traveled very far till I spotted my first victim -- an old bull crawling out of a wallow where he'd been taking his mud bath. I stalked to within yards, aimed at the butt of his neck as he stood broadside, fired. Down he went. It was as simple as that. And easy. No more than shooting a beef critter in the barnyard. And in my years of hunting I never found a particle more adventure in killing buffalo than on that first morning on the Red River, in what is now Oklahoma.
Part of my guide's business was to skin the kill. I told him to get busy while I sat back and smoked and admired myself. He was more adept with excuses than with a skinning-knife, and it took him half a day to pelt that old bull. I was out of money, after paying for the outfit, so for three weeks I lived off the flesh of that tough old buff. Do you wonder I never again touched a piece of buffalo meat unless forced by starvation to do so?
Refer to yourself as a buffalo runner. Bob generously insisted that I take my share of the boodle, one-fifth of the total. It looked like easy money. We had brush with Comanches -- nobody hurt -- and I came back to town with enthusiasm for buffalo running. I sent for it.
A few months later I was out on the plains with my own outfit. I wasn't the only young fellow with that idea: I have already told you how crazy the Western half of the country went over the buffalo rush. Don't ask me how many runners were out after the muddy, dusty hides of the poor buffalo. I have heard it was as many as 20,, but I believe that estimate to be high. I would rather put it around 10,, counting everybody, the hunters, the skinners, drivers, cooks, and flunkies. With that many men after him, the buffalo didn't really have a chance, and just a few years were enough to decimate the herds.
I'm often asked now what my feeling is toward myself that I helped wipe out a noble American animal by being a sort of juvenile delinquent with a high-power rifle. I always am frank in answering. I always say I am neither proud nor ashamed. At the time it seemed a proper thing to do. Looked at from a distance, however, I'm not so sure. The slaughter was perhaps a shameless, needless thing. But it was also an inevitable thing, an historical necessity. What I mean by that is this: the buffalo served his mission, fulfilled his destiny in the history of the Indian, by furnishing him everything he needed -- food, clothing, a home, traditions, even a theology.
But the buffalo didn't fit in so well with the white man's encroaching civilization -- he didn't fit at all, in fact. He could not be controlled or domesticated. He couldn't be corralled behind wire fences. He was a misfit. So he had to go. And there was another reason, not so commonly known. You will understand it better when I tell you that the buffalo was hunted and killed with the connivance, yes, the cooperation, of the Government itself. That this will be denied I have little doubt. As I put my words down I weigh them. Don't understand that any official action was taken in Washington and directives sent out to kill all the buff on the plains.
Nothing like that happened. What did happen was that army officers in charge of plains operations encouraged the slaughter of buffalo in every possible way. Part of this encouragement was of a practical nature that we runners appreciated. It consisted of ammunition, free ammunition, all you could use, all you wanted, more than you needed. All you had to do to get it was apply at any frontier army post and say you were short of ammunition, and plenty would be given you.
I received thousands of rounds this way. It was in. I didn't. I was a stickler for the best, and used imported English powder which I will be describing to you in a little while. I had no trouble trading my government powder for things I wanted -- tobacco, bacon, flour, and other things. Maybe you are wondering at the theory behind this.
Let me tell you. I think I won't: I will let a high ranking officer in the plains service do it for me. One afternoon I was visiting this man in his quarters. The object of my visit you have guessed: free ammunition. I got it. Afterward we smoked and talked. He said to me:.
Only when the Indian becomes absolutely dependent on us for his every need, will we be able to handle him. He's too independent with the buffalo. But if we kill the buffalo we conquer the Indian. It seems a more humane thing to kill the buffalo than the Indian, so the buffalo must go," he concluded. It wasn't long after I got into the game that I began to realize that the end for the buffalo was in sight.
I resolved to get my share. I went into the business right. I invested every cent I owned in an outfit. I have no apologies for my participation in the slaughter. I hope that answers the question. The harvest was ready but there was one harvester who wasn't ready for it. His name was Frank Mayer. I had had just enough training under McRae and Vimy to think I knew it all, a belief which speedily vanished when I was out on my own.
But now it was sink or swim, and I had to teach myself how to run buffalo at a profit, which is what I wanted, profit. Nothing else counted. I already knew it wouldn't be fun. It was fun to run after buffalo on a swift, spirited horse, and you could kill them that way, too, and it wasn't hard. A buffalo with its short legs and ponderous body, could run only two-thirds as fast as a good horse. You could give him a quarter-mile start and catch him before your horse had to call on its second wind. But it was hazardous. The prairie was honey-combed with prairie dog holes, and once your horse stepped into one of those and you were thrown and the thundering herd passed over you, you looked as if you had been run through a printing press running a page made up of quotation marks.
Once I remember seeing Bob McRae, chasing buff on horseback just for the hell of it, being thrown when his horse stumbled in a dog hole. Superb horseman, quick thinker in an emergency, Bob, while in midair, did the most spectacular thing I ever saw on the buffalo ranges. He threw himself onto the back of a nearby buffalo cow and rode her, bucking and jumping, very blithely to the edge of the stampeding herd.
There he slid off quite nonchalantly and caught his horse, none the worse for what could have been a fatal experience. Not all buffalo chasers were so lucky. A good many lost their lives. So I gave up chasing buffalo on horseback as a bad gamble. I did occasionally run them that way and shoot them with a pistol, but that was always when I wanted to show off and be a hero in somebody's eyes. The Indians didn't have any other way to get their meat supply. You see pictures of them driving arrows from their short bows into the ribs of buffalo, but usually an Indian on horseback preferred the lance to the arrow.
His method was to run alongside his victim and jab a long-bladed lance into it just back of the ribs. One jab would never bring down a heavy buffalo, so he kept right after it, jab, jab, jab, until the poor critter toppled from loss of blood and cuts to his vital organs. But I was no Indian. I was a business man. And I had to learn a business man's way of harvesting the buffalo crop. It always amused me at the inefficiency of some of the buffalo runners, who hunted on horseback, at the strange weapons they thought adequate to kill tough old buff. These weapons ranged all the way from cap and ball percussion revolvers to carbines and rifles of divers sorts, most of them single shot fusils.
A few did affect repeating rifles or carbines, the majority of which were Spencer cabines and old gun-metal receiver Henry rifles, both rim fire. The Spencer was the more effective. It was. Later on in the heel of the game quite a number of. I have seen one full magazine 16 shots expended on the final bagging of only five buffalo, and that, too, fired by a man who knew his business. Shooting from the back of a running horse was always uncertain. I wanted none of it. I wanted efficiency.
That was my German nature to demand that. As I told you earlier, some unknown genius of observation gave all of us runners our cue to killing buffalo. He probably made his discovery by accident. His discovery was simply this: if you wounded the leader, didn't kill her outright, the rest of her herd, whether it was three or thirty, would gather around her and stupidly "mill" -- which means poke her with their horns, strike at her with their hooves, and just generally lose their heads when they smelled her blood. When they were milling they didn't think of anything else.
Buffalo, as I have indicated, were not notorious for their ability to think clearly on any subject. Now they were completely bewildered. And all you had to do, as a runner, was pick them off one by one, making sure you made a dropping kill at every shot, until you wiped out the entire herd. Then you went to another and repeated the process. Do you see anything sporting about that?
It was sheer murder. Yet that is the way we did it, we brave and glorious runners, who swaggered into frontier shipping towns and made boardwalks ring with the sound of our leather heels and the tinkle of our spurs. I have worked hundreds of stands, as we called them, by this method, without losing a single animal I wanted. Now and then, though, when I crawled too close, to within yards or less, I failed.
Then the heavy report of my heavy Sharps would wake up the survivors and they would scamper over the plains. I wasn't very religious in my remarks when that occurred. When a runner had worked his herd, he went on to the second, then onto the third, fourth, or as many as he figured his crew could skin out. The number of animals a runner could take at a stand varied. My largest was But Billy Dixon, a famous runner, once took hides without moving his rest sticks.
A colonel I knew on the ranges told me of counting carcasses within a space and took 54 hides with 54 cartridges. I didn't do quite so well with my run of I used 62 cartridges. I never was a Bob McRae. We never killed all the buff we could, but only as many as our skinners could handle.
Every outfit had its quota, which was determined by the ambition and the number of skinners. My regular quota was twenty-five a day, but on days when my crew weren't tired, I sometimes would run this up to 50 or even But there I stopped, no matter how plentiful the buff were. Killing more than we could use would waste buff, which wasn't important; it also would waste ammunition, which was. The thing we had to have, we runners, we business men with rifles, was one-shot kills. And you had to learn the knack of that.
When you consider that a full-grown buffalo would weigh almost a ton and was as hard to kill as a Kodiak bear, you will realize what a job it was. Dropping kills we termed these one-shotters. I was amused, maybe, disgusted, certainly, a few years ago when I read in the Denver Post of a debacle which took place in the Denver Mountain Parks, where the city has kept a herd of buffalo for may years. The herd outgrew its pasture, and the city decided to kill eight animals to feed the poor on Christmas. Here is what happened:. Only one single-shot death was chalked up.
The execution was witnessed by Mayor George Begole, and once during the afternoon, when several shots were required for a death, he suggested:. Yes, an Indian or an old time plains buffalo runner, because we had to do better or we were bankrupt. At the low prices we got for hides we couldn't affort to miss; and naturally I didn't do so very often.
Of course not every shot made was a dropping kill; depended on where you hit. But nine in ten dropped instantly or within a space of one hundred feet. I had the habit of holding on the neck, and when hit there they dropped as if pole-axed. With the bullet's more than a ton in foot pounds energy at the muzzle, they generally dropped when fairly hit at almost any old distance. I could give you hundreds of confirmatory instances, but shall confine myself to two: Once, in a burst of sheer bragadoccio, I bet Bill Tilghman noted runner and peace officer that I could kill a buffalo as far away as I could distinctly quarter his head with the cross hairs of my telescope sight.
We hunted a whole day to find one. When we discovered him, I could only faintly outline the cross hairs on his whole body. That made him, by careful reckoning, a full half mile away. My first shot was in the upper edge of his paunch; it knocked him down as if he had been hit by a locomotive. When he got up again, I held more carefully and landed in his neck, just ahead of the shoulder.
He went down kerplunk and stayed there. Bill paid: a three-gallon keg of "Three Roses. I opened fire at long range with my. In three shots at a distance afterward paced by my skinners at yards, I got one buck and two horses. I distinctly saw the buck topple off his pony, and we found the two horses dead. I reckon these incidents will show you the kind of shooting we had to do.
Most of our shots were at yards or beyond. At yards we had to be able to shoot all day long and score one hundred per cent results. We had to do this to come out even. I once took hides with cartridges. This was business. We had no time to experiment or theorize. Of course we had to have the right rifles, because no rifleman is ever a whit better than the rifle he's shooting. And the rifles used on the buffalo ranges were as motley as the men who used them. Remember that the killing began only some five years after the close of the Civil War and army rifles were in preponderant evidence all over the buffalo ranges.
They weren't satisfactory for the simple reason that they weren't accurate. Something more was demanded, and I have noticed that whenever anything is demanded quickly it is supplied. And this was true of buffalo rifles, which rapidly simmered down to two kinds, three, really, although the third came along too late to make much of a stir among the runners. It was the Ballard; quite satisfactory in accuracy and energy but because it had an ineffective and exasperating ejector it had you always in trouble; I owned one; I discarded it for everything but target use.
But the other two, ah, those were rifles if ever the term could be properly applied. They were the Remington and the Sharps. I think it's safe to say that eighty per cent of the buffalo killed were with either a Remington or a Sharps rifle. For their time and place, they were perfect. There was little choice between them.
Both were made in various calibers from. They were made in various weights, barrel lengths, sights, degrees of twist, and depth of rifling, with right or left drifts made to special order.
United States History Standards (Grades 5-12)
Mostly, however, they were offered in regular "stock" dimensions -- barrels from 30 to 34 inches in length, weights from 10 to 16 pounds in the Sharps and from 8 to 12 pounds in the Remingtons. Both were furnished either with single triggers or with the preferable double set triggers of two separate types of adjustment.
The Sharps was made in. The cartridge length was stamped on the breech, thus:. Sharps favored the straight shell, but made some for bottle-necked as well in. These would be stamped. The Remingtons which the runners favored were nearly all of them for bottle-necked cartridges, and the two favorite calibers were. But you could order any caliber and any kind of cartridge you wanted; anything to please a customer was the rule of the Remington and Sharps companies. The rifling of these pieces ran variously from four to six thousandths of an inch, but when paper patched bullets were employed it was shallower, seldom exceeding two-and-a half thousandths.
In all Sharps rifles, above the. Quite often some crank like myself would have one specially built with quicker or slower twist, but these were always furnished against the earnest protests of the makers, who, incidentally, knew their business better than we faddists. I had thrown away a good many hard-earned dollars before I was freed of the delusion that I knew more about rifle-making than Christian Sharps. We loaded our own ammunition; had to; factory-loaded stuff cost too much, was, besides, too hard to get when you were away off on the buffalo range. After my first season I chose my powder with meticulous care.
Two leading brands of American powder were Dupont and Hazard, both good enough except they burned hot, dry, and cakey in the barrels, making cleaning a more or less unsatisfactory operation. I bought English powder from Tyron of Philadelphia. It cost 50 per cent more than American powder, but it was worth it. We had some wild and woolly ideas about how to clean our rifle barrels, I remember. We first drenched them with cold water, succeeded by a dosage of urine, which was well shaken up and allowed to circumnavigate the bore.
I suppose the slight ammonical content of this homely but efficient solvent did the trick. We followed this with a thorough drenching of hot water, and wiped the bore dry and finished it off with a rag saturated with graphited tallow. If not cleaned before firing, the rifle shot a few inches higher for the first shot. We generally wiped out clean before firing: cartridges were too expensive to take any chances.
It's common for modern riflemen to look down their noses at these old rifles of ours, dub them "smokesticks" and believe no accuracy is possible without a military type rifle and modern smokeless powder ammunition. I guess it doesn't do them any harm to believe in fairy tales, but let me tell you something: no rifles made could match these old Remingtons and Sharps we runners used. Prove it?
Why not? With carefully handloaded ammunition and perfectly adjusted telescope sights, we could make full possibles at any range from fifty to yards. We could do it in the face of heavy wind, straight on, fishtail, or full cross currents. At distances above and up to 1, yards, the. In these performances there are never any unaccountables with Sharps: the rifleman knows why the missles went wrong and can instantly call them. Can this be done with any modern so-called "super-gun"?
It cannot. I have seen the. Is there any modern rifle, even the magnums, which could do that? Show it to me if you find it, will you? Shooting at such long ranges, we, naturally, had to use telescope sights, and set triggers, which to me are a "must" for good rifle shooting. My own were so delicate that you could set the rifle off almost by a breath. The use of rest sticks is forgotten now, but we runners couldn't have operated without them.
You see pictures of buffalo runners prone while shooting their game, but that would have been fatal to your chances. Let me tell you why. A heavy rifle fired so close to the ground reverberates and causes more sound than one fired higher above it. So if you were prone while firing you would soon frighten your game away. We used rest sticks which put us about thirty inches above the ground: we either sat while we fired or fired from a kneeling position.
The sticks were a simple device; merely two pieces of hard wood, bolted together so as to provide a crotch in which you put the heavy barrel of your rifle. We didn't use sling straps which made you feel you were shooting from a straight-jacket, but merely rested the barrel, held the barrel and sticks steady with the left hand, which made shooting almost like using a bench rest.
And then McRae explained the poison vial or tube, which he invented and which became common with runners on all ranges. One day he came upon the body of a teamster, who had been stripped, scalped while alive, his privates cut off and stuck into his mouth and fastened there with a sinew cord. Fat pine splinters had been stuck into his flesh from ankles to chin until he resembled a hedgehog.
These were ignited at his feet, causing an upward slow flame which literally roasted him alive. His body had been fastened to a dead tree trunk with his own chains. Always carry this," handing me a device made by sticking a. I took them apart. Inside the. It's sure medicine against scalping and torture. Thereafter I carried my tube religiously. I never had to "bite the white," as we used to put it, but I know of two instances of runners who did. Their bodies had not been mutilated or even scalped after death. I still had a lot to learn, though, and one of the most important things I had to learn was how you found buffalo to shoot.
You would think with so many million buffalo on the loose that you could cast about in any direction and find some. But that wasn't true. Drive over the states that comprised the range. Distances are far; it was a big country. And the buffalo were always on the move. So we had to ride far and hard to spot them, and often we would go for days and see not more than a handful of the beasts. There was no freemasonry on the ranges at all: it was every man for himself. And if a runner discovered a nice bunch of buff, he didn't advertise the fact.
He cleaned 'em out as fast as he could, before some other runner moved in on him. There were no such things as established boundaries of operations. Where we found the buff we were monarchs of all we could survey -- and kill. It was a generally established rule that no man should butt in on a herd that was being worked by its first locator. Violation of these ethics was likely to lead to shooting at something else than buffaloes, but it didn't, usually, go that far.
Usually a warning to the interloper was enough to send him elsewhere.
Richard Sharpe – He's a Rogue, But He's Our Rogue: idol_reflection — LiveJournal
I became pretty good at warning others off my private preserves. I came to learn that skinning was a dirty, disagreeable, laborious, uninspiring job. I didn't, naturally, do any skinning.
I was the hunter, the killer, and skinning was for skinners. But I felt sorry for the poor fellows, out in the hot sun, fighting flies, and wrestling with a pound wet buffalo hide. But it was their part in the game. There was once a lazy skinner who tried to find an easy way to skin a buff; a commendable idea.
He drove a heavy iron picket-pin through the animal's head, anchoring it to the ground. Then he hitched a team to the hide near the neck and simply yanked the hide off. This worked-sometimes.