Circle the Wagons!

Attacks on Wagon Trains in History and Hollywood Films


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About the Book

It’s a cinematic image as familiar as John Wayne’s face: a wagon train circling as a defensive maneuver against Indian attacks. This book examines actual and fictional wagon-train battles and compares them for realism. It also describes how fledgling Hollywood portrayed the concept of westward migration but, as the evolving industry became more accurate in historical detail, how filmmakers then lost sight of the big picture.

About the Author(s)

Historian Gregory F. Michno is the author of numerous books about such topics as the American West and World War II. He lives in Frederick, Colorado.
Susan J. Michno has written articles on the Spirit Lake Massacre and the Box Family of Texas. She lives in Frederick, Colorado.

Bibliographic Details

Gregory F. Michno and Susan J. Michno
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: 65 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018 [2009]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7236-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. The Utter–Van Ornum Wagon Train      11
2. The Bent and Towne-Tevis Wagon Trains      16
3. The Horn-Harris Wagon Train (The Searchers, Ulzana’s Raid)      20
4. The Webster Wagon Train (In the Days of the Pilgrims, The Missing)      24
5. The Wilson Wagon Train (The Comancheros, Comanche Station)      28
6. The Oatman Wagon Train (The Unforgiven, Sioux Blood, White Comanche)      33
7. The Ward-Masterson Wagon Train (Soldier Blue, Rio Grande)      38
8. The Fancher-Baker Wagon Train (The Last Wagon, Dawn on the Great Divide)      44
9. The Shepherd and Miltimore Wagon Trains (Fighting Caravans, The Painted Stallion)      49
10. The Box Wagon (The Unforgiven)      56
11 The Rose-Baley Wagon Train      63
12. The Sager Wagons (Seven Alone)      65
13. The Morton-Marble Wagon Train (The Forest Rose, The Half Breed, Two Rode Together)      70
14. Anna Brewster Morgan (Stolen Women, Captured Hearts)      78
15. The Fletcher Wagon Train (Duel at Diablo, Fort Apache, Ulzana’s Raid)      83
16. The Smart and Adams Wagon Trains      90
17. The Townsend Wagon Train (The Big Trail)      96
18. The Kelly-Larimer Wagon Train      100
19. The Fisk Wagon Train (Kentucky Rifle)      103
20. The Ake-Wadsworth Wagon Train (The Outriders, How the West Was Won)      108
21. The Blinn-Buttles Wagon Train (Little Big Man, The Searchers)      111
22. The Templeton, Kirkendall, and Floyd Wagon Trains (Red River)      116
23. The Hayden, Crow, Blanchard, Snyder, and Baca Wagon Trains (Two Mules for Sister Sara)      120
24. The Cooke and Custard Wagon Trains (The Massacre, Chuka)      126
25. The Lyman Wagon Train and Beecher Island (The Plainsman, The Oregon Trail)      133
26. The Lyons, Shurly, Reel, and Hartz Wagon Trains (Apache Rifles, Rio Grande, Broken Arrow, Hondo)      140
27. The Sawyers Wagon Train (Wagon Tracks)      148
28. The Burrell-Foster Wagon Train (The Red Raiders, Westward Ho the Wagons)      152
29. The German Wagon Train (Rio Grande, Lonesome Dove, Last Train from Gun Hill)      157
30. Trail Deaths (The Covered Wagon, The Big Trail, Westward the Women, How the West Was Won)      164
31. Stagecoach Attacks (Stagecoach)      169
32. The Elm Creek Raid (The Searchers)      175
33. Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving (Lonesome Dove)      182
34. How the West Was Won and Into the West      189
35. Riding into the Sunset      194

Appendix A: The Wagon Train Movies      201
Appendix B: Wagon Trains Referenced in This Study      214
Chapter Notes      217
Bibliography      224
Index      231

Book Reviews & Awards

“fascinating”—Western Clippings; “Gregory F. Michno, and co-author Susan J. Michno, are on a mission. They are out to set the record straight on the ‘did they or didn’t they?’ question regarding Indian attacks on pioneer wagon trains. Circle the Wagons! does an admirable job of reporting the facts and setting the record straight. The Michnos’ modern myth-busting proceeds through 35 chapters, each recounting–often in gruesome, stomach-churning detail–one or more documented attacks on pioneer wagon trains and the attacks’ chilling aftermaths”—Arm Chair General.