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Who Was Buffalo Bill and Why Is He Famous?

Who Was Buffalo Bill and Why Is He Famous?

Buffalo Bill was the nickname of William Frederick Cody, a legendary figure of the American Wild West. He was a soldier, scout, hunter, showman, and entrepreneur who became famous for his exploits and adventures in the frontier.

In this article, we will explore the life and legacy of Buffalo Bill, and how he influenced the popular culture and history of the United States.

Buffalo Bill’s Early Life

Buffalo Bill was born on February 26, 1846, in Le Claire, Iowa. His father, Isaac Cody, was an anti-slavery activist who moved his family to Kansas in 1854. There, he became involved in the violent conflict between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces known as “Bleeding Kansas”. He was stabbed by a pro-slavery supporter in 1856 and died four years later.

Buffalo Bill was only 11 years old when he became the breadwinner of his family. He worked as a messenger, wagon driver, herder, and hunter. He claimed that he killed his first Indian at the age of 12, during an attack on his family’s wagon train. He also claimed that he joined the Pony Express at the age of 14, delivering mail across the dangerous plains.

Buffalo Bill’s Military Career

Buffalo Bill's Early Life

Buffalo Bill served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He fought in several battles and skirmishes, including the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and the Siege of Fort Donelson. He also worked as a scout and spy for the army, gathering information on enemy movements and terrain.

After the war, Buffalo Bill continued to work as a scout for the army and private contractors. He participated in several campaigns against the Native Americans, such as the Red Cloud’s War and the Great Sioux War. He earned his nickname “Buffalo Bill” for his skill in hunting buffalo to supply meat for the railroad workers and soldiers.

Buffalo Bill became a national hero when he received the Medal of Honor for his bravery at the Battle of Platte Bridge in 1869. He also became famous for his duel with Chief Yellow Hand, a Cheyenne warrior whom he killed in hand-to-hand combat in 1876.

Buffalo Bill’s Show Business

Buffalo Bill's Military Career

Buffalo Bill’s fame and charisma attracted the attention of writers and publishers who wanted to capitalize on his popularity. He became the subject of numerous dime novels, newspaper articles, and stage plays that exaggerated and romanticized his exploits. He also wrote his own autobiography in 1879, which added more embellishments to his life story.

Buffalo Bill decided to enter the show business himself in 1883. He created his own traveling show called “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West”, which featured reenactments of scenes from his life and from the frontier history. The show included cowboys, Indians, soldiers, hunters, sharpshooters, trick riders, and animals. Some of the famous performers who joined his show were Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was a huge success both in America and abroad. It toured across the United States and Europe for more than 30 years. It entertained millions of people, including royalty, presidents, and celebrities. It also influenced the public perception of the West and its culture.

Buffalo Bill’s Legacy

Buffalo Bill's Show Business

Buffalo Bill died on January 10, 1917, in Denver, Colorado. He was buried on Lookout Mountain near Golden, Colorado. His grave is a popular tourist attraction today.

Buffalo Bill is remembered as one of the most iconic figures of the American West. He was a pioneer, a patriot, a hero, and a legend. He also contributed to the preservation and promotion of the Western heritage and values. He founded several towns and organizations that still exist today, such as Cody, Wyoming; Buffalo Bill Historical Center; Buffalo Bill Museum; and Buffalo Bill Boy Scouts.

Buffalo Bill’s influence can be seen in many aspects of American culture. He inspired countless books, movies, TV shows, comics, games, songs, and artworks that depict or reference him or his show. He also inspired generations of Americans to pursue their dreams and adventures in the spirit of the West.

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