In 1875, a young man from Pennsylvania joined the Dodge Expedition into the Black Hills of Dakota Territory, from where he penned letters to the Omaha Daily Bee. Not content with accompanying Dodge, Captain Jack returned to the Black Hills in 1876 for a further six months.
John Wallace Crawford, who became better known as Captain Jack, wrote a vibrant account of this fascinating time in the American West. His correspondence featured his adventures in the early Black Hills gold rush as he played the parts of reporter, plainsman, scout, and raconteur. Captain Jack informed his readers, in great detail and with an eye for the unusual and intriguing, of the relative merits of the gulches, the vagaries and difficulties of travel in the region, the art of survival in what was essentially wilderness, the hardships of inclement weather, trouble with outlaws, and interactions with American Indians.
Captain Jack met and worked with Buffalo Bill Cody and quickly seized the opportunity to scout for Brigadier General George Crook on his Indian campaign. Jack’s correspondence from the Starvation March and the fight at Slim Buttes offers detailed and intimate accounts of these dramatic episodes of the Great Sioux War.
Award-winning historian Paul Hedren has compiled these almost unknown letters, writing an introduction and essays that place the correspondence in the greater context of the Black Hills Gold Rush and the Great Sioux War. The result is a treasure trove of hitherto hidden primary documents as well as a ripping yarn in the traditions of the old West.
Click here to read a short review of this book from Minnesota History.
Click here to read a short description of this book from South Dakota Magazine.
Click here to read a review of this book as published in Kansas History.
Click here to read a review of this book as published in Mining History News.
Watch a short video of Paul Hedren describing his new book.
Paul L. Hedren of Omaha is a retired National Park Service superintendent who worked at various Western parks including Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming and Golden Spike National Historic Site in Utah. A lifelong student of the nineteenth-century regular army and the Indian wars of the northern plains, Hedren has written and published extensively in South Dakota History and other western history journals. He is the author of ten books, including First Scalp for Custer and After Custer: Loss and Transformation in Sioux Country. After Custer received the 2012 Wrangler Nonfiction Book Award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.