Cheyenne Raid: A Galvanized Yankee Western short story

Sand creek massacre monument.
Sand creek massacre monument. | Source

I think the Indians plumb just don’t like telegraph lines. Leastwise, they keep ripping them down. Then we keep putting them back up. I’ve been on duty for a while doing just that.

My names Jacob Brown and I’m a galvanized Yankee assigned to frontier duty in the Infantry of the United States Army. A Galvanized Yankee is a southerner turned Yankee. Anyhow we got some long need off time at the stagecoach home station That’s different from the swing stations because there is more there than just a station keeper and a few horses. You see among other things we are assigned duty guarding the coaches. Often that entails riding armed atop of them. When they lay over at a station, so do we. Right now we feel lucky that it is a home station because we can find some entertainment. It is larger and has more services such as blacksmiths, maybe some decent food although that depends on the supply situation. A big home station also attracts freighters and other travelers.

When we got there I could see this is one of the larger ones so it also has got a store and a few small businesses. Maybe if we are lucky there will be a saloon and a dancehall. Just like town, almost. Out here we don’t see very many women, so the men may head to a saloon or a dancehall to mingle with the girls who work there. If it’s not the big city, after spending time at lonely outposts and swing stations the hustle of saloons, stores, stage drivers, bullwhackers and all seems like a holiday. As luck would have it, I spied a face at the general store. There she was

Buffalo Soldiers helped guard the coaches.


“Mary Hutchins,” I greeted her.” She turned a little startled.

“Oh, hello,” she replied. It is nice to see you again. You were so helpful getting us through that incident at the swing station.”

“That’s my job. I thought you would’ve gone back home.”

“Not a lot to go back there for and just have to face people who will feel sorry for me losing my man.” Maybe I can find work in the next town.”

“I remember you fixing’ grub for us at the swing station. I bet they could use a cook like you right here. Oh. Then maybe I could get to see you once in a while. Kind of surprised me that she blushed. Well, she isn’t the kind of woman I’ve ordinarily met out here. Kind of forgot what normal is.’

“Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad seeing you once in awhile either.” Darned if I didn’t blush a bit myself.

We agreed to go over to the station café and have some lunch together. We were getting to know each other right well when a private came over to our table and told me that we’ve been called to duty. There are Cheyenne on the warpath nearby and there was fear they would attack the station. “Oh, oh” I took Mary’s hand and told her I had to go. “ This might be real serious. I shouldn’t say this about an officer but a Colonel John Chivington I heard hates Indians and would use any excuse to kill them. From what I been told he has been attacking the Cheyenne and other tribes without just provocation. Anyhow to cut it short he attacked a village at Sand Creek in Colorado. Old men, women and children who were no thereat at all were killed and worse. Men like that don’t belong in any army and I’ve been in two of them.

“What’s happening now?” she asked.

“Well, to nobody’s surprise the Cheyenne want revenge and they have been attacking forts and stations all over the territory. “

“Jacob, take care of yourself,” Her concern pleased me more than I knew.

“I am pretty sure this station has an escape tunnel. Find the station manager and find out where it is. If the attack goes too far, head for the tunnel and get out of here.”

I feared this would be more than a little brush-up like some other contacts with the Indians. These Indians were mad and had every right to be. If they come it will be in large numbers. The Indians massacred were friendly, unprepared for violence and were living by the rules of the treaties. They had been betrayed. I doubted that the government would give them the revenge they sought.

Life out here might be peaceful if it wasn’t for dunderheaded officers and politicians.

We set about lining up a defensive position. I said a short prayer because I thought my time to die had surely come. I said another prayer for Mary that she would find the escape route.

Arrows rained around us. Most of the soldiers were well trained enough to shield themselves from the arrows, but how long could we hold out. There were only a few of us against maybe a hundred or more Indians. We held our fire knowing that every shot had to count. I looked for a chief. If we kill him it might slow the others.

It was hardly my first battle against odds. As a Confederate soldier I fought against Union troops that outnumbered us. That’s how I ended up as a prisoner. As bad as the Union troops were, I don’t think the Indians will be nearly as merciful. They have too much anger now.

I was about out of bullets and wondering how much good my bayonet would do, when I heard a bugle call. In the distance I saw Buffalo soldiers, former slaves in the Union army. Despite my southern roots I knew that these men could outfight anything there is. I think the Indians respected them too.

Now I think I know why the Indians hate the telegraph. How else could we have sent for help?

Copyright 2011 Don Hoglund

© 2011 Don A. Hoglund

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Comments 24 comments

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

A very interesting story. I never knew about galvanized yankees before you started writing about them.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Becky. Because the union army was short of troops and there was riots over the draft somebody came up with the plan to set Confederate prisoners free if they would join the Union army. They agreed to do that if they did not have to fight against their own people, that is the southerners.

TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 5 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Excellent. I love this kind of stuff, and like Becky, galvanized yankee is a new term for me. I learn something every time I give you a read my man!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author


I thought I had written a non-fiction hub on the subject. When I looked forit I couldn't find it. I may have to do it again.I hav a book on the subject which has been the source for other hubs.I quess I like these out of the wy bits of history. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Another interesting story loosely based on facts. Naturally the Indians knew that if they tore down the telegraph wires that it would slow communications. That was smart on their part. Your terminalogy is enjoyable and a throw back to days of old...example...dunderheaded. Votes up as usual. Always enjoyable reading your hubs on your western stories.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Peggy W.

Thank you for the comments.I do try to use language that is at least plausibly for the times.I really don't know why the Indians historically tore down telegraph lines as I don't know to what extent they understood its function.The Sand Creek incident was probably one of the worst atrocities of the Indian wars.Also one of the stupidest.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Another good story, dahoglund, and authentic. Well done!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author


I am glad you liked the story.Your opinion is valued.

Hubertsvoice 5 years ago

You write very good stories. At home, when I was growing up there were two ktypes of yankees. There were regular yankees who came to visit, and then, there were damn yankees who came and stayed.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author


Thanks for reading. I guess I tend toward the oddities of history.I'm glad you like my stories.Funny how the term Yankee has so many different meanings.To a European all Americans are Yankees, to a southerner all northerners are Yankees,to us mid westerners the north easterners are Yankees.

Hubertsvoice 5 years ago

And then there are the New York Yankees.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hubertsvoice, yes,there are.

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Great story..Thanks for the post

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

htodd, I'm glad you liked my story.Thanks for commenting.

femmeflashpoint 5 years ago


I enjoyed the read a great deal - and my first time to learn of galvenized yanks as well. :)

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

femmeflashpoint.I am glad you enjoyed my story.I thought that most folks were not familiar with some of these aspects of history and thought this would be a good way to introduce them.

graybeard 5 years ago

Would have enjoyed comment on the weapon you were using. You mentioned running low on bullets. I assumed the rifle would be a muzzle loader or at best, something like a Sharps.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I see that I will have to do more research on weapons.During the Civil War period there seemed to be a variety of weapons used. The events these stories are based on would be in the mid 1860s. Thanks for the comment.

ajwrites57 profile image

ajwrites57 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

dahoglund -- enjoyed reading as usual--always like to see romance in a story, too--lol. I don't know much about weapons, but that would add to your stories, adding more authenticity, maybe draw folks with an interest in firearms to your hub. Maybe the research about the weapons could be a hub, too. Thanks dahoglund !

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

jwrites, yes, details like that are helpful. I have wished I was more familiar with guns so as to describe the characters feel of the weapons, the buck of a revolver when fired, the tension of loading a flintlock rifle while being fired on. The muscle tension when drawing back a bow. Thanks for the sugestions.

Jodah profile image

Jodah 20 months ago from Queensland Australia

Wonderful story Don, thanks for resharing. Is this the first of the "Galvanized Yankee" stories? Voted up.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 20 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

HI Jodah! The first of the series is titled Ä Galvanized Yankee Soldier during the Civil War. " Thanks for your vote.

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 20 months ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

Don, I learn a lot reading your stories. Everything from Galvanized Yankees to home stations and the endangered telegraph. And you make the learning a good read as well. dunderheaded is a good word for many a politician. Thanks for the great story.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 20 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Cam, I try to keep a fair amount of historical accuracy in my fiction but do invent things when necessary.However, at The Rock Island Arsenal there is a "confederate" cemetery where mostly prisoners of war are buried. These would be southern soldiers who died mostly of smallpox. Since I used to work at Rock Island, I was somewhat curious about its history and read a book by Dee Brown on the subject of galvanized Yankees.

Thanks for your comments.

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