The only riches Texans had left after the Civil war were five million maverick longhorns and the brains, brawn and boldness to drive them north to where the money was. Now, Ralph Compton brings this violent and magnificent time to life in an extraordinary epic series based on the history-blazing trail drives.
Benton McCaleb and his band of bold-sprited cowboys brave over a thousand treacherous miles to drive 2400 head of ornery cattle into Wyoming's Sweetwater Valley. They're setting up a ranch just north of Cheyenne when a ruthless railroad baron and his hired killers try to force them off the land.
With the help of Shoshoni Indian tribe and Buffalo Bill Cody, McCaleb and his men vow to stand and fight. Outgunned and outmanned, they'll wage the most ferocious battle of their lives--to win the right to call the land their own.
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This book follows another, The Goodnight Trail. Although it is a sequel, I found that a complete understanding of what had transpired in the prior novel was contained in this volume. There are probably a lot of events which would be enjoyable reading to flesh-out this book's brief references, but for the purposes of completely understanding a story this one stands alone.
Benton McCaleb and his partners, several of whom are from his Texas Ranger days, are driving their own herd north to start their own ranch. With the men is Rebecca and her brother, from the first novel. Along the way, Bent and she are formally married, in a double ceremony with another partner and his fiancÃ©.
The drive is accomplished with relatively little trouble, much due to the contributions of "Goose", their Lipan Apache friend and scout. It is a nice touch that at the end he also finds his love.
The cowboys who accompany the partners are all good men, and more are added as the story progresses and more cattle are acquired. Bent and his partners ensure that fair sharing of land and profit goes to the hands, who, one just understands, will become partners as time goes on.
The bad guy is George Francis Train, of the infamous Credit Mobilier scandal, and his gang of no-goods. Under Train's leadership, the hoodlums have established ranch sites along the length of the Sweetwater Valley, and it becomes known that Train and his gang have discovered gold which, of course, requires that any more settlers be discouraged from filing on land that Train cannot legally acquire.
McCaleb and his men do file on a large piece of land and the rest of the story is devoted primarily to Train's efforts to force them out.
McCaleb enlists the aid of a band of friendly Indians, but that is dealt a premature end by the actions of Rebecca's brother, Monte, who falls for a young lady of the tribe. The result is a meeting in secret, from which a baby comes, and the Indians leave, depriving the ranch of the added force and protection from Train's gang.
Another partner, Brazos, finds love with a lady who has a young daughter, which ends well after tragic events first make their love seem unattainable.
This is a different Compton style, about a group of "heroes', rather than a single individual. But it is a great read, hard to put down, and I highly recommend it.
A stubborn band of hard-driving Texans lock horns with a ruthless railroad baron in a bloodybattle for an untamed land.
As usual, Ralph Compton does an excellent job of making you feel a part of what you are reading. In this case, some post-Civil War Texans moving a herd of cattle from Texas to Wyoming and the conflicts along the way; with their biggest conflict coming in Wyoming, where they want to settle.