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Friday, May 13, 2011

Express Riders and Their Bowies

From Nathaniel Pitt Langford's Vigilante Days and Ways: the Pioneers of the Rockies comes this description of express riders and their armament:
No occupation in the northern mines tested the courage and honesty of men more severely than that of the Express riders. Their duties, in riding from camp to camp, frequently for hundreds of miles, where there was not a dwelling, carrying large amounts of treasure, made them objects of frequent attack. Tried men were selected for this business — men as well known for personal bravery as for their adroitness in the use of weapons in personal encounter.

The notoriety of this class was sufficient as a general thing to protect them from attack, unless it could be made under every possible advantage. It is a remarkable fact, and speaks as little in favor of the courage of the desperadoes as in praise of the daring nobility of these early Express riders, that few of the latter were interrupted in the discharge of their dangerous duties. They were ever upon the alert. It was the work of an instant only, when attacked, for them to draw and discharge their revolvers, with deadly effect, and follow up the smallest advantage with the no less fatal bowie-knife. One man has been known in an encounter of this kind to kill four assailants and escape unharmed.

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