Buffalo Coat

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 12/6/2010

According to legend, this coat was made from the skin of a buffalo killed by Buffalo Bill, and presented by him to Captain J. B. Irvine, Twenty-second U.S. Infantry. Irvine then presented it to Second Lieutenant Albert C. Dalton, Company A, U.S. Infantry.

In a life that was part legend and part fantasy, William F. Cody came to embody the spirit of the West. During the Civil War, Cody served first as a Union scout in campaigns against the Kiowa and Comanche; then in 1863 he enlisted with the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, which saw action in Missouri and Tennessee. In 1867, Cody took up the trade that gave him his nickname, hunting buffalo to feed the construction crews of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. According to Buffalo Bill, he killed 4,280 head of buffalo in seventeen months.

He is perhaps best known for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, a theatrical extravaganza. His show dramatized some of the most picturesque elements of frontier life. It contained a buffalo hunt with real buffalos, an Indian attack with real Indians, and a grand finale that reenacted Custer’s Last Stand, with some Lakota who actually fought in the battle playing a part. The show was enormously successful and traveled the world for three decades.

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