Frederic Remington chronicled the American West in paintings, sculptures, and illustrations for periodicals such as Century Magazine, Collier's, and Harper's Weekly, and in books by Francis Parkman, Owen Wister, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Remington also recounted the American West in words. He served as a war correspondent in Cuba for the New York Journal, and wrote articles, short stories, and two novels, John Ermine of the Yellowstone (1902), and The Way of an Indian (1906). In his second novel, Remington explored what he confessed was an impenetrable mystery to him—the mind of an American Indian. The Way of an Indian tells the story of the tragic clash of the Indians of the Northwest with trappers, traders, and cavalry and the eventual extermination of a tribe. It traces the career of a Chis-chis-chash (Cheyenne) boy beginning with his first warrior experience, through successful battles, great leadership, defeat, old age, and inevitable death.
The black-and-white illustration displayed here, He Rushed the Pony Right to the Barricade, depicts an episode in which Remington's protagonist, then known as the Bat, will earn a new name, the Fire Eater. A party of Cheyenne warriors happen upon trappers driving heavily-laden pack animals. The trappers form a barricade out of their packs, and prepare a surprise for the on-rushing warriors:
"In an instant when it seemed as if the Indians were about to trample the Yellow-Eyes, a thin trail of fire ran along the grass for the barricade and with a blinding flash a keg of powder exploded with terrific force right under the front feet of the rushing ponies. . . . Four ponies lay kicking on the grass together with six writhing men, all blackened, bleeding and scorched. The other ponies reeled away from the shock. . . . All but one, for the Bat. . . rushed the pony right to the barricade. Firing his rifle into it swerving, he struck the bunch of trapper-horses which had already begun to trot away from the turbulent scene, and drove them off in triumph."
Visitors can view the oil painting Remington created to illustrate this scene displayed in this gallery.