Buffalo Bill's Duel With Yellowhand by Charles M. Russell

Name: Buffalo Bill's Duel With Yellowhand | Artist: Charles M. Russell Media: Oil on canvas | Year(s): 1917
Charles M. Russell | Buffalo Bill's Duel With Yellowhand | 1917 | Oil on canvas | 29 7/8 inches x 47 7/8 inches

About the Work

As a boy, Charlie Russell's head was stuffed full of the Wild West tales personified by William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody. In 1917, the year Cody died, Russell re-created one of the episodes in the scout's career, Buffalo Bill's Duel with Yellowhand. In 1876, although already an established stage performer, Buffalo Bill was back in the West serving as a scout for the Fifth Cavalry at the time of the death of Custer during the Battle of the Little Big Horn—known to the Lakota as the Battle of the Greasy Grass. In July of that year, he was with the Fifth when they encountered a party of Cheyenne. Russell undoubtedly relied on Cody's account—a story that had been told many times—of the personal duel between two warrior heroes. In his memoirs, Cody tells of the leader of the party challenging him to a personal duel during which he killed the Indian in an exchange of rifle shots. Having killed Yellow Hair (or as it has erroneously been rendered through the years, Yellowhand), Cody controversially "scientifically scalped him in about five seconds" and, waving the trophy over his head, called out for the benefit of the approaching troopers, "The first scalp for Custer."