Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Story of "Tombstone Territory"

By Christopher Robinson

Airing from 1957 to 1959, ‘Tombstone Territory’ told the wild western adventures of Sheriff Clay Hollister (played by Pat Conway) in “the town too tough to die” as he dealt out his own brand of law and order to the Arizona Territory in the 1880’s.

Familiar to western history buffs, the town of Tombstone is forever inextricably linked to famed lawman Wyatt Earp, whom the character of Hollister is essentially based upon. The unique angle of the series focuses on Hollister’s working relationship with Tombstone’s newspaper editor, Harris Claiborne (played by Richard Eastham). Claiborne plays a more substantial role in the sheriff’s duties than even Hollister’s deputies.

Leaning towards more historical portrayals in its stories, the episodes feature true to life western characters that give a degree of authenticity despite budgetary limitations and some necessary artistic liberties. The creators, in fact, regularly consulted the staff of the Tombstone Epitaph, the actual publication that the character of Claiborne publishes in town.

To establish this wrap-around theme, Eastham provides ongoing narration throughout the stories, thereby providing an insider’s perspective while simulating the firsthand accounts that Claiborne published in his paper detailing Sheriff Hollister’s daring exploits.

Well worth your viewing, Tombstone Territory is available in DVD and can also be seen weekdays on ScreenPix Westerns channel and weekends on FETV.

Bonus!

About the Author

Christopher Robinson has worked in various mediums creating films, screenplays and music in addition to essays for books, magazines and websites.

He was also the host and producer of Princeton In Focus, a weekly live call-in talk show on cable access TV. For more on Christopher Robinson, click here!


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Sunday, June 14, 2020

George Custer’s Defeat at Little Bighorn Revisited

By Allan B. Colombo

On December 1st, 2019, ‘Custer’s Final Battle’ was published in the Western Magazine Digest (WMD). For those who would like to read ‘Custer’s Last Battle,’ click here.

The intent was to eulogize and celebrate the lives and deaths of more than several hundred Cavalrymen and their commander, Brevet Major-General George Armstrong Custer (1839 to 1876).

On May 28th of this year, I published a short post on the ‘The TV Western and Movie Fan Page’ on Facebook,

“Said to be the last words spoken on the battlefield of Little Bighorn: ‘Hurrah boys, we've got them! We'll finish up and then go home to our station,’ said Charles Windolph, the last known survivor of the failed battle. Windolph, born in 1851, passed in 1950! ‘Question is, why does the death of Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn strike a nerve in the hearts of all patriotic Americans?’” (http://bit.ly/35MD65m)
It didn’t take long until the first reply came along: “Does it? How so?” When I asked why he felt that way, the writer continued, “maybe because people feel it justifies the tactics people used in indian fighting.”

As the days drug on, comment after comment filtered in--154 of them to be exact--and it became more and more apparent that the members of the forum were decisively divided in their opinions regarding Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

Perhaps the reason for the anger and, in some cases, disdain for a commander whom none of us had ever met, comes from the political side of the subject.

Vernon Corea, a member of the same forum, spoke up, “He was a national hero into the 1950’s before the history of the struggles with Native Americans were reexamined. There were atrocities white-on-red, red-on-white, white-on-white, and red-on-red. The 19th was a barbaric Century.”
On the one hand, we have a political attitude regarding the inhuman manner in which Native American Indians were treated during the time that society began pushing Westward. On the other, we have a reality which reveals that Custer made a miscalculation that ended in the deaths of 268, 7th Cavalrymen and 31 to 136 Irregular military. There also were 55 7th Cal wounded (6 later perished of their wounds), upwards to 160 among the Irregulars--not to mention the deaths of 60 Native American Indians.

The fact is, as history has it, that there were approximately 700 cavalrymen and upwards to 2500 Native American Indian warriors, “210 men died with Custer while another 52 died serving under Reno. All were given hasty burials. Only an estimated 60 Indian warriors died in the battle,” says Kathy Weiser, author of ‘The Battle of Little Bighorn, Montana,’ Legends of America (https://bit.ly/37oOXsD).

According to Weiser, in 1979, three years after the Little Bighorn tragedy, an investigation of the battle revealed three key things that were bound to have a bearing on Custer’s failed attempt to remove the various tribes from the area.

They were:

  1. Reno was a drunken coward
  2. Benteen had disobeyed Custer’s orders
  3. General Terry was late in arriving on the battle front
It’s understandable why Custer’s death is no longer celebrated, but is the condemnation really deserved? How could Custer miss the disparity in troop numbers to this degree? Was it the fault of the scouts, perhaps his commanding officer, or was it something else?
Weiser says, “However, the primary contribution to the U.S. defeat is blamed on faulty intelligence and poor communication.”
In a story written by Monette Bebow-Reinhard, and published on WMD on January 12th of this year, she writes:
“About the Little Bighorn loss Utley noted a second reason for the meeting: ‘Later the army, professing ignorance of the increase in [Indian] strength, blamed the failure of the campaign on Indian Bureau negligence.’ This could be another reason for Smith’s resignation. Utley then related that this was not true because ‘on May 30, Sheridan telegraphed Sherman that information from Crook indicates that all the agency Indians capable of taking the field are now or soon will be on the warpath.’ So they knew long before the Little Bighorn that there were large numbers of Indians in the field. But they still referred to their report, written after the secret meeting, saying only 500 of them would fight.

“Grant and Sheridan both continued to lie about Indian strength. And of course, Custer believed them. And they believed he would be arrogant enough to think he could whip any number of Indians. They also knew he’d follow his normal procedure of dividing his forces” (Grant’s Indian Wars, We Could See They Were Good People!, http://bit.ly/39VEaXA).

So, what would make President Grant knowingly send Custer and his men into harm's way without knowing what they faced? To find the answer, read Monette Bebow-Reinhard’s story here: http://bit.ly/39VEaXA. To learn more about Monnette, click here.

Monnette is the author of Civil War & Bloody Peace: Following Orders, available from Amazon (see ad below).



Order your copy of Monette Bebow-Reinhard's book:
Civil War & Bloody Peace: Following Orders




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