The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930 Page: 47
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The Significance of the Destruction of the Buffalo
"Every approach of the buffaloes to water was met with rifle
bullets, and one or more bit the dust. Care was taken not to permit
the others to drink, for then they would not return. Tortured
with thirst, the poor brutes approach again and again, always to
be met by bullets, always to lose some of their herd. But for the
favoring protection of night, the race before now would have
become exterminated. In places favorable to such action, as the
south banks of the Platte, a herd of buffaloes has, by shooting at
it by day and by lighting fires and firing guns at night, been kept
from water for four days, or until it has been entirely destroyed.
In many places the valley was offensive from the stench of putrefy-
ing carcasses. . . . They are driven from one water hole to meet
death at another. No sooner do they stop to feed than the sharp
crack of a rifle warns them to change position. Every drink of
water, every mouthful of grass, is at the expense of life, and the
miserable animals, continually harassed, are driven into localities
far from their natural haunts, anywhere to avoid the unceasing
So sanguinary was the destruction from 1872 to 1874 that
1,378,359 hides, 6,751,200 pounds of meat, and 32,380,650 pounds
of bones were shiped to Eastern markets over the Atchison, Topeka
and Santa Fe, the Union Pacific, and the Kansas Pacific railroads.0o
Over the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe alone, in the year 1873,
there were 754,529 hides shipped to market. General Nelson A.
Miles credited Colonel Dodge with the statement that during the
first three years mentioned there were 4,373,730 buffaloes killed,
but in correcting the colonel's estimate, however, he stated that
this did not include the immense numbers killed every year by
hunters from New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, the Indian Territory,
and by the Indian tribes. These, he said, would raise the total
well above another million, or a total of 5,373,730.1
Even this does not represent the total number of buffaloes slaugh-
tered in the Southwest. During the four succeeding years, the
destruction of the doomed animals went on with unabated fury.
On the basis of conservative figures, it is fairly safe to estimate
"Richard Irving Dodge, Hunting Grounds of the Great West, 133-134.
"Personal Recollections of General Nelson A. Miles, 158-159. For Colonel
Dodge's statement, see his Hunting Grounds of the Great West, 140-144.
Colonel Dodge's estimate was based on his belief that for every three ani-
mals killed one hide was shipped to market. Captain Marcy s ratio was
five to one, which would raise the number approximately two million more.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930, periodical, 1930; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101090/m1/55/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.