The Introduction of Barbed Wire to the Frontier
With no medical treatment available, getting sick or being hurt often ended in death. Herds of 1, to 10, animals were driven over the vast open ranges of . to cultivate rather than a plow to break up the soil seemed to improve matters. In the s, millions of longhorn cattle lived in Texas. The cattle drives ended in the late s for several reasons. First, there was the invention of barbed. The longhorn cattle were kept on an open range, looked after by cowboys In , Texas became independent, the Mexicans left, leaving their cattle behind.
But neither were they squatters or nesters, come to break up the land into small farms and settlements. They were in a unique position; they were owners whose cattle would obviously benefit from fencing, and they were ranchers who believed in confinement of herds, although the extent of their ranges belied the use of such a word as "confinement. They were among the first to put into practice the theory that cattle-proof fences were advantageous for Western cattlemen as well as for agriculturalists.
In the years following its construction, other ranchers would follow its course, transforming the Open Range into a closed land of fences.
A striking example of the transition from the Old Guard of free-range cattlemen to the new revolution of fencing may be seen in the character of Abel "Shanghai" Pierce, whose ranch near Matagorda, Texas occupied much of the Texas Gulf Coast. In the early years of fencing, Pierce was fully opposed to the prospect of fencing the Open Range. He claimed that ""as long as water runs and grass grows here. His cattle roamed openly on the Plains for many years up until the 's.
At this time, following the lead of the XIT and Frying Pan, and due much in part to his brother's farming aspirations and a conflict with a neighbor, Pierce began buying his land and fencing it in with barbed wire. It may be said that "the final factor which changed "Old Shang" Pierce from a "free grass man" to a landowner and builder of fences was the proven suitability of barbed wire as fencing for the prairie-plains" And like Pierce, many other ranchers who had held on to the ways of old were giving into the ways of new.
Fencing with barbed wire had been accepted on the frontier, and the closing of the Open Range was at hand.
Open range - Wikipedia
Yet the swift changes of this revolution would not come without conflict, and the 's were full of conflicts arising out of the opposition to barbed wire fencing. The Final Struggle Against Barbed Wire The first major setback to barbed wire fencing came to be known as "the big die up" and occurred between and Between andwhen barbed wire ranches were still uncommon to the Plains, large sections of barbed wire fences, known as "drift fences," were "erected by cattlemen of the Texas Panhandle and adjacent areas in an effort to keep cattle in the north from coming onto southern ranges" With the approach of strong winters, cattle from the North would turn south, overcrowding and destroying what remained of the already overgrazed Panhandle grasses.
Thus to prevent such an occurrence, the cattlemen of the Panhandle constructed a massive "drift fence" from East to West, creating a massive barrier to the herds of the North. As planned, when the extreme winters of hit the Plains, the cattle of the North moved south as far as possible, until impeded by the "drift fences" that had been constructed. However, no one was prepared for the consequences of this new built barrier.
The results were as follows: They moved "like grey ghosts. There they were stalled; they could not go forward, and they would not go back. They stood stacked together against the wire, without food, water, warmth or shelter. The pressed close against each other in groups all along the fence line, and sometimes they gathered in bunches reaching as much as four hundred yards back from the fence.
Still there was not enough warmth in their huddled forms to counteract the cold, and within a short time they either smothered or froze in their tracks. The result was "only resentment--growing, mounting, raging resentment, which was sure to cause a serious setback in plans for the future of barbed wire" Use a mock interview to familiarize your students with each trail position and what life was like on a cattle drive.
Use the sample questions and dialogue below as a guide. As the teacher, you will be the rancher conducting the interview. A student volunteer will be the interviewee. Use the information found in the "Background Agricultural Connections" section of the lesson plan to expound on details of the cattle drive as you go through each position.
Repeat the "interview" process for each of the four trail positions. Ask students to play along in their answers. What experience do you have driving cattle? What kind of cowboy skills do you have? Can you ride a horse at top speeds? Can you rope and doctor cattle? Are you physically healthy and capable of working from before the sun rises until after it sets? What are your leadership skills? Can you work with a crew and provide them appropriate assignments to accomplish the task of moving cattle?
How would you help solve disagreements among your trail crew? Are you aware of the dangers on the trail? Can you explain how to gain control of a stampede?
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Ultimately the Trail Boss makes the final decision for the entire crew, do you have the experience and skills to be the best Trail Boss? Use the graphic, " Cattle Drive Positions " to help students visualize the role of each worker.
The cook, commonly known as the "cookie" is responsible for the chuck wagon, do you have experience driving a team of horses pulling a heavy load? The cook rides out ahead of the cattle, which means you will need to identify the best campsites. What skills do you have related to trail riding?
If we run into any trouble with Indians or cattle rustlers, you will likely come across them first. How will you prepare for this type of event? The cook will have around 12 hungry people to feed. They expect three hot meals served each day. You will likely be the first to rise and the last to retire to bed. Do you have any problem meeting this expectation?
Part Two: The Introduction of Barbed Wire to the Frontier
Beans, biscuits, and coffee are the main course for each meal. Do you have experience cooking over a fire? There may also be a rare occasion to trade with a local farmer along the way for some fresh fruit or vegetables.
Do you have skills to prepare fruits and vegetables? To help students learn more about the cook and the chuck wagon, watch the first 2 minutes of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's video clip, The Chuck Wagon.
What experience do you have in driving cattle? You will also take turns on the night shift to watch the cattle. This is important to watch for predator-type animals, cattle rustlers thievesand to keep the animals calm. Do you know how to gain control of a herd of stampeding cattle?
Share the background with students concerning cattle stampedes reminding them that a lightning storm, cattle rustlers who intentionally spooked the cattleor excessive thirst between watering locations were common causes of a stampede. To gain control of the herd, the cowboys would race to the front of the stampede and try to push the cattle to the right.
Cattle drives in the United States - Wikipedia
As the cattle changed directions and turned into a circle they would calm down as the herd turned into a tighter and tighter circle allowing the cowboys to gain full control of the herd. What experience do you have with horses? You will be responsible for saddling all of the horses for the cowboys each day. What are your strengths when handling trail horses?
Can you keep a herd of horses contained at night? Many of the horses only have a small amount of training. Are you experienced in horse training? Some horses will experience injuries while out on the trail. Are you capable of making a diagnosis and applying treatment?
What are your limitations? To understand how ranching and typical life on the frontier changed, your students must first understand what it was like initially.
Draw a line down the center of your board, splitting it in half. The left side of the board will represent cattle ranches on the frontier in the s. The right side of the board will represent modern day cattle ranches. One by one, beginning with 1, ask the student to read the paper to the class and then draw a sketch on the board to represent their portion of the picture.
For example, the student who chooses, "fences," can draw an open prairie with grass, trees, and a stream running through it to help students visualize that cattle were not raised inside of fences. The student with "Brands" can draw a brand on the cattle in the field. One, single picture will be drawn step-by-step as each slip of paper is discussed. Repeat this process with the strips of paper labeled with letters A-I. Have students place this drawing on the opposite side of the board.
The Cattle Drive and Westward Expansion
Once the pictures are complete, ask your students, What were the significant changes? What caused the changes to occur in cattle ranching? How did technology affect cattle ranching and the lifestyle of ranchers? What are your predictions for future changes in the industry of cattle ranching? Explain the following inventions and or changes that contributed to the changes of cattle ranching and the American West.
This was expensive, time consuming, and wood was not available in abundance on the open prairie. It was not a feasible option for large cattle herds requiring miles and miles of fencing, so they were managed on the open prairies or rangeland.
The invention of barbed wire allowed fences to be built. As land owners began fencing in their properties, it became more and more difficult to drive cattle. Such a pace meant that it would take as long as two months to travel from a home ranch to a railhead. To herd the cattle, a crew of at least 10 cowboys was needed, with three horses per cowboy. Cowboys worked in shifts to watch the cattle 24 hours a day, herding them in the proper direction in the daytime and watching them at night to prevent stampedes and deter theft.
The crew also included a cookwho drove a chuck wagonusually pulled by oxenand a horse wrangler to take charge of the remuda spare horses. The wrangler on a cattle drive was often a very young cowboy or one of lower social status, but the cook was a particularly well-respected member of the crew, as not only was he in charge of the food, he also was in charge of medical supplies and had a working knowledge of practical medicine.
The Spaniards had established the ranching industry in the New World, and began driving herds northward from Mexico beginning in the s. Small Spanish settlements in Texas derived much of their revenue from horses and cattle driven into Louisiana, though such trade was usually illegal. Cattle driving over long distances also took place in the United States, although infrequently.
Relatively long-distance herding of hogs was also common. In Timothy Flint "encountered a drove of more than 1, cattle and swine" being driven from the interior of Ohio to Philadelphia.
The Texas longhorn was originally driven overland to the railheads in Kansas; they were replaced with shorter-horned breeds after In the s, cattle drives expanded northward into Missouri. Louis became principal markets. But byas 3, cattle were trailed through western Missouri, local farmers blocked their passage and forced herds to turn back because the Longhorns carried ticks that carried Texas fever. Texas cattle were immune to this disease; but the ticks that they left behind infected the local cattle.
By farmers in western and central Missouri formed vigilance committees, stopped some of the herds, killed any Texas cattle that entered their counties, and a law, effective in December of that year, was passed, banning diseased cattle from being brought into or through the state. Therefore, drovers took their herds up through the eastern edge of Kansas; but there, too, they met opposition from farmers, who induced their territorial legislature to pass a protective law in Inthe firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell utilized about 40, oxen.
Longhorns were trained by the thousands for work oxen. Herds of longhorns also were driven to Chicago, and at least one herd was driven all the way to New York.
Thus, though most cattle were obtained locally or from Mexico, very long drives were attempted. Even the Australians began cattle drives to ports for shipment of beef to San Francisco and, after freezing methods were developed, all the way to Britain.
In the Italian aristocrat Leonetto Cipriani undertook a drive from St. Louis to San Francisco along the California Trail ; he returned to Europe in with large profits. In October, a Union naval patrol on the southern Mississippi River captured 1, head of Longhorns which had been destined for Confederate military posts in Louisiana. The permanent loss of the main cattle supply after the Union gained control of the Mississippi River in was a serious blow to the Confederate Army.