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Cholla

Red Cowboy Sashes Were A Thing

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I have been digesting the book, Cowboy Life. It is a collection of excepts from other books written in the late 1800s-early 1900s. One of the stories tells how Texas cowboys wore red sashes to use as piggin strings to tie the cow's legs together. It says the sash was more pliable than rope. The same writer also said they prefered red cotton hankerchiefs and wore them with the knot to the back.

 

I guess the movie Tombstone was kind of accurate afterall.

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Note the red sash around my waist.  This is me impersonating my 6th-great grandfather, who served as a Lieutenant in the Continental Army.  Officers wore the sash for two reasons:  1) It identified them as officers from a distance, and 2) It unfolded and could be used with two sticks or two rifles to create a stretcher for said officer (rank does have its privileges).  The one I'm wearing is of authentic material, which was a silk blend, and would definitely be strong enough to bear me.  

 

That said, I'm just wondering aloud if this tradition carried on into the Old West.  I know the officers in the Union and Confederate armies in the later Civil War both worse similar sashes.  The weave pattern was different, but the purposes were the same.

 

 

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Sashes were worn by military officers in both the first and second American revolution. and after both of those wars I'm sure that there were individuals that continue to wear them as a fashion statement. I understand Jim Hickok wore a sash.

 

But the idea have a gang of criminals wandering around wearing a distinctive item of clothing that identified anyone that saw them as a member of this gang of criminals is a modern thing. In New York, where no one carries a gun except criminals, gangs walking around wearing colors would be safe. In Los Angeles, where no one carries a gun except criminals, gangs walking around wearing colors would also be safe. But in 1880s Arizona, where every man and most of the women carried a gun, nine or ten guys wandering around town wearing a distinctive piece of clothing that lets everybody know that they are a member of a criminal gang would most likely see them either hanged or shot.

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I don't know how true the legends are about wearing guns everywhere. I have read several journals that talk about this. One in the same book claimed that wearing firearms on a cattle drive to Kansas were not allowed in certain areas in Texas. It wasn't until they got into Indian Territory that they were allowed to put them on. Another journal said that they had to keep their firearms in the chuck wagon unless trouble was brewing such as Indians. Another claimed that firearms were not allowed during roundups because tempers were so short over the long, hot hours and hard work. Another journal said they had to keep their guns in a trunk until required.

I have also read period newspaper articles here in Arizona that did not cast the Earps in a positive light. It wasn't until much later that writers start putting the hero spotlight on the Earps. So, I don't know how much the folks around Tombstone actually thought of the "Cowboys" as being bad guys.

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9 minutes ago, Cholla said:

I don't know how true the legends are about wearing guns everywhere. I have read several journals that talk about this. One in the same book claimed that wearing firearms on a cattle drive to Kansas were not allowed in certain areas in Texas. It wasn't until they got into Indian Territory that they were allowed to put them on. Another journal said that they had to keep their firearms in the chuck wagon unless trouble was brewing such as Indians. Another claimed that firearms were not allowed during roundups because tempers were so short over the long, hot hours and hard work. Another journal said they had to keep their guns in a trunk until required.

I have also read period newspaper articles here in Arizona that did not cast the Earps in a positive light. It wasn't until much later that writers start putting the hero spotlight on the Earps. So, I don't know how much the folks around Tombstone actually thought of the "Cowboys" as being bad guys.

"I have also read period newspaper articles here in Arizona that did not cast the Earps in a positive light"

Well, that's not unusual at all. The Earps were like a lot of Lawmen of the period. Tough, good with guns, but with somewhat shall we say, flexible morals and character.;)

If you read, Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams you'll find that it was common for drovers to be armed. I think it depends on the time period, cattle company and location.

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14 minutes ago, Utah Bob #35998 said:

"I have also read period newspaper articles here in Arizona that did not cast the Earps in a positive light"

Well, that's not unusual at all. The Earps were like a lot of Lawmen of the period. Tough, good with guns, but with somewhat shall we say, flexible morals and character.;)

If you read, Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams you'll find that it was common for drovers to be armed. I think it depends on the time period, cattle company and location.

I would say you're right. I read another article written in the period and they said some ranchers allowed their hands to wear firearms, otherwise they became too sullen and melancholy.  Another journal by a cowboy said that they felt like they had to act like the heros in the dime novels, even if it meant dueling over trival matters with guns. Then, after someone was killed they lamented the fact that they had taken it that far.

I think in many ways it was very much like today and depended on the political landscape. The Earps were Republicans in a largely Democrat area. (Tucson still is.) But, Virgil Earp was highly thought of in Prescott which seemed to be largely Republican (Still is.). But, as some of my friends love to point out, the Earps were gun grabbers!

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I would think checking the politics of the author would go a long ways to making a decision about credibility of "historical" articles or books.

kR

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