Buffalo Bill (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917), whose real name was William Frederick Cody, earned his nickname after he claimed to have killed more than 4000 buffalo in less than 18 months. Cody was also a famous showman, and in 1883 he organized the Wild West Show that toured the United States and Europe for nearly 20 years.
American guide, scout, and showman, born in Scott County, Iowa. In 1854 his family moved to Kansas, where his father died a few years later. Cody briefly attended school in 1859. At the age of 14, he became one of the riders of the newly established Pony Express. When the American Civil War began in 1861, Cody served as a scout and guide for the Union Army.
In 1863 he enlisted in the Seventh Kansas Cavalry as an army scout. At the close of the war in 1865 he contracted with the Kansas Pacific Railroad to furnish buffalo meat to the workers on the line. His claim of killing more than 4000 buffalo in less than 18 months earned him the nickname “Buffalo Bill.” He served as an army scout again from 1868 to 1872.
In 1872 the United States government awarded Cody the Congressional Medal of Honor but revoked it 44 years later because he had not been a member of the military at the time the award was given.As Buffalo Bill, Cody became a feature of dime novelist Ned Buntline’s stories. From 1872 to 1883, Cody was a showman, usually acting the part of himself in one of Buntline’s melodramas.
Cody occasionally returned west during this period to guide cavalry and raise cattle.He also fought in the Sioux War of 1876. In 1883 Cody organized his Wild West Show, a representation of life on the plains, which toured Europe and the United States for almost 20 years.
The legendary Native American leader Sitting Bull and sharpshooter Annie Oakley were stars in the show. In 1901 Cody became president of the Cody Military College and International Academy of Rough Riders, a riding school he established on his property in Wyoming. The town of Cody, Wyoming, is named after him.
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