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Thunder Over the Prairie:
The Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the
Greatest Posse of All Time.
A pile of coal black thunder clouds unleashed a torrent of cold rain on the posse’s crude camp. The canvas lean-to tied to boulders jutting out of the bank of a stream, sagged with the weight of the water. Lightening pulsated, reflecting off the faces of the four lawmen waiting out the storm. They were tired, but resolute. A turmoil of wind blew rain into their poor excuse for shelter and splashed off their hats and slickers. “If any of you know where that ark is tied up, you might want to make your way for it now,” Bat said jokingly, his voiced raised over the weather. His fellow riders chuckled politely as he removed a soggy cigar from the breast pocket of his coat. He played with the wet stogie for a minute trying to convince himself that it could be lit. All at once any attempt to fire it up seemed foolish, and he threw the cigar down on the ground beside him. “Damn it all,” he said folding his arms across his chest.
None of the men were surprised by the water-logged conditions. The hot, dry Kansas summers could blister the paint off any building and the wet, cold winters that came behind it could scour it down to raw timbers. Prairie fires ignited by lightening scorched everything in its path and flash floods carried it all away. Members of the intrepid posse had experienced all the harsh seasons the territory offered. The forces of nature had shaped them and made them more resilient. They drifted in and out of a fitful sleep, hoping each time they opened their eyes the relentless rain would have stopped, and they could be on their way.
“The Lord sure must have pulled the cork,” Bat said noticing everyone was struggling to drop off. “I rode in rain like this for six days,” Bill said after giving Bat’s comment a decent moment of thought. “I was driving a herd of cattle for Mart Childers through Cheyenne country.” The conversation was a welcomed distraction from their attempts at slumber. Charlie, Wyatt, & Bat focused their attention on Bill. “The prairie sod was a quagmire,” he continued.
“The horses hooves sank ankle-deep in the mud. Heading north in the sloshing rain was slow going…and then we spotted Kicking Bird and his braves watching us through the rain.”
Charlie coolly scanned their immediate surroundings remembering that the Plains Indians could have their eyes fixed on them at the moment as well. Bill told the men about his riding partner, Hurricane Martin. He and Hurricane stood alone against fifty warring Cheyenne. The braves attempted to flank the cowboys on either side by dividing them into two groups. Bill and Hurricane urged their horses into full gallops to try and out run them. The rain soaked terrain made fast travel close to impossible not only for Bill and his friend, but for the Indians as well.
To learn more about the death of Dora Hand and the posse that tracked her killer read Thunder Over the Prairie.