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"C'mon Boys!" The Nelson Story Cattle Drive of 1866
By Steven E. Lillegard

Height:   19 1/2"
Width:   12 1/2"
Depth:   9 1/2"
Edition:   25
Price:   $5,500.00 U.S.


C'mon Boys Nelson Story on Horseback.

Story was the first person to drive cattle from Texas to Montana. He was 25 years old in 1863 when he and his wife, Ellen, departed to Bannack, MT with pack mules and ox teams to open a store. A few weeks after arrival Nelson heard about a strike at Alder Gulch so he relocated there. He started a mercantile store and eventually had 50 men working day and night on several mines. Ellen baked pies and bread for the miners. The pies sold for $5.00 in gold dust. By 1865 he netted $50,000.
He traveled to New York City and because of a gold shortage there he was able to trade $30,000 in gold for $40,000 in greenbacks. Story talked to two of his friends in Leavenworth about joining him on a cattle drive to Montana, then planned a trip to Texas to buy cattle. They hired two men and departed Leavenworth with government sale wagons and stock. Story had sewn greenbacks in his clothes. They bought approximately 3000 cattle near Fort Worth and hired 21 cowboys to drive them to Montana. On July 4, 1866, while passing through Leavenworth again on the way north, they stopped to buy more freight wagons and supplies for his store in Virginia City. Because they were going to go through Indian territory he bought 30 newly released breach loading Remington Rolling Block rifles. These were single shot but used metal cartridges which made them far faster to reload than the muzzle loading rifles common at that time. On July 10th they headed for Montana. At Fort Laramie Civil War Major, John B. Catlin and Steve Gorver joined the group. They were driving a freight wagon with mules to Bozeman and didn’t want to travel alone. Catlin was made second in command. They continued to Fort Reno. Sioux led by Red Cloud and Crazy Horse watched as they traveled. It wasn’t until they were about ten miles south of Fort Reno that they attacked. It was a hit and run which stampeded the cattle and the Indians made off with a small bunch of cattle. The attack was stopped with the Remington rifles. They were able to recover all of the stolen animals. Around Oct. 7 they were halted about three miles from the partially completed Fort Phil Kearney. They were told to camp that far from the fort because Col. Carrington wanted the grass near the fort for the army horses. Col. Carrington informed them that they could not continue because only parties of at least 50 were allowed to travel beyond that point because of hostile Indians. After waiting for 2 weeks, and realizing that being so far away, the army would be of little help in case of an attack, Story and his men voted to disobey orders and proceed at night. There was one dissenter who was arrested and forced to come along. When Carrington found out, he was furious but thought in was necessary to dispatch 15 troops to meet the required number of men. Indians attacked just two more times but were repelled easily with the Remington carbines. The Sioux were apparently discouraged by the lack of success. One drover was killed and scalped when he went too far in front of the group.
They arrived near Bozeman on Dec. 3, 1866 where they left some cattle which was the start of the Story Ranch then on Dec. 9, they continued with cattle and freight wagons to the Story Mercantile Store in Virginia City.
In an interview with A.L.Stone in 1912, Major John Catlin said “Even after three years on the skirmish line in the Civil War, I have never seen a fighting man like Nelson Story. He hunted a fight and when he found it he knew how to handle it. He never carried a rifle, but there were always two big Navy revolvers on his hips. He was always splendidly mounted and would ride like the wind. He would say, “Come on boys,” and ride away. Of course, we’d follow him. We’d have followed him to hell, but accustomed as the Civil War had made me to following almost any dare devil leader, there were a good many times when Nelson Story had me guessing. The Indians soon got to know him. Also they feared him. They knew he would go through with whatever he undertook and they had no time to bother with him.
Story settled in Bozeman where he engaged in banking, mercantile and grain businesses becoming Bozeman’s first millionaire. He later expanded his business to real estate in Los Angeles. He died in 1926.
Relief sculptures on the four sides of the base of the sculpture depict different aspects of the drive. One side depicts mining for gold, the other side shows Mrs. Story baking, the rear shows a conflict with Indians and the front shows the drive itself. A detachable miniature replica of a Remington Rolling Block rifle is also on the front.