Annie Oakley

THE PERFORMANCE

   At the initial performance yesterday afternoon there was an attendance of 12,000 persons. To describe the entertainment would be impossible. It can only be indicated. The congress of rough riders differs in almost every essential from a circus. Here the gaudy dress of the ring gives a place to the picturesque and more serviceable garbs assumed by the nationalities typified.

The first item is a grand review of the rough riders by Colonel Cody. In the van are Indians of various tribes, clothed, with the exception of the chiefs, in nature’s attire, supplemented only by loin coverings, war paint, and feather head gear. Then follow dashing cavalrymen in brilliant uniforms, cowboys attired in the fashion of the prairies, Cossacks in orange robes, and Mexicans, whose sartorial outfit evidences that love of colour for which their race is noted. Lastly comes Buffalo Bill himself, under whose direction the whole assemblage go through that bewildering series of evolutions well named the maze.

Illustrations of the different methods of riding in vogue throughout both hemispheres are presented. Wonderful horsemen are the cowboys, but their equestrianism, skilful and daring as it is, can hardly be superior to that of the Cossacks, who can stick to their mounts in any attitude. Standing or seated, head up or head down, position makes not the slightest difference to these daring riders, whose exhibition elicited successive rounds of applause. Artillery drill and life-saving demonstrations with the apparatus adopted by the U.S. Government compel the closest attention, as do the various military exercises performed by the international troops.

Buffalo Bill himself accomplishes some extraordinary feats of shooting from the back of a galloping horse. As he speeds around the arena glass balls are thrown into the air and shattered almost before the onlookers can discover their presence.

Johnny Baker, the celebrated young American marksman, also displays his skill as a sharpshooter. What a horse is to the Cossack a rifle is to Baker – something capable of use in all manner of conditions. From any posture Johnny fires with unerring accuracy at the objects moving rapidly through space.

Perhaps what appeals most to the spectators are the scenes depicting incidents of everyday life in the Wild West. The occupants of the auditorium are shown how in pre-railway times letters and telegrams were distributed from the Mississippi to the Pacific coast by means of pony express riders. An emigrant train crossing the prairies is attacked by Indians, who are driven off by scouts and cowboys. The onslaughts upon the Deadwood mail coach and upon a settler’s ranch are portrayed with startling realism. But the most impressive of the Indian battle scenes is that depicting the annihilation of General Custer’s command by the Sioux tribe in 1876. The scouts are seen at work. Then the American General surveys the encampment of the enemy. Bugles sound, and the troops charge through the advancing horde of red men, who, however, quickly surround the pale-face band, gradually narrowing the circle of attack until not a soldier is left to oppose them.

The lassoing of wild horses and the riding of bucking branchos [sic] by cowboys afford fifteen minutes’ excitement. It is amazing with what skill these flexible weapons are manipulated. The most sensational event on the programme is reversed for the end, viz., the cycle leap through space performed by George C. Davis. On a platform 96 feet high Davis mounts a specially constructed bicycle, the features of which are its great strength and the absence of pedals. Riding at express speed down an inclined track which culminates in an upward bend, he is projected into space, and after a parabolic leap of 171 feet alights on another platform 56 feet distant from the point where he left the track.

This is undoubtedly the most daredevil act ever seen in Dundee. The performance concludes with a farewell salute from Colonel Cody and his rough riders.