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Shotguns and Stagecoaches

The Brave Men Who Rode for Wells Fargo in the Wild West

John Boessenecker

A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin

Shotguns and Stagecoaches Download image

ISBN10: 1250184894
ISBN13: 9781250184894

Trade Paperback

368 Pages



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The phrase "riding shotgun" was no teenage game to the men who guarded stagecoaches and trains of the Western frontier. Armed with sawed-off, double-barreled shotguns and an occasional revolver, these express messengers guarded valuable cargo through lawless terrain. They were tough, fighting men who risked their lives every time they climbed into the front boot of a Concord coach.

Boessenecker introduces soon-to-be iconic personalities like "Chips" Hodgkins, an express rider known for his white mule and his ability to outrace his competitors, and Henry Johnson, the first Wells Fargo detective. Their lives weren't just one shootout after another—their encounters with desperadoes were won just as often with quick wits and memorized-by-heart knowledge of the land.

The highway robbers also get their due. It wouldn't be a book about the Wild West without Black Bart, the most infamous stagecoach robber of all time, and Butch Cassidy's gang, America's most legendary train robbers.

Through the Gold Rush and the early days of delivery with horses and saddlebags, to the heyday of stagecoaches and huge shipments of gold, and finally the rise of the railroad and the robbers who concocted unheard-of schemes to loot trains, Wells Fargo always had courageous men to protect its treasure. Their unforgettable bravery and ingenuity make Shotguns and Stagecoaches a thrilling read.


Praise for Shotguns and Stagecoaches

"If you assume that Hollywood went overboard portraying the derring-do of the shotgun riders of the Old West, think again. These guys were as daredevil, dogged and—according to the tintypes—dashing as any Louis L’Amour novel hero. And the highway bandits (and occasional Wells Fargo turncoat) were every bit as colorful and defiant as those in a romantic ballad. Shotguns and Stagecoaches author John Boessenecker is an unabashed lover of the wild, wild West, and quite frankly, he loves the tales of the bad men as much as those of the good guys. This fun, flamboyant read is his ninth book, and it reads a little like a wall of wanted posters, handlebar mustaches and all."Bookpage

"A rip-roaring history of moving the mail in the wildest of the Wild West days."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


In all of recorded history, mankind has needed to transfer money and goods from one place to another. The enduring difficulty has been finding a safe way to do it. From marauding brigands attacking desert caravans, to pirates...

About the author

John Boessenecker

JOHN BOESSENECKER, a San Francisco trial lawyer and former police officer, is considered one of the leading authorities on crime and law enforcement in the Old West. He is the award-winning author of several books, including the New York Times bestselling Texas Ranger. In 2011 and 2013, True West magazine named Boessenecker Best Nonfiction Writer. He has appeared frequently as a historical commentator on PBS, The History Channel, A&E, and other networks.

Photo by Sarah Boessenecker

John Boessenecker

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