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Cowboy (English cowboy, cow boy) - the name used in the Wild West of the United States in relation to cattle herders. The era of cowboys began in 1865, when it was necessary to drive giant wild herds of bulls into theft, mainly in Texas. This era ended about twenty years later.
After the 1930s, a nostalgic, glorifying look at cowboys became fashionable in America. It is reflected in country music, comic books, advertisements, clothing, and also in cinema. Indispensable attributes of a cowboy are a cowboy hat, boots, a vest, a checkered shirt with buttons with a double yoke (western yokes), a lasso, and a revolver.
The image of a cowboy, a courageous and always drunk "tough guy", a freedom-loving conqueror of the Wild West, an instigator of brawls, grabbing at the faithful Colt for any reason and without further ado ends disputes with shooting, has formed in our minds thanks to numerous westerns.
But was this really the case? Historical facts prove that almost all ideas about cowboys, deeply rooted in the minds of several generations, are wrong. What were the people about whom a considerable number of myths were created? We will try to find the answer to this question.
America of the 18th - 19th centuries is a country of cowboys. In fact, neither in America nor in the Wild West have cowboys ever made up the majority of the population. According to statistics, over the past hundred years in the country, there were no more than 20 thousand representatives of this profession.
Cowboys are free and independent people. This is not entirely true. It should be remembered that cowboys are ordinary shepherds, mostly hired by wealthy farmers and moving their livestock from Texas to the northwestern states for them. Therefore, the freedom of representatives of this profession is a relative concept.
Cowboy songs are about sultry beauties, about Indians and a carefree, fun life. Misconception. The cowboys led a difficult nomadic life. After all, driving livestock, sometimes lasting more than a year, on dusty, exhausting roads is not an easy task. Therefore, the songs of cowboys are not at all as cheerful and optimistic as can be judged from the films, and they most often tell about half-starved horsemen, whose entire income is $ 25 a month.
Cowboys were exclusively white. In westerns, yes. In fact, one in three cowboys was black, and one in four was Indian. There were many Mexicans among the representatives of this profession. And in the rodeo, the winners were not only "white". For example, Nat Love, who handled the lasso perfectly, and John Ware, who had no equal among the tamers of wild horses - blacks.
The cowboys hated the Indians. No, it was mainly settlers and the US Army (North American United States) who fought with the Indians. The cowboys, sometimes themselves Indians, tried to negotiate with the indigenous people of America. After all, it was the Indians who sold (or exchanged) products and various things that are so necessary for cowboys during cattle driving.
Cowboys constantly fired from the Colt to the right and left indiscriminately. The cowboys carried weapons quite rarely, but used them only in extreme cases, and they shot mainly in the air. After all, the sounds of a shot, like the clapping of a shepherd's whip, help to manage the flock.
Colt shot without miss at any distance. This weapon is not intended for aimed shooting at long distances, especially at moving targets. An accurate hit is possible only from a distance of several steps.
The cowboy could lay the enemy on the spot with a shot "from the hip." Almost no one fired from the hip in those days. The first reason, as already mentioned, is the low accuracy of this type of weapon. And the second reason - the lack of practice of aimed shooting - after all, charges at that time were quite expensive.
Cowboys could fire two pistols at once. No, it’s not. Firstly, in the days of cowboys, two revolvers were carried at once either by eccentric people, or newcomers, or Texas riders and the military. Secondly, no one fired simultaneously from two Colts, preferring to fire twelve accurate shots without reloading, first from one pistol, and then from the other.
Cowboys were constantly shooting houses and saloons. This is fiction. It should be remembered that in those days gunpowder was used, which emits a large amount of smoke during combustion. So, the very first shot filled the room with a suffocating black cloud, and the coughing shooters were forced to leave the smoky building as soon as possible.
Cowboys died of injuries sustained in gunfights with Indians or during brawls in the saloon. This information is incorrect. Cowboys, who maintained fairly good relations with the Indians and did not often arrange fights, most often died of pneumonia (which can be considered their kind of "occupational disease").
All cowboys are heavy drinkers. No, representatives of this profession had neither time nor money for unrestrained drunkenness.
A typical cowboy dressed like this: pointed Cossack boots (most often with spurs), jeans, a plaid shirt, and a Stetson hat. In fact, the clothes of many cowboys - sombreros and camisoles - resembled those of the Spanish colonists. Those who could not afford such a "outfit" wore "texas" (buffalo pants). It was only much later that jeans, "cowboy shirts" and other items of clothing appeared, in which heroes of popular westerns flaunt.