A Chronology of STAMPEDE

TIMELINE: Monday, April 23Saturday, May 12, 1877[1]


Some time before: Two men rob $40,000 in gold dust from the Wells Fargo office in Vermillion, Dakota Territory. One of the men is killed in the pursuit and the other buries the gold dust and flees on foot after his horse breaks a leg.[2]


Some time before: In Natchez, the surviving robber is shot by a Wells Fargo detective. Dandy Jim Buckley meets the robber in a dive on Silver Street and buys a map to the buried gold dust from him for $200 just before the man dies.[2]


6 weeks before: In St. Louis, Tony Cadiz and Coral Stacey rob Dandy Jim Buckley of $7,000.[2]


Some time before: Noah Perkins leaves Council Bluffs to settle in the Black Hills.[2]


Some time before: Buckley buys a holdout device.[2]


Some time before: Buckley discovers a jail has been built over the buried Wells Fargo gold dust in Whiskey Flats, Dakota Territory.[2]


Shortly before: Bret Maverick buys passage from St. Louis to Fort Pierre on the Dakota Queen.[2]


Shortly before: In Council Bluffs,[1] Tony Cadiz, Coral Stacey and Battling Kreuger board the Dakota Queen for Fort Pierre.[2]


Shortly before: Buckley is caught using a holdout device aboard the Far West and is put off the boat on an island in the middle of the Missouri River.[2]


Monday, April 23, 1877: After Bret Maverick wins more than $4,000 from Tony Cadiz in a poker game aboard the Dakota Queen, Cadiz offers Bret a quarter interest in Battling Krueger for $2,500. Bret declines, but Coral Stacey offers Bret a partnership with her in Deadwood. Before Bret can respond, Cadiz has Kreuger knock him out and throw him overboard. Bret swims to an island in the middle of the Missouri where he meets Dandy Jim Buckley, who offers Bret half interest in $40,000 in stolen Wells Fargo gold dust if he helps him recover it from its hiding place.[2]


Tuesday, April 24, 1877: Bret and Buckley walk[2] to Salix, Iowa,[1] to sell Buckley's ring in exchange for two horses and outfits and $80, and ride towards Vermillion, Dakota Territory, to begin following Buckley's treasure map leading to the $40,000 of buried Wells Fargo gold dust.[2]


Friday, April 27, 1877: Bret and Buckley spot the Twin Peaks on Buckley's treasure map and follow the trail to discover the town of Whiskey Flats,[2] Nebraska,[1] has been founded in the Mountain Meadow. Upon following the map sixty paces from the Diamond Shape Falls, Bret determines the jail has been built over where the gold dust was buried.[2]


Saturday, April 28, 1877: Buckley plants his pocket watch on Bret and has him arrested for stealing it. With Bret in jail, Buckley waits until the marshal leaves for the night and passes a pick and shovel to Bret through the bars to uncover the gold dust. Once Bret digs up the gold dust, he fills two bags with dirt and passes them to Buckley through the bars. Believing they are full of the Wells Fargo gold dust, Buckley abandons Bret in jail and leaves with the bags.[2]


Sunday, April 28, 1877: After midnight,[1] Bret succeeds in digging his way out of the jail and sets off on foot with the Wells Fargo gold dust. In the morning, Buckley intercepts him at gunpoint and demands Bret hand over the Wells Fargo bags. Knowing Buckley won't kill him, Bret gives him half the gold dust, per their original agreement, and the two ride off towards Deadwood to settle their mutual score with Cadiz. Bret leads them into Vermillion where, to Buckley's chagrin, Bret turns the gold dust in to the Wells Fargo office for the ten percent reward of $4,000.[2]


Thursday, May 10, 1877: Bret and Buckley meet Noah Perkins in the Black Hills on the trail to Deadwood. Witnessing Perkins' physical strength in moving felled pine trees from the road, they talk him into going to Deadwood with them to fight Battling Kreuger and win enough money for Perkins to buy the valley he has settled in. Together, the three ride into Deadwood and take rooms at the Bonanza Hotel.[2]


Friday, May 11, 1877: After watching Kreuger fight, Bret and Buckley determine his weakness is in his midsection, giving Perkins the advantage in a boxing match. Pompey arranges for Perkins to fight Kreuger as "Pompey's Mystery Man" the following evening.[2]


Saturday, May 12, 1877: Perkins meets Kreuger in the street and learns Bret had lied to him about Kreuger's killing deer. Realizing he now has no reason to fight Kreuger, Perkins backs out of his agreement. Buckley talks Bret into taking Perkins' place as Pompey's Mystery Man. During the fight, Buckley sneaks away to steal the fight money being held in the jail. Bret manages to beat Kreuger by going after his weak midsection and becomes the Champion of Deadwood Gulch. The deputy catches Buckley trying to blow down a wall in the jail to steal the fight money. Buckley is sentenced to sixty days.[2]


Shortly afterwards: Bret remains in Deadwood for a few days but soon leaves for Memphis.[1] Pompey leaves Deadwood with Perkins to buy the valley and settle down with him.[2]


01. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails

02. Maverick, Stampede (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

03. Deadwood: The Golden Years; Watson Parker — University of Nebraska Press
(July 1, 1981)

04. The Territory of Dakota: The State of North Dakota; The State of South Dakota; An Official Statistical, Historical and Political Abstract (1889); Frank H. Hagerty; Daily News Print

05. Deadwood's Political Star; Laura Floyd, Deadwood Magazine, August 2009

06. Calendar for the Year 1877 (United States); TimeAndDate.com (retrieved June 14, 2015)



"In 1875, gold was discovered in the Black Hills of Dakota and a great stampede of gold-hungry men was started, thousands coming up the wide Missouri by steamboat."[2] Bret Maverick's introduction to "Stampede" was a bit misleading. Gold was actually discovered in the Black Hills by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer's Black Hills Expedition in the summer of 1874, although only in small amounts.[3] Bret's narration probably referred specifically to the discovery of the rich placer gold in the fall of 1875 that lead to the establishment of Deadwood the following year. Still, it seemed to suggest that the story itself took place in 1875. The true "stampede" into the Black Hills exploded early in 1876 but even that is too early our story, for the following contextual reasons:


"This is all government land, sells for about fifty cents an acre." Bret Maverick's statement to Noah Perkins is the most important clue to determining 1877 as the year in which "Stampede" took place. Until the Act of February 28, 1877," The Black Hills were still legally part of the Great Sioux Reservation, as established by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868.[3] Therefore, the episode must take place after the U. S. government took back the Black Hills from the Sioux and opened the land up for white settlement.[1] However, Bret was wrong about the price of the land. The Homestead Act of 1862 provided for government land to sell for $1.25 an acre during its first year of availability. Contemplating that the best land would be bought up quickly, the price would drop to seventy-five cents for the two years following, and down to fifty cents an acre after that.[4] That would place Bret's estimate into 1880, which would be too late for the events depicted in "Stampede." But Bret was probably basing his number on the vast majority of government land already available across the West.[1]


The Golden Nugget. Tony Cadiz's saloon, the Golden Nugget, appears to be well-established by the time Bret Maverick and Dandy Jim Buckley arrive in Deadwood.[2] It should be assumed, then, that Cadiz was one of the first businessmen to open a gambling hall in Deadwood the year before in 1876, as he had been giving away some of his money to key residents and building a network of allies. He likely operated the saloon with Madame Pompey and her girls since the boom town's earliest days. This would explain how Cadiz and Pompey knew each other before Bret met them downriver. Pompey was bringing back a new team of saloon girls, which Cadiz considered to be "about time." Cadiz himself was likely looking for new opportunities himself, which he found in Battling Kreuger[2] on a talent search to Council Bluffs.[1]


U. S. Post Office. The post office in Deadwood was established on April 10, 1877.[5] Since we can clearly see the post office down the street as Bret Maverick and Dandy Jim Buckley walked up to the Golden Nugget, we must conclude that "Stampede" took place after that date.


"Buried treasure and moonlight. Pleasant thought." When Bret Maverick and Dandy Jim Buckley finally spotted the Twin Peaks — the first landmark on Buckley's map — at a distance, Bret estimated it would be dark by the time they got there. Buckley reminded him that there would be a moon.[2] Assuming that the story took place in April of 1877 from the clues already mentioned above, we can build a solid timeline around the 27th, the night of April's full moon.[1] The extrapolated dates then gave Bret enough time to travel on to Memphis after his business in Deadwood was finished.

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