In 1894, when A. S. Mercer published this angry eyewitness account of the cattlemen’s invasion of Wyoming, the book was so thoroughly and ruthlessly suppressed that few copies of that edition remain today.
Although historians have since questioned some of Mercer’s conclusions about the Johnson County range war, they have never controverted the facts of the cattlemen-homesteader struggle as he grimly reported them. With the intention of "executing" alleged rustlers and terrorizing the homesteaders, a band of fifty-two cattlemen and hired gunmen invaded Johnson Country, Wyoming, in April 1892. After besieging and killing "the bravest man in Johnson County," the raiders in turn found themselves besieged by the homesteaders and finally in the protective custody of the Untied States cavalry. Further legal and illegal maneuvering permitted the invaders to go unpunished, but the cattlemen never again attempted to retain their hold over the range with organized mob violence.
In this new edition of The Banditti of the Plains the original text has been followed with the utmost fidelity, even including the illustrations. An informed and interesting foreword by William H. Kittrell has been added to the book.
Asa Shinn Mercer founded the University of Washington and established several frontier publications before going to Wyoming in 1883. There he edited the Northwest Live Stock Journal.
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