The Battle of Trevilian Station
In the American West, Texas Jack was legendary for his horsemanship. He rode his horse Tall Bull, captured from the Cheyenne warrior of the same name, to lasso buffalo and to hunt with the Pawnee. On stage, he raced his pony Modoc towards the audience, drawing up just short of jumping off the stage and leaving an impression with theater-goers for generations.
Jack's comfort and skill on horseback came from long practice. He had been a cowboy, of course, using horses as a tool to herd and drive longhorns from Texas to Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Tennessee, and California. At one of the ranches he worked, Jack was placed in charge of the horses used for all the operation's cowboys, his skills proving up to the task. Later, he broke a mustang purchased by the Earl of Dunraven in Sterling, Montana, much to that aristocrat's amusement. And as a scout he raced horses across the prairie at the head of Army troops or in pursuit of hostile bands of Minniconjou, Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors.
Jack's primary education on horseback was not gained on the cow trails of Texas, the prairies of Kansas, or the wilds of Wyoming. Texas Jack had been a cavalry scout in Virginia under the legendary cavalry general Jeb Stuart. Stuart was the best and most important cavalry commander in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, and John Omohundro was Stuart's most trusted and capable cavalry scout. But it wasn't until a month after Stuart's death in May of 1864 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern that Jack Omohundro would fight in the largest and deadliest cavalry battle of the Civil War.
Jack's commanding officer, following Stuart's Death, was General Wade Hampton. On June 11th, 1864, Hampton and General Fitzhugh Lee's forces fought against the Union cavalry under Major General Philip Sheridan. Sheridan had been tasked by Ulysses S. Grant with destroying long stretches of the Virginia Central Railroad and occupying Confederate troops while Grant's command crossed the James River. Wade Hampton and the Confederate cavalry managed to get to the railroad at Trevilian Station first, and the battle between the two sides raged to a standstill.
The following day, the Union cavalry under Sheridan repeatedly assaulted Hampton's troops, including Jack Omohundro at Trevilian Station. Seven attempts to drive the Confederates from their position failed before the Union forces retreated, unable to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad. But while the Confederates were engaged in the battle, General Grant was able to successfully cross the James River, setting up the successful siege at Petersberg, Virginia, a few days later.
The West would let Texas Jack put to use the skills he gained during the war. The command of his animal that guided him through cavalry battles in Virginia kept him alive on the prairies. The accuracy with his weapon that he honed in battle amazed children when he later shot coins from the outstretched hand of his partner, Buffalo Bill. The West erased many of the old North/South divisions, and Texas Jack would rise to favor with former Union soldiers like Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok, but also with former Union Generals like George Armstrong Custer and even Philip Sheridan. On the back of his horse Tall Bull on America's western frontier, he wasn't John Omohundro the Confederate Cavalry scout. He was Texas Jack.