Life of Tom Horn: Government Scout and Interpreter

LIFE OF TOM HORN                                    TOM HORN

Tom Horn was born in Missouri, in 1860. His parents, who were deeply religious, regularly beat him – on one occasion leaving him laid up in the family barn, where he needed a week to recover. 

Their attempts to beat him into submission soon ended when aged just fourteen years old, he left home and headed West. 

With $11 in his pocket after selling his rifle and nothing to stay for after his beloved dog had been shot, young farm boy Tom Horn traveled through Kansas and reached Santa Fe in 1874. 

Horn went on to become many things. 

He was to become a pivotal figure in the cattle business, making a name for himself amid growing hostility between cattle barons and settlers as a government scout and interpreter for Generals Wilcox, Crook, and Miles in the Apache wars. 

He was assistant to the infamous Al Sieber, Chief of Scouts, and was known as the ‘King of Cowboys’. 

He was a Pinkerton, a cowboy, a range detective and a gunman with potentially lethal ability – yet he was well respected and known as a gentleman who was true to his word. 

In this account of his life, he recounts the shocking events that led to his imprisonment for the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy. 

It was a crime for which he was hanged in 1904, and many think he was wrongly accused. 

Life of Tom Horn is a compelling western and a story of guilt, innocence, and justice amongst the Apache Wars. 

Tom Horn (1860-1903) was a US Army Scout, Pinkerton, cowboy, detective, an assassin. He wrote his memoirs whilst in jail for murder. His innocence is still debated. 


I had remembered reading about Tom Horn when I was a teenager, reading a book about gunfighters of the old west. I just never remembered his story because of the other people seemed more interesting to me at the time. I also remembered Steve McQueen making a movie about him but again there were other movies around that time that I remembered more and also were more exciting. Now as an adult coming back to this story he is a fascinating man. Someone who was an Army scout worked with the Pinkertons for a bit, also fought with the rough riders, plus some other things. Also was a friend of Geronimo and knew the way of the Apache life. Later when he ends up in Montana working for a man fighting off cattle rustlers. This is where his life takes a turn for the worse when a young boy is a murder and he is arrested. The sheriff has a drunken statement by Horn, but by many people who later would read it would say those were not the words of Horn. He seldom if at sore or used foul language and yet this statement was full of those words. The boys own family did not believe he did this crime for they had words a few days before with a cowhand from a nearby ranch. Being sheep farmers they were constantly having problems from that ranch, but would say later that Horn never gave them any trouble and was always respectful to them. They were not allowed to testify because of a larger group of cattlemen were wanting to do away with men like Horn and the man he worked for. While in jail Horn sat down and wrote his biography and for the first part of the book you get a look into his life as a scout and going after the Apaches, also going into Mexico after them. A lot of interesting information. The last part is what took place in Montana. After reading this book and reading the letters from officers you served with him I believe he was set up, but like all good stories, there is nothing to do about a 100+ years later. I found this to be a very good read. I received this book from I gave it 4 stars. Follow us at

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