Shotguns and Stagecoaches: The Brave Men Who Rode for Wells Fargo in the Wild West


The phrase "riding shotgun" was no teenage game to the men who guarded stagecoaches and trains the Western frontier. Armed with sawed-off, double-barreled shotguns and an occasional revolver, these express messengers guarded valuable cargo through lawless terrain. They were tough, fighting men who risked their lives every time they climbed into the front boot of a Concord coach.

Boessenecker introduces soon-to-be iconic personalities like "Chips" Hodgkins, an express rider known for his white mule and his ability to outrace his competitors, and Henry Johnson, the first Wells Fargo detective. Their lives weren't just one shootout after another--their encounters with desperadoes were won just as often with quick wits and memorized-by-heart knowledge of the land.

The highway robbers also get their due. It wouldn't be a book about the Wild West without Black Bart, the most infamous stagecoach robber of all time, and Butch Cassidy's gang, America's most legendary train robbers.

Through the Gold Rush and the early days of delivery with horses and saddlebags, to the heyday of stagecoaches and huge shipments of gold, and finally the rise of the railroad and the robbers who concocted unheard-of schemes to loot trains, Wells Fargo always had courageous men to protect its treasure. Their unforgettable bravery and ingenuity make this book a thrilling read.


This is a fascinating book about a part of the old west you only really saw in moves or read about in old western novels. Riding shotgun, here the author really explains the term and the men who rode shotgun for the Wells Fargo express. Delivering gold mostly but there were other items. Most of the men were also detectives in that they would search or track for the man or men that would rob the stage. From the first chapter when the author takes you through the life of “Chips” Hodgkin’s who would work for them for 25 years and even be acknowledged for his time and for all he did for the company by the owners, to the first detective Henry Johnson, each chapter tells a story of the true west and of men that not only had to fight the ones that stole from Wells Fargo but sometimes from the towns or camps as well. I found this book to be very well researched and by breaking it down by chapter for each person made for an entertaining read. A very good book. I received this book from I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at

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