I consider myself a "Traditionalist" when it comes to researching history. Traditionalist historians are unlike Revisionist historians because Revisionists approach history in a subjective manner instead of objectively.
Because of their approach, they ignore pertinent information when researching history. The things they ignore goes against what they "feel" took place, or what they "feel" the subject was really like. And yes, Revisionist like to Monday morning Quarterback an incident and say what "should have" happened, or what they "feel" happened, without simply taking in all of the facts and simply reporting what is known for fact.
An example of this would be the way historian supporters of President Obama and Hillary Clinton view their actions, or lack of taking action, that led to 4 Americans dying in Benghazi, Libya. Their staunch supporters say "everything was done" because they "feel" Obama and Clinton "would" do everything -- all while neglecting all of the facts of what took place.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I try to connect the dots of history. I really try to be as accurate and impartial as possible while keeping things in chronological order in some way shape or form. I also try not to have a dog in the fight, at least not until I can verify the facts.
The fact is that I see a lot of history as a mystery of sorts, especially Old West history. Legends impress me, tales entice me, so-called "facts" call me to examine them, and yes - a great "Bull-spit Story" needs to be talked about.
I hate reading what some so-called Historians have to say when anyone reading their work can tell that they are obviously biased. The reason I say "so-called" is because I believe that a major problem with some so-called Historians is that they can't seem to look at things without being biased.
The problem is that some Historians take sides, they enforce a legend without examining it, they repeat things without questioning the so-called facts, they become supporters instead of simple reporters, they let their own subjective thoughts overwhelm any kind of objectiveness that they may have started out with, and yes some Historians make excuses for the person or event that they are writing about.
This is seen all the time, and especially when some of them put out information regarding the Old West.
"Perhaps due to distress over the death of Urilla, Wyatt gets in trouble with the law. He is accused of horse thieving in Van Buren, Arkansas. His bail is paid."
And by the way, he never paid the fine. But facts like that don't stop some so-called Historians from re-writing History. Yes, this is how Revisionist historians operate. Many of these Revisionist historians are Wyatt Earp fans -- so subsequently they act as supporters and conveniently leave out the fact that Wyatt Earp was not only sued for embezzlement as a Constable and later he was in fact arrested as a horse thief and escaped from jail.
Many so-called Earp Historians leave out that after Wyatt Earp escaped jail for being a horse thieve by climbing through the roof of the jailhouse, that he then he fled to Peoria, Illinois, where he was arrested multiple times for being a Pimp.
It seems that much of what is written, is written by people who insist that they're non-biased -- when in fact they are extremely biased.
I'll tell you what I use as a gauge to tell whether a book on Wild Bill is going to be objective or not. It has to do with an incident that I looked into many years ago. It is the McCanles Massacre that took place at the Rock Creek Station near what is today Fairbury, Nebraska, in 1861, when Hickok was a stock tender there. This occurred when Hickok was just a kid hired to tend the livestock at the stage station.
It is where Hickok shot and killed unarmed David McCanles from behind a curtain, and then went about killing two other unarmed men who were with McCanles. Hickok even helped to hack them to death with a hoe, but that is conveniently forgotten.
Of course if Hickok had caught David McCanles' son Monroe, who had run away from being slaughtered, we would have never known about the massacre.
According to the story, Hickok single-handedly killed ten "desperadoes, horse-thieves, murderers, and cutthroats" known as the "McCanles Gang". And yes, it was reported as "the greatest one man gunfight in history". During the battle, Hickok supposedly armed with a single pistol, a rifle, and a bowie knife, was shot 11 times. At least, that's how his bull-spit story went.
James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok claimed he had killed eight or ten or twelve members of the "McCanles Gang" depending on when he told the yarn, and how much booze he had under his belt. He would relate to anyone interested in listening to his side of the story, that he killed two of the gang in a knife fight -- right after he had suffered the 11 gunshot wounds.
And just for the record, after James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok was shot in the head by 23 year old Jack McCall in Deadwood - none of the supposed 11 gunshot wounds or multiple stab wounds were found on Hickok's body. It was all a lie.
So for me, if a some so-called Historian, Old West or otherwise, writes about how there was something called a "McCanles Gang," I automatically throw their book into a garbage can.
After all, if I can't trust writers, who claim to be Historians, to get such a simple to prove incident correct - then how can I trust them to get other things right. How can I trust any writer to get things right, if he or she can't get the easy facts right?
And what happens when it comes to things that may need a lot more research? Will they just conveniently omit the things that don't fit or don't support their conjecture? It seems at time that some writers would rather conveniently leave things out instead of having to explain them.
And by the way, I can't help but wonder how many so-called Historians simply go with what's already been written by someone else, and maybe use what was already written without even asking if its true or not?
So why is there so much difference in what various Historians report? Why do so many so-called Historians leave so many facts out when they write about someone or some event?
Well imagine for a moment that you're an Historian, and you're doing a book trying to show a heroic Wild Bill Hickok. Would you want the following information to be known?
Texas Jack met Buffalo Bill Cody there in Nebraska in 1870. Buffalo Bill persuaded Texas Jack to become a scout at nearby Fort McPherson. The two scouts resigned in the fall of 1872 after getting the offer to go on stage. The melodrama "The Scouts of the Prairie" was a big success, and they took the action-packed act on the road to just about everywhere.
In 1873, Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack began starring in a similar melodrama called "The Scouts of the Plains." This was a continuation from their first big hit. They were joined for a short time by another frontier legend, James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, who had a lesser role.