Riding Shotgun On A Stagecoach
Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Back in the days of the wild west there was a thing called a stagecoach. They were all the rage in moving mail and currency from location to location. Eventually the train and the automobile came along, but for a long while, a stagecoach pulled by horses was all we had to move valuables long distances.
Trouble was, things weren't as sophisticated and tame as they are today. Bandits of different sorts would hold up the coaches, plundering the contents. It was a real problem. Just imagine, people stealing the mail and money? Good thing we live in a time where that would never happen.
Anyway, it turned out that stagecoaches with hired protection (shotgun messengers) fared much better. Wells Fargo & Co. were famous for doing this; they even incorporated the stagecoach into their branding. The hired protection would ride upfront with the operator. It is where we get the term 'Riding Shotgun.'
The firearm of choice was a shotgun, also referred to as a 'coach gun,' 'cutdown shotgun,' or 'messenger's shotgun.' Manufacturers included Remington, Ithaca, and Colt. Wells Fargo & Co. even made some (yes, Wells Fargo).
A brief search shows that over 450 stagecoach robberies occurred from 1856 to 1913. If accurate, that averages to 8 per year. It doesn't seem like a lot but who knows what it would have been without someone Riding Shotgun with a shotgun.
Let's hope that history never repeats itself...