Westward HO!


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. 


Strangely enough, the very first thing that came to mind was “Circle the Wagons!”  Now, I haven’t watched an old-fashioned cowboy show in a very long time, so I’m not sure where this thought came from.  I do know that it’s still used as a sort of call to battle, or to be prepared for whatever is coming.

I also know that many in the younger generation would just give me a blank look, having no idea what the origin of this saying is.

Picture this:

As those long wagon trains crept westward, they were sometimes attacked by the Indians–sorry, Native Americans–who saw them as exactly what they were; a threat to the way of life enjoyed by those same Native Americans.  I won’t point out the revisionist history involved. Suffice it to say that the people who traveled westward didn’t do it for the sole purpose of pushing the Indians off their lands. Uh-oh, I did it again.

Anyway, circling the wagons gave a fairly effective protection to the travelers, who could shoot from  behind the wheels and the wooden bodies of the wagons. It must have been terrifying for those within the circle, though, if the enemy force was much larger.  We’ve tended to romanticize these events, but they were terrifying, bloody, and often didn’t end well at all.

Who were the people who piled all their belongings into these “ships of the desert” to find new homes far away from family and friends?  Oh, my.  All kinds.  Some were criminals escaping from the law, going to a lawless land where they felt safe from  punishment. Others were simply people who longed for wide open spaces, no near neighbors, excitement, land of their own.  Some were speculators, profiteers.  Some were missionaries, teachers,  women who were mail-order brides, with eager men waiting to marry them and relieve the loneliness of living in isolation. Men looking for gold, looking for land, looking for a way of life that seemed like Utopia.

“Westward, HO!” had become like a clarion call to many who were unhappy with the way-too-civilized life along the East Coast.

When I was a kid, westerns on TV were as numerous as cop shows and CSI’s are today. My word, so many.  Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Sugarfoot, Wyatt Earp, Big Valley, Laramie, Palladin–I can’t even remember them all.  My dad loved them, because they took him back to his own growing up years in the Utah desert, where I imagine he dreamed himself the hero of every Zane Grey novel he had ever read.

All this, from the word circle. And I didn’t even mention Ezekiel’s vision of the wheel within a wheel 🙂


7 thoughts on “Westward HO!

    1. No. I don’t think it was just Hollywood. I suspect that if they thought they outnumbered the people in the wagons, it was worth trying. If nothing else, it scared the travelers enough that some of them actually went back home.


  1. marvel

    Your anticipations with the circle are amazing. Very nostalgic memories, at times of colonization, of Indian stories and the circling the wagons. Feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, at the start of a new life and at the thought of possible dangers. It is very informative and nice to read thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I guessed right 🙂 Your sentence structure made me think perhaps German is your first language. I studied German for two years in high school, two years in college–but since I don’t use it, I’m afraid I’ve lost most of it.

        Liked by 1 person

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