Tag Archives: Flagan Sackett

Galloway by Louis L’Amour

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“There’s a saying that when guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns.” -Flagan Sackett

It’s the kind of statement we’ve heard in our lifetimes too, isn’t it? Something I have learned from reading the Sackett  books is that the hearts of men don’t change. As Solomon once said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” No matter what the customs, or laws of the land are, there will always be men who stand firmly on the side of right, and there will be men whose thoughts and actions are motivated by evil. I have loved that L’Amour recognizes that and has touched on it in each of his books. As he recalls the relationships between groups of people, he comments on the fact that neither side is blameless in their treatment of each other. That the actions of men committed to honesty and fairness are undermined by those motivated by personal gain or malice.

This book has Flagan Sackett escaping from a group of Jicarilla Apaches. He is captured by them and tied up, awaiting torture. But, while he lays there looking for escape, he doesn’t hate the men holding him. He simply understands his situation as part of their culture. The Apaches had such respect for strength and courage that they would test the men they captured through torture to see how strong they really were. I know that I have not explained well the mind of an Apache warrior, but I also know that I do not have the capacity to explain it to you. I suggest that you read L’Amour’s books, and find a love for a people group that have historically been feared, resented, and guiltily pushed to the backs of our minds.

So, back to Flagan. He manages to escape the Apaches, but is unfortunately naked when he does so. To us, this sounds embarrassing. To a man alone in the mountains, naked is dangerous. It means no warmth, no protection for feet from sharp rocks, and no weapons for protection or for killing some much needed meat. But, as Galloway said, “We Sacketts don’t die easy, and Flagan is a tough man. He’s been up the creek and over the mountain. He’s fit Comanches and Arapahoes on the buffalo plains, and about ever’ kind of man or animal. He’s a tough man.” He makes it back to civilization, while on the way making enemies with Curly Dunn, a man whose actions can not be classified as pure.

“You’d better be careful. The Dunns will think you’re crowding them.’

‘It’s open range and there’s enough for all.’

‘That isn’t what they think, Mr. Sackett. There are six of the Dunn boys, and there’s their pa, and they’ve a dozen or more men who ride for them.’

‘Well, there’s two of us Sacketts. That should make it work out about right. Of course, if need be, there’s a lot of us scattered around and we set store by our kinfolk.”

I love when a group of Sacketts come together. And this book has a great group. Logan and Parmalee join Flagan and Galloway in the fun and the fighting. Even with all the commonalities that the Sacketts share, there are so many ways in which they differ. Throw in a couple friends and you’ve got a crowd of characters matched by none, with conversations that can’t be beat. “We don’t have so many words as you,’ I told him, ‘so we have to make those we have stand up and do tricks. I never figured language was any stone-cold thing anyway. It’s to provide meaning, to tell other folks what you have in mind, and there’s no reason why if a man is short a word he can’t invent one. When we speak of beans that have been shelled out of the pod we call ’em shuck-beans, because they’ve been shucked. It’s simple, if you look at it.’

‘Learning,’ Galloway added, ‘isn’t only schoolin’. It’s looking, listening and making-do. If a man doesn’t have much or if he’s in wild country he’d better get himself to contemplate and contrive. Pa always taught us to set down and contemplate, take our problem and wrassel with it until there’s an answer.’ Pa taught them well, and that’s just what they did. And you are going to enjoy reading all about it. Well, if you’re anything like me, you will.

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The Skyliners by Louis L’Amour

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The Skyliners starts out with quite the show. We meet Flagan and Galloway Sackett on their way into a town. And this is our introduction to them: “We were fairly out in the middle of the street when hoofs began to pound and a passel of folks a-horseback came charging up, all armed and loaded for feudin’ or bear fightin’. Folks went high-tailing it for shelter when they saw those riders coming, but we were right out in the middle of the street and of no mind to run. They came a-tearing down upon us and one of them taken a cut at me with a quirt, yelling, “Get outen the street!” Well, I just naturally reached up and grabbed a hold on that quirt, and most things I lay a hand to will move. He had a loop around his wrist and couldn’t let go if he was a mind to, so I just jerked and he left that saddle a-flying and landed in the dust. The rest of them, they reined around, of a mind to see some fun.” Of course, the fun they had in mind was to see their guy whip “a pair of green mountain boys putting on a show.” But, it didn’t take long for someone to recognize them as Sacketts and they decided that two Sacketts with Winchesters in hand were not something they wanted to take on while their guns were holstered. So, they drop their guns and prepare to leave with thoughts of coming back to even the score another day. And here is, possibly, my favorite part of the book. “They did as ordered, but Galloway is never one to let things be. He’s got a hankering for the fringe around the edges. “Now, Gentlemen and Fellow-Sinners, you have come this day within the shadow of the valley. It is well for each and everyone of us to recall how weak is the flesh, how close we stand to Judgment, so you will all join me in singing “Rock of Ages.”

He gestured to Black Fetchen. “You will lead the singing, and I hope you are in fine voice.”

“You’re crazy!”

“Maybe,” Galloway agreed, “but I want to hear you loud and clear. You got until I count three to start, and you better make sure they all join in.”

“Like hell!” Tory was seventeen, and he was itching to prove himself as tough as he thought he was… or as tough as he wanted others to think he was.

Galloway fired, and that bullet whipped Tory’s hat from his head and notched his ear. “Sing, damn you!” Galloway said; and brother, they sang.

I’ll say this for them, they had good strong voices and they knew the words. Up in the mountains the folks are strong on goin’ to meetin’, and these boys knew all the words. We heard it clear: “Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee.”

“Now you all turn around,” Galloway advised, “and ride slow out of town. I want all these good people to know you ain’t bad boys- just sort of rambunctious when there’s nobody about to discipline you a mite.”

Oh man, but I was laughing when I read that! Of course, as I copy it now, and am not startled into laughter by the comedy of it all, I am reminded of another thing that I love about the Sackett books. Even Black Fetchen and his boys know the words to the old hymns. Their Mamas dragged them into church when they were little. Of course, everybody has the chance to make his own choices about who they will follow and serve, but I love thinking about the fact that they were given all the details they needed to make an informed choice.

As you can imagine, they didn’t make any friends with the Fetchens that day, and they end up crossing paths with them again and again throughout the book. They drive cattle across the country, pick up a young lady to escort to her father, and fend off the Fetchens with the same relaxed attitude toward danger that all the Sacketts possess. This one is a fun book to read. Galloway and Flagan are such interesting guys. I’d love to hang out with them of an afternoon. Also, it was great to hear how one Sackett describes another. Since Flagan narrates the book, all descriptions of Galloway come from his thoughts, such as this one, “He was a soft-talking man, but he was tough, and so rough he wore out his clothes from the inside first.” It makes me laugh every time I read it!

But, as is true with all the Sackett books, funny is not all there is to it, there’s thoughtfulness and reflection and loyalty. To remind you of that, I leave you with this last thought.

“We had come a far piece into a strange land, a trail lit by lonely campfires and by gunfire, and the wishing we did by day and by night. Now we rode back to plant roots in the land, and with luck, to leave sons to carry on a more peaceful life, in what we hoped would be a more peaceful world.

But whatever was to come, our sons would be Sacketts, and they would do what had to be done whenever the call would come.”

The Sackett Brand by Louis L’Amour

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“For a hundred years my family had told stories of Sacketts

who came running to help Sacketts, often men they had never known.

It was the way of our kind, the way of the hills in which we were bred.”

-William Tell Sackett.

This book has the largest gathering of Sacketts ever seen. Unfortunately, it is because one of their own is in trouble. In the beginning of the book, Tell is out scouting the land when he is shot. He falls down a cliff into a river and is able to escape the men hunting him. Then he returns to his camp to find his wife Ange, their wagon and all of their gear missing. He knows he is in the right place, but there is no sign that the wagon was ever there. This leads him to the conclusion that an evil act is being covered by the guilty conscience of a man. Sadly, he is right.

Then, he searches for his wife, for the truth, and for the man responsible. When he finds his wife, the truth is revealed, and the man responsible receives the full weight of his anger. There are obstacles, however, as 40 hired guns are brought in to kill Tell thereby silencing him. But, these men have never been in a fight with a Sackett and very badly underestimate him. As all the Sacketts are coming into town, one of them comments, “‘He couldn’t be so ornery. Not even a Sackett could be so down-right ornery. He don’t dare let us be late.’ ‘Ornery?’ ‘He couldn’t be so ornery as to kill all forty of ’em before we get there.'” Only a group of Sacketts would worry about one guy finishing off 40 others before they could get in there to help. As Tell said, “None of us Sacketts were ever much on missing out on a fight. It was just in us to step in and let fly.”

This book has such a sad story. The beginning just breaks your heart, but the fighting and the “all-in relational aspect” that is the trademark of the Sackett line makes you forget about the sadness and really enjoy the story. As I look back over the book, I am realizing that it is so sad, and I am trying to figure out why I thought the book was so good and fun. Before you judge me for so thoroughly enjoying a book with such a tragic beginning, read it for yourself, you’ll see what I mean. My best explanation is this. That in the end what you’re left with is what we are all really longing for. A large family that loves you so much they will drop everything, risk what is most important, and run, not walk to join you when you most need them. Someone who loves you so much that they will search every dangerous path to find you. Who will then stand strong against your enemies until they are defeated. Unconditional love. These are the things you will remember from this book. And I can tell you that you will enjoy it. A lot.