“The Day the Cowboys Quit” by Elmer Kelton
I was surprised to even think of a cowboy going on strike, but that’s exactly what these cowboys did. Texas, time enough for men who fought in the Civil War to be middle-aged. It was a time of transition from when cowboys worked small herds to when the bankers from the East came flooding West to form huge ranches.
The hero in our story is Hugh Hitchcock. He has a wise head on his shoulders, but even so through loyalties to other cowboys is pulled in many directions, towards the individual cowboys who want to strike for better wages and better respect to the man, Charlie Waide, who ran the W’s ranch. Charlie’s arm was twisted by the bankers. He was forced to side with the big ranchers and Hugh ended up on the other side with the cowboys.
Hard fought battles, but in the end it was loyalties that won out, it was respect for the individual and it had a really good ending.
I’ve enjoyed all the Westerns I’ve read by Elmer Kelton and will keep my eyes peeled for more. I sure would like to read more with Hugh Hitchock in them.