On one of his trips driving cattle to Nebraska, Jack met Col. William F. Cody, a scout in the U.S. Army at Fort McPherson. Col. Cody (more popularly known as “Buffalo Bill”) and Jack became best friends. Bill, admiring Jack’s extraordinary ability as a horseman, hunter and marksman, induced him to stay at Fort McPherson as an army scout. The U.S. government had a policy of not hiring ex-Confederate soldiers, so Bill took matters into his own hands and appealed to the Secretary of War. It is said that Congress had to pass a special act to permit him to enlist Texas Jack as a U.S. Government Scout.
Jack, having for many years, ridden the mountain plains and prairies, sleeping in his saddle and associating with the Indians, learning their language and signs, was one of the few white men at the time to earn their trust. He was particularly popular with the Pawnees who called him their “White Chief”, and also dubbed him “Whirling Rope” due to his amazing dexterity with a lasso. One can imagine why he was indispensable as a scout for the U.S. Government.
While at Fort McPherson, Jack had many experiences with hostile Indians as well as outlaw gangs. Typical is the story of his capture of a band of desperadoes who had harassed the fort by robbing their supply trains. Jack infiltrated the gang, and accompanied them to their hideout where he learned their plans, which he then related to the commander of the fort. He joined the raid with the bandits, but as soon as the soldiers appeared, turned on them and was instrumental in their capture. The government paid Jack a bonus of $l0,000 for this piece of skill and bravery.
As scouts at the fort, Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack conducted hunts for visiting European and English nobility. The Earl of Dunraven, in his book The Great Divide, wrote about his adventures and experiences hunting in Yellowstone and other areas of the great Northwest. He would have no other guide accompany him on his American hunting trips except Texas Jack. He described Texas Jack as follows:
“If Buffalo Bill belongs to the school of Charles I, pale, large-eyed and dreamy, Jack, all life and blood and fire, blazing with suppressed poetry, is Elizabethan to the backbone”. The Earl relates an occasion of their meeting in Salt Lake City (then called Deseret): “Jack is a tall, straight, and handsome man, and in walking through the well-watered streets of Deseret in his company, I felt the same proud conscious glow that pervades the white waistcoat of the male debutante when, for the first time, he walks down St. James Street, arm in arm with the best dressed and most fashionable man about town. It was obvious to all that I was on terms of equality with a great personage, and on that account cigars were frequent and drinks free”.