The real story of Charlie from 1883

By Melany Moncada


Aug 10, 2023

Reading time: 1 min

Did you know there are characters based on real-life people in 1883? Charlie is one of them.

1883 follows the post-Civil War generation of the Dutton family as they leave Tennessee in search of greener pastures. 1883 is the prequel to Yellowstone and 1923.

The Dutton family and the Yellowstone ranch are not based on real people. However, there are characters who were taken directly from the history books. One of them is Charles “Charlie” Goodnight.

Who is Charlie in 1883?

Taylor Sheridan, writer, and creator of the show, plays Charlie, a rancher who hunts cattle thieves. Charlie has a brief part in the show, being in only two episodes.

The real-life Charles Goodnight was born in Macoupin County, Illinois. Goodnight moved to Texas in 1846, where he became a cowboy and served in the militia that fought Comanche raiders.

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Goodnight, lead groups against the Comanche. As part of the Texas Rangers, he located an indigenous settlement and lead his men there for battle. During the Civil War, Goodnight joined the Confederate States Army, where he solidified his reputation as a scout. Alongside Oliver Loving, Goodnight established the Goodnight-Loving Trail, a trail used in cattle drives in the 1860s.

Goodnight is constantly portrayed in Western series and is included in Western books. While he could be considered a problematic figure by outsiders, in the Western world, he represents everything a cowboy must be.

His contributions to the cattle industry are undeniable and one of the reasons why Sheridan decided to include him in 1883. Goodnight invented the chuckwagon, a type of field kitchen used by cowboys. Chuckwagons are still used in modern times.

In the show, Charlie helps the settlers kill a group of rustlers after a tornado scatters their livestock. Charlie’s participation in the show is brief.