The Cimarron River by Gary McCarthy
Andy Parmentier is sixteen the winter his father joins the Union army, working his mother's farm and dreaming of heading west for gold. When his father's death and the murder of his mother's new husband forces Andy to flee their Virginia farm, he teams up with con-artist Gizzard O'Reilly in an adventure that will lead them from a Mississippi river boat along the bullwhacker's trail to Santa Fe. When a Comanche attack leaves Andy in the hands of Comancheros, it isn't long before he finds himself working for the largest cattle ranch in Texas. In a tale than spans the American West, Andy Parmentier journeys through the real America; to the banks of the Cimarron River, a thin ribbon of hope in a land of danger and death.