Remington's strong association with the West obscures his identity as a cosmopolitan easterner. Born in 1861 in Canton, New York, young Remington attended schools in Burlington, Vermont, and Worcester, Massachusetts, and studied art for three semesters at Yale. He lived briefly in Kansas in his early twenties, but most of his life was spent in New York.
Remington's knowledge of the West was based on frequent short trips, extensive reading and research, and sizeable collections of photographs, props, and ethnographic artifacts. He cultivated friendships with soldiers, writers, and others with western experience, encouraging one such acquaintance—the young Lieutenant Powhatan Clarke, then serving in Arizona—to "write any observations you may make . . . who knows but you might inspire me to make an illustration."