Hell on wheels Wiki

"I'm a railroad man."
"Bullshit. You're a soldier ... lost without a war to fight."
— President Ulysses S. Grant to Cullen Bohanon

Cullen Bohannon Season 5
Cullen Bohannon
Date of birth: 1826
Status: Alive
Age: 43
Occupation: Tobacco Farmer (Formerly)

Confederate States Army Colonel (Cavalry) (Formerly)
Railroad Foreman (Formerly)
Rebel Armed Robber (Formerly)
Railroad Police Chief (Formerly)
Union Pacific Railroad Chief Engineer (Formerly)
Central Pacific Railroad Stake Holder & Chief Engineer (Formerly)
United States Army Colonel (4th Cavalry Regiment) (Formerly)

Marital status: Widowed, Separated
Relatives: William Edgar Bohannon - Father (Deceased)

Mrs. Bohannon - Mother (Deceased)
Mary Bohannon - Wife (Deceased)
Joshua Bohannon - Son (Deceased)
Naomi Bohannon - Wife (Separated)
William Bohannon - Son

Relationships: Lily Bell - Lover (Deceased)

Naomi Bohannon - Ex-Wife, Separated
Mei Aka Fong - Lover

Behind the scenes
Portrayed by: Anson Mount
Seasons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
First episode: "Pilot"
Last episode: "Done"
Appearances: 57 episodes (see below)

Cullen Bohannon is the main protagonist of AMC's Hell on Wheels. A former Confederate States Army Captain and slave owner from Meridian, Mississippi. After returning home from the war, Cullen discovered that his wife and son had been slaughtered by Union soldiers.

Bohannon sought revenge and journeyed out west, tracking and hunting down each member responsible for his family’s murder which eventually brought him to the mobile encampment known as "Hell On Wheels".

Over time, Cullen eventually renounced his vengeance and became a 'railroad man'. Through a series of events, Cullen became a prominent figure in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.


Background and Early Life[]

Cullen was born in 1826 and grew up in Meridian, Mississippi. As a child, he was practically raised by a female slave named Bethel after the death of his mother. His father, William had a penchant for spirits and fighting which Cullen seemingly took after. He was later shot and killed by Union soldiers. His grandfather tore himself a thousand-acre plantation out from nothing.

He also befriended a physician named Doc Whitehead who constantly patched him up more times than any other child and once removed a buckshot wound from his rear end. Cullen later went on to study at a few universities.

As a young adult, Cullen eventually inherited his family's tobacco farm and retained all five of the slaves attached to the property. He worked as a tobacco farmer which he hated and even failed at the profession. Once a year, he traveled to New Orleans and stayed at the St. Charles Hotel right on the avenue.

He later met a Northern woman named Mary who convinced him of the evils of slavery. She was also the youngest daughter of Leonidas Tate, a railroad magnate. The couple fell in love and married at Christ Church in New York in 1856. Together they had a son named Joshua whom he played hide-and-seek with and would always hide in their hayloft every time.

Once the war began, Cullen eagerly enlisted in the Confederate States Army. He became a member of the Cavalry and quickly rose to the rank of Colonel where he served under the command of General Nathan Beford Forest.

Cullen participated in numerous campaigns throughout the war. On the 17th of September, 1862, Cullen was present at The Battle of Antietam. His squadron initially held off against the 51st Pennsylvania infantry on the Burnside bridge and managed to kill 500 troops. However after running out of ammunition, they were soon outnumbered and ultimately retreated.

Cullen once became acquainted with a fellow soldier named Sydney Snow of the 18th Virginia Regiment and the pair fought together in The Battle of LaFourche Crossing In June 1964, where they discovered a Union medical train in Virginia and massacred the defenseless passengers including the doctors. They later participated in The Beefsteak Raid as part of the Siege of Petersburg where they managed to steal 3,000 head from under Ulysses S. Grant's nose and feasted on it like kings for a month.

He was educated in railroad construction in order to learn how to effectively destroy them. In The Battle of Monocacy on the 9th of July, 1864, he used half a keg of black powder to destroy the Baltimore, Ohio bridge over the monocacy river.

After the war's conclusion in 1865, Cullen returned home only to find that his plantation had been destroyed by a platoon of Union soldiers of the 13th Ohio infantry during the Savannah Campaign. He discovered that Mary had been raped and hung on the porch while Joshua was burned alive alongside Bethel in the barn. Emotionally devastated, Cullen buried his family, then set out to seek his revenge against the soldiers responsible.

In November, four months after the war, Cullen killed Captain Ebert Nelson in Dayton, Ohio. He then tracked down Private Buckton Prescott in a church in Washington D.C where he posed as a priest in a confessional. Cullen told Buckton to confess his sins to god, when he refused he shot him in the eye. He then eliminated Lieutenants Wustner and Tanner who were both located in Maryland.

Season 1[]

Main article: Season 1

Bohannon launches his revenge in Washington D.C. by acting as a priest in a confessional. He says to the confessor, "Tell me about Meridian." The confessor responds, "How do you know about Meridian?" Bohannon draws his revolver and shoots the former Union soldier, Buckton Prescott, through the eye.

His quest of revenge takes him to Iowa and, finally, Hell on Wheels, where he is hired by foreman Daniel Johnson and is put in charge of overseeing the all-black cut crew. One of the men he oversees, Elam Ferguson, becomes indignant after learning that Bohannon was a former slave owner.

Elam's friend, William, collapses due to dehydration and Elam takes him to a water spout to drink from. Johnson comes over on his horse and chastises the men for taking a break. His horse is suddenly frightened and kicks its rear leg. Unfortunately, the horse kicks William in the head, breaking his skull and ultimately killing him. Johnson shows no remorse and simply says, "This is what happens when you break my rules."

After that event, Elam and Cullen take a break in a tent where Elam shows his intent to kill Johnson by sharpening a knife and ranting about how things have not changed for the former slaves following their emancipation. Cullen warns Elam to not go through with the act or else he will be hanged. Elam states that he will kill both Cullen and Johnson to prevent having any witnesses. Bohannon warns Elam again, and he backs down from killing the former slave owner.

Cullen goes to the Starlight Saloon and drinks with Johnson, who reminisces about the Civil War and his immoral participation in Sherman's March. Suspicious, Cullen asks Johnson if he was ever in Meridian, Mississippi. The former union soildier leads the former greyback outside at gunpoint and informs Cullen that he read the news articles about the murders that Bohannon had perpetrated. Johnson reveals that a sergeant strangled Cullen's wife. Suddenly, Elam appears behind Johnson and slits his throat. Distraught, Cullen begs the dying man to tell him what the sergeant's name was, but he dies.

Thor Gundersen, head of security for the railroad, is suspicious of Bohannon for the murders in Washington as well as the murder of Johnson. He arrests Bohannon and questions him. Eventually Bohannon escapes, hides with help from Reverend Cole, and removes his shackles with help from the black freedman Psalms and Elam. He manages to get into Thomas Durant's train car and convince him that he needs Bohannon to finish this railroad.

Just as Gundersen shows up to kill/arrest Bohannon, Durant reveals Cullen is the new railroad foreman and to let him go. This sets up an animosity between Gundersen and Bohannon which will endure throughout the entire series.

Bohannon helps in completing the railroad to the 20 mile mark, finishing it on time so the railroad and start earning money per mile. As they complete the railroad Durant becomes jealous of the affection that starts to grow between Bohannon and Lily Bell. He warns Bohannon of Gundersen's plan to have the federal marshals come and arrest Bohannon with the testimony of Sergeant Frank Harper. Durant hopes Bohannon will run, leaving Bell all to himself.

Bohannon did not run, and decides to stay, much to the happiness of Bell. He tracks down Harper and kills him, believing that he was part of the group that killed his family. After strangling him to death he finds documentation on Harper that proves he was not there at the time of the murders. Bohannon goes to the dance, and sees Bell dancing with Durant. With the Federal Marshals arriving, he runs.

Season 2[]

Main article: Season 2

After Bohannon fled Hell on Wheels, he returns to Meridian to find that Carpetbagers dug up the bodies of his wife and son looking for valuables. Some time while in Meridian, he meets a group of former Confederate soldiers mostly from Alabama. He also meets up with his old friend Doc Whitehead.

The group travels towards Nebraska and steals the Union Pacific Railroad payroll from the inbound train several times. This money is supposed to go towards a new life in a colony in Mexico, though Bohannon seems to be one of the only members of the gang who is actually robbing the trains to support the colony.

While scouting one of the trains, Bohannon notices that Elam is the one guarding the payroll and asks to lead the assault. Once on board, Bohannon reveals his identity to Elam and saves his life, making it look like Elam got the drop on him, forcing him to flee without the money. When confronted by Hawkins, the gang leader, with the facts of the robbery, Bohannon denies any involvement and tries to make a case for leaving for Mexico. Hawkins demands they perform one more robbery. While on board, the gang members surprise Bohannon and knock him unconscious.

Bohannon wakes up on a prison wagon headed to Fort Learned, where he says he will be shot, not hung, for his crimes. When he arrives he is waterboarded and tortured into giving them the names of the other robbers involved. He refuses, sarcastically giving them the names of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate offices, continuing his torture.

When he is taken away to what finally looks like his death, he is left locked in a barn, where Durant offers him a pardon if we works for him and the Union Pacific again, as they are behind schedule and facing deadly Sioux Indians. Bohannon accepts and returns to the railroad as the new Chief of railroad police, with a full pardon for the previous murders and armed robbery.

When he returns he faces many challenges with the workers. At first they seem against working for the man who robbed them of their payroll. Then he faces indian attacks, and the men striking due to fear of working in Indian territory without proper protection. He manages to get through all of this and keep the railroad moving forward.

When his former robbery compatriots arrive in Hell on Wheels to rob the payroll directly from the railway office safe, Durant ends up wounded and heads to Chigaco for treatment. This effectively leaves Bohannon and Bell in charge of operations of the railroad, and they grew close during this time and even sleep together. Bohannon must also exceute his friend Doc Whitehead, who asks him to shoot him instead of letting the Union military men do it. This greatly affected Bohannon.

When Durant returns to the railroad he brings along his wife, Hannah, who works hard to push Lily out of the railroad and Hell on Wheels. During a dinner with the Durants and Lily, Bohannon reveals he is from an educated family and married Mary Tate, daughter of railroad magnate Leonidas Tate, with whom the Durants are well acquainted.

When Hannah Durant kicks Lily out of her train car, she moves in with Bohannon in his caboose, though he does not sleep there as he does not want to encourage the knowledge that they are sleeping together.

Durant offers Bohannon a partnership in exchange for helping him explain to the board why Durant oversold the mileage to to them. This would result in a great deal of power and money for Bohannon but also risks Bohannon meeting the same fate as Durant in the form of jail sentence.

Bohannon declines and works with Lily to keep the railroad going and push out Durant to the feds. During the Sioux attack Bohannon decides to defend the bridge instead of the town as the town and its inhabitants are replaceable, the bridge is not. When he returns he finds Bell dead. He brings her body to the church and goes to hang Gundersen for his involvement in the sabotage of the railroad, the indian attack, and the murder of Bell. However he escapes, though is presumed dead.

After being questioned by the federal marshalls, he is asked by the President of the United States, by proxy of Senator Howard, if he will continue the railroad. The episode ends before he gives an answer, leaving us in question as to whether or not he took on the job.

Season 3[]

Main article: Season 3

Bohannon has spent the winter on the rail line in Nebraska, though no real work is being accomplished. He nearly loses his life to the cold, hallucinating that Doc Whitehead is at his side. Bohannon goes to Omaha, Nebraska in search of Elam. The pair head to New York City to convince the Union Pacific to take him on as the head of the railroad.

When he arrives in New York he is met by a representative of the railroad stating that the job was already given to Senator Metcalf's son in law. He visits Durant in jail to ask him to vouch for him, which he refuses to do, stating Bohannon will never be like them. He is a southerner and he smells.

This makes Bohannon go to the tailor to get clothing for himself and Elam to look presentable for his meeting with UP. He convinces them to give him the railroad, and they hire him as Chief Engineer, though they only pay him in Union Pacific stock. He is offered a job by Collis Huntington, head of Central Pacific Railroad to work for him for real money, but Bohannon states he has already given his word to UP and thats all he really has left.

Bohannon designs water cars and sleeping cars to keep his workers sheltered and watered while working the railroad, things go smoothly until they hit several rough patches. They encounter resistance from the Mormons, their cattle is stolen by Durant via proxy, and they encounter a spell of cholera. The abduction of Elam and Eva's daughter calls for the whole town to search for the child, putting them behind schedule by about 2 weeks.

Durant arrives and attempts to get Bohannon ousted due to incompetence and his violent tenancies. The whole board agrees to this, but Ulysses Grant, the next US President, keeps Bohannon in charge, but only if he can made it to Cheyenne (previously named Durant) by the deadline.

Bohannon pushed to make the deadline and on the last day before he is captured by Mormons, who want revenge for the boy Bohannon hung for the murder of their chief of police. When Naomi Hatch tells them she is pregnant with Bohannon's child, they stay his execution if he marries her and stays in their town. He agrees to stay while Elam helps complete the railroad by the deadline in Cheyenne.

Season 4[]

Main article: Season 4

Bohannon stays in Fort. Smith while Naomi has his child. After the baby is born, the bishop blocks Bohannon's departure, when he states he is taking Naomi and baby William with him. Bohannon warns Aaron Hatch about the "Bishop" who is really the Swede, and having seen a few odd actions and things the bishop has done, Hatch becomes suspicious as well. The two come up with a rouse that will show the bishop for who he really is. Bohannon publicly confesses his own past crimes, while also revealing the bishop to not be who he claims to be. As the Mormon residents of Fort Smith realize the bishop is not who he says he is, Bohannon leaves with his family for Cheyenne.

On the way to Cheyenne, Bohannon and his family pass Psalms and the crew. Psalms informs Bohannon that Elam has not returned from his search for him. Bohannon and family arrive in Cheyenne.

Right as they arrive in town the new Marshals Jessup and Heckard threaten Bohannon and his family since they look Mormon, and Bohannon assaults them and takes their guns. Bohannon then asks Durant for his former chief engineer job, but is denied when Durant states that Bohannon is undependable. Psalms offers Bohannon a job on the Freedman's cut-crew and his family a tent in which to live. While working with the cut crew Bohannon saves the rail crew when Delaney uses more than enough blasting powder on the hill, which contains methane-infused shale.

The new governor if Wyoming, Campbell offers to buy sundries for Naomi and later visits their tent to offer Bohannon a better-paying job under him. Bohannon declines, telling Naomi that all he has gone through means nothing if the railroad is not finished. Later, Bohannon is beaten unconscious by Jessup and Heckard.

Since Delaney nearly caused the deaths of his crew by trying to tunnel into the hill, Bohannon takes it upon himself to plot a line of track over it. Later, a man named Sidney Snow arrives in Cheyenne, claiming to be Bohannon's war buddy. Although Bohannon doesn't remember him, Bohannon nonetheless houses Snow and vouches for him with Psalms to work on the freedman's cut-crew. Snow is rude and racist to the freedmen. Later at dinner Snow divulges to Naomi, to Bohannon's chagrin, an old war story where Bohannon and Snow had killed scores of Union soldiers convalescing in a hospital.

Later Snow is confront by Marcos, one of the Fuentes brothers he had escaped in mexico. Snow not only kills Marcos in the general store, but also fires wildly and kills a young boy hiding behind a barrel. When the store clerk confronts Snow about this, he's also killed. Snow finds Naomi, hiding with the baby, and he is about to shoot them with Bohannon stops him at gunpoint.

After Psalms suggests Bohannon gets his family out of Cheyenne, Bohannon finds the beaten Durant in the latter's railcar. Bohannon stitches a laceration on Durant's head, then manages to get his signature on a blank railroad letterhead. Bohannon then gets Maggie Palmer to sign off on a loan for a steam shovel by producing Durant's signature for collateral.

Later Elam arrives in town, mentally unstable from his head injuries from the bear, looking to sell the women as slaves. Campbell seeks to have marksmen kill the seemingly crazed Elam, but Bohannon asks for some time to reason with his friend. He reminds Elam of their friendship and history, but nothing can help Elam, not even Eva nor Psalms, neither of whom Elam recognizes. Bohannon wrestles with Elam, and is forced to stab and shoot him. Bohannon later digs Elam's grave alone, afterwards wailing in grief.

In the middle of the night, Naomi wakes up and realizes Bohannon is missing. She searches for him in Cheyenne and eventually finds him working on parts for the arriving steam shovel. She mentions his needing rest, and he sends her back to the tent. He later shows Delaney and Durant his plans on how to reach the mountain summit, but he needs men to refit the shovel. Delaney affords him ten. Bohannon asks Psalms for his crew's help. While Psalms is cold to him due to his murder of Elam. Bohannon's plans are delayed when he finds Naomi has taken the baby and left for Fort Smith. He catches up to her and escorts her the rest of the way. Hatch tells Bohannon that The Swede went to Utah with Brigham Young. Naomi tells Bohannon that she will not return to Cheyenne nor to him, if he remains a killer. He vows to return for them one day, and then leaves Fort Smith.

Upon returning to Cheyenne, Bohannon discovers Campbell has made Snow a marshall to help replace his murdered ones and has had all the freedman and most of the other railroad workers arrested due to Durant not having paid their bonds. He also arrest Durant for not paying their bonds. This is in an attempt to stop the railroad. Bohannon interrupts Campbell's dinner with Louise to ask him to release Psalms and his crew. Campbell refuses until the town's lawlessness is curbed. Bohannon warns him that he asked as a gentleman, then retrieves his gun from his tent.

Bohannon's attempt to have Sydney release the freedmen fails, resulting in a jail-break plot with Delaney and Mickey. Campbell says the prisoners should be taken by train to the jurisdictions where their crimes were committed, and Durant will be sent to Omaha to face a judge. Mickey manages to get himself arrested and lies to Sydney, saying the plan will occur as the men are being loaded onto the train. Instead, Bohannon later unhooks the rail-car with the prisoners, as they use a key he gave Mickey to escape their shackles. Meanwhile, Delaney arrives from the other end on a train with a Gatling gun and rifles for the prisoners. After a shootout, Sidney escapes.

Bohannon returns to Cheyenne with Durant, Mickey, and the freedmen. The workers take refuge in the church, while Durant and Bohannon make compromises with Campbell about the railroad construction and upholding the law. Bohannon agrees to become Chief of Railroad Security again in order to appease Campbell into letting the men work again. Meanwhile Sydney blocks the door to the church and sets fire to it, as Ruth watches in horror. Most of the men are able to escape, except those shot at by Sydney. However Ruth cannot find Ezra, but when Mickey mentions the hiding place under the floorboards of the church. Bohannon and Ruth find Ezra there, burned alive and dead. Bohannon forces Campbell, at gunpoint, to allow justice be served on Sydney, even if he has fled. He agrees.

After burying Ezra, Ruth tells Bohannon that her wish is for Sydney to be returned to Hell and for his suffering to be "deep and eternal". Sydney returns to challenge Bohannon to a duel – though Bohannon says he's done with killing and will arrest him. He says Bohannon will have to take his guns from him. As they approach each other, Ruth gets another man's gun and shoots Sydney twice. Bohannon enlists Durant and Eva's help to save Sydney's life, whatever the cost, in order to keep Ruth from being hanged for his death. They dig out the bullets, even going as far as to amputate his leg. Despite all efforts to save Sydney, he dies. Campbell, still trying to get Bohannon to be a lawman, forces him to arrest Ruth. A trial is held and both Bohannon and Campbell attempt to justify Ruth's actions as aiding the law. She disagrees and says she killed him simply in revenge. When Campbell offers her a pardon she refuses to take it, stating she wants to die for her crimes. Bohannon's attempts to change Ruth's mind prove futile. Ruth professes to love Bohannon but said she remained quiet when he returned with his new family. She tells him to always choose family and to go to them. The gallows get constructed in the town square, and Ruth is hanged. Bohannon buries her.

Later, the steam shovel gets tested and works. When Durant tells Bohannon to wire General Grant that the summit will be reached by month's end Bohannon quits the railroad to be with his family. Bohannon leaves the Union Pacific and rides to Fort Smith to be with his family. However, upon arrival, he finds some of the fort's residents are missing, including Naomi and baby William, and the rest are dead. There, he learns that Fort Smith had an outbreak of smallpox. He finds someone with the Hatch name at a makeshift clinic, but it is Naomi's mother, who tells Bohannon that Naomi was sent somewhere west, where he will never find her. Collis Huntington sees Bohannon in Salt Lake City and offers him principal interest in the Central Pacific, which, with its expansion, may possibly be the only way Cullen will find his family.

As Durant and his crew reach the summit, and Durant telegraphs Huntington in California, to gloat Bohannon arrives at Huntington's version of Hell on Wheels, known as Truckee, and accepts Huntington's offer, at least until Cullen's family is found.

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Season 5[]

Main article: Season 5

Bohannon visits Collis Huntington in Truckee, California, to lay out a plan for the Central Pacific Railroad to traverse into Nevada and Utah to meet the Union Pacific. Huntington pays him to start tracking down "fresh Chinamen" for hire. Bohannon enlists help from restaurant owner Chang, Tao, and his son, Fong. Huntington later shows Bohannon a telegram that Naomi and family have been banned from all Mormon settlements. The Swede arrives as Brother Thor, with the Mormons, to tell Bohannon that Brigham Young was a "false prophet" and that Bohannon is a devil sent to test him. Regardless of their history, Bohannon allows the Swede to work for the Central Pacific with the other Mormons, shoveling snow on the mountain.

Bohannon and Fong have difficulty working in the Sierra Nevadas. Fong devises a way to make the sled carrying the train engine stay, but later gets injured. While attempted to check the injury, Bohannon discovers Fong is actually a woman named Mei. He agrees to keep this a secret but does not allow Fong to continue working, forcing her to keep on the sick list. When Bohannon and Fong return back to Truckee and her father, Toa convinces Bohannon to let her work as not working is a surefire way to bring attention to her. Bohannon agrees to allow Fong to continue working on the railroad.

The new equipment Bohannon invents removes the need for 3 of the white foremen. They are given the offer of leaving the railroad or working with the chinese for a $1 a day, when they were previously making $5 a day. They attempt to hang Chang as they blame him and his chinamen for taking their jobs. Bohannon and Toa rescue him before he is hung to death. Chang seeks justice but must abide by American law. He is later told the men will not stand trial. Bohannon learns that Mei took on the guise of Fong in order to escape a forced marriage to the rebel leader who burned their village in China, and that if Chang were to recognize her, he would inform the rebel leaders in China of her location.

Chang succeeds in organizing a strike among the Chinese workers, as the men who attempted to hang him are taken by wagon out of town. He demands higher wages (an incredible amount) and a 2% stake in the railroad. Bohannon states that will never be allowed. Toa helps Bohannon to make a deal with the chinese to continue working at their current rates if the Central Pacific agrees to pay to ship the deceased back to China, as their custom dictates they must rest in China or wander forever.

Chang and Bohannon arrive in Truckee with more Chinamen to employ and items for the Empress festival. It is then that Bohannon informs Chang that Tao is taking over the payroll and employee hiring. Chang, on the guise of cooperation, tells Bohannon he has been selling the Swede rifles hidden in crates of rice. Bohannon goes to investigate while Chang allows Tao to be shot dead at the festival dinner.

Bohannon travels with Fong, who intends to take Tao's body home. Their train gets delayed on the tracks so they set off on a different path, only to face danger at a river. They eventually must bury his body and both return to Truckee. Bohannon is then told that there is a great meeting between, Durant, Huntington, Brigham Young, and President Grant regarding the hubs and meeting point of the railroad. He takes off for Salt Lake City to join the meeting.

At the meeting Huntington asks Bohannon to mislead the president on their progress, as the President trusts Bohannon, Durant asks Bohannon to come back to the UP, even though he swore he would never take him back if he left again, and Young asks Bohannon to push for the railroad hub to be in Salt Lake City. Bohannon originally states Salt Lake is not good for the railroad, even though the Mormons need it for their travelers. He comes back later and changes his mind, promising Young to push for the hub to be in the city if Young tells him where Bohannon's family is. He tells Bohannon where they are in exchange for the push at the meeting.

At the next meeting, it's suggested that Promontory, Utah, be the terminus. Bohannon states that there shouldn't be one and that the race should be for Ogden, and the railways should bypass Salt Lake, enraging Young. Later Young's son, Phineas, attempts to kill young. However it is found to be a ruse so that the Swede can locate and murder Naomi and her family. Bohannon rushes to beat the Swede to the farm.

The Swede finds his way to the Hatch farm, kills Naomi's father and sister, and stalks her and baby William into the woods. Bohannon, though, is not far behind. However, The Swede shoots him in the leg and they struggle in a river. Bohannon has the opportunity to drown him but doesn't, after seeing him smile from underwater. Against Naomi's wishes, he takes him on a two-day journey to Fort Douglas, a military garrison, for trial. The perilous trek weakens Bohannon, and the two men fight before reaching the fort. Bohannon manages to shoot The Swede in the side and fire shots in the air to bring soldiers. Four days later, The Swede has been found guilty of the Hatch deaths and is scheduled to hang. He pleads instead for justice and forgiveness from Bohannon but is led to his gallows death as Bohannon watches.

Bohannon returns to the Hatch farm to be with his family, only to realize that, Naomi has remarried the farmhand Isaac Vinson. Isaac informs him that he, Naomi, and William will be moving to Zion (Salt Lake Valley), if Brigham Young will welcome them. Bohannon promises to escort them and speak with Young. When they arrive Naomi says they should stay together, as thats what her father would have wanted. But Bohannon decides, very emotionally, to leave them to a happier life with Isaac.

Upon arrival, Young considers Bohannon an apostate for returning the "gifts" God has given him to die "a lonely, wretched thing". Bohannon manages to get Young agree on blessing Naomi and Isaac's wedding, then leaves Naomi and William. When Bohannon returns to Truckee Mei arrives in his cabin, excited he has returned, and the two sleep together.

After spending the night together, Bohannon and Fong return to work on the railroad. There is tunnel work to be done, and Bohannon suggests using nitroglycerin to do the blasting. James Strobridge, the railroad superintendent, teaches the Bohannon how to make the bombs and the Chinese how to make blasting caps, but does not agree with the usage of the dangerous material, as that is how he lost his eye.

Following the death of a tunnel worker mishandling the nitroglycerine, Bohannon suggests they continue to use the explosive, but that he and James will clear future blasts. James refuses to participate and is fired from the railroad. The tunnel is later completed, and Chang becomes suspicious when he catches Bohannon exiting Fong's tent.

Fearful that Chang knows Fong's true identity, Bohannon sends her to Cheyenne. Bohannon then suggests Huntington remove the Chinese from the railroad construction and hire Irishmen to finish. Huntington counters by saying China is the future, and Bohannon should think beyond completing the railroad. Bohannon then tries to buy Mei's contract from Chang, who refuses, stating Bohannon rejected his previous offer to own a share of the railroad.

Bohannon send Mei off to Cheyenne for safety, but gets a telegraph from her, who is in Washoe City, Nevada saying that Chang has attacked and is attempting to kill her. Chang arrives and Bohannon must kill him and the group who came with him. Mei tells Bohannon that she will still be hunted and doesn't want that life for him. While he manages to dissuade a Chinese general from looking for her, she leaves to return to China but writes him a note in Chinese.

As both railroads near the end, The Union Pacific has ten miles left, while the Central Pacific has only six. However Strobridge has taken both the Irish and Chinese workers in as miners. Mickey manages to convince his countrymen to return to railroad work, while Bohannon fails to convince the Chinese. Within the last few miles, the Chinese return to help Bohannon, while Durant's urgings cause Psalms and the freedmen to switch teams. The Central Pacific reaches the end marker first. However Durant forces Huntington to give up the honor, upon the promise that the coming ceremony will be held on the CP side. After evading Louise's questions about his future, Bohannon drunkenly collapses in his train car, reflecting on all that he has lost.

Following the golden spike ceremony, both Durant and Bohannon are given summonses to appear before Congress in Washington, D.C., as Durant has been charged with bribery, fraud, and corruption. While in Washington, President Grant offers Bohannon a position as army colonel and undersecretary for the western territories. Bohannon states that he is a railroad man, to which Grant counters that he is a soldier "without a war to fight".

Later, Dressed in his Union Army uniform before Congressmen, Bohannon refuses to implicate Durant, repeating that their railroad could not have been built without Durant. Bohannon then goes to the church where he killed a man in the first episode, and a priest asks if he seeks salvation. Bohannon breaks down, thanks him, and leaves. Bohannon asks a Chinese worker to translate Mei's note: it's an address in China. The show ends as Bohannon disembarks in San Francisco and boards a ship for China.

Attributes and Personality[]

Cullen Bohannon is a rugged, stone-cold southerner. He shows great pride for his homeland, and is also extremely proud of his involvement in the war, fighting for his homeland and the southern way of life. Bohannon, as many southerners are, is well mannered, but also, as Lily Bell describes him, an "insufferable ass"; due in part to his pride and prejudice. Bohannan also appears to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or as he describes it, "the soldier's heart". He is battle hardened and very skilled with weapons. His main firearm is his Griswold and Gunnison revolver. Numerous times he has been seen walking straight into gun-fire, engaging enemies that outnumber him 10 to 1, and utilizing his advanced knowledge of firearms to take charge. He was clearly an officer during the war, as he is an excellent commander and a skilled tactician. He also commonly indulges in vast quantities of alcohol, namely whiskey.

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Season 1 appearances
"Pilot" "Immoral Mathematics" "A New Birth of Freedom" "Jamais Je Ne T'oublierai" "Bread and Circuses"
"Pride, Pomp and Circumstance" "Revelations" "Derailed" "Timshel" "God of Chaos"
Season 2 appearances
"Viva La Mexico" "Durant, Nebraska" "Slaughterhouse" "Scabs" "The Railroad Job"
"Purged Away with Blood" "The White Spirit" "The Lord's Day" "Blood Moon" "Blood Moon Rising"
Season 3 appearances
"Big Bad Wolf" "Eminent Domain" "Range War" "The Game" "Searchers"
"One Less Mule" "Cholera" "It Happened in Boston" "Fathers and Sins" "Get Behind the Mule"
Season 4 appearances
"The Elusive Eden" "Escape from the Garden" "Chicken Hill" "Reckoning" "Life's a Mystery"
"Bear Man" "Elam Ferguson (Episode)" "Under Color of Law" "Two Trains" "Return to Hell"
"Bleeding Kansas" "Thirteen Steps" "Further West"
Season 5 appearances
"Chinatown" "Mei Mei" "White Justice" "Struck" "Elixir of Life"
"Hungry Ghosts" "False Prophets" "Two Soldiers" "Return to the Garden" "61 Degrees"
"Gambit" "Any Sum Within Reason" "Railroad Men" "Done"

Bohannon: You ain't whore nor squaw. You shouldn't be out here.

Lily: You don't know who I am or what I'm capable of.
Bohannon: No, I don't and I sure as hell don't care.

Lily: You know how people talk.
Bohannon: To hell with people.

Cole: I rode in Bleeding Kansas with the abolitionist John Brown.
Bohannon: John Brown was a murderer.

"You think I'm the Devil?. That's fine, probably take a devil to finish this road."

"Every step of my life. I lost everybody I ever had. All I got left is scars."




  • Cullen is a surname of Irish and Gaelic origin, meaning "good-looking lad" or "handsome". Bohannon is an Irish and Scottish surname which is an anglicized form of the Gaelic surname Ó Buadhachanáin, a diminutive of buadhach meaning “victorious.”
  • Cullen was based around John Stephen "Jack" Casement, a Union Army General & Brigade Commander who headed the construction of the Union Pacific's section of the Transcontinental Railroad.
  • Cullen's Confederate uniform consisted of a three stripes collar badge and his coat sleeve bore two gold braid Austrian knots which identify him as the rank of Captain. Cullen mentioned that he served under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest which could indicate that he was a member of the Forrest Cavalry Corps.
  • Originally Cullen told people that he granted his slaves a year of freedom before the American Civil War. This was influenced by his wife Mary, a Northerner who was opposed to slavery. However in Fathers and Sins, Cullen confessed to Elam that this was a lie.
  • Cullen suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.) Anson Mount gave his his insight into the character saying "The way a lot of these guys get themselves through it is by ... they've seen so much destruction, that they then have to create something. A lot of times it's a ngo and they throw their entire being into it, to them destruction of the rest of their life and their loved ones surrounding them. It becomes a kind of addiction. For Cullen Bohannon, rather than it being an ngo or a ship in a bottle, unfortunately, turns out to be the largest engineering project in the 19th century. "
  • Cullen's main firearm is a Griswold & Gunnison Revolver.