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Cullen Bohannon

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Cullen Bohannon Season 5
Cullen Bohannon
Date of birth: c. 1825-1830
Status: Alive
Age: mid-late 30's
Occupation: Former tobacco farmer
Former Confederate States Army Captain (Cavalry)
Former Railroad foreman
Chief Engineer on the Union Pacific Railroad
Marital status: Separated
Relatives: William Edgar Bohannon - father (deceased)
William Bohannon- brother
Mary Bohannon - wife (deceased)
Unnamed stillborn twin children (deceased)
Joshua Bohannon - son (deceased)
Naomi Bohannon - ex-wife
William Bohannon - son
Relationships: Lily Bell - lover (deceased)

Mei Fong

Behind the scenes
Portrayed by: Anson Mount
Seasons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
First episode: "Pilot"
Appearances: 50+ episodes (see below)

Cullen Bohannon is a former Confederate States Army cavalry Captain and slaveowner from Mississippi. After his family was slaughtered during the Civil War, Bohannon sought revenge, and moved west to work on the Union Pacific Railroad.


Background informationEdit

Bohannon is believed to have been raised by a wealthy Southern family. He eventually inherited his family's tobacco farm in Mississippi, as well as all of the slaves attached to it. He also reveals that he was essentially raised by a slave after the passing of his mother, and thus treated his slaves very well; he even gave his slaves freedom a year before the war began, although this was due to the fact this his wife Mary Bohannon was a Northerner who was against slavery.

Bohannon had a recent service record in the United States Army and had achieved the rank of Lieutenant and served in the Mexican-American war, giving him pre existing Military training.

When the Civil War began, Bohannon quickly took to the fight, joined the Confederacy, and became a Captain, having stated that his men "rode to hell and back" for him. Bohannon stated he saw numerous battles throughout the war, including action at Antietam (Sharpsburg).

Near the end of the war, his plantation was destroyed, and his wife and son were killed by a platoon of Union soldiers during the Savannah Campaign, one of them being Union Pacific foreman Daniel Johnson. Bohannon the set out to wreak his revenge on the soldiers responsible, ultimately taking him to Hell on Wheels.

Season 1Edit

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 Boy in Blue 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. ("Pilot")

After being introduced to Thor Gundersen, head security at Hell on Wheels, he is immediately implicated for the murder of Johnson since Bohannon does not blame anyone else for the murder. He is imprisoned within a freight car. Gundersen eats in front of Cullen and describes his history and of his job as a bookkeeper. He was imprisoned by the Confederacy and describes how he used immoral mathematics to manipulate people. Bohannon kicks his meal away and Gundersen threatens him with death. Cullen grabs the spoon dropped by Gundersen and used it to pry the nails from a loose floorboard. He escapes and Reverend Nathaniel Cole hides him from Gundersen. Before being captured, Cole pleads with Cullen to beg for forgiveness. Bohannon shrugs off the Reverend's pleas and turns to Elam to free him, an ironic act considering Bohannon was a former slave owner and Elam was a former slave. Cullen turns to Thomas Durant for mercy by asking him to hire him as his foreman. The former greyback tells him how he motivated his troops despite being outnumbered and stresses Durant's current predicament: the government funding does not take effect until Durant lays 40 miles of track. Bohannon is promptly hired and as he leaves Durant's car he is confronted by Gundersen. Gundersen draws his shotgun, "Beauty", and Durant tells him to lower his weapon since Bohannon is his new foreman. ("Immoral Mathematics")

Bohannon goes through Johnson's personal effects and finds a photograph of Johnson's company. Bohannon remembers killing three of the men, Buckton Prescott in Washington D.C. and Wustner and Tanner in Maryland. The only person still in question in the photo is Sergeant Frank Harper, but his face is blurred.

Bohannon starts his first day as foreman but things become complicated when Gundersen conscripts several men in order to search for Lily Bell, who is still missing after the Cheyenne attack. Elam promises that the freedman cut crew will make up for any slack and Bohannon reluctantly accepts this arrangement. Bohannon questions the men for whereabouts of Harper and Gregory Toole informs him that Harper works on the logging crew twenty miles from the cut. Bohannon leaves, intent on killing Harper.

While en route to the logging crew's camp, Bohannon comes across Joseph Black Moon and a wounded and delirious Mrs. Bell. He removes a remaining fragment of an arrowhead in Mrs. Bell's shoulder and redresses her wound. Bohannon tells Joseph it is too dangerous for an Indian to arrive back in Hell on Wheels with Mrs. Bell and that he will take her back himself. Joseph reluctantly leaves, obviously upset. When Mrs. Bell wakes up, she asks why Joseph left but he denies knowing why.

The next morning, Bolan and two men arrive at Mrs. Bell and Bohannon's camp while Mrs. Bell is alone. When Bolan threatens Mrs. Bell, Bohannon shoots and kills the two men and shoots off Bolan's left ear. Though he is about to kill Bolan, he is forced to follow Mrs. Bell, who has ridden off. He catches up to her and stands by while she sobs in the grass. She regains her composure and they ride on to Hell on Wheels. On the outskirts of town, he tells her to go on without her since he has business to attend to (killing Harper) and refuses the $100 reward for returning her safely. ("A New Birth of Freedom")

Bohannon flashes back to riding home after the war, wearing the uniform of a Confederate cavalry captain.[1] The house and barn both smolder. He walks into the house, cutlery smashed on the floor and the house in a general state of disarray. He walks through the house to the porch and finds the hanging body of his wife, Mary. He cuts her down and cradles her body, stroking her hair. He buries her body and, presumably, his son (a second grave is seen) and rides off. ("God of Chaos")

Season 2Edit

Main article: Season 2

After Bohannon fled Hell on Wheels, he returns to Meridian. He finds that carpetbaggers dug up the bodies of his wife and son looking for valuables. Some time while in Meridian, he meets a group of former Confederates mostly from Alabama. He also meets up with Doc Whitehead, a physician who lived in Meridian when Bohannon was a boy, treating him for ailments and wounds including "a shoulder full of buckshot".

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. ("Viva La Mexico")

Season 3Edit

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 railraod. ("Big Bad Wolf") Bohannon nearly loses his life when cholera strikes the camp and he is forced to look for fresh water. He is saved by Ezra Dutson, a boy whose family was murdered by Thor Gundersen. With Ezra's help Bohannon finds fresh water and takes the boy back to Hell on Wheels. ("Cholera") Bohannon then has to deal with the Mormons who are Fort Smith. () Here he gathers men who had previously deserted the railroad during the railroad's fight against cholera. Bohannon then must go to Cheyenne where he is invited to have lunch with Durant. Mormons who were calling for Bohannon's head after he hung the Mormon boy follow Bohannon into Cheyenne. After a short gunfight, the Mormons capture Bohannon and take him back to Fort Smith. () He is about to be hung when Naomi, the Mormon boy's sister, says that Bohannon is the father of her baby. The Swede, who is now the leader of the Mormons, allows Bohannon to marry the girl if he lives in the Fort. Bohannon agrees. ("Get Behind the Mule")

Season 4Edit

Main article: Season 4

Attributes and PersonalityEdit

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.


Mary BohannonEdit

Main article: Mary Bohannon

Mary was a Northerner and it is unknown how she and Cullen met. She was very good at convincing Cullen, going as far as getting him to release their slaves. Though it is clear that Cullen loved Mary, he admits he "always had one eye on the door" and jumped at the chance to leave when the war started. Mary never stopped him, though she voiced her dislike of his leaving. His grief at losing her and their son is what fuels his vendetta against those responsible for their deaths.

Lily BellEdit

Main article: Lily Bell

Bohannon's first thoughts of Lily were that she was a "spoiled, limey brat" ("Timshel") and that she was neither "squaw nor whore" and didn't belong out on the frontier. ("Immoral Mathematics") Since then, his opinion has changed and the two have learned to work together to build the railroad. Lily is one of the only people who has influenced Bohannon enough for him to openly question his path of blood against the Union soldiers who burned his home and killed his wife. He hesitates leaving Hell on Wheels, even when Durant tells him that marshals are coming to arrest him, which seems to be connected to his feelings towards Lily.

Naomi BohannonEdit

Main article: Naomi Bohannon

Ruth ColeEdit

Main article: Ruth Cole


Main article: Mei


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"


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.



  1. Davis, George B., Perry, Leslie J., and Kirkley, Joseph W., The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War, Random House Value Publishing, (1988) ISBN 0-517-53407-X

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