Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

I ran down the hill. Remounting, I said, "Come on, boys." Down the cañon we went, meeting the expedition. After a brief report, Campbell said: "We must get him, or he will ride on down, strike our trail, and give the whole thing away." He added: "Say, Keyes, you are an Injun. Can't you get that fellow?"

Then he ordered Freed "to go up on the hill and watch him." When he got up on the hill, which was only a few rods from us, he said to us, "Now, boys, keep perfectly quiet. He is in a fox trot, going east, and he is coming in closer to the cañon." One of the Englishmen, whose camp had been plundered and destroyed, slipped off from a wagon, ran up the hillside and said: "Where is the bloody cuss? I want to kill him myself."

Keyes had ridden back down the cañon and had gone up a side draw to intercept and kill him as he passed. By this time two of the other boys had joined Freed, and, all unconscious of his near approaching death, the Quohada Comanche was nearing the breaks.

The Englishman was armed with an express rifle, which he had brought from Europe. Keyes had daubed both of his cheeks, demonstrating the fact that "blood is thicker than water," and that the Indian blood in his veins had cropped out in his actions.

On came the Quohada. These Indians had sneaked up and stolen Marshall Sewall's life, and perhaps this same sign-rider was one of the party. He was nearer the cañon. His Winchester rifle was in a scabbard, fastened to the trappings of his saddle. The Englishman fired, and he fell from his horse. Al. Waite and I were side by side facing each other at the time. He whirled his horse and started up, and I with him. When we got up on the flat the Indian was trying to get upon his feet, and, his pony having bolted, was running on in the direction they had been going. We soon overtook him, but he would dodge us, and in a zigzag he would keep angling in closer to the breaks of the cañon.

The two trail-watchers whom Campbell left behind when we came into the cañon now hurried on up to have a hand in what was going on. The four of us finally caught the pony. I was not afraid but what Waite or I either could run ahead of him, but he was an artful dodger, and simply did not wish to be caught.

By this time we were over a mile down the cañon from the rest of the boys. When we got back to them they had taken the Indian's body down in the bottom, and left it in some tall reeds near a water-hole, so it would be out of sight for the present.

Keyes wanted to take the scalp. But some of the boys said, "No, no, Louie; we will kill them, but we must not mutilate the bodies."

Every field-glass—and there were twelve in the crowd—was now put to use. Campbell now sent ten men ahead with glasses. He sent Jim Smith in charge. They were to put out guards above the camping-place, on both sides of the cañon, and also below the same. Hosea, the Mexican, went along with them.

At 3 P. M. we were in this quiet nook, safely hidden from prying eyes. What little breeze there was went directly down the cañon and under the projecting bluff. It being safe to do so, we made a camp-fire, cooked and ate. All hands were ravenously hungry. As soon as one appetite was appeased, the man who possessed it went to the relief of another man on guard, until all had been relieved from duty and fed.

Campbell, Smith and Freed withdrew from the crowd a short distance and held a council. While they were talking Bill Kress asked the question, which echo answered, "What did Campbell want an advisory board for? Look at him out there planning the whole thing himself." I did some thinking myself when he had appointed the five, Kress being one of the number; but I was charitable enough to think that he wanted as many of the party as possible to be distinguished by any glory that might accrue from the expedition. The council having ended, those three came in and Campbell addressed us in this way: "Now, boys, so far everything seems to be going right. We three, whom you have chosen to lead you, have the utmost confidence in your nerve; but it is one thing to talk about cleaning out a camp of 150 or 160 fighting Indians where they have their women and children along with them, for Indians will fight harder and better then under these circumstances than they will at any other time or place. We have decided to leave the wagons and camp outfit here. We will be in three divisions, and all act in concert. I will take one half of the mounted men, Smith the other half, and Freed here will have command of you foot men. Cook and Godey will go with Hosea to-night and locate their camp. We will follow up the cañon three or four miles and await their return. If they find the camp they are to get the lay of the ground, so that we will know how to place our forces advantageously, in order to make an early-dawn attack. Smith and his men are to charge through the camp on a run, passing on to their pony herd, round it up, then circle around behind us; then if need be he can bring his men to our assistance. And, boys, don't kill any women or children if you can help it. After we have done all this, if we do do it, we will govern ourselves according to the circumstances then surrounding us." He closed his remarks by saying that he hoped and believed every man would do his whole duty.

For a moment there was profound silence, then Louie Keyes, the part Cherokee Indian, said that "it all sounded well, but how about that dead Indian down in the tules? He was a sign-rider. He was making a big circle around their camp to see if he could find any signs of approaching enemies. He won't go to their camp to-night. That will start them to wondering. They will then send scouts out in every direction, and if we are discovered the jig is up; for they will break for the sand-hills and get away from us."

"But," said Campbell, "that is one of the chances we will have to take."

Thus everything was planned. Hosea cut up two grain-sacks with which he could muffle his horse's feet, and he told Godey and me to do the same. We did so, but my horse got so nervous in trying to put them on him that it was deemed best to take a quieter horse, which I did for this occasion.

At good dark we three started up the cañon. It was thoroughly understood that shortly after our departure the whole party was to follow up about four miles, put out a guard, and wait for our return. Each man was to take one blanket and the boys were to get what sleep they could while we were gone.

After the three of us had gone about five miles, we came to the forks of the cañon, the north prong coming from near due west and the south prong from the south by a little east. Here we all dismounted. Godey held the three horses while the Mexican and I walked about fifty yards up the north prong. We were in a beaten trail which was made either by buffaloes or ponies.

Hosea got down upon his knees and after I spread a blanket over him he lit a match from time to time. He did this several times while he was examining the trail. He said there were pony-tracks in the trail, and they were coming down. We then came back, passed Godey, went a few steps up the south fork, and did the same. Here the tracks were going up. We proceeded up the south fork, riding very slowly, about a half-mile, and dismounted.

We again repeated the match-lighting as at the mouth of the cañon. Here the sides of the cañon were sloping and the breaks were lower. We proceeded still farther, and came to a dead horse lying across the well-beaten path over which we were passing. Here I put the blanket over the guide's head. He lit a match and examined the trail, after which he said in a whisper that he and I would go on afoot. I told Godey what he said. Then we went ahead.

We must have gone fully a mile, when we halted and sat down. He whispered, "Now let us listen."

After listening for some little time and hearing no unusual sound, he again whispered, saying, "There is a long deep water-hole just around the next bend a little above us;" and there was where he expected to find the camp.

Illustration: Apache Family.

Any one who has attempted to crawl up close to a hostile Indian camp on a dim, moonless, starlit night will realize the necessity of using the utmost precaution, and can imagine to what a tension the nerves are keyed. The whir of a night-thrush, the flutter of a disturbed bird, a misstep, a stumble, an involuntary cough or a sneeze, or anything that would attract an alert ear which might be in close proximity,—all these things must be taken into account; and together, in a locality that had not been seen in daylight, will produce a peculiar feeling.

We went a few steps farther; the path we were on ran close up to the base of the hill at the bend, and we were practically out of the cañon and right at the lower end of the water-hole Hosea spoke about. We remained here as much as five minutes, and could neither see nor hear any sign of the camp.

We were lying down, side by side, trying to skylight the surroundings. The Mexican reached over and gripped my shoulder, arose, and then slowly started back down the cañon, I following. We went at a snail's gait. Not a word was uttered until we got back to Godey, when we remounted our horses. The guide led the way and we followed him up out of the cañon to the west, and when well up out on the flat we halted, and Hosea said that he was mistaken about the location of the camp; that it must be on the North Fork at some water-holes which he could find.

I said, "Well, lead out." And for an hour we rode northwest and came to the breaks of the North Fork, and here for an hour and a half we cautiously reconnoitered, finding the water-holes but no camp.

We watered our horses here.

The Mexican dismounted. Seating himself on the ground, he placed both hands over his face and eyes, and there he sat in mute stillness for several minutes. More than a year later he told me at Fort Sill what then passed through his mind.

When he arose he said, "Now I am sure I can find them, but we can't do it and get back to the boys and get them there by daylight." He said they were surely around the next bend in the draw above the long water-hole we had visited on the South Fork; said he could take us all across a plain from where the boys were, and get there yet by daylight.

Back we went to where the crowd was. They were restless, and some were grumbling at our long absence. For it was now near morning. The wind was coming from the south, and several of the men declared they could smell a grease-smoke which emitted from all camps, more or less, where much meat or marrow-bones were roasted. I said nothing, as I could not smell a smoke, on account of a catarrh.

I made a full report of our trip, and told them that Hosea said if we would move quickly we could yet get there and surprise them. Campbell was outspoken in his belief that the Mexican was deceiving us on account of the Mexican meat-hunters who frequented this region from Fort Sumner on the Pecos river, in New Mexico, and that he believed some of them might be with these same Indians, and that Hosea wished to spare them. So Hosea, faithful Hosea, was under a cloud.

"Let us hurry," said Freed.

Out of the cavern we started; across the arm of the plain we went. When broad daylight of the 18th day of March, 1877, came, we were three miles from the camp and a hard fight.

Just as the dawn came, Hosea and I rode spiritedly ahead. I was now riding the large nervous chestnut-sorrel horse. When we were a mile and a half ahead of the advancing column we saw two Indians riding leisurely toward their ponies, which were southeast of their camp. They evidently had not discovered us. They went out of sight behind a rise in the ground.

We could now see a large band of horses and ponies on a higher plain of land beyond. To our right half a mile were the breaks of the head of the cañon the three of us were in the night before. The camp was straight ahead; off less than a mile and a half. We could see the tops of several tepees.

"To the canyone!" said the guide. "Go! Hurry! Tell the men to hurry to that white place!" (some white chalky breaks he pointed to).

I turned, let the sorrel out, and soon had the boys on the run for the breaks, which we all reached just as the sun had cleared the horizon. We entered the head of the cañon about 300 yards below the long water-hole that Hosea and I were at the night before.

Campbell got all the mounted men into line and took the fourteen to the right, as we were faced, and Smith took the left. We all dismounted, readjusted and cinched saddles, tied our hats behind our saddles, and remounted, Campbell filing his platoon, which I happened to be in, to the right and up the slope for the level of the plain. Smith did the same with his men to the left.

When we were well on top, the two mounted platoons were nearly 200 yards apart, and the infantry, as we now called it, were in the draw between us, with orders to stick to the draw. Joe Freed was ordered to get his men to within 200 yards of the camp as soon as he could, and put them in open skirmish line, but was not to go into the Indian camp.

When all was supposed to be in readiness, Campbell called out, "All right, Smith; go for them!"

Just as they started, Campbell, being on the extreme left of our platoon, rode past in the rear and said, "Boys, get about five paces apart; keep that way as much as you can, and keep as good an alignment as possible."

When he was well out to the right and about three paces in front, he gave the command, "FORWARD!"

Joe Jackson was next to me on my right, Billy Devins next to Joe on his right; to my left was Squirrel-eye. We were now facing due east and going at a moderate trot. Louie Keyes, on the extreme left, commenced the old Cherokee war-chant; his horse had raised a gallop. He was quite far out and ahead. That started Squirlie with his old Rebel yell; and soon we were all going at a rapid gait in an irregular line.

When we came in sight of the first row of tepees we saw the warriors running toward us, having poured out of their tepees, coming on afoot as fast as they could run. We began firing. The Indians got to the summit of a little rise between their camp and us, and dropping down on their bellies opened up a rapid fire on us at 200 yards.

Campbell, spurring his horse to its utmost speed, got in the lead of all, and riding down the front of the line said, "Back to the draw!" repeating it several times, but before half of us could turn our horses Joe Jackson fell from his saddle. Lee Grimes's horse was shot in the forehead, and in falling broke Lee's left wrist. Billy Devins dismounted, I following suit; we both ran to where Jackson was, letting our horses run back with the rest. Each of us took a good strong hold of Jackson and were dragging him back, when Billy's hold broke, he having been hit in the arm.

"For God's sake, boys," said Jackson, "drop flat upon the ground or they will get you both."

Lee Grimes crawled like a snake to where we were, and the three of us, one shot in the arm, another with a broken wrist, and I unhurt, lay in front of Jackson, and heard the bullets passing over us, but could not see the Indians that were shooting in our direction.

Presently, off to our front and left, we saw as many as one hundred Indians creeping up to the crest of a little hill on the north side of the draw, about 250 yards from us, and on the opposite side of that crest was Jim Smith and his men, dismounted, and firing on the ones on our side that we could not see. We all three began shooting at the ones we saw crawling up to the crest. Our work soon proved effective, for the rest of Campbell's platoon, after getting their horses to cover and leaving two men to hold and herd them, crawled forward on the flat, and getting sight of the same band we were shooting at made the place untenable.

Back down the hill and out of sight they went, dragging six of their number after them.

The firing in our direction having ceased, we took Jackson back to where our horses were, in a little side-draw of the main stream. Campbell brought the rest of his men back; and no sooner was this done than from the right and at the head of this draw there passed about twenty mounted Indians on the dead run, strung out at intervals of about six rods, shooting down the draw at us as they passed, and, circling to the right, crossed the main draw about 200 yards below us. At the same time another party of them were doing the same thing from the opposite side, running from near their camp along the plain on the north and crossing the main draw a little closer to us than the ones that were crossing from our side.

Illustration: Pocket Cañon Fight Between Hunters And Comanche Warriors, At Eastern Edge Of Staked Plains.

And for the next three hours, if one could have been where his vision could have taken in the entire field of operations, he would have witnessed one of the most spectacular dramas ever enacted, the head of Thompson's cañon being the stage. Five of us ran up the side-draw to near the crest and flattened out. Six of the boys ran northeast seventy-five yards to where the side-draw went off to the main ravine; and as the warriors came running down, crossing the draw from the north side, the six men worked their breech-blocks lively, and fired rapidly until they had all crossed the ravine, ascended the slope and passed out of sight of them onto the main flat.

Not all of them, for one of their number fell from his horse in the ravine; another had his horse killed as he ascended the slope. As they passed us that were near the head of this side-draw, they were a good 200 yards out from us, and we were firing away at them as they passed. In this run we killed two horses, and their riders ran for the sharp bend in the draw, south of their camp.

Squirrel-eye rose up and ran quite up onto the crest and said, "Here, boys, here!" We all hurried up to where he was. He had fired once, and was just taking aim again when we arrived. He was shooting at the Indian the other boys had killed the horse from under, and who was near 300 yards off and running for the same draw in the bend. The other one, too, had now got in, but, being farther out on the flat, was making a detour to keep out of the range of our long guns. He still lacked fully thirty rods of getting to cover. We all took a hand, and showered lead all around him.

All at once, he was flat upon the ground. Whether we hit him or not, we never knew for sure. We crawled back to our position as rapidly as we could, for we were now being fired at from the direction in which we first advanced. We had barely got in place again when the firing in the direction of where Smith and the infantry were now together slackened, and for a few moments there were only a few desultory shots.

Then all at once came the sound of a volley from the main draw to our left and a little in front of us. Then, pop! pop! a few more shots and Smith at the head of his party came leading their horses down the main draw, turned up the side-draw and joined our party.

We were called in and placed about a good wide pace apart. Eighteen of us were ordered to crawl to the crest and shoot at everything that showed up. Smith and Campbell exchanged a few words when they met.

Campbell said, "Boys, we must leave this place. Smith will take horses and wounded men down to the side ravine that comes in at the long water-hole, while we will crawl up on that crest and fire a few volleys at the camp, then hold the position until Joe Freed and his footmen can get out of the mess they are in."

When the eighteen of us got to the crest the Comanche camp was in plain view, near 400 yards distant. There was a large band of horses on the slope back of it, and fifty or sixty ponies at the camp. Some were packed and others were being packed. All this work was being done by the squaws and children. Off to the left of the camp was a red flag on a pole. To the right of the camp was an Indian manipulating a looking-glass. A strong breeze had sprung up, blowing from the direction of camp toward us down the draw. Estimating the distance, we fired two volleys at the camp, when zip! spat! whirr! came a fusillade round and about us.

"Let the camp alone and mow the grass at the crest this side of it," said Campbell; and in a very short time three hundred rounds of ammunition had been fired, sweeping the crest for a hundred yards up and down it from where their position then was. Then some of the boys opened on the camp again with deliberate aim, while special targets were being picked out at the camp.

Freed and his men came marching up the side-draw that we were on the crest of. They were all present, and even jolly. Poor Hosea, who had gone in with them, had received a painful wound in the shoulder, but was wearing a grin on his face. Freed called to me to come down. Not having more than sixty feet to go, I was soon there. He said, "Now, you find out what the guide has been telling me. I can't understand him. In all his talk he keeps saying something about Apaches."

Hosea was holding his right shoulder lower than the other; had his right arm in a sling. Smith's men were now firing from the side-draw at the long water-hole. The boys on the crest were shooting pretty lively, too. Several of Freed's men were going up the slope to join Campbell's men on the crest.

I explained to Hosea what Freed wanted me to find out, and to my surprise he told us that we were fighting over 300 Indians; that the camp around the bend, which Campbell's men had not seen at all, were Staked Plains Apaches; and he was sure there must be 200 of them. I called Campbell down and told him what the scout had said. He laughed and said, "Maybe we have bit off more than we can chew." Then, addressing himself to those who immediately surrounded him and were present: "Well, boys, speak up; what do you think is best to do? Seeing what I did at the opening of this fight I thought I was taking my men into needless slaughter. That was why I fell back to this place; and I have felt badly about the whole affair; for I did not know what effect our falling back would have on the other two divisions."

We advised him to send Freed and his men to join Smith while we kept up a fusillade toward the camp.

The Indians having ceased firing, we were sure they were preparing some ruse. Freed started, after receiving instructions to rake, shoot up the main draw toward camp when he approached it, then pass on, join Smith, and from the top of the hill above the long water-hole open up a strong firing upon the camp. This would give us a chance to join them without being in danger of a rear attack or rush from the Indians.

The plan was carried out, and worked well. We were all soon concentrated, and holding a good position again. Smith informed us that his men had opened fire on about fifty Indians that had ridden down the cañon, keeping about a mile out on the plain.

Just then a thick smoke came down toward us from the Indian camp; and, just as the smoke was nearing us, a daring young Indian, dressed in war-bonnet and breech-clout, and riding a white horse that went like a streak, dashed across the draw below us not more than 200 yards away. He drew the fire of half our men, some shooting the second and third time, before his horse, which was on a dead run, _fell_ and rolled over. Fully fifty more shots were fired before this painted, war-bonneted brave fell.

Then up the cañon came the party which had passed down; out onto the plain they came on a run, waving shields and uttering their wild, demoniac yell, once heard never to be forgotten. They were one-fourth of a mile from us when they suddenly halted.

Here Ben Jackson made his first remark since the fight began: "Keep your eyes towards their camp, boys; them fellers down in there have done that on purpose to draw our fire so that the main band of warriors can make a sneak on us down the draw, through that smoke."

'Twas a timely remark. Sure enough—here they came, pouring over the crest of the side-draw we had just vacated. But the smoke was not so thick as they wished it to be. For some were seen and must have been hit before they all got into it. The grass they had fired did not burn well, and soon the atmosphere was again clear.

But the cunning warriors had tricked us; and it was not until nearly a month later that we understood or knew the meaning of each of their moves in the fight, and the real execution our buffalo-guns had done. The party of warriors down the draw rode out upon the south side, and, making a wide detour, rode into the draw above camp.

There was now a complete lull. Joe Jackson, being wounded, had a burning thirst, and began calling for water. Not a canteen or cup of any kind in the crowd. I was wearing a pair of new boots which I had put on the day we left Rath's. It was nearly 100 yards out in the little valley to where the water was. Three different ones had started to crawl down to the water. I was really suffering from thirst myself. It was nearing noon, and my head was aching as if it would burst.

Ben Jackson said, "Boys, if you will shoot pretty lively at this edge of that side-draw, and up the main draw a little, Cook and I will crawl down and bring up a couple of bootfuls of water."

"All right," they said. And as the boys fired away we crawled down and both got a good drink of water, bathed our heads, then, taking off both of my boots and filling them with water, we crawled back, each of us holding a tight grip to the top of a boot-leg.

Joe Jackson quenched his thirst. Then we gave Grimes and Hosea the rest of the water. "Shorty," the druggist, had done what he could, which was not much, for the wounded men, Jackson and Hosea; but he bandaged Grimes's broken wrist, and gave each of them a drink of fourth-proof brandy from a bottle that had been put into Bill Kress's saddle-pockets.

We were in this place nearly an hour. Then the three commanders divided us into two parties, sending half of us on up this side-draw, with orders to crawl on our all-fours along the plain and get opposite the mouth of the draw that we of Campbell's men had vacated, and that we believed to be the one the main bodies of Indians were in. This party was in charge of Smith. They had been gone from us nearly half an hour, when their guns were heard; for the space of four or five minutes there was a general fusillade from both sides.

At last our boys drove them out up the draw; and as they went up over the crest going south they came into our view. They were running toward the sand-hills four miles away.

It was then we opened fire upon them at long range. After firing four or five times apiece, Campbell selected five men to remain with the wounded men and horses. Then he said, "Come on, boys; let's regain our old position. There goes Jim Smith and his men across the draw."

On the run we went, just as fast as we could go, and we were soon on the crest of the side-draw that we first fell back to. The tepees that we had had the view of then were down; not a sign of a living thing in sight.

"Have we licked them?"

"Yes," "No," would come the answer.

"Let's go into their camp now."

"No, don't do that; let's not get too far from those wounded men and our horses."

"I'm choking for water."

"I'm so hungry I could eat a raw coyote."

"Hello, Shorty; where is that war pony you said you was going to ride back, as you was walking up here last night?"

"Say, my dear Johnny Bull, you are chock-full of sand; that old blunderbuss of yourn scart 'em out of the country!"

"Shake, Deacon; I haven't had time to be sociable with you to-day; but no offense was meant."

"Pardon me, Carr; but you look worse than the devil."

And thus this good-natured, tired, thirsty, hungry crowd bandied one another while Campbell, Smith and Freed were in council.

"Back to the wagons, boys!" came the order. "Smith, you keep your men here until the rest of us cross the main draw."

Away we marched. After we had crossed the draw and were lined up facing toward the abandoned camp, Smith's men rejoined us, and down the draw we went to the long water-hole, previously putting out a guard on top of the plain. Everybody drank a sufficient amount of water. The horses were brought down and watered.

The ends of a blanket were laced together around two pieces of lodge-poles, several of which were lying around and near the watering-place. We made a stretcher for Joe Jackson. Squirrel-eye, George Cornett, Hi. Bickerdyke and I rode back and got Grimes's saddle.

We now all felt that we were masters of the field since the Indians had fled. Then we followed down the plain and got the war-bonnet from the brave that rode to his death on the snow-white horse. Then we were off for the supply camp.

We got there an hour before sundown. We unsaddled and turned our horses loose. No fear of a raid for the present. The fires were built and a hurry-up supper prepared.

We opened two boxes of crackers; carved a big cheese; made two camp-kettles full of oyster-soup; opened peach cans by the dozen; set out a keg of pickles; opened a firkin of oleomargarine; made lots of strong coffee; and sat down to a feast. We had eaten nothing since four o'clock the day before.

After supper we attended all three of our worst wounded men the best we could. We probed Hosea's wound through the shoulder; washed it out clean; sprinkled it with iodoform and tied bandages around it as well as we could; made splints for Grimes's broken wrist, bound it up, and kept water handy for him to bathe it.

Poor Joe Jackson had been hit in the groin, by Sewall's gun, which was a 45, just as we turned, when we fell back the first time. The ball passed through, and lodged. He was hauled in a wagon 150 miles, to Fort Griffin, where the post surgeon extracted the bullet. But, poor fellow, after two months of suffering, although in the mean time he got up and went around after his surgical work was done, he took a relapse, and died.

The next morning we started back to Rath's. We arrived there on the 22d of the month. Just a week later, Captain Lee, of G Company, Tenth U. S. Cavalry, with five Tonkawa Indians for guides, scouts and trailers, and his seventy-two colored troopers, took the field, under orders from General Ord, who at that time was in command of the Military Department of Texas, with his headquarters at San Antonio.

Captain Lee's special mission was to find these Indians and bring them in. From him we learned all that we did not know already in regard to our fight with the Indians on the 18th of March. It was now believed that, for a time at least, we would be safe by going in small parties to bring in the hides from the many camps in the Brazos country.

Kress, Rees, Benson, Moore, Crawford and I went in a body to our different camps for the hides we yet had on the range. Rath sent freight teams to haul the hides and bring them in. The work took nearly two weeks' time in all. Some of the hunters went out ten to twenty miles, selecting new camps, in hopes of getting a few hides now and then.

Soon a general carelessness prevailed. The Indians swept over the range again, coming to within five miles of Rath's, killing three more hunters, destroying several camps, and running off the stock.

Two days after this last raid, Tom Lumpkins, having returned to Rath's, ran amuck. After making some slighting remarks about our expedition against the Indians and getting a reprimand from the hunter who had loaned me the sorrel horse for the campaign, he deliberately drew his pistol and shot, breaking the man's arm near the shoulder. At the time Lumpkins shot him, he (the man) was sitting upon a chair, and my partner, Crawford, was cutting his hair. He was totally unarmed.

This all happened in the saloon. Crawford stepped in front of Lumpkins and said, "What do you mean, Tom?"

"Get out of the way, Crawford; he has insulted me."

Just then Jim Smith pulled out his revolver, ran up, jerked Crawford to one side, and fired.

Tom then backed toward the door, shooting as he went, Smith following him up.

As Lumpkins came out of the door he turned to his left, still walking backward toward a wagon that John Godey and I were in, sacking up dried buffalo tongues. Smith kept following him up, shooting as he advanced.

Lumpkins fell about ten feet from the wagon. One of the bullets from Smith's revolver went through the pine wagon-box and lodged in the sack of dried tongues. Godey held the sack while I put the tongues into the sack.

The hunter whose arm was broken by Lumpkins, was an American-born Swede. He was not with us in the fight, but was enthusiastic in his praise of the manner in which the men conducted themselves who were there, and, being a rather impulsive man, he quickly rebuked the insult.

Jim Smith had previously, come very near having trouble on this very same subject, with Lumpkins. This being the case, it was apparent to all that Smith was justifiable in what he did, under existing circumstances.

The wounded man and I had met several times during the past two and one-half years, and we had become quite intimate. At his special request I took him to Fort Griffin, that being the nearest place to a doctor or surgeon. As we were starting away, the boys were making arrangements to give Lumpkins as decent a burial as they could, Smith saying that he would defray all expenses of the burial.

Smith and several eye-witnesses of the killing all went to Fort Griffin also, where Smith surrendered himself to the civil authorities of Shackleford county. The record of his trial in April, 1877, says: "_Justifiable homicide_."

While at Fort Griffin we learned that Captain Lee had found the Indians; had captured their camp, together with all their women and children.

The next day after returning from Fort Griffin, Crawford and I settled up all our affairs in regard to our partnership in the hunting business. After everything was settled satisfactorily between us, he took me aside and told me that "he never was so anxious to get to a peaceful, quiet, steady plodding place, in his life." Said his "nerves were not made for startling commotions." He said: "I have a mother, as I told you, who is dependent upon me; I have money enough now to buy a nice little place in Benton county, Arkansas, where I can make an excellent living, and make Mother as happy as she ever could be." He had before this told me of his father being killed at the siege of Vicksburg, and of their home in Missouri being broken up by the Federals. The ex-Confederates would call us "Unionists," ringing the changes to "Yanks."

After I had heard him through I took him by the hand and said: "Willis, I regret to part from you; but am glad you are so solicitous for your mother's welfare. Your idea of a good quiet home is an excellent one; and from this on I'll often think of you and imagine you contentedly situated."

The next day he started with a big hide-train for Fort Worth. I never met him again, but we kept track of each other for several years through the mails.

On the 25th of April there were some twenty-five or thirty of us lounging around the store and saloon at Rath's, when Captain Lee rode into the little place, bringing in most of the women and children of Nigger Horse's band. They all camped close by that night. This Captain Lee was one of the descendants of the famous "Light Horse Harry," of Revolutionary fame, also a relative of the great Confederate general, "Marse" Robert E. Lee, the man who would not allow Gen. Grant to turn his right flank. Capt. Lee was a tall, square-shouldered, well-proportioned man, of great muscular strength, having a splendid voice and very distinct articulation. He was a fluent talker. He "would like to meet some of the hunters who had fought the Indians on the plains at the head of Thompson's cañon."

Just then Jim Harvey approached him and saluted, saying, "How do you do, Captain Lee?"

"Why, Jim Harvey, old Fourth Cavalry, ha! ha! Citizen Harvey now?"

"Yes, time expired at Fort Dodge three years ago; been hunting ever since."

"Were you at the hunters' fight?"

"Yes;" then looking over the crowd, now all at the store, "there are about half of the boys here now."

Then for an hour or more he entertained us with the details of his expedition and the Indians, and the Indians' story of our fight. We were sure we had killed a dozen Indians, but were surprised to learn that 31 had been killed outright, and 4 died the next day; that 22 more were wounded, and, when we were shooting lively at the camp, and the band of horses beyond, that we had killed 15 pack-horses already loaded; and the mounted warriors that were running and circling around us were only doing it to draw our fire so that the Indians could move camp without all being killed. We could now account for a good many things that happened that day.

Illustration: Buffalo-Hunters Fighting Comanches And Apaches, March 18, 1877, On The Staked Plains.

And when we learned that the sand-hills to which they fled were honey-combed with caves and tunnels, shored and timbered up to keep them from caving in; and that the Indians hoped that we would follow them there, where they could finally annihilate us, we thought our fight with them was a good day's work for us.

And we learned, also, that the Apaches from the Guadalupe Mountains, west of the Pecos river, had fled back to their own retreat more than 100 miles away; and that Captain Lee had been to our battle-ground. Tonkawa Johnson and his four tribesmen had trailed the Indians to these sand-hills, to find that they had left there after the Apaches had abandoned them, and they had gone on west to Laguna Plata, eight miles west of Casa Amarilla.

Then Captain Lee found them at a time when most of the warriors were out on raids; and his first duty sergeant had been killed by old Nigger Horse himself. At the same time the sergeant killed both Nigger Horse and his squaw, as they were trying to make their escape, both mounted upon one pony; five other warriors were killed, too.

It had been a running fight for eight miles toward the Blue sand-hills. Those who got away fled to them. He had destroyed near three tons of jerked meat; had melted nearly 300 pounds of bar lead and run it into a cake in a hole in the ground. His men carried fifteen parts of cans of Dupont powder up the margin of the lake from camp and blew it up, for three purposes:

First, To keep it from falling into the hand of the exasperated Indian raiders when they returned and found their chief dead, and most of their women and children captives.

Second, To show the captives that the white man had plenty more.

Third, Because he could not well carry it back to us.

The primers, some 10,000, he brought back with him; also a map he had made, showing where we could find the cake of lead. The lead, powder, and primers had been taken from the different hunters' camps, by Indian raiders, when they plundered and raided them. Captain Lee told us to look for a raid on this place at any time; complimented us, so far as he was personally concerned, for the manner in which we had "ginned them up"; hoped the buffaloes would soon be destroyed and the country made safe for the ranchman and home-builder.

Harvey, West and myself went out to his camp with him near a mile. We found the camp settled for the night, the captives on one side, near one hundred feet, with a strong guard around them; then the darky soldiers lounging and resting. Tonkawa Johnson and his friendly companions camped close by Captain Lee's quarters, which were now ready for him; and his cook was preparing his evening meal.

Harvey said: "Captain Lee, Tonkawa Johnson talks fairly good English; speaks good Spanish, and understands the Comanche language thoroughly. We would like to get your permission to have him go with us into the captive camp. We want to find out, if we can, how they liked the Sewall gun."

"Yes, certainly; go right in. Orderly, get Johnson and take him into their camp with these men." Harvey told Johnson what questions to ask. Lying upon an untanned buffalo-hide was a weazen-faced buck that had had his left eye shot out in our fight with them. Near him was another one, sitting up, with both arms broken, they having been broken in the fight with Lee.

When the talk which we had with them, through the interpreter, was ended, we had elicited many additional facts, to those already stated, in regard to our two encounters with them. The Sewall gun had been a hoodoo to them. Everyone who had used it had either been killed or been badly wounded.

When Freed heard this he was in high glee. For he had contended all the time that he had killed the first Indian who used the Sewall gun to shoot at the hunters, which was in the first encounter with them, in the stronghold at the edge of the Staked Plains. The second Indian who used the gun was badly wounded. Then Nigger Horse's son took it, and it was he that first used it, at our big fight, as we now called our 18th of March fight. And he too fell with the gun in his hands. Then Cinco Plumas, or Five Feathers, used it until near the close of the fight, when he too fell. The Indians said they left the Sewall gun in the tunneled sand-hills, wrapped up in a blanket with the two scalp-locks they had taken from Sewall. These superstitious creatures imagined the gun and scalp-locks were "bad medicine" for them; when, as a matter of fact, each one who used the gun placed himself in an exposed position in order to do effective work at long range. And, not being so well practiced in calculating distances as the hunters were, they laid all their misfortunes to the gun. We also learned that the looking-glass that Nigger Horse signaled with was smashed to smithereens by a bullet from one of our guns. A pappoose had been killed which was strapped to its mother's back. But this, of course, was because the pappoose happened to be where it was when the bullet passed along.

The next morning Captain Lee took up his march to Fort Griffin, where he was stationed, and the captives were sent on to Fort Sill.

On the 30th of April George Cornett came into Rath's and reported that John Sharp had been badly wounded the day before, near Double Mountain, and he wanted help to bring him in. The Indians had plundered his camp, cut the spokes out of his wagon, and run off his team. Louie Keyes, Cornett, Squirrel-eye, Hi. Bickerdyke, Joe Freed, Jim Harvey and myself took Rath's buggy team and went out after him. I drove the team; the others were on horseback.

We got to where Sharp was, in a brush thicket below his camp. We started back with him that night; came on back to the Double Mountain Fork; stopped to feed the horses and eat a cold lunch. We were now four miles from Rath. As the day-streaks were visible in the east on the morning of the first of May, 1877, we heard rapid firing in the direction of Rath's. We hooked the team to the buggy and all started for the place.

After going a mile or so, Harvey thought it best for some one to ride on rapidly to a high point about a mile ahead, and try to make out what it all meant. Squirlie, ever ready and ever present, fairly flew up the trail, and went to the summit of the high point where Rath's was in plain view, and much of the surrounding country also. One good, short look seemed to have satisfied him.

Back he came to us, on a dead run.

"Boys, they have tricked us. There are about seventy-five Injuns just over the hill," said he, as he pointed south. "They are going west to beat h——l, driving over 100 head of horses."

So, while we hurried on east as fast as we could go, "Keno," the O Z mare and Pinto were all going west.

When we arrived at Rath's we met a cheap-looking crowd. There were about fifty men there, all told, and, with two exceptions, all flat afoot. The Indians had made a clean job of this raid.

There were night-watches out, it was true. But they had taken all the horses northeast in the evening, about two miles, and let them loose to practically roam and graze at will. The herders must have been sound asleep. A general carelessness prevailed. Only two men were on guard at Rath's. Camp wagons were scattered here and there over forty acres of ground. Several men were sleeping at their camps. Some were sleeping in the store. Several had their beds made down in the aisles of the big hide-ricks.

The Indians were in two parties of about fifty each. One party rounded up and secured the horses in close herd and drove them around a half-mile south of the store. The store faced west, the saloon and restaurant east. The two were a street's width apart.

Just as daylight was dawning, fifty of these reckless thieves made a run between the buildings, shooting right and left and yelling as only Comanches can yell. They passed on to the bunch of horses, struck west with them, and kept moving. They had not injured a man in their run through camps and village. But, as one of the boys remarked, "They sure did wake us up."

It was during this same morning that the organization of what was afterwards known as "The Forlorn Hope" was talked of. We sent Sharp on to the hospital at Fort Griffin, and we put in the day "holding the empty sack" as the phrase went, and organized. There were thirty-eight men present who had lost all of their horses, mules, and ponies. Sam Carr was furious. Besides his two large fine mules, "Prince" was gone. He talked nearly the entire day about him; and when one of the boys said, "And you had a fine mule team, Sam," he replied, "Yes, but I can get more mules; but I can never get another 'Prince.'"

I am sure my readers love a noble horse. And Prince belonged in this category. He was a dapple-gray gelding, fifteen and three-fourths hands high; was seven years old; weighed eleven hundred pounds. His sire came from the Bluegrass region of Kentucky to near Topeka, Kansas, where Prince was foaled, and owned by Samuel Carr. He grew up on the Kansas farm a pet.

Sam was, and had been, his only trainer; and for performing many tricks, Prince was as perfect as horse could be. At the word of command he would go lame, and could scarcely hobble about. He would lie down and appear to be dead. He would hold his head side wise with ears erect, at the command to "listen!" His master would have him lie down and hold his head erect. Then he would kneel on one knee, place his gun-muzzle on the crown of Prince's head between his ears, and fire the gun, and Prince would not even "bat" an eye. Carr would tell him to lie down; then he would lie down beside him, and, touching him on hip and wither, would say: "Now, cuddle up!" Then Prince would flatten out and bring all four of his legs up against Carr's body. He was fleet on foot; had great power of endurance, and was an excellent swimmer. He would follow his master anywhere he went, if told to do so. Carr would buy sugar in cubes, and nearly always kept a supply of cube sugar on hand for Prince. I heard Carr say to him once, "Oh, Prince, I found some sugar." The horse walked up and ate it from his hand.

Is it any wonder that big tears came coursing down the man's cheeks when he found out his faithful horse was gone? At first the boys were inclined to joke him about Prince. One of them said, "Well, Sam, if we don't get him back when we go out after the Quohada again we will get you a Dolly-Varden horse like that buzzard-headed pinto of Cook's that went off with him." But when the boys saw how Sam took the loss of Prince so much to heart, they ceased joking him.

After having a general talk about ways and means, and nearly all being of one mind, we all decided to practice Indian for the summer, if it took that long to accomplish what we now had resolved to do; which was: To take wagons as far as General McKenzie's supply camp of the '74 war; then pack our supplies, and roam the Staked Plains until we found the Indians' headquarters; then set them afoot as they did us, and fight them to a finish if they followed us.

Accordingly, we elected James Harvey to command us, all agreeing to obey implicitly, and execute the commands given us. Dick Wilkinson was made chief packer, to have regular detailed assistants. Sol. Rees was put in charge of the medical supplies. I was appointed Hosea's interpreter. He was to select anyone he chose to scout with him. Carr, Frank Perry and Bill Kress were sent to the cattle ranches, near Fort Griffin, to purchase saddle-horses and pack animals.

A new campaign was inaugurated. Powder-face Hudson and three other hunters came in that evening from Quinn's. The Indians had not gone there, so they had their horses. Hudson hitched up his team the next morning, and the three men who were to go after the horses threw their saddles into the wagon. West told them to come into the store and get anything they wanted; after which the four of them started for the settlements near Griffin.

The party that took Sharp to the hospital returned the fourth day, bringing the big chestnut-sorrel horse that I rode in the fight on the 18th of March. They also brought a letter from Oleson, the Swede, who loaned him to me for the March expedition. He was my horse now. I wish I had his letter to reproduce here. The horse was given to me as a gracious gift from a man whom I had befriended and who had learned that I was afoot.

When I took him to Griffin after Lumpkins had shot him, we took all his camp outfit and stock along. I had put a new cover on his wagon; and got Mr. Jackson's permission to back the wagon against his barn in the corral; and had taken Oleson's three horses to a pasture three miles down the Clear Fork; and I charged him nothing from the time I left Rath until my return; and so he remembered me in my present loss by making me a present of the horse.

Word now came to us that the entire border of the settlements was on the _qui vive_, from Fort Concho to Henrietta. From North Concho to the Brazos there was hardly a cattle ranch but had lost horses, the Indians having broken up into small parties; had stealthily slipped in and made a simultaneous raid for horses, taking them for a hundred miles up and down the border, and had closed, for the present, by gathering the clans together and setting the hunters afoot by their raid on Rath.