Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Article Index


Billy Ryus and Col. Leavenworth Invade Camp Where There Are 30,000 Hostile Indians.

When Col. Leavenworth introduced Satanta to me he grinningly answered "Si; all my people know this driver, for we have drank coffee with him on the plains before this day." This was spoken in the Indian tongue and interpreted by Col. Leavenworth.

Satanta immediately ordered some of his young warriors to go out and herd our mules for the night--he told them to stake them where they could get plenty of grass and put sufficient guard to protect them. I told Satanta that we would want to start on our journey by daylight.

Leaving Col. Leavenworth with Satanta I returned to my two coaches two and a half miles back, accompanied by about two hundred or more young Indian lads and lassies. The drivers unhitched the mules from the Concord coach and put the harness up on the front boot of the coach. One of the Indian herders asked me if I had some lariats. I told him I did and he got one and tied it to the end of the coach tongue, then put two lariats on the tongues of each coach, leaving a string about sixty feet long--much to the wonderment of the passengers--motioned for me to mount the seat and take up my whip. When I did this all these young Indians, both boys and girls, laughingly took hold of the lariats and started to pull our coach into camp. This occasioned much mirth. This was a great sight for the tender-foot. My passengers declared it excelled any fiction they had ever read. The boys and girls pulling and pushing the coaches went so fast that I had difficulty in keeping the little fellows from being run over. I applied the brakes several times.

When we reached the camp the whole tribe began such screeching that many passengers took the alarm again. Satanta came out, looking very erect and soldierly, commanded the young men to haul our coach to the front of his lodge so we could see all that was going on. Satanta's next order was for the squaws to get supper. He said to the passengers, "We must eat together, lots of buffalo meat and deer." After kindling their fire of buffalo chips they soon had supper "a-going." I ordered my drivers to take bread, coffee and canned goods from our mess box and we dined heartily and substantially.

At eleven o'clock I laid down in the front of my coach and snatched a little sleep. I doubt whether the passengers took any sleep. I know that Col. Leavenworth and Satanta were talking at three o'clock in the morning, at which time Satanta called out his cooks and informed us that we must "eat again." We breakfasted together. Just at daybreak the Indians gave the whoop and the little fellows were on hand to haul our coaches outside the camp. They hitched our mules and Satanta and the chiefs of the other tribes went with us about ten miles and stopped and lunched again.

These chiefs begged Leavenworth to come back to their country and take charge of the tribes, giving him as their belief that if he were in charge there would be peace. Satanta called his attention to the battle on the Nine Mile Ridge as well as to the massacre where they had suffered so unmercifully.

Satanta told Col. Leavenworth during his ride with us that morning that for the inconvenience suffered by the public the Indian was totally blameless. At no time did his people make the first attack on the whites and take their lives, but that in approaching their caravans and asking for food they were shot down as they had been on the Nine Mile Ridge. The American soldiers had burned their wigwams, slaughtered their decrepit men, women and children and carried away their provision. Satanta told Col. Leavenworth that he had heard of the newspapers, the press, and so on. He told him that he knew that they were for the purpose of prejudicing white people against his race. Satanta said that the Indians desired peace as much as did the white man. Leavenworth told the old chief that he regretted the loss of life, but Satanta told him that his regret was no greater than his regret for both the Indians and the whites. This ended the conversation between these two friends. After many adieus they separated, each going his own way.

       *       *       *       *       *

On our journey to Fort Lyon I casually mentioned the name of Major Anthony (nephew of Governor George T. Anthony, the sixth governor of Kansas). I told him that Major Anthony was very friendly toward the Indians. This is the same Major Anthony who took charge of the Indian agency when Macaulley was discharged so unceremoniously. I told Col. Leavenworth that Major Anthony had such a rare character that if he had his way about it there would be no war.

Colonel Leavenworth Jr. asked me to introduce him to Major Anthony when we reached Fort Lyon, which I did. Major Anthony asked me if I would wait a couple of hours so he and Colonel Leavenworth could talk over Indian matters a while before we proceeded to Bent's Old Fort, forty miles south of Fort Lyon.

After we started on our route Colonel Leavenworth remarked about the rains which had been falling. I told him I was afraid we would experience some difficulty in crossing the Arkansas river. Sure enough when we reached there the river was a seething mass of turbulent waters, but we succeeded in crossing safely at Bent's Old Fort. Then we had eighty miles to go before we struck the foothills of the Raton mountains, fording the Picketwaire river at the little town of Trinidad, Colorado, over the Raton mountains. In going up the mountain we crossed the creek twenty-six times.

On this route was a place known to the train men as "The Devil's Gate." This was a very large rock extending out over the road running close to the creek with a precipice below. We had to use great care and precaution in handling our mules around this rock to take the road. We saw several broken wagons at this point where several freighters had been doomed to bad luck.

We ascended the mountains to the foot where were the headwaters of the Red river, four miles from the Red river station of the stage company, thence to Fort Union, where I delivered Colonel Leavenworth. That was the last time I ever saw him.