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We hunters were optimistic enough to predict a wonderful future for a region of such delightful climate and such fertile soil. In March we sold our hides to Charles Rath, who sent his agent, George West, to follow up the hunters with two large freight trains to bring back the hides they got that winter.

But a dozen such trains could not haul the hides that the hunters had in their many camps west from the one-hundredth meridian to the New Mexico line and south to the Brazos river. It was a red-letter killing and the slaughter reached its high-tide mark that winter and spring. The summer of 1876 I hunted with fair success in different parts of the Panhandle of Texas. But that year not many buffaloes went north to the Cimarron. They were giving ground. The terrible slaughter of the past two years had shortened their annual pilgrimage from the Cimarron to the Platte, 500 miles. In October I was back on the breaks of Red river. Army officers informed us that the Indians were restless. They had heard of Sitting Bull's annihilation of Custer's Seventh Cavalry, and it was in their hearts to emulate his and Gall's warriors. George Whitelaw with two men, Hank Campbell with two men, and Crawford and I, agreed to camp together for mutual protection. We found some excellent water-holes about three miles north of Red river, in rough ground. Here we pitched camp and stayed until the last of November, getting all told 1600 hides from here.

Campbell's outfit and my own went west about six miles and camped at the head of a draw running through a large flat down to Red river. Whitelaw went back to Fort Elliott. There were, in this camp, Hank Campbell, Frank Lewis, "Crazy" Burns, Willis Crawford, and myself, the night of the 15th December, when a heavy blinding snow-storm came on. This snow commenced falling as darkness set in; by daylight it had ceased, and there were seven inches of snow on the ground.

Sometime that night, while we were all wrapped in our warm beds and sound asleep, Old Nigger Horse, with 170 Comanche warriors, together with their families, passed by less than 200 feet from us, running away from Fort Sill. They were being followed by two companies of soldiers that would have overtaken them if Miles, Custer, or Crook had been there. This is my opinion.

Illustration: Nigger Horse (Comanche Chief) And His Horse

The next morning "Crazy" Burns, as he was called, was the first one up, and while he was building the morning fire the soldiers appeared, and they told us they had abandoned the Indian trail on account of the weather. This act alone caused the loss of many lives of the hunters. These Indians kept on south and went into camp for the rest of the winter. The place they selected was a pocket-cañon just south of the mouth of Thompson's cañon, and is so located on the old maps.

It was an excellent place for a defensive fight, being located as it was immediately under the escarpment of the Staked Plains. They stayed here until the last of February. Literally they were perfectly hidden. But few hunters were that far south at the time, and none that far west. The fact developed afterward that the nearest hunter's camp was twelve miles from them. This was Billy Devins's, northeast of them. Five miles northeast of Devins's was the ill-fated Marshall Sewall's camp.

In the latter part of February these Indians began murdering and pillaging in earnest. But a few days before the first hunters were disturbed, they had evidently scouted the country well, for there were single Indians seen in different places far apart at the same time.

A few days after Nigger Horse and his band had passed by our camp, Rankin Moore came along with his outfit and told us he had not seen a buffalo since he had left Fort Elliott. We had not seen one for the last two days. So we agreed to pull south for the Brazos country. We crossed the Red river at the same place the Indians did, and followed their trail for ten miles, when it turned off more to the southwest; but we went on south. Moore had agreed to go to a certain place on the Salt Fork and camp there until Benson's outfit came along, Benson and he both having been at the place the winter before. This place was about ten miles up the river from where Arkansaw Jack's camp was the winter of my first hunt.

The evening we arrived at this place I took my horses down a broad ravine and hobbled them, nearly a quarter of a mile from camp, where there was better grass than at or near camp.

Just as I started with the horses Rankin Moore picked up his gun and said he would go up on the hill east of our camp. This draw that I went down ran eastward.

As I was going down the draw he was going up the hill on the south side of the draw. Just as I had hobbled the last horse, had picked up my gun and had taken perhaps five or six steps, when _zip!_ went a bullet, and then the report of a gun which came from the hills south of me.

I had a cartridge in my gun. Raising it, and looking toward where the shot came from, _spat!_ and the ground was struck by a bullet in front and to the left of me, the bullet passing between myself and the pinto pony.

Just at that moment _boom!_ came the report of a bigger gun from the hills and also a considerable distance to the west of the shots coming toward me. Then came the strong audible voice of Moore, "Look out, Cook! There is an Injun trying to get you!"

When I first saw Moore he was running east toward the place the Indian was shooting at me from. I hurried out of the draw, running south to get under cover of the hills as soon as possible, thinking I was too much exposed in the draw.

As I ascended the hill, I peered cautiously as I went. I heard the report of Moore's gun again, this time not more than 200 yards from me, and nearly south, the direction I was going. I then hurried on up the hill and ran out to where Moore was then standing.

Looking intently southeast just a few rods from us we saw a succession of little knolls and hills with little basins in between them. The first thing Moore asked me was, "Are you hit?"

I answered, "Not a hit."

He said "Goody for you! I believe I got him. You keep to the left and I'll go around to the right."

We had not more than fairly started when Moore, who was great for off-hand shots, fired. I ran up close to him, and, looking off southwest nearly 400 yards, saw our Indian afoot. We both fired rapidly at him, he running like a quarter-horse for some breaks that he was then close to; but he got away.

Our rapid firing of six shots for Moore and five for me had brought every man and gun from camp, all believing it was an "Indian fight." After Moore had explained matters to the boys we all started for the little knolls, and soon found the Indian's horse breathing its last. We left everything just as we found them, viz.: saddle, bridle, lariat, and blanket. Moore had shot the horse in the left jugular vein, also grazed him along the spinal column with another bullet. We brought all our horses to camp, tied them to wagon-wheels, and took turns at night watch.

We now concluded to all stay together till Benson came, which was the third day after this event. We stood guard every night and kept close watch during the daytime; but did no hunting only for camp meat.

The next morning after the affair with the Indian, at breakfast, we were discussing the matter, and I remarked:

"Well, Moore, I guess if you had not been where you were I would now be in the other hunting-ground."

He replied: "No; not unless he could shoot better, by practicing on you a while."

He said that when the Indian first fired at me he himself had not seen him until then, and he was almost sure the Indian had not seen him until he fired at him; and then his pony jumped, and as he turned to run he went in a staggering gait. Moore was 300 yards from him when he fired, which he did in a hurry before he could get his third shot at me. The Indian was over 250 yards from me when he fired. When Benson arrived he informed us that Charlie Rath himself was on his way down from Dodge City with a small train of supplies—lumber, nails, tools, and some extra men, to build a supply store somewhere east of Double Mountain, near the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos; and that John Russell's train of fifty wagons, drawn by six yoke of oxen to the wagon, was following Rath, loaded with all kinds of hunters' supplies. So we all decided to pull toward that point. When we got to the McKinzie trail, looking south around the base of Double Mountain, we could see that we were close to the "_main herd_" of buffaloes, as the parlance went those days.

We had now been encamped and moving, and were hardly making expenses; and this change decided us to take chances. We held a council, at the close of which we agreed to waive the former custom of conceding to each camp a radius of a few miles, where they could hunt unmolested by one another, and to camp as close together as we could.

We turned west and went up the trail to Stinking creek, thence south in a rough broken country, and found camps from a half-mile to a mile and a half apart, where we all had good water. We were now a little south of west of Double Mountain; the buffaloes were plentiful, and seemed to be located and contented.

When we first reached this location Crawford and I were camped at some water-holes fed by two springs. From our camp the country sloped south to the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos, which was some five or six miles distant, our camp being west of the other outfits.

The evening of the day we came to this camp I killed seventeen buffaloes about one mile north of camp, on the eastern slope of a divide. I rode "Keno" on this occasion, whereas heretofore I had hunted afoot nearly all the time.

As I was coming back from the killing to where I had left "Keno," I noticed him looking intently to the west, and on looking in that direction I saw a horseman approaching. Upon coming closer it proved to be Pat Garrett, afterward better known as the slayer of "Billy the Kid" in New Mexico, while he, Garrett, was sheriff of Lincoln county, New Mexico.

He accepted our invitation, rode to camp, and stayed all night with us. He was camped about eight miles northwest, near the Salt Fork. He seemed to think we were all doing wrong in taking the chances we were with the Indians. But we hunted away.

The next morning as we were driving out to skin the killing of the previous evening we heard steady, deliberate shooting close to where our carcasses lay; and on driving a little farther we came in sight of the hunter. We stopped and waited until he had quit shooting where he was. The buffaloes were moving off toward the west. He started to follow them, but at sight of us stopped and waited for us to come up.

He asked us if those were ours down there. I said, "Yes."

He said, "I did not know there was a soul within ten miles of here until last evening when I heard the shooting."

"Where is your camp?" I asked.

"Down by those trees," pointing to some cottonwoods about half a mile west.

"How long have you been there?"

"Three weeks."

"Any Indian signs?"

"Haven't seen any Indians; but heard there were some in the country."

I remarked, "You seem to be a new outfit to me."

"Yes; this is Bill Kress and Sol. Rees's outfit; I am Kress."

We told him where we were camped, and explained to him about the council the five outfits had had; who they were, as nearly as we could, and where they were encamped.

His next remark was a prophecy. "I'll tell you what, boys; we will fool around on this range a little too long; then what is left of us will have to get together and lick those Comanches. Rees and I are both of the oldest of hunters. We are from the Solomon river, in Kansas, and have been on the Kansas and Colorado border for many years. We have not hunted for two years until this winter. We went to Philadelphia last summer; attended the Centennial and blowed ourselves in; and we are out now for a stake. But in my opinion those Comanches will yet break out and give us trouble if we are here. April is generally the time up in Kansas to look out for Indians."

Garrett went on to his camp; Kress to his, and we to our work. For several days there was the sound of big guns to be heard in all directions. Finally, on the 20th of February, there came to our camp a runner, telling us that "_trouble had commenced_." Billy Devins's camp had been destroyed by the Indians; his horses taken, and he and his men barely escaped with their lives. Two Englishmen had both their wagons run up between two high stacks of hides and wood and brush thrown upon them; the torch was applied and several large cakes of tallow thrown on the fire to increase the heat. Their ammunition was all taken; their harness had all the best leather cut out of them and carried away, while they were out on foot hunting for buffaloes; that the hunters were concentrating at Rath's store. He had just come from Campbell's camp, and Campbell had told him where to find us; that Campbell himself had started for a camp south that he was sure he could find; while his boys were loading up to pull out for the McKinzie trail, and on to Rath's.

This runner was Louis Keyes. He was one-eighth-breed Cherokee. He said, "Do you know of any camp west of you?"

I replied, "Yes; and if you will help Crawford to load the camp outfit and you two will strike for the trail, I'll go and notify them. Don't take any hides; just the camp outfit. Your horse seems to be a work-horse; hitch him up by the side of the gray mare and I'll ride 'Keno.'"

Thus it was all arranged, and I was off in less time than it takes to write it. I went to Kress and Rees and told them what was going on; and while Kress and their helper were loading their camp outfit, Rees and I were galloping over the prairie and breaks hunting for Pat Garrett's camp, which we found, with a card tacked up saying, "Gone to Rath's store."

We rode back east and a little north to the McKinzie trail; followed it down to the Stinking creek, where were my own and eight other outfits. We were now twenty-three men in number. We counted out in "reliefs," and put out a guard at once of an entire relief; while when Rees and I arrived they only had out one lookout or one guard. Every one had eaten his supper when Rees and I got there. We had had a hard ride for the time and distance. Our horses were warm and hungry. We let them graze until dark, when we all hooked up or saddled up and struck down the trail. Every water-keg was full. We went about four miles and turned to the left, traveling a mile further. We corralled, tying up every animal known to be a wanderer, and close-hobbled the rest, except four good saddle-horses which were kept saddled. We used every precaution that was thought to be necessary during Indian troubles. We built no fire; for sixty war-painted bucks had been seen by Carr and Causey the morning of this same day, between the McKinzie trail and the Double Mountains. We were vigilant during the night. About an hour before daylight everybody was at his post of duty, so as to be ready in case of an attack, or an attempt to get the stock. But we were not molested.

After cooking and eating our breakfast, we hitched up and pulled on to the trail and followed down it several miles, where we came to a stake driven into the ground and several buffalo skulls piled around it. On this stake was a finger-board. Written on it was "RATH'S STORE."

Russell's big train had passed over this route, and had made a well-beaten trail to Rath's. Traveling over this trail, we soon entered a mesquite flat, almost a veritable thicket in places; and for twelve miles we traveled through this chapparal, mesquite, and live-oak mistletoed, dry-land region, to the Double Mountain Fork, before we could get water for our animals. We arrived at Rath's in the evening, and found nearly three hundred men, all on the _qui vive_. Water for cooking purposes was hauled a mile, in barrels; and the stock was all driven in a common herd to and from the creek, twice a day.

I met here several old acquaintances of the two winters and the spring before. Several were there that I had met in the Panhandle hunt. There was talk of organization. Remarks were made to the effect that we would give the buffaloes a rest and the Indians a chase. Rath's agent, West, knew every one of the northern hunters, all those from Kansas and Colorado down to the Red river country; but this last winter many new outfits were on the range from the settlements of Texas east of us, that had not yet been identified with the little army of northern hunters. West had a list of names of all that could be accounted for or their camps located.

Upon our arrival we were eagerly questioned, which questions ran something like the following:

"Do you boys know where Hi. Bickerdyke and the Deacon are?"

"Does anybody here know where Sewall's camp is?"

"Where are Al. Waite and Frank Perry?"

"Has anyone see Smoky Hill Thompson?"

Billy Devins said he knew about where Marshall Sewall was, and considered that he and the two men besides himself were on very dangerous ground, and ought to be looked after first; as all the others were believed to be back in the Pease river country. It was conceded, and so decided, that Devins was right.

And yet that night we organized a party of eighteen men to go to Sewall's camp. I was one of the number to go. We started early. West furnished Billy Devins, who was to be a guide, with a saddle-horse. We took one pack-mule, and we were to follow Devins.

He led out in a southwesterly direction, taking us out of the breaks of the Double Mountain Fork; then we kept as nearly due west as we could on account of the breaks.

We made a good 45-mile ride with hardly a halt. When we reached Billy Devins's destroyed camp, Billy ordered Joe Jackson and myself _on guard_. There were two good lookouts close to this camp; Jackson was sent to the one southeast, and I to the one west of the camp. We were about 200 yards apart.

The boys in camp were busy cooking, for we were all hungry. We had been on guard but a few minutes when Jackson called out: "Here comes a man afoot on our trail."

He came on into camp and dropped down onto the ground—tired, worn out, and hungry; saying, as he did so, "Thank God for this streak of luck!"

When the men had eaten, Joe Freed came out and relieved me, telling me that Marshall Sewall had been killed two days before, about ten o'clock in the forenoon; that the man who had come to our camp was Wild Skillet; that he had struck our trail a mile or so back and knew we were white men, and he had followed our trail to camp. He was one of Sewall's men.

This news was important. I forgot my present hunger, and listened to Freed relate the circumstances connected with Sewall's death:

"Sewall had left his camp, the day he was killed, and had found a large herd of buffaloes some two miles west, and had killed several of them. Wild Skillet and Moccasin Jim had started to drive out to skin them, when they saw the Indians circling around Sewall and firing as they ran around him. All at once they ran in to where he was, some of them dismounting. That was all they could tell about Sewall. They turned the team around, and just as they started back toward the camp the Indians discovered them and started for them. They thought there were about fifty of the Indians. They saw they were being pushed so rapidly that they would be soon overtaken; then they headed the team for a brushy ravine or a little cañon, in a rough, broken piece of ground that came down from a plain and passed north of camp. The boys drove as fast as they possibly could, running the team over a steep bank to the edge of the brush. Here they abandoned the wagon and took to the brush, going down the little cañon; the Indians coming on and dividing, part taking each side, riding down to the edge of the breaks and yelling that never-to-be-forgotten Comanche war-whoop."

Illustration: Comanche Medicine Man

"But they did not get the men, and soon went away. The boys stayed in this brush cañon until dark, having followed it down a mile or so from where they first entered it. They had heard several shots in quick succession, several miles north of them, along toward evening, and presumed it was the same Indians attacking some other outfit."

At this point in the narrative, Devins called for me to "hurry to camp and eat."

After eating, we all saddled, packed up, and started for Sewall's camp, which Wild Skillet guided us to almost on a bee line. We reached our destination near midnight, and found the camp destroyed; ourselves tired and sleepy, and our horses needing rest and feed. We unsaddled and turned our horses loose, reasoning that we were perfectly safe for the night.

We were up at the first streak of dawn. The horse-guard brought in the horses. We ate our breakfast, and then rode out to where Sewall's body lay. We found it in such a condition that it could not be moved.

We all set to work with butcher-knives, cut and dug, and with our hands scalloped out a hole about two and one-half feet deep. We rolled the body into this grave, and after placing the dirt back we rode to some mesquite not far off, brought and piled it high over, around, and on the grave.

The Comanches had taken two scalp-locks from him; had stretched him straight out; had cut a gash in each temple and one at the navel; and had placed a point of his three-pronged rest-stick in each knife insertion and left the grewsome sight as we found it. There were 21 bloated unskinned buffalo carcasses lying from 60 to 200 yards from the body.

Our party was of the opinion that some of these Indians had slipped up on Sewall while he was absorbed in his work of killing the buffaloes, and had given him a fatal shot from behind him; that the circle-riding that Wild Skillet spoke about was done after he had received his mortal wound. Sewall had a long-range 45 Creedmoor Sharp's, a nearly new gun, and he was known on the range as a _dead shot_. He was cool, level-headed, and a man of great nerve. We conjectured that they had sneaked up on him, as it was customary among all Indians to do so where the lay of the ground or circumstances permitted. For had Marshall Sewall had any chance at all, there would most undoubtedly have been one or more dead Indians.

Such could, and may have been the case, and their bodies carried away, as was the rule with the Indians, when they could obtain them. The Indians took Sewall's gun and also secured with it nearly seventy-five rounds of ammunition. They got the team the boys abandoned and Sewall's hunting-horse.

From where the wagon was abandoned we trailed the Indians back to where they killed Sewall and on toward the Staked Plains, which were in sight. After following the trail about three miles we halted on a hill. With the field-glasses we could see into the defile in which the Indians were encamped. But we did not know it at that time. We had lightened the pack-mule at Devins's camp, so as to give Wild Skillet a mount. From here we all went back to that place. Wild Skillet told us that Moccasin Jim had gone to the Englishmen's camp to warn them, they not having heard of their misfortune. And that he himself was hunting for Devins's camp, not knowing that it had been destroyed; that when he had found our trail, he was sure it was white men, and had followed it. It was decided at Devins's camp to send me back to Rath's over the route we came out on; to make the report, and get all who would to come and we would clean out the Comanches.

My instructions were to have West send a wagon-load of supplies to the Godey camp, which location was now generally known to the hunters. This camp was ten miles east of Devins's, but quite a distance south of the route we came out on. In addition, I was to inform the men at Rath's that the provisions would be expected to be at Godey's camp the next night. They further instructed me to say that they would stay in the danger region as an observation party, and would try to look up the Englishmen, and would watch for the Indians until the provisions came.

"Come back with the grub yourself, Cook, and bring as many of the boys along with you as you can," was the parting injunction.

I left them about four o'clock in the evening, taking the back trail. I rode a moderate gait until a little after sundown. I then dismounted, slipped the bridle-bits from "Keno"'s mouth and let him graze. I had a cake of frying-pan bread and some fried hump-meat, which I ate. I then lay down a while, to give "Keno" time to eat a little longer. In spite of myself, I was soon sound asleep. I had intended to ride on to the Clear Fork trail yet that night.

When I awoke, it was very suddenly, "Keno" was lying down. The stars were shining brightly; and apparently there was no breeze. The very stillness made me restless. I had not unsaddled my horse, and when I lay down I was holding the end of the lariat in my right hand; the horse had not gone to the end of it. I went up to him, and patting him gently on the neck, said: "Well, "Keno", let's be going." I was now about twenty-three miles from Rath's, and giving "Keno" a loose rein, with his long-reaching, flat-footed walk he stuck to the trail and with each step was shortening the distance; while I, never more wakeful, rode along and thought.

At first my mind went back to that lonely apology for a grave. I had met its occupant three different times at widely separated places on the range. He was an educated man, a native of Pennsylvania. He was a man who possessed a useful fund of information. He was not obtrusive, but was courteous and polite; respected others' opinions even where he differed from them. He neither drank nor used tobacco, and profanity never escaped his lips. He was not a professed Christian, but believed in the observance of the Golden Rule. He was a born politician, and would have been an excellent statesman. He was a man of hopeful, optimistic tendencies; and _why_ should he have been taken when such men as Hurricane Bill, Dutch Henry, Squaw Johnny, and some others that I had in mind could roam these prairies, disregarding law and morality, with a price placed on some of their heads, as we hunters afterward learned? Then I thought of the rations, blankets, and clothing of all kinds which the Government was issuing to these very Indians at Fort Sill, when they stayed on their reservations; then I thought of the old map of Texas, this lone Star State, where was written across a great colored patch covering this very ground I was now riding over, "_Kiowa and Comanche Hunting Grounds_."

Illustration: Indians Killing Buffalo In Texas.

Why did Texas ever concede that these were their hunting grounds? Did these Indians know that these grounds were conceded to them for hunting purposes? If so, then the Comanche had some excuse. Then again I thought of what General Sheridan said, which every old-time army officer with whom I talked sanctioned: "Destroy the buffaloes and make a lasting peace," on this scalp-lock, blood-stained border.

Then I thought of the Boston man with his _sentimental gush_ about "_Lo, the poor Indian!_" In my mind I would pilot him out to that lonely spot, and watch him as he gazed on the mutilated remains of one of the noblest specimens of American manhood between the two oceans; I would point out to him those two places, just in front of and above the temples, where the bare skull was showing; the places, too, where the two scalp-locks were taken from him, thus violating an unwritten law among the Indian race to "never take but one scalp from a white man."

Up to this time I had been imbued with the idea that wild Indians had some sense of justice, but none of mercy; but in this case they had neither.

Yes, Mr. Boston man, I would have you see one of the most horrible sights that mortal ever gazed upon, a part of which will not be printed in this book, on account of the blush it would bring to the cheeks of the reader.

Then, I want you to go back to Boston and _take a big think_!

Thus in silence I rode on, and when the Great Dipper, that ever-reliable timepiece of the firmament, revolving around the North Star, warned me that the early morning hour was approaching, I was still wakeful. "Keno," walking at will, had carried me some little ways down the Clear Fork trail, when suddenly he filed to the left to a water-hole that I knew nothing of, but which he must have scented. After quenching his thirst, we returned to the trail and pressed on our journey.

Shortly after the sun had risen I was at Rath's, among the hunters. The crowd had augmented considerably during my two days' absence. The camps were numerous and close together. While riding in, I was observed from some distance, and when I dismounted, near the store, I was surrounded by an eager crowd, West being present.

After briefly stating the situation and delivering the instructions the boys had given me, many expressions were uttered, both of regret at Sewall's death and a willingness to help. I was told that arrangements would be made immediately to send provisions to Godey's camp, Godey having tendered a team and himself. West brought "Keno" a feed of oats and took me to the store, where his cook had breakfast ready. After I had eaten, West pointed to his bed and said: "Now, Cook, go to bed, and we boys will see that everything is in readiness by the time you get a good sleep."

But sleep was out of the question with me. I went outside. Just across the way about a good street's width was a saloon and restaurant, and coming out of it was my old friend Charlie Hart. He was about three sheets in the wind, but he recognized me at once, and gave me a hearty greeting. At the same time taking hold of me, he led me back with him to the saloon. There were about twenty men inside, but only three that I had met before. Hart called the crowd up to drink, after which I said: "Now, boys, how many of you are ready to go out and help hunt the Quohada Comanches?" And to my surprise, chagrin and disgust, only four declared themselves willing to go.

The temporary bar-tender at this time was Limpy Jim Smith, an ex-road-agent from Montana. I had heard a good deal about the man, but had never met him before. As I started to leave the place, he came from behind the bar, and, taking me by the hand, said: "Wait a moment; I'll go with you, and we will organize." This man Smith had 2000 hides that he had taken since the last of November. He thought they were in a safe place, for they were on the big flat-top still east toward the settlements; "but," said he, "that is neither here nor there. We have just got to fight!"

Tom Lumpkins said: "Well, I have not lost any Indians and I don't propose to hunt any." This remark brought on some sharp words between Smith and Lumpkins, which ended in the death of Lumpkins a month later.

The regular bar-tender having come to his work of dealing out fishberries and rain-water for whisky, Smith and I went to where a big crowd were discussing the question of the hour. As we approached the crowd, big tall Hank Campbell came forward and shook hands with me, saying, "John, I'm going with you." Godey had now driven up in front of the store. West jumped up into the wagon and called for the crowd to assemble, after which he stated that "the company he represented would furnish any amount of supplies that the hunters wanted, now or hereafter, to use while defending themselves against the Indians and clearing the range of the Comanches." He added: "Here is a wagon and team ready to start for Godey's camp, by request of the eighteen men that found poor Sewall's body. Now, boys, let's have a general expression as to the best means to adopt after starting these supplies."

Smoky Hill Thompson, who was standing pretty well back in the crowd, commenced to talk, when he was interrupted by, "Louder! Come up here; get on the wagon and speak out!" And, suiting actions to words, the venerable old plainsman was picked up bodily by strong men and carried to the wagon. He was an old white-headed veteran of the frontier, one of the last of the Kit Carson type. He had hunted, trapped, and fought Indians from the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri river, and from the international boundary on the north to the Arkansas river on the south. He knew the habits, manners, customs, tricks, strategies and tactics of the Plains Indian as well as the Indian himself did. The vast country he had roamed over was on open book to him. His sobriquet was given to him on account of his last and longest residence in any one place, the Smoky Hill river, where Kansas and Colorado meet. "Boys," he said, in slow, deliberate words, "first start this outfit to Godey's; then organize two separate companies, one to go out and fight the Indians, the other to stay here to protect and defend this place and care for all the extra stock. Some of you hunters have from four to eight head of stock, and those that are not taken on the expedition must be taken out of the country, or well guarded. This place will most likely be the storm-center. Those Indians have seen those acres of hide-piles, and their revenge will be terrible; and this place, in my opinion, will be visited."

Smoky was right, as the sequel will show. His words were accepted by many of the hunters, and none dissented. I called Campbell, Carr, and Bill Kress into the store, where the clerks were getting the supplies ready which I was to take with me.

I said: "Now, Hank, you spoke to-day of going with me, but I believe you will do more good in the long run by staying here and helping in this organization; for you boys all know there has got to be some sifting done. There are men here to-day who will be in Fort Griffin, near the garrison, before to-morrow night. You, Carr, know of two men whom we do not want on the expedition; and there may be many others. But you, boys, go ahead and do the best you can. Joe Freed expects me to be at Godey's camp to-night; I'll tell the boys what you are doing."

"In that case," said Carr, "there is no need of more than four or five of the boys going with you to-day, is there? But we ought to keep in communication."

They agreed that they would proceed at once to effect an organization, and send two men to us as soon as it was completed, with a list of the names of the men who were to compose the field force.

"All right, then, boys; now get me the four or five men as you suggested and we will be off, for the time is passing. Get Squirrel-eye for one, if you can."

Hart lent me his hunting-horse for the occasion; I tied him behind the wagon, saddled and bridled. After the things were all put into the wagon, I spread some blankets over them and lay down. Soon Squirrel-eye, Billy Devins and three others whom I did not know, started, Godey himself driving the team. It was not long until I was asleep. I had come in there, and in less than three hours we were all on the road back. We had ample provisions, and besides this enough ammunition for two weeks, and oats enough to give each animal a moderate-sized feed for several days. We stopped a little after midday. I was sound asleep when Godey shook me, saying, "Hate to wake you, but we're camped for dinner."

After dinner we pulled on, and, seeing we would not make his camp before dark, Godey and I rode ahead. When we came in sight of the camp and a quarter of a mile from it, we saw men moving around the hide-piles. They had the two Englishmen and Moccasin Jim with them, but had lost all of their horses but three. They got into a fight that day in the forenoon with the Indians, and dismounted to fight them on foot and advanced on the Indian camp. Nigger Horse had sent some of his warriors in a roundabout way, and they had got in the rear of the boys and got all of the horses but three head. One of the men, Spotted Jack, was badly wounded; and three others were slightly wounded. Their "long-range guns had done good work," they said; and when they were forced to retreat they kept the Indians so far away with their long-range guns that the Indians did poor execution with their short-range guns. They could distinguish the difference by the sound of Sewall's gun from the Indians' rim-and-center-fire Winchesters, models of '73, that they were mostly using. The boys were certain they had killed the Indian that was first using the Sewall gun. They were close to the Indians' stronghold, but they were in the rocks, broken fragments and disconnected slides that had fallen from the perpendicular escarpment of the Staked Plains.

The contour, or lay of the ground, was such that they deemed they had gone as close as was consistent with good judgment, against a natural fortress, and they just had to retreat.

Spotted Jack, regardless of the nature of the wound he had received, was able to walk in; and they were all there. But each one was censuring himself for his rashness.

Godey said: "Well, boys, this is no place to be to-night. Let's go back, meet the wagon, and I'll take you into a place where we can hold our own if they should come onto us."

We met the wagon, and went to the place designated. It was now after dark. Six of us immediately went on guard. Most of the rest got supper. They built a fire under a cliff in a little gorge.

When morning came we all pulled for Rath's, leaving nearly all the provisions and grain at Godey's. Squirrel-eye and Freed hurried on ahead, to report. After they had gone nearly half the way they met the two messengers who were to come to us at Godey's. The rest of us reached Rath's that evening. Two days later we left Rath's. There were now forty-five all told, of perhaps the best-armed and equipped outfit of men that ever went against Indians without artillery. I had bought a Creedmoor 45 Sharp's at Fort Elliott the fall before and most of the old hunters were now using that caliber. They were long-range guns, and by continuous practice most hunters had become good judges of distances and had learned to shoot pretty accurately by raising the muzzle of the gun, without raising or lowering the rear graduated sights.

As had been predicted, fully 125 men had left the range going east, northeast, and southeast, into the Henrietta, Phantom Hill, and Fort Griffin country. Eighty-five men had pledged themselves, the day we left Rath's to go to Godey's camp, _that they would go to the front_, and forty-five of us were now actually going. We started with three wagons, all loaded with provisions, horse feed, camp equipage, bedding, medicines, lints, and bandages.

All the other wagons were closely parked near the store. Smoky Hill Thompson was left in command and in charge of all the extra stock not required on the trip. West was his assistant in charge.

They had nearly 100 men at first, but the outfit gradually diminished in numbers until there were but forty-two faithfuls, when we returned on the 22d day of March.

Our party was commanded by Hank Campbell 1st, Jim Smith 2d, and Joe Freed 3d in command. Thirty of us were to be mounted; fifteen footmen to be escort and wagon guard. There were from 100 to 250 rounds of ammunition to each man, beside bar lead, powder, primers, and reloading outfits. We took the route to the Sewall camp, going by the way of the Godey camp. We made short drives each day, keeping out advance and rear guards, and three scouts in advance of all.

We had with us Hosea, one of General McKinzie's scouts during the 1874 war. He knew the country thoroughly, from where we were to the Pecos river. He was a Mexican who could speak no English, and understand precious little.

The first night's camp demonstrated the fact that some things were overlooked in the organization of this independent little army. A quartermaster to issue grain was needed, and Ben Jackson was appointed to fill that office. The medical supplies ought to be in charge of some particular person, and that department was turned over to a former druggist, Shorty Woodson, the tallest, slimmest man on the range.

Then Campbell wanted an advisory board, five of whom he appointed rather at random, myself being included in the number. There was a roster kept by Powder-face Hudson. From this roster the guards were detailed in rotation. In fact, everything was done that could be done to promote order, discipline and harmony. There were several ex-Confederate soldiers and Union ex-soldiers who had joined issues in a common cause. There were three school-teachers. All the party were native-born Americans with the exception of the two Englishmen, whose camp had been destroyed.

When we had arrived within five miles of the Indian stronghold a reconnoissance was made, and the fact was apparent that the Indians had fled; they had gone up a narrow defile onto the Staked Plains proper.

We now had to send our wagons some distance south along the base of the escarpment, where, through and up a narrow, winding, steep incline, we managed, by doubling teams and pushing by hand, to get them on top.

We were now on the Llano Estacado, or "yarner," as the old Texans call it. We found that the Indians had burned two tepees in their camp. In Indian signification this meant they had had two deaths. The boys who were foolish enough to crowd onto them in their almost impregnable fortress had killed two of their number.

After the Indians had gotten on top of the plains they scattered like quails, some going up, some down the edge of the escarpment. They traveled in small parties over the short, thick, matted, curly mesquite grass, their different routes resembling the palm of the hand with the fingers spread out, they traveling from the wrist to the point or tips of the finger-ends.

We spent an entire day ferreting out these many dim trails to where they converged again far out on the plains. Not a lodge-pole had been dragged travois-fashion to here, but from here a travois trail started northeast toward Fort Sill. There had been a dry camp for night here.

Here the wily old Nigger Horse, reasonably expecting us to follow him, thought he would fool us by making us believe he was fleeing back to his reservation; and for another day, like the political fixers at a convention, he kept us guessing.

The pony signs, at this camp indicated that they must have six or seven hundred head. Signs were scattered over more than a square mile; and here at this camp the old chief had played his ruse by starting a travois trail towards Fort Sill, when as a matter of fact he had sent his women and children on west to the extreme head of Thompson's Cañon, twenty miles east of the Casa Amarilla (Spanish for Yellow House), so called on account of a bold rugged bluff with natural and excavated caverns dug out by these Indians thirty years before. On top of this bluff was a stone half-circle breastwork. This is the place where, at the time mentioned, the entire Sioux nation came down from their northern homes and fought the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa and Comanche alliance. We followed the travois trail to Thompson's Cañon. There we found a night camp, where they had held a scalp-and war-dance. There was a circle thirty-five feet in diameter literally tramped and padded down, where in their night orgies they probably eulogized each other as big braves.

From this camp they continued their travois trail north toward White Cañon, and after getting about six miles out on a great plain, as level as a smooth sea, they commenced to scatter out again, dropping their lodge-poles as they went. Then it was more guess-work, and this time we guessed right, that the camp was up Thompson's Cañon back of us and up the stream from where we crossed it. We turned to the southwest.

I was ordered to go with and stay with the Mexican scout and guide. I could now talk a little _Greaser_ and make understandable signs, and Hosea wanted me with him. Here was where Commander Campbell's advisory board assumed its first prerogative. At the request of the guide we advised that the entire outfit should stop and wait for a signal from us. That was Hosea, Louie Keyes, and myself. We were to ride on to the cañon and follow it up, looking for Indian signs, and if we thought that the Indians were still above us, that one of us would ride back in sight of the outfit and ride his horse in a circle until he was answered by a horseman; that Campbell would send out to one side and ride around in the same manner as the scout did. That would mean for the entire party to come on to the place where the scout was.

This being thoroughly understood, the three of us started and rode quite rapidly for about seven or eight miles. Then we were on the breaks of the cañon. Here we halted, and with our field-glasses we scanned the cañon up and down as far as the windings of the same would permit. Then we took the long-range view, and looking back to where we had left the boys we could see them as plainly as we could see them with the naked eye had they been close to us. There was a higher bluff on up the cañon nearly a mile, and upon looking to the south and west a distance of perhaps five or six miles we plainly saw five pack animals loaded with meat, and ten Indians, seven of which we made out to be squaws. They were all strung out in single file and were going west.

"Now," said the Mexican guide, "I know where their camp is." That was what everyone wanted to know. We watched them for several minutes, they still going west until they passed over a rise in the ground and out of sight on the slope of the draw at the extreme headwaters of the Thompson Cañon, which Hosea told us was about eight miles from where we were.

Louie Keyes now rode back toward our boys for about two miles, and he rode the circle. Hosea and I looked until we saw one of the men ride from the outfit and he rode the circle in response. Then we saw the whole outfit in motion, coming toward us. This was plains telegraphy. The man who invented long-visional binoculars was surely a benefactor. In this case they were a great economizer of horseflesh, and told us, as it were, where the Indians were encamped, though Hosea and I were eight miles from them. Upon looking again we saw several more Indians with pack-ponies going out from where the camp was supposed to be, traveling in the direction the loaded ones came from. This was evident proof, in my mind, that the camp was located where the guide had indicated.

Everyone who has followed up the Thompson Cañon, of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos well remembers the grand, bold cold-water stream that comes flowing out of a nearly perpendicular bluff from the south side. Just below this place is a side draw with an overhanging cliff where the all-but level plain comes up to, and which is in the form of a crescent. "_Venga aca, Señor Cocinero!_" (Come here, Mr. Cook), said the Mexican, who had ridden some 200 yards farther up the cañon, while I was first looking at the Indians and back towards our approaching hunters. When I rode up to where he was he pointed down to this best of hiding-places and said: "_Esta bueno campo; Indio no le viese._" (This is a good camp; the Indians can't see it.) I told him to stay here and keep a good lookout until I returned.

I then rode back to where Louie Keyes was, and said, "Let's move so as to lead the boys into the cañon below here, then follow it up. Their camp is surely where Hosea said it was. And you know yesterday it was agreed in a general talk that we must try to surprise their camp, and open up on it just at the peep of day if we could do so. There is a splendid place to hide ourselves, horses, wagons and all, just a little way above where you left us; and if we can only get there without being seen by them I'll call it good luck."

"In that case," he said, "I will ride right to them and report to you all we have found." And at a good gallop he was off.

I rode south to, and a little down, the breaks of the cañon, and, finding a natural, easy descent into it, I dismounted and awaited the arrival of the outfit.

Before leaving Rath's Store I was offered the use of a large chestnut-sorrel horse that was noted for his speed and endurance. He was high-strung and of a rather nervous temperament, and his owner had become afraid of him, and was glad to have me accept him. I was glad to get him, for in case of a run I was sure of being well mounted.

When the expedition came up, Campbell left two men on top of the plain, who were to remain there and take observations until called into camp. He then sent Keyes and myself forward with orders to move lively and rejoin the Mexican, Hosea. We hurried up the cañon until we got nearly up to the place where we had seen the Indians from, when we slowed down, and rode up on top. Taking our glasses in hand, we looked the country well over and concluded we had not been seen.

Campbell had taken the precaution to tell the boys there would be no firing of guns, except at Indians. Hosea had left his horse in the cañon and was then crouched down on a high point above where the big spring on the opposite side of the cañon was. He was bareheaded, and with his field-glasses to his face he was looking on up the cañon. Louie said, "I'll bet he doesn't know we are here." He had just spoken the words, when Hosea crouched down lower and worked himself more downhill. Then he rose up and ran down, toward his horse as fast as he could, saying, "_Venga aca! venga aca!_" (Come here! Come here!)

We both plunged our horses off of the steep decline and were soon near his horse, with Hosea a close second. I will here omit the Mexican lingo; he said that "One Indian had crossed the cañon about a mile and a half above and was riding northeast, and he believed he was a scout out to see if they were being followed, and if he discovers us, and gets back to camp, they will break camp immediately, go to some of the lakes, and then it will be hard to catch them."

I said, "Wait a little," and dismounting, I handed Louie my horse's bridle-rein and ran up the hill, on the north side. As I neared the top, I took off my hat and with field-glasses in hand I looked and walked still higher until I was high enough to take in all the surroundings for a mile, and there, sure enough, not three-quarters of a mile from us was a Quohada Comanche warrior. Raising the glasses to my face, I could bring him closely to me. He was riding easterly down the cañon.