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 As early as November, 1842, a rumour was current in Santa Fe, and
 along the line of the Trail, that parties of Texans had left the
 Republic for the purpose of attacking and robbing the caravans to
 the United States which were owned wholly by Mexicans.  In consequence
 of this, several Americans were accused of being spies and acting
 in collusion with the Texans; many were arrested and carried to
 Santa Fe, but nothing could be proved against them, and the rumours
 of the intended purposes of the Texans died out.
 Very early in May, however, of the following year, 1843, a certain
 Colonel Snively did organize a small force, comprising about two
 hundred men, which he led from Northern Texas, his home, to the
 line of the Trail, with the intention of attacking and robbing the
 Mexican caravans which were expected to cross the plains that month
 and in June.
 When he arrived at the Arkansas River, he was there reinforced by
 another Texan colonel, named Warfield with another small command.
 Gregg says:
           This officer, with about twenty men, had some time
           previously attacked the village of Mora, on the Mexican
           frontier, killing five men, and driving off a number
           of horses.  They were afterward followed by a party of
           Mexicans, however, who stampeded and carried away, not only
           their own horses, but those of the Texans.  Being left
           afoot, the latter burned their saddles, and walked to
           Bent's Fort, where they were disbanded; whence Warfield
           passed to Snively's camp, as before mentioned.
           The Texans now advanced along the Santa Fe Trail, beyond
           the sand hills south of the Arkansas, when they discovered
           that a party of Mexicans had passed toward the river.
           They soon came upon them, and a skirmish ensuing, eighteen
           Mexicans were killed, and as many wounded, five of whom
           afterward died.  The Texans suffered no injury, though
           the Mexicans were a hundred in number.  The rest were all
           taken prisoners except two, who escaped and bore the news
           to General Armijo, who was encamped with a large force
           at Cold Spring, one hundred and forty miles beyond.
 Kit Carson figured conspicuously in this fight, or, rather, immediately
 afterward.  His recital differs somewhat from Gregg's account,
 but the stories substantially agree.  Kit said that in April,
 previously to the assault upon Armijo's caravan, he had hired out
 as hunter to Bent's and Colonel St. Vrain's train caravan, which was
 then making its annual tour eastwardly.  When he arrived at the
 crossing of Walnut Creek,[22] he found the encampment of Captain
 Philip St. George Cooke, of the United States army, who had been
 detailed with his command to escort the caravans to the New Mexican
 boundary.  His force consisted of four troops of dragoons.
 The captain informed Carson that coming on behind him from the States
 was a caravan belonging to a very wealthy Mexican.
 It was a richly loaded train, and in order to insure its better
 protection while passing through that portion of the country infested
 by the blood-thirsty Comanches and Apaches, the majordomo in charge
 had hired one hundred Mexicans as a guard.  The teamsters and others
 belonging to the caravan had heard that a large body of Texans were
 lying in wait for them, and intended to murder and plunder them in
 retaliation for the way Armijo had treated some Texan prisoners
 he had got in his power at Santa Fe some time before.  Of course,
 it was the duty of the United States troops to escort this caravan
 to the New Mexico line, but there their duty would end, as they
 had no authority to cross the border.  The Mexicans belonging to
 the caravan were afraid they would be at the mercy of the Texans
 after they had parted company with the soldiers, and when Kit Carson
 met them, they, knowing the famous trapper and mountaineer well,
 asked him to take a letter to Armijo, who was then governor of
 New Mexico, and resided in Santa Fe, for which service they would
 give him three hundred dollars in advance.  The letter contained
 a statement of the fears they entertained, and requested the general
 to send Mexican troops at once to meet them.
 Carson, who was then not blessed with much money, eagerly accepted
 the task, and immediately started on the trail for Bent's Fort,
 in company with another old mountaineer and bosom friend named Owens.
 In a short time they arrived at the Fort, where Owens decided not
 to go any further, because they were informed by the men at Bent's
 that the Utes had broken out, and were scattered along the Trail
 at the most dangerous points, and he was fearful that his life
 would be endangered if he attempted to make Santa Fe.
 Kit, however, nothing daunted, and determined to do the duty for
 which he had been rewarded so munificently, started out alone on
 his perilous trip.  Mr. Bent kindly furnished him with the best and
 fastest horse he had in his stables, but Kit, realizing the dangers
 to which he would be exposed, walked, leading his animal, ready to
 mount him at a moment's notice; thus keeping him in a condition that
 would enable Carson to fly and make his escape if the savages tried
 to capture him.  His knowledge of the Indian character, and wonderful
 alertness in moments of peril, served him well; for he reached the
 village of the hostile Indians without their discovering his proximity.
 Hiding himself in a rocky, bush-covered canyon, he stayed there until
 night came on, when he continued his journey in the darkness.
 He took the trail to Taos, where he arrived in two or three days,
 and presented his letter to the alcalde, to be sent on to Santa Fe
 by special messenger.
 He was to remain at Taos until an answer from the governor arrived,
 and then return with it as rapidly as possible to the train.
 While at Taos, he was informed that Armijo had already sent out
 a company of one hundred soldiers to meet the caravan, and was to
 follow in person, with a thousand more.
 This first hundred were those attacked by Colonel Snively, as related
 by Gregg, who says that two survived, who carried the news of the
 disaster to Armijo at Cold Spring; but Carson told me that only one
 got away, by successfully catching, during the heat of the fight,
 a Texan pony already saddled, that was grazing around loose.
 With him he made Armijo's camp and related to the Mexican general
 the details of the terribly unequal battle.  Armijo, upon receipt
 of the news, "turned tail," and retreated to Santa Fe.
 Before Armijo left Santa Fe with his command, he had received the
 letter which Carson had brought from the caravan, and immediately
 sent one in reply for Carson to carry back, thinking that the old
 mountaineer might reach the wagons before he did.  Carson, with his
 usual promptness, started on the Trail for the caravan, and came up
 with it while it was escorted by the dragoons, thus saving it from
 the fate that the Texans intended for it, as they dared not attempt
 any interference in the presence of the United States troops.
 The rumour current in Santa Fe in relation to a probable raid of
 parties of Texans along the line of the Trail, for the purpose of
 attacking and robbing the caravans of the wealthy Mexican traders,
 was received with so little credence by the prominent citizens of
 the country, that several native trains left for the Missouri River
 without their proprietors having the slightest apprehension that
 they would not reach their destination, and make the return trip
 in safety.
 Among those who had no fear of marauders was Don Antonio Jose Chavez,
 who, in February, 1843, left Santa Fe for Independence with an outfit
 consisting of a number of wagons, his private coach, several servants
 and other retainers.  Don Antonio was a very wealthy Mexican engaged
 in a general mercantile business on a large scale in Albuquerque,
 who made all his purchases of goods in St. Louis, which was then
 the depot of supplies for the whole mountain region.  He necessarily
 carried with him on these journeys a large amount of money, in silver,
 which was the legal currency of the country, and made but one trip
 yearly to replenish the stock of goods required in his extensive
 trade in all parts of Mexico.
 Upon his arrival at Westport Landing, as Kansas City was then called,
 he would take the steamboat for St. Louis, leaving his coach, wagons,
 servants, and other appointments of his caravan behind him in the
 village of Westport, a few miles from the Landing.
 Westport was at that time, like all steamboat towns in the era of
 water navigation, the harbor of as great a lot of ruffians as ever
 escaped the gallows.  There was especially a noted gang of land pirates,
 the members of which had long indulged in speculations regarding the
 probable wealth of the Mexican Don, and how much coin he generally
 carried with him.  They knew that it must be considerable from the
 quantity of goods that always came by boat with him from St. Louis.
 At last a devilish plot was arranged to get hold of the rich trader's
 money.  Nine men were concerned in the robbery, nearly all of whom
 were residents of the vicinity of Westport; their leader was one
 John McDaniel, recently from Texas, from which government he claimed
 to hold a captain's commission, and one of their number was a doctor.
 It was evidently the intention of this band to join Warfield's party
 on the Arkansas, and engage in a general robbery of the freight
 caravans of the Santa Fe Trail belonging to the Mexicans; but they
 had determined that Chavez should be their first victim, and in order
 to learn when he intended to leave Santa Fe on his next trip east,
 they sent their spies out on the great highway.
 They did not dare attempt their contemplated robbery, and murder
 if necessary, in the State of Missouri, for there were too many
 citizens of the border who would never have permitted such a thing
 to go unpunished; so they knew that their only chance was to effect it
 in the Indian country of Kansas, where there was little or no law.
 Cow Creek, which debouches into the Arkansas at Hutchinson, where
 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad crosses the historic
 little stream,[23] was, like Big and Little Coon creeks, a most
 dangerous point in the transcontinental passage of freight caravans
 and overland coaches, in the days of the commerce of the prairies.
 It was on this purling little prairie brook that McDaniel's band
 lay in wait for the arrival of the ill-fated Don Antonio, whose
 imposing equipage came along, intending to encamp on the bank,
 one of the usual stopping-places on the route.
 The Don was taken a few miles south of the Trail, and his baggage
 rifled.  All of his party were immediately murdered, but the wealthy
 owner of the caravan was spared for a few moments in order to make
 a confession of where his money was concealed, after which he was
 shot down in cold blood, and his body thrown into a ravine.
 It appears, however, that the ruffians had not completed their
 bloody work so effectually as they thought; for one of the Mexican's
 teamsters escaped, and, making his way to Leavenworth, reported
 the crime, and was soon on his way back to the Trail, guiding a
 detachment of United States troops in pursuit of the murderers.
 John Hobbs, scout, trapper, and veteran plainsman, happened to be
 hunting buffalo on Pawnee Fork, on the ground where Larned is now
 situated, with a party from Bent's Fort.  They were just on the point
 of crossing the Trail at the mouth of the Pawnee when the soldiers
 from Fort Leavenworth came along, and from them Hobbs and his
 companions first learned of the murder of Chavez on Cow Creek.
 As the men who were out hunting were all familiar with every foot
 of the region they were then in, the commanding officer of the troops
 induced them to accompany him in his search for the murderers.
 Hobbs and his men cheerfully accepted the invitation, and in about
 four days met the band of cut-throats on the broad Trail, they little
 dreaming that the government had taken a hand in the matter.
 The band tried to escape by flight, but Hobbs shot the doctor's horse
 from under him, and a soldier killed another member of the band,
 when the remainder surrendered.
 The money, about twelve or fifteen thousand dollars,[24] was all
 recovered, and the murderers taken to St. Louis, where some were hung
 and some imprisoned, the doctor escaping the death penalty by turning
 state's evidence.  His sentence was incarceration in the penitentiary,
 from which he was pardoned after remaining there two years.
 Hobbs met the doctor some years after in San Francisco.  He was then
 leading an honest life, publishing a newspaper, and begged his captor
 not to expose him.
 The money taken from the robbers was placed in charge of Colonel Owens,
 a friend of the Chavez family and a leading Santa Fe trader.
 He continued on to the river, purchased a stock of goods, and
 sent back the caravan to Santa Fe in charge of Doctor Conley of
 Boonville, Missouri.
 Arriving at his destination, the widow of the deceased Chavez
 employed the good doctor to sell the goods and take the sole
 supervision of her immense business interests, and there is a touch
 of romance attached to the terrible Kansas tragedy, which lies in
 the fact that the doctor in about two years married the rich widow,
 and lived very happily for about a decade, dying then on one of the
 large estates in New Mexico, which he had acquired by his fortunate
 union with the amiable Mexican lady.