On April 30, Van Dorn led six companies of Second Cavalry out of
Radziminski on a march to the north, making his way up Elk Creek to
the Washita and Canadian rivers through what are now Kiowa, Beckham,
and Roger Mills counties. The Indian scouts rode as far as ten miles
in advance and as flankers. On the fourth day in the field, one of
the scouts captured a Comanche boy. Under threat of death, the boy
was forced to lead the cavalry command to his village.
The Canadian River was in flood stage when the troops crossed it
thirty miles downstream from the Antelope Hills. Parking his wagon
train under guard, Van Dorn continued ahead with pack mules across
present Woodward and Harper counties without encountering the Indians
he sought. The Kansas border was crossed at its intersection with
the Cimarron River, and soon after a small band of Indian buffalo
hunters was spotted. A running fight ensued, with one Indian, a Comanche,
being killed. Now large, recently abandoned campsites were seen regularly.
Swinging to the northwest across present Clark County, Kansas, Van
Dorn followed a fresh trail made by a small band of Indians. During
a noontime halt, three Indians were discovered as they crept up on
the Second Cavalry horse herd. While giving chase to the Indians,
Lt. William B. Loyall discovered and captured a large herd of horses
not far from a Comanche village. When Van Dorn was notified of this,
he immediately ordered his troops back into their saddles and attacked
Again deprived of their principal fighting implement, their horses,
the defiant Comanches took up positions among the bushes and trees
of Crooked Creek and poured a barrage of arrows and gunfire from their
concealment. Van Dorn positioned two mounted troops on each side of
the river, dismounted two more, and formed a line that swept down
through the river valley.
The disadvantaged Comanches were routed, forty-nine of them being
killed and thirty-six taken prisoner. One trooper was lost, and Lieutenant
Lee suffered an arrow driven through his chest and right lung and
protruding from his back. Captain Smith received a bullet wound in
the thigh. Both would recover, soon to take up arms for the Confederacy.
These Comanches were thought to be part of Buffalo Hump's band, the
same group that Van Dorn had mauled at the Wichita village.