Comanches and Kiowas including Lone Wolf, Satanta and Big Tree, attacked
Captain Lyman's train of thirty-six wagons and sixty soldiers in Central
Oklahoma on September 9, 1874. This attack developed into a three day siege.
The Kiowa scouts opened fire at long range, but Lieutenant West drove
them from each succeeding crest, thus permitting Lyman to move steadily
south. By two o'clock in the afternoon he had covered twelve miles,
and was within a mile of the Washita, near the mouth of Gageby Creek.
He had just negotiated the passage of a deep ravine when the main
body of Indians, whose presence he had not suspected, suddenly appeared
in rapidly moving masses on his front and both flanks. Lyman shouted
orders to form the corral. The infantrymen quickly wheeled to the
right and left oblique, forming two lines, like the head of a spear,
covering the front of the train. Lieutenant Granville Lewis hastily
organized a few men for defense of the rear of the train. All this
occupied only a few seconds, but the Indians were upon them, charging
with reckless fury from all sides. Sergeant De Armond, a gallant and
experienced soldier, fell dead. Almost immediately after, Lieutenant
Lewis was down with a severe wound in the knee. For a tense moment
it seemed that the whole command would be overrun. But the men, all
regulars, held firm. Presently the Indians were cantering back out
No more rushes were made by the Indians that day. They took positions
on the surrounding knolls and kept up a lively fire with all manner
of weapons. Toward evening they mounted again and commenced circling
the wagon train. The number of warriors in the revolving mass increased
until it became an awesome display of barbaric horsemanship. Some
of the braves sat erect on their ponies, brandishing decorated lances
and shields. Many indulged in gymnastics, throwing themselves out
of sight on the far sides of their mounts; or stood erect on their
horses' backs, with lofty red-and-white headgear flowing in the wind.
A few galloped at full speed faced to the rear. All maintained a constant
yammer of insulting and defiant yells and gestures. As the blood-dipped
sun sank behind the dunes they continued to rush past, swiftly appearing
and disappearing, showing wild and portentous against the purple-and-rose
When darkness fell the soldiers commenced feverishly to throw up
breastworks, digging in the sand with their hands or mess cups, carrying
grain bags and cases of food from the wagons to form protection. As
the stars came out, the ridge grew quiet. But when the first coyote
howled in the distance the fire was resumed, continuing off and on
throughout the night. The soldiers spent the time deepening their
rifle pits. The muddy buffalo wallow where the white men at first
had obtained water was now under fire.
Through the second day the fire continued spasmodically from both
sides. The bullets could be seen sparsely flecking the yellow grass,
conspicuous in the slanting sunlight, raising little spurts of sand
in the faces of the blue-clad men. As the day wore on the soldiers
began to suffer from thirst. Canteens were empty now. Water in the
kegs was low. When darkness came there was considerable clamor for
water, but Captain Lyman forbade any man to risk his life by going
to the water hole.
Toward midnight the commander conferred with Scout William Schmalsle.
The brave little German volunteered to ride to Camp Supply for help.
He was sure he could steal through the Indian lines. While Lyman was
watching him go, a small party of soldiers and teamsters on the other
side of the stockade made a dash for the water hole. With them was
Tehan, who had convinced the white men that he was friendly. A volley
came from the Indian rifle positions. The soldiers ran back to the
wagon train-but not Tehan. He had rejoined his adopted people.
The Indians describe the return of Tehan: "When Tehan came back
that night, he had on a uniform, with a new pair of pants. He told
us that the soldiers were starving for water, and that he was going
to help us fight them. We told him that they were his own people,
and asked him what was the matter. Tehan replied that he liked to
eat raw liver so well that he was going to stay with the Indians."
On the third day of the siege Botalye performed a feat of heroism
which has become famous in the Kiowa tribe. Yellow Wolf, Set-maunte,
and a number of other experienced warriors were behind a hill preparing
to make a dash into the soldiers' lines. "Watch us!" they
cried to the other Indians. "See those trenches at both ends
of the corral wagons? You watch. We are going to ride right through
between those trenches." Set-maunte mounted first. His brother
rushed up, snatched off his war bonnet, and ordered him not to go.
"Don't be foolish. It's too dangerous." Then Yellow Wolf
put on his bonnet. A relative yanked it off and told him to "cut
But no one had paid any attention to Botalye. He was very young,
scarcely a man. Besides, he was half Mexican, not recognized as of
first rank in the caste of the tribe. Only the medicine man observed
his preparations, and that dignitary did not deign to interfere. Botalye
tied his white sheet around his waist, threw down his scarlet blanket,
leaped on his pony. "Friend, they stopped you," he cried
to the famous Yellow Wolf. "But I'm going. I'm going to see how
much power they have." His heart was galloping faster than his
horse. His chum Pai-kee-te was right behind him. But as he swept out
into the open and down the slope, his partner turned back. Botalye
went on alone. Bullets twanged on all sides. Friend and foe were firing
as fast as they were able. Botalye dashed through the enemy line.
He could see the startled faces of the soldiers. They could not hit
him. He returned to the shelter of the hill. As he came over the crest
he tried to make a triumphal cry like the call of the wild goose.
But it sounded only like the yelp of a frightened puppy. He had had
He turned to plunge through the soldiers' trenches again. The Indians
called to him to come back. He would not listen to them. This time
he was sure he would be killed. The bullets cut off two feathers which
were bobbing bravely in his scalp lock. He flung himself over the
side of his horse in the manner which he had practiced so many times
as a boy.
A leaden slug seared the saddle horn beside his fingers. Another
cut the knot of the sheet at his back. The Kiowas saw the cloth fly.
As he circled back they snatched at his bridle, called furiously on
him to stop. But he wouldn't listen to them. He was going to make
four charges. No one had ever done this before.
When young Botalye returned safely from his fourth passage of the
wagon train the Indians crowded around him. He vaulted from his pony,
his face glowing with triumph. Satanta threw his arms around him.
"I could not have done it myself," cried the noted chief.
"No one ever came back from four charges. Usually once or twice
is enough. I'm glad you came out alive." Other famous chiefs,
including Lone Wolf, Big Tree, and To-hauson, congratulated him. Poor
Buffalo, the chief of his band, said, "I'm going to give this
young man a new name. If any danger comes we may depend on him. I
name him Eadle-tau-hain. (He-wouldn't-listen-to-them)!"