Battle of Little Wichita
The following story is from the book, Carbine &
Lance, The Story of Old Fort Sill, By Colonel W. S. Nye.
...Kicking Bird led a hundred warriors south across
Red River in one of the most important raids of the season. Kicking
Bird made this expedition because he had been accused of cowardice.
His tribesmen thought that he was consorting too much with the whites
at Fort Sill. On account of this criticism he organized a foray
for the purpose of recovering his lost "face." It was
a war party pure and simple; the object was to have a fight. The
braves rode their best racing ponies. They were painted and decorated
in their finest costumes. No one was supposed to leave the party
to steal stock or to depredate. Nevertheless, shortly after crossing
the river, several braves separated from the group and robbed a
mail stage at Rock Station, near the present town of Jermyn, Jack
County. This episode aroused the troops at Fort Richardson. Captain
Curwen B. McClellan, Sixth Cavalry, was sent with fifty-three troopers
and one civilian scout to intercept the raiders.
McClellan located Kicking Bird at 10 o'clock on the
morning of July 12, several miles east of the site of Seymour, Texas,
and commenced an attack. He quickly changed to the defensive when
he saw that he was outnumbered and that the Indian leader was throwing
out flanking parties to cut off his retreat. Then Kicking Bird made
an assault. Riding at the head of his warriors he personally impaled
a trooper on his lance. The soldiers retreated all afternoon in
the heat of the July sun. Kicking Bird used his men skillfully to
harry the cavalrymen from all sides, forcing them to abandon their
dead. Three troopers were killed and twelve wounded. McClellan made
his men dismount and lead their horses, in order to prevent them
from fleeing in disorder. Toward evening the Indians disappeared.
The soldiers were reinforced by twenty cowboys who were camped near
the site of Jean. In the morning the troop returned to Fort Richardson.
Captain McClellan, in his report of the engagement,
paid compliment to the Indian leader for his superior generalship
during the fight. But it was the last time that Kicking Bird fought
the whites. He expressed regret that he had been forced to lead
the expedition. From that time on he devoted himself to promoting
peaceful relations with the authorities. As a result he made powerful
enemies among the war chiefs of the tribe. In the end he suffered
martyrdom for his friendship with the whites.
In another raid made in Texas that summer the eldest
and favorite son of Satank was killed. With several other young
Kiowas he approached a picket farmhouse on the northern Texas frontier.
The settlers fired from the shelter of the building. Young Satank
sat down suddenly, mortally wounded. His companions fled without
him. Then they recovered their pride and rode back to rescue the
body. They concealed it among some rocks.
Old Satank went to the scene to recover the remains.
Crows and buzzards had reduced them to a heap of bones. When the
chief saw what was left of his beloved son, his friends had to tie
him with a lariat to prevent him from committing suicide. Then they
allowed him to gather the bones, wash them, and bundle them in a
new blanket. Satank carried these bones with him wherever he went.
It became a familiar sight in the Kiowa tribe to see the chief riding
along in sorrow, leading a gentle horse laden with the skeleton
of his son. When he camped he constructed a special tepee for his
son, with food and water placed therein for the spirit. Satank was
The following story is from the book, On the Border
with Mackenzie, by Captain R. G. Carter.
In July, 1870, Captain McClellan of the Sixth Cavalry,
while on a scout towards the Little Wichita, not far from where
the small settlement of Henrietta was burned that year, and near
where the present town is now located, discovered a large body of
Indians, estimated at about three hundred, who, seeing that they
outnumbered him about six to one, proceeded to attack him. This
was said to be a war party of Kiowas under one of their principal
war chiefs, "Kicking Bird." McClellan dismounted his men
and seeing the overwhelming odds began retreating slowly, the men
fighting between their horses, which were led by No. 4, leaving
but three fourths of the men engaged. The Indians divided into three
parties, one party fighting at a time, the others relieving each
other in the attack while the balance endeavored to outflank and
surround our line. The heat was intense, our men had not water,
and, as it was on an open prairie there was no shelter. The action
lasted about eight hours and several times the Indians had McClellan's
men practically surrounded. Having reached the West Fork of the
Trinity and night coming on the Indians discontinued their offensive
and withdrew having suffered a heavy loss. By their not renewing
the attack the next morning it was apparent that they had had enough.
Captain McClellan's loss was two men killed, who could not be taken
from the field as he had no ambulance; fourteen wounded, some severely,
including Dr. Hatch, his surgeon; and eighteen horses killed and
abandoned, besides some of the pack mules. During the night he sent
a courier into the post for medical aid and ambulances, and at dawn
the next day, July 12, resumed his march into Fort Richardson. These
Kiowas were armed with breech loading rifles and only one man was
wounded by an arrow. It was positively ascertained that this war
party was from the Fort Sill reservation. A classmate of the writer's,
Lieutenant H. P. Perrine, was in this action. Several of McClellan's
men who distinguished themselves in this action were awarded medals
by the War Department and "Jim" Doshier, the post guide,
by his coolness, bravery, skill and good judgment in advising Captain
McClellan as to the ground, positions to take, line of retreat,
etc., was also awarded a medal He had been on the frontier a long
time and knew every landmark from Jacksboro to the Red River. Cool,
self-reliant, modest, sober, tireless, he was a most competent and
thorough guide and a brave, intelligent man. Many men who hung around
frontier posts and called themselves "guides" were frauds
and were not only of no value to our scouting columns but became
a drag and a nuisance because they had no more knowledge of the
country or the habits of Indians than many of the cattle men who
had been rounding up cattle in the near vicinity of the post. "Jim"
Doshier was not one of this kind; he was a guide in fact.
Capt. McLellan and Men Fight Indians About Six or
Nine Miles Northeast of the Present Town of Archer City
July 7, 1870, Capt. McLellan, in command of approximately
sixty soldiers, left Ft. Richardson, at Jacksboro, for a scouting
expedition. After traveling many miles, and killing no Indians,
the cavalrymen came upon Dave Terrell's cow outfit, camped about
two miles east of the present town of Jean, in Young County. Capt.
McLellan told the cowmen that he didn't think there were any Indians.
But he was assured by the citizens, the savages were not all gone.
J. B. Terrell, Scroggins, Bob Durrett, Pat Sanders, Price Bird;
Geo. Terrell, numbered among the cowmen, who first thought the soldiers
The cavalrymen proceeded on their scouting expedition,
and during the morning of July 11, the advance guard discovered
two hundred and fifty warriors in a valley, only a short distance
away. When Capt. McLellan saw the Indians were going to assume the
offensive and charge the soldiers, he ordered his cavalrymen to
dismount. Because of their superior horsemanship, the Indians invariably
preferred fighting from their steeds, and always elected to met
the enemy mounted on horses.
The results of the encounter were related by H. H. McConnell
in his Five Years a Cavalryman, as follows:
"On came the Indians, the prairie literally covered with
them, having apparently divided into three parties of perhaps
one hundred each, one party fighting at a time, the others hovering
on the flanks of our men, and relieving each other in the main
attack. Capt. McLellan retreated slowly, the man fighting between
the horses, which were led by the fourth file of each flank, leaving
three-fourths of the men disengaged. The heat was intense under
the July sun, and no water, and for about eight hours of the long
summer day the soldiers slowly retreated and fought the overwhelming
odds, until the approach of night and the proximity of a considerable
stream deterred the Indians from continuing the pursuit. Two soldiers
were killed and left where they fell, and fourteen others, including
Dr. Hatch, the surgeon, were wounded. Some of them very severely;
and eighteen of the cavalry horses were killed and abandoned in
the fight, besides some of the pack animals. The loss inflicted
on the Indians, was, of course, never ascertained, but was known
at the time to have been considerable, and was so admitted by
them afterward at Fort Sill, when Capt. McLellan passed through
that post on our march to Kansas."
For fear of an attack, the cowmen gathered in at
old Fort Belknap and placed their favorite horses in the rock stable.
That night, when some soldiers arrived from this expedition, again
they thought they were Indians, and ordered a halt, but the cavalrymen
replied that they were soldiers. The cowmen then suggested, "Then
if you are soldiers, two of you meet two of us," and they did.
Capt. McLellan and his men, are deserving of the highest
praise for if they had not encountered the Indians when they did,
these 250 savages may have made a major raid somewhere on the upper
settlements, equal to the Big Young County Raid. On this occasion,
practically all of the Indians were well armed with high-powered
Note: Author interviewed: J. B. Terrell, mentioned
above; Hen Williams, Mann Johnson; A. M. Lasater; Mrs. Ed Wohlfforth;
Further Ref.: Five Years a Cavalryman, by H. H. McConnell,
who was a cavalryman at Ft. Richardson at the time.
The above story is from the book, The West Texas
Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.