James O. Rice Historical Marker
Marker Title: James O. Rice
Battle of Brushy Creek Historical Marker
Marker Title: Battle of Brushy Creek
The above story of the Battle of Brushy Creek is from the book Indian Depredations in Texas by J.W. Wilbarger.
February 25th, 8-1/2 miles off of the mouth of Brushy Creek off the Brazos. There was a party of ten led by surveyor Thomas A. Graves that was attacked by more than one hundred Indians. Two were killed including James Drake and two others wounded.
Graves led his men in a retreat to their raft on the Little River. Bernard Holtzclaw narrowly escaped injury when a bullet passed through his pantaloons.
Two days after the attack, Graves wrote a letter to Sterling Robertson from the Little River:
January 1836, Thomas and James Riley were attacked by a band of forty Caddos and Comanches. Thomas was killed and his brother was severely wounded but survived. Stephen L. Moore describes in his book, Savage Frontier, how the Riley depredation caused the formation of Sterling Clack Robinson's Ranger company in January, 1836.
This event happened along the upper tributaries of the Little River, a hunting grounds the Indians called "Teha Lanna" or "the Land of Beauty." The pioneers they attacked were brothers James and Thomas Riley, who were traveling with two loaded wagons and their wives, children, and another young man.
Near the mouth of Brushy Creek on the San Gabriel River, the Rileys met surveyor William Crain Sparks and his servant Jack. These three were returning from Sparks' camp near the Little River, where they had encountered Indians. Sparks and Jack Had set out from Tenoxtitlan with a man named Michael Reed and an ox wagon loaded with corn. As dusk fell on their camp on the Little River, Reed crossed the river to visit the camp of newly arrived emigrant John Welsh. During his absence, Indians attacked the camp of Sparks and Jack, who both hid in a thicket.
Sparks and Jack survived then set out after morning for Tenoxtitlan. En route, near where Brushy Creek met the San Gabriel, these two happened upon the Rileys. They advised the Rileys to turn back, but their warning was not heeded. Within another mile the Rileys encountered a band of about forty Caddos and Comanches. The Indians claimed to be friendly and stated that they were only following Sparks and his black man.
The Riley party decided to turn back at this point, but the Indians attacked them just as they reached the Brushy Creek bottom. One of the Indians leaped onto the lead wagon horse and cut loose the harness. Before he could strike, one of the Riley men shot him dead and thus started the general fight. Thomas Riley managed to kill two Indians before being mortally wounded himself. James Riley also killed two of his attackers but was severely wounded in four places before the remaining Indians fled.
The younger man accompanying the Rileys fled with the women and children during the engagement. They reached the settlements on the Brazos safely within two days. The seriously wounded James Riley laid his brother Thomas's body on a mattress and wrapped it before mounting a horse and heading for Yellow Prairie in present Burleson County. After reaching safety the next day, he returned with a party to bury his brother.
Riley survived with severe wounds that kept him confined for a long period of time. A petition was presented to the Congress of Texas in 1840 for the republic to provide aid to the crippled James Riley in supporting his wife and six children.
Empresario Sterling Clack Robertson organized a ranger company to defend the citizens of his colony. The unit's muster roll shows that they were mustered into service on January 17, 1836. The Riley death was reported in the January 23 issue of the Telegraph and Texas Register, noting that the Indians had taken eight of the Riley's horses. The paper reported that a company of twenty-five men had gone immediately in pursuit of the Indians. This number obviously increased as more men joined Robertson's company, for his muster roll, signed by Robertson as "Captain Rangers," shows a total of sixty-five men.
Among the members of the company was Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson, the fifteen-year old son of the captain. The company also included rangers who had recently served under Captains Daniel Friar and Eli Seale. Friar's reduced company remained in service throughout January, although at least eight of his men had enlisted in Robertson's new company.
Robertson's company had returned back to town by January 26, on which date empresario Robertson was conducting colony business. It is unknown exactly how long Robertson's ranger company remained in service, but it was disbanded by late February. Sterling Robertson was elected to the Convention of March 1 on February 1. Correspondence of Captain Robertson further places him at Milam as of February 7 and at the Falls of the Brazos as of February 18.
* items are taken directly from the book, Savage Frontier, by Stephen L. Moore.