Warren Wagon Train Massacre
The following story is from the book, The West Texas
Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.
May 18, 1871, the next day after General Sherman,
Gen. Marcy, and their escorts passed over the road between Fort
Belknap and Fort Richardson, and two years and two days after the
famous Salt Creek Fight, a wagon train, loaded with corn, and belonging
to Capt. Henry Warren, who was a contractor at Ft. Griffin, was
attacked by Chief Satanta, Satauk, (Satank), Big Tree, and perhaps
other chiefs in command of about 100 warriors, not a great distance
from Flat Top Mountain, about half-way between Fort Richardson and
Fort Belknap, and on the identical road over which Gen. Sherman,
Gen. Marcy and others passed during the preceding day. The train,
when attacked, was under the command of Nathan S. Long, wagon-master.
Many warriors were armed with the most modern rifles, known at that
time. The teamsters were as helpless as children, Nathan Long, John
Mullins, J. S. and Samuel Elliot, B. J. Baxter, Jesse Bowman, and
James Williams, were killed. Thomas Brazeale was seriously wounded,
but escaped, and R. A. Day, and Charles Brady, escaped unharmed.
Samuel Elliott was burned to death. The savages chained him to the
wheel of a wagon so he could not move, and then built a fire around
his feet. It was difficult for Gen. Sherman, Gen. Mary and others
to believe that the Indians had committed such crimes. After making
a personal investigation, Col. McKenzie reported to Gen. Sherman
that the report was true, as related. Thomas Brazeale, the wounded
man, also found his way to Jacksboro, and related how the savage
tigers from the reservation near Ft. Sill sprang upon the defenseless
teamsters, killed seven of their number, one of whom was burned
to death, and carried away about forty mules, as well as such other
things that seemed to suit their fancy.
This example of savage butchery has often been referred
to as the Monument Fight, for after it happened, Capt. Henry Warren
erected a nicely painted wooden monument where the tragedy occurred.
We are told that this monument decayed and disappeared many years
William Tecumseh Sherman, General of the Army, traveled north on an
inspection tour of the forts. He was accompanied by Inspector General
Randolph B. Marcy, who had been retained by United States government
twenty years prior for several explorations, including, blazing a southern
route to Santa Fe, locating the head waters of the Brazos and the Red
Rivers and, with Major Neighbors, establishing suitable locations for
the Indian Reservations. Sherman and Marcy were accompanied by two staff
members and only fifteen calvary men.
Mackenzie dispatched his Adjutant, R. G. Carter, and a detachment to
intercept and escort the General and his party. This precaution was
prudent, considering the 80 plus miles the party traveled between Ft.
Griffin and Ft. Richardson, at its midpoint, crossed the Salt Creek
Prairie, considered one of the most dangerous places on the entire United
States frontier. These were the closest settlements to the Indian Territory
(United States Indian Policy did not allow pursuit of the Indians onto
the Reservations) so they were not only most convenient targets of short
raids-, but also the first and last targets of opportunity for longer
Sherman gracefully declined Carter's assistance indicating an air of
nonchalance which suited his political philosophy about the degree of
danger presented by Indians. When Marcy pointed out to Sherman that
the area was dramatically less inhabited than it was when he had passed
through there twenty years prior, Sherman pointed out the houses were
spaced far apart and did not indicate serious concern on the part of
the builders for Indian defense.
Sherman believed a large portion of the raiders to be ex-Confederate
renegades, and he had written to General J. J. Reynolds, commander of
the department of Texas:
"I have seen not a trace of an Indian thus far, and only hear
stories of people which indicate that what ever Indians there be,
only come to Texas to steal horses... and the people within a hundred
miles of the frontier ought to take precautions such as all people
do against all sort of thieves... but up to this point the people
manifest no fears or apprehensions, for they expose women and children
singly on the road and in cabins far off from others as though they
were in Illinois."
Sherman's party crossed Salt Creek unaware that they were being watched
by a Kiowa raiding party of one hundred fifty warriors, led by Chiefs
Satank and Satanta, accompanied by the mysterious medicine man, Maman-ti.
Upon their ascension to the top of the hill, Maman-ti consulted with
his owl, a symbol of death to the Kiowa. They feared even to look at
an owl, which was fortunate for Maman-ti because his was only an owl
skin with button eyes; he could blow air into the owl skin causing the
wings to flap. He told the braves the owl warned against attacking the
first target they saw, but glory would be theirs if they waited for
the second. Luckily for Sherman, they saw his party first. Sometime
later, traveling in the opposite direction towards Ft. Griffin, the
Warren wagon train and its teamsters were the unfortunate ones.
Satanta (White Bear) blew his trumpet signaling the attack. As they
charged, the drivers attempted to circle their wagons. Addo-etta (Big
Tree) and Yellow Wolf cut off the lead mules, scoring the first two
coups. The teamsters opened fire, wounding --Red War Bonnet, a Kiowa,
and killing Or-dlee, a Comanche. Big Tree shot one of the drivers out
of his seat. Light-Haired-Young-Man, a Kiowa-Apache, was knocked off
his horse and carried from the fight.
The warriors circled the train, their fire killing three more drivers
and wounding a fourth. The remaining seven bolted through a gap in the
-circling Indians and sprinted -toward the timber around Cox Mountain.
Two more died as they ran and a third was injured. The Indians didn't
pursue them into the timber, returning to their primary interest, the
booty in the wagons. They continued circling the train, unsure of the
number of defenders still remaining. An inexperienced young Kiowa, named
Hautau (Gun Shot), charged a wagon. As he touched the canvas to claim
it, Samuel Elliott, lying wounded inside the wagon, shot him in the
face. Elliott was overtaken and chained, face down, to a wagon tongue
and roasted over a slow fire.
At this time in Ft. Richardson, Sherman was receiving local citizens
who related their individual accounts of the Indian atrocities they
had encountered. The settlers recounted hundreds of deaths, and kidnappings
in the depredations which had occurred over the last decade. Sherman
was polite but unmoved, and spent the evening at a reception in his
honor attended by the officers and their wives. Later that night he
was awakened from his sleep and informed of the fate of the wagon train
on the road he had just crossed. Now visibly moved, he ordered Mackenzie
to take a detachment to investigate the report, and if true, to pursue
the raiders even to the Reservation.
Mackenzie departed with four cavalry companies consisting of over two
hundred men, and headed west along the Butterfield Road in a heavy rain
storm. Confirming the report, Mackenzie searched to the north for over
20 days with no success. On June 4th, the detachment arrived at Ft.
Sill to find the leaders of the raid in chains and Sherman already departed,
continuing his inspection tour into Missouri.
A Quaker Indian agent, Lauwrie Tatum and Colonel Grierson, commander
of Ft. Sill, greeted General Sherman upon his arrival at the fort on
May 23. When informed about the wagon train massacre at Salt Creek,
Tatum stated that Satanta's tribe was reported off the reservation and
he would make inquiries, several days later when Indians picked up their
rations. When asked, Satanta, in a proud statement, had not only condemned
himself, but also Big Tree, Satank and Eagle Heart as accomplices.
When given the information, Sherman, lacking authority to make arrest
on the reservation, asked Tatum to call the chiefs to a meeting on the
porch of Colonel Grierson's home at the Fort Sill. A large number of
chiefs gathered and Satanta again confirmed that it was he that had
led the raid, and if anyone said different, they would be a liar. Sherman
stated that Satanta, Satank, Big Tree and Eagle Heart were under arrest
and would be sent to Texas to stand trial for murder, and that the Kiowa
tribe would be responsible for returning the mules stolen in the raid.
Satanta then changed his story, saying he only went along to blow his
bugle (signaling commands to his warriors and confusing the commands
given by the army) and observe the young men learning to be warriors.
Kicking Bird offered to produce a large number of mules in retribution,
but pleaded that they not arrest the chiefs.
Then the shutters around the porch banged open and dozens of previously
concealed soldiers brought their rifles to bear on the gathered Indians
who had weapons concealed beneath their blankets. In the next few seconds,
one warrior was killed and Eagle Heart escaped. The remaining three
suspect chiefs were arrested and put in irons and confined awaiting
their deportation to Texas.
On the morning of June 8th, Mackenzie and his troops left Ft. Sill,
escorting the wagon containing the three manacled chiefs on their way
to stand trial in Jacksboro. Satank told a Caddo scout "Tell my
people I died beside the road. My bones will be found there. Tell my
people to gather them up and carry them away." The old chief then
covered his head with a blanket and began his death song.
Over the next mile he had chewed enough of his hand off to escape a
manacle. With a concealed knife, he stabbed one of the guards in the
wagon and grabbed a rifle but before he could fire, Corporal John B.
Charlton killed him. The soldiers left his body by the road approximately
where he predicted he would be, and proceeded to Jacksboro with the
surviving two chiefs.
The trial was a nationwide media event, as it was the first time raiding
Indians had been made to stand trial for their deeds in the community
where they committed their crimes. Newspapers across the country carried
headlines stating that twelve Jacksboro jurors had found them guilty
of murder -and that Judge Charles Soward sentenced them to be hanged.
General/Texas Governor Edmund J. Davis
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Governor Edmund J. Davis was ultimately pressured to overturn the sentence.
He was swayed by two sound arguments, first that the Kiowa would be
easier to control if there existed a possibility of the Chiefs being
returned, and second that Indians feared confinement more than death.
Thus, on August 2, 1871, he commuted their sentences to life imprisonment.
The chiefs were sent to the Huntsville State Penitentiary and paroled
in 1873. They immediately violated their parole by leading new raids
into Texas and both were eventually rearrested. Satanta died of a fall
from an upper story window while in prison. Big Tree was eventually
released and helped establish and became a deacon in a Baptist church
Mrs. Barbara Belding-Gibson points our in her book, Painted Pole, that
the freeing of Satanta and Big Tree was a successful ploy by Lone Wolf
to get them released. He represented himself to the U. S. as premier
chief of the Kiowa and one who could speak for the Comanche. He insisted
he would have to confer with Big Tree and Satanta before he could go
to D. C. and make a treaty. The Indians were transported to St. Louis
to meet with Lone Wolf then returned to Huntsville while he went to
Washington. There he declared he couldn't control his young warriors
without the aid of Big Tree and Satanta. If they weren't going to be
released, he promised there would be open warfare. The United States
representatives agreed without authority and then pressured Governor
Davis to release the Indians.
An Indian's Account of the Warren Wagon Train Massacre
The following story is from the book, Carbine & Lance, The Story of Old Fort Sill, by Colonel W. S. Nye; Copyright © 1937 by the University of Oklahoma Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Unaware of the advent of General Sherman the Indians also were planning
brilliant affairs-though of a somewhat different nature. At their
camp on the North Fork of Red River, near the present site of Granite,
they were sitting around the council fire passing the war pipe from
one brave to another. Kiowas, Kiowa-Apaches, and Comanches were invited
to participate in a great raid against the Tehannas. A hundred chiefs
and lesser warriors accepted the pipe.
At this point a sinister figure emerges from the obscurity of the
past. It is Do-ha-te (Medicine Man), the Owl Prophet. This Kiowa war
chief and medicine man was one of the strongest personalities the
tribe produced. Though scarcely known to the whites, he was the secret
instigator and directing spirit of nearly every major raid made by
the Kiowas in the early seventies. Known vaguely to the authorities
under his real name, Maman-ti (Touching-the-Sky, or Sky-Walker), this
dread personality is scarcely mentioned in written history. But today
ask any old Kiowa who was the leader of the great raid in 1871, when
the wagon-teamsters were killed, and the answer is, invariably, "Do-ha-te!"
If you know your history you ask, "but wasn't Satanta the leader
on that raid?"
Again the reply: "Oh, Satanta. Yes, he was there. He took a
leading part. But Do-ha-te was the leader."
Maman-ti was not sinister to his own people. They saw him as a person
of authority and wisdom-tall, straight, kindly, and generous. Through
superior intellect he could influence the tribe, and pretend to foretell
events by occult means; he was relied upon to bring to a successful
conclusion any warlike effort.
About the middle of May, while Sherman was riding along the Butterfield
Trail, skeptical of Indian peril, this great war party led by Maman-ti
rode south toward the Texas Settlements. The Indians crossed Red River
between the sites of Vernon and Electra. Here at a place they call
Skunk Headquarters, on account of the prevalence of skunks in the
vicinity, they cached their saddles, blankets, and other unnecessary
impediments. The spare horses also were left here, hobbled to prevent
their straying away. A few young boys remained to guard the headquarters;
the main body pushed rapidly toward the inhabited districts. Since
they hoped to bring back many horses and mules, some of the men were
without mounts. They rode double, or ran along holding to the tails
of other animals. Extra bridles and lariats were taken along for the
stock they expected to steal.
On May 17 the Indians entered Young County and headed for the Butterfield
Trail, about halfway between Forts Belknap and Richardson. This was
a favorite place. Sooner or later some white man would be sure to
ride along the road, and the locality was remote from any town or
After dark Maman-ti consulted his oracle. He sat apart on the side
of a hill while the rest of the warriors crouched in silence listening
for the voice of a dead ancestor. Soon it came in the cry of a hoot
owl: "Hoom-hoom, hoom-hoom,"-several times repeated. The
soft rustle of wings was heard. Then all way quiet. The medicine mad
stood up, raised his arms, and, slowing intoning, interpreted the
message of the owl.
"Tomorrow two parties of Tehannas will pass this way. The first
will be a small party. Perhaps we could overcome it easily. Many of
you will be eager to do so. But it must not be attacked. The medicine
forbids. Later in the day another party will come. This one may be
attacked. The attack will be successful."
At daybreak the Indians took position on a conical sandstone hill
which commanded a long stretch of the stage road from where it crossed
the head of the north branch of Flint Creek to a point some three
miles east thereof, where it disappeared around the end of Cox Mountain.
Between this hill and Cox Mountain was a broad open plain, sometimes
called Salt Creek Prairie (though Salt Creek lies eight miles to the
west). This field was at that time sparsely dotted with mesquite,
with a few trees lining Flint Creek at the foot of the hill, and a
heavier growth of scrub oak near Cox Mountain, where the timbered
area begins. It was an ideal place for an ambush. The leader planned
to allow the enemy to reach the middle of the plain, far from the
shelter of the woods, then sweep down upon them from the hill.
Toward noon some of the scouts, who were peering through the brush
on the north shoulders of the hill, saw a vehicle, preceded by a small
group of mounted men, trot smartly through the trees near Flint Creek
and head east across the plain. At once there was a great deal of
excited whispering. The enemy were too far away to determine how strong
they were. Some of the young braves wanted to attack. But the medicine
man obstinately refused to permit it. Perhaps through experience or
native cunning he was aware that white soldiers traveled with advance
parties thrown out in front. Or maybe he had genuine faith in his
powers as a prophet. At any rate the Indians allowed General Sherman
(for it was Sherman's party they saw) to ride safely past, all blissfully
unaware that a hundred pairs of savage eyes observed his passage.
Two or three hours passed. No other quarry appeared. Some of the
young men became impatient. They had come for action, and were not
getting it. They wanted to leave the band and set out for themselves.
But Maman-ti held them there. Finally, toward mid-afternoon, a wagon
train was seen approaching from the east. The Indians watched eagerly
as ten lumbering, white-topped vehicles crawled around the north end
of Cox Mountain and moved across the open plain toward them. With
heels raised to prod their ponies they waited for the signal to charge.
Maman-ti waited until the wagons were in the center of the plain.
Then he motioned to Satanta, who sat with a bugle in his hand. Satanta
raised the instrument to give the signal. But even as it touched his
lips the Indians were away at a mad gallop.
Down the slope they swept. It was a race to see who should win first
coup. Second, third, and fourth coups counted also. To kill an enemy
counted much. But to touch him first meant more. Several coups made
a man a chief. A fast horse was a tremendous advantage. So was reckless
Yellow Wolf had both. He was in the lead, closely followed by the
renowned young chief, Big Tree. The rest of the horde thundered in
the rear. The warriors were strung well out, with the old plugs and
dismounted men toiling in the dust far behind. As the Indians emerged
from the mesquite along the dry watercourse of Flint Creek the white
men saw them coming. Hastily they turned off the road and began to
corral their wagons.
The Indians commenced yipping shrilly and shooting off their guns
at every jump. They were upon the wagon train before the corral was
finished. Yellow Wolf rode between the last wagon and the others,
cutting it off. The teamsters were on the ground, snatching at rifles
carried in the leather boots fastened to the wagon bodies. Big Tree
made a first coup. Yellow Wolf made second. Two Kiowa-Apaches were
close after. Then as Yellow Wolf wheeled to the west again the firing
commenced. Indians and whites were running here and there in the dust
and smoke. Yellow Wolf saw a man jump off his horse and come running
forward to engage in a hand-to-hand fight with the teamsters. It was
Or-dlee, A Comanche. Suddenly, he dropped, shot dead. Red Warbonnet,
a Kiowa chief, was wounded in the thigh. The whites were shooting
"dangerously." Suddenly the Indians became wary. They pulled
off and commenced whirling round and round the wagons in a yelling,
shooting, pinwheel of color. Scarlet-and-white war bonnets mingled
with cotton-like puffs of white smoke, yellow dust, and navy-blue
loin cloths. Overhead black storm clouds were gathering across the
sky. They held up the sun, whose divergent fingers reached down through
gaps to touch as with a golden spotlight the fury below. It shone
from polished bow, lance and carbine. It fell unheeded on desperate,
frightened white men.
Three or four teamsters were killed in the first rush. The Indians
did not know how many more there might be. As they rushed around and
round the wagons they saw others kneeling on the grass firing from
under the wagons, through the wheels. As Yellow Wolf made his second
circle he saw Tson-to-goodle (Light-haired Young Man), a Kiowa-Apache,
wounded in the knee. The Apache slipped from his horse and bounced
in the dust. Two companions dragged him away. Several hundred yards
to the west stood two women, Yo-koi-te, and another whose name is
forgotten, lustily participating in the fight with shrill "tongue-rattling."
Satanta may have been blowing signals on his bugle. Yellow Wolf doesn't
remember. But, he says, even if the bugle had blown, no one would
have paid any attention to it.
Yellow Wolf, galloping around to the east, saw a little group of
white men cut out of the corral on foot and start to run towards Cox
Mountain. There happened to be an opening in the savage circle on
the east; they broke through it. One was shot down after running a
little way. Six more kept going. Only a few Indians pursued. They
thought there were plenty more whites still in the corral. Near the
timber one other white was killed. The remaining five disappeared
in the blackjacks. The Indians turned back; they were afraid they
would lose their share of the plunder. The Indians continued to circle,
watching closely. No firing was coming from the corral. Maybe it was
some kind of trap. Yellow saw one of the whites, the one who had been
with the last wagon, lying in the open gap between that wagon and
the corral. This was the one Big Tree had killed. The one Eagle Heart
killed was lying close to the corral on the north side. Yellow Wolf
also saw a dead man on the ground just inside the corral. Did he kill
this man? Yellow Wolf does not say. In the excitement he did not see
any other bodies. The Indians were using Spencer carbines, breech-loading
rifles, pistols, and bows. Most of the firearms had been purchased
from Caddo George, at his "store" near Anadarko. Yellow
Wolf had a gun he had captured that year from a settler in Texas.
The sky was growing darker. A big storm was coming. The Indians were
anxious to finish the work and get away. But no one dared approach
the wagons too soon. Some of the whites might be waiting for them.
"Keep back! It's too dangerous!" shouted the older man.
"Let's get them from behind."
Hau-tau (Gun-shot) would not listen. It was his first battle, his
first chance to win a point in the race for chieftainship. He ran
toward the wagons. No enemy appeared. He retired a few steps in indecision.
White Horse and Set-maunte, more experienced, tried to hold him back.
He evaded their grasp. He rushed to another wagon, touched it.
"I claim this wagon, and all in it, as mine!" he shouted
At that moment a wounded teamster inside the wagon lifted up the
canvas sheet and shot Hau-tau full in the face. The young Kiowa fell
to the ground, horribly wounded. White Horse and Set-maunte were laying
their hands on the mules to claim them. They ran to pick up Hau-tau.
He was still breathing. They dragged him out of the way. At this point
the Indian account breaks off abruptly. Yellow Wolf declines to say
more except that the Indians, enraged by the shooting of Hau-tau,
proceeded to "tear up everything." After the affair was
over the Indians went back to the hill from which they had started
their charge, driving with them the captured mules. They placed Or-dlee,
the dead Comanche, in a crevice on the south side of the hill, and
piled rocks over him. Then they tied the wounded men to horses and
rode north. Soon a general storm broke. The heavy rainfall turned
the streams into floods. The Indians made slow progress.
No white man survived to describe the last tragic moments of the
massacre. What occurred must be pieced together from the descriptions
of the scene written by Mackenzie and his officers. The advance detachment
of soldiers arrived before dark on May 19. The rain was still coming
down in torrents. The bodies of the teamsters, swollen and bloated
beyond recognition, were lying in several inches of water. The place
was a litter of opened grain sacks, broken wagons, pieces of harness,
arrows, and bits of cloth. Mackenzie's surgeon made the following
report of what he found:
"Colonel R. S. Mackenzie,
I have the honor to report that in compliance with your instructions
I examined on May 19, 1871, the bodies of five citizens killed near
Salt Creek by Indians on the previous day. All the bodies were riddled
with bullets, covered with gashes, and the skulls crushed, evidently
with an axe found bloody on the place; some of the bodies exhibited
also signs of having been stabbed with arrows. One of the bodies
was even more mutilated than the others, it having been found fastened
with a chain to the pole of a wagon lying over a fire with the face
to the ground, the tongue being cut out. Owing to the charred condition
of the soft parts it was impossible to determine whether the man
was burned before or after his death. The scalps of all but one
I have the honor to be, colonel, your obedient servant,
(signed) J. H. Patzki, Asst. Surgeon, U.S.A."
Mackenzie had the corpses placed in one of the wagon bodies and buried
near the road. The soldiers set up two small stones over the grave,
cut with seven marks to indicate the number of bodies. The grave may
still be seen, a mile west of Monument School, in the field owned
by Mr. James Barnett.
The floods hampered Mackenzie in his pursuit of the Indians. Furthermore
he was twenty-four hours' march behind them, and the trail had been
obliterated by the rain. On the twentieth Mackenzie was on the south
bank of the Little Wichita, waiting for the water to subside. The
Indians were farther north, crossing the Big Wichita. They made crude
boats from willow branches covered with canvas. In these they placed
their guns, plunder, and wounded men. They propelled the craft across
the swift river by swimming on either side and pushing.
Quitan and Tomasi, Mexican-captive members of the Kiowa tribe, were
great buffalo hunters. Together with two other Kiowas they lingered
behind the main body to kill some buffalo, which then were running
in from the west and swimming the river. They had slaughtered twelve
or more, and were engaged in cutting them up when they were surprised
by twenty-five men of the Fourth Cavalry under Lieutenant Peter M.
Boehm. Boehm was returning to Fort Richardson after a thirty-day scout.
In the sharp exchange of shots which followed, one trooper and two
horses of Lieutenant Boehm's detachment were wounded. Tomasi and his
horse were killed. The other Indians sprang on their ponies, mingled
with the buffalo herd, and swam the river. When the main body of Indians
heard the shots and saw the fugitives flying toward them they raced
away. Quitan brought up the rear. The ground was soft and muddy. When
the Indians stopped to catch their breath Quitan arrived, covered
with mud thrown up by the flying hoofs. They gave him a big laugh
and went on their way north. Boehm's men scalped Tomasi. They took
the scalp to Fort Richardson, where Boehm presented it as a souvenir
to the regimental adjutant, Lieutenant Carter.
Although the Kiowa raiders were burdened with the wounded Hau-tau,
they moved rapidly across Red River and regained their village safely.
A few days later Hau-tau died. "The screw worms got into his
head," they explain. The death of Hau-tau brought the Indian
fatalities to a total of three: Or-dlee, Tomasi, and Hau-tau. But
the Indians were more than satisfied. They had killed seven whites,
captured forty-one mules, and brought back much other plunder. They
felt full of pride and importance.
The following second version of the story is from the book, Indian Depredations in Texas, by J.W. Wilbarger:
From Ty Cashion's book, A Texas Frontier:
Sherman ordered Colonel Mackenzie to assembly a unit to gather details and pursue the war party.
The detachment arrived at Salt Creek Prairie the next morning "in a perfect deluge of rain." The men were unable to discern the scene clearly until they came right up on the bloated corpses lying in several inches of water. The debris of the fight was scattered everywhere-"here and there a hat, an Indian gewgaw, and a plentiful supply of arrows." A soldier who observed the fallen teamsters remarked that they resembled porcupines. All of them had been "stripped, scalped, and mutilated." Some were beheaded, their brains "scooped out"; fingers, toes, and genitals of others protruded from their mouths. Those who survived the initial onslaught lived only to endure live coals heaped upon their exposed abdomens. The worst horror befell one of the men whom the soldiers found chained between two wagon wheels and "burnt to a crisp," his limbs drawn and contorted from being roasted alive. The dispatch that Mackenzie sent Sherman convinced the general that more than a half dozen years of reports pouring out of Texas were not, as he suspected, the fanciful exaggerations of grasping frontiersmen anxious to tap the federal dole.
[Carter, On the Border with Mackenzie , 81-82; Nye, Carbine and Lance, 131; M.L. Crimmins, "Camp Cooper and Fort Griffin," WTHAY 18 (1941): 42; Capps, Warren Raid, 42-54ff.]
...The most telling change was a more aggressive military policy that began to take shape following Sherman's 1871 tour of the Texas frontier. If the power of decision had been left to the general, the army would have invaded the plains forthwith, compelling the Comanches and Kiowas to choose between annihilation and surrender. While the War Department failed to get carte blanche for conducting all-out war, it was nevertheless able to scrap the primarily defensive strategy. At long last Sherman won a consensus for staging winter campaigns. The conditions, though arduous for both sides, still favored the better-equipped U.S. Army.
[Wooster, The Military and Indian Policy, 152-53; Sherman testimony, 43d Cong., 1st sess., H. Rep. 384, pp. 270-84.]
Another effective measure was combining the contiguous military departments of Texas and the Missouri. The results, however, were mixed. From old Camp Cooper in October 1871, Colonel Ranald Mackenzie led a large column of troops atop the Cap Rock, where he twice suffered the ignominy of absorbing a Comanche anabasis. The Indians' first strategic withdrawal, on October 11, netted the warriors about seventy army mounts; a little over a week later, as a blue norther whipped across the plains and canyons, the Indians created a welter of confusion in a nighttime strike that allowed their families to escape. Despite the setbacks, Mackenzie learned from his mistakes. The next year he surprised the Comanche camp of Chief Shaking Hand near the mouth of Blanco Canyon, killing more than a s score of Indians-including several women and children-taking 120 captives, and burning the lodges. With their winter stores destroyed and many of their families held under guard at Fort Concho, the first Quahadie bands surrendered at the Comanche reservation late in 1872.
[Sheridan, Record of Engagements, 5; Carter, in On the Border, 162-96ff., related his participation in the 1871 campaign and produced a detailed but sometimes suspect account. See also Hamilton, Fort Richardson, 108-19, 129-33; Richardson, Comanche Barrier, 361-65; AG, Chronological List, 49, 52.]