Nocona’s Blood Trail/Highway 281 Through Perrin

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Jack County, Texas
Southeast to Jacksboro
Fort Richardson Pages
SE Entrance to Jacksboro | Ft. Richardson | Post Civil War | Garrison Life | Ft. Richardson Tour | Military Rd. to Ft. Sill | South to Keechi

The map below shows the Texas Forts Trail from the south on 281 into Fort Richardson. The route runs about a quarter-mile west of Nocona's bloody trail. If you're approaching from the south, you can take a short side trip to Black Springs (Oran), the birthplace of the real Lonesome Dove or continue on to Jacksboro.

Map of Jacksboro

More Stories and Information on Fort Tours Road Trips

Sul Ross, teenage son of the Fort Belknap agent, led an auxiliary force of reservation Indians across the Red River on at least one and perhaps two separate occasions to scout and fight beside Ranger and Cavalry forces in the summer of 1859. The next spring, Comanche pride was still stinging from the maulings they received north of the Red River when they viciously struck east of Jacksboro. They continued their killing and stealing spree, thereafter called Nocona's Raid, to the edge of Mineral Wells (water tower to the south) before turning back north toward Indian territory. This was a popular entrance for northern raiders to Jack and Palo Pinto settlements.

The freshly minted ranger, Captain Ross, led a batch of local Rangers, including Charley Goodnight and a detachment of the Second Cavalry, in pursuit of the murderers. They found and attacked Nocona's camp on the Pease River near Eagle Springs (Vernon) and returned victorious. Reports rapidly spread that Ross killed Chief Nocona and Goodnight saved a blue-eyed female tribesperson who turned out to be the famous captive, Cynthia Ann Parker, held by the Comanches since the beginning of the Comanche wars.

Picture of Cynthia Ann Parker and Daughter, Prairie Flower Picture of Quanah Parker
Cynthia Ann Parker with daughter, Prairie Flower. Her son, Quanah, was just reaching his teens when she was captured. He would grow to become principal chief of the Comanches.

Talk of the victory was soon overshadowed by news of the shelling of Fort Sumter. The Confederacy took over the forts on the Texas frontier and in Indian territory. Local men were organized into a frontier ranger battalion and continued the protection of their homes. As the fortunes of war went against the Confederates, these men had to draw straws to see who would fill the depleted ranks on the eastern battlefields. The departed rangers were replaced by old men and young boys.

In 1866, a small detachment of the Sixth Cavalry, led by Samuel H. "Paddy" Starr, marched into Jacksboro, established a post and began preparations to build a new fort to the north at Buffalo Springs, just across the Clay County line. The appearance of a large Comanche war party caused the army to relocate its building efforts back to the south in Jacksboro.

Generals Listings Picture
 Pictured left to right are Generals Thomas Devin, George A. Custer, Judson Kilpatrick, W. H. Emory, Philip Sheridan, James B. McPherson, George Crook, Wesley Merritt, George H. Thomas, G. K. Warren, George Gordon Meade, John G. Parke, William T. Sherman, John A. Logan, U. S. Grant, Ambrose E. Burnside, Joseph Hooker and Winfield S. Hancock

The Sixth Cavalry and several infantry companies posted at Fort Richardson were woefully ineffective at pursuing raiding warriors. The army not only lacked speed but was forbidden by treaty from crossing the Red River. In fact, the forces they did occasionally manage to catch were usually much better prepared than anticipated. McClellan's defeat at the Battle of the Little Wichita is often credited to superior generalship on the part of Kiowa Chief Kicking Bird.

New Line of Forts Map
This map is from the book, Bad Hand, by Charles M. Robinson, III

Eventually the army built a third line of forts including Concho, Griffin, Richardson and Sill in Indian Territory, providing a sense of security that lured settlers back onto the frontier. Still, hundreds, if not thousands, of Comanches and Kiowas occasionally swept through the settlements.

Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments