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.

Most Comanche warriors never set foot on a reservation or signed a treaty with the whites. The high regard in which they were held by the military leaders was evident in the fact that few of them went to prison and Quanah became the most influential chief in Indian Territory.

The fear and respect the war chiefs of other tribes held for Mackenzie's abilities were evidenced by the demoralizing effect his arrival had on the remaining renegades. His recent victory over the Comanche and other tribes of the Southern Plains was certainly on the mind of the Sioux. Red Cloud told him at the time of his surrender, "You were the one we were afraid of."

Mackenzie was later assigned to the frontier battles still raging in the Northwest before being stationed in Arizona and finally back in Texas. His wounds, exposure to the elements and the loneliness of command took its toll. He was reassigned to Texas and planned to marry the widow of his best friend and settle down on a little ranch in Boerne. Tragically, he lost his mind and was interned into a New York sanitarium for a few years before he died at the age of forty-eight. He was practically forgotten by all except his adjutant, R.G. Carter, who wrote, On the Border with Mackenzie, and struggled for the rest of his life promoting Mackenzie's reputation.

Crook appeared before Congress on several occasions to lobby for better conditions for the Indians and after taking command of the Fort Sill reservation in the mid 1870s, Mackenzie launched an angry protest concerning misdeeds of the prior administration.

Lieutenant Pratt was ordered to transport the prisoners and assumed command of the Florida prison. Being the ranking officer, he was invited to the social events held by the prominent citizens of St. Augustine, many of whom traced their lineage back to Spanish nobility. Pratt delighted in bragging about his wild Indians and their great abilities in riding and fighting. Once he was asked if he thought these Indians could fight a Spanish bull. He gladly agreed to bring some Indians to the bull ring on Sunday.

Four of the Indians mounted on horseback and armed with knives, lances and bows and arrows entered the ring. At first the movements of the fighting bull confused the Indians. They had never seen this type of animal and weren't familiar with his behavior. Finally, White Horse rode up beside the charging bull and leaped on his back as it gored another Indian and his pony. He cut its spinal cord with his knife and brought it down, then he slit the bull open and pulled out his liver and held it high over his head, showing it to the startled crowd. He then downed the liver in several large bites vividly confirming the authenticity of Pratt's claims about his wild Indians. Pratt later established Carlisle Indian School, the famous institution that produced Jim Thorpe.

Lieutenant Pratt Picture
Lieutenant Pratt, White Horse

I've mentioned that there seemed to be a lot of pioneer something in the people out here and it's hard to find anybody anywhere that doesn't claim to be part Indian and/or has a distant relative that rode with the Rangers. Maybe the one thing everybody out here has in their blood is a little gamble. The Fort Griffin Echo noted in the 1870s:

Pete Harvey brags on having the fastest trotting horse and the fastest running mule in the county and is ready to back either at any time. He also knows a man and will back him as a runner against any other man in the state.

Beginning with Jim Thorpe, the Plains have turned out, some would say been blessed with, a steady stream of wild warrior athletes that could have easily come from a gene mix of Quanah Parker, Big Foot Wallace and Ira Hayes.

Bobby Morrow won three gold medals at the 1956 Olympics. Though hardly noticeable in photographs of the time, recent shots which appeared in Sports Illustrated of the sixty something Morrow bears a striking resemblance to Satanta.

It was also in the fifties that famous pro-wrestler Wahoo McDaniel began his athletic career in Midland playing baseball under the tutelage of his coach, former president, George Bush. He preceded Joe Don Looney as the premier wild man at the University of Oklahoma where he regularly beat fraternity relay teams in 20 mile sprints between Norman and Oklahoma City.

The population out here has contributed an extraordinary proportion of this nation's war casualties and Sul Ross' Texas A&M holds the distinction of contributing the most officers vanquished in battle. In these modern times, when the debate is whether dodge ball is a suitable sport for our youth, much more than our pioneer landmarks seem to be in jeopardy.

Modern culture may glorify or caricature the Indian, but when it comes to considering the Comanches and Cross Timbers' past, it is instructive to turn to John Graves' Goodbye to a River.

    ...they existed for pleasure, but their pleasures were war and hunting and ravishment and kindred proud patriarchal violences. No other breed within their reach could or did like them except, finally, the closely similar Kiowas, but that fact, sweat them very lightly. Those who did not like them could not whip them, either. They were The People, only a few thousand strong in their most numerous times, but total possessors, constant raiders, for pleasure, far outside the limits of that empire.

    And that's what one forgets, looking back, feeling sorry, knowing the shame of what his own people did to the Comanches when his own people came and won. Forgets that for two arrogant horseback centuries they were The People, steady winners, powerful beyond any reverie of power... Dominant in the world they had selected, rich in the goods they prized, dexterous, cruel, wild, joyful, unbearable, lousy, bowlegged, and magnificent...

What I hope one remembers is that at one time, the best young men both sides had to offer met out here to fight and die. They contested the ownership of this countryside in a time honored tradition that sealed the deed with blood.

Epilogue written by Mike Shropshire

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