Amos R. Alexander

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.

Fayette County, Texas

The following story is from the book, Savage Frontier, by Stephen L. Moore:

The teamsters reached La Grange, and John Henry Moore helped them raise a party of men. Moore, thirty-five, was a native of Tennessee who had settled on the Colorado River in 1821 as one of Austin's Old Three Hundred. By 1828 he owned the twin blockhouse known as Moore's Fort, which was located in La Grange, the town he had laid out and named in 1831.

As this attack was going on, two immigrants had stopped at the home of frontiersman John Marlin near the Falls of the Brazos. While these men lay sick, their horses managed to wander off beyond the Little River toward Brushy Creek. Marlin then employed Canoma and Dorcha to attempt to bring the horses back. In good faith for their services, Marlin presented one of the Indian chiefs with a new shirt.

As Chief Canoma, his wife, son, and his other Indian companion set out to assist the white settlers, other frontiersmen were unwittingly on a collision course with these do-gooders. A party of volunteers from Bastrop was formed under forty-six-year-old Captain Edward Burleson, a North Carolinian who had migrated to Texas in 1831. A soldier under General Andrew Jackson in the Creek Indian War of 1813-1814, Burleson would become one of the most respected frontier leaders in early Texas history. This Bastrop party included Stephen Townsend, Spencer Burton Townsend, Moses Townsend, John York, William Isbell, Jesse L. McCrocklin, and George A. Kerr, among others. Captain Burleson's men set out to follow the trail of the Indians who had killed the wagoner and his son. Finding the bodies of the Alexanders, they buried them and rode in pursuit of the killers,tracking them as far as the three forks of the Little River, where the trail was lost.

Burleson's force met up with the small group of La Grange area volunteers under Captain John Moore. The united force of sixty-one men proceeded up the Little River to a spot about fifty miles above the Falls of the Brazos. One of Moore's volunteers, John Rabb, described Burleson's men as a "don't care a-looking company of men as could be found on the top of the ground.

Control of the combined force slipped, resulting in the execution of the chief and his son. Moore continues:

Chief Canoma's wife, upon returning to the Falls of the Brazos, quickly informed the other Caddos of the murder of her husband and son. Choctaw Tom, the most senior Indian leader left among them, stated that he could not blame the Coloradian settlers for the mishap, but that all the Indians would now make war on the settlers.

Choctaw Tom's Caddos then left the settlement and joined other Indians out in the country. The younger Indians promised settler John Marlin that they did not intend any harm upon him or other "friendly" settlers near the Falls.

Shortly thereafter, Major William Oldham raised a company of twenty-five men from the town of Washington-on-the Brazos. It is interesting to note that both Major Oldham and Captain John York claimed to have been in command of this party of Washington volunteers. Neither, however, left a muster roll that has survived time. This company marched to the Kichai (Keechi) village located on Boggy Creek,a tributary to the Trinity River in present Leon County. As they approached, they had a friendly exchange with Indian representatives. When accused of stealing white settlers' horses, the Indians produced a contract signed by empresario Sterling Robertson to prove their good terms.

According to volunteer Joel Walter Robison, Oldham's party was preparing to leave peacefully when some of the men recognized several stolen horses about their village. Upon being questioned, the Indians replied, "Oh, those. Those were stolen from the people on the Colorado. We don't have any treaty with them."

The Indians immediately seized their arms, and the whites opened fire. In the ensuing battle, two Indians were killed while the rest escaped into nearby thickets. The whites withdrew, taking about thirty horses with them and all of the camp equipage before burning the Kichai village down. Joel Robison:

None of our men were injured. Papers were found in the village which were known to have been on the person of a young man named Edward who was killed by the Indians twenty miles below Bastrop, a few months previously.

When the Oldham/York party made camp that night on the return to Washington, a frightened sentry fired his gun and ran into camp screaming, "Indians!" In the dark and confusion, the half-asleep Texans frantically grabbed guns and fired. One man, Benjamin Castleman, was killed and another volunteer wounded in the confusion of friendly fire.

Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments