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Ash Creek

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. Please consider reading our editorial policy to understand how and why we publish the resources we do.

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Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria

August 1, 1847; Pawnee Rock, Kansas: Lt. Christopher "Kit" Carson departed Fort Leavenworth on 17 July to deliver dispatches from President James K. Polk to Col. Sterling Price in Santa Fe and Gen. Stephen W. Kearny in California. Lt. Stephen D. Mullowny and fifty men of Company D, Third Regiment, Missouri Mounted Volunteers, escorted Carson. On 1 August Carson and his entourage camped at Ash Creek, near the famous landmark of Pawnee Rock. On the same evening, Capt. Benjamin W. Smithson's Company I, Third Regiment, Missouri Volunteers, which was escorting a large wagon train, was camped 300 yards away.

As morning dawned, Smithson's inexperienced men led their horses and livestock out to graze. Suddenly, war whoops shattered the calm, and from the brush by the riverbank 400 Comanches appeared and charged the livestock, causing them to stampede in all directions. Most of the animals ran toward Carson's camp, and Kit and some soldiers cut between the stock and the charging Indians. They held off the attackers until troopers from both camps converged and drove the Indians back. Smithson lost thirty-six cattle, and Carson lost two horses.

About six or eight Comanches were killed and about the same number were wounded. Three of Mullowny's men were wounded. Carson reached Santa Fe on 27 August without further Indian engagements.

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Further reading

Burleson’s Fight

Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria Ca. 23 December 1850; Loma Alta, Texas: Lt. Edward Burleson was taking his company of...