Boehm’s Fights

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

Following the Kiowa's attack on the Warren Wagon Train, the bulk of the warriors headed north with their loot and stories of victory. A few unfortunates chose to hang around North Texas a little too long.

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.

    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 story is from the book, Los Comanches, The Horse People 1751-1845 by Stanley Noyes.

    Three years later, during the 1874 Red River Campaign, according to Carter, a Lieutenant Peter M. Boehm was leading a detachment of scouts at some distance from General Ranald Mackenzie’s 4th Cavalry. Besides the lieutenant the group consisted of a Sergeant Charlton, a trooper named McCabe, and two Tonkawas. Abruptly the detail came upon four Comanches sitting on the grass, holding the reins of their horses. The warriors leapt for their ponies. Three of them managed to mount, while the fourth somehow lost his reins, permitting his pony to flee. Lieutenant Boehm shot the horse from under one of the braves, who immediately engaged him in combat, until the officer finally killed him. The two remaining mounted warriors fled, with McCabe and the Tonkawas in pursuit. Meanwhile Sergeant Charlton directed himself toward the warrior whose distant pony was becoming a puff of dust.

    This Comanche, who was broad-shouldered and well over six feet tall, was taking deliberate aim with his bow at the lieutenant. Sergeant Charlton shot him before he could release the arrow. In response the warrior discharged a series of arrows at Charlton, whose horse had been plunging and throwing its head each time the American tried to aim his carbine. During the sergeant’s struggle with his horse, an arrow drove through his thigh, pinning him to the saddle. The warrior, having used all his arrows, now began firing his rifle, with one shot striking the sergeant’s left hand and tearing away parts of two fingers. In spite of this, Charlton finally managed to aim and pull off a round that “shattered the Indian’s hips and lower spine.” But the Comanche laughed, “tossed his black mane from over his eyes and kept on firing,” continuing to do so until Charlton shot him through the head.

    Later the sergeant examined the body of his dead foe. He discovered it bore nine bullet holes, “any one of which should have killed an ordinary man.” The tall warrior would have been considered an exceptionally brave person in any culture. But in his fight to the death, he personified a Comanche ideal. Not every man, or woman, could live up to it. The ideal, though, was that of a kind of courage able to inspire and motivate the entire People.

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