Captain Culver’s Men Encounter Indians in Palo Pinto Co.

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.

Palo Pinto County, Texas

    During 1864 a detachment of Capt. Wm. H. Culver's company followed an Indian trail from Erath, into Palo Pinto county. This trail passed the old salt works on Sunday Creek, about five miles west of Santo. James Daves, father of Woodbury, lived on Palo Pinto Creek at the time. He told the rangers that an Indian camp, buffalo lariats, and, perhaps, other things, had been found on a little hill about five miles north of the present town of Gordon. So the rangers decided to repair to this Indian camp ground and await the return of the savages from the lower country with the caballada of stolen horses. The next day about noon the soldiers ran out of water. So Capt. Culver's men divided into two squads, one remained at the camp, while the other went for water. After the water crew had gone for a considerable length of time, horses were seen to be approaching in the distance, and at first it was thought the rangers were returning. But it proved to be three Indians. These Indians, no doubt, thought the citizens were some of their own number, for as a rule, different squads of savages went into different territories for stolen horses, and usually met in such camping places as this. So the Indians came driving their stolen horses until they were within a short distance of the rangers before they discovered their mistake. Shortly afterwards, a bitter fight followed, in which two Indians were killed and one ranger wounded with an arrow in the hip. The third Indian, who was also wounded, succeeded in mounting Capt. Culver's horse and rode away. The Indians trail was then followed for a considerable distance, and this warrior was so badly wounded, he dismounted Capt. Culver's steed and finally tied him to a tree. It appeared, the Indian held his hand over his wound to avoid leaving a trail of blood. Finally when his wound became so flooded, he would dig a hole, empty the blood, and then cover it with his hands. Dark came on before the Indian was found. The next morning the trail was again followed, and the Indian was finally located near the cliff on the mountain, about one-half mile southeast of where the battle occurred. Here he had barricaded himself among the rocks, and instead of surrendering, true to Indian tradition, fought until his life was ended.

    The wounded ranger remained at the home of Jim Daves, on Palo Pinto creek for about four weeks, before he was able to return to his home.

    Note: Author interviewed: Woodbury Daves, son of Jim Daves, Jno. Allen Hestalow and others who lived in this section of Palo Pinto County at the time.

    Further Ref.: History of the Regulators and Moderators, by Jno. W. Middleton.

The above story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.

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