Captain J. J. Cureton’s Wolf Creek Fight

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 1860, the citizens of Palo Pinto and adjoining counties met and organized a local company to combat the hostile Comanches and other raiding tribes. The name of J.J. Cureton and George Greer were each placed in nomination for Captain, and the former elected.

    Shortly afterwards, Captain Cureton in command of forty-one men, determined to carry the war into the Indians' own territory, and started out in search of savage villages. After being out for several days, when the weather was extremely cold and water scarce, provisions became exhausted. Captain Cureton and his men then decided to take a southern course and strike the Colorado, somewhere in the vicinity of Old Fort Chadbourne, and the Butterfield Stage Route to California. "Captain Jack's" men almost became mutinous. They divided into two sections, one followed Captain Jack Cureton and the other, Geo. Greer. Capt. Cureton and his men passed the Double Mountains of Stonewall County, and made a two days' journey almost due south.

    For the first time, after being out approximately thirty days, Indian signs were discovered. Shortly afterwards, the scouts reported black objects in the distance. Capt. Cureton ordered his men to advance, and a little later they surprised several Indians killing prairie dogs in a small valley near Wolf Creek, and at a place, no doubt, in the present county of Nolan. The creek at this point ran almost due north and south. When charged the Comanches scattered and ran for the timber along the stream. Several of their number received mortal wounds. Wiley Peters and Tom Stockton shot at the same Indian. He was wounded, and retreated into a nearby thicket. This Indian was then surrounded by Capt. Jack Cureton, Wiley Peters, Tom Stockton, James Lane, Bud Strong, John Lasater, and perhaps one or two others. Captain Cureton cautioned his men to be careful. But brave James Lane persisted in going too close and received an arrow in his side. This arrow penetrated his intestines and lodged against his spine. The rangers were now one day's march north of old Fort Chadbourne. So they decided to take the wounded man to this post. The entire command remained at Fort Chadbourne two days to recuperate. They then followed the old Butter field Stage Route toward the settlements. But James Lane's wound was so serious he could not be moved. As a consequence, the officers at Fort Chadbourne requested Capt. Cureton to appoint two of his men to stay with their wounded comrade. Whereupon Wiley Peters and one other were appointed for this purpose. The second man, however stated he could not stay, so Wiley Peters was then requested to select a man to stay with him. This Wiley refused to do, but in lieu thereof, called for a volunteer and Wm. McGlothen responded. James Lane lived nine days after he was wounded, then he died. He was buried north of the old Government hospital at Fort Chadbourne. Wiley Peters and Wm. McGlothen were at his funeral.

    The Captain then issued necessary provisions to the two citizens to last until they reached the settlements. Peters and McGothhen were advised to follow the old Butterfield route to Mountain Pass, twenty-six miles to the East, and to Phantom Hill about thirty miles farther on. Each of these places at the time were old stage stands on the Butterfield route. Peters and McGlothen reached the settlement the next day after passing Fort Phantom Hill, which was then an abandoned military post.

    George Greer and his command, about two days later, came along following the trail of Captain Cureton and his men, and found two dead Indians up the creek from the battle ground.

    The following citizens numbered among the thirty-one rangers in Capt. Cureton's command, namely: Capt. J.J. Cureton, James Lane, Wiley Peters, Tom Stockton, Geo. De Rossett, Tom Mullins, Dave Daniels, Geo. Graves, and his son, Geo. Graves, Jr., Bud Strong, Wm. Fancher, and others.

    Note: Prior to writing this section, the author personally interviewed Wiley Peters who remained with James Lane at Fort Chadbourne until he died. Also interviewed A.M. Lasater, whose brother John was in the fight. Martin Lane whose uncle James Lane received the mortal wound, James Wood, and others who were living in Palo Pinto and adjoining counties when this fight occurred.

    Further Ref.: Wilbarger's Indian Depredations in Texas. This particular campaign was unusually important, for it was the forerunner of a campaign made by the same command in company with Capt. L.S. Ross, and his rangers, and Lt. Spangler, in command of soldiers from Camp Cooper, when Cynthia Ann Parker was captured.

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

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