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Dead Man’s Hole

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

31 August 1862; Valentine, Texas: After Lt. Edmond D. Shirland and a detachment of 20 Union troops from Company B, 1st California Cavalry, followed some retreating Confederates to San Antonio, they marched to abandoned Fort Davis, flew the Union flag over it for a day, then set out to return to Fort Bliss. The detachment stopped for the night at Dead Man's Hole, near present-day Valentine, Texas.

The next morning the soldiers had ridden about ten miles when a Mescalero Apache appeared with a white flag. Five others followed, all mounted. Shirland tried to talk with them, but they did not respond. About 30 more mounted Mescaleros arrived, and Shirland's men could see another party of warriors approaching on foot. Perceiving that the mounted Mescaleros were simply waiting for the footmen to arrive before surrounding the soldiers, Shirland and his men rode away from them. The mounted Indians pursued for a time in a running fight, then broke off the chase.

The soldiers killed 4 Mescaleros and wounded perhaps 20 more. Two troopers were wounded.

From: Encyclopedia of Indian Wars by Gregory F. Michno

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