Dye Mound 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.

Montague County, Texas

    During January of 1870, W.A. (Bud) Morris and Holloway Williams, were going from Forestburg to Montague. When they were within five miles of their destination, these citizens discovered a fresh Indian trail going east, and later learned that it was Satanta, and nine warriors. After following the trail for a short distance, the two citizens returned to Levi Perryman's ranch, near Forestburg, for reinforcements. Levi Perryman was the only man they were able to get, and since the citizens were afraid the Indians would get away, the three men went back and picked up the trail. When they reached Dye Mound, they were discovered by and Indian spy. But the citizens raced their horses around the hill and charged the remaining Indians before they were able to mount their steeds. The Indians, by this time, were somewhat demoralized, and when Bud Morris shot a warrior from his horse, the savages became more excited. When the Indians discovered there were only three men, and others were apparently not following in the rear, Chief Satanta rallied his men, who belonged to the Ft. Sill Reservation, and who were armed with Spencer rifles, bows and arrows, etc. The three citizens, when charged by the Indians, fell back abut two hundred yards, and then turned on the Indians. When they did, the Indians themselves quickly turned and ran. For three miles the Indians and citizens fought, and sometimes one was in the lead, and at other times, the other. During the fighting, W.A. Morris shot Satanta's horse, which was a fine yellow steed.

    Finally the Indians retreated to a ravine, and the three citizens went to Montague for reinforcements. When they did, within ten minutes, nine additional men were in their saddles ready to go. Col. Cunningham was stationed at Montague with soldiers, at the time. He started afoot toward the Indians, but as he had no pilot, was unable to find them. The citizens, however, rushed on ahead, and in a short time, Levi Perryman's horse was wounded. The white men would dismount, crawl, and shoot at an Indian, when an opportunity presented itself. Dark came and the citizens decided to hold the Indians until next morning. Some one was sent to Montague for Col. Cunningham and the soldiers. When the soldiers arrived, the savages seemed to realize their plight, became frustrated, and scattered like quail. Three came by Bud Morris, who succeeded in downing one, or else he stumped his toe and fell, and two warriors helped him get away. After the Indians retreated, six of their horses lay dead, and the citizens found three shields, a bow, quiver of arrows, saddle blankets, quirts, etc. One blanket was bloody and had two bullet holes in it. But since the savages fled in the dark, they were hard to follow.

    When the Indians reached Fort Sill, they reported seven out of the ten wounded. After Satanta was tried at Jacksboro, and sent to the State Penetentiary, Bud Morris made several trips there, and each time called to see Satanta, who would jokingly relate the circumstances of the fight as accurately as Bud Morris could himself. During the conversation, Satanta told Morris where he had stolen the yellow horse that the latter shot from under him, and his statement was correct, for the horse was known, and recognized after it was killed.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: W.A. (Bud) Morris, himself.

    Further Ref: A little pamphlet entitled, "Thrilling Indian Raids into Cook and Montague Counties", by Levi Perryman.

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

The following story was published by Levi Perryman, Forestburg, Texas, 1919:

    In 1870, during January, Bud Morris and Henry Williams were riding toward Montague town from Forestburg, when they discovered signs of Indians near Dye Mound. They immediately turned back and rode to where I lived something like one-half mile from my present home, which is two miles west of Forestburg. Arriving at my home, they reported to me what they had seen. The trail was leading east, toward Cooke county and they proposed riding to the Loran Prairie, get help on the way, and attack them while they were in the open.

    I contended that we should go to Dye Mound, as I felt sure they would camp at the spring at that place. We finally agreed to the latter course, leaving my house just after dinner. Morris was riding in advance of Williams and myself. When within about half a mile of Dye Mound I saw three Indians leaving the top of the Mound; they disappeared around the side. We quickened our pace and galloped forward, gaining the elevation, from which we gained sight of the spring.

    We discovered that there were ten Indians - eight horsemen, and two afoot. They appeared to be breaking camp, some having already started down the ravine. We drew rein and fired at the Indians nearest us. They were almost solidly grouped and were less than 100 yards from us. From the volley, which was fired simultaneously, one Indian fell from his horse, taking with him his buffalo robe, butcher knife and belt.

    The Indians charged us and we gave ground. They placed their fastest horses on the right and left extremes of their line, and were armed with pistols, bows and arrows and one rifle. Morris and Williams both had carbines and pistols, while I had only a pistol. When the Indians who rode the fastest horses would ride somewhat in advance of the others, we would turn and charge them and they would retreat, joining the others. We kept this up for some time, charging and recharging over the same ground, the Indians gradually giving ground and moving down and across the valley north and east of Dye Mound. Their leader, a stalwart buck, was riding a beautiful sorrel mare. He would send an Indian, on a fine yellow horse, on one flank in their charge, while he would bring up the other. After falling back several times I told the boys that we would draw the sorrel horse on, isolate him from his companions and capture him. On the next charge I permitted him to run almost even with me. I then reined in behind him, and the other two boys bore down on him at the same time.

    During these charges we had been exchanging shots without any apparent effect. Morris told me that when I cut off the Indian who was riding the sorrel that the others centered their fire on me. I did not know this, as I had my back to them. The Indian, on realizing his peril, whirled his mare square around, dropping on the opposite side of her, leaving only his leg exposed, and began firing at me from under his animal's neck. We were some thirty or forty feet apart. His shots went
    wild of their mark and my pistol failed to fire. He finally succeeded in making his way back to his comrades. They then turned and rode slowly back toward the ravine. We followed, and approached within seventy or a hundred yards.

    I said: "Boys, kill that one on the sorrel mare!"

    Henry Williams halted, took deliberate aim with his carbine, and fired. I heard the sound of the compact as the leaden missile found lodgement in the body of the red man. His cry of anguish brought the others to his side, and then began a chorus of Indian lamentations (which was their death song), and such sounds no one can describe, yet after once being heard are long remembered.

    Another incident of this fight, and having a personal bearing on it, occurred just after our first volley at the spring. When they charged us I was slow in leaving. Both the other boys called for me to come on to the cover of a ravine nearby. I was anxious to see how many Indians there were. I saw an Indian on foot, with his blanket, making his way toward us. He appeared to be unarmed and I thought to shoot him when he got close enough, but while hesitating I saw him kneel and commence to draw something from his blanket, which I recognized to be a rifle. I whirled my horse, and as he sprang into full speed I realized that a horseman riding straight away was a fair target, so I swerved to the left and the Indian's bullet passed under my hat brim, fanning my cheek. It came so close that it stung a little, but did not graze the skin.

    Morris took a shot at them while they were holding their death ceremonies, but his bullet cut a limb off a tree between him and the buck he aimed at. Three or four of them came forward and we gave ground.

    We then decided to go to Montague for help, having found that our ammunition was rapidly being exhausted. In order to mislead them as to our intentions I rode down close to the ravine, helloed, and jawed at the Indians, then slipped quietly away, and we went on to Montague.We returned from there late in the afternoon, and as we approached the ravine where we had left the Indians hidden, they fired a volley at us. My horse was shot behind the shoulder, but too low down for a fatal wound. We deployed and held a consultation. Bud Morris and myself decided to circle the canyon and approach from the opposite side. We crawled a considerable distance, keeping under cover. We approached them from the rear, thinking to kill one apiece, but when we got within forty or fifty yards of them Bud said:

    "Levi, let's go back; they have discovered us."

    I did not think they had, but he was most positive, so I agreed to return. When we got away he told me they had shot an arrow right between us, but I could hardly believe it. Next day I went with him to look the ground over and we found he was right, for we found an arrow standing perpendicular in the ground.

    At dark we placed a force of men at the lower end of the gulch, and another force at the upper end, thinking we could keep them there till morning. But they seemed to have discovered our plan, and toward daylight, there being a thick log, they suddenly broke through our guards, about half of them going east and the other half west. We fired in the direction from whence the noise came, but without any noticeable results. Now and then we could sky-light one as he topped the hill. Bud Morris was in charge of the east side of the ravine and I on the west side. He fired at them several times and pursued them some distance. On coming back down the hill the men from below mistook him for an Indian, but he did not suffer any from their marksmanship.

    "He had almost toppled over with his own weight, but did recover"

    In this fight we captured two horses - one was badly wounded - and killed five. We could not account for the eighth horse, but concluded that an Indian had carried off a dead comrade on it while we were absent on our way to and from Montague. When we drew away from them after our first encounter, and discovered we were about out of ammunition, Bud Morris found that an arrow had gone through his clothing, including his undershirt. It had struck just below the heart from the front, at an angle. and had forced the cotton padding of his vest out at the side. His skin was not scratched, and he may have thought:

    "No living man can send me to the shades before my time."

    Leaving the scene of the fight, Morris, Williams and myself returned to my house, the others returning to Montague. The names of these six men, as I remember, were: Dick Boren, Aaron Anderson, Jasper Hagler, Sid Darnell, young Bonar, a doctor's son, of Gainesville (his given name has slipped by memory), and Charlie Lorenzo, The two last named afterward fought a pistol duel at Red River Station, in which both were killed. I kept for several years the sorrel mare which we captured, until I accidentally met a brother of a Mrs. King, from whom the Indians had stolen her. He fully satisfied me of her identity, and of the band of Indians who stole her, and I turned her over to him. She, as well as my own horse, was badly wounded in the fight, but both recovered.

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