Eagle Nest Crossing

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.

Don't forget to like and follow our brand new Facebook page for access to updates and news before anyone else.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria

25 April 1875; Langtry, Texas: Lt. John L. Bullis, 24th Infantry, and three Seminole-African scouts, Sgt. John Ward and Pvts. Isaac Payne and Pompey Factor, were trailing a raiding party who had about 75 stolen horses. On the west side of the Pecos River, at a place called Eagle Nest, the pursuers discovered about 30 Comanches preparing to herd the stolen stock across the river. Bullis and the scouts dismounted and crept through the brush until they were about 75 yards away, then they opened fire.

In a 45-minute fight, Bullis captured and lost the horses twice. His men killed three Comanches and wounded one, but the firepower of their single-shot Springfields was no match for the Indians' Winchesters, and the four of them made a dash for their horses. The three scouts made it, but Bullis was not with them-he had been cut off from his horse.

Shouting that they must not leave their lieutenant, Ward mounted up and went back for Bullis while Payne and Factor put out as much covering fire as they could. Swinging Bullis onto his horse, Ward caught a bullet in his carbine sling, then another shattered the gun stock. All four of them got away safely, and the three scouts won Medals of Honor.

Join the discussion