Citizens and Soldiers Follow Indians After Killing of Geo. Hazlewood and Attack on Old Ledbetter Salt Works

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.

Haskell County, Texas

    After the Indians left the Ledbetter Salt Works, Sam Lindsey and Nep Thornton, walked to Fort Griffin, about twenty-five miles away, to notify the soldiers of the Indians' raid. Capt. A.R. Chaffee, in command of five officers and sixty-two non-commissioned officers and privates, belonging to companies F, I and K of the Sixth Cavalry, hastily as possible, started in pursuit of the Indians. They were accompanied by W.H. Ledbetter, whose salt works had been attacked on the 2nd day of March, 1868, and by perhaps one or two other citizens. They were also accompanied by some Tonkawa Indians stationed near Fort Griffin at the time. The soldiers and citizens struck the Indians' trail somewhere between Hubbard's Creek, and the Clear Fork of the Brazos. The Indians were dragging about three litters loaded with their wounded, so their trail was easily followed. About 9:30 p.m., March 5, the scouts discovered the Indians between the two forks of Paint Creek, near the Haskell-Stamford road, about eight miles south of the present town of Haskell. They then reported to Capt. Cahaffee, who ordered all to be quiet, no fires to be made, and that every one be in readiness to strike the Indians early the next morning.

    The Indians were then charged about the break of day, March the 6th, 1868, and according to government reports, seven Comanches killed during the fighting. We are informed, however by local citizens that approximately three of this number, were already wounded, and that one was the African Cato, who had been mysteriously disappearing from Fort Concho. Another wounded was a Mexican, and the third, an Indian. Some of these were captured before they were killed. The captured stated that two Indians were killed and two wounded by the deadly fire of George Hazlewood, and one killed and two wounded at the Old Ledbetter Salt Works. So in the three fights, the savages lost ten of their number.

    As usual, no two of the many interviewed tell exactly the same story concerning this and the two preceding sections; but the killing of George Hazlewood, attack on the Old Ledbetter Salt Works, and fight on Paint Creek, in Haskell County, have been carefully written, after interviewing those listed below, who should know more of this particular raid than any others, for they were closely connected with the same, and their accounts have been closely checked with such government records as were available. One of the authorities was of the opinion that the Indians appeared at the Ledbetter Salt Works first, and then killed George Hazlewood the succeeding morning, but practically all others state that George Hazlewood was killed first, and then the Indians appeared at the salt works the succeeding day. And, no doubt, the majority is correct, for the latter group is not only supported by the physical facts, but apparently corroborated by government reports, and we sincerely feel that this is the most detailed and correct account of this particular raid that had ever been written.

    Note: Author personally interviewed Mrs. Wm. Cain, and Mrs. C.E. Ferguson, daughters of Geo. Hazlewood, Harve Ledbetter, son of W.H. Ledbetter, and mentioned above; Mrs. Pete Harris ("Sis" Lindsey), mentioned above, Charlie Hazlewood and Mrs. Annie Corrigan, nephew and niece of Geo. Hazlewood, John Erwin, Lish Christeson, Lish Carter, brother of Jim Carter, mentioned above; Joe Schoolcraft, and several others who lived in Stephens, Palo Pinto, and adjoining counties at the time. In former years, also heard Calvin Hazlewood, brother of George, H.G. Taylor, Huse Bevers, D.C. (Cook) Harris, John Schoolcraft, James Chick, Fletcher White, and one or two other frontiersmen speak of this particular raid.

    Further Ref.: The reminiscences of J.T. Hazlewood, son of George Hazlewood, in volume two of the Trail Drivers of Texas; List of battles, actions, etc. of the United States Army, as published in a little pamphlet in 1902, and contained in Heightman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army; the report of the Secretary of War, for 1868-69, and written account of this raid furnished the author by W.R. Standifer of Haskell.

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

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