Lake Trinidad

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.

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

9 May 1854; Ben Bolt, Texas: Lt. George B. Cosby and 11 men of Companies F and I, Mounted Rifles, were riding south out of Fort Merrill, at the end of a long scout, when a Mexican rider informed Cosby that Indians were camped on the shore of Lake Trinidad, near present-day Ben Bolt, Texas. Though the men were armed only with revolvers and were short of ammunition, Cosby spurred ahead.

The band of 40 Lipan Apaches withstood Cosby's charge and fell back to encircle the soldiers. Cosby and his men had no choice but to break out of the tightening ring. The troopers charged ahead, firing their pistols until their bullets were gone, then bluffing with their empty guns. Cosby took an arrow in the chest; it would have killed him if it had not hit his coin-filled pocketbook. When another arrow hit him in the arm, he drew his saber. A warrior charged in for the kill, but Sgt. John Byrne interceded, swinging his sword. The warrior shot an arrow into Byrne's forehead. Byrne's horse ran into a thicket, knocking Byrne off into the arms of the Indians.

The remainder of the squad rode about 200 yards before Cosby fainted. The men dismounted and circled around their fallen lieutenant. Taking over, Cpl. William Wright told the troopers to fight where they stood, distributing the bullets from Cosby's revolver. At the soldiers' bold stand, the Lipans judged it easier to chase after two men who had become separated. While the Indians were occupied, one trooper rode off to the riflemen's camp at Santa Gertrudes for ammunition and help. Reinforcements arrived in less than two hours, but the Lipans had gone.

In addition to Cosby and two other soldiers wounded, Byrne and two enlisted men were killed. Three Lipans were believed killed and two wounded.

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