Mulberry Creek/Palo Duro

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

30 August 1874; Brice, Texas: In Texas, the Adobe Walls attack incited the Red River War against the Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Comanches. Five columns of troops converged on the Staked Plains, in the Texas Panhandle. Col. Nelson A. Miles led one of them, comprising 600 men of Companies C, D, E, and L of the 5th Infantry and Companies A, D, F, G, H, I, L, and M of the 6th Cavalry, plus some civilians and Delaware scouts. Going south from Fort Dodge, the column found a main Indian trail at the Sweetwater River and continued on to the eastern edge of the Staked Plains (Llano Estacado).

At 8 a.m. on 30 August, near Mulberry Creek, Lt. Frank B. Baldwin's scouts entered a canyon and were immediately attacked by about 250 Cheyennes concealed in the bluffs. The frontiersmen and the Delawares under Fall Leaf held their ground until the rest of the cavalry came to reinforce. The troops pressed up the canyon, and as they advanced, the Cheyennes withdrew, but they gathered up Kiowas and Comanches in the process. There may have been 500 or more warriors engaged in the moving battle.

Capt. Adna R. Chaffee called out to the 6th Cavalrymen to keep moving. Even the Gatling guns, under Lt. James W. Pope, got into the action. Every time the Indians tried to make a stand, the artillery and Gatling guns would open up, followed by a charge. The chase proceeded 20 miles, across Mulberry Creek, Battle Creek, Hackberry Creek, and the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, then up Tule Canyon. The heat and lack of water forced some troopers to open the veins of their arms to moisten their parched mouths with their own blood.

Finally, the Indians climbed out of the canyon and fled onto the Staked Plains, and Miles found it impossible to pursue any farther. He pulled back to wait for provision wagons from Camp Supply.

The soldiers suffered only two men wounded, while about 17 Indians were killed.
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