Indians Charge Citizens at the Mustang Water Hole/Citizens Pursue Indians Who Assault Capt. Roach and Others

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.

Brown County, Texas or
Comanche County, Texas

    During February of 1870, Capt. John Roach, horseback and alone, and returning from San Saba County to his home in Comanche, met Frank Brown, Geo. Wallace and Bush Griffon, who were traveling in two wagons loaded with wheat, belonging to Col. Wm. Stone and Enoch James. The last named citizens had stopped at the Mustang Water Hole about four miles south of Newberg in Comanche County. It was now late in the evening. The boys were taking the wheat to San Saba County to be ground. They asked Capt. Roach if he were not afraid to ride his horse alone. Roach replied, "Yes, he is ridden down now." About that time, approximately fifty Indians came storming down the mountain. Capt. Roach, a veteran frontiersman who had fought in the Civil War, had the boys to drive the two wheat wagons together and began firing his six-shooter while they were cutting loose their teams. Roach held the Indians at bay until all three boys had their horses unhitched and then told them to run for their lives. He, himself, mounted a fleet mule but before he had proceeded to a great distance, received an arrow through his lung. Roach ran about two miles and as no Indians were now apparently following him, he dismounted at the Watson Ranch Springs for water, and while on the ground the mule, which was also wounded, died. From here, injured as he was, Capt. Roach walked to the Campbell Ranch about two miles away. When Capt. Roach was within fifty yards of the house, he fell. Since the other boys had already passed and spread the news, when the Captain's groans were heard at the house, African Bill said, "Dat's Massah Roach, and I'se gwine to him." So he took his pistol and started. In a short time, African Bill had Capt. Roach in the house. African Bill then hurried over to Capt. Jim Cunningham's place and reported what had occurred and a runner was sent to Newberg for Dr. Montgomery.

    Before he left the wagon, Frank Brown shot one Indian who was wearing a find beaded breastplate. This breastplate, no doubt, would have protected the savage but Brown discharged a load of buckshot with his gun and one ball found its way under the edge of the plate. Brown, Wallace and Griffon hurried to Comanche and spread the news there.

    Griffon was the only man not wounded but Capt. Roach received the most serious wound. In due time, however, he recovered.

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

Citizens Pursue Indians Who Assault Capt. Roach and Others at the Mustang Water Hole

    The next morning after the Indians charged Capt. Roach and others, as related in the preceding section, Dave Cunningham, and about five other citizens, who lived in southern Comanche County, took the Indian trail from the wagons, and followed it for about eight miles, when they discovered some horses staked in the open. But Dave Cunningham, who was in command, was too shrewd for the savages, and well understood their tricks and intrigues. So they stopped before the horses were reached. It was later discovered the Indians were ambushed about 200 yards from the horses, and had these mere handful of citizens ventured on, would have been trapped. They then turned homeward.

    A much larger group of citizens from Comanche attempted to intercept the Indians as they passed out. But since the savages stopped and had not started for the wild Northwest, the citizens were unable to find them. So, late in the evening of the same day, which was about 24 hours after Capt. Roach and the others were assaulted, Capt. Cunningham and his men, and the citizens from Comanche met at the home of James Cunningham to be ready to make an effect drive, early the next morning. Dave Cunningham was elected captain, James Milligan, "dogman," to look after the bloodhounds, and the following additional citizens were present: Freeman Clark, Joel Nabers, Wm. Cunningham, Joe Cunningham, J. Johnson, a Methodist minister, Sam Powers, a Baptist minister, Wm. Ross, Dan Pinkard, Ike Ward, J.W. Terrell, Tom Jones, Ed Roach, John W. Stephens, Larkin Stone, Billy Cox and about six others, making a total of twenty-three men.

    The next morning they were ready for war. This, of course, was the second morning following the Indians' assault on Capt. Roach and the others. The dogs were taken to the place where Capt. Dave Cunningham and the five others encountered the Indians during the preceding day, and they followed the trails as rapidly as if it were only one hour old. The Indians were followed westward six or seven miles to a point where they butchered one of the oxen. They were followed four or five miles father. The citizens then found a dead pony, and a grave where a dead Indian had been buried. The trail was then followed about twelve miles farther, and about thirty miles north of Brownwood. Near the head springs of Hog Creek, twenty-three citizens came upon fifty-two Indians, about three o'clock in the evening. The Indians only had three or four houses, and were mostly afoot. Capt. Dave Cunningham and his men formed a line and charged. But the fight only lasted a few minutes. The Indians made a hasty retreat, after three of their number had been killed. A savage shot Joel Naber's horse, and then the same Indian shot and killed Freeman Clark. This Indian himself, was killed. The savages were still retreating and about thirty yards farther, a fifth Indian was killed. When they retreated about 100 yards, a sixth savage lay dead on the ground. About two hundred yards further a seventh one was wounded, and he took refuge in a heavy dogwood thicket. Since Joel Nabers was afoot, he, Bill Cunningham, and Ike Ward, were detailed to stay and finish the career of this savage. The others pushed on after the retreating Indians. The remaining Indians were charged about two miles farther, and until they reached the Hog Creek Roughs. The remaining citizens than came back to where the wounded Indian was in the dogwood thicket. It required about an hour and a half longer to finish this savage's career, making the seventh Indian known to have been killed. The savage shot by Brown made eight.

    When the Comanches reached the Fort Sill reservation, it was reported that they had lost three more, making a total of eleven. The citizens lost Freeman Clark, Joel Nabers' horse, and Old Tom, the leading dog of the bloodhounds. Old Tom had been serving the citizens of Comanche County for six years, and was well-trained in Indian warfare. Larkin Stone was slightly wounded.

    Note: Author personally interviewed: Joel Nabers, and Dave Cunningham, both of whom were in the fight; also interviewed others.

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

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