Spring Canyon

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

14 June 1865; Campo, Colorado: A 70-ox train owned by Semon Baca of Las Vegas, New Mexico, was traveling the Santa Fe Trail to the States. At the recently established Camp Nichols, about four miles east of the present-day panhandle border of Oklahoma, the train picked up an army escort of 49 men from Company F, 1st California Cavalry, under Capt. Thomas A. Stombs. After one day's march east, at the Willow Bar Crossing of the Cimarron River, they came upon another train. Stombs searched the party for deserters from the California and New Mexican cavalry, but he came up empty-handed.

The Baca train continued east the next day, but at about 2 p.m., near Spring Canyon on the Cimarron, in the extreme southeast corner of Colorado, more than 40 Kiowa and Comanche warriors charged into the train's cattle herd. The Indians lanced one Mexican herder, killing him instantly, and wounded another with an arrow. Stombs's troopers immediately fired and drove the raiders back before they could cut out any cattle from the herd. The Indians ran off with only one mule and three ponies. While the remainder of the company corralled the stock, 30 soldiers pursued the Indians for about six miles before giving up.

Baca requested that Stombs escort his train all the way to Fort Larned, but the captain's orders would not permit it, so they all turned around and went back to Camp Nichols, where Baca hoped to pick up another escort.

Stombs estimated hitting five Indians in the skirmish, with no army casualties and one civilian killed and one wounded.

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