The Tackett Fight

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.

Young County, Texas

    Pleasant Tackett, a Methodist minister, settled in Parker County in 1854. Two years later he moved his family to Young County, and numbered among the first settlers of that section. The Tackett home was located on the old Fort Belknap and Austin Road, about nine miles south of the post, near Fish Creek; so named for the Tacketts broke the ice and caught fish during the severe winter weather.

    Later in the evening of February 13, 1860, one of Mr. Tackett's milk cows came home through the sleet and snow with an arrow sticking in her side. The fighting frontier parson instructed his sons to be in readiness, for it was his intention to chastise the invading enemy.

    Early the next morning, Parson Tackett, and his sons, James, L.L. and Geo. W., backtracked the cows about three-fourths of a mile, to where they found moccasin tracks and saw blankets hanging on the east end of Tackett Mountain. Mr. Tackett thought it unwise to make an open attack, but decided to advance upon the Indians from the north. The Fighting Parson and his sons turned their direction northward and were driving cows when they struck a ravine running east and west. The cattle refused to follow the main trail. They crossed the branch at a point below. This was ample warning to these early Westerners.

    Almost instantly several Indians charged like wild demons. These Indians were under the leadership of old Piny Chummy, who only a few months before lived on the Comanche Reservation, near old Camp Cooper. Mr. Tackett and his sons knew him well, and no doubt, Piny Chummy recognized the Tacketts. Only one Indian fought with a gun. The others used bows and arrows. When Mr. Tackett and his sons fired, they shot the gun from the warriors hands, and the same bullet penetrated his arm and passed on into his body. The gun fired, but the warrior reached down with his other arm and picked it up, only in time to fall oblong on the frozen ground. The Tacketts now made an attempt to fight from behind trees, which stood to east of the Indians and to the east of the old Fort Belknap and Austin road. George and L.L. Tackett were the first to charge for this timber, and in their exciting rush across the icy ground each fell. The Indians thought they had been shot down, so the made a wild rush for their scalps. But the most intense fighting now followed. The two Tackett brothers were instantly on their feet, but one Indian warrior was only about two yards away. The Indians now realized they no longer needed their scalping butcher knives, but needed other instruments instead. George Tackett had sold his six shooter during the preceding day, so he instructed his brother Jim to shoot the nearest Indian, About this time L.L. Tackett filled this warrior full of buck-shot. The Indians were entirely too close to suit their own pleasure. But knew it would be unwise to break and run. So they decided to dance backward in a zigzag way to protect their own retreat.

    But while these Indians were pressing L.L. and Geo. Tackett, the other Tacketts were losing no time in their efforts to fill them full of lead. Old Piny Chummy charged Parson Tackett himself, and the old chief received a mortal wound from the discharge of the parson's gun.

    When the Indians zigzagged backward about thirty or forty yards, Jim Tackett, wounded above the right eye, requested a brother to place a cap on the former's gun. Sighting with his other eye, Jim shot down a warrior about sixty yards away. Jim Tackett used an old brass mounted Youger, which shot a half-ounce ball. After the report of his gun, the blood was seen to spurt from the Indian's back. Four of the red rascals now lay dead on the ground, and the others made their retreat from the presence of Parson Tackett and his sons.

    Mr. Tackett left instructions that the horses be kept in the pens that morning but it seems one pony escaped and was grazing in the valley only a short distance from the fighting. An attempt was made to drive this pony home, but not unlike the cows, he refused to cross the creek at a certain point, and preferred to move westward and cross at the main crossing. It was later discovered that two Indians were hiding in the trail.

    Mr. Tackett and his sons could hear the Indians crying over their dead during the remainder of the day. February 15th, George and L.L. Tackett went to the home of neighbors for assistance, and to report the results of their engagement. Archie B. Medlin, Jim George, T. George, L. Williams, and John Anderson joined the Tackett brothers and they all went back to the scene of fighting. A white flag was found flying from the top of a tree on Tackett Mountain; and under it were as well as blankets and other implements. A few days later, soaring vultures disclosed the graves of four warriors killed in this fight.

    During the early part of the battle, Parson Tackett received a spike in his foot, which he carried for several days and until removed by his son, L.L. Tackett with a pair of bullet molds, commonly used for that purpose on the frontier. Jim Tackett carried a spike above his eye for four months and nine days. It was then removed by Dr. Hill of Springtown.

    Ref: The author interviewed Geo. and L.L. Tackett, who were in the fight; also interviewed A.C. Tackett, a son of Pleasant Tackett, who was at home when the fight occurred; and others living in Young and adjoining counties at the time.

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

Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments