Salt Creek Fight
W. C. "Uncle Billy" Kutch at the monument on the site of
the Salt Creek Indian battle. This site is between Jean and Olney and about one mile north of the
Lemley Cemetery Historical Marker
Marker Title: Lemley Cemetery
Address: Cold Springs Rd. off Old Authon Rd. via FM 920
Year Marker Erected: 1992
Marker Location: From Weatherford, take FM 920 6.6 miles northwest, then 1 mile west on Old Authon Road, turn south onto Cold Springs Road, about 1 mile to cemetery.
Marker Text: The earliest marked grave in this cemetery, that of Elizabeth Moore, dates to 1857. She was buried on part of a 160-acre tract of land settled by the Thomas B. Martin family in 1853 and patented to Martin by the State of Texas six years later. The existence of the cemetery is reflected in the Parker County deed records as early as 1869, when Martin sold his property to John H. and Thomas J. Lemley. The Lemleys came to Texas from Illinois in the mid-1850s and eventually settled in Parker County. The cemetery on their property, which came to be named for them, was used over the years for members of the family, as well as for friends and nearby settlers. Tombstones mark the graves of landowners Thomas Martin and George Lemley, as well as others who lived and died in the area, many of whom were victims of the hardships of pioneer life on the Texas frontier. At least five veterans of the Civil War also are buried here. Many graves are marked only with native rocks. The historic Lemley Cemetery is thus an important reflection of the heritage of this part of Parker County. (1992)
The following story is W. C. Kutch's first-hand acount of the Salt Creek Fight taken from the book, History of Jack County, by Thomas F. Horton.
The local ranches were gathering cattle northwest of Cottonwood Springs when the Indians attacked.
We spied a good-sized bunch a good way off and Shapp Carter and I started to the bunch. When we were just about ready to make the run we heard Henry Harrison call-we knew it meant the Indians had run into them. We looked back to the herd which was just about a mile from us, the Indians had rounded up the boys, the herd and the loose cattle and were just holding them there. Carter said to me, “What does that mean no fighting going on.” I said to him, “I am just waiting to see which way to go.” We were in one-half mile of the timber and one mile from them. I said, “We can get away without any trouble.” He said, “What sort of a tale will we tell when we get home?” Nobody was hurt down there yet. I knew he was gritty, I had tried him before. I said to him, “Now, Shapp, we can start to them, down there, there are boys there that you were raised with, among them, and it looks bad to go off, we can start and when we do some of them will commence coming to meet us. You throw your six-shooter to the left and I will throw mine to the right, but don’t you open the fire.” They met us over half way, run around us, about thirty yards from us and got in behind us but did not shoot. They carried us from there down to where the other boys were with the herd-we run right in to where the boys were. Lemly called out, “Rush on to the timber right to our west” I said, “No, not one of us will ever make it, right on the bald prairie, and fifty-seven Indians around us.”
About three hundred yards there was a right smart of a thicket on the side next to us, on the opposite was a bluff. I said, “Make for that place, turn everything loose.” That was the last resort. Some Indians were standing there who understood everything we said and they made a run and beat us to the place. When they got possession of that place they opened fire on us. We had got into a little basin of a place. I told the boys to dismount and turn everything loose that we would never need the horses any more. All turned them loose, except an African who was with us, his horse was killed in a few minutes.
The fight continued from ten o’clock in the morning till four o’clock in the evening. Will Crow was killed at the commencement of the fight, George Lemly was wounded twice, John Lemly was wounded twice, Rube Segress was wounded twice, Shapp Carter was wounded twice, Jim Gray was wounded twice, I was wounded three times, Jesse McClain was wounded once; Henry Harrison, Joe Woody and the African, Dick, were not wounded.
…They traveled all night in the rain and got to us about eight o’clock the next morning. They loaded the seven wounded men in the wagon and tied the dead man, Crow, on the back of the wagon. There was where our real trouble set in-no roads, the land was full of little ditches, rocks, bunches of grass, the spikes were cutting and grinding all the time.
…We reached the ranch about twelve o’clock. They untied the dead man from the back of the wagon and moved him back under the wagon. I told them to get John Lemley out as quickly as possible for he was dying. Lemley was dead when they got him out. This was the old picket house with a dirt floor. Harmison and all his men gave up all of their bedding and they made pallets all around in the house to put the wounded down. I was the last one to come into the house and there was only a corn sack for my pallet. This man, Whitten, had pulled spikes out of Bill Peveler. I asked him if he had any pinchers about the place. He did not. He finally remarked, “I’ve got a pair of Colts navy six-shooter molds.” I said, “Get them.” I told Whitten to take the molds and pull the spikes from me. He said he could not do it. I told him I knew better-I said, “You are the man who pulled the spikes out of Ben Peveler that the Indians shot into him.” He said, “Yes, but I have no tools to work with.” I told him, “You’ve got all the tools right here that are necessary.” He wanted me to wait till the doctors got there, I told him it might be night before they got there and as a matter of course they will work on the ones suffering worst, first. He finally consented to undertake it, he put a man to each foot and each hand and A. C. Tackett to hold my head. He cut a hole in the flesh to the bone where the arrow went in and after hard pulling he got it out. The boys gave him some handkerchiefs and he bound it up the best he could. I was lying flat on the ground and an arrow had struck me in the top of the shoulder and ran down and lodged in the bottom of my shoulder blade. He cut a hole in my shoulder and ran the bullet molds down there and pulled it out. The third arrow they shot into me went about half the length of an arrow into my leg. I got that one out myself. The doctors came about sundown. They worked on the wounded until next morning. That day was the second after the fight. They got an ambulance and a wagon or two and were fixing to take us all home. We got to Flat Top Springs, three miles north of where Graham now is and stopped for a while. Shapp Carter died there. His father had come to us and they took him on down home that evening. They carried us down to the old salt works, where Graham now is, after so long a time. The balance of us got up and were ready to go. We left part of the wounded there and left one doctor with them. Only three were able to travel and able to be carried on home from there.
During this battle we had lost two hundred cattle, thirty-one head of horses, the pack mule, all our bedding, our provisions, and our ammunition was just about out when the fight ended.
The following story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.
After spending the night on Flint Creek, north of the old Murphy Station, a group of cowmen, who were on a roundup, waded their horses knee-deep through the luxurious wild flowers, found so abundantly in northern Young County, and started to their herd, approximately two miles away. It was Monday, May 16, 1869. For several days, fresh Indian signs had been discovered. So these cowmen realized that the approximately five hundred head of cattle, already gathered, would attract the attention of the savages for many miles. Consequently the Texans camped about two miles distant from the bawling herd, to avoid, if possible, a night conflict with the barbarous hordes of the plains.
It was a damp day. The spring breezes were blowing intermittent flurries of rain. And about the usual hour, the cowmen began to slowly move their cattle. Ira Graves assumed command, and with him were: Wm. Crow, John Lemley, Geo. Lemley, C. L. (Shap) Carter, Jason McClain, W. C. Kutch, J. W. Gray, Henry Harrison, Rube Secris, Joe Woody, and African Dick, a cook.
After the herd had been drifted for about four miles, several cattle were seen grazing in the distance. So C. L. (Shap) Carter and W. C. Kutch were detailed to bring them in. Kutch and Carter galloped away. They had hardly gone two miles, however, when the two heard the shrill voices of many shouting demons behind them. The peaceful prairies, which only a few moments before, were waving with millions of wild flowers, seemed to have suddenly transformed into a sea of raging red men. Carter and Kutch could have easily escaped into the timber, but realizing the plight of their companions, these faithful frontiersmen dashed almost through approximately fifty-seven painted Indians, to reach their associates, who were also rapidly riding to join Kutch and Carter. The cowboys, only armed with cap and ball six-shooters, rushed toward a little ravine; but when within a few yards, discovered that it was already occupied by a large band of Indians. They were then compelled to retreat, and assume a location in a little depression to the right. This depression drained into one of the prongs of Salt Creek. Their position, then, was about five miles southeast of the present city of Olney, in Young County. Jason McClain and J. W. Gray were already seriously wounded, and since the little wash-out was so shallow, the dozen cowmen were forced to lie down. It was now about ten o'clock in the morning, and again and again the Indians' onslaughts were repulsed by the cowmen. Wm. Crow was instantly killed during the early stages of the battle, when a rifle ball penetrated his head; George Lemley seriously wounded in the face, and before the fight was over, every man received a painful wound, excepting Henry Harrison and Joe Woody. But still the twelve citizens realized their dangerous predicament, and waged one of the most bloody and dangerous battles ever fought on the West Texas frontier. With one man dead, and nine others seriously and mortally wounded, their very existence was suspended by rotten twine. Each savage charge and onslaught came sweeping like a death dealing tide and threatened to completely destroy the Texans so poorly armed.
While the battle was most intense, the citizens discovered ammunition was growing low. So the besieged cowboys began to feel their last hopes were gone. But it was agreed the wounded would load the guns while others did the shooting. When the horses were shot down, their dead bodies afforded the frontiersmen additional breastworks. After the Indians realized the citizens were not being dislodged, they tried new tactics, which seemed to be in accord with the command of the main chief, not in the fight, but stationed on a nearby hill. The Indians attempted to slip up the branch below, but when they did, five or six of their number fell wounded.
The savages were under the immediate command of an African, who seemed to inspire the Indians to fight far more desperately. Finally, however, about five o'clock in the evening, the chief summoned his warriors by his side, and to his place of eminence on a nearby hill. It seems the savages were holding a council of war preparatory to make a final drive. But just at this moment, perhaps, the cowboys were saved by their own perseverance, and strategy of Capt. Ira Graves, who ordered every cowboy, regardless of whether well or wounded, to stand up and wave defiance at the wild demons. Most every one, excepting Wm. Crow, stood up, and this bit of strategy, no doubt, caused the Indians to think that after fighting for six or seven hours, and after losing several of their own number, the citizens had scarcely been harmed. And too, during the last part of the fighting, Capt. Ira Graves and his men had been shooting at the Indian leaders, and this apparently caused considerable consternation in the savage ranks. So the Indians discharged a final volley or two, and then drove the cattle away.
When the Indians retreated, Wm. Crow had been dead for several hours, C. L. (Shap) Carter had a severe arrow wound in his body, and had been also painfully injured with a rifle ball. John Lemley was mortally wounded in the abdomen with an arrow; J. W. Gray had been twice struck with rifle balls, once in the body and one in the leg; W. C. Kutch had two arrow heads in his knee, and one in his shoulder; Jason McClain had been twice wounded with arrows; Rube Secris had his mouth badly torn, and his knee shattered; Geo. Lemley had his face badly torn, and an arrow wound in his arm; and Ira Graves and African Dick were also wounded. Henry Harrison was dispatched to the Harmison Ranch, several miles away for aid. John Lemley died from the effects of his wound sometime in the evening following the battle.
During the dreadful night that followed, the citizens stood guard and waited on the wounded as best they could. The next morning, their souls were inspired when they saw a wagon approaching in the distance. And according to reports, A. C. Tackett, Bob Whitten, and Theodore Miller, assisted in moving the cowboys, and removing some of the spikes from their bodies. Messengers were also dispatched for Dr. Getzwelder, of old Black Springs in Palo Pinto County, and Dr. Gunn, the U. S. Army surgeon, at Fort Richardson. But it was nearly twenty-four hours after the fight was over, before these surgeons arrived. C. L. (Shap) Carter died the next day after the fight, and his death made the third victim of this battle. About two years later, Jason McClain, who helped move a large herd of cattle over the trail, died in Kansas, and his death was attributed to the wounds received in this battle, which numbered among the most desperate, dangerous, and bloody engagements ever fought on the west Texas frontier.
Note: Author personally interviewed: A. C. George, and L. L. Tackett; John Marlin; Henry Williams; Mann Johnson; J. B. Terrell; F. M. (Babe) Williams; Uncle Pink Brooks; A. M. Lasater; James Wood; B. L. Ham; Mrs. H. G. Taylor; E. K. Taylor; Mrs. Huse Bevers; Mrs. Jerry Hart; and several others who lived on the frontier at the time.
Further Ref: History of Young Co., by Judge P. A. Martin, as published in the Graham paper, and W. C. Kutch's own account of this fight, as published in the Star-Telegram and Graham paper. Clippings from these papers were furnished by J. B. Terrell, but we are unable to supply the dates.
The following story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.
May 18, 1871, the next day after General Sherman, Gen. Marcy, and their escorts passed over the road between Fort Belknap and Fort Richardson, and two years and two days after the famous Salt Creek Fight, a wagon train, loaded with corn, and belonging to Capt. Henry Warren, who was a contractor at Ft. Griffin, was attacked by Chief Satanta, Satauk, (Satank), Big Tree, and perhaps other chiefs in command of about 100 warriors, not a great distance from Flat Top Mountain, about half-way between Fort Richardson and Fort Belknap, and on the identical road over which Gen. Sherman, Gen. Marcy and others passed during the preceding day. The train, when attacked, was under the command of Nathan S. Long, wagon-master. Many warriors were armed with the most modern rifles, known at that time. The teamsters were as helpless as children, Nathan Long, John Mullins, J. S. and Samuel Elliot, B. J. Baxter, Jesse Bowman, and James Williams, were killed. Thomas Brazeale was seriously wounded, but escaped, and R. A. Day, and Charles Brady, escaped unharmed. Samuel Elliott was burned to death. The savages chained him to the wheel of a wagon so he could not move, and then built a fire around his feet. It was difficult for Gen. Sherman, Gen. Mary and others to believe that the Indians had committed such crimes. After making a personal investigation, Col. McKenzie reported to Gen. Sherman that the report was true, as related. Thomas Brazeale, the wounded man, also found his way to Jacksboro, and related how the savage tigers from the reservation near Ft. Sill sprang upon the defenseless teamsters, killed seven of their number, one of whom was burned to death, and carried away about forty mules, as well as such other things that seemed to suit their fancy.
This example of savage butchery has often been referred to as the Monument Fight, for after it happened, Capt. Henry Warren erected a nicely painted wooden monument where the tragedy occurred. We are told that this monument decayed and disappeared many years ago.
William Tecumseh Sherman, General of the Army, traveled north on an inspection tour of the forts. He was accompanied by Inspector General Randolph B. Marcy, who had been retained by United States government twenty years prior for several explorations, including, blazing a southern route to Santa Fe, locating the head waters of the Brazos and the -Red Rivers and, with Major Neighbors, establishing suitable locations for the Indian Reservations. Sherman and Marcy were accompanied by two staff members and only fifteen calvary men.
Mackenzie dispatched his Adjutant, R. G. Carter, and a detachment to intercept and escort the General and his party. This precaution was prudent, considering the 80 plus miles the party traveled between Ft. Griffin and Ft. Richardson, at its midpoint, crossed the Salt Creek Prairie, considered one of the most dangerous places on the entire United States frontier. These were the closest settlements to the Indian Territory (United States Indian Policy did not allow pursuit of the Indians onto the Reservations) so they were not only most convenient targets of short raids-, but also the first and last targets of opportunity for longer raids.
Sherman gracefully declined Carter's assistance indicating an air of nonchalance which suited his political philosophy about the degree of danger presented by Indians. When Marcy pointed out to Sherman that the area was dramatically less inhabited than it was when he had passed through there twenty years prior, Sherman pointed out the houses were spaced far apart and did not indicate serious concern on the part of the builders for Indian defense.
Sherman believed a large portion of the raiders to be ex-Confederate renegades, and he had written to General J. J. Reynolds, commander of the department of Texas:
"I have seen not a trace of an Indian thus far, and only hear stories of people which indicate that what ever Indians there be, only come to Texas to steal horses... and the people within a hundred miles of the frontier ought to take precautions such as all people do against all sort of thieves... but up to this point the people manifest no fears or apprehensions, for they expose women and children singly on the road and in cabins far off from others as though they were in Illinois."
Sherman's party crossed Salt Creek unaware that they were being watched by a Kiowa raiding party of one hundred fifty warriors, led by Chiefs Satank and Satanta, accompanied by the mysterious medicine man, Maman-ti. Upon their ascension to the top of the hill, Maman-ti consulted with his owl, a symbol of death to the Kiowa. They feared even to look at an owl, which was fortunate for Maman-ti because his was only an owl skin with button eyes; he could blow air into the owl skin causing the wings to flap. He told the braves the owl warned against attacking the first target they saw, but glory would be theirs if they waited for the second. Luckily for Sherman, they saw his party first. Sometime later, traveling in the opposite direction towards Ft. Griffin, the Warren wagon train and its teamsters were the unfortunate ones.
Satanta (White Bear) blew his trumpet signaling the attack. As they charged, the drivers attempted to circle their wagons. Addo-etta (Big Tree) and Yellow Wolf cut off the lead mules, scoring the first two coup. The teamsters opened fire, wounding --Red War Bonnet, a Kiowa, and killing Or-dlee, a Comanche. Big Tree shot one of the drivers out of his seat. Light-Haired-Young-Man, a Kiowa-Apache, was knocked off his horse and carried from the fight.
The warriors circled the train, their fire killing three more drivers and wounding a fourth. The remaining seven bolted through a gap in the -circling Indians and sprinted -toward the timber around Cox Mountain. Two more died as they ran and a third was injured. The Indians didn't pursue them into the timber, returning to their primary interest, the booty in the wagons. They continued circling the train, unsure of the number of defenders still remaining. An inexperienced young Kiowa, named Hautau (Gun Short), charged a wagon. As he touched the canvas to claim it, Samuel Elliott, lying wounded inside the wagon, shot him in the face. Elliott was overtaken and chained, face down, to a wagon tongue and roasted over a slow fire.
At this time in Ft. Richardson, Sherman was receiving local citizens who related their individual accounts of the Indian atrocities they had encountered. The settlers recounted hundreds of deaths, and kidnappings in the depredations which had occurred over the last decade. Sherman was polite but unmoved, and spent the evening at a reception in his honor attended by the officers and their wives. Later that night he was awakened from his sleep and informed of the fate of the wagon train on the road he had just crossed. Now visibly moved, he ordered Mackenzie to take a detachment to investigate the report, and if true, to pursue the raiders even to the Reservation.
Mackenzie departed with four cavalry companies consisting of over two hundred men, and headed west along the Butterfield Road in a heavy rain storm. Confirming the report, Mackenzie searched to the north for over 20 days with no success. On June 4th, the detachment arrived at Ft. Sill to find the leaders of the raid in chains and Sherman already departed, continuing his inspection tour into Missouri.
A Quaker Indian agent, Lauwrie Tatum and Colonel Grierson, commander of Ft. Sill, greeted General Sherman upon his arrival at the fort on May 23. When informed about the wagon train massacre at Salt Creek, Tatum stated that Satanta's tribe was reported off the reservation and he would make inquiries, several days later when Indians picked up their rations. When asked, Satanta, in a proud statement, had not only condemned himself, but also Big Tree, Satank and Eagle Heart as accomplices.
When given the information, Sherman, lacking authority to make arrest on the reservation, asked Tatum to call the chiefs to a meeting on the porch of Colonel Grierson's home at the Fort Sill. A large number of chiefs gathered and Satanta again confirmed that it was he that had led the raid, and if anyone said different, they would be a liar. Sherman stated that Satanta, Satank, Big Tree and Eagle Heart were under arrest and would be sent to Texas to stand trial for murder, and that the Kiowa tribe would be responsible for returning the mules stolen in the raid.
Satanta then changed his story, saying he only went along to blow his bugle (signaling commands to his warriors and confusing the commands given by the army) and observe the young men learning to be warriors. Kicking Bird offered to produce a large number of mules in retribution, but pleaded that they not arrest the chiefs.
Then the shutters around the porch banged open and dozens of previously concealed soldiers brought their rifles to bear on the gatheNative Americans who had weapons concealed beneath their blankets. In the next few seconds, one warrior was killed and Eagle Heart escaped. The remaining three suspects chiefs were arrested and put in irons and confined awaiting their deportation to Texas.
On the morning of June 8th, Mackenzie and his troops left Ft. Sill, escorting the wagon containing the three manacled chiefs on their way to stand trial in Jacksboro. Satank told a Caddo scout "Tell my people I died beside the road. My bones will be found there. Tell my people to gather them up and carry them away." The old chief then covered his head with a blanket and began his death song.
Over the next mile he had chewed enough of his hand off to escape a manacle. With a concealed knife, he stabbed one of the guards in the wagon and grabbed a rifle but before he could fire, Corporal John B. Charlton killed him. The soldiers left his body by the road approximately where he predicted he would be, and proceeded to Jacksboro with the surviving two chiefs.
The trial was a nationwide media event, as it was the first time raiding Indians had been made to stand trial for their deeds in the community where they committed their crimes. Newspapers across the country carried headlines stating that twelve Jacksboro jurors had found them guilty of murder and that Judge Charles Soward sentenced them to be hanged.
General/Texas Governor Edmund J. Davis
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Governor Edmund J. Davis was ultimately pressured to overturn the sentence. He was swayed by two sound arguments, first that the Kiowa would be easier to control if there existed a possibility of the Chiefs being returned, and second that Indians feared confinement more than death. Thus, on August 2, 1871, he commuted their sentences to life imprisonment.
The chiefs were sent to the Huntsville State Penitentiary and paroled in 1873. They immediately violated their parole by leading new raids into Texas and both were eventually rearrested. Satanta died of a fall from an upper story window while in prison. Big Tree was eventually released and helped establish and became a deacon in a Baptist church in Oklahoma.
Mrs. Barbara Belding-Gibson points our in her book, Painted Pole, that the freeing of Satanta and Big Tree was a successful ploy by Lone Wolf to get them released. He represented himself to the U. S. as premier chief of the Kiowa and one who could speak for the Comanche. He insisted he would have to confer with Big Tree and Satanta before he could go to D. C. and make a treaty. The Indians were transported to St. Louis to meet with Lone Wolf then returned to Huntsville while he went to Washington. There he declared he couldn't control his young warriors without the aid of Big Tree and Satanta. If they weren't going to be released, he promised there would be open warfare. The United States representatives agreed without authority and then pressured Governor Davis to release the Indians.
Unaware of the advent of General Sherman the Indians also were planning brilliant affairs-though of a somewhat different nature. At their camp on the North Fork of Red River, near the present site of Granite, they were sitting around the council fire passing the war pipe from one brave to another. Kiowas, Kiowa-Apaches, and Comanches were invited to participate in a great raid against the Tehannas. A hundred chiefs and lesser warriors accepted the pipe.
At this point a sinister figure emerges from the obscurity of the past. It is Do-ha-te (Medicine Man), the Owl Prophet. This Kiowa war chief and medicine man was one of the strongest personalities the tribe produced. Though scarcely known to the whites, he was the secret instigator and directing spirit of nearly every major raid made by the Kiowas in the early seventies. Known vaguely to the authorities under his real name, Maman-ti (Touching-the-Sky, or Sky-Walker), this dread personality is scarcely mentioned in written history. But today ask any old Kiowa who was the leader of the great raid in 1871, when the wagon-teamsters were killed, and the answer is, invariably, "Do-ha-te!"
If you know your history you ask, "but wasn't Satanta the leader on that raid?"
Again the reply: "Oh, Satanta. Yes, he was there. He took a leading part. But Do-ha-te was the leader."
Maman-ti was not sinister to his own people. They saw him as a person of authority and wisdom-tall, straight, kindly, and generous. Through superior intellect he could influence the tribe, and pretend to foretell events by occult mens; he was relied upon to bring to a successful conclusion any warlike effort.
About the middle of May, while Sherman was riding along the Butterfield Trail, skeptical of Indian peril, this great war party led by Maman-ti rode south toward the Texas Settlements. The Indians crossed Red River between the sites of Vernon and Electra. Here at a place they call Skunk Headquarters, on account of the prevalence of skunks in the vicinity, they cached their saddles, blankets, and other unnecessary impedimenta. The spare horses also were left here, hobbled to prevent their straying away. A few young boys remained to guard the headquarters; the main body pushed rapidly toward the inhabited districts. Since they hoped to bring back many horses and mules, some of the men were without mounts. They rode double, or ran along holding to the tails of other animals. Extra bridles and lariats were taken along for the stock they expected to steal.
On May 17 the Indians entered Young County and headed for the Butterfield Trail, about halfway between Forts Belknap and Richardson. This was a favorite place. Sooner or later some white man would be sure to ride along the road, and the locality was remote from any town or military post.
After dark Maman-ti consulted his oracle. He sat apart on the side of a hill while the rest of the warriors crouched in silence listening for the voice of a dead ancestor. Soon it came in the cry of a hoot owl: "Hoom-hoom, hoom-hoom,"-several times repeated. The soft rustle of wings was heard. Then all way quiet. The medicine mad stood up, raised his arms, and, slowing intoning, interpreted the message of the owl.
"Tomorrow two parties of Tehannas will pass this way. The first will be a small party. Perhaps we could overcome it easily. Many of you will be eager to do so. But it must not be attacked. The medicine forbids. Later in the day another party will come. This one may be attacked. The attack will be successful."
At daybreak the Indians took position on a conical sandstone hill which commanded a long stretch of the stage road from where it crossed the head of the north branch of Flint Creek to a point some three miles east thereof, where it disappeared around the end of Cox Mountain. Between this hill and Cox Mountain was a broad open plain, sometimes called Salt Creek Prairie (though Salt Creek lies eight miles to the west). This field was at that time sparsely dotted with mesquite, with a few trees lining Flint Creek at the foot of the hill, and a heavier growth of scrub oak near Cox Mountain, where the timbered area begins. It was an ideal place for an ambush. The leader planned to allow the enemy to reach the middle of the plain, far from the shelter of the woods, then sweep down upon them from the hill.
Toward noon some of the scouts, who were peering through the brush on the north shoulders of the hill, saw a vehicle, preceded by a small group of mounted men, trot smartly through the trees near Flint Creek and head east across the plain. At once there was a great deal of excited whispering. The enemy were too far away to determine how strong they were. Some of the young braves wanted to attack. But the medicine man obstinately refused to permit it. Perhaps through experience or native cunning he was aware that white soldiers traveled with advance parties thrown out in front. Or maybe he had genuine faith in his powers as a prophet. At any rate the Indians allowed General Sherman (for it was Sherman's party they saw) to ride safely past, all blissfully unaware that a hundred pairs of savage eyes observed his passage.
Two or three hours passed. No other quarry appeared. Some of the young men became impatient. They had come for action, and were not getting it. They wanted to leave the band and set out for themselves. But Maman-ti held them there. Finally, toward mid-afternoon, a wagon train was seen approaching from the east. The Indians watched eagerly as ten lumbering, white-topped vehicles crawled around the north end of Cox Mountain and moved across the open plain toward them. With heels raised to prod their ponies they waited for the signal to charge.
Maman-ti waited until the wagons were in the center of the plain. Then he motioned to Satanta, who sat with a bugle in his hand. Satanta raised the instrument to give the signal. But even as it touched his lips the Indians were away at a mad gallop.
Down the slope they swept. It was a race to see who should win first coup. Second, third, and fourth coups counted also. To kill an enemy counted much. But to touch him first meant more. Several coups made a man a chief. A fast horse was a tremendous advantage. So was reckless daring.
Yellow Wolf had both. He was in the lead, closely followed by the renowned young chief, Big Tree. The rest of the horde thundered in the rear. The warriors were strung well out, with the old plugs and dismounted men toiling in the dust far behind. As the Indians emerged from the mesquite along the dry watercourse of Flint Creek the white men saw them coming. Hastily they turned off the road and began to corral their wagons.
The Indians commenced yipping shrilly and shooting off their guns at every jump. They were upon the wagon train before the corral was finished. Yellow Wolf rode between the last wagon and the others, cutting it off. The teamsters were on the ground, snatching at rifles carried in the leather boots fastened to the wagon bodies. Big Tree made a first coup. Yellow Wolf made second. Two Kiowa-Apaches were close after. Then as Yellow Wolf wheeled to the west again the firing commenced. Indians and whites were running here and there in the dust and smoke. Yellow Wolf saw a man jump off his horse and come running forward to engage in a hand-to-hand fight with the teamsters. It was Or-dlee, A Comanche. Suddenly, he dropped, shot dead. Red Warbonnet, a Kiowa chief, was wounded in the thigh. The whites were shooting "dangerously." Suddenly the Indians became wary. They pulled off and commenced whirling round and round the wagons in a yelling, shooting, pinwheel of color. Scarlet-and-white war bonnets mingled with cotton-like puffs of white smoke, yellow dust, and navy-blue loin cloths. Overhead black storm clouds were gathering across the sky. They held up the sun, whose divergent fingers reached down through gaps to touch as with a golden spotlight the fury below. It shone from polished bow, lance and carbine. It fell unheeded on desperate, frightened white men.
Three or four teamsters were killed in the first rush. The Indians did not know how many more there might be. As they rushed around and round the wagons they saw others kneeling on the grass firing from under the wagons, through the wheels. As Yellow Wolf made his second circle he saw Tson-to-goodle (Light-haired Young Man), a Kiowa-Apache, wounded in the knee. The Apache slipped from his horse and bounced in the dust. Two companions dragged him away. Several hundred yards to the west stood two women, Yo-koi-te, and another whose name is forgotten, lustily participating in the fight with shrill "tongue-rattling." Satanta may have been blowing signals on his bugle. Yellow Wolf doesn't remember. But, he says, even if the bugle had blown, no one would have paid any attention to it.
Yellow Wolf, galloping around to the east, saw a little group of white men cut out of the corral on foot and start to run towards Cox Mountain. There happened to be an opening in the savage circle on the east; they broke through it. One was shot down after running a little way. Six more kept going. Only a few Indians pursued. They thought there were plenty more whites still in the corral. Near the timber one other white was killed. The remaining five disappeared in the blackjacks. The Indians turned back; they were afraid they would lose their share of the plunder. The Indians continued to circle, watching closely. No firing was coming from the corral. Maybe it was some kind of trap. Yellow saw one of the whites, the one who had been with the last wagon, lying in the open gap between that wagon and the corral. This was the one Big Tree had killed. The one Eagle Heart killed was lying close to the corral on the north side. Yellow Wolf also saw a dead man on the ground just inside the corral. Did he kill this man? Yellow Wolf does not say. In the excitement he did not see any other bodies. The Indians were using Spencer carbines, breech-loading rifles, pistols, and bows. Most of the firearms had been purchased from Caddo George, at his "store" near Anadarko. Yellow Wolf had a gun he had captured that year from a settler in Texas.
The sky was growing darker. A big storm was coming. The Indians were anxious to finish the work and get away. But no one dared approach the wagons too soon. Some of the whites might be waiting for them.
"Keep back! It's too dangerous!" shouted the older man. "Let's get them from behind."
Hau-tau (Gun-shot) would not listen. It was his first battle, his first chance to win a point in the race for chieftainship. He ran toward the wagons. No enemy appeared. He retired a few steps in indecision. White Horse and Set-maunte, more experienced, tried to hold him back. He evaded their grasp. He rushed to another wagon, touched it.
"I claim this wagon, and all in it, as mine!" he shouted in exultation.
At that moment a wounded teamster inside the wagon lifted up the canvas sheet and shot Hau-tau full in the face. The young Kiowa fell to the ground, horribly wounded. White Horse and Set-maunte were laying their hands on the mules to claim them. They ran to pick up Hau-tau. He was still breathing. They dragged him out of the way. At this point the Indian account breaks off abruptly. Yellow Wolf declines to say more except that the Indians, enraged by the shooting of Hau-tau, proceeded to "tear up everything." After the affair was over the Indians went back to the hill from which they had started their charge, driving with them the captured mules. The placed Or-dlee, the dead Comanche, in a crevice on the south side of the hill, and piled rocks over him. Then they tied the wounded men to horses and rode north. Soon a general storm broke. The heavy rainfall turned the streams into floods. The Indians made slow progress.
No white man survived to describe the last tragic moments of the massacre. What occurred must be pieced together from the descriptions of the scene written by Mackenzie and his officers. The advance detachment of soldiers arrived before dark on May 19. The rain was still coming down in torrents. The bodies of the teamsters, swollen and bloated beyond recognition, were lying in several inches of water. The place was a litter of opened grain sacks, broken wagons, pieces of harness, arrows, and bits of cloth. Mackenzie's surgeon made the following report of what he found:
Colonel R. S. Mackenzie,
I have the honor to report that in compliance with your instructions I examined on May 19, 1871, the bodies of five citizens killed near Salt Creek by Indians on the previous day. All the bodies were riddled with bullets, covered with gashes, and the skulls crushed, evidently with an axe found bloody on the place; some of the bodies exhibited also signs of having been stabbed with arrows. One of the bodies was even more mutilated than the others, it having been found fastened with a chain to the pole of a wagon lying over a fire with the face to the ground, the tongue being cut out. Owing to the charred condition of the soft parts it was impossible to determine whether the man was burned before or after his death. The scalps of all but one were taken.
"I have the honor to be, colonel, your obedient servant,
(signed) "J. H. Patzki, "Asst Surgeon, U.S.A."
Mackenzie had the corpses placed in one of the wagon bodies and buried near the road. The soldiers set up two small stones over the grave, cut with seven marks to indicate the number of bodies. The grave may still be seen, a mile west of Monument School, in the field owned by Mr. James Barnett.
The floods hampered Mackenzie in his pursuit of the Indians. Furthermore he was twenty-four hours' march behind them, and the trail had been obliterated by the rain. On the twentieth Mackenzie was on the south bank of the Little Wichita, waiting for the water to subside. The Indians were farther north, crossing the Big Wichita. They made crude boats from willow branches covered with canvas. In these they placed their guns, plunder, and wounded men. They propelled the craft across the swift river by swimming on either side and pushing.
Quitan and Tomasi, Mexican-captive members of the Kiowa tribe, were great buffalo hunters. Together with two other Kiowas they lingered behind the main body to kill some buffalo, which then were running in from the west and swimming the river. They had slaughtered twelve or more, and were engaged in cutting them up when they were surprised by twenty-five men of the Fourth Cavalry under Lieutenant Peter M. Boehm. Boehm was returning to Fort Richardson after a thirty-day scout. In the sharp exchange of shots which followed, one trooper and two horses of Lieutenant Boehm's detachment were wounded. Tomasi and his horse were killed. The other Indians sprang on their ponies, mingled with the buffalo herd, and swam the river. When the main body of Indians heard the shots and saw the fugitives flying toward them they raced away. Quitan brought up the rear. The ground was soft and muddy. When the Indians stopped to catch their breath Quitan arrived, covered with mud thrown up by the flying hoofs. They gave him a big laugh and went on their way north. Boehm's men scalped Tomasi. They took the scalp to Fort Richardson, where Boehm presented it as a souvenir to the regimental adjutant, Lieutenant Carter.
Although the Kiowa raiders were burdened with the wounded Hau-tau, they moved rapidly across Red River and regained their village safely. A few days later Hau-tau died. "The screw worms got into his head," they explain. The death of Hau-tau brought the Indian fatalities to a total of three: Or-dlee, Tomasi, and Hau-tau. But the Indians were more than satisfied. They had killed seven whites, captured forty-one mules, and brought back much other plunder. They felt full of pride and importance.
The above story is from the book, Carbine & Lance, The Story of Old Fort Sill, by Colonel W. S. Nye; Copyright © 1937 by the University of Oklahoma Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The following story is from the book, The Men Who Wear the Star, by Charles M. Robinson, III. Over the last decade, this young historian has authored engaging and informative works dealing with this region's history including Bad Hand, Satanta and The Men Who Wear The Star. It is because of the exceptional readability of his piece covering this famous fight that it is offered here.
Jones, with an escort of about twenty-five men, arrived at the headquarters of Capt. G. W. Stevens's Company B, at the old Ranger post of Fort Murrah, on June 10. The following day he ordered the entire company to move about ten miles east to Salt Creek, where the grass and water were better. There they received word that a band of Comanches had attacked and killed a cowboy named Heath at Oliver Loving's corral, and tracks were plainly visible.
Gui-tain, nephew of Chief Lone Wolf
(Photo from the book, Carbine & Lance, The Story of Old Fort
Sill, by Colonel W. S. Nye; Copyright © 1937 by the University
of Oklahoma Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The next morning Jones sent a scouting detail consisting of two men from his own escort along with two from Stevens's company under the command of Lt. Tom Wilson. They reported a large trail heading southeast, out toward the dangerous Salt Creek Prairie. Jones broke camp immediately, taking Stevens, Wilson, and thirty-three members of the battalion to follow the trail. The group also probably included several volunteers drawn from Loving's cowboys. Unknown to the Rangers, however, this was not the trail of the Comanches who had hit Loving's corral-it belonged to a much larger party of about fifty Kiowas, including some of that nation's greatest warriors. It was a murder raid, organized by Paramount Chief Lone Wolf to avenge the deaths of his favorite son and nephew, both killed the year before in a fight with federal cavalry in south Texas. The party was led by Maman-ti, the wily and gifted medicine man responsible for the most successful Kiowa raids. Before leaving the Indian Territory, Maman-ti had consulted his oracles and predicted a successful expedition in which at least one white would die without any losses to the Kiowas. None of the warriors had any reason to doubt him.
The Salt Creek Prairie, isolated but well traveled, had always been good raiding ground for the Kiowas. Almost as soon as they came out onto the prairie, they jumped four cowboys, but the cowboys, mounted on fresh horses, escaped; the Kiowa ponies, exhausted by the long trip from Oklahoma, were unable to keep up. The failure to take the cowboys, along with the incredible, windswept loneliness of the prairie, discouraged some of the younger warriors. Sitting on a hill overlooking the valley, they began muttering among themselves, and Lone Wolf gave them a dressing-down.
"Don't be scared," he commanded. "If any Texans come and chase us, don't be afraid. Be brave. Let's try and kill some of them. That's what we came here for."
At that moment, one warrior spotted the glint of the sun on metal off in the distance, a sign more whites were coming. Maman-ti led them along the ridge where they could get a better view and saw a large party of well-armed men, all wearing white hats.
The Rangers had already followed the trail some fifteen miles. Now it was very fresh, and they estimated at least fifty warriors. They found where the Indians had stopped to water their horses, and where they had killed and roasted some cattle. They rode past the rough monument that soldiers had erected over the mass grave of the teamsters massacred during Sherman's 1871 visit, and but lost the trail as it led into rough and rocky ground approaching the hill. Some of the younger, more inexperienced men rode ahead to find it again.
As the Rangers continued into Lost Valley, expecting to see the Indians ahead on the open plain, the Kiowas backtracked, crossing the Ranger trail and circling around above them, keeping under the cover of the hills. Maman-ti had worked out a trap. He concealed most of the Kiowas in a gorge in the hills, then he and another warrior rode down into the valley and dismounted to lead their horses where they would be in plain view. Spotting them, Jones led his men straight into the snare as the other warriors charged out from among the boulders and mesquite thickets. The major held his men together as the Indians circled. Ranger Lee Corn received a gunshot wound that broke his shoulder and nearly took off his arm. Separated from the rest, he managed to crawl into the brush and hide. Another Ranger named Wheeler stayed with him and helped bandage the arm. Most of the Rangers were caught in the open, and Stevens told Jones, "Major, we will have to get to cover somewhere or all be killed."
Jones ordered a charge that broke through the Indian line, and the Rangers managed to get into a thicket in a gully but were cut off from water. Several had lost their horses in the charge, and Ranger George Moore had a flesh wound in the lower leg. William "Billy" Glass was shot down and left for dead. The Indians, Jones noted, "are all well armed with improved breech loading guns (they used no arrows in the fight) all well mounted, and painted, and deck [sic] out in gay and fantastic style." There was no question in his mind that they were out for blood.
The two sides began sniping at each other, with Billy Glass lying out on the plain between them. Terrified of what would happen if he was captured alive, he called out, "Don't let them get me. Won't some of you fellows help?" The Rangers responded with a heavy covering fire while three men dashed out and brought him in.
The Indians were making trouble along a ridge to the rear, and Rangers William Lewis and Walter Robertson volunteered to hold that position while the others held the front. Jones took them to find the best spot, and as they settled down he told them, "Boys, stay here until they get you or until the fight is over."
Later, during a lull in the shooting, Lieutenant Wilson went to see how they were doing. He was sitting under a tree fanning himself with his hat and describing the Kiowas in the strongest Anglo-Saxon terms when Lewis said, "Lieutenant you ought not to swear like that. Don't you know that you might be killed at any minute?"
"That is just so, boys," Wilson agreed and became quiet. A few minutes later, a Kiowa bullet cut a limb overhead, bringing it down on the lieutenant's bare head. As the blood poured down, he momentarily thought he had been shot. A later examination of the tree showed it had been shot to pieces on the side facing the Indians.
The Kiowas, meanwhile, were settling down for a siege. In a murder raid, the purpose was enemy scalps with no losses to their own side, and they were taking no unnecessary chances. The day was hot and the Rangers were about a mile from the nearest water. The Indians decided to wait them out. None of their own had been hurt. The wounded whites were calling for water, but Jones had forbidden anyone to try to reach the creek. Finally, as the sun began to go down and the firing slacked, Ranger Mel Porter said, "I'm going for water, if I get killed."
"And I'm with you," David Bailey replied.
They mounted and dashed for the creek. The others could see Bailey sitting on his horse by the bank keeping lookout while Porter filled the canteens. Suddenly, about twenty-five Indians moved in on them. The Rangers in the gully tried to signal by firing their guns, and Bailey shouted for Porter to flee. The two men took off in different directions.
Porter was caught by two warriors near the water hole. Keeping his nerve, he fired at them until his pistol was empty, then threw it at one of the warriors. Using his lance, the warrior levered Porter off his horse, but before he could kill him, firing from the injured Lee Corn and Wheeler drove off the two Indians. They were content to take Porter's horse, while the Ranger dove into the creek and swam underwater until he came up by Corn and Wheeler. They stayed together until after dark, when they made their way to Loving's ranch. Bailey was cut off, surrounded, and levered off his horse with a lance. Lone Wolf himself chopped his head to pieces with his brass hatchet-pipe, then disemboweled him.
The Kiowas were satisfied. They had killed at least one Ranger (actually two, because Billy Glass had died), and they began to leave. The badly mauled Rangers tied Glass's body to a horse and rode back to Loving's ranch. The Kiowas did not admit to any losses, although Jones claimed at least three had been killed. Glass was buried at Loving's ranch. About 3 A.M. the next day, they returned to Lost Valley under cover of darkness and recovered Bailey's horribly mutilated body. At sunup, a detachment of cavalry arrived from Fort Richardson, and the Rangers and soldiers spent the rest of the day looking for the Indian trail before the Rangers returned to camp.
Continuing his inspection tour after the Lost Valley fight, Jones came to Camp Eureka on the Big Wichita River, where he found Capt. E. F. Ikard's Company C "too far out to render the most effect service" and ordered it into closer proximity to Stevens, so the two companies could come together in an emergency. Meanwhile, scouting parties from both Ikard's and Stevens's companies were in the field, keeping pressure on the Indians, and a party from Company C had actually raided a camp and captured forty-three horses and mules, some of which were claimed by citizens from whom they had been stolen.
The following illuminating observations of the 1874 Rangers from Robinson's, The Men Who Wear the Star, demonstrates his typically wonderful research.
Heavily armed Rangers of Capt. Dan Roberts's Company
(Photo from the book, The Men Who Wear The Star, by Charles M. Robinson,
Wife of Captain Dan Roberts recalls Ranger camp near
The Rangers required only a few days to prepare quarters for us. About fifty yards from their camp stood a portion of a camp house. It had a shingle roof and a rock floor. It was converted into a kitchen, size twenty feet by twenty feet. Gunny sacks were tacked upon the walls. For our bedroom the Rangers built a room of logs with walls three feet high, on top of which they put a tent. It was provided with a fireplace built of stone. The floor was carpeted with gunny sacks. The kitchen also served as a storeroom. It was all so cozy.
H. H. McConnell Fort Richardson Cavalryman observes
Rangers from Jacksboro:
These Rangers were tolerable Indian fighters, but most of their time was occupied in terrorizing the citizens and "taking in the town." Shooting scrapes and rows between citizens, soldiers and Rangers in this year (1874) were so frequent that the long suffering citizens by their votes "incorporated."…
Jones reports frontier conditions, 1874:
Besides…scouting for Indians, the battalion has rendered much service to the frontier people by breaking up bands of outlaws and desperadoes who had established themselves in these thirty settled Counties [patrolled by the Rangers], where they could depredate upon the property of good citizens, secure from arrest by the ordinary process of law, and by arresting and turning over to the proper civil authorities many cattle and horse thieves, and other fugitives from justice…
Although the force is too small and the appropriation insufficient to give anything like adequate protection to so large a territory, the people seem to think we have rendered valuable service to them, and there is a degree of security felt in the frontier counties, that has not been exhibited [or] experienced for years before.
The following story is from the book, The West Texas Frontier, by Joseph Carroll McConnell.
After the preceding engagement at the Adobe Walls, the bloodthirsty warriors broke into several bands. One group went into New Mexico and raided in that section. Another went north. Still another group took a southern course. And Lone Wolf with approximately one hundred and fifty favorite warriors came to Jack County to pilfer, plunder and prey upon the people. The results of his extended foray, no doubt, would have been most disastrous and resulted in the death of many frontiersmen had he not accidentally encountered Major John B. Johnes and his rangers, who more than satisfied the Indian's thirst for war.
Lone Wolf and his warriors made their first appearance when they charged James C. Loving, W. C. Hunt, I. G. Newcomb, and Shad Damron, then riding the range on Salt Creek Prairie, about three miles southwest of the present town of Jermyn, and not a great distance from the line of Jack and Young County. Loving and his men, instead of running toward the ranch, as the Indians, no doubt, expected, dashed to the west, and succeeded in reaching the roughs. In a short time, the savages were circling for the citizens trail, no unlike, and as industriously as trained dogs, trying to locate the tracks of a lost deer. No doubt, the Indians would have found them, but about this time they had other problems to solve.
Major John B. Jones, of the Frontier Battalion, just happened to be in the vicinity, for he was making a tour of inspection of his frontier troops, stationed from the Rio Grande to Red River. The Major was visiting the camp of Capt. Geo. Stephens. Lt. Tom Wilson, of Palo Pinto County, W. W. Lewis, who now lives in Menard, Walter Robinson, of Uvalde County, and others, were apart of Major Jno. B. Jones' escort. When these rangers, about thirty-five in number, received word the savages were on a raid, Maj. Jones ordered a detachment of about six scouts to ascertain, if possible, the movements and whereabouts of the Indians, thought to number about twelve. W. W. Lewis and Walter Robinson were among these scouts. When they reported in a short time, the rangers were on the warrior's trail, and finally overtook them just before noon, in the Lost Valley country, not a great distance from the present town of Jermyn.
Only a small detachment of the Indians were encountered at first. These Indians, no doubt, were attempting to decoy the Texans into a trap. At first a running fight followed, but in a short time, when the Indians were reinforced by Lone Wolf and his main band of warriors, Major John B. Jones ordered his men to retreat into a ravine, and to protect their horses as much as possible. About this time, the major also told his men they had come to fight Indians, and not run horses. Some of the ponies were sheltered in a ravine, and others tied in a cluster of pecan timber. Major Jones divided his men into two divisions so they could strike the Indians from different angles. In a short time, the rangers were completely surrounded, and as usual, Lone Wolf and his 150 warriors fought mostly from their steeds. For about four or five hours, the fight was stubbornly fought. During the most intense fighting an Indian's gun hit a tree above Lt. Tom Wilson, and when limbs and bark fell, Mr. Wilson, father of U. S. District Judge, James C. Wilson, Horace Wilson, and Mrs. Dr. J. H. McCracken, replied, "Now, by golly! I'm shot!" But he soon discovered his mistake and enjoyed the joke with others.
During the fighting, Billy Glass was mortally wounded, and lay on the ground, a short distance from the ravine where his companions were entrenched. At first, the rangers thought he was dead, but when Billy moved, Zack Waddel ran through the shower of bullets and carried Billy Glass, his wounded companion, into the entrenchment. Later on in the evening, when Billy Glass was calling for water, Dan Bailey and Porter, mounted some fast steeds, and dashed to a nearby creek. But since Porter was narrow-sighted, several Indians were upon them before their presence was known. Porter successfully reached the main command, but Dan Bailey was killed.
During the day, Lee Corn was also wounded by an Indian spy. The Indians succeeded in killing about eighteen horses, but several of their own steeds were shot down. It is not known just what were the Indians' casualties, but a large number were wounded.
A runner was sent to Jacksboro for relief, but when the soldiers arrived the next day, the Indians had been gone for several hours. For as usual, they withdrew late in the evening. After the Indians were gone, the rangers carried their dead and wounded to J. C. Loving's Ranch.
Note: Author personally interviewed: W. W. Lewis, mentioned above; Oliver Loving, a son of James C. Loving; E. W. McCracken; and several others, who lived in Jack County and elsewhere at the time.
Further Ref.: Tex. Ind. Fighters, A. J. Sowell.
Walter M. Robinson, a surviving participant of the fight, provided details of the action from the Ranger’s point of view.
The “Lost Valley” in Jack County provided the scene for the battle on July 12, 1874, between the Texas Rangers, thirty-five in number, commanded by Major John B. Jones and Captain Stephens, and 200 Comanche and Kiowa Indians, led by Chief “Lone Wolf.” The battle waged on for five hours. On the day before the battle Major Jones, who commanded all of the rangers on the frontier, and who traveled from post to post arrived at the camp of Captain Stephens, in command of a ranger force stationed in Jack County, located northwest from Jacksboro about fifty or sixty miles. On July the 12th a report came to Captain Stephens that Indians inhabited the country, and the captain deployed Lieutenant Wilson along with six men to take a scout into the vicinity which Indians reportedly occupied and complete an investigation. Walter Robinson, a member of Capt. Rufe Perry’s company, was one of the members of this scouting party. The detail proceeded about six miles and came upon a large Indian trail which denoted a raiding band of Indians of unusually large force, and a runner was sent back to camp by the lieutenant to inform Major Jones and Captain Stephens of these facts, and advising a force to be sent out of all the men that could be spared from camp to take up the trail of the Indians and give them battle in case they could be overtaken. In the meantime, while the messenger was speeding on his mission, Lieutenant Wilson and the other five men followed slowly on the trail, and in about twelve miles Major Jones and Captain Stephens along with thirty men, overtook them, making the ranger force now about thirty-five in sum.
The combined force now kept on the trail rapidly until twenty minutes before 12 o’clock a.m., whence they came upon the Indians in a timbered but rough and rocky country of the Lost Creek Valley. The Comanches and Kiowas placed their force in ambush to evade the rangers whom they discovered on their trail. Before doing this, however, the wily chief divided his force into three bands and crossed and recrossed Lost Creek several times on purpose to disconcert and bother the rangers and cause them to scatter their force in pursuit. Finally he consolidated his whole force in a mott of timber on the west side of the creek. Before locating the Indians Major Jones divided his force into three squads to follow as many different trails, but cautioned each party to remain in touch with each other and be ready at any moment to reunite in case of an emergency. The major with thirteen men went to the right and skirted around the foot of some hills and came in close range of the timber which concealed the whole Indian force. The natives fired on them, which was the first intimation he had of their presence. This volley wounded some horses, and on its heels came the charge. The Indians left cover and attacked Major Jones with great fury in the open prairie, but he stood his ground and the gallant squad around him opened up a hot fire from the their Winchesters into the very faces of the yelling and advancing natives. The other two parties of the ranger force rushed to the scene of the fierce fight, and the main battle opened with terrific fury on both sides. The yelling of the Indians almost drowned the noise of the carbines, which popped and cracked like a canebrake afire. A few moments later, a bullet wounded Lee Corn and killed his horse. The rangers made a sweeping charge through the Indians, who were thickly massed. Their rapid and fatal fire both with revolvers and Winchesters forced the Comanches and Kiowas to give way. The Indians started to rapidly flee through the open ground towards the hills, followed by the now yelling rangers. The warriors passed about a mile of skirted timber, in which a ravine made by washings from the hills, made travel difficult. However the Indians crossed this and kept traveling through an open glade for a hundred yards or more, and then made a stand on the side of the hill amid rocks and bushes. They opened fire on the rangers from cover, which checked them, and they wheeled back to the ravine and there dismounted. During this fire from the Indians the horse ridden by Walter Robinson was killed, being hit by five bullets, and he went back to the ditch on foot. A gallant young ranger of Stephens’ company named Glass was killed, falling in front before the turn back was made. The natives also injured a ranger named Moore. The ravine or ditch was shallow, and while the rangers to some extent could protect themselves by lying down, it was not sufficient to cover the horses, and they were hit repeatedly. The Indians swarmed the sides of the hills yelling and shooting, and some of them gradually worked around the rangers and shot at them from various other points. This gallant little band, however, worthy of the name of Texas Rangers, were not dismayed, but would raise their heads above the ravine, take aim at some particular target, fire, and down again to adjust another charge, at the same time shouting defiance to their dusky foes. In about twenty minutes after the ravine was reached Zack Waddell noticed that ranger Glass, whom they thought dead, was kicking about on the ground, and expressed his intention of making a run and bringing him into the ravine. Even the officers tried to dissuade the man because the act seemed tantamount to suicide. But Waddell had his eye on his friend, and all at once leaped out of the ditch and ran rapidly to him, gathered him up in his arms, and started back amid a perfect shower of bullets and demoniac yells of the Indians, and the rangers in the ditch sprang to their feet, regardless of exposure, returned yell for yell and shot for shot with the Indians, and loudly cheered their gallant comrade, who came staggering in with wounds and his burden. He was hit with five bullets, but none inflicted serious wounds, and one of his boots was nearly shot off of his foot, so much so that he could hardly keep it on. Poor Glass never spoke, but lay there and breathed awhile, and then died there in the ravine with his comrades around him, with the noise of cracking carbines, whistling bullets, and savage yells in his dying ears.
The following story is from the book, Carbine & Lance, The Story of Old Fort Sill, by Colonel W. S. Nye; Copyright © 1937 by the University of Oklahoma Press. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
…Hunting Horse describes the fight from the point of view of the Kiowas: “When we made our first charge the white men stopped and began firing at us. The bullets went Chu! Chu! Soon the enemy charged at us. We rode south in great haste. Red Otter’s horse was hit, and sat down suddenly and began to scream in pain. Red Otter slid off neatly, and with his red cape streaming from his hand commenced dodging around to escape the bullets. I thought the whites had him, but Set-kop-te (Paual Saitkopte) galloped up to him, reached down a hand, and pulled him up behind. They got away safely.
“We all rode south through the valley. I was on an old grey plug, which lagged far behind. I thought they would catch me sure. One white man, riding a fine big black horse, was following us close, making it hot for us. He was way out by himself. Maybe he didn't know his friends were so far behind. Or maybe his horse was running away. Presently we reached the shelter of the wooded ridge, where we stopped and commenced firing back at the enemy. Tsen-au-sain dismounted, took a careful aim at the man on the black horse, and shot him off. The man went limping into the brush to the east.
“We could see the leader of the whites motioning his men to fall back. One of them was slow. Tsen-au-sain shot him down. ‘I got one,’ shouted Tsen-au-sain, ‘Everybody back now!’
“But nobody was able to touch the fallen enemy to make coup. We had to make coup or the revenge would not be complete. We could see the man lying there in plain sight. The heads of the other rangers could be seen sticking up from a dry stream bed. Nobody dared go close enough to make coup.
“Red Otter got desperate. He called for volunteers. Not a warrior spoke up. I remembered the prophecy of the medicine man. It was my chance. I said I would go with Red Otter. Red Otter ran forward and took position behind a large tree. He signaled for me to join him. I ran forward and crouched behind the tree. The bullets were throwing the bark in our faces. Then we ran to another tree. But the bullets came thicker. Red Otter said it was too dangerous. We ran back behind the hill.
“The trench where the rangers were hidden was so far away that I couldn’t reach it with arrows. Only the men who had guns stayed out in front and kept firing at the enemy. They could see the rangers’ horses tied in the mesquite. They killed most of these.
Only short intermissions interrupted the battle for nearly five hours. The Indians were well armed, and the balls were almost constantly kicking up the dust around the margin of the ravine or hitting rocks and sending showers of scattered lead among the rangers. Some of the Indians went around the head of the ravine, surrounding the rangers and cutting off Lee Corn and Wheeler along with two others who stayed with Corn when natives wounded him and killed his horse. Retreat into the rank grass, bushes, mud and water of the creekbed became inevitable. The rangers fighting the battle in the dry ravine suffered greatly for water, remaining five hours with the hot July sun beaming down on them. Their tongues swelled, and their thirst drove them to dig beds in the ravine their Bowie knives to gather moist dirt which they sucked between their parched lips. During all of this time Major Jones exposed himself greatly and made several narrow escapes. Once he left the ravine and went to a tree and was watching the chief Lone Wolf to see if he could tell from his actions what his intentions were or what his next move would be. Captain Stephens also encouraged the boys by word and example to spare their arms. While Major Jones was watching Lone Wolf he sat down and leaned against the tree, with the balls occasionally skipping around him, and Walter Robinson and Flint Damon said, “Look out, major, they will hit you directly,” and about this time a hissing ball came and struck the tree near the major’s head, filling his eyes and face full of bark and splinters, and with such force that he fell backwards on the ground as if killed, but quickly recovered himself.
Hunting Horse continues:
“As the day grew shorter it looked as though we were not going to be able to get any of the whites. Finally Maman-ti made a new plan. ‘We’ve got to cheat those fellows,’ he said. ‘We know they will have to go for water soon. So we will pretend to go away, but will leave some men, with the fastest horses, near the water hole. They can charge the whites when they come for water.’
“So we rode slowly north, keeping out of sight behind the ridge, until we crossed the dry creek bed above the water hole. A big bunch remained here, hidden in the timber to watch for the enemy. The rest rode toward the hills which lie north of the creek. Some of us felt thirsty. Tahbone-mah and Quo-to-tai started back to get a drink. I was just going to join them, when somebody called, ‘Come back quick! Two of them are going for water now! Tahbone-mah and Quo-to-tai hid in the trees along the stream.’
About one hour by sun some of the rangers expressed a determination to leave the ravine in spite of the Indians and go to Lost Creek after water, but all were persuaded out of this notion except two, Bailey and Porter, and they mounted their horses and rode off. Two hundred yards from the ravine the Indians ran upon them and killed Bailey in plain view of his companions. His mare, though fleet, failed to run when the Indians drew near and reared and plunged until they shot and lanced her unfortunate rider from her back. Porter had better luck, but narrowly escaped with his life. The Indians drove him into the creek, with the cry of one Indian behind him saying, “Me git you! Me git you!” in broken English as he went over the edge of the creekbed. The place Porter went over was close to the spot where Lee Corn was hiding; Porter, thinking an Indian was hunting him, shot at him as he hit the mud and water a few yards away, but fortunately missed due to an arm injury. In throwing the cartridge from the magazine into the barrel held the gun between his knees. When night came the rangers back at the ravine were in a terrible strait, and a council was held to determine what was best to do. They were nearly exhausted with thirst and strain and shock of the battle, ammunition nearly all gone, dead and wounded comrades scattered here, and fourteen dead horses besides the wounded lying around in the ditch. The Indians had drawn off and Major Jones asked the boys what they would rather do-remain there until daylight and renew the battle again if the Indians did not leave, or until soldiers could come from Jacksboro to their relief, for a ranger named John P. Holmes had ridden out of the ravine on a wounded horse in sight of the Indians before night, and gone to the fort where United States soldiers were quartered to ask for assistance. After canvassing the situation thoroughly, the rangers concluded to leave the ravine and make an attempt to get to Jacksboro or meet the soldiers. The dead ranger, Glass, was strapped to an Indian horse whose rider had been killed, and he dashed down among the rangers and stayed there. When all was ready they silently departed down the ravine, more than half of them on foot, and succeeded in quenching their thirst at a small spring and then kept on fifteen miles to a ranch, there remaining until the following morning at which time they buried their dead comrade. Walter Robinson performed this sad rite , and the others prepared to return to the battleground with a ranch wagon to bring in the wounded. They were accompanied by a band of rangers and a squad of soldiers who arrived at the ranch before daylight. Gallant Holmes informed them of the treacherous situation. Uneasiness was felt for the boys who had been left scattered in the Lost Creek bottoms, and a hurried return was made to the place by the rangers and soldiers, but on arriving there they found none of their comrades. The men discovered that their peers escaped to Loving’s ranch. Bailey’s body lie near where the fight commenced, badly mutilated, scalped, and full of arrows, besides numerous lance wounds. They buried him near the spot where he met his fate, and since the country has settled up in that locality, a schoolhouse and church stand near his grave, or near the spot where he was killed. It was afterwards learned that forty-two Indians were bullet-stricken during the battle, nineteen of them dying on the field.
Hunting Horse continues:
"In a few moments two white men came riding swiftly to the water hole. One was about fifty yards ahead of the other. The first one, who was carrying several canteens, rode down into the creek, out of our sight. The other remained up on the bank to watch. Soon the Kiowas who had been ordered to charge them rushing in from the west. The Texan on the bank rode south. The man in the creek came out on the north side and started galloping in the opposite direction, with Tahbone-mah and Quo-to-tai after him.
“At first Quo-to-tai was in the lead, but in a moment Tahbone-mah, who was riding a big grey-a famous racer-passed him. The white man turned in his saddle and kept shooting at the two Indians. He fired the last shot almost in Tahbone-mah’s face, then threw his empty pistol at Tahbone-mah. The Kiowa man dumped his enemy off with a lance, and herded the riderless horse off on a circle to the left. It was a fine bay, and he later gave it to me. Tahbone-mah couldn’t go back to make coup on the man he had knocked down, because there was heavy firing coming out of the woods along the stream.
“When I got to the place where they had killed the other ranger, I learned that Dohauson had thrust him off his horse with a spear, but that Mamaday-te had made fist coup by touching him with his hand. Lone Wolf and Maman-ti and everybody was there. Lone Wolf got off his horse and chopped the man’s head to pieces with his brass hatchet-pipe. Then he took out his butcher knife and cut open the man's bowels. Everyone who wanted to shot arrows into it or poked at it with their lances.
“Presently Lone Wolf stood back to make a speech. He said, ‘Thank you, Oh thank you, for what has been done today. My poor son has been paid back. His spirit is satisfied. Now listen! It was Mamaday-te who made the first coup. Because of this, and because he loved my son, I am going to honor him today. I am going to give him my name. Everybody listen! Let the name of Mamaday-te stay here on this battleground. Let the name of Mamaday-te be forgotten. From now on call him Lone Wolf!”
"After Lone Wolf had finished his talk, we all sang a few verses of the Victory Song, then got on our horses and started home.”
Mel Porter, after he had jumped or been thrown (by Tahbone-mah) from his horse near the water hole, dived into the creek and swam under water. When he came up he was nearly shot by Lee Corn and Wheeler, who thought he was an Indian. It was the fire of these two men which had caused Tahbone-mah and Quo-to-tai to sheer off at the last moment. The three rangers stayed in the brush until after dark, when they made their way to Loving’s Ranch. The next day Major Jones’s men came back to look for Bailey’s body. The young Texans caught their breath when they saw the condition it was in. They scooped out a shallow trench in the sand.
William Glass was buried at Loving’s Ranch.
The Tenth Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, under Lieutenant Baldwin, rode out to join Jones and his Rangers in an unsuccessful pursuit of the raiders after word returned to Fort Richardson of the Lost Valley Fight.
The rangers went back to Jacksboro, bought horses to replace those killed, and then went on into the Llano country.
It is related of Lee Corn that when his horse was killed and himself down beside him with his left arm shattered, he still continued to work the lever of his gun, holding the barrel between his knees to load, and firing with one hand at the Indians who were swarming around them and yelling most fearfully, and during this time Major Jones passed him and the young ranger looked up and says, “We’re givin’ ‘em hell, major.” Mr. Walter Robinson, who was one of the escort of Major Jones, and who took a prominent part in this fearful battle, belonged to Capt. Rufe Perry’s company, and was in the Salt Creek fight in Menard County, and several others.