|General Phillip Sheridan's Southern Plains Campaign of 1874 - 1875
by Garland R. Lively
At the conclusion of the American Civil War bands of plains Indians consisting mainly of the Comanche, Kiowa, Kiowa Apache, Arapahoe, and the Southern Cheyenne were raiding at will all across the southern plains. Several expeditions were mounted to subdue the plains Indians and although they severely punished them they were never able to force them to remain on their reservations and cease raiding the settlements. President Ulysses Simpson Grant favored using military officers as Indian agents but a group of Quakers convinced Congress they should be placed in charge of Indian affairs and in 1869 Congress passed a series of laws which essentially passed control of Indian affairs from the military to civilians, mostly Quaker, beginning a period that became known as the "Quaker Peace." The Quaker agents would not allow the military to pursue the raiding Indians onto their reservations in the Indian Territory of present Oklahoma, and as a result the Indians used their reservations as a sanctuary and the raiding dramatically increased.
During 1873 and 1874 Comanche and Kiowa raiding parties raided the northwestern frontier of Texas with great intensity. By the summer of 1874 it was estimated that the hostile Indians consisted of 2,000 Comanches, 1,200 Kiowa (likely included Kiowa Apache), and 1,800 Cheyennes. Most of the Arapahoes remained on the Darlington Reservation and remained peaceful. The Cheyennes from the Darlington Agency on the Canadian River increasingly joined in these incursions, and conducted numerous raids into Kansas as well. The influence of the Comancheros, whiskey traders, poor government administration, the commercial slaughter of the buffalo herds, and the desire young warriors to obtain social standing through raiding, all contributed to a major outbreak by the summer of 1874. Their attack on the buffalo hunters at Adobe Walls and the subsequent raids were only minor skirmishes, but they marked a major turning point in United States sentiment towards the Indians. President Grant and General William Tecumseh Sherman were determined to end the depredations and the "Quaker Peace" quickly came to an end.
General Sherman proposed a military campaign to force the hostiles back onto the reservations. The Secretary of the Interior and Commissioner of Indian Affairs agreed. On July, 20, 1874, General Sherman received authority from the Department of Interior relayed through the War Department to punish the hostile Indians wherever they might be found, even if it meant following them onto the reservations. Both Sherman and Phillip Henry Sheridan were capable Civil War Generals and once granted permission they developed plans to launch a sustained five pronged campaign against the hostile Indians.
Lieutenant General Sheridan, commanding officer of the Division of Missouri, had gained considerable experience during his winter campaign of 1868 - 1869 and directed his commanders to pursue and punish the guilty Indians wherever they found them regardless of boundaries. He directed Major General John Pope of the Department of Missouri to have Colonel Nelson Appleton Miles to march with four companies of his Fifth Infantry Regiment and eight companies the Sixth Cavalry Regiment from Fort Dodge, Kansas southwest into Indian Territory and commence operation against the hostiles. Pope was further directed to have Colonel William Redwood Price to proceed with four companies of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment to proceed eastward from Fort Bascom, New Mexico.
Major General Christopher Colon. Augur of the Department of Texas was directed to have Colonel Ranald Slidell Mackenzie move eight companies of his Fourth Cavalry Regiment and five Infantry companies into northwestern Texas. Augar also directed Colonel George P. Buell to advance from Fort Griffin with two companies of his Eleventh Infantry Regiment, five companies from the Ninth Cavalry Regiment and one company of the Tenth Cavalry Regiment. Lieutenant Colonel John W. "Black Jack" Davidson was to proceed from Fort Sill with six companies of the Tenth Cavalry Regiment and two companies of the Eleventh Infantry Regiment.
On July 26, 1874, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Edward P. Smith, instructed Colonel Davidson and the agents to direct all friendly Indians to enroll at the agency not later than August 3, 1874. Davidson assigned Captain G. K. Sanderson to assist Agent James H. Haworth in the enrollment. Agent Haworth dispatched runners to the different Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa Apache bands notifying them that they must relocate and move their encampments to the east side of Cache Creek to distinguish them from the hostiles. The Indians were required to answer a daily roll call to ensure their protection against the soldiers involved in the campaign. Smith issued the same instructions to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Neill at the Cheyenne and Arapaho agency on the Canadian River.
The plains Indians were reluctant to comply with such restrictive measures and most failed to appear. Davidson launched elements of his 10th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Sanderson to enforce enrollment. By July 30, 1874, Davidson had enrolled the Comanches led by Horseback, Cheevers, Iron Mountain, Howeah, He Bear, and Quirts-Quip. On August 3, only a few Kiowas enrolled at the agency, and they were in a sullen mood. Davidson extended the deadline until August 8, 1874, but by that date only 83 Comanches, 173 Kiowas, and 108 Kiowa Apaches had enrolled. When the friendly Indians arrived in the area they discovered that renegades had burned the grass and they could not find adequate grazing for their livestock. All of the Kowas except Kicking Bird's band moved to the Wichita agency near Anadarko.
A large number of the Comanches and Kowas failed to comply and the army regarded them as being hostile. The army established a list of all the bands that they considered hostile and requested that Indian agent James H. Haworth approve it. Haworth believed the failure of the Indians to comply was the result of ignorance and timidity rather than defiance and that they should not be considered as enemies. He further argued with the army that there was no grass in the area and that their animals would starve if they complied. The army did not accept Haworth's arguments and considered all the reluctant Indians enemies.
The Comanche chiefs did not wish to go to Fort Sill and surrender as prisoners of war ant they did not want to remain out on the plains to be attacked by the soldiers. Following the deadline for registration, Red Food (also Big Red Food or Big Read Meat), Assanonica, Little Crow, Black Duck, and Tabananica all requested protection. Haworth sent word to Assanonica that he could come in if he surrendered all his arms. The other Comanche chiefs were informed that they would not be accepted under any terms because of their involvement in the battle of Adobe Walls. In spite of government warnings, Red Food of the Naconi Band went to the Wichita agency seeking protection among the friendly Indians.
Lone Wolf, Big Bow, and Red Otter along with other hostile Kiowas were also nearby and acting agent J. Connell feared an outbreak of hostilities. Captain Gaines Lawson, Eleventh Infantry Regiment, who was the commander of the infantry company guarding the agency agreed with Connell. On August 21,1874 Lawson notified Colonel Davidson and requested that additional troops be sent to help control the Indians. On the following day Davidson led four companies of the Tenth Cavalry Regiment to the area and demanded that Red Food surrender and accompany him to Fort Sill. Toshaway of the Penetekas advised Red Food to accept the terms of surrender and give up all fire arms. Red Food agreed and escorted by Lieutenant Woodward and forty soldiers he returned to his camp and began to gather his firearms. When the soldiers insisted that Red Food also surrender all his bows and arrows the chief refused arguing that they were needed for hunting. The Kiowas begin to taunt the Comanches claiming that they were like women to allow the soldiers to disarm them. Red Food suddenly let out a loud whoop and dashed into the underbrush. The soldiers fired upon the fleeing chief but he managed to escape. The Comanches returned fire and a general fight erupted. In the midst of the fighting, Toshaway risked his life by riding up to the troopers and urging them to cease firing,
When the firing erupted, Davidson ordered Captain Lawson to deploy his infantry troops near the sawmill and prevent the Indians from escaping up the Washita. Davidson then advanced towards the Comanche camp with the four troops of cavalry. Chief Lone Wolf and the Kiowas begin firing on the advancing troops from the cover of the agency corral and commissary and wounded two of the soldiers. Friendly Indians begin fleeing in all directions, adding to the confusion. Davidson ordered his troopers to dismount and moved them into the heavy timber along the river. One troop advanced on the Kiowas in the corral and commissary driving them across the river into the buildings of the Delaware scout Black Beaver. Davidson's troopers charged the buildings and scattered the Kiowas. Davidson then ordered his men to fall back and protect the agency building.
The soldiers prevented an attack on the agency building and by nightfall they had cleared the surrounding bluffs of the hostile Indians. During the night three hundred Comanche and Kiowa warriors assembled and early Sunday morning they began an assault to recapture the bluffs. Davidson dispatched Captain Lawson and his infantry soldiers to protect Shirley's store while Captain Louis H. Carpenter led three troops to drive the Indians back off of the bluffs. The Indians started grass fires in an effort to burn the agency building but the soldiers prevented it by setting back fires. Although large parties of Comanche and Kiowa warriors were seen throughout the day, no further fighting occurred. During the fighting the Kiowas and Comanches had attacked the agency, burned the schoolhouse, looted Shirley's trading house, burned several houses of friendly Indians, killed four citizens, and wounded several soldiers. The Indians had two men and one old woman killed and several wounded. Red Food's camp and all of his belongings were burned by the soldiers.
Upon hearing of the altercation other Indians left the reservations and joined the renegade bands. The impatient army had driven a number of relatively friendly Indians onto the plains under the influence of the hostiles. Following the incident the Kiowas and Comanches fled to the Staked Plains where they resumed their hostilities. By the end of autumn of 1874 fully one half of the Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne tribes were openly hostile.
After the initial scare many of the bands returned to the reservation. Saranac (Howling Wolf) led his band of seventy five Yamparikas back to the agency where they had to surrender all of their arms to Davidson before being accepted.
In August 1874 Sheridan's campaign was launched, and large concentrations of army forces poured into Indian country from all directions. General Pope's Department of Missouri organized a three pronged attack. Colonel Nelson Appleton Miles conducted a sweep southward from Fort Dodge Kansas. Major William Redwood Price proceeded east from Fort Union in northern New Mexico the Canadian River to Antelope Hills, where he was to link up with Colonel Miles. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Neill had one company of the Sixth Cavalry Regiment and four companies of the Fifth Infantry Regiment at the Cheyenne Indian Agency, where he could either receive surrendered Indians or join in the battle against the hostiles.
The Department of Texas under General Augar also deployed three columns. Lieutenant Colonel John W. "Black Jack" Davidson operated to the west from Fort Sill. Colonel Mackenzie moved his "Southern Column" forces north from Fort Concho to his old supply camp on the Fresh Water Fork of the Brazos. Colonel George P. Buell pressed up along the Red River in the region between Davidson and Mackenzie. The total forces involved in the campaign included over three thousand troops comprising forty six companies.
On September 10, 1874, Lieutenant Colonel Davidson marched his forces north of the Wichita Mountains and proceeded towards the North Fork of the Red River. Included in Davidson's forces were six companies of the Tenth Cavalry Regiment, three companies of the Eleventh Infantry, a section of mountain howitzers, and Indian scouts. He also had a party of ten volunteer civilian guides including Jack Stillwell and Jack Kilmartin. He skirted around the edge of the Staked Plains south to the Red River, and returned to Fort Sill by 16 October 1874. Most of the Indians had eluded Davidson by fleeing into the rough terrain of the region along the headwaters of the Red River.
Major General Sheridan became increasingly concerned over his supply problems and the lack of progress in the field. On October, 8, 1874, he departed Chicago and established his command post at Fort Sill. Upon his arrival he was extremely disappointed with Davidson who had spent a month in the field and marched over 350 miles to return to Fort Sill after having killed only three Indians. Sheridan ordered Davidson to resume his campaign on 21 October 1874, allowing him little time to rest and resupply his column. Sheridan decided to replace Davidson with Mackenzie as soon as the campaign was ended. Sheridan spent most of the Campaign with General Augar at Fort Sill where they could closely monitor and coordinate their forces in the field, while Pope remained in Kansas throughout the campaign.
On July 27, 1874, General Pope issued orders to Colonel Miles to assemble his troops at Fort, Dodge, Kansas, and operate southward into Indian Territory. Colonel Miles departed Fort Dodge on August 14, 1874, moving south on the Fort Dodge to Camp Supply road. Miles had organized his eight troops of cavalry into two battalions commanded by Major C. E. Compton and Major James Biddle. Four companies of infantry were commanded by Captain H. B. Bristol, and a detachment of artillery was led by Lieutenant James W. Pope. Lieutenant Francis Dwight "Frank" Baldwin from the Fifth Infantry Regiment, led a contingent of scouts. Miles total force included 750 men. Major Compton with his cavalry battalion and one company of infantry had departed on August 11, 1874. After supplying his column at Camp Supply in the northwestern portion of the Indian Territory, he departed on August 20, 1874, and proceeded toward the Dry Fork of the Washita. While en route he received reports that Lieutenant Frank D. Baldwin who was scouting in the vicinity of Adobe Walls had engaged the hostiles.
Baldwin's detachment of eleven civilian and twenty Delaware scouts was attached to Major Compton's cavalry battalion who had instructions from Miles to proceed southwest from Fort Dodge and clear the region of Indians so that Miles would have no hostiles to his rear when he advanced with his main column. At the Beaver Crossing, Major Compton dispatched Baldwin's scouts to conduct a reconnaissance in the vicinity of Adobe Walls. Baldwin's scouts had been reinforced by eighteen cavalry troops led by Lieutenant Austin Henely which increased his total force to two officers and fifty men. After an exhausting ride his scouts arrived at Adobe Walls on August 18, 1874 where he camped for the night to rest his weary men and horses.
Baldwin arose early the next morning and with four of his scouts rode over to the buffalo hunter's camp at Adobe Walls to visit with the hunters. While he was en route the Indians attacked a small party of buffalo hunters, forcing them to flee Adobe Walls, and killing one of them in the process. The Indians in pursuit of the hunters rode past Baldwin who opened fire on them and then rode under heavy fire to the safety of the stockade at Adobe Walls. Baldwin and the hunters were able to repel the attack. In the meantime Henely had mounted his men and set out in pursuit of the Indians. Baldwin had his scouts mount and they followed Henely in a wild pursuit over the sand hills for about 12 miles. Baldwin captured several of the Indian ponies but was unable to determine how many of them he had killed or wounded.
Baldwin then departed Adobe Walls and proceeded to link up with Miles' main column. On August 20, 1874, while proceeding downstream along the Canadian River, Lieutenant Baldwin's detachment intercepted a small group of Indians near the mouth of Chicken Creek. Baldwin attacked them and killed one and wounded another before proceeding on the meet Miles about 12 miles west of the Antelope Hills.
On October 26, 1874, After rejoining Miles' main column, Baldwin's scouts discovered a large Indian trail near Sweetwater Creek which lead to the southwest. Colonel Miles quickly diverted his command southwest towards the Canadian River. The following day Miles discovered a large abandoned Indian village on Sweetwater Creek. The hostile Cheyenne, Kiowa and Comanche Indians were now fleeing to the southwest and Miles executed a one hundred mile forced march in an attempt to intercept and trap the Indians. He left his wagon train to follow him and in spite of the searing heat and rugged terrain he crossed the North Fork of the Red River, and continued up McCellan Creek. On August 30, 1874, about eight miles from the Salt Fork of the Washita, his lead elements led by Lieutenant Baldwin were attacked by approximately 200 Indians. Thompson McFadden and a group of Delaware scouts were in front of the main force when a large group of Indians attacked them and tried to cut them off. McFadden dismounted and prepared a defense until Baldwin arrived. Baldwin repulsed the attack and the Indians withdrew to a nearby line of hills.
By the time Miles' main column arrived, the strength of the Indians had increased to between four to six hundred. The Indians occupied the high ground along a series of bluffs and deep ravines that extended for about seven miles. Miles deployed the First Cavalry Battalion to the right and the second Battalion to the left. His artillery was placed in the center, protected by the infantry. Miles opened fire with his artillery pieces and ordered a general advance.
Major Compton led the advance with his command and created a panic among the Indians. The Indians retreated but assumed defensive positions on nearby ridge lines. Captain T. C. Tupper led his company up the steep ridge line and forced the Indians to flee. Mile's forces then engaged the fleeing Indians in a running battle that lasted for five hours and extended over twelve miles. Miles continued to pursue the Indians for two days but they managed to escape into the Tule Canyon, and Miles realizing that he could not overtake them decided to withdraw and leave them for Mackenzie's southern column. Miles only found three Indian bodies but estimated his forces had killed seventeen of the Indians. He had also destroyed most of their provisions. Miles had two men, a sergeant and a Delaware scout, wounded.
It was now the end of August and Miles found himself running critically short of supplies. He had advanced a considerable distance from his supply base at Camp Supply and had failed to make contact with Price's column. Miles established a base camp and dispatched thirty six wagons under the command of Captain Wyllys Lyman to meet a supply train from Camp Supply at Oasis Creek on the Canadian River. Captain Lyman and his men travelled the 120 miles to Oasis Creek and transferred the supplies from the Camp Supply wagon train on September 7, 1874.
While waiting in camp for Captain Lyman to return with his supplies, Colonel Miles directed Lieutenant Frank D. Baldwin and three men to carry dispatches to General Pope in Levenworth Kansas. The party departed the base camp on September 6, 1874 and rode all night. Early the next morning the messengers halted to prepare a meal. They had barely begun to drink their coffee when a lookout spotted a group of twenty six Indians racing towards them. They grabbed their rifles and fired into the charging Indians, killing three of them. The Indians surrounded the soldiers and begin firing into them. After an hour of intense firing the lieutenant ordered his men to mount their horses and charge the Indians with their revolvers. When they crested the hill they were fully exposed to the fire of the Indians.
They managed to break through the Indians position but they were pursued. The desperate group alternated mounting their horses and riding away and dismounting and firing when the Indians came too close. Later another band of fifteen Indians appeared directly in front of the soldiers. Once again Lieutenant Baldwin had his men charge the Indians firing their revolvers and killing two or three of the warriors. The chase continued for eight miles until the soldiers finally took cover in a ravine where they could hold the charging Indians at bay. A heavy rain began to fall and the Indians broke off the attack. The weary soldiers rode on until dusk when they thought they would be safe and camped for the night. Early the next morning as they approached the banks of the Washita River they stumbled upon an encampment of approximately 100 Comanches. Baldwin and his men had covered themselves with blankets for protection against the cold and they had ridden past the Indian pickets before they realized their predicament. Faced with a desperate situation the troopers boldly charged directly through the Indian camp. The soldiers raced through the camp and crossed the Washita several times before finding cover in heavy timber where they hid out until dark.
After their daring escape from the Comanche village the small party proceeded on down the Canadian River, remaining in the safety of trees along the banks. The party eventually wandered onto Captain Lyman‘s camp on Oasis Creek. Captain Lyman furnished Lieutenant Baldwin with fresh horses and two scouts. Baldwin and his exhausted men rested during the day and that night rode the final seventy miles to Camp Supply. His small party had been in the saddle for four days with only fourteen hours of rest.
In the meantime Captain Lyman had departed on 9 September 1874, with his wagon train en route to Colonel Miles‘ base camp. The wagon train was proceeding south towards the Washita River in a double column. It was loaded with rations for Miles‘ main column. Company I of the Fifth Infantry Regiment was guarding the wagon train with its soldiers deployed in single files on either side of the caravan. Thirteen troopers of the Sixth Cavalry Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Frank West provided a mobile reaction force for the supply detachment. Early in the morning on September 9, 1874, Captain Lyman spotted a small group of Kiowa warriors on a ridge line. The Kiowas opened fire on the column from a distance, but Lieutenant West‘s cavalry charged the group and drove them away.
At two o‘clock that afternoon Lyman‘s column was approaching the Washita River near the mouth of Gageby Creek when large groups of Comanche and Kiowa warriors suddenly appeared on both sides of his column. Captain Lyman ordered his wagons to form a protective corral, while the infantry company quickly assumed defensive positions to the front and rear of the wagons. While Captain Lyman was preparing for his defense the Indians charged into his wagons. For a brief period the situation appeared to be hopeless, but the soldiers were all well trained regulars and they managed to repulse the charge.
The Indians withdrew and took up positions on the surrounding hillsides where they continued to pepper the wagons with gun fire all afternoon. Late in the afternoon the Indians regrouped and circled the wagons in a wheeling mass of warriors. It was a awesome display as the number of warriors continued to increase and show off their bravery and horsemanship.
The soldiers spent the night preparing breastworks and digging rifle pits under constant fire from the Indians who had retreated back to the hillsides. When morning arrived the soldiers discovered that the Indians had also dug rifle pits into the hillsides. The fire continued sporadically all through the second day. As the day progressed the men begin to suffer from thirst. All their canteens were empty and the water barrels were critically low. A nearby muddy buffalo wallow was their only source of water, but it was exposed to the fire from the Indians. By the next night the soldiers were pleading for water. One man was dead and another was mortally wounded. Lieutenant Granville Lewis was seriously wounded with a bullet in his knee. In addition to the shortage of water and the lack of care for the wounded, the Indians had killed so many mules that further progress would be seriously degraded. Around midnight Captain Lyman conferred with a German born scout named William F. Schmalse who volunteered to ride to Camp Supply for assistance.
On September 12, 1874, a heavy rainfall began and the soldiers were able to collect drinking water to quench their thirst, but it had been thirty six hours since Schmalse departed for help and they begin to think he had been killed. Later in the day the soldiers spotted some movement on the distant horizon. The soldiers fired several volleys to attract attention. The column was actually a detachment of Colonel Price's forces from New Mexico. Colonel Price sent out scouts to investigate the gunfire but they reported back that they had seen nothing but Indians. Price had just come from a fight with the Indians and he considered his force of two hundred to be too small to handle the numbers of hostiles he had observed.
On September 14, 1874, while Price was still wandering the prairie supposedly looking for the wagon train, a relief column commanded by Lieutenant Henry Kingsbury, finally arrived from Camp Supply. By the time the relief column arrived the Indians had already departed. Schmalse had been able to ride through the Indian lines but had been pursued by a group of warriors. Schmalse escaped by spurring his horse into the midst of a buffalo herd and causing it to stampede. He rode his horse to death but managed to arrive at Camp Supply by early morning on September 12, 1874. After the reinforcement arrived, Captain Lyman moved his beleaguered wagon train forward to join Colonel Miles' main column.
On the third day of the siege a young warrior named Botalye performed a feat of heroism which became a legend in the Kiowa tribe. Yellow Wolf, Set-maute, and a number of other experienced warriors were behind a hill preparing to make a charge into the soldiers positions. Yellow Wolf and Set-maute mounted their horses and stated that they were going to ride between the entrenched soldiers. Set-maute's brother and other warriors convinced them to abandon the attempt because it was too dangerous. Botalye overheard the warriors and leaped into his saddle with Pai-kee-te beside him. As the two young warriors raced towards the soldiers and they begin firing Pai-kee-te turned back, but Botalye continued on alone. He raced through the lines of the startled soldiers under heavy fire and returned safely to the hill.
The emboldened young warrior charged back into the soldiers while the experienced warriors begged him to stop. Botalye leaned over the side of his horse as the bullets ripped through the feathers and into his saddle. When he returned to the hill the warriors attempted to seize his reins to prevent him from attempting another suicidal charge. Botalye broke away and charged back into the soldiers. When he returned he leaped from his horse in triumph as the other warriors embraced him. Satanta hugged the boy and declared that he could not have done it himself. Lone Wolf and Big Tree also embraced the boy. Poor Buffalo, his chief, bestowed the name Eadle-tau-hain (He wouldn't listen to them) on the boy.
Colonel Miles had dispatched a second group of messengers from the Sixth Cavalry Regiment on September 10, 1874 to carry dispatches to Camp Supply. The six messengers were Sergeant Zachariah T. Woodall, civilian scouts, Billy Dixon and Amos Chapman, and privates Peter Rath, John Harrington, and George W. Smith. On the morning of September 12, 1874, the messengers encountered a band of approximately 124 Comanche and Kiowa warriors. This was the same group that had attacked Captain Lyman's wagon train.
The messengers dismounted on a hillside and prepared to defend themselves. Private Smith, who was holding the horses, was seriously wounded in the first exchange of gun fire and the horses all stampeded. The Indians quickly surrounded the small party and commenced to pour a heavy barrage of gunfire into the beleaguered messengers. Billy Dixon describes the situation:
"I realized at once that I was in closer quarters than I had ever been in my life, and I have always felt that I did some good work that day. I was fortunate enough not to become disabled at any stage of the fight, which left me free to do my best under the circumstances. I received one wound--a bullet in the calf of my leg. I was wearing a thin cashmere shirt, slightly bloused. This shirt was literally riddled with bullets. How a man could be shot at so many times at close range and not be hit I could never understand. The Indians seemed to feel absolutely sure of getting us, so sure, in fact, that they delayed riding us down and killing us at once, which they could have easily done, and prolonged the early stages of the fight merely to satisfy their desire to toy with an enemy at bay, as a cat would play with a mouse before taking it's life."
The men decided to attempt to run to a nearby mesquite thicket for cover. When Chapman, Harrington and Woodall also became wounded they abandoned any thought of escape. The group scrambled into a muddy buffalo wallow and began to pile up the dirt around the edges. Chapman was hit in the leg and unable to crawl to the buffalo wallow. Dixon returned under heavy fire and dragged Chapman into the wallow. The men had assumed Smith was dead and left him where he had fallen, The fight continued all day with the small party repulsing charge after charge.
In the afternoon a cold front moved through, drenching the area in a heavy rainstorm. The buffalo wallow soon became a quagmire filled with muddy water and blood from the wounded. The storm forced the Indians to retreat and seek shelter. The messengers could see them huddled in small groups on their horses with their blankets wrapped tightly around them. The men became concerned over their shortage of ammunition and during the lull private Rath decided to crawl out to Smith's body to retrieve his pistol and ammunition. When he found Smith alive the men dragged him into the buffalo wallow. Smith was mortally wounded in the lungs and died during the night. Before dying he begged the other men to shoot him and end his misery.
That night Dixon and Rath gathered tumbleweeds and fashioned beds for the four wounded and the group huddled together to fend off the cold damp night air. Rath attempted to go for help but could not find his way in the darkness and returned after two hours. At daylight Dixon headed towards Camp Supply and had only gone about a mile when he encountered elements of Major Price's column. Major Price allowed his surgeon, Dr. McLain, to treat the wounded men and offered the hungry troopers some hardtack and buffalo meat. Price dispatched Lieutenant Rogers to notify Miles of their condition. Finally after two more miserable days in the wallow, relief arrived from Colonel Miles command at Midnight September 13, 1874. Price refused to leave any of his men at the wallow or provide the messengers with any additional ammunition. He was severely censured for his actions. Amos Chapman later had his leg amputated above the knee at Camp Supply and was soon back in the saddle. On December 24, 1874, Billy Dixon was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the fight.
Price had departed Fort Union on August 20, 1874 and arrived at Fort Bascom on August 26. On August 28, 1874, he departed Fort Bascom with 216 men consisting of four companies of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment, two mountain howitzers, eight Navajo and Comanchero scouts, and a large supply train. From Fort Bascom he marched 290 miles to the vicinity of Antelope Hills where he attempted to link up with Miles. On September 6, 1874, he discovered the trail of Miles' wagons and assumed that Miles had withdrawn to Fort Sill. After being contacted by Lieutenant Wetmore of Miles' Sixth Cavalry Regiment, Price met with Miles at his base camp on Mulberry Creek. Miles briefed Price on the situation and advised him that he was withdrawing due to a shortage of supplies.
On September 12, 1874, Price was patrolling to the northeast between Sweetwater Creek and the Dry Fork of the Washita River toward the Antelope Hills, when he encountered a war party consisting of an estimated 150 to 175 warriors arranged in battle array along a ridge line. Price's howitzer ammunition had been soaked by heavy rains and the gun was useless. When Price advanced towards the Indians a group of them dismounted and attempted to capture the disabled howitzer. Price led a platoon in a charge against the Indians and broke up their attack. The Indians continued to mount a fierce resistance from the ravines along the ridge line, but after an hour and a half of fighting they finally broke and attempted to flee. Price's force pursued the Indians in a running battle that lasted for over two hours and covered six or seven miles. Although Price found no bodies, he estimated that his forces had killed or badly wounded eight Indians. None of Price's troopers were injured during the encounter but ten of his horses were killed. Price later determined from Colonel Davidson that the Indians were probably Kiowas led by Lone Wolf.
In the meantime the unrelenting military pursuit continued. The group that attacked Captain Lyman's wagon train was having difficulty eluding the numerous columns of soldiers that were converging on them from all directions. The Indians camped at Elm Creek where they tried to decide which direction to go next. A heavy thunderstorm began and it rained hard all day long. The forlorn warriors sit on their ponies waiting for the downpour to cease. Finally they begin to lay down in the mud an water in an attempt to sleep. Later that night the downpour had caused a swarm of large hairy tarantulas to cover the ground. The Indians climbed back onto their horses and sat in the rain throughout the night. Their hands became so wrinkled that they referred to the 1874 campaign as the "Wrinkled Hand Chase."
The next morning the weather had cleared and the Indians proceeded on to the Palo Duro Canyon in the Staked Plains. The Indians congregated in the north end of the canyon. All of the free Kiowas were there along with a small band of Cheyennes under Iron Shirt, and a group of Comanches under O-ha-ma-tai. Further to the sourth in Palo Duro were located the Comanches led by Mow-way, Tabananica, and Wild Horse, along with most of the remaining Cheyennes.
Departing on August 23, 1874, Colonel Mckenzie led a powerful force of six hundred soldiers and thirty five Seminole and Tonkawa Indian scouts deep into the Staked Plains. In addition to the eight companies from the Fourth Cavalry Regiment, Mckenzie's forces also included four companies from the Tenth Cavalry Regiment and one company from the Eleventh Infantry Regiment. The infantry was commanded by Major Thomas M. Anderson. In addition to the Indian scouts commanded by Lieutenant Thompson, Mckenzie had obtained the services of an ex-Comanchero named Johnson, who was familiar with the Staked Plains.
On September, 1, 1874, Mackenzie's cavalry reached the Fresh Water Fork of the Brazos where they established a base camp and waited for the supply wagons and infantry. By September 19, 1874, all of Mackenzie's forces and supplies were in place at the base camp and he began his campaign. Mackenzie divided his cavalry into two columns, each consisting of four companies. The columns were commanded by Captain McLaughlin and Captain Beaumont. He left his base camp protected by the infantry under the command of Major Anderson.
On September 25, 1874 while camped near the Tule Canyon, Lieutenant Thompson reported to Mackenzie that his scouts had found numerous Indian trails with the largest being made by approximately 1,500 horses. Unable to locate his elusive quarry, but knowing they were all around him, Mackenzie remained in camp the following day. Mackenzie ordered his men to secure their mounts and prepare for an attack. That night at 10:00 250 warriors charged into Mackenzie's camp and attempted to stampede the horse herd. After the soldiers repulsed the assault the Indians resorted to circling the camp, firing into the troopers.
About midnight, wagon master James O'Neal, drove into the encircled camp with ten wagons. O'Neal was not aware an attack was in progress and for some unexplained reason he had not been molested. By 2:00 A. M. the Indians had withdrawn to a series of ravines to the north of Mackenzie's camp. The next morning, Mackenzie ordered Captain P. M. Boehm to charge the Indian positions with Company E. Boehm was ordered not to proceed more than a mile, but he maintained the pursuit for three miles. The Indians numbering about six hundred continued to flee from Boehm's troop because they assumed the main force was following him.
On September 27, 1874, Sergeant Charlton accompanied by Johnson and Job, a Tonkawa scout, rode out about twenty five miles from Mackenzie's main force and reached the rim of the Palo Duro Canyon near it's juncture with the Blanca Cita Canyon. The Palo Duro was an awesome canyon that had been carved out of the prairie by a small stream. The canyon was nine hundred feet deep and over six miles wide. Containing a source of water and abundant trees, it was an ideal haven for the Indians. The three scouts cautiously crept up and peered over the edge of the immense canyon to the grassy meadows far below. The sight that unfolded before them amazed the veteran frontier sergeant. There were two hundred tepees sprinkled along the stream bed for over three miles in five separate villages. Hundreds of Indian ponies were grazing in the canyon meadows. The Indians included a large band of Comanches led by O-ha-ma-tai, a band of Kiowas led by Mamanti, and a small group of Cheyennes led by Iron Shirt. After observing the Indians with awe, Mackenzie's scouts slipped back to their horses and raced back to inform him of their discovery.
Mackenzie left one company of cavalry to protect his supply train at Tule Creek and departed at dusk with the remainder of his forces. Mackenzie's forces engaged in a forced march all night and by dawn the morning of September 28, they were deployed on the rim of the canyon. Mackenzie rode to the head of the column and instructed Lieutenant Thompson to take scouts down into the canyon and begin the attack. Captain McLaughlin with the First Battalion was ordered to guard the entrance trail from the rim of the canyon. Captain Beaumont, accompanied by Mackenzie, led the Second Battalion down into the canyon following Thompson's scouts.
The only access into the canyon was a narrow steep trail that required the men to dismount and lead their horses single file over the rim and down into the depths of the canyon. Mackenzie dispatched his scouts to proceed ahead and silence the Comanche sentries. It took Mackenzie's column more than an hour to descend the treacherous path. As they descended an Indian look out yelled and waved a red blanket to alert the Indians, but he was quickly shot by the soldiers. The shot quickly aroused the sleeping villages. An old Comanche named K'ya-been (Older Man) emerged from his tepee and was startled when he saw the soldiers scrambling down the embankment. He fired twice and ran back into his tepee to put on his war paint. Several other shots rang out and the Comanches became panic stricken when they saw the soldiers coming. The Kiowas at the far end of the valley ignored the shots, assuming the Comanches were hunting deer.
The companies formed into skirmish lines as quickly as they arrived on the bottom. Mackenzie dispatched A Company, the first company formed, to scatter the huge Indian horse herd. Mackenzie personally led I and H companies into the attack. The troopers charged after the Indians who were attempting to flee. Captain Beaumont, commanding Company A had managed to scatter the horse herd before the Comanches could mount. The horrified Indians abandoned their tepees and horses in a desperate attempt to escape the charging soldiers. The warriors concealed themselves in boulders and cedars along the sides of the canyon and returned fire in an attempt to enable the women and children to escape. As soon as the women and children had fled the warriors abandoned their defensive positions and joined in the general retreat. Mackenzie, fearing an ambush did not pursue the fleeing warriors but led his troops at a gallop along the floor of the canyon where they rode through several abandoned villages. The canyon was littered with lodge poles, and all sorts of clothing and cooking utensils. The Indian's pack animals were milling about with their packs dragging on the ground.
Only four Indians had been killed and Mackenzie had several cavalry troopers wounded, but his raid had dealt a death blow the once fierce Comanche nation. The Tonkawa scouts looted the villages and burned all the tepees. Mackenzie ordered all the supplies burned including large stores of flour, sugar, blankets, meat, and several new repeating rifles. Sergeant Charlton and his scouts drove the 1,424 captured Indian horses back to the Army camp at Tule Creek. Charlton had been in his saddle now for over forty eight hours, and Mackenzie had to yell at him to wake him up, the exhausted sergeant had fallen asleep in the saddle during the return ride. Mackenzie from previous experience knew he would have difficulty retaining the horse herd and ordered the troopers to shoot the Indian horses. After giving 376 of the best mounts to the Indian scouts, the troopers shot 1,048 of the horses.
At the battle of Palo Duro Canyon most of the Indians had survived the onslaught of Mackenzie's guns due to the courageous stand of the Comanche warriors. But without horses and supplies the destitute Indians were now stranded on the high plains without any means to support themselves. The remaining Cheyennes and Kiowas departed from the Comanche band and made their own way across the plains.
On October 2, 1874, he launched a series of marches in pursuit of the Indians and continued to pursue them throughout the winter. During his four month campaign in the Texas Panhandle Mackenzie had participated in twenty five engagements with the Indians. Finally plagued by exhausted horses, a shortage of supplies, and bad weather, Mackenzie, satisfied that most of the Indians were on their way to the reservation, returned with his command to Fort Richardson on January 13, 1875.
The Kiowas that fled toward the Yellow House Canyon linked up with other bands and wandered to the western edge of the Staked Plains. A group of Mexicans and Navajos stole all of their remaining horses and the pitiful band turned and retreated back into the plains. The Kiowas eventually joined the surviving remnants of the Comanches near Blanco Canyon on the eastern edge of the Staked Plains.
On October 9, 1874, Buell encountered a group of Kowas near present Greer County Oklahoma. The Indians fled northward and Buell's column pursued them, destroying several abandoned villages along the way. Four days later, Price defeated more of the Indians in Hemphill County, Texas. On October 13, near Gageby Creek, Indian Territory, a detachment of Navajo scouts from Price's command attacked and defeated a war party of hostile Indians. On October 17, Captain Adna R. Chaffee, under Miles command, led elements of the Sixth Cavalry in an attack against an Indian camp north of the Washita River. Several other minor skirmishes were fought with the Cheyennes until the end of December.
Colonel Davidson returned to the field with his forces again on October 21, 1874. He marched his troops to the ruins of old Fort Cobb to the southwest past Rainy Mountain. On October 25, 1874, while he was camped at Elk Creek, three companies of the Tenth Cavalry, commanded by Major George W. Schofield, attacked a large Comanche encampment and captured 69 warriors and 250 women and children. Among those captured were Tabananica, White Wolf, Red Food, and Little Crow, son of the famous Yamparika chief, Ten Bears. Later Captain Norvall and a detachment of troops escorted the prisoners and about two thousand horses and mules to Fort Sill.
Two bands of Cheyenne warriors had evaded Sheridans's envelopment and escaped into Kansas. One of the bands was led by Medicine Water and included, Yellow Horse, White Man, Rising Bull, Lone Tree, Bear's Heart, Lame Man, Broken Leg, Little Shield, Chief Killer, Big Moccasin, Squint Eyes, Kicking Horse and a female warrior named Buffalo Calf Woman who was Stone Calf's niece and the wife of Medicine Water. Medicine Water's band created havoc as they raided throughout southwestern Kansas. They intercepted a work party led by Oliver Short and killed all six of them, including two young boys in what became known as the "Lone Tree Massacre."
The war party next attacked on 11 September 1874, the family of John German and his family as they were proceeding alone on the Smoky Hill wagon road on their way from Georgia to Russell Springs, Kansas where they planned on continuing on to the Colorado Territory. The Cheyenne killed German and his wife and three of their children. Catherine (17 years old), Sophia (12 years old), Julia (7 years old) and Adelaide "Addie" German (5 years old) were all taken captive. Another daughter, Rebecca (20 years old), had been brutally raped before she had been killed. The war party then proceeded back towards the Texans Panhandle and late that afternoon they stopped to divide the spoils. Medicine Water's wife, Buffalo Calf Woman, took Julia and Adelaide to raise as her daughters. Medicine Water claimed Catherine, and Sophia was claimed by another warrior. During their captivity they were repeatedly raped by Medicine Water and his warriors.
A few days later, Medicine Water's warriors linked up with the other band of Cheyenne warriors that had evaded Miles and attacked a party of cattle drovers on the Arkansas River near present Larkin Kansas. When General Pope learned of the depredations he dispatched a column of soldiers from Fort Dodge and they forced the Cheyenne to retreat back towards the North Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle. While fleeing the soldiers, Julia and Adelaide were abandoned on the prairie where they wandered on their own for six weeks and nearly died from exposure and starvation. Three warriors from Grey Beard's band later found the girls and carried them back to his camp.
Colonel Miles continued his campaign and on November 8, 1875, he dispatched Lieutenant Frank D. Baldwin with Company D. of the Fifth Infantry Regiment consisting of 40 men commanded by Lieutenant Bailey, D Troop of the Sixth Cavalry Regiment with 36 men commanded by Lieutenant Overton, one mountain howitzer drawn by 2 mules, 12 of Baldwin's trusty scouts, and 23 wagon with six mule teams that transported his infantry and supplies. After leaving Colonel Miles's encampment on the McClellan Creek, one of scouts, William F. Schmalsle, rode in and informed Baldwin that he had spotted a large encampment of hostile Cheyenne Indians. Baldwin immediately rode ahead with Schmalsle and observed the Indian camp through his telescope. Baldwin estimated that there were about two hundred Indians and their families. After returning to his command, he ordered them to advance at a rapid pace. When he arrived about a mile from the camp, Baldwin dispatched 10 cavalrymen ahead as skirmishers. When Baldwin advanced to within 500 yards of the Indians, the men were formed into a line with the Infantry on the right and the Cavalry on the left. Baldwin then placed his wagon train in four columns in the middle. The howitzer was placed in the center in front of the wagon train.
When they spotted the soldiers, the Cheyenne warriors, led by their chief Grey Beard, attempted to occupy and hold the ravines to Baldwin's right. Baldwin knew he had to clear the ravines to protect his flanks and rear. Baldwin positioned his howitzer and opened fire and the Indians retreated to the plains. The Indians then mounted a charge against Baldwin's position, but Baldwin opened fire with his howitzer and rifles and the Indians once more retreated leaving two dead warriors behind. The warriors had attempted to distract the soldiers long enough to allow the women and children to escape and they fled the area leaving most of their supplies and teepees behind. Baldwin then ordered his Infantry to advance through the camp they were charged twice more by the warriors but they were repulsed. Baldwin pursued the fleeing Cheyenne warriors in a running gun battle that lasted nearly four hours.
While searching the camp Baldwin's Infantry discovered the two starved and naked young girls, Julia and Addie German. The rescue of Julia and Addie renewed hopes that the soldiers might find the other two, Catherine and Sophia German. Baldwin dispatched Overton's Cavalry in pursuit of the Indians across the plains but they managed to escape and Overton abandoned the chase after twelve miles when his horses tired. Baldwin suffered no casualties and was later awarded his second Medal Of Honor for rescuing the German girls. Miles relentlessly continued to pursue the Cheyenne although bad weather, blowing snow, and frozen ground hampered his movements.
After fleeing from Baldwin's attack Grey Beard proceeded to the northeast towards the Canadian River. Major Price had been positioned on the Washita River to block the retreat of the Indians from Miles advance but when he spotted Grey Beard's band on November 8, 1874, he failed to pursue them and halted to allow his horses to graze. As a result of his actions, Miles relieved him of his command. As Grey Beard continued onwards to the northwest Colonel Davidson picked up the pursuit. Davidson halted at the edge of the staked plains and dispatched Captain Charles D. Viele with 120 cavalry troops and Lieutenant Richard H. Pratt's scouts to continue the pursuit. After two days of hard riding their horses were exhausted and they had to turn back.
On November 12, 1874 Miles placed Captain Charles A. Hartwell in charge of Squadron of Price's Eighth Cavalry Regiment, and sent him to pursue the fleeing Cheyenne. On November 29, 1874 Hartwell attacked about 50 Cheyenne warriors at the head of Muster Creek that were believed to have been from Grey Beard's band. Hartwell pursued the Indians for twelve miles but they managed to escape into the Palo Duro Canyon.
Hartwell's skirmish likely represented the last encounter of Sheridan's campaign. The extreme winter weather, poor logistics, and extended marches had all taken their toll on his forces. By late November the various columns began to return back to their home forts. Davidson returned to Fort Sill on November 29, 1874, and shortly afterwards in December, Buell returned to Fort Griffin. Colonel Miles sent the Eighth Cavalry Regiment back to Fort Bascom in December and on January 2, 1875 he conducted a final patrol around the headwaters of the Red River and made his way back to Fort Supply to rest before returning to Fort Dodge. At Sheridan's direction Miles left Major James Riddle and four companies of the Sixth Cavalry Regiment and four companies of the Fifth Infantry Regiment at an encampment on the banks of Sweetwater Creek. Riddle's camp became a permanent post named Fort Elliott after Major Joel H. Elliott that had been killed on the Washita River with Custer during the 1868 campaign.
The pressure exerted upon the Indians by the various military columns had taken it's toll. Although relatively few Indians had been killed their horses were becoming weak from exertion and the lack of fodder. Their movements had been restricted, their camps destroyed, their horse herds captured, their women and children were complaining of hunger, and the morale of the warriors was devastated.. In February 1875 a hunting party of Comanches from the agency led by Milky Way encountered a group of Kiowas led by Lone Wolf. Phillip McCusker, who accompanied the Comanches assisted Milky Way into convincing the Kiowas to surrender. Maman-ti, Lone Wolf, and other die hards wanted to seek the sanctuary of the Staked Plains. Woman's Heart had enough of the war and was prepared to surrender and return to the reservation. Satanta, Big Tree, and 245 Kiowas decided to join him. They turned back to Antelope Hills, just barely avoiding Colonel Davidson's column, and proceeded to the Cheyenne agency at Darlington where they hoped to receive better treatment. Satanta and Big Tree were both arrested, placed in chains and held under guard. Lieutenant Colonel Neil had the entire group escorted by armed guard to Fort Sill where the warriors were all placed in confinement.
During the winter increasing numbers of the Cheyenne including White Horse came into the Darlington agency and surrendered. In January 1875, three Cheyenne warriors rode into to the agency and announced to Agent John Miles that Chief Stone Calf wished to surrender and that they had Catherine and Sophia German. After their rampage in Kansas, Medicine Water and his warriors had joined Stone Calf at his camp in the Texas Panhandle with the two German girls. Lieutenant Colonel Neill dispatched his Indian scouts to deliver a message to Stone Calf that the Cheyenne would be fairly treated if they returned the girls unharmed. At about the same time, Miles had a similar message delivered to Grey Beard. On March 6, 1875, 820 more Cheyenne including Grey Beard, Stone Calf, Bull Bear, Minimic, and Medicine Water, surrendered to the agency. When Stone Calf surrendered he released Catherine and Sophia German to the agents. Others including Bull Elk, White Antelope, and Medicine Arrows fled north and joined the Sioux and the Northern Cheyenne.
Colonel Mackenzie who replaced Davidson and assumed command of Fort Sill on April 1, 1875 developed plans to bring in the remaining Quahadis Comanches. Mackenzie dispatched two army scouts, Jack Kilmartin and Jack Stillwell, accompanied by the Noconi chief, Easarosavit (White Wolf), to attempt to contact the Comanches. In the middle of April they returned with Kawertzxen (Long Hungry), Mow-way, and Wild Horse with 175 of their followers and 700 horses and mules. Other Indian bands began to trickle into the reservation at Fort Sill and surrender to federal authorities.
Mackenzie next recruited Coby (Wild Horse), Habywake (Lie Down) and Toveash to return to the plains and locate the rest of the Comanches. Dr. J. J. Strum who had performed as Mackenzie's interpreter accompanied the Comanches. Sturm departed Fort Sill on April 23, 1875. Six days later they followed a trail to Black Beard's camp where they received a warm welcome. Tomichicut (Black Beard) indicated that he was ready to surrender and agreed to lead them to the main party of Quahadis. On May 2, 1875, Sturm met in council with the Quahadis chiefs, including Quanah Parker and Ischiti, who seemed to exert a great deal of influence despite the fiasco at Adobe Walls. Quanah had a great deal of respect for Wild Horse who convinced him to surrender. On June 2, 1875, Quanah Parker, accompanied by Sturm and Wild Horse, led the remnants of his band consisting of four hundred Comanches and a few Kiowa Apaches to Signal Mountain near Fort Sill and surrendered to Mackenzie. He was one of the last of the Southern Plains Indians to surrender.
Although Sheridan's campaign had been plagued by logistics problems, extreme weather, rugged terrain, and a cumbersome command structure, his commanders in the field had managed to overcome their difficulties and drive the errant bands of plains Indians from the Texas Panhandle region of the southern plains. Sheridan's 1874 campaign was one of the most successful of the post Civil War era Indian Wars. The remnants of the once proud plains tribes fled throughout the staked plains, but with no means to sustain themselves eventually they eventually surrendered. This time the federal authorities were dealing with a defeated enemy and not the defiant warriors who had previously treated agents with arrogance and contempt. There would be no peace councils or government gifts. The more notorious of the warriors were placed in irons and incarcerated in the Fort Sill guard house. Later, at the end of April 1875, seventy one of the worst offenders were transported to prison at Fort Marion Florida where they remained for three years.
After battling the Europeans for 170 years for control of the southern plains the proud Comanches were finally defeated and now confined to a small reservation which was only a tiny remnant of the former vast Comanche Nation known as Comancheria. The mighty "Lords of the Southern Plains" and their allies the Kiowa, Kiowa Apache, Arapahoe, and the southern Cheyenne would pose no further threat to the further European settlement of the southern plains.
Show Footnotes and
. The Comanche and Kiowa tribes had been closely allied since the mid 1700s. Almost every major raid conducted included members of both tribes. The Kiowa Apache were a small band of Apaches that were closely affiliated with the Kiowa Tribe and became known as the Kiowa Apaches. The southern Cheyenne and the Arapahoe were also traditional allies but the two groups were traditionally enemies. In the summer of 1840 trader William Bent arranged a truce between the five tribes at his trading post and by the 1860s they occasionally banded together in what is sometimes referred to as the Plains Alliance. (Grinnell, The Fighting Cheyennes. Pg 63)
. Hagan, United States - Comanche Relations, pg 56 - 57
. Monnett, Massacre at Cheyenne Hole, pg 22
. Hutton, Phil Sheridan and His Army. pg 245
. Haley, The Buffalo War
. Hutton, Phil Sheridan and His Army. pg 248 -249
. Wallace, Ranald S. Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier, pg 123
. Augur's Annual Report, September 28, 1874 (Ranald S. Mackenzie's Official Correspondence Relating to Texas, pg 105)
. On March 31, 1873, Laurie Tatum, the Quaker Indian Agent for the Kiowa, Comanche and Wichita Indian Reservation resigned and was replaced by James H. Haworth. Haworth did not believe in the use of military force against the Indians and as the depredations increased friction developed between him and the military. Buntin, Chronicles of Oklahoma)
. Augur's Annual Report, September 28, 1874 (Ranald S. Mackenzie's Official Correspondence Relating to Texas, pg 106)
. Leckie, Military Conquest of the Southern Plains, pg 204
. The Comanches later denied that they had any hostile intentions at the beginning of the incident. Lone Wolf had become head chief of the Kiowa tribe after the death of Tohauson in 1866. He was seething with vengeance after the death of his son. Satanta was drunk when the fighting erupted and was not involved. (Mooney, Calendar History of the Kiowas, pg 205)
. Hagan, United States - Comanche Relations, pg 112
. Carriker, Fort Supply, pg 92
. Hutton, Phil Sheridan and His Army, pg 253
. Frank Baldwin was born 26 June 1842 at Manchester Michigan and was a double recipient of the Medal of Honor. He was awarded his first as Captain of Company D., of the 19th Michigan Regiment at Peach Tree Creek, Georgia, on 20 July 1864. His second was awarded while serving as chief of Miles's scouts at the engagement with the Indians at McCllan's Creek Texas on 8 November 1874. He later attained the rank of Major General and died 22 April 1922. He was buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery. (Robert H. Steinbach, The Handbook of Texas)
. Miles, Personal Recollections, pg 164 - 165
. Steinbach, The Red River War of 1874 - 1875, pg 505
. Rathjen, The Texas Panhandle Frontier, pg 166
. Baldwin estimated the Indians to be about 75 to 100. (Carriker, Thompson McFadden's Diary, pg 204-205)
. Miles, Personal Recollections, pg 168
. Miles to Pope, September 1, 1874, (Green, Ranald S. Mackenzie's Official Correspondence Relating to Texas, pg 84)
. Steinbach, The Red River War of 1874 - 1875, pg 507
. Carriker, Fort Supply, pg 95 -97
. Nye, Carbine and Lance, pg 216
. The Buffalo Wallow Fight compiled from several sources including,: Nye, Carbine and Lance, pg 216 - 219; Carriker, Fort Supply, pg 97 - 99; Dixon, The Buffalo Wallow Fight.
. Price to Pope, September 23, 1874, (Green, Ranald S. Mackenzie's Official Correspondence Relating to Texas, pg 94)
. Nye, Carbine and Lance, pg 221 - 222
. Johnson had been trading arms to the Indians on the headwaters of the Red River for years and was the only member of the command who had a detailed knowledge of the Staked Plains. (Hatfield, The Comanche Campaign, pg 118)
. The Comanches were from the bands led by Tabananica, Mow-way, and Wild Horse. (Wallace, Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier. Pg 140)
. Hatfield, The Comanche Campaign, pg 120
. Wallace, Ranald S. Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier, pg 128 - 141
. Nye, Carbine and Lance, pg 222
. Wallace, Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier, pg 150 - 166
. Sheridan, Record of Engagements, pg 42
. Monnett, Massacre at Cheyenne Hole, pg 30 - 33
. Utley, Frontier Regulars, pg 227
. Hutton, Phil Sheridan and His Army, pg 257
. Utley, Frontier Regulars, pg 227 - 228
. According to some estimates the entire campaign had resulted in the deaths of only ten Indians. (Hagan, United States - Comanche Relations, pg 112)
. On May 17, 1871, Santanta, Big Tree, and Satank were involved in the Warren Wagon Train Massacre near Fort Richardson but were later captured and sentenced to prison in Texas. En route, Satank tried to escape but was killed. Santanta and Big Tree were later released and resumed raiding. After he surrendered he was returned to prison in Texas. The old warrior could no longer accept confinement and slashed his wrists. The prison doctor managed to save Santanta's life, but he later leaped through the second story window of the hospital head first onto the prison courtyard and killed himself. (Capps, The Warren Wagon Train Massacre, pg 155 - 183)
. All four of the surviving German girls were placed under the care of Colonel Miles for a while and they all eventually married and lived long lives. (Monnett, Massacre at Cheyenne Hole, pg 46 - 50)
. Nye, Carbine and Lance, pg 225
. Hagan, United States - Comanche Relations, pg 116
. Dr. Sturm had been employed at the Texas reservation in 1857 and moved with the Comanches to the Washita in 1859. He was married to a Caddo woman and served with both the Wichita and Comanche agencies. He had an intimate knowledge of the Comanches. (Hagan, United States - Comanche Relations, pg 116)
. Following the surrender of the Comanches the young war chief, Quanah Parker, was designated as principal chief of the Comanches partially because his mother had been a white woman. This reflected the first time that the Comanches had been united under one chief. Although he later proved to be a capable leader his position was deeply resented by the older more experienced chiefs and was often the source of friction among the Comanches. (Hagan, United States - Comanche Relations, pg 117 - 119) (Hagan, Quanah Parker, pg 3- 4)
. Hitetsi, Ten Bears' son, surrendered in November 1875 but several more of the Comanches joined the Kickapoos and Apaches in Mexico. (Kavanagh, Comanche Political History, pg 452.
. Although Sheridan's campaign marked the last episode of armed conflict between the United States Army and the Comanches and Kiowas, small groups of young warriors continued to defy their chiefs and continued to conduct minor horse stealing raids into Texas and had skirmishes with the Texas Rangers until 29 June 1878 When Captain June Peak, commander of Company B., of Major Jones' Frontier Battalion, dispatched seven rangers to patrol along the North Concho River and they encountered 25 Comanche warriors led by Black Horse. During the fight about six Comanches were killed and Ranger W. B. Anglin was killed. This marked the end of the 32 year long war between the Comanches and the Texas Ranger, leaving Anglin with the honor of being the last Texas Ranger to be killed by the Comanches. (Adair, Captain Peak Recalls Last Indian Fight, pg 12 - 13)
Adair, W. S., "Captain Peak Recalls Last Indian Fight", (Contained in: Frontier Times Vol. 3, October 1925, J. Marvin Hunter, Bandera Texas, 1925)
Buntin, Martha, "The Quaker Indian Agents of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Indian Reservation", Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 10, No. 2, June, 1932
Capps, Benjamin, "The Warren Wagon Train Massacre", The Dial Press, New York, 1974
Carriker, Robert C., "Fort Supply Indian Territory: Frontier Outpost on the Plains ", University of Oklahoma Press, Norman Oklahoma, 1970
Carriker, Robert C. "Thompson McFadden's Diary of an Indian Campaign, 1874," (Contained in: The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol LXXV, The Texas State Historical Association, Austin Texas, 1971 - 1972
Dixon, Olive, "Life of "Billy" Dixon, Plainsman, Scout, and Pioneer", P. L. Turner, Dallas Texas, 1914
Green, F. E. (Editor), "Ranald S. Mackenzie's Official Correspondence Relating to Texas, 1873 - 1879", (Contained In: The Museum Journal Vol X), West Texas Museum Association, Lubbock Texas, 1966
Grinnell, George Bird, "The Fighting Cheyennes", University of Oklahoma Press, Norman Oklahoma, 1956
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Hutton, Paul Andrew, "Phil Sheridan and His Army", University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln Nebreska, 1985
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Miles, Nelson A., "Personal Recollections and Observations of General Nelson A. Miles", The Werner Company, Chicago and New York, 1896
Monnett, John H., "Massacre at Cheyenne Hole: Lieutenant Austin Henely and the Sappa Creek Controversy", University Press of Colorado, Niwot Colorado, 1999
Mooney, James, "Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians", (Contained in: Seventeenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology), Washington, D. C., 1895 - 1896
Nye, Wilbur Sturtevant, "Carbine and Lance: The Story of Old Fort Sill", University of Oklahoma Press, Norman Oklahoma, 1962
Nye, W. S., "Excitement on the Sweetwater", Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 16, No. 2, Oklahoma Historical Society, June 1938
Rathjen, Frederick W., "The Texas Panhandle Frontier" Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock Texas, 1998
Sheridan, Phillip H., "Record of Engagements With Hostile Indians Within the Military Division of the Missouri from 1868 to 1882", Government Printing Office, Washington D. C., 1882
Steinbach, Robert H., "The Red River War of 1874 - 1875: Selected Correspondence between Lieutenant Frank Baldwin and His Wife, Alice", (Contained in: The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol XCIII, The Texas State Historical Association, Austin Texas, 1989
Utley, Robert M., "Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian", 1866 - 1891", University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln Nebraska, 1973
Wallace, Ernest, "Ranald S. Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier", (Contained in: The Museum Journal, Vol VII - VIII, Edited by F. E. Green), West Texas Museum Association, Technological College, Lubbock, Texas, 1963 - 1964
Wooster, Robert, "The Military and United States Indian Policy, 1865 - 1903", Yale University Press, New Haven, 1988
Copyright © 2009 Garland Lively
Written by Garland Lively. If you have questions or comments on this article,
please contact Garland Lively at:
About the author:
Garland R. Lively is a retired United States Army officer with a keen interest in military history. He served two tours as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and later worked in various Department of Defense command and control systems positions. After retiring from the Army in 1986 Mr. Lively accepted a position with a Washington D. C. based DOD consulting firm as the head of their European operations where he continued his work in DOD and NATO command and control systems. After retirement in 1993 Mr. Lively moved to his farm on the Brazos River near Waco, Texas where he has pursued his life long passion for military history and genealogy. Mr. Lively has written fourteen genealogy books and numerous articles about southwestern history.
Published online: 05/10/2009.
* Views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent
those of MHO.