Chief of Scouts
Part 4 out of 5
After we had talked a few minutes, he told me in his own language that I
had come too soon. He supposed I had come to trade with the Indians for
Buffalo robes. I told him that I had not come to trade this time but
would come all prepared to trade in four months.
Then I told him what I was doing and where I was going, and I told him
that if he would tell all his Warriors to let us pass without disturbing
or molesting us in any way, I would make him a present of two butcher
knives when I came in four months to trade with them.
This promise seemed to please him, for he said I and the pale faces with
me could go through his country and none of his Warriors would disturb
us. I told him I would want to come back with the same wagons in about
one month, and he answered, "It is well," which meant "It is all right."
By this time there were hundreds of bucks and squaws and papooses around
the Chief's wigwam. They all thought I had come with knives and rings
and beads to trade with them. When the Chief told them that I was only
making him a visit, and that I would return in four months to trade,
they all wanted to shake hands with me, and while I was shaking their
hands, I saw the train pass along the trail, and by the time I had
shaken hands with them all it was out of sight.
I was now about to mount my horse to follow the train when the Chief
said, "No go now, stay eat dinner."
I knew that it would be considered an insult to refuse, so I said, "Wa
to," which means "All right."
I staked my horse out by tying him to a sage brush and accompanied the
Chief to his wigwam, and it was not long before the squaws had a plenty
of juicy Buffalo steak broiled and ready to eat, and I have no doubt the
reader will think me a very strange person when I say that I enjoyed
that meal, which was of broiled Buffalo meat alone without even bread,
more than I would now the most sumptuous dinner that could be cooked and
spread on the finest mahogany table, and that meal was spread on the
ground in an Indian wigwam with wild Indians for companions.
After a while, which seemed short to me, I looked at my watch and was
surprised to find that it was two o'clock in the afternoon. I bid the
Chief and his squaws good by and mounted my horse and was off in pursuit
of the train.
I overtook them just as they were corralling for the night. As I rode
into camp, Capt. McKee met me and said, "Mr. Drannan, you must bear a
charmed life. I never expected to see you again, either alive or dead."
I laughed and answered, "Did you think I was going to marry a squaw and
settle down in the Indian village, Capt? I thought you had a better
opinion of me than that. I will confess that I like the Indians pretty
well, but not well enough to be a squaw man."
This answer made a general laugh and upset the gravity that was settling
on all their faces. Capt McKee then said, "Where have you been all day,
I told him I went to the Indian village which he passed and was invited
to eat dinner with the head Chief, and they made such a spread that I
like to not got away today. He said, "What could you have had for dinner
that it took all day to eat it?" I answered, "Buffalo steak straight
cooked in the most approved style."
This answer made such a laugh that the Capt. did not ask any more
questions until he and I were alone that evening. The wagon master and
Capt. McKee asked me to take a walk with them. After we had strolled
along a while, the Capt. said, "Mr. Drannan, how is it that you can go
into those Indian villages be they large or small? It seems to make
no difference to you, and the Indians do not molest you. Have you no
hesitation at all in going among the Indians?"
I answered, "Yes sir, I would hesitate a long time before I went into
the village of some tribes of Indians, but I have no fear of the
Comanches in small bands or when they are all together, for they are all
friendly to me, and instead of hurting me they would protect me from
harm, and there is something else I can guarantee, and that is that this
train will not be molested by the Comanche Indians, either going or
coming on this trip."
Capt. McKee said, "Where in the world could you get that guarantee, Mr.
I replied, "Capt. McKee, I got it from the head Chief of the Comanche
tribe, and his word is law with all his warriors."
Then the wagon master spoke for the first time since we started on our
walk. He said, "In that case there is no need of all these men as an
escort, is there?"
I answered, "That is none of my business; it is nothing to me how many
men the Government employs to escort the trains. All I have to do with
it is to do my duty."
The Capt. inquired how I came to make such an arrangement with the
Chief. I told him that I had the idea in my mind from the beginning, and
that was the reason I wanted to go to the main village in advance of the
train, so I could arrange everything to suit myself before the train
came in sight.
The Capt. inquired how much it cost me to get the guarantee. I said,
"The cost was considerable, but I think the teamsters will be willing
to make it up to me, considering the trouble and perhaps loss of life I
have saved them."
The wagon boss said, "I reckon we all will want to take a hand in that
payment. Tell me what it costs, and be it ever so much, you shall not be
out a cent. I will go and see the boys right away and see if we can make
it up. How much shall I tell them?"
I answered, "I promised the Chief two butcher knives for the safety of
this train's passage through the Comanche country, both going to Santa
Fe and coming back."
They both stared at me as if they were amazed, and finally the Capt.
said, "What are you giving us? Are you joking or in earnest, Mr.
I answered, "I have told just what I promised to give the Chief. We did
not call it 'paying,' and I have over three months to pay it in."
Capt. McKee said, "Two butcher knives for the safety of all our lives
and all the property in our care? How in the name of common sense could
you make such a bargain as that?"
I answered, "There is nothing very wonderful about the transaction,
Capt. I told the Chief that I would give him two butcher knives if he
would tell his warriors not to molest the train either going or coming
back, and he accepted my offer and seemed to think himself well paid. I
told him that I would come to trade with his tribe in four months and
that I would give the knives to him then."
Capt. McKee asked how many more villages we would have to pass through.
I told him that there were two more small villages. One was about ten
miles, and the other one about fifteen or twenty miles above us.
He inquired if I intended to visit each of those in advance of the train
as I had the ones we had passed; I replied, "I certainly do, for they
would think themselves greatly insulted if I should visit the other
villages and pass them by without paying them a visit too. The Indians
are very much like children. If you notice one, you must pay the same
attention to the others or there will be jealousy, and that is very
much to be avoided in this case. Besides, I expect to trade with those
Indians next spring, and I want to keep on the good side of all of them.
If one gets the ill will of one Indian, the whole tribe is against one,
and if you have the Chief on your side there is no danger from the
When we returned to camp from our walk, the wagon master said, "Boys,
Mr. Drannan has hired the Chief of the Comanches to forbid his warriors
interfering with this train going to Santa Fe or when it is coming back.
Now I want to know how much money each one of you are willing to chip
in towards helping him out. You must remember that the contract he made
with the Indian Chief has not only saved the destruction of the train,
but more than likely some of us would have lost our lives if the Indians
had resented our passing through their country."
Three drivers, all from Missouri, came forward at once and said, "Mr.
Drannan, we haven't any money now, but as soon as we draw our pay, we
will give you twenty dollars apiece as our share."
Another man cried out, "I will give twenty-five."
Capt. McKee frowned and said, "Don't you think your lives worth more
than twenty-five dollars, men?"
This remark seemed to stir them up, and in less than ten minutes they
had subscribed four hundred and forty dollars.
The Capt. clapped his hands and said, "Mr. Drannan, you are safe," and
then told the men what the real expense would be to me. The Missouri
men answered, "Don't make any difference to us what he is to pay. The
bargain he made to save our lives is what we want to pay for as far as
I said, "Now boys, I believe that I have been instrumental in saving
some of your lives and probably the whole train, but you don't owe me a
cent of money for what I have done, and I want to say to you all that
if there should be any Indians come near the train while we are passing
through the Comanche country do not interfere with them in any way, and
you may rest assured they will not with you."
The Capt. now turned to the wagon master and said, "How much further do
you want me and my men to accompany you?" He answered, "I will leave
that for you and Mr. Drannan to decide."
I said, "Capt. McKee, I think you had better stay with the train until
we cross the river at Rocky Ford, which will take the train nearly out
of the Comanche country at this season of the year, and we ought to
reach Rocky Ford day after to morrow night, and as far as having an
escort is concerned, I do not think there will be any more need of one
after we cross Rocky Ford. I think the train will be perfectly safe to
go on alone under the present circumstances."
To this neither the Capt. or the wagon master would agree, for Capt.
McKee said, "You, Mr. Drannan, have been really the only protection the
train has had, and it is no more than right that you should accompany it
through to Santa Fe. I with my men will go on to Santa Fe, and I will
report that all is well with the train, and I will also report what you
have done in protecting the lives of the men as well as the Government
property on this trip."
The next morning we broke camp early and hit the trail in good season.
Everything went along smoothly until about two o'clock, when we came in
sight of a little Indian village. It was on the opposite side of the
I rode to the bank of the river where I saw a number of squaws on the
other side. I waved my hand at them, and they recognized me at once and
began crying, "Hy-ar-hy-ar," and they came to the brink of the river and
waved their hands at me. I called to them that in four months I would
come with a plenty of beads and rings and knives to trade with them.
They clapped their hands and answered, "Good-good," and I turned my
horse and rode back to meet the train.
I will here explain that all this conversation had been carried on in
the Comanches' language, as the Indians, neither bucks or squaws, could
understand a word of the English language at that time, and if I could
not have talked with them in their language, I would not have had the
influence over them that I had now.
That night when we went into camp, Capt. McKee got off a good joke on
While we were eating supper, he said, "Mr. Drannan, I have caught on to
your tricks with the Indians. First you make love to the squaws, and
then you get the good will of the bucks by giving them knives to scalp
the white men with. I saw how you made love to the squaws today when you
were flirting with them across the river, and I saw them throwing kisses
at you too."
I answered, "Capt., you ought to be with me when I come down here to
trade with them. You would then see the real thing. I will acknowledge
that I get all the hand-shaking that I can stand up to, but as far as
kissing and hugging is concerned, that the squaws save for their own if
they give them to anyone."
The Capt. laughed and answered, "Well putting joking aside, Mr. Drannan,
I think the Indians of the Comanche tribe are all your friends, and no
mistake, and I see that you have a wonderful influence over them."
I answered, "Capt. McKee, I have been trading with those Indians four
years, and I have always done just as I agreed to do with them, which
is the secret of what you call my wonderful influence over them, and I
certainly have never had any trouble with one of the Comanche Indians
yet, and I will tell you furthermore, Capt., that I intend, if I go
back with this train, to carry the knives with me and stop at the main
village and give them to the old Chief, for I do not know how soon I may
have occasion to ask another favor of him, and I feel confident that as
long as I keep his good will he will never refuse to do me a favor."
We left this camp quite early in the morning, and all things worked
satisfactory throughout the day. We did not see an Indian and but very
few Buffalos. We reached Rocky Ford and crossed the river just before
night and went into camp, and Capt. McKee began to make preparations to
leave the train, as with his twenty men and also the twenty-seven men
who went with me from Bent's Fort he intended to strike out in the
morning for Santa Fe, where he could make his report, and the men could
receive their pay from the Government for their services on this trip.
Before he left us in the morning, I said, "Now Capt., there is a part of
the route between here and Santa Fe which I am not familiar with, and as
the country is strange to the wagon master also, can you tell me about
the water and also tell me how many days it will take the train to reach
Santa Fe from this place?" The Capt. answered, "As for water and grass,
you will find a plenty all along the way; there is not more than four or
five miles from one stream to another, and for the time it will take to
reach Santa Fe, I figure that it will take fourteen days if everything
moves as smoothly in the future as it has done the last few days, and
now, Mr. Drannan, have you any word you would like to send to Bent's
Fort to Mr. Bent or Roubidoux? I intend to go back that way, and I will
take any message to anyone there that you would like to send."
I said, "Tell Mr. Bent and Mr. Roubidoux that I will be at Bent's Fort
as soon as I finish this job and can get there, and that if they want me
to go and trade with the Comanches, I have everything cut and dried for
business, for I have visited all the main villages on this trip, and the
Indians are expecting to see me back in four months to trade with them."
The men all mounted now, and we shook hands and bid each other good bye,
and the Capt. and forty-seven others struck out back across the Arkansas
river for Santa Fe by the way of Bent's Fort, while the train kept on up
the old Santa Fe trail by the picket-wire route.
From this place I had a jolly time all the way to Santa Fe; we were in a
wild country where game was plentiful, such as Deer, Antelope, and black
Bear, and after the first day's travel there was never a night on the
trip but I had fresh meat for supper.
I traveled along with the train until the middle of the afternoon. Then
I always asked the wagon boss what kind of meat he wanted for supper.
Sometimes he would say Antelope, and at other times he said he would
like a piece of black tail Deer, and I invariably got what he mentioned.
We got up into the foot hills where Trinidad, Colorado now stands. The
wagon boss and I were riding along together one afternoon. I looked at
my watch and saw that it was about time to be looking for some meat for
supper. I asked him in a joking way what he would like best for supper
if he could get it. He replied that he would like a Cub Bear for a roast
tonight. Up to this time I had not seen a bear, although I had seen some
signs of them, and I had no more idea of killing a bear that evening
than I had of flying when I started out to get something for supper.
I struck out on a low ridge that ran almost parallel with the trail. I
had gone but a short distance when I came on a patch of huckleberries,
and they certainly looked as if they might be delicious. They were the
first I had seen that year. I jumped off my horse and went to picking
and eating as fast as I could. In a few minutes my horse gave a little
snort. When I turned to see what was the matter, I saw that something
had frightened him. I went to him at once, and not over fifty yards from
him was an old she bear, and she had two cubs with her, and I thought
they, like myself, were so taken with eating berries that they had not
noticed the horse or me either.
I took my rifle, dropped down on one knee, fired and broke one of the
cubs' necks. The mother bear ran to the dead cub and pawed it with her
foot. While she was thus engaged, I mounted my horse drew my pistol,
rode up to where the mother bear and her two cubs were in a bunch and
shot the other cub and broke this one's back, and it looked for a few
minutes as if I must run from the mother, as I did not want to kill her
for the reason that I had no use for so much meat. So I rode away a
short distance and watched her a few minutes. She pawed them over a few
times and seemed to think that they were no more good and with a few low
growls she trotted off into the brush, and I saw no more of her.
I then rode to the dead cubs and dismounted from my horse. I picked them
up and strapped them both on the back of my saddle and struck out to
overtake the train, which I did just as they were going into camp.
When the wagon master saw me coming, he came to meet me, and when he saw
the load on my horse's back, he exclaimed, "Mr. Drannan, I would like to
know if there is anything that you can't do that you take a notion to
do. I had no idea that you would bring in a bear this evening than I had
of doing so myself. I was only joking when I suggested bear meat for
I answered, "Well, you had your joke, and you and the rest of us can
have Bear's Foot roasted for supper, and as I have wanted some bear meat
for several days, I can please you and myself at the same time."
The whole outfit was amazed when I spoke about roasting the bears' feet.
They had never heard of such a thing before. When I got all the feet
roasted, I took one from the coals and told the men to help themselves.
They all gathered around me to see how I fixed it so I could eat it.
When I had it ready to eat, the wagon boss said, "Well, who ever thought
of eating Bears' Feet? But it does look nice."
He watched me eat a few minutes and then made the remark that, as I
seemed to like it so well, he guessed he would try one, and it was not
long before the boys all had a taste of Bear's Foot.
After he had demolished a whole foot, the wagon boss said, "I have
tasted almost all kinds of meat, but I must say that I never ate any
meat as good as Bear's Foot."
Some of the boys asked me if I could get some more Bears' Feet for
supper the next night, and one said he would give me a dollar if I would
get a big foot for him.
We got an early start on the road the next morning, and we traveled
along all day without anything of interest taking place.
Along in the middle of the afternoon I told the boss that I guessed I
would go and hunt some more huckleberries. He said, "I would not exert
myself to get any more meat today if I were you. We have enough for
supper that was left over from last night."
"Yes, but I want some huckleberries, and I will pick enough for your and
my supper if I can find them."
I struck out and rode a mile or more, but I was not at any time more
than a half a mile from the train. I came to a little ridge. When I had
ridden to the top of it, I saw something in the way of game that was
a great surprise to me, as I had not seen any of that kind in several
years. It was a large flock of wild turkeys. I saw that they had not
discovered me as yet. I looked all around and could see no place where
they could roost except a little bunch of timber about a quarter of a
mile from where they were feeding. I got back out of sight and rode back
to the train as quickly as I could. When I overtook the train, the boss
was looking for a place to corral, and it was not long before all was in
shape for the night.
I asked the boss if he would like to go turkey hunting that night. His
answer was that he always went turkey hunting in the daytime, when he
could see to shoot them. I asked him if he had never hunted them at
night, and he said no, and had never heard of any one else doing such a
I said, "All right, I will go to the boys from Missouri and ask them,
for I have found a flock of wild turkeys, and I know where they roost."
When I told the Missouri boys of my find, they were wild for the hunt.
One said, "Do I know how to hunt turkeys by night? You bet I do, and I
have a shotgun that will fetch one every pop."
I said, "All right, you can have a chance to try your gun tonight, for
the moon will be bright tonight, and we will start right after supper,
and I think we will have some fun and all the turkeys we want besides,
for the flock was a large one that I saw this afternoon."
When I was ready, I found eight of the boys had their guns all ready
and were waiting for me. It was not over a half a mile from camp to the
grove where I felt sure we should find the turkeys. When we reached the
edge of the timber, I said, "Now, boys, I think we had better split up
and two go together, and when any of you see a turkey, shoot him."
In a few minutes all I could hear was "bang, bang" all around me, and
once in a while the cry "I've got one" as the hunter captured one he had
I spent most of my time laying at the foot of a tree, laughing and
watching the other fellows shoot and chase the turkeys, but the fun
did not last long. In a few minutes it was all over, and when the boys
gathered up their game, there were eleven turkeys, and I had not killed
a one, but I had my share of the sport in watching the others.
We struck back for camp, all the hunters feeling proud of what they
had done. When we reached camp, we found the cook waiting for us with
everything that would hold water and stand the fire that he could get
hold of full of steaming hot water, ready to scald the turkeys, and all
the men pitched in and helped to dress them.
When we were picking the turkeys, the boss said to the cook, "Say, John,
can't you preserve one of these birds, so it will keep until we get to
Santa Fe, and we will present it to Capt. McKee?"
John answered, "I am afraid it would not keep, Boss. There are too many
of us in this crowd that like turkey fried in bear's grease, and after
you have had breakfast in the morning, you won't say anything more about
preserving turkeys for somebody else to eat."
But notwithstanding this remark John kept two turkeys until we got to
Santa Fe the third day after the turkey hunt. We made the trip from
Rocky Ford to Santa Fe in thirteen days. We met Capt. McKee coming to
meet us about two miles before we reached our journey's end, and with
him was Col. Chivington, the commander of the Government Post at Santa
Fe. I was riding alone just a little ahead of the train. When I met
them, I saluted the Capt. and after we had shaken hands he introduced me
to the Col. whom I had never met before, although I had heard of him,
and he had heard of me also.
The Col. said, "Mr. Drannan, I have been acquainted with Capt. McKee for
several years, and have known him to have been a great Indian fighter,
but he tells me that you can do more with the Comanches alone than he
could do if he had five hundred soldiers to help him. Now, there must
be some secret about this, and I would like to be initiated into it. The
Capt. tells me that you went into the Comanches' main village alone, and
I presume there were several thousand warriors there at that time, and
what seems more wonderful to me," he said, "that you staid and ate
dinner with the head Chief. Now my friend, there must be something in
this unusual transaction. Will you tell me the secret of your influence
with the red men?"
I answered, "Col., if you were a member of a secret organization, would
you think it right to give away the secret to outsiders?"
At this answer the Capt. laughed and slapped the Col. on the back, and
said, "Col., I reckon, you have got your match in Mr. Drannan, for I
have never asked him a question that he did not find a way to answer me
without giving me the information that I was seeking."
Col. Chivington smiled but made no answer to the Capt. or me.
We rode in silence a few minutes, and then turning to me the Col. said,
"Mr. Drannan, I want you to come to my quarters tonight. I have a little
business that I would like to talk with you."
We soon got to headquarters, and as soon as the train was corralled, I
saw cook John coming to where the Col. the Capt. and I were standing,
and he had a turkey in each of his hands.
As soon as he reached us, he handed Capt. McKee one of the turkeys, with
the remark, "Here is your supper, Capt., and yours also, Col." and he
gave the other turkey to that Col.
They both looked at John in amazement, and the Col. said, "Thank you
very much, but where in creation did you get them?"
John answered, "I did not get them. You must give that honor to Mr.
Drannan, and I will say that he has provided every thing good to eat,
from turkey to bear feet, since we left Rocky Ford."
I went to Col. Chivington's quarters that evening, and as soon as we
were seated, he asked me if I intended to return with the train to
I answered. "I have sent word to Mr. Bent that I was coming back to the
Fort as soon as I finished my business with the train here, but I have
not asked Capt. McKee whether Col. Bent wants my services or not."
At this moment Capt. McKee came in. I said, "Capt., what answer did Col.
Bent give to the message that I sent by you?"
He answered, "He said he wanted you to get back to the Fort as quickly
as you can, that they want you to go to the Comanche village on a
trading trip for them."
I turned to the Col. and said, "You see the position I am in, Col. You
must bear in mind that the train does not need an escort back to Bent's
Fort, for there are no Comanches between here and there, and I do not
see where there is anything to hinder the train in going back in perfect
The Col. then said, "Now Mr. Drannan, what do you expect for your
trouble in piloting the train here?"
I answered, "Col., I will leave that matter with you and Capt. McKee. He
knows what my services have been and what they were worth."
The Capt. said, "Col., it will be impossible to ever pay Mr. Drannan
the worth of what he has done to protect the train through the Comanche
country, in not only protecting the Government property, but the lives
of the men that were with the train. So Col., you will readily understand
what a difficult matter it is to put an estimate on what his services
calls for in money."
Col. Chivington sat in thought a few minutes and then said to me, "Mr.
Drannan, will two hundred and fifty dollars be a sufficient amount to
"That will be owing to circumstances, Col. If I drop the train here it
will, but if I am required to pilot the train back through the Comanche
country, I would not think of accepting so small an amount."
He then said, "Mr. Drannan, providing we employ you to take the train
back through the Comanche country, will there be need of any other
escort but yourself?"
I answered, "No sir, I would much prefer to handle the Indians by myself
than to have a crowd with me." I then said, "Col., you have the control
of this train. Why don't you make a contract with Col. Bent and Mr.
Roubidoux to load the train with Buffalo robes to freight back to the
Missouri river? I believe that if you could do so, it would nearly if
not quite pay the expense of the whole trip."
He answered, "That is something I had not thought of, but it looks as
if it might be a good scheme," and turning to the Capt. he said, "Capt.
McKee, will you return with Mr. Drannan to Bent's Fort and see if such
an arrangement can be made with Col. Bent and Mr. Roubidoux and report
to me as quickly as possible?"
The Capt. answered, "Yes, if you think it best, and we want to be on the
road early in the morning if I am to make such an arrangement."
Col. Chivington said, "Very well, I will hold the train here until I get
your report, and, Mr. Drannan, come to me in the morning, and I will
settle with you."
The Capt. and I now left the Col's, quarters, and on the way to our own
quarters the Capt. said, "Mr. Drannan, I think you were very unwise in
accepting so small an amount as two hundred and fifty dollars for your
efforts to save the lives, and more than that, think of what an expense
it would have been to the Government to fit out another train to take
the place of the one destroyed if the Indians had attacked it, which I
have no doubt they would if you had not been there to control them. A
thousand dollars is the least you ought to have accepted."
I answered, "Capt., I thank you for your interest in me, and I will
profit by it. I have another chance with the Col. if he employs me to
take the train back through the Comanche country, which I feel confident
The next morning we were up very early and ready to leave Santa Fe. I
went and bid the wagon boss and the other men of the train good bye and
told them of the arrangement now pending between the Col. and the
people at Bent's Fort. This news seemed to please the boys very much,
especially if I were to be their escort through the Indian country. The
wagon boss was anxious to know how soon we would know what we were
going to do. I told him we would know in eighteen or twenty days at the
Capt. McKee and I now went to the Col's. quarters, and he paid me the
two hundred and fifty dollars I had agreed to take. As we were leaving,
the Col. said, "Mr. Drannan, if the Capt. makes the arrangement in
regard to the freighting of the Buffalo robes, where can I find you?"
I answered, "I shall make Bent's Fort my headquarters from now on until
Capt. McKee and I now pulled out for Bent's Fort. He being well
acquainted with the country, we did not take any road or trail, but took
our way across the country by the most direct route, and we made good
time all the way. As well as I can remember, it was called in the
neighborhood of three hundred miles from Santa Fe to Bent's Fort, and we
covered it in seven days on this trip.
When we landed at the Fort, Col. Bent and Mr. Roubedoux were both there.
Capt. McKee informed them what he had come for at once, and they were
more than anxious to close the deal with him, but they did not have
robes enough on hand to load the train. They then inquired how long it
would take the train to get there. The Capt. said he thought it would
take about twenty-five days; Col. Bent then turned to me and said, "Mr.
Drannan, will you take a pack train and go among the Indians and trade
for robes for us?"
I said, "Yes, I will." He asked how many days it would take to go to
the Indian village and get back. I answered, "To go to the main Indian
village and do the trading and get back here will take fourteen or
Col. Bent asked me if I thought I could take twenty pack horses and go
to the Indian village and trade for and load them up with the help of
two men and get back to the Fort in fifteen days. I told him I thought I
could and was willing to try it anyway. "But, Col., I want you to send
the quickest and best packers in your employ to help me." He answered,
"I have two men that are number one packers, and you can rely on them in
every particular." I said, "All right, we will be off tomorrow morning."
We commenced to pack the goods that I was to trade for the Buffalo robes
which consisted of knives, rings and beads. We put each kind in boxes by
themselves. When I thought we had enough packed to trade for what robes
the horses could carry, Col. Bent said, "Here, Will, take some more,"
and he threw several knives and some rings, and a bunch of beads into
one of the boxes. "Maybe you will want a few to give some of the squaws
that are such friends to you down there. Such little gifts are never
lost among the Indians, you know, Will."
Col. Bent then sent some of his men out to gather up the pack horses so
he could pick out enough for a train.
The next morning Capt. McKee said he wanted to have a talk with me when
I was at leisure. I said, "Now is your time, Capt." So we started out
for a walk. We walked in silence. The Capt. seemed to be thinking. At
last he said, "Mr. Drannan, have you made any definite arrangements
with Col. Chivington regarding taking the train through the Comanche
country?" I answered, "No sir, I have not."
"What will you charge him if you take the job?"
I said, "Capt., I am not anxious to take the job, but if I take it, I
shall charge five hundred dollars for my services this time, and I would
like you to tell the Col. so when you go back to Santa Fe. I think this
amount will be very reasonable from the fact that there will be no
more expense. If he had to feed forty or fifty men and pay them wages
besides, he would find quite a difference, and after all, they would
be no protection to the train, and they and the drivers also would be
scalped before they had passed one Indian village. So taking all things
into consideration I think that Col. Chivington acted rather close with
me, more close than I shall allow him to do again." Capt. McKee said
that he thought my charges were very modest, and he continued, "There
is another thing I want to talk to you about, provided you go with this
train. What do you propose doing when you come back?"
I answered, "I am open for anything that is honorable and has enough
money in it to pay me."
He said, "I intended to make up a company soon to go down on the Pan
Handle country in Texas, and I expect to go down as far as Fort Worth. I
would like you to join me. What do you think of the idea, Mr. Drannan?"
"What is your object in going down there, Capt.?" I asked. He said,
"Western Texas is settling up very fast, and the Apache Indians are very
bad there. They are murdering the white people every day, and something
must be done to protect them from the Red fiends. I have seen enough of
your methods with the Indians to satisfy me that you understand them and
how to manage them better than anyone I have ever met with, and I am
sure you would suit me better than anyone that I know. If you will join
me in this undertaking, the state of Texas will pay us well for what we
do towards protecting the settlers. I believe the Apache Indians are the
most vicious as well as the most treacherous of any tribe of Indians
that ever infested the frontier from the fact that they are so mixed
with the Mexicans and never have been conquered."
I said, "Capt. McKee, if I take the train back and you are not gone when
I come back here, I will join you in this trip to Texas, or if you will
leave word where I can find you, if it is within two or three hundred
miles of here, I will come to you."
We turned back to the Fort with the understanding that, in case he left
the Fort without me, he would leave word where I could come to him.
The next morning my packers and myself were up early and ready to be off
for the Indian village. I told the boys to be sure and take a plenty of
rope as all the hides would have to be baled before they could be packed
on the horses. One man said, "I have four sacks full of rope, and I
reckon that will be enough."
Col. Bent asked me how many hides I thought I could pack on the horses.
I told him I could put twenty hides on each horse, and that would make
four hundred and forty hides in all. He said, "That would be a big load,
and I am afraid you cannot do it. Besides, it is early in the season for
the Indians to have so many robes. But do the best you can, and I shall
be satisfied." I bid the Col. and Capt. McKee good bye, and we were off.
The second night out we camped near a little village. I told the boys to
get supper, and I would go over to the village, and have a talk with the
Indians. As soon as the Indians saw me, they thought I had come to trade
with them. I told them that I was on the way to the main village and for
them to come there tomorrow, and I would be ready to trade with them.
[Illustration: The next morning we struck the trail for Bent's Fort.]
We landed at the main village about noon the next day, making the trip
in a half a day less than I had planned to do. We camped near the old
Chief's lodge. The boys commenced to get dinner, and I took the two
knives that I had promised the Chief and went to his wigwam. I greeted
him with a handshake and handed him the knives wrapped in a paper. He
opened the package, and I never saw such a smile on a face before as the
one that beamed on that Indian's. He examined the knives carefully, and
then he told me how proud he was of them and said in his own language he
would always be white brother's friend.
I told him that I would be ready to trade with his people the next
morning and asked him to inform them of the fact.
The boys had dinner ready when I went back to our camp. I told the boys
when I would commence to trade with the Indians, and that I wanted them
to be in readiness to begin packing the robes as soon as the Indians
gave them to me.
That afternoon I went around among the wigwams and visited the Indians,
and they seemed as pleased to see me as children are with a new toy. I
showed the squaws the rings and beads I had with me, and I showed the
knives to the braves also, and they could hardly wait until morning to
trade their Buffalo robes for them.
The squaws showed me the robes they had dressed since I was there the
last time, and I saw that they were in a fine condition.
The next morning they commenced coming very early, hardly giving me time
to eat my breakfast, and I fixed my price when I bought the first robe,
which was one string of beads for one robe, or two rings or one butcher
knife, and the reader can rest assured that the Indians kept me busy
handing out my goods and taking the robes in payment for them.
About noon one of the packers came to me and said, "Will, I think you
have all the robes the horses can carry." I told him to count them, and
then we would know, and in a short time he came back with the report
that we had bought four hundred and eighty-nine robes. I said, "That is
a few more than we can find a place for, isn't it?"
He said, "I reckon we can get them all on, and we will finish baling as
soon as we can, but don't trade for any more," and the boys certainly
did prove themselves to be expert balers as well as packers.
The next morning as they finished packing a horse, I had to hold him,
and so on until the horses were all packed. It was my job to take care
of them, and when the horses were all ready for the trail, they surely
were a sight to look at. Each horse was completely covered. All there
was to be seen of him was his head and his tail.
The next morning amidst the lamentations of the Indians because we could
not exchange more of our goods for robes, we struck the trail for Bent's
Fort, and we had the extraordinary good luck to cover the distance in
three days, and Col. Bent, and Mr. Roubidoux were very much surprised to
see us, as well as pleased.
They did not expect to see us in four days more, and when I told them
how many hides we had brought, they were more than pleased. Col. Bent
said, "Did you have any goods left over?"
I answered, "Yes sir, almost enough to have loaded another pack train."
He said, "Well, well, Will, you can have all our trading to do whenever
you want it."
I asked the Col. when he expected the train from Santa Fe. "I don't
think it will be here under four or five days," he answered, "and I want
you to make yourself at home and be easy until the train comes. You have
done enough to lay over awhile, and the rest won't hurt you."
The fourth morning after this I was saddling my horse to ride out on the
trail and see if I could see anything of the Government train when Col.
Bent asked me where I was going. I told him I was going to see if the
train was in sight, "and what is more important to me, I want to find
out whether I am going to escort the train through the Comanche country
Col. Bent said, "I thought that was understood. If I thought you were
not going to be the escort, I certainly would not trust my freight with
I said, "Col. Bent, I have not made any positive bargain with Col.
Chivington, and after Capt. McKee tells him what I said about the price
I intend to charge him for my services this trip, he may decide not to
Col. Bent said, "Would you be offended if I asked you how much money
Col. Chivington paid you for that work, Will?"
I said I would not, and I then told Col. Bent the whole transaction, and
I also told him what I would charge to escort the train back through the
Comanche country, and that I would take the whole responsibility myself
without any helpers. Col. Bent said, "Col. Chivington was not fair to
you in offering you so small a sum for what you done to protect the
Government property, not speaking of the lives you probably saved
from the savages' arrows or tomahawks, and I think you charge a very
reasonable price if you undertake the job over again and you don't want
any one to help you, for they might upset all of your plans by doing
something to anger the Indians."
I answered, "Well, Col. I will soon settle the matter if I meet the
I then struck out and had ridden perhaps ten miles when I met Capt.
McKee and the wagon master coming just ahead of the train.
Capt. McKee said, "Why, Mr. Drannan, I thought you were at the Indian
villages trading for Buffalo robes."
I told him that I had been to the Indian village and bought all the
robes we could pack back to Bent's Fort and had been waiting for the
train to come four days.
Capt. McKee said, "And I expected to have to wait for you four days." I
said, "Now tell me what Col. Chivington had to say about my escorting
The Capt. laughed and said, "After the Col. had studied the matter over
for about twenty-four hours, he came to the conclusion that he could do
no better than employ you. So the job is yours, and Mr. Drannan, can you
tell me just about how long you will be gone so I can lay my plans to
meet you here at Bent's Fort?"
I said, "Capt., I want about twenty-five days to complete the trip, and
as soon as I return, Capt, I will be ready to join you in the expedition
to Texas, and Capt., I would like for you to bring my pay here so
I shall not have to go to Santa Fe after it when I come back from
escorting the train."
He answered, "I will arrange the matter so Col. Bent will settle with
The next morning Col. Bent had his men commenced to load the train, and
they put the entire day in this business. That evening the Col. said to
me, "Will, if you had a half a dozen more hides, we could not have put
them on the wagons."
When we were all ready to pull out, Col. Bent said, "Now Will, I want to
give you some presents to give to the squaws."
We went into the store room, and he gave me a dozen butcher knives,
saying, "The bucks will be jealous if they don't have something too,"
and he gave me a dozen rings, and a hand full of strings of beads and
said, "Now, Will, you can give these trinkets where you think best and
the knives too. I know the Comanche Indians are all friendly to you, but
these little trifles will cement their friendship."
I bid everybody at the Fort good bye, and we were off on the journey
Everything passed along smoothly for the next two days. We did not see
an Indian, and nothing happened to interfere with our progress. The
third evening we went into camp near a small Indian village. I rode
over to see the Indians and took a couple of knives and a few rings and
strings of beads with me. When I entered the village, I inquired where
the Chief's wigwam was. A couple of young bucks showed me where it was.
As soon as I saw the Chief, I knew him at once. He was "White Bird," and
he had not met me in a year, but he recognized me as quickly as I did
him. He invited me into his wigwam and asked me to eat supper with him,
which was ready in a short time. As we sat eating, two young squaws came
into the wigwam, and White Bird said they were his sisters. I took out
a butcher knife and gave it to him, and I gave a string of beads to his
squaw and one to each of his sisters. They all jumped up and commenced
to dance, and I think they kept it up for half an hour. Then White Bird
said in the language of his race, "White Bird and all the Indians of the
Comanche tribe always be pale face brother friend."
His sisters said they had some skins of the young dog which they would
tan and give to me so I could make some new clothes for myself.
The train pulled out from there, and the third day we came to the main
village. Before the train went into camp for the night, I told the wagon
boss that I was going to the Indian village and that he need not expect
to see me before midnight as I was going to have a good time with the
I gave my horse into the herders' care and struck out on foot for the
Indian village, which was about a half a mile from our camp. Before I
reached the Chief's wigwam, I met several Indians, and they accompanied
me to the Chief's lodge. Chief Light Foot saw me before I did him and
commenced to shout at the top of his voice, and as I reached his wigwam
the Indians were coming from every quarter.
As soon as Light Foot and I had shaken hands, he said, "Stay to supper,
and we have a peace smoke and peace dance tonight."
By the time we had finished that meal there was a dozen or more of his
uncle Chiefs at the wigwam, and we took our places for the peace smoke.
I will explain to the reader what the peace smoke is. We all took seats
in a circle around the head Chief. He lighted the peace pipe, which is
a special pipe kept to use on these occasions alone. He took the first
whiff himself, blowing it up into the air, and the second whiff he blew
into my face. I being his guest of honor, I sat at the right of him. The
third whiff he blew into the face of the Chief who sat on his left, and
then he passed the pipe to me. I went through the same performance and
passed the pipe to the next, and so the pipe went around the circle
until all had smoked, and in all the time this smoking was going on
there was not a smile or a grunt or a word spoken. Every motion was in
the most solemn way throughout the whole performance. As the last one
finished smoking, he passed the pipe to the head Chief, and all of the
Chiefs sprang to their feet and shook hands with me, from the head Chief
down, and the peace smoke was over.
I will say here for the instruction of the reader that the Indians never
held a peace smoke with others than the members of their own tribe,
without they had perfect confidence in the outsider, who always occupied
the seat of honor at the right side of the head Chief of the tribe.
After the peace smoke was over, everybody left the wigwam and everyone,
Chief, warriors, and squaws, all joined in the peace dance, I of course
taking a part with the rest. I never knew how many took a part in the
dance that night, which is always danced in a circle, and every Indian
has his or her own way of dancing, and all, old and young, male and
female, that take a part are singing.
It would be impossible to explain to the people of this age so they
would understand just what a peace dance is and how the people who took
part in it looked with the camp fires throwing their lurid light through
the darkness of the forest, lighting up the savage faces of the red men,
and the not-much-less wild faces of the squaws. It was a strange sight
then. How much more strange it would look to the people of this later
The dance lasted half an hour or more, and all the Indians of both sexes
then shook hands with me. I shook the Chief's hand last of all, and as
I did so, I gave him the other knife I had brought with me. He took it
and, brandishing it over his head, he shouted as loud as he could yell,
which was a signal for all the others to yell too and shake their hands
towards me. By my giving these knives to the head Chief of the tribe, I
cemented the friendship of him and through him of the whole tribe more
than I should if I had presented each one of his warriors with a knife.
Amidst the yells of the warriors and their squaws, I left them and
walked back to camp, well satisfied with what I had done towards
protecting the train as it passed through the Comanche country, for I
knew we would not have any trouble with the Indians of that tribe.
The wagon boss and several of the drivers were sitting at the fire
waiting for me. As I came up to the fire, the wagon boss said, "What in
the name of common sense was the racket about? Why, some of the time
this evening there was such a noise over there that we could not hear
ourselves think, much less talk."
I answered, "Why, I was just having a good dance with the squaws, and as
they all wanted to dance with me first, they made a little noise over
He asked, "How many squaws were there in the dance?" and I told him I
reckoned there were about a thousand in the crowd.
"And did you dance with a thousand squaws?" he inquired.
I answered, "Why, I certainly could not show any partiality there, could
He said, "Well, if you have danced with that many squaws, I guess you
are tired enough to sleep sound."
So we bid each other good night and turned in, and in a few moments
silence reigned over the camp.
We pulled out of this camp the next morning and did not see an Indian
for the next three days. On the third evening, as we were getting ready
to camp for the night, I discovered a small band of Indians coming
directly towards us. I told the wagon master where to corral the train,
and I then left him and rode on to meet the Indians. As I drew near
them, I saw that I knew them all. They were a small band of Comanches,
and when I met them they told me that they had been on a visit to the
Kiawah tribe and were hurrying to get back to the main Comanche village.
I told them of the peace dance I had taken a part in at the main village
a few nights before, and they expressed much regret that they had missed
I asked them if there were many more of their tribe down the country
they had come from. They answered, "No more Comanches that way, all
gone to village," which proved to be a fact, for we did not see another
Comanche Indian on this trip.
I remained with the train four days after this, and, seeing that my
services were no longer needed, I told the wagon master that the train
was out of danger, as we had passed through the Comanche country, and
there would be nothing to interfere with their progress, so I would
leave them the next morning.
In the morning, when the wagon boss told the men that I was going to
leave them, a number of them came to me and insisted on my taking at
least ten dollars from each of them in payment for the bargain I had
made with the Comanche Chief regarding the passage of the train on its
way to Santa Fe.
Of course, I did not accept their hard-earned money. I told them that
I was glad of the privilege of saving their lives. And besides, the
Government would pay me for my services.
Cook John had a nice sack of bread ready for me, and I accepted his gift
gladly. I bid them all good bye and struck out for Bent's Fort, and it
was about as lonesome a journey as I ever made in my life. I avoided the
Indian villages when I could, for I knew that the Indians would take
more of my time than I could spare if I stopped at all.
I made a rule with myself when I first left the train to ride eight
hours and then stop and let my horse rest and feed four hours. This rule
I followed day and night, except a few times I overslept, but I gave my
horse his feed and rest just the same, and I was back at Bent's Fort on
the twenty-third day after leaving there with the train.
The next morning after I got there, Capt. McKee arrived, and he was very
much surprised to find me there before him. He had made arrangements for
Col. Bent to pay me for piloting the train through the Comanche country,
and Col. Bent settled with me that day. The next morning Capt. McKee and
I began our preparations for our journey to Texas. He had thirty-two
men with him when he came to the fort, and eight more joined us there,
making forty in all. Each man had two saddle horses, and there was one
pack horse to every four men. Everything being ready, we left Bent's
Fort on what would be considered in these days of rapid transit a long
and tiresome journey on horse back, over trackless mountains and plains,
through valleys, across rivers, in danger of attacks from wild animals
and still wilder red men.
I think we traveled between four and five hundred miles without seeing
a white person. We camped and lay over one day to give our horses rest
where the thriving little city of Amarillo now stands. At that time we
had no idea that vast prairie would ever be inhabited by the white race.
That part of Texas was the greatest country for Antelope at the time I
am speaking of that I had ever seen. Some days we saw a thousand or more
Antelope in one drove.
We now began to see plenty of Indian signs all along where we traveled.
There were no roads or trails to guide us. We had traveled down what
is now called the Pan Handle country, to where the city of Bowie now
stands, before we saw a white person after we left Bent's Fort. We met
three men there. They were going around through the country hunting for
men to assist them to look after a settlement that had been attacked by
the Indians the night before. They did not know what tribe had made the
attack. Capt. McKee said, "We will go with you and assist you if you
will lead us to the place."
We all struck out with the men, and after riding perhaps five miles, we
came to the settlement and found that one man had been killed and all
the horses and cattle belonging to the people had been driven off.
Capt. McKee asked if they knew what tribe of Indians had made the
attack. They answered that they did not know, as it was very dark when
the Indians first came, and they could not see them, but they had a
skirmish with them, and one man was killed, and the Indians drove the
horses and cattle off in a southerly direction. The Capt. asked me if
I thought it would be best to follow the savages and try to take the
horses and cattle away from them.
I said, "Capt., these people have lost everything they had to depend on
to get a living, and what will they do if someone does not do something
to help them? And all the way to do that is to get their horses and
cattle and return them to the owners."
He answered, "Well, if you will take the lead and do the scout work, we
will strike the trail of the Red devils at once."
I said, "All right, Capt., you pick out two good men to assist me, and
we will be off at once, for the sooner we are after them the quicker we
may overhaul the Red murdering thieves."
In a few minutes the Capt. came to me, and with him were two men. He
said, "These men say they are willing to do all they can to help." I
said, "I will take the lead, and don't you pay any attention to my
movements. You take the trail and follow it as long as you can see
it, and when it is too dark to see, go into camp, and if I locate the
Indians, whether they are in camp or on the move, I will inform you at
It was in the middle of the afternoon when we pulled out on the trail of
the Indians. After following them eight or ten miles, I decided in my
mind that there were not more than forty Indians in the band we were
I said, "Now boys, if we catch these Indians in camp, we can wipe them
out and not leave one of them to tell the tale. We have a bright moon
tonight, and their trail is so fresh and plain there will be no trouble
in following it."
One man asked if I thought we could overtake the Indians in their first
camp. I answered, "I think we can, for the Indians will have no fear of
being followed and will not be in a hurry and will be off their guard."
We pushed on until about eleven o'clock in the night when we rode up
on a little ridge, and, on looking down in the valley beyond, we saw
several camp fires, but they were burning very dimly.
I said, "Boys, there are your Indians, and I want one of you to stay
here and hold the horses, and the other to go with me, and we will
investigate the matter," and said to the man that we left with the
horses, "If you hear the report of a gun, mount your horse and lead ours
to us at once, for the gun shot will be a signal that we are in trouble
and want you to assist us."
My companion and I crawled down near the camp fires, and we saw that all
the Indians were lying around the fires asleep, but they were scattered
about so that I could not count them.
I whispered to my companion, "Now let us find the stock."
We crept down a little further and found the horses and cattle all
feeding quietly, and they were all bunched up together. We went back to
the man who had the horses. I told him to mount his horse and take the
trail back until he met Capt. McKee and to tell him what we had found,
and if it was possible for him to get here by daybreak to do so, "for if
we can all be together before daylight, I think we can capture the whole
outfit without losing a man."
He mounted his horse and was off at once. He had been gone perhaps an
hour, and my comrade and I were sitting talking, when he raised his hand
and said, "Hush, I hear something."
"What did it sound like?" I said.
"Like a horse snorting," and he pointed up the trail the way the Capt.
should come. We sprang to our feet and listened, and in a minute more we
heard the tramp of the horses' feet. We quickly mounted our horses and
went to meet them. I told the Capt. what we had found and what position
the Indians were in.
He said, "Mr. Drannan, what do you think is the best way to attack
them?" I answered, "It is the easiest thing to do imaginable Capt., if
we only work the thing right. Dismount all but ten of the men, and we
will crawl down and surround the Indians and not fire a shot until
daybreak or till they commence getting up, and when we that are on foot
commence firing, the ten on horseback must charge down the hill, and if
any of the Indians escape our bullets, the mounted men must follow them
and shoot them down. When the Indians find that the Whites are after
them, they will make a rush for their horses, and that is the time for
the mounted men to get their work in."
The Capt. thought a few minutes and then said, "I believe your plan is a
grand idea, and we will follow it."
He selected the ten men and then asked me where he should place them. I
showed him where I thought was the best place for them to stand. I then
pointed to the place where the stock was still feeding and said, "Now
boys, when you make your charge on the Indians, charge down between the
stock and the fires, and by doing so you will catch the Indians as they
run for their horses, and be sure and get every one of them. Don't let
one get away."
Everything being understood, we that were on foot commenced to crawl
down towards the sleeping Indians' camp. The day was just beginning to
break when we got fixed in our positions around them, and it was nearly
sunrise before any of the savages crawled out of their blankets. As soon
as the first one got out, we shot him down, and we continued to shoot as
long as an Indian remained alive. The men on horseback gave a yell and
made the charge. When they reached Capt. McKee, one of the horsemen
said, "Where is our part of the fight? We didn't get any chance to fire
The Capt. answered, "It is all over, boys. You will have to wait for the
next time for your shot, for I do not think one of this band is alive
for you to shoot at. It was one of the quickest-won battles I was ever
engaged in," and turning to me the Capt. said, "Mr. Drannan, you ought
to join the army, for you would make a first-class General, and I am
sure would always lead your men to victory in Indian warfare any way."
We now led our horses down to the Indian camp and staked them out to
get their breakfast from the juicy grass that was very abundant in the
valley, and then we began to think that we were very hungry ourselves.
We had not had a bite to eat since the morning before, and the hard
day's ride and no supper and the all-night vigil had about used us up.
Capt. McKee said, "Come, boys let's get some breakfast, for I for one am
nearly starved, and we will lay over here until tomorrow morning and let
our horses rest and get a little rest ourselves."
After we had satisfied our hunger with a slice of Antelope broiled over
the fire and some bread and a cup of coffee, Capt. McKee said to me,
"Let us look around and see how many dead Indians we can find."
We struck out together, and we counted thirty-eight, and not one of them
had got ten feet from where he had slept, and all their blankets lay
just as they had crawled out of them.
I said at the time, and I think now, that that was the most accurate
shooting and with the least excitement of any Indian fight I was ever
in. It seemed as if every man was as cool as if he was shooting at
prairie dogs, and every shot hit the mark. We did not touch the dead
Indians but left them as a warning to others who might come that way. We
next looked after the stock. By examining the horses, we found that they
tallied with the number of Indians, for every horse that belonged to the
Indians had a hair rope around his neck, which was a custom followed by
all the Western Indians at that time, as by marking a half hitch around
the horse's nose he made a bridle of it.
We found twenty-two horses and thirty-two head of cattle that the
Indians had stolen from the white settlers. Capt. McKee looked the
horses over that had belonged to the Indians and said, "Those are the
most valuable horses that I ever saw in the possession of the Indians.
They are all good stock, and we will get a good price for them if we
take them to Fort Worth, for good horses bring good money there."
When we returned to camp, we saw that two of the young men had their
horses saddled. The Capt. asked them where they were going. One of them
answered that, as they did not earn any of the honor that morning in
killing Indians, they would try to kill some deer for supper, as they
knew they would enjoy a piece of good, fat venison and thought the
others would, and they believed there was plenty of deer all around
Capt. McKee and I spread our blankets and laid down to try and make up
for some of the sleep we had lost while in pursuit of the Indians.
About three o'clock one of the boys came and woke us up, saying they had
some fine venison all cooked and ready for supper, and that was one of
the times that I enjoyed a venison roast. It was as fat and tender as a
The next morning we pulled out of there bright and early, and it took us
two days to make it back to the settlement that the Indians had robbed
and in whose behalf Capt. McKee and I had gone out to punish the
thieves, with what success the reader already knows.
As soon as we landed, we sent word to all that had been robbed to come
and get their stock. Each owner came and claimed what belonged to him,
and when all had taken what they said belonged to them, there were still
four horses left unclaimed. These horses we never found an owner for, so
we kept them ourselves. The settlers whose property we had returned to
them now met and came to find out how much we intended to charge them
for what we had done for them. We knew that these people were all poor,
and we told them that they might give us what they could afford to pay
without distressing themselves. They made up one hundred and forty-four
dollars and gave it to us, which was a much larger sum than we expected
to receive. After thanking them for their generous payment and refusing
their invitation to stay with them longer, we bid them all good bye and
continued on our journey to Fort Worth, which had been interrupted by
the Indian raid on the settlement.
We had ridden to within ten miles or so of Fort Worth when we met an old
acquaintance of Capt. McKee. His name was Reese. There were two other
men with him, and they all three wanted to purchase horses. They
examined all the horses we had, and then they asked Capt. McKee what we
would take for the entire lot. The Capt. asked me what I thought would
be a fair price. I answered, "Let the men make an offer before we set a
When the Capt asked them what they would give for them, they said they
would give a hundred dollars apiece for them if we would help them drive
the horses to Dallas.
I told the men that we would let them have the whole bunch and help
drive them to Dallas for a hundred and ten dollars apiece. The three men
rode off a few yards and consulted together a few minutes. When they
came back, they said they would take the horses on my terms.
Capt McKee then told his men to go on to Fort Worth and go into camp,
and he told them where to camp and to wait for us and we would come to
them as soon as we could. The Capt. then told Mr. Reese to lead on and
we would follow.
We drove the horses to Dallas without any trouble and delivered them at
Mr. Reese's stable. He paid us the money for them, and we lost no time
in pulling out for Fort Worth. It was thirty-two miles from Dallas to
Fort Worth, and we passed two houses on the way from there to Fort Worth
at the time of which I am writing. I think there were about fifty houses
in Fort Worth. I do not know the number there were at Dallas. The place
was somewhat larger, but it was a small town.
[Illustration: I took the lead.]
When we reached Fort Worth, the news met us that the Indians were on the
war path in western Texas and were raiding all the white settlements,
killing the people and driving off their stock throughout all that part
of the state.
We laid in a supply of provisions and tobacco, enough to last three
months, and struck the trail for western Texas. The fourth day after
we left Fort Worth, we came to a settlement, and all the people were
natives of Tennessee, and as that was my native state, I soon made many
The people of the settlement had met together that morning to try to
plan some way to stop the depredations of the Indians, but they did not
know what to do or where to commence, and they were glad to see the
Capt., he being well known as an Indian fighter all over Texas.
When they asked him what he thought best to be done, he said that he
could not advise them what to do, but he had come to that part of the
State to protect the settlements from the outrages of the savages for
the next six months.
We rode to the edge of the settlement and went into camp, thinking we
would stay there until towards evening. We had just eaten our dinner
when two of the settlers came to our camp and in a very excited manner
told us that a small band of Indians had just gone into camp a few miles
from the settlement.
We asked them how they got the news. They said that two of the men had
been out hunting and saw the Indians when they went into camp.
We told these men to go and bring the men who'd seen the Indians' camp
so we could get all the particulars from them. In a few moments the
hunters were with us. I asked them how far the Indians' camp was from
"Not over five miles," one of them said. I asked which way the Indians
had come from and if there were any squaws with them. The answer was
that the Indians had come from an eastern direction and there were no
squaws with them, and they were driving quite a large band of horses.
Capt. McKee said to me, "What do you think of it?"
I said, "Capt., I am afraid they will move again before night, but I
want one of these men to go and show me where the Indians are, and I
will locate their camp tonight, and we can get every one of them and the
Capt. McKee said, "That is a good idea. How many men do you want to go
I said, "Give me the two men that went with me on the other Indian
In a little while my men and I were off. I told the Capt. to stay in
that camp until he heard from me, which would be before dark.
We had ridden between four and five miles when we came to a little
ridge, and, stopping and pointing to a little bunch of timber, my guard
said, "The Indians' camp is there."
We dismounted, and, taking one man with me, I crawled to the top of the
hill and looked over, and sure enough, there was a small band of Indians
squatted around their camp fire, smoking and talking and apparently not
fearing any danger.
I told my companion to count them, and I would count too, and we might
find out how many there were. I crawled around in the brush keeping out
of sight, and I counted forty-eight, and my men made out fifty-one. We
crept along on the ridge to see if we could find out how many horses
the Indians had with them, but we could not count them, although I was
satisfied that there were at least a hundred horses feeding in the
valley. Some few of them were staked out, but the most of them were
feeding where they chose.
We went back to our horses, and I told the boys to take the horses to
a little ravine which was a short distance from us and to find a place
where they could not be seen and to stay with them until they heard from
me, for I intended to watch the Indians, and if they did not move before
sundown I would send one of them to the Capt.
I went back to the edge of the ridge where I could see the savages and
watch their movements. They sat and lay around on the grass until nearly
sunset when a few of them went to the horses that were staked out and
commenced to move them to fresh places to feed, which convinced me that
they intended to stay where they were that night. I crept down the ridge
to the ravine where the boys were with our horses and told one of them
to go back to Capt. McKee and tell him we had found the Indian camp, and
that the Indians intended to stay the night where they were, and that I
wanted him and the rest of the men to come to me, but not before ten or
eleven o'clock that night.
The other man and I led our horses further up the ridge and hitched
them, and we then crawled to the top, where we could watch the Indians
and not be seen by them. It was not nine o'clock before all the savages
had turned in for the night. Seeing that we could now leave the Indians
to their slumbers in safety, my companion and I now mounted our horses
and struck out to meet the Capt. and his men. We had ridden perhaps a
mile when we met the company. I told Capt. McKee how many Indians there
were in the band and how many horses they had with them. He said, "Can
we take as good advantage of this outfit as we did of the other one?"
I said, "I think we can, only there are more of them to fight in this
band, but as far as the ground is concerned we have all the advantage,
and we had better station ourselves around them just as we did before
and wait for daybreak, or until the Indians begin getting up."
"Shall we have a reserve on horseback as we did before?" he asked.
I told him I did not think it would be necessary in this case. We could
get between the Indians and their horses, and if they started to run for
their horses as they surely would, they would put themselves into our
clutches. And besides, this way would be more pleasing to the men, as
they all would have the same chance to shoot Indians alike and could
find no grounds to murmur, as they had the last fight.
We rode to within a quarter of a mile of the Indian camp, dismounted and
hitched our horses, and we all got near together, and I explained to all
the boys the position that all the Indians were in, and also where the
I took the lead, and we crawled down and took our stations around the
sleeping Indians' camp. When every man was stationed and ready for the
Capt's. word to proceed to business, Capt. McKee crawled to the place
where I was waiting and whispered, "Why not make the charge at once?
I will go around and tell the boys, and we will begin the attack with
knives. I could kill a half a dozen Indians before the others are
aroused, and when the others begin getting up, pull our pistols and
finish them before they are fairly awake, and don't let any of them get
away. When you see me in among them it will be your time to begin."
He left me as silently as he had come, and I waited, hardly breathing,
till I saw his form outlined among the shadows, as the full moon
flickered through the branches of the trees.
As soon as the Capt. reached the Indians, every man sprang for the
nearest one, and it was a lively little fight for me at least. The first
two Indians I struck never gave a grunt, for I nearly severed their head
from their bodies. The third one, as I made for him, shouted, "Woughe,"
and sprang to his feet. I hit him on the back of the neck, but I gave
him the third blow before he went down. Just as he doubled up, I saw
another coming directly for me, running at full speed. I jerked my
pistol, and when he was in a few feet of me I fired, and he fell, and
now I could hear the pistols firing thick, and fast, but no more Indians
came near me, and the fight lasted but a few minutes longer. One of
our men had a hand-to-hand fight with an Indian. They both fought with
knives. I did not see the fight, although they must have been near me,
and he was the only man that was wounded in the fight, and he was only
slightly wounded. He told me that the first he saw of the Indian he was
right before him brandishing his long knife, and he said, "I had to work
lively for a little bit, you may rest assured, but I finally got a lick
at his short ribs, and then I gave him another on the back of the neck
and that got him."
As soon as the pistols ceased firing, Capt. McKee came to me and said,
"I think we have got them all."
I said, "Now Capt., call the boys together and see if any are wounded."
He stepped out a little ways and called to the men. "If anyone is hurt,
report to me at once, so we can attend to you."
No one came to us but the one I have spoken about. He was cut on one
arm and had a slight cut on one shoulder. The Capt. said, "Now boys, go
around to every dead Indian and take every knife and anything else that
you can find that is of any value and bring them here and lay them in a
pile," and then he gave me a title when he said, "The scout and I will
go and see about the horses."
Capt. McKee gave me this title in fun that night, but he little thought
that years after that night I would win the right to not only be called
a scout but would have the honor conferred on me of "Capt., Chief of
We went to where the horses were feeding, but they were so mixed that we
could not count them. After we had looked at some of them, the Capt.,
said, "I wonder where the Indians stole them. Such fine horses are not
found every where. Perhaps after daylight we may discover some brand
that will show whom they belong to."
We went back to the Indians' camp and saw that the boys had gathered up
all that belonged to them. Each one of them had had a nice blanket and
nearly all of them had butcher knives. The Capt., said, "Now we will get
our horses and stake them out so they can feed, and we will get to our
blankets and try to get a few hours rest, for I am dead tired, and I
reckon the rest of you boys don't feel any better."
It was nearly sunrise when I opened my eyes in the morning, and there
were only a few others stirring, and I was not long in getting something
to eat, for I had not broken my fast since noon the day before. In a
short time all the men were cooking their breakfast and as soon as the
meal was over Capt. McKee asked me what we should do with those horses.
I told him, we could not fight Indians and care for a band of horses at
the same time. We must drive the horses some where and sell them, and I
think we had better go back to Fort Worth, and if we can not dispose of
them there we can take them to Dallas.
The Capt. then called four of the men to us and told them to go out
where the horses were and count them and to be sure and get the right
number. They were gone about an hour, and when they came back they said
there were one hundred and twenty horses out there, and one of the men
said, "Some of those horses are of the finest breed that I ever saw, and
nearly all of them have been broke to the harness, for I could see the
marks where the collars have rubbed the hair off their shoulders, and
I bet those Indians drove those horses hundreds of miles, maybe from
Kansas or Arkansas, and they and the horses being so tired was the
reason that the Indians stopped here to rest."
Capt. McKee and I went back and took another look at the horses, and we
found them to be much better horses than we had thought them to be, but
we could find no brand on them or any thing that would show whom they
belonged to. This convinced us that they had been stolen from farmers.
As the horses showed that they had been driven hard and we thought
a long distance, we decided to stay over one day as the grass was
plentiful and a stream of pure, cool water ran a few feet from where
they were feeding.
Three of the other men and myself went hunting, and we killed six
Antelope and were back in time to cook some for dinner. Capt. McKee
and I cooked dinner together that day, and while we ate he told me the
conditions he had hired the men to work under. He said he had guaranteed
them twenty-five dollars a month, and each man was to pay his portion
of the grub bill. "So you can see that the men have no share in these
horses, and what we can make out of the sale Of them belongs to you
and me alone. And I think we had better pull out for Fort Worth in the
morning, and try to dispose of them there."
So the next morning we pulled out, the Capt. and I taking the lead, and
the men driving the horses after us.
The evening of the fourth day we reached Fort Worth.
That night we camped a little south of where the Union depot now stands.
The next morning Capt. McKee and I rode into the town to see if we could
find a purchaser for our horses. We found a number of men who wanted
horses, but each man only wanted a few. Of course, the first question
was what price we asked for them. The Capt. and I had set the price at
one hundred and twenty-five dollars apiece, which we considered very
cheap for such fine stock.
We talked with a number of men, and a few of them said they would come
to our camp and look at the horses. So we rode back, and by noon we had
sold half of our horses. I heard one man say as he rode off leading four
horses that he had paid one hundred and twenty-five dollars apiece for,
that he had made a bargain, as he would not take two hundred dollars for
the worst-looking one.
After dinner that day a man came and looked at the horses we had left
and said, "You are selling your horses too cheap. If you can stay here a
few days and let your horses rest, and the people have time to find out
what good stock you have for sale, it would pay you well, and you will
have no trouble in selling your horses for a much higher price than you
have been asking."
The Capt. answered that we had other business to look after, and it was
very necessary for us to get rid of the horses as quickly as possible,
even if we had to sell them at a disadvantage. The man said, "Well, I
will send some men to you this afternoon, and perhaps you can make a
bargain with them."
Before the next night we had sold all of our horses at our own price.
Capt McKee said, "I think I will settle up with the boys, and then we
will see how we stand."
I said, "I think you had better lay in enough provisions to last three
months, Capt., for we do not know where we shall be or whether we can
get any as good as we can here. And besides, we may not always have such
good luck as we have been having the last few weeks."
Capt. McKee bought the grub and then settled with the boys, and then he
came to me and said, "Now we will settle between ourselves."
We walked a few yards away from camp and sat down under a large tree,
and he showed me a little book where he had everything set down in black
and white, and when all was reckoned up there were twenty two hundred
and eighty dollars to divide between us two.
As soon as we had divided the money, he said, "Now, are you willing to
do the scout work and take the lead of this company? You are the only
one in the outfit who understands the duties of a scout. I know this
work will very often place you in positions that will be anything but
pleasant, but someone must take the chances, and your knowledge of the
Indians and his ways of fighting makes you more suitable than any one
else in the company."
I said, "I will accept the position, Capt., if I can have the two men
that have been with me in the last two hunts, and one more man. And
another thing I want understood is that we four men will be exempt from
all camp duty and have the privilege of going and coming any time we
please without being interfered with."
He said, "All that suits me, and I will see that you are also exempt
from cooking. Your meals will be prepared for you from this on."
Capt. McKee now called the men I had selected, and one of the others to
come to him, and when they came, he told them of the arrangements we had
made and told them they must look to me for their instructions in the
future if they were willing to accept the positions as assistants. They
all said they were willing to undertake the job if I was willing to
teach them what I wanted them to do. One of them said, "Mr. Drannan,
when I make a mistake, I want you to tell me of it at once, for I want
to do right in everything as much as you will want me to."
I answered that we would commence by learning the private signals to
be used when in the Indian country, which I would teach them tomorrow
After we went into camp the next morning, just as we were getting ready
to pull out, two men came and told us that the Indians were doing
a great deal of damage about seventy-five miles in a southwestern
direction from Fort Worth. He said they had been making raids on the
settlements every few days for several weeks and had killed several
people, and the settlers were kept in a constant fear day and night.
As the Capt. was well acquainted all over the country, he knew just
where to direct our course, and we pulled out in that direction making
as good time on the way as possible.
The second night after we left Fort Worth, we camped on the edge of one
of the settlements where the Indians had been making so much trouble. As
soon as we were settled in camp, I rode to a house that was perhaps a
half a mile from us to get some information regarding the Indians. The
man of the house said that the Indians had come every ten days and
sometimes oftener, and, said he, "The Indians do not try to kill the
people as much as they did to steal the stock or anything else that they
could get their hands on."
I asked him what direction the Indians came from, and he answered that
they invariably came from the west. I asked whether they were in large
or small bands. He said there were seldom more than thirty in a band,
and they always came up that river, and he pointed to a small stream not
far from us.
I rode back to camp and told Capt. McKee what I had learned. He said,
"The Indians must be very sure that no one will be after them now. What
do you think is the best plan to adopt?"
I told him that I thought we had better travel down the stream that the
Indians seemed to make a pathway of, for one day at least, and go into
camp at night, and I would scout around the country and find their main
trails, for I was satisfied that only a part of the band came to this
settlement. "And what we want to do, Capt., is to cripple them so they
would let this settlement alone, and we can do it if we can catch the
We pulled down this little stream and traveled in that direction.
All day we saw lots of Indian sign all the way, but none of them was
fresh. As we were going into camp that evening, I told Capt. McKee that
my scouts and I would take a circle around the camp and see if there
were any Indian camp fires to be seen.
We rode about three miles on top of a high ridge, and looking off to the
west we saw a large Indian camp. I knew this by the number of fires they
had burning. I pointed to the fires and said to the boys, "There they
are. We have found the main camp. But now the difficulty will be to get
to them without being discovered by them."
As the darkness was coming on, I could not see well enough to tell how
far the Indian camp was from where we stood, but we struck out towards
the fires. I told the boys to ride carefully and keep close together,
and for each man to keep a close watch in every direction.
We rode about two miles, and almost before we were aware of it, we were
close to the Indian camp. I tried my best to count them, but I could not
make out the number of Indians there were in the camp. Their horses were
staked all around them, and I could not count them either.
I said, "Now boys, we will go back and report to Capt. McKee and see
what he thinks is best to do."
It was late when we got back to camp, and they were awaiting our return.
Before turning in for the night, I told the Capt. what we had found, and
the position of the Indian camp, and that I thought they were about five
miles from us.
He sat in thought a few minutes and, turning to me, said, "What plan
have you in your mind about making an attack on that camp, Mr. Drannan?"
I said, "They are so scattered that in my opinion it would be impossible
to get them all, and I think the best way to make an attack on them
would be at daybreak, and for us all to be mounted on our horses. You
and your men make the attack, and me and my scouts make a dash for their
horses and cut them loose and run them off out of the Indians' reach.
Now Capt., I am satisfied that this fight will be no child's play,
but will be a nasty little fight, but if we can get the Indians on a
stampede and keep them from getting to their horses, I think we can run
them down and get the most of them."
The Capt. told the men that they had better not go to sleep that night.
"If we sit around the fire here until three or four o'clock in the
morning, you will all get over your scare and feel more like fighting."
One of the boys laughed and said, "It don't affect me in that way, Capt.
The more I study about a bad scrape that I expect to get into, the more
nervous it makes me."
Capt. McKee answered, "Perhaps you will fight better when you are
nervous than you would if you were cool. Anyway, we will take the
We sat around the fire and told stories and smoked until about one
o'clock in the morning, and then we saddled our horses and pulled out
for the Indian camp and arrived there in good time to look around and
see if we could take any advantage of the Indians in the coming fight.
The Capt. selected the place to make the attack and told his men that he
and they would sit on their horses and watch for the first Indian to get
up, and as soon as the first Indian attempted to get up, they must make
the charge, and every man must do all the shouting he could, "for," said
the Capt. "if we can get the Indians stampeded once, we will have as
good a thing as we want."
I told my scouts, that we would cut the horses loose and turn them in
the opposite direction from the one the Capt. was making the charge, and
I told the men to cut the horses loose as fast as they came to them, and
to pay no attention to the Indians unless they saw them coming towards
the horses, but if the Indians, one or many, seemed likely to get to the
horses, to pull their pistols and shoot them down before they caught
the horses, "for," I said, "every horse we drive away will be equal to
killing an Indian, for it will be putting him in the way of the other
We did not have to wait long before the sound of the guns and the yells
of the men as they made the attack on the half-awake Indians reached us,
and the din that the two noises made was something dreadful to listen to
as it broke on the stillness of the early morning, but my men and I had
too much to attend to to pay much attention to what the others were
After the fight had been going on a little while, one of my scouts came
to me and said, "I think we have got all the horses loose."
I answered, "Well, we will drive them all to the top of the hill, and
then they will be safe from their Indian masters."
We were not long in driving them there. I told one of the boys to stay
and look out for the horses, and I and the other two would go back and
see if any of the horses had been overlooked in our hurry.
When we reached the village again, we could only hear a shot once in a
while, and the yelling had ceased altogether.
We sat on our horses and waited for the pursuers to come back, and in a
half an hour the Capt. and all his men were back to the Indian camp.
I asked the Capt. if he got them all. He answered, "I think we did, and
I saw the bravest Indian that I ever saw before. After he had been shot
three times, he still fought and wounded two of my men."
While the Capt. was speaking, one of the men came near us and raising
his right arm said, "Look at that," and I saw where he had been shot
through the fleshy part of his arm with an arrow, and calling one of the
other men by name, he said, "And the same Indian shot him through the
leg, after he had shot the Indian twice, and then I got a hit at him,
and as he fell he gave me this wound in the arm. Either one of the three
shots we hit him with would have killed any ordinary man."
Capt. McKee now said, "Come, boys, we will scatter all over this little
valley and look carefully into every bunch of brush and see if there are
any of the Red skins left."
After they had searched a half an hour, all the men returned without
finding an Indian. The Capt. said to me, "Where shall we make our camp?
For we are very tired and need some sleep."
I answered, "Why not camp here? There is plenty of grass for the horses,
and that stream of water that we can hear gurgling through the stones is
as cool as I ever drank, and my men and I can go and drive the horses
down the hill again and relieve the man that is watching them."
Capt. McKee said, "All right, and the men can get breakfast while you
and I go and count the horses."
We counted them three times and made sixty-six each time.
The Capt. said, "I don't believe there were that many Indians in the
band. If there were that number and only two men wounded, and all the
Indians killed, it will be a wonderful story to tell.
"After we have had our breakfast, we will look around and find and count
all the dead Indians and see if the number tallies with the number of
horses they had."
In a few minutes the boys that were cooking called out that breakfast
was ready, and I was one of the crowd that was ready to eat it.
While we were eating I was amused at one of the boys who was telling of
the shines an Indian cut up after he had shot him.
He said he thought he had given the Indian a dead shot, but after he was
hit, the Indian rolled over just like a dog that had been whipped, and
that he did not think the Indian stopped rolling as long as the breath
was in him.
As soon as we had eaten our breakfast the Capt. and I and four others
started out to search for and count the dead Indians. We looked around
about an hour and a half, and we found forty-two Indian bodies, and they
were nearly all armed with bows and arrows, only a few having knives.
Capt. McKee said he thought that we were the luckiest men that ever
"Just think," said he, "what we have done in the last month, and we have
not lost a man. If we keep this kind of warfare up all summer, there
will be no Apache Indians left to bother the settlers. Besides, when
these warriors do not return, the rest of the tribe will think that
something is wrong, and they will take the hint, and we will be rid of
them in two or three months."
We now went back to camp, and we all turned in for a day's sleep. As we
were laying down, Capt. McKee said, "The first of you that is awake go
out and kill some deer, for we want some fresh meat to eat."
When I awoke it was near night, and the boys were cooking venison around
the fire. I inquired who had been hunting. They said no one, that the
deer came and hunted them, that when they awoke they saw a band of deer
out feeding near the horses, and they got four deer out of the band.
I went and found the Capt. fast asleep. I woke him, and we had supper.
I asked him what course we would take next. He said, "There are some
settlements up on the Colorado river that we have not heard from in
quite a while, and we will go and look after them."
I asked, "On what part of the Colorado river?" and he said, "At Austin."
We had a good night's sleep, and we were astir very early in the morning
and pulled out in the direction of Austin, Capt. McKee and I taking the
lead, and the boys following driving the horses we had captured from the
Late that afternoon we struck the trail of a small band of Indians. I
did not go far before I saw that it was quite fresh. I told the Capt.
that he had better camp there, for there was plenty of grass and a nice
stream of water, and let my scouts and me follow the trail and see if we
could find them, to which he consented. My men and I left the main party
and started on the trail of the Indians. After trailing them four or
five miles in an almost eastern direction, the trail turned to the
southwest. We kept on for four or five miles more, and then we came to
where the Indians were in camp. I had kept the lay of the country and
the direction of our camp in my mind, and when I saw the Indians, I knew
that their camp was near ours.
They had a fire and were cooking meat around it. We counted them and
found that there were thirteen Indians in the band.
I said, "Now boys, we will go back to our own camp and report to the
Capt. at once," and I was really surprised to find it was so short a
distance between the Indians' camp and ours. It was not more than a mile
from one to the other.
When we reached camp, we found the Capt. and the men waiting for us and
very anxious to hear what we had found. I reported to the Capt., and he
asked when I thought it best to go after the Red wretches. I told him
there was so small a bunch of them I did not think it mattered, but as
his favorite time for an attack seemed to be at break of day, I supposed
we could wait until then for this one.
He laughed and said, "The break of day has been your time, not mine, Mr.
Drannan. You have done all the planning and led all the fights in this
campaign, but I am glad to admit that it has been a grand success, and
so far you have come out with flying colors."
I said, "Well, Capt., I think in this case we can take a little nap and
be up in time to take that outfit before they have time to wake up, for
it is no more than a mile from here to their camp."
Capt. McKee answered, "I reckon you are right. There are so few of them
that we shall not have to delay breakfast to get them."
We all turned in, and, although we knew that Indians were so near us, we
were not afraid to sleep without placing a guard over the camp.
When I awoke, I looked at my watch and saw it was two o'clock. I called
the Capt. and told him that it was time we were moving. He asked whether
we should go on horseback or on foot. I said, "We can walk there while
we would be saddling the horses, it is so short a distance." He said,
"All right, we will take twelve men with us," and in a few minutes we
were on the road. When we came in sight of the dimly burning campfires
of the Indians, I pointed to them and told the Capt. that was the place,
and I said, "We will be very careful and not make any noise, and I think
we can send them to the Happy hunting grounds while they sleep." But the
reader may imagine our surprise when we crept to the Indian camp to find
that there was not an Indian there. We looked around the camp where the
Indians had cooked their supper, and then we looked for their horses,
but they too had disappeared with their masters. Capt. McKee said,
"Doesn't this beat you? What do you suppose caused those Indians to
I said, "This is one of the times that the Indians were smarter than we
and have out-generaled us. Probably they too had a scout out, and he saw
us before we discovered their trail and reported the fact to the others,
and they made themselves scarce, which was a very wise proceeding on
We turned and walked back to our own camp and found the boys we had left
there still asleep. I said, "Capt., I think you had better stay here
with your men and my scouts, and I will find the trail of those Indians
and see where they have gone. It may be that they are a part of a large
band and have gone to inform the main tribe of our being here. If this
is the case, we will be sure to have some trouble with them."
The Capt. woke the men, and they cooked breakfast from some of the deer
that was left over the night before, and in a short time my men and I
were off on the trail of the Indians. I told my men they had better take
something for a lunch, as it was no telling when we should come back.
We went to where the Indians had camped and soon found their trail
leading from it. It led us in a southwestern direction, and we followed
it until about twelve o'clock when all at once we came on the Indians
laying around a camp fire sound asleep.
I said, "Now boys, there are only two ways to choose from. We have
either got to tackle this outfit ourselves alone, or we must give up the
idea of getting them at all. Now I will leave it to you to choose which
They were all more than anxious to make the attack. I said, "Now boys,
ride slowly and easy until you get in the midst of them, and then don't
wait for each other, but turn loose, and each do our best, and let us
get every one of them if we possibly can," and it was surprising to me
to see how cool the whole three men were in attempting to kill these
Indians while they slept. There was not a sound until we were in the
midst of the sleeping Indians, and then it seemed as if every man shot
at once and aimed to kill, and there were only five Indians out of the
thirteen that had time to spring to their feet, and these did not try
to defend themselves, but made for their horses with the attempt to
get away. Only one of them reached his horse, and as he sprang on his
horse's back, I gave him a cut with my knife across the small of his
back and almost cut him in two. He tumbled to the ground without a word,
and as he did so, one of the boys shouted, "We have got them all. That
was the last one, and that was the easiest little fight that I was ever
I asked if either of them was hurt. One man said, "Hurt? No, why durn
their shadows, they were not awake enough to hurt a fly if it had been
in their mouths."
I could not help laughing at his droll way of expressing his contempt
for the easily won battle if such it could be called when all the
fighting had been on our side.
We staked our horses out to let them eat the sweet grass that was so
abundant there, and we sat down and ate our own luncheon beneath a large
tree, and after we had satisfied our hunger, we laid around and rested
a while, and then we mounted our horses, I taking the lead and the boys
driving the Indians' horses after me.
We struck out for camp and reached the place where Capt. McKee and his
men were in camp a little after dark.
The Capt. was surprised indeed when we rode into camp with the band of
strange horses, and the men commenced to cheer us as soon as they saw
what we had with us.
One of my scouts said, "We don't want to go with you any more, Capt.
McKee, for you do your work at night and our boss does his work in the
We dismounted and gave our horses to the man who had the care of the
horses and sat down to a supper of fried fish, and we surely did justice
to that meal, as we were very hungry.
After we had finished the meal, I told the Capt. all about our day's
work in trailing the Indians and surprising them as they slept, and how
we wiped the whole band out before they were awake.
The Capt. said, "Tomorrow morning we will keep on down toward the
I asked him how far it was to the first settlement, and he answered, "We
will make it by tomorrow night."
The next morning we were on the road very early, and we traveled nearly
all day before we reached the first settlement.
There was a little cluster of houses there, perhaps fifty all together,
and they were as prosperous farmers as I had seen in Texas.
They were all acquainted with the Capt. and were glad to see us.
We staid at this place a couple of days to let our horses rest, and we
sold twelve of the horses that we'd captured from the Indians to the
The people there told us that it was three months since the Indians had
made a raid on them, and there had not been any Indians through that
neighborhood since the raid, but they had been told that the Indians
were doing a great deal of damage to the settlement forty or fifty miles
west of there.
Capt. McKee said, "Well, we will go down and investigate."
As we were leaving the village, an old acquaintance of the Capt. said,
"Let us know when you are coming back, and we will have a banquet and a
dance while you and your men are here."
Capt. McKee answered, "We will not come back until you have another
visit from the Indians, and I don't believe you will want to dance
We pulled out for the settlements where the Indians had been making the
In the middle of the afternoon of that day we struck the trail of what
appeared to be quite a large band of Indians, and after following it a
short distance I concluded it was a fresh trail. Capt. McKee said, "What
do you think is best to do? The whole company to follow their trail, or
my men and I stop here and you and your scouts keep on after them and
locate them if you can?"
I answered, "Judging from the appearance of the trail, I think we would
be running a great risk for the whole company to keep on, and I think it
would be the safest plan for you to stop here and let my scouts and me
trail the Indians until they camp for the night, and, Capt., as you are
acquainted with the country, can you tell me how far they will be likely
to travel until they strike good water and grass again?"
He said, "I don't believe they will find a good place to camp in five
miles from here and maybe further."
I said, "Well, Capt., go into camp here, and if you do not hear from me
by dark, have everything in readiness for an immediate start."
My men and I now took the trail of the Indians. We traveled with great
caution for several miles, and as it was just beginning to grow dark we
came in sight of the Indian camp fire. I left two of my men with the
horses, and taking one man with me I crawled near enough to count the
Indians, and I was surprised when I saw how few there were sitting
around the fires. I could only make twenty-five, and I counted them
over several times, and they had made a trail big enough for a hundred
Indians. I was satisfied that they must have a large number of horses
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