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opposite have been brought into juxtaposition for
the mastery.

But to return to the battle-field of Delaware vil-
lage. Many heroic actions were performed. Vice-
president Burnet, Gen. Johnston and Adjt.-Gen.
McLeod were each wounded, but not dangerously
so. Maj. David S. Kaufman, of the militia
(afterwards the distinguished congressman), was
shot in the cheek. Capt. S. W. Jordan, of the
regulars (afterwards, by his retreat in October,
1840, from Saltillo, styled the Xenophon of his
age), was severely wounded when Bowles was
killed, and one of his privates, with " buck and
ball," says Maj. Jones, " had the credit of killing

[In a letter dated Nacogdoches, July 27, 1885,
Mr. C. N. Bell, who was in the fight under Capt.
Robert Smith, and is vouched for as a man of in-
tegrity, says: " Chief Bowles was wounded in the
battle, and after this Capt. Smith and I found him.
He was sitting in the edge of a little prairie on the
Neches river. The chief asked for no quarter.
He had a holster of pistols, a sword and a bowie
knife. Under the circumstances the captain was
compelled to shoot him, as the chief did not surren-
der nor ask for quarter. Smith put his pistol right
to his head and shot him dead, and of course had no
use for the sword." So says Mr. Bell, but the in-
quisitive mind will fail to see the compulsive neces-
sity of killing the disabled chief when his slayer
was enabled "to put his pistol right to his head
and shoot him dead." I well remember in those
days, however, that the names of half a dozen men
were paraded as the champions, who, under as
many different circumstances, had killed Bowles.]

Inthis battle young Wirt Adams was the Adjutant
of Maj. Jones' battalion. He was the distinguished



Mississippi Confederate General who was killed in
some sort of personal diflSculty a year or two years
ago. Michael Chavallier, subsequently distinguished
as a Texas ranger, drew his maiden sword in this
fight. Maj. Henry W. Augustine, of San Augustine,
was severely wounded in it. Charles A. Ogsbury,
now of Cuero, was a gallant member of Capt. Owns-
by's Company. John H. Reagan,* then a youth,
recently arrived in the country, was in the hottest of
the engagement, and now sits in the Senate of the
United States. David Rusk, standing six feet six

in his stocking feet, was there, as valiant as on San
Jacinto's field. The ever true, ever cool and ever
fearless Burleson covered himself with glory and by
his side rode the stately and never faltering chief,
Capt. Placido, who would have faced "devils and
demons dire " rather than forsake his friend and
beau ideal of warriors, "Col. Woorleson," as he
always pronounced the name.

1 cannot give a list of casualties, but the
number of wounded was large ^- of killed

Col. Burleson's Christmas Fight in 1839 — Death of Chiefs John

Bowles and the " Egg."

After the double defeat of the Cherokees in East
Texas, in the battle of July 16th and 17th, the
whereabouts of those Indians was unknown for a
considerable time. Doubtless a considerable por-
tion of them sought and found refuge among their
kindred on the north side of the Arkansas, where
Texas had long desired them to be. The death of
their great chief, Col. Bowles, or "The Bowl," as
his people designated him — the man who had been
their Moses for many years — had divided their
counsels and scattered them. But a considerable
body remained intact under the lead of the younger
chiefs, John Bowles, son of the deceased, and
"The Egg." In the autumn of 1839, these, with
their followers, undertook to pass across the coun-
try, above the settlements, into Mexico, from which
they could harass our Northwestern frontier with
impunity and find both refuge and protection
beyond the Rio Grande and among our national

At that time it happened that Col. Edward Bur-
leson, then of the regular army, with a body of
regulars, a few volunteers and Lipan and Toncahua
Indians as scouts, was on a winter campaign against
the hostile tribes in the upper country, between the
Brazos and the Colorado rivers.

On the evening of December 23d, 1839, when
about twenty-five miles (easterly) from Pecan
bayou, the scouts reported the discovery of a large
trail of horses and cattle, bearing south towards

* Since above was written, resigned from United
States Senate, and is now a member of the Texas State
Bailroad Commission.

the Colorado river. On the following day Col. Bur-
leson changed his course and followed the trail.
On the morning of the 25th, Christmas day, the
scouts returned and reported an encampment of
Indians about twelve miles distant, on the west
bank of the Colorado and about three miles below
the mouth of the San Saba. (This was presumably
the identical spot from which Capts. Kuykendall
and Henry S. Brown drove the Indians ten years
before in 1829.)

Fearing discovery if he waited for a night attack.
Col. Burleson determined to move forward as
rapidly as possible, starting at 9 a. m. By great
caution and the cunning of his Indian guides he
succeeded in crossing the river a short distance
above the encampment without being discovered.

When discovered within a few hundred yards of
the camp, a messenger met them and proposed a
parley. Col. Burleson did not wish to fire if they
would surrender ; but perceiving their messenger
was being detained, the Indians opened a brisk
fire from a ravine in rear of their camp, which was
promptly returned by Company B. under Capt.
Clendenin, which formed under cover of some
trees and fallen timber ; while the remainder of the
command moved to the right in order to flank their
left or surround tkem; but before this could be
executed, our advance charged and the enemy
gave way, and a running fight took place for two
miles, our whole force pursuing. Favored by a
rocky precipitous ravine, and a dense cedar brake,
the warriors chiefly escaped, but their loss was
great. Among the seven warriors left dead on
the field were the Chiefs John Bowles and "The



Egg." The whole of their camp equipage, horses
and cattle, one man, five women and nineteen
children fell into the hands of the victors. Among
the prisoners were the mother, three children and
two sisters of John Bowles.

Our loss was one Toncahua wounded and the
brave Capt. Lynch of the volunteers killed — shot
dead while charging among the foremost of the

The prisoners were sent under a guard com-
manded by Lieut. Moran to Austin, together with
important papers found in the camp.

Col. Burleson made his official report next day
to Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston, Secretary of
War, from which these details are derived. He

then continued his original march, scouring the
country up Pecan bayou, thence across to the
Leon and down the country. Several bodies of
Indians were discovered by the scouts — one being
large — but they fled and avoided the troops.
Two soldiers deserted on the trip, and both were
killed by the hostiles. Among others in this
expedition were Col. Wm. S. Fisher, Maj. Wyatt,
the gallant Capt. Matthew Caldwell, Lieut. Lewis,
Dr. Booker and Dr. (then Capt.) J. P. B. Jan-
uary, who died in Victoria, Texas, a worthy sur-
vivor of the men of '36.

A few months later, after an amicable under-
standing, the prisoners were sent to their kindred
in the Cherokee Nation, west of Arkansas.

Bird's Victory and Death in 1839.

In 1839 the savages, flushed with many trophies,
became exceedingly bold, and were constantly
committing depredations. The settlers on the
upper Brazos, Colorado and Trinity called upon
the government for some measure of relief and
protection. Under an Act of the Congress in the
beginning of that year several companies of three
months' rangers were called out.

The fraction of a company, thirty-four men,
recruited in Houston, and under the command of
Lieut. William G. Evans, marched from that city
and reached Fort Milam the 3d of April, 1839.
This fort, situated two miles from the present town
of Marlin, had been built by Capt. Joseph Daniels,
with the Milam Guards, a volunteer company, also
from Houston. William H. Weaver was Orderly
Sergeant of Evans' Company. Evans was directed
to afford all the protection in his power to the

A company of fifty-nine men from Fort Bend
and Austin counties, was mustered into the ser-
vice for three months, on the 21st of April, 1839,
under the command of Capt. John Bird, and
reached Fort Milam on the 6th of May. Capt.
Bird, as senior officer, took command of both com-
panies, but leaving Evans in the fort, he quartered
in some deserted houses on the spot where Marlin
now stands.

Nothing special transpired for some little time,
but their provisions gave out, and the men were
compelled to subsist on wild meat alone. This

occasioned some murmurs and seven men became
mutinous, insomuch, as, in the opinion of Bird, to
demand a court-martial ; but there were not
officers enough to constitute such a tribunal, and
after their arrest he determined to send them under
guard to Col. Burleson, at Bastrop. For this pur-
pose twelve men were detailed under First-Lieut.
James Irvine. At the same time Bird detailed
twelve men, including Sergt. Weaver, from Evans'
command, to strengthen his own company, and
determined to bear company with the prisoners
on a portion of the route towards Bastrop.

They reached the deserted fort on Little river on
the night of the 25th of June and camped. Next
morning, leaving Lieut. Wm. R. Allen in charge,
Bird and Nathan Brookshire accompanied the
guard and prisoners for a few miles on their route
and then retraced their steps towards the fort.
On the way, they came upon three Indians, skin-
ning a buffalo, routed them and captured a horse
loaded with meat.

About 9 o'clock a. m., and during Bird's ab-
sence, a small party of Indians, on the chase, ran
a gang of buffaloes very near the/fort, but so soon
as they discovered the Americans they retreated
north over the rolling prairie. Sergt. Weaver
was anxious to pursue them, but Allen refused,
lest by so doing they should expose Bird and
Brookshire. So soon as the latter arrived, and
were informed of what had been seen, Bird directed
an examination into the condition of their arms.



and ordered "To horse," and a rapid march In
the direction the Indians had gone, leaving two
men in the fort as guard. In about four miles
they came in view of fifteen or twenty Indians and
chased without overhauling them. The enemy
were well mounted and could easily elude them,
but seemed only to avoid gun-shot distance, and
continued at a moderate speed on the same course,
through the broken prairie. Now and then, a sin-
gle Indian would dart oft in advance of his com-
rades and disappear, and after pursuing them some
four or five miles small parlies of well mounted
Indians would frequently appear and join the first
body; but still the retreat and the pursuit were

After traveling some twelve miles in this way,
through the prairie, the Indian force had been ma-
terially augmented, and they halted and formed on
the summit of a high ridge. Bird, immediately
ordered a charge, which was firmly met by the
enemy and they came into close quarters and hot
work. As they mingled with the Indians on the
elevated ridge, one of Bird's men, pointing to the
next ridge beyond, sang out: "Look yonder,
boys! What a crowd of Indians! " and the little
band of forty-five men beheld several hundred
mounted warriors advancing at full speed. They
immediately surrounded our men and poured a
heavy fire among them. The intrepid Weaver
directed Capt. Bird's attention to a ravine two hun-
dred j'ards distant and at the base of the hill, as an
advantageous position. Bird, preserving the ut-
most composure amid the shower of bullets and
arrows, ordered his men to dismount, and leading
their horses in solid column, to cut their way down
to the position named.

Cutting their way as best they could, they reached
the head of the little ravine and made a lodgment
for both men and horses, but a man named H. M.
C. Hall, who had persisted in remaining on his
horse, was mortally wounded in dismounting on
the bank. This ravine was in the open prairie with
a ridge gradually ascending from its head and on
either side, reaching the principal elevations at
from two hundred and fifty to three hundred
yards. For about eighty yards the ravine had
washed out into a channel, and then expanded
into a flat surface. Such localities are com-
mon in the rolling prairies of Texas. The party
having thus secured this, the only defensible point
within their reach, the enemy collected to the
number of about six hundred on the ridge, stripped
for battle and hoisted a beautiful flag of blue and
red, perhaps the trophy of some precious victory.
Sounding a whistle they mounted and at a gentle

and beautifully regular gallop in single file, they
commenced encircling Bird and his little band,
using their shields with great dexterity. Passing
round the head of the ravine then turning in front
of the Texian line, at about thirty yards — a trial
always the most critical to men attacked by supe-
rior numbers, and one, too, that created among
Bird's men a death-like silence and doubtless tested
every nerve — the leading chief saluted them with:
"How do you do? How do you do?" repeated
by a number of his followers. At that moment,
says one of the party, my heart rose to my throat
and I felt like I could outrun a race-horse and I
thought all the rest felt just as I did. But, just as
the chief had repeated the salutation the third time,
William Winkler, a Dutchman, presented his rifle
with as much self-composure as if he had been
shooting a beef, at the same time responding: " I
dosh tolerably well; how dosh you do, God tarn
you! " He fired, and as the chief fell, he con-
tinued: '■'■Now, how dosh you do, you tam red
rascal ! " Not another word had been uttered up to
that moment, but the dare-devil impromptu of the
iron-nerved Winkler operated as an electric battery,
and our men opened on the enemy with loud and
defiant hurrahs — the spell was broken, and not a
man among them but felt himself a hero. Their
first fire, however, from the intensity of the ordeal,
did little execution, and in the charge, Thomas Gay
fell dead in the ditch, from a rifle ball.

Recoiling under the fire, the Indians again formed
on the hill and remained about twenty minutes,
when a second charge was made in the same order,
but in which they made a complete circuit around
the Texians dealing a heavy fire among them. But
the nerves of the inspirited defenders had now be-
come steady and their aim was unerring — they
brought a goodly number of their assailants to the
ground. They paid bitterly for it, however, in the
loss of the fearless Weaver, who received a death
ball in the head, and of Jesse E. Nash, who was
killed by an arrow, while Lieut. Allen and George
W. Hensell were severely wounded and disabled ;
and as the enemy fell back a second time, Capt.
Bird jumped on to the bank to encourage his men ;
but only to close his career on earth. He was shot
through the heart with an arrow by an Indian at
the extraordinary distance of two hundred yards —
the best arrow shot known in the annals of Indian
warfare, and one that would seem incredible to
those who are not familiar with their skill in shoot-
ing by elevation.

They were now left without an officer. Nathan
Brookshire, who had served in the Creek war under
Jackson, was the oldest man in the company, and



at the suggestion of Samuel A. Blain, was unani-
mously called upon to assume the command. He
assented, and requited the confidence reposed in a
most gallant manner.

For the third time, after a brief delay on the
ridge, the enemy came down in full force, with ter-
rific yells, and an apparent determination to triumph
or sacrifice themselves. They advanced with impet-
uosity to the very brink of the ditch, and, recoiling
under the most telling fire from our brave boys,
they would rally again and again with great firmness.
Dozens of them fell within twenty or thirty feet of
our rifles — almost every shot killed or wounded an
Indian. Brookshire's stentorian voice was heard
through the lines in words of inspiring counsel.
The stand made by the enemy was truly desperate ;
but the death-dealing havoc of the white man, fight-
ing for victory or death, was too galling for the red
man, battling for his ancient hunting-grounds, and
after a prolonged contest, they withdrew with sullen
stubbornness to the same position on the ridge, leav-
ing many of their comrades on the field. It was
now drawing towards night, and our men, wearied
with the hard day's work, and not wishing to pro-
voke a feeling of desperation among the discom-
fited foe, concluded it would be unwise to hurrah
any more, as they had done, unless in resisting a

The Indians drew up into a compact mass on the
ridge and were vehemently addressed by their prin-
cipal chief, mounted on a beautiful horse and
wearing on his head a buffalo skin cap, with the
horns attached. It was manifest, from his manner
and gesticulations, that he was urging his braves
to another and last desperate struggle for victory —
but it would not do. The crowd was defeated.
But not so with their heroic chief. Failing to
nerve the mass, he resolved to lead the few who
might follow him. With not exceeding twelve
warriors, as the forlorn hope, and proudly waving
defiance at his people, he made one of the most
daring assaults in our history, charging within a
few paces of our lines, fired, and wheeling his
horse, threw his shield over his shoulders, leaving
his head and neck only exposed. At this moment,
the chivalrous young James W. Robinett sent a
ball through his neck, causing instant death, ex-
claiming, as the chief fell, "Shout boys! I struck
him where his neck and shoulders join! " A tre-
mendous hurrah was the response. The Indians on
the hill side, spectators of the scene, seeing their
great war chief fall within thirty feet of the Amer-
icans, seemed instantly possessed by a reckless
frenzy to recover his body; and with headlong
impetuosity, rushed down and surrounded the

dead chief, apparently heedless of their own dan-
ger, while our elated heroes poured among them
awful havoc, every ball telling upon some one of
the huge and compact mass. This struggle was
short, but deadly. They bore away the martyred
chief, but paid a dear reckoning for the privilege.

It was now sunset. The enemy had counted
our men — they knew their own force — and so
confident were they of perfect victory, that they
were careful not to kill our horses, only one of
which fell. But they were sadly mistaken — they
were defeated with great loss, and as the sun was
closing the day, they slowly and sullenly moved
off, uttering that peculiar guttural howl — that
solemn, Indian wail — which all old Indian fighters

Brookshire, having no provisions and his heroic
men being exhausted from the intense labors of
the day, thought it prudent to fall back upon the
fort the same night. Hall, Allen and Hensell were
carried in, the former dying soon after reaching
there. The next day Brookshire sent a runner to
Nashville, fifty miles. On the second day, his
provisions exhausted, he moved the company also
to Nashville. Mr. Thompson received them with
open arms and feasted them with the best he had.
Brookshire made a brief report of the battle to the
Government, and was retained in command till
their three months' term of service expired, with-
out any other important incident. " Bird's Vic-
tory," as this battle has been termed, spread a
gloom among the Indians, the first serious repulse
the wild tribes had received for some time, and its
effect was long felt.

I have before me copies of the muster rolls of
both Bird's and Evans' companies, in which are
designated those who were in the battle, excepting
one person. The list does not show who composed
the prisoners or guard. Lieut. Irvine and L. M.
H. Washington, however, were two of the guards.
As the muster rolls have been burnt in the Adjutant-
General's ofHce, these rolls are the more important
and may be preserved in this sketch. The names
are classed and hereto appended.

bird's company.
Those known to be in the fight were : John Bird,
Captain ; Wm. R. Allen, Second Lieutenant ; Wm.
P. Sharp, Second Sergeant; Wm. P. Bird, First
Corporal. Privates : Nathan Brookshire (Captain
after Bird's death), William Badgett, James
Brookshire, Tillman C. Fort, James Hensley,
William Hensley, H. M. C. Hall, J. H. Hughes,

A. J. Ivey, Edward Jocelyn, Lewis Kleberg, Green

B. Lynch, Jesse E. Nash, Jonathan Peters, William



Jf •• iM









- ■




Peters, E. Rector, Milton Bradford, Warren Hast-
ings, T. W, Lightfoot, G. W. Pentecost, Eli Fore-
man, A. G. Parker, Daniel Bradley, Geo. W.
Hensel, Benj. P. Kuyger, John D. Thompson,
Joseph H. Slack, Thomas Bradford — 32 and one
omitted — say 33. Left in charge of the fort,
Joseph S. Marsh and F. G. Woordward — 2. Ab-
sent (as before stated, including the man in the
fight not remembered), James Irvine, First Lieuten-
ant. Privates : Bela Vickery, Wm. Blair, Second
Corporal, George Allen, Wm. Ayres, Joshua O.
Blair, Lewis L. Hunter, W. Hickson, Neil Mc-
Crarey, J. D. Marshall, James Martin, J. W.
Stoddard, Henry Verm, Joseph H. Barnard,
Stephen Goodman, M. J. Hannon, C. Beisner,
Jackson E. Burdick, James M. Moreton, .Joseph
McGuines, Wm. J. Hodge, Charles Waller, L. M.
H. Washington, John Atkinson, Joshua O. Blair —


Those in the fight were: William H. Weaver,
First Sergeant ; Samuel A. Blain, Second Corporal ;
Privates: Thomas Gay, Charles M. Gevin, W. W.
Hanman, Robert Mills, Thomas S. Menefee, H. A.
Powers, James M. Robinett, John Romann, William

Winkler, Thos. Robinett — 12. Those left at Fort
Milam were : Wm. G. Evans, First Lieutenant ;
J. O. Butler, Second Sergeant; Thos. Brown,
First Corporal ; A. Bettinger, Musician ; Privates:
Charles Ball, Littleton Brown, Grafton H. Boatler,
D. W. Collins, Joseph Flippen, Abner Frost, James
Hickey, Hezekiah Joner, John Kirk, Laben Mene-
fee, Jarrett Menefee, Thomas J. Miller, Frederick
Pool, Washington Rhodes, Jarrett Ridgway, John
St. Clair, John Weston, Thomas A. Menefee — 22.
Joseph Mayor crippled and left in Houston — total
company, 35.


Bird's men in the battle 33

Evans' " " " 12—45

Bird's men not in the fight 26

Evans' " " " " 22—48

Aggregate force of both commands 93

The classification of the names was made by one
of those in the battle, from memory. It may pos-
sibly be slightly incorrect in that particular ; but
the rolls of each company as mustered in are

Ben McCulloch's Peach Creek Fight in 1839.

Among the survivors of that day, it is remem-
bered as a fact and by those of a later day, as a
tradition, that in February, 1839, there fell through-
out South and Southwest Texas, the most destruc-
tive sleet ever known in the country. Great trees
were bereft of limbs and tops by the immense
weight of ice, and bottoms, previously open and
free of underbrush, were simply choked to impassa-
bility by fallen timber. The cold period continued
for ten or twelve days, while ice and snow, shielded
from the sun, lay upon the ground for a much
longer period. This occurred in the latter half of
February, 1839, in the same year but several
months before Austin, or rather the land upon
which it stands, was selected as the future seat of

At that lime Ben McCuIloch, who had entered
Texas just in time to command a gun at San
Jacinto, was a young man in his twenty-eighth year
residing at Gonzales, having been joined by his
brother, Henry E., his junior by several years.

during the preceding year. At the same time the
Toncahua tribe of Indians were encamped at the
junction of Peach and Sandy creeks, about fifteen
miles northeast of Gonzales.

Just prior to this great sleet Ben McCulloch had
made an agreement with a portion of the Toncahuas
to join him and such white men as he could secure
in a winter expedition against the hostile Indians

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 13 of 135)