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above. The sleet postponed the enterprise and,
when the weather partially resumed its usual
temperature, it was difficult to enlist either whites
or Indians in the contemplated enterprise. Both
dreaded a recurrence of the storm. But following
Moore's San Saba trip and in hope of recovering
Matilda Lockhart and the Putman children, Mc-
Culloch deemed that an auspicious time to make
such a trip, and about the first of March left the
Toncahua village for the mountains. The party
consisted of five white men — Ben McCulloch, Wil-
son Randall, John D. Wolfin, David Hanson and
Henry E. McCulloch — and thirty-five Toncahua



warriors commanded by their well-lsnown and wily
old chief, " Capt. Jim Kerr," a name that he
assumed in 1826 as an evidence of his friendship
for the first settler of Gonzales, after that gentle-
man had been broken up by other Indians in July
of that year. The medicine man of the party was

On the second day out and on the head waters of
Peach creek, they struck a fresh trail of foot
Indians, bearing directly for Gonzales. This, of
course, changed their plans. Duty to their threat-
ened neighbors demanded that they should follow
and break up this invading party.

They followed the trail rapidly for three or four
hours and then came in sight of the enemy, who
promptly entered an almost impenetrable thicket
bordering a branch and in a post oak country.
The hostiles, concealed from view, had every
advantage, "and every attempt to reach a point from
which they could be seen or flred upon was ex-
posing the party attempting it to the fire of the
unseen enemy. Several hours passed in which
occasional shots were fired. From the first Capt.
Jim refused to enter or allow his men to enter the
thicket, saying the dangei was too great and Ton-
cahuas too scarce to run such hazards. One of
his men, however, from behind the only tree well
situated for defense, was killed, the only loss sus-
tained by the attacking party. Finally, impatient
of delay and dreading the approach of night,
McCulloch got a promise from Capt. Jim to so
place his men around the lower end of the thicket
as to kill any who might attempt to escape, while
he, his brother, Randall and Henson would crawl
through it from the upper end. Wolfln declined a
ticket in what he regarded as so dangerous a lot-
tery. Slowly they moved, observing every possible
precaution till — " one by one " — each of the four
killed an Indian and two or three others were
wounded. The assailed Indians fired many shots
and arrovrs, but seemed doomed to failure. In
thickets nothing is so effective as the rifle ball.

Finally the survivors of the enemy (nine of an
original thirteen) emerged in the branch at the
lower end of the thicket and were allowed by Capt.
Jim to escape. When the whites effected an exit
the enemy was beyond reach, sheltered in a yet
larger thicket.

This closed the campaign. The Toncahuas,
scalping the four dead hostiles, felt impelled by a
patriotic sense of duty to hasten home and celebrate
their victory. They fleeced off portions of the
thighs and breasts of the dead and all started in ;
but they soon stopped on the way and went through
most of the mystic ceremonies attending a war
dance, thoroughly commingling weird wails over
their fallen comrade with their wild and equally
weird exultations over their fallen foes. This cere-
mony over, they hastened home to repeat the savage
scenes with increased ferocity. McCulloch and
party, more leisurely, returned to Gonzales, to be
welcomed by the people who had thus been pro-
tected from a night attack by the discomfited
invaders. Such inroads by foot Indians almost
invariably resulted in the loss of numerous horses,
and one or more — alas ! sometimes many — lives
to the settlers.

This was forty-eight and a half years ago ; yet,
as I write this, on the 19th day of August, 1887,
Henry E. McCulloch, hale, well-preserved and spot-
less before his countrymen, is my guest at the
ex-Confederate reunion in Dallas, and verifies the
accuracy of this narrative. Our friendship began
later in that same year, and every succeeding year
has been an additional record of time, attesting a
friendship lacking but eighteen months of ha f a
century. After 1839 his name is interwoven with
the hazards of the Southwestern frontier, as Texas
ranger — private, lieutenant and captain — down
to annexation in 1846 ; then a captain in and after
the Mexican war under the United States ; later as
the first Confederate colonel in Texas, and from
April, 1862, to the close of the war, as a brigadier-
general in the Confederate army.

Moore's Defeat on the San Saba, 1839.

In consequence of the repeated and continued
inroads of the Indians through 1837 and 1838, at
the close of the latter year Col. John. H. Moore,
of Fayette, already distinguished alike for gallantry
and patriotism, determined to chastise them. Call-

ing for volunteers from the thinly settled country
around him, he succeeded in raising a force of .fifty-,
five whites, forty-two Lipan and twelve Toncahua
Indians, an aggregate of one hundred and nine.
Col. Castro, chief of the Lipans, commanded his



warriors, assisted by the rising and ever faithful
young chief, Flacco, whose memory is honored,
and whose subsequent peifldious fate is and ever
has been deplored by every pioneer of Texas.

Among this little troup of whites was Mr. Andrew
Lockhart, of the Guadalupe, impelled by an
agonizing desire to rescue his beautiful little
daughter, Matilda, who had been captured with
the four Putman children near his home. Her
final recovery, at the time of the Council House
fight in San Antonio, on the 19th of March, 1840,
is narrated in another chapter.

The advance scouts reported to Col. Moore the
discovery of a large Comanche encampment, with
many horses, on. the San Saba river, yet the sequel
showed that they failed to realize its magnitude in

With adroit caution that experienced frontiers-
man, by a night march, arrived in the vicinity be-
fore the dawn of day, on the 12th of February,
1839, a clear, frosty morning. They were in a
favored position for surprising the foe, and wholly
undiscovered. At a given signal every man un-
derstood his duty. Castro, with a portion of the
Indians, was to stampede the horses grazing in the
valley and rush with them beyond recovery. The
whites and remaining Indians were to charge, with-
out noise, upon the village. The horses of the
■dismounted men of both colors wer§ left tied a mile
in the rear in a ravine.

As light sufficiently appeared to distinguish
friend from foe, the signal was given. With thirty
of his people the wily old Castro soon had a
thousand or more loose horses thundering over
hill and dale towards the south. Flacco, with
twelve Lipans and the twelve Toncahuas, remained
with Moore. The combined force left, numbering
seventy-nine, rushed upon the buffalo tents, firing
whenever an Indian was seen. Many were killed
in the first onset. But almost instantly the camp
was in motion, the warriors, as if by magic, rush-
ing together and fighting ; the women and children
wildly fleeing to the coverts of the bottom and
neighboring thickets. It was at this moment, amid
the screams, yells and war-whoops resounding
through the valley, that Mr. Lockhart plunged
forward in advance of his comrades, calling aloud :
" Matilda! it you are here, run to me! Your
father calls! " And though yet too dim to see

every word pierced the child's heart as she recog-
nized her father's wailing voice, while she was
lashed into a run with the retreating squaws.
The contest was fierce and bloody, till, as the
sunlight came. Col. Moore realized that he had
only struck and well-nigh destroyed the fighting
strength of the lower end of a long and powerful
encampment. The enraged savages from above
came pouring down in such numbers as to
threaten the annihilation of their assailants. Re-
treat became a necessity, demanding the utmost
courage and strictest discipline. But not a man
wavered. For the time being the stentorian voice
of their stalwart and iron-nerved leader was a law
unto all. Detailing some to bear the wounded,
with the others Moore covered them on either
fiank, and stubbornly fought his way back to the
ravine in which his horses had been left, to Sad
that every animal had already been mounted by a
Comanche, and was then curveting around them.
All that remained possible was to fight on the
defensive from the position thus secured, and this
was done with such effect that, after a prolonged
contest, the enemy ceased to assault. Excepting
occasional shots at long range by a few of the most
daring warriors, extending into the next day, the
discomfited assailants were allowed to wend their
weary way homewards. Imagine such a paity,
150 miles from home, afoot, with a hundred miles
of the way through mountains, and six of their
comrades so wounded as to perish in the wilder-
ness, or be transported on litters home by their
fellows. Such was the condition of six of the
number. They were William M. Eastland (spared
then to draw a black bean and be murdered by the
accursed order of Santa Anna in 1843); S. S. B.
Fields, a lawyer of La Grange ; James Manor,
Felix Taylor, — Lefiingwell, and — Martin, the
latter of whom died soon after reaching home.
Cicero Rufiis Perry was a sixteen-year-old boy in
this ordeal. Gonzalvo Wood was also one of the

After much suffering the party reached home, pre-
ceded by Castro with the captured horses, which the
cunning old fox chiefly appropriated to his own tribe.

Col. Moore, in his victorious destruction of a
Comanche town high up the Colorado in 1840,
made terrible reclamation for the trials and adver-
sities of this expedition.



The Famous Council House Fight in San Antonio, March 19,
1840 — A Bloody Tragedy — Official Details.

From the retreat of the people before Santa
Anna in the spring of 1836, down to the close of
1839, the Comanches and other wild tribes had
depredated along our entire line of frontier, steal-
ing horses, killing men, and carrying into captivity
women and children, more especially the latter,
for they often murdered the women also.

On several occasions, as at Houston in 1837, and
perhaps twice at San Antonio, they had made quasi-
treaties, promising peace and good behavior, but
on receiving presents and leaving for home they
uniformly broke faith and committed depredations.
The people and the government became outraged
at such perfidy and finally the government deter-
mined, if possible, to recover our captives and
inculcate among the hostiles respect for pledges
and a desire for peace.

The seat of government in the fall of 1839 was
removed from Houston to Austin, a newly, planned
town, forming the outside settlement on the Colo-
rado. There was not even a single cabin above or
beyond the place, west, north, or east, above the
falls of the Brazos. So stood matters when the
first day of January, 1840, arrived, with Mirabeau
B. Lamar as President, David G-. Burnet as Vice-
President, and Albert Sidney Johnston on the eve
of resigning as Secretary of War, to be succeeded
by Dr. Branch T. Archer.

On the 10th of January, 1840, from San Antonio,
Col. Henry W. Karnes (then out of office), wrote
Gen. Johnston, Secretary of War, announcing that
three Comanche chiefs had been in on the previous
day, expressing a desire for peace, stating also that
their tribe, eighteen days previously, had held a
council, agreed to ask for peace and had chosen a
prominent chief to represent them in the negotia-
tion. They said they had rejected overtures and
presents from the hostile Cherokees, and also of
the Centralists, of Mexico, who had emissaries
among their people. Col. Karnes told them no
treaty was possible unless they brought in all
prisoners and stolen property held by them. To
this they said their people had already assented in
council. They left, promising to return in twenty
or thirty days with a large party of chiefs and
warriors, prepared to make a treaty, and that all
white prisoners in their hands would be brought in
with them.

From their broken faith on former occasions, and

their known diplomatic treachery with Mexico from
time immemorial, neither the President, Secretary
of War nor Col. Karnes (who had been a prisoner
among them) had any faith in their promises, be-
yond their dread of our power to punish them.
Official action was based on this apprehension of
their intended duplicity.

On the 30th of January Lieut.-Col. William S.
Fisher, commanding the First Regiment of Infan-
try, was instructed to march three companies to San
Antonio under his own command, and to take such
position there as would enable him to detain the
Comanches, should they come in without our pris-
oners. In that case, says the order of Gen. John-
ston, " some of their number will be dispatched as
messengers to the tribe to inform them that those
retained will be held as hostages until the (our)
prisoners are delivered up, when the hostages
will be released." The instructions further sayr
"It has been usual, heretofore, to. give presents.
For the future such custom will be dispensed

Following this military order, and in harmony
■with the suggestion of Col. Karnes, President Lamar
dispatched Col. Hugh McLeod, Adjutant-General,
and Col. William G. Cooke, Quartermaster-General,
as commissioners to treat with the Comanches,
should they come in, and with instructions in ac-
cord with those given Col. Fisher. They repaired
to San Antonio and awaited events.

On the 19th of March, in the morning, two Co-
manche runners entered San Antonio and announced
the arrival in the vicinity of a party of sixty-five
men, women and children, and only one prisoner,
a girl of about thirteen years, Matilda Lockhart.
In reporting the subsequent facts to the President
on the next day Col. McLeod wrote : —

"They (the Indians) came into town. The
little girl was very intelligent and told us that she
had seen several of the other prisoners at the prin-
cipal camp a few days before she left, and that they
brought her in to see if they could get a high price
for her, and, if so, they intended to bring in the
rest, one at a time.

" Having ascertained this, it became necessary
to execute your orders and take hostages for the
safe return of our people, and the order was
accordingly given by Col. William G. Cooke, act-
ing Secretary of War. Lieut.-Col. Fisher, First



Infantry, was ordered to inarch up two companies
of his command and post them in the immediate
vicinity of the council room.

" The chiefs were then called together and asked :
' Where are the prisoners you promised to bring in
to the talk?'

" Muke-war-rah, the chief who held the last talk
with us and made the promise, replied : ' We have
brought in the only one we had ; the others are with
other tribes.'

" A pause ensued because, as this was a palpa-
ble lie, and a direct violation of their pledge,
solemnly given scarcely a month since, we had the
only alternative left us. He observed this pause
and asked quickly : ' How do you like the an-
swer? '

"The order was now given to march one com-
pany into the council room and the other in rear
of the building, where the warriors were assembled.
During the execution of this order the talk was
re-opened and the terms of a treaty, directed by
your excellency to be made with them in case the
prisoners were restored, were discussed, and they
were told the treaty would be made when they
brought in the prisoners. They acknowledged
that they had violated all their previous treaties,
and yet tauntingly demanded that new confidence
should be reposed io another promise to bring in
the prisoners.

"The troops being now posted, the (twelve)
chiefs and captains were told that they were our
prisoners and would be kept as hostages for the
safety of our people then in their hands, and that
they might send their young men to the tribe, and
as soon as our friends were restored they should be

" Capt. (George T.) Howard, whose company
was stationed in the council house, posted sentinels
at the doors and drew up his men across the
room. We told the chiefs that the soldiers they
saw were their guards, and descended from the
platform. The chiefs immediately followed. One
sprang to the back door and attempted to pass the
sentinel, who presented his musket, when the
ohief drew his knife and stabbed him. A rush
was then made to the door. Capt. Howard col-
lared one of them and received a severe stab from
him in the side, He ordered the sentinel to fire
upon him, which he immediately did, and the
Indian fell dead. They then all drew their knives
and bows, and evidently resolved to fight to the
last. Col. Fisher ordered : ' Fire, if they do not
•desist! ' The Indians rushed on, attacked us des-
perately, and a general order to fire became

"After a short but desperate struggle every one
of the twelve chiefs and captains in the council
house lay dead upon the floor, but not until, in the
hand-to-hand struggle, they had wounded a num-
ber of persons.

"The indoor work being finished, Capt. Howard's
company was formed in front to prevent retreat in
that direction ; but, in consequence of the severity
of his wound, he was relieved by Capt. Gillen, who
commanded the company till the close of the action.

"Capt. Redd,* whose company was formed in
the rear of the council house, was attacked by the
warriors in the yard, vrho fought like wild beasts.
They, however, took refuge in some stone houses,
from which they kept up a galling fire with bows
and arrows and a few rifles. Their arrows, wher-
ever they struck one of our men, were driven to
the feather. A small party escaped across the
river, but were pursued by Col. Lysander Wells
with a few mounted men and all killed. The only
one of the whole band who escaped was a renegade
Mexican among them, who slipped away unob-
served. A single warrior took refuge in a stone
house, refusing every overture sent him by squaws,
with promise of securit}', and killing or wounding
several till, after night, when a ball of rags, soaked
in turpentine and ignited, was dropped through the
smoke escape in the roof onto his head. Thus, in a
blaze of fire, he sprang through the door and was
riddled with bullets.

" In such an action — so unexpected, so sudden
and terrific — it was impossible at times to distin-

* Note. Cap. Redd and Col. Wells fought a duel in
San Antonio later the same year and killed each other.
Judge Robinson died In San Diego, California, in 1853.
Judge Hemphill died during the Civil War, a member of
the Confederate Senate. Capt. Matthew Caldwell, then
of the regulars and a famous Indian fighter, died at his
home in Gonzales in the winter of 1842-3. Col. McLeod,
commanding a Texas regiment, died at Dumfries,
Virginia, during the Civil War. Col. William S. Fisher,
afterwards commander at Mier and a "Mier prisoner,"
died in Galveston in 1845, soon after his release. Col.
Wm. G. Cooke died at Navarro ranch, on the San Gero-
nimo, in 1847. He came as Lieutenant of the NewOrleans
Grays in 1835, succeeded Burleson as Colonel of the
regulars in 1840. He married a daughter of Don Luciano
Navarro. He was Quartermaster-General, a commis-
sioner to Santa Fe and a prisoner, and was a noble man.
Col. Henry W. Karnes died 1q San Antonio, his home, in
the autumn of 1840. Henry Clay Davis was "a volunteer
in the fleht on horseback. An Indian sprang up behind
■ him and, while trying to kill him with an arrow used as
a dirk, Davis killed him with one of the first lot of Colt's
revolvers ever brought to Texas. Davis settled at Bio
Grande City, married a Mexican lady, was once in the
Senate, and was killed accidentally by his own gun while
out hunting.



guish between the sexes, and three squaws were
killed. The short struggle was fruitful in blood.
Our losses were: —

"Killed: Judge Hood, of San Antonio; Judge
Thompson, of Houston ; Mr. Casey, of Mata-
gorda County ; Lieut. W". M. Dunnington, First
Infantry; Privates Kaminske and Whitney, and a
Mexican — 7.

"Wounded: Capt. George T. Howard, Lieut.
Edward A. Thompson and Private Kelly severely ;
Capt. Matthew Caldwell, Judge James W. Kobin-
son, Messrs. Higgenbottom, Morgan and Car-
son— 8."

"John Hemphill, then District Judge and after-
ward so long Chief Justice, assailed in the council
house by a chief and slightly wounded, felt reluct-
antly compelled (as he remarked to the writer
afterwards) to disembowel his assailant with his
bowie knife, but declared that he did so under a
sense of duty, while he had no personal acquaint-
ance with nor personal ill-will towards his antag-

"The Indian loss stood: Thirty chiefs and war-
riors, 3 women and 2 children killed. Total, 35.

' ' Prisoners taken : Twenty-seven women and chil-
dren and 2 old men. Total, 29.

"Escaped, the renegade Mexican, 1. Grand
total, 65."

Over a hundred horses and a large quantity of
buffalo robes and peltries remained to the victors.

By request of the prisoners one squaw was
released, mounted, provisioned and allowed to go
to her people and say that the prisoners would be

released whenever thej' brought in the Texas
prisoners held by them.

A short time afterwards a party of Comanches
displayed a white flag on a hill some distance from
town, evidently afraid to come nearer. When a
flag was sent out, it was found that they had
brought in several white children to exchange for
their people. Their mission was successful and
they hurried away, seeming to be indeed "wild

These are the facts as shown by the official
papers, copies of which have been in my possession
ever since the bloody tragedy. At that time a few
papers in the United States, uninformed of the
underlying and antecedent facta dictating the
action of Texas, criticised the affair with more or
less condemnation ; but the people of to-day,
enlightened by the massacre of Gen. Canby in
Oregon, the fall of the chivalrous Gen. Custer, the
hundreds of inhuman acts of barbarism along the
whole frontier of the United States, and the recent
demonisms of Geronimo and his band of cut-
throats, will realize and indorse the genuine spirit
of humanity which prompted that as the only mode
of bringing those treacherous savages to a real-
ization of the fact that their fiendish mode of
warfare would bring calamities upon their own
people. Be that as it may, the then pioneers of
Texas, with their children in savage captivity,
shed no tears on that occasion, noi' do their sur-
vivors now. Their children of to-day dispense
with that liquid, eye-yielding manifestation of

The Great Indian Raid of 1840 — Attack on Victoria — Sacking

and Burning of Linnville — Skirmish at Casa Blanca

Creek — Overthrow of the Indians

at Plum Creek.

Of this, the most remarkable Indian raid in the
annals of Texas, numerous fragmentary and often
erroneous, or extremely partial, accounts in former
years have been published. It was a sudden and
remarkable inroad by the savages, took the country
by surprise, drew the fighting population together
from different localities for a few days, to speedily
disperse to their homes, and there being no offluial

control, no one was charged with the duty of re-
cording the facts. The great majority of the par-
ticipants, as will be seen in the narrative, witnessed
but a portion, here or there, of the incident.

The writer was then nineteen years old and,
though living on the Lavaca near Victoria and Linn-
ville, happened to be with a party from that vicinity
that passed lo the upper and final field of opera.




tions — a party that saw more of the entire episode
than any other one party. More than this, he took
care at once to gather all the facts not seen by him
and made copious notes of all, which have ever
since remained in his possession. In January, 1871,
in the town of Lavaca, the successor of Linnville,
he delivered (for a benevolent purpose) to a large
audience, embracing both ladies and gentlemen
resident in that section at the time of the raid, a
lecture historically narrating the events connected
with it, and received their public thanks for its

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 14 of 135)