William J.] 1829-1908 [Maltby.

Captain Jeff; or, Frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers; some unwritten history and facts in the thrilling experiences of frontier life online

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Online LibraryWilliam J.] 1829-1908 [MaltbyCaptain Jeff; or, Frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers; some unwritten history and facts in the thrilling experiences of frontier life → online text (page 6 of 14)
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to a bloodhound.

The ground was wet, and the trail was followed at a brisk lope for
about twenty miles, where the Indians had halted within about one
hundred yards of a man's house and in all probability were intending
to murder the family, but before they had time to carry that into
effect, the Bangers came in sight.

The Rangers did not check their horses, but charged right onto
them. The Indians were so taken by surprise, that they were almost
panic stricken. At the first volley of the Rangers one Indian fell
dead and two more were wounded. Sinclare's horses fell dead and
the bow of the Indian that rode him was shot in two so the Indian
had no other arms but a butcher knife; this he drew and bending
down his head he dashed into the Rangers, uttering the wild shrieks
of an enraged bull. He made one desperate lunge at Sergeant Mather
with his knife and would have killed him, but Mather wa the bast


horseman in the company, and just as the knife descended he threw
himself to the opposite side of his horse, Wallace, who received the
blow that was intended for his rider.

The knife was driven through the saddle blanket and into Wal-
lace's shoulderblade. At that instant the brave, devoted and heroic
Indian fell with four army six shooter balls driven through the vital
part of his body. As a deed of bravery, devotion and heroism it was
never surpassed, no, not by Arnold Winkelried. His devotion to
hit <^if and his comrades caused him to give his life to give them >
chance to get away, for when he had made his mad charge uttering
the shrieks of an enraged bull all eyes were turned on him, and by
the time he fell all the others were out of sight arid gone, as it waa
dark, and the timber and brush was thick at the place. As nothing
further could be done in the darkness, and it was only six miles to
the town of Brownwood the Captain took his men to Brownwood
where accommodations could be had for men and horses. After
reaching Brownwood, the men were bountifully fed at the hotels,
horses all well cared for at the livery stables, all but the Captain's
norse, he was put in a private stable, and the next morning the
door was open, and the Captain's horse was gone. This was very an-
noying to the Captain as he was making all possible haste to go out
to where the fight took place as he was anxious to take the trail
of the Indians.

Two of the citizens of Brownwood, John McMahan and Henry
Warmick were going out to where the fight took place to bring the
dead Indians in for the people to see them, but as good luck would
have it in this instance, the orderely sergeant had been sent into
Brownwood two days before on some company business and he rode
a number one horse, a race horse, that ran away with the sergeant
every time the company went on drill. So the Captain called OD


the sergeant for his horse, which was cheerfully given, the captain
saying: "Sergeant, my horse will be back here in the camp before
night, if the Indians don't kill him, for they can't ride him."

The sergeant said, "No, the horse that can run away with Ser-
geant Mather, can run away with any Indian, even old Big Foot
himself." The scout was mounted, and waiting for the Captain,
as it took some little time for him to get the Sergeant's horse
saddled. He said, "Sergeant Mather, Sergeant Arnet, Albert Arnet,
Dr. King and Mexican Joe will remain with me; Lieut. Best, you go
on with the balance of the men and we will overtake you before
you get there. McMahan and Warmick remained with the Captain
who s<^on started on behind the scout in a road that led to whre
the fight took place. The Captain's party had not gone more than a
mile from Brownwood; he was riding in the lead when he discovered
a fresh trail of horses near the road.

He at once turned his horse to it to investigate it, all the others
of his little party followed him; they had not followed it but a
short distance until they were fully convinced that it was Indiana
that had returned to Brownwood in the night and stolen fresh horses,
the Captain's among the number. Here the Captain called for Mexi-
can Joe to take the trail, and the race for life began. The Captain
said, "Sergeant Mather, Wallace is disabled and can't stand the run,
so you had better go and join Lieut. Best," to which the sergeant
replied, "Wallace can stand anything, at any rate he will have to
go until he falls," and drawing his quirt, he hit him a keen lick in
the flank and drove him to the front just behind the trailer. Here
Albert Arnet closed up by the side of Mather and in this manner the
race was kept up until Joe's horse gave out. Here Mather and Arnet
quickly dismounted and threw off their saddles, coats, hats, and the


Captain threw off his coat and they mounted their horsRs bareback,
and took the trail side by side, and in a short distance Mather's horse
ran against the limb of a tree and knocked him off. The Captain said,
"Andrew, are you hurt ?" He answered, "No," and the captain passed
him, and in less than a hundred yards a limb struck the Captain,
knocking him off. Mather came up and said, "Captain, are you
hurt?" The Captain answered "No." "Then we are even," said

Just here a fine pair of U. S. red blankets were left hanging on a
projecting limb, a little further on was two Indian saddles and bridles
left on the trail, and everything they carried was thrown down
to lighten their load. Just here the Indians were passing near
the Eanger Camp and the Captain had completely run down 'the
Sergeant's horse. He said, "Boys, they will go through Santa Anna
Gap. Keep on after them, and I will go by the camp and get a
fresh horse and meet you in the Gap."

When he reached the Gap his men had just passed through and
Mather was standing by his noble horse, Wallace, coatless, hatless, and
with his face all bloody from the limbs sticking in it, an object of
disappointment and terror.

The Captain on his fresh horse soon overtook all that was left
of his little party, to-wit: Sergeant Arnet, Albert Arnet and Dr.
King, he himself making four, but they dauntlessly followed on to
Robinson's Peak in Coleman County, where the country is very rough
and brushy, here the Indians scattered, and their trail could not be
followed any further. They had made the run from where the
trail was first struck to Robinson's Peak, a distance of sixty miles,
in seven hours.

The party killed a calf for meat, and wearily dragged them-


selves back to camp which they reached the next day sorely and
sadly disappointed, for Big Foot's guiding spirit had carried him
safely through another series of close places.

The first thing that greeted the Captain's eye when he returned
to camp was Selum, standing where he was fed. The Captain dis-
mounted and went directly to him, and patting him on the neck said,
"Selum, my boy, did you bust another ingin?" to which he uttered
his low familiar whinny, as much as to say, "you bet I did." The or-
derly sergeant coming up to greet the Captain said, "Selum did as
you said he would, probably killed another Indian, and came back
to Brownwood." "Did you ride him to camp?" "No, sir, I bor-
rowed a horse and led him." The Captain then said, "I expect I
have killed your horse, and if so, I will get you as good a one
if he can be found." The sergeant replied, "I bought him to run
Indians, and if you have killed him in that capacity, then he is
well paid for," and this was the kind of men that composed Captain
Jeff's company; nothing small about them but their feet. The scout-
ing was kept up, but no more signs of Indians during this moon nor
until near the full of the next moon


Captain Jeff's Lucky No. "9" and the Promptings of the Still Small
Voice Fully Verified.

Lieut. Best was sitting iii the camp tent one night and the subject
came up of lucky numbers. The Captain said : "Lieutenant, have you
a lucky number, and if so,what is it?" The Lieutenant said, "Yes,
my lucky number all through life begins and ends with the
figure nine. My mother was born on December 9, 1829, I was
born on November 9, 1849, my wife was born on May 9, 1859,
when all the flowers were in bloom, and she is the sweetest and
loveliest rose that ever bloomed, and Rose is her name." Well,
Lieutenant, the births of our family are coincidental all the way
through, beginning or ending with the figure nine, and as tomorrow
is the ninth of the month, I propose that we make a scout with
nine men all told, including ourselves, and start precisely at nine
o'clock a. m. I will select four of the men and you can select three;


1 select Sergeant Mather, Corporal Sackett Bill Williams and
Mexican Joe, for trailer." The Lieutenant then said: "I select
Sergeant Arnet, Corporal Henry and Bill Dunman," BO the names
of the scout stood as follows :

I 8 t Captain Jeff, 2nd Liuet. Best, 3rd Sergeant Mather, 4th
Corporal Sackett, 5th Bill Williams, 6th Mexican Joe, 7th
Sergeant Arnett, 8th Coropral Henry, 9th Bill Dunman.

The list was made out and the Captain instructed the Lieuten-
ant to notify the men to be in readiness to start at the appointed
time, so at nine o'clock the following morning everything was in per
feet readiness and the scout started at nine o'clock sharp. About three
miles west of the headquarters camp was a Pass that the Indians
sometimes went through as they returned from the settlements with
their stolen horses, to which point the scout was directed at the start.

When they got near the Pass they saw a lone horseman sitting OL
bis horse and they rode directly to him, and when near enough tc
recognize him the lone horseman hollowed "Hello ! Captain ! You are
the very man of all men that I wanted to see at this time." The
Captain replied, "Well, Jim, I am glad that I can be of service to
you; what is wanted?" "The Indians, old Big Foot and band, stole
a lot of horses yesterday in San Saba County near my place and my
race horse, Gray Eagle, with the rest. I at once mounted this pony
and took the trail with the hope that I might meet you or have a
chance to send you word. I rode the trail hard all day yesterday
and did not see anyone; when dark came on so that I couldn't see
the trail I staked out my pony and laid down, and this morning
followed it up to this pass. I don't think they are so far ahead but
that you can overtake them before dark, but my horse Gray Eagle is
good and gone from Jim Brown and his heirs forever, for there is


not a horse on this frontier that can catch him." The Captain then
said, "Jim, what distance does he run ?" He replied : "One-half mile/'
to which the Captain smilingly said (patting Selum on the neck).
"Jim, if that is Gray Eagle's distance, Selum can run over him
or pull his head off with a hundred foot lariat in one mile and carry
my weight, at which he laughed quizically. "Very well, the proof of
the pudding is in the eating, and 1 feel that this is the day that
I am to sample it after so many trials, and to fully test your opinion
of the speed of Gray Eagle." He then said, "Boys, if we are to
catch those Indians we can't stand here and talk race horse any longer,
but get right down to business.

Jim Brown then said: "My pony can't go much farther, and it is
no use for me to start on with you. I wish I had a good horse,"
to which the captain said, "and if you did, we would send you back,
not that we doubt your bravery, for you have fully demonstrated by
following and camping on the trail all alone that you could be de-
pended on; we have made this a special scout of nine men and we do
not want any more." "Then the captain said, "Joe. take the trail
and make this the best effort of your life/' which he did,, keeping
in a brisk trot or lope the entire day, with the exception of a short
halt at three o'clock to eat a hasty lunch, and to rest and graze the
horses for the onward pursuit.

At four o'clock they were again in the saddles and the same
speed was kept up until it was growing dark, when they reached the
summit of an elevation, and Joe came to a sudden halt and pointed
towards where plainly to be seen was the Indians' fire, some two
miles ahead under some large spreading elms on the bank of Valle)
Creek, in Runnels County.

Here a short consultation was held and they moved forward in


a slow, steady walk in single file, Captain Jeff in the lead.

As they approached nearer the ground became sandy and their
horses' feet made but very little noise. In this cautious manner they
rode up behind a clump of small trees and brush and to within two
hundred yards of the fire, where they halted and made a careful sur-
vey of the camp. They discovered that horses were tied north of the
fire, that two horses were tied south of the fire, and that one horse
was tied west of the fire and that their position was east of the fire.
The Indians that rode the horses that were tied south of the fire
and the one that rode the one tied west of the fire seemed to be on
guard, as they walked about to the fire and back to the horses, and
their movements indicated that they were placed on watch, and the
horse that was west of the fire was from every appearance Jim
Brown's ra.ce horse, Gray Eagle, and his rider was a woman. The
other five Indians were busy around the fire cooking beef which they
had killed when they made the halt. There were others out attending
to the horses that they had ridden through the day. All the horses
that were tied around the fire were fresh horses for the Indians to get
away on in case they were overtaken. As they were so busy cooking,
our party saw that plenty of time was given them to mature their plan
of attack. It was plain to be seen from his size that Big Foot's horse
was south of the fire and in all probability his lieutenant's also, as
they two, with the women, were on guard as their every movement

Captain Jeff, speaking in a low tone said, "Corporal Sackett, you
stay with me, I will take Big Foot and you take his lieutenant, and
then we will capture the squaw. Lieutenant, you take all the other
men and take everything at the fire and north of the fire, and
when we start, don't hollow, let's get right out; then before they know


it, and now go." And the charge was sudden and desperate in strict
keeping with the Texas Ranger.

Let us follow Captain Jeff and Corporal Henry Sackett while
they charge south of the fire after their select game, while Lieut. Best
with the others charge north of the fire. At the sound of the horses'
feet Big Foot and his lieutenant sprang to their horses, but before Big
Foot could mount, Captain Jeff's six shooter spoke its voice of death
and Big Foot's horse fell dead. Big Foot then turned and aimed
his Spencer rifle, but before he could pull the trigger Captain Jeff's
pistol spoke again and it's leaden messenger of death went to the
mark knocking the hammer off of the Indian's gun and driving it into
his cheek, then glanced down striking him in the jugular vein and
breaking his neck. The blood spurted high and Big Foot fell to ris*
no more. His career of crime ended, and the warnings of the still
small voice were verified.

Just at this juncture the Captain saw the glistening of a knife
as the little squaw cut the rope that bound Gray Eagle. With one
bound she lit astride the horse; she looked back with a frightened
but determined look, the light of the fire fully reflected on her fea-
tures and at the same time she gave Gray Eagle a sharp, keen cut
with her quirt, and was gone with the speed of the wind, but not be-
fore a keen eye had marked the direction which she took, and the
Captain said, "Now Selum here is your chance to try your full
mettle. The noble horse seemed to know what was expected of him,
and setting his eyes and ears on the flying object he bounded for-
ward as if to do or die in the struggle of speed, blood and endurance.
His rider held him firm and hard so that he would not over jump
himself at the start, for he had every confidence in blood of man or
horse. The race was up one of the beautiful valleys of Valley Creek





without rock or bush and nothing to fear except the numerous prairie
dog holes that these valleys are noted for.

For the first half mile Selum held his own with the almost flying
Gray Eagle, and each jump after that distance lessened the space
between the two horses, and at the distance of about one mile Selum
had closed up along by the side of Gray Eagle and his rider. At
that moment the little woman raised her arm to strike with the knifa
that she still held in her hand, but before she could strike the Gap-
tain struck her arm with a sudden blow from the heel of his clenched
fist and the knife fell to the ground. He then leaned forward and
straightened out his arm to grasp the bridle, but at that moment
Selum's right forefoot plunged into a prairie dog hole and he fell
with such force that he slid forward on the ground, and the
Captain was thrown ten or fifteen feet in his advance and struck the
ground with such force that he was knocked senseless. How long
he remained in that condition he does not know, but when conscious-
ness partly returned to him he raised himself to a sitting position,
wondering where he was and how he got there.

Finally he rose to his feet and rubbed himself to see if he was
altogether without broken bones, and then everything came back to
him, the fight, the race, and his bending forward to catch the bridle
of the "pretty little squaw," and then everything was a blank. After
he recovered he looked around and saw his horse Selum resting his
weight on three feet, his right fore foot merely touching the ground.
The Captain walked up to him and gently patting him on the neck
said, "Selum, are you hurt?" He uttered his low peculiar whinny,
which he was accustomed to do when his rider petted and patted him.
Captain Jeff then said, "Selum, my boy, you made a noble run for
Gray Eagle and his rider but the fates, in this instance, as in many
others, were against us, and I suppose we will have to submit to


their decision, and let Gray Eagle carry the little squaw to Fort
Sill to report to the Quaker agents that the big Kiowa chief did not
get away with captives, scalps or horses this time. Come on, my
boy, and we will go back and get the report of the boys, and I will
eat some of that good beef old Big Foot was having cooked for us,
for he did not know that there would be a 'slip between the cup and
the lip/ but such there is with all of us." So saying, he walked
back, Selum following, limping along as best he could.

When he got back to the Indian fire where the charge was made,
all the other boys had done their work and were anxiously awaiting
his return and they greeted him with a prolonged cheer.

He said, "Bravo ! Boys, I see you are all here, and I see too that
Big Foot and some of his braves are here, but they are hors de com-
bat at last, and as we can't do anything with our horses ^ere where
they smell the blood of these Indians, gather up a lot of that barbe-
cued beef and we will go down the creek a piece to where we can
quiet our horses, eat something and all make our reports," which pro-
gram was carried out at once. A camp was soon selected, horses cared
for, guards placed, supper eaten, and the Captain then said, "Now for
the reports; Corporal Sackett, as you went with me to the south of
the fire, we will hear your report first."

Corporal Henry Sackett's report:

The Indian that was on guard with Big Foot was allotted to
me didn't run and try to mount his horse, but stood firm, and when
I got in some thirty feet of him he shot with his bow and my horse
fell, and as my horse fell I fired at him and he dropped his bow;
(which was caused from Sackett's first shot cutting off three
of his fingers from the hand in which he held his bow)
when my horse fell 1 sprang to my feet and he was running to the
creek bank, and just as he was disappearing in the bushes on the


creek bank I took the best aim I could and fired. I thought he
fell forward, but when I got to the place he was gone."

Lient. Best's report:

According to orders we charged north of the fire. The five Indians
that were cooking sprang for their horses, two of them fell before they
got to tneir horses, the other three succeeded in mounting and as
their horses were fresh ones and good ones at that, they just simply
outran us. We tried to bring them down as they ran, but we do not
know whether we hit any of them or not. As the Captain's report has
already been written in this connection, we think it just to give
more than a passing notice to Corporal Henry Sackett. He was a
young English gentleman, not only by birth and education, but a
gentleman in every sense of the word, and had been schooled in
horsemanship in the "old country," in riding fox and steeple chases,
and was endowed by nature with all the requisites to make him a
dashing and chivalrous Texas Kanger. To the other boys who w^re
to the manor born such occurrences as herein recorded were is a
matter of course as they always run the Indians one way or another.

Next morning on examination of the battle ground Big Foot and
his horse lay side by side, two other Indians lay between the fire
and where their horses were tied. On examination of the spot where
Sackett's Indian went down the bank of the creek blood was found,
and on further search a moan was heard and the party uttering the
moan was found which proved to be Sackett's Indian.

He spoke good Spanish and asked for water which was soon
brought to him. He drank heartily and it seemed to relieve him.

Mexican Joe was called up and he and the Captain (the Captain
spoke good Spanish and Joe good English) questioned him.

He said that he was a Comanche and that the dead chief was
a Kiowa; he said his own name was Jape or Japey, but he could
not be persuaded in any way to tell the chief's name. He said they


had left Fort Sill a few days before and that for many years they
had been coming down into the settlements killing, capturing and
robbing the settlers ; that they were the party that killed the Johnson
family, the Blaylock family, Bill Williams' family and killed Tom
Milligan in Mason county so near his house, and captured and carried
Miss Tod into captivity, and had carried one of Bill Williams' little
girls some two hundred miles and hung her by the neck to a tree
limb and left her hanging. This proved to be true for a party fol-
lowed the Indians and found the little girl just as the Indian said.
At this juncture of his confession Bill Williams drew his gun to
shoot him in the head but he was prevented from doing so as every
indication showed that he could live but a few minutes longer,
for Sackett's shot was fatal. As soon as the breath left his body
Bill Williams scalped him, and nobody could blame him for it.
Header, would you deprive such little revenge of that heartbroken
husband and father?

Mexican Joe scalped the others and seemed very proud of his
trophies. The other Indians did not get away with any horses save
the ones they rode, so the Captain and Sackett had several to pick
from and they got very good mounts, and moved slowly back to
camp, Selum limping along following.

Cheer after cheer rent the air when our little party of nine rode
into headquarters camp all well and sound in body and limb,
bringing with them the trophies of their victory at last over the band
that had eluded their grasp so many times.

The wiley chiefs arms and marks of rank were hung up by his
scalp as attests that his raids were indeed ended. His arms con-
sisted of a Spencer breechloading rifle, a Remington army six-
shooter, bow and arrow, beautifully decorated, butcher knife and

Ornaments of rank First, breast ornament made out of the sec-
ond joints of human fingers of those he had killed in battle and
otherwise to the number of eighty-two joints; second, fine head-
dress of eagle feathers and white women's hair.


The Buffalo Hunt. Discipline and a Lesson Taught that Military Orga-
nization Could Profit by its Example.

And now, kind reader, the long and cherished object of this
company was at last accomplished, to-wit: the breaking up and par-
tial destruction and total annihilation of a band of the most success-
ful, daring and desperate Indians commanded by Big Foot, the

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Online LibraryWilliam J.] 1829-1908 [MaltbyCaptain Jeff; or, Frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers; some unwritten history and facts in the thrilling experiences of frontier life → online text (page 6 of 14)