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 8 of 14)
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here his coolness, bravery and excellent judgment saved his company
from a complete annihilation. He succeeded in getting his men into
a ravine and whipped the Indians off. In this fight each of the
six men from Company E had his horse shot from under him,
and one of the men was severely wounded in the leg. The fight
was known as the Las Valley fight.

Jack Hays commanded the first company of Eangers that was
armed with Colt's five shooters and cap and ball pistols. The ter-
ritory that he ranged over was from San Antonio north and west over
the waters of the Medina, Rio Frio, Hondo, Savinal, Nueces, etc., and


he did as valuable services in the years of 1844 and 1845 as ever
has been done for the frontier of Texas. In 1846 he was ordered
with his Company to join Gen. Taylor with his company who was
then rendezvousing on the Rio Grande preparatory to making his
advance into Mexico. When Capt. Hays presented himself and com-
pany to Gen. Taylor for duty, the general was well posted in the in-
trepidity of Captain Hays and his company, which was then known
and recognized as Texas Rangers. Gen. Taylor had immediate use
for Capt. Hays and his intrepid Rangers, so he placed them on duty
as his particular Spy Company to penertate the enemy's country, to
locate their army, to watch and dog their movements, and report to
him from time to time with such information as might be valuable
to him in his advance, and this service could not have been allotted
to more valiant, worthy and intrepid men than Jack Hays and
his Texas Rangers. Before the battle of Palo Alto the General
sent Hays out to reconnoitre the Mexican's position, and in this in-
stance Captain Hays' headlong intrepidity caused him to penetrate
so far into the Mexican lines that before he was aware of the fact,
a large force of Mexican cavalry had him almost surrounded and cut
off from Gen. Taylors army. This was the most trying place that
our Captain had ever been in, and probably the first time in his
life he ever tried to pray, but as something had to be done, and
that quickly, he offered up this prayer ; " Almighty God, be on our
side if you can, but if you can't, for Christ's sake don't be on theirs.
But stand off on one of these hills and look, and you'll see the
damdest fight you ever saw in your life." And in place of saying
"Amen !" he said "Charge, boys ! Charge !" and they burst their way
through the Mexican lines like a hurricane through a canebrake, with
the loss of only three men killed and four wounded, none mortally.
Captain Jack Hays' descriptive list would read thus (at the time
that the writer formed his acquaintance, which was at San Antonio
in 1852 or 1853) : 35 years of age, 6 feet high, spare build, weight
150 or 160, rather dark complexion, and by occupation a bona fide
Texas Ranger.


Capt. William (alias Big Foot) Wallace, was one of the grand and
noble old Eomans that contributed more than the "widow's mite"
to wresting from the bloody and barbarous Comanche nd Kiowa
Indians this fair land of West Texas, that is destined in the near
future to be the happy and prosperous home of thousands and tens
of thousands of happy and contented people. Captain Wallace was
one of the unfortunate Mier prisoners who were subject to the
brutality of Santa Anna, "the Napoleon of the West," as he termed
himself, to which reference is made in Mrs. Anna J. H. Penny-
backer's History of Texas, page 112 to 116, which shows that Capt
Wallace was one of the fortunates that drew a white bean for his
life. Capt. Wallace participated in all the memorable battles of
'46 and '47 under Gen. Taylor and meted out to the enemy a just
reward for their barbarous cruelties to himself and his comrades
while they were Mier prisoners.

After the war of 1846-7, Capt. Wallace made his home on the
Madena west of San Antonio, and gave most of his time and talent
to the protection of that section which was continually raided by
Indians and Mexican outlaws. When the overland stage was started
from San Antonio to El Paso Capt. Wallace was employed to take
command of the expedition. This was very hazardous and none
but the toughest, most daring and resoluate men were employed to
go as guards and mule whackers, as some five hundred miles of this
road was exposed to the continued depredations of the Indians.

On one of these trips a man by the name of Jim Clark was
employed for his man eating qualities. Captain gave him some
order to which he took offense whereupon he whipped out his six
shooter in a bullying and braggadocio manner. The only notice Capt.
Wallace made to Clark's beligerent action was to speak in his slow,
drol manner and say, "Jim, you'd better put up that gun, damn
fools and boys have no business to fool with pistols, for they are
liable to let them go off accidentally and hurt somebody." The
writer kept the stage stand at Fort Clark and on the return trip
Clark told me the incident just as written. Clark said: "That


cooked me more than anything that ever happened to me, and it has
learned me a lesson, that I will never draw my pistol on a brave
man again, and I would follow old Big Foot wherever he leads, yes,
to the jumping off place, and if it needs be, jump off with him."

Capt. Wallace had perfect command over himself and all those
that were placed under him. The stage was attacked several times
while in charge of Capt. Wallace, but his bravery and good general-
ship always whipped the Indians off, and he brought in the mail
on regular time.

In the year 1856 Capt. Wallace went in charge of a large train
of eight mule teams loaded with merchandise from San Antonio to
Chihuahua. On his return trip the writer fell in with him at Old
Fort Lancaster on the Pecos river and haveled with him some two
hundred miles, and one night while sitting in camp I said to Capt.
Wallace, "how did you get the name of "Big Foot?" Your foot is
in fair proportions to your size, as a man." He replied, "well, as
we have been acquainted for some years, and you know that I am
not given to boasting of deeds performed when and where I could
not help myself, I will tell you."

"For years I was one of a party that followed the Indians when
they raided our country and from time to time the trails showed that
one of them made a much larger track than the others and it was
generally supposed that he was the Big Foot Indian and "mucha
bravo." Well, to make a long story short, the Indians came in and
killed two or three persons, and stole a bunch of horses and struck
out as usual. We gathered up some fifteen men and struck out after
them. We pressed hard after them for five days when we camped
just at, or near dark, and about the same time some of our party
discovered a fire around the bend of the creek; it was then decided
that we all keep perfectly quiet and not make any fire, and I pro-
posed to go very stealthily forward, and spy out the camp and its
surroundings, which I started to do.

At once my course was up a narrow, shallow ravine that was
rather smooth in the bottom, with thick brush on each side. About


half way from where I started to the Indian fire, the little ravine
mfltje a short, abrupt turn, and then went on up to where the
Indians were camping. I suppose that about the time that I started
to spy out the Indian camp, the big Indian started back to find out
if they were followed. At all events, we met just at the short turn in
the ravine. I can't tell how it was, or why, unless it was so ordered
but it seemed as if by mutual consent we both dropped our guns
and rushed together. I threw my entire weight and strength against
him, whicji forced him back. His foot caught on some obstruction
and we fell, my whole weight on his breast, which seemed for the
moment to have knocked the breath out of him. In an instant I
drew my knife and drove it into his breast, once, twice, thrice, with
all the speed and strength that I could command, and he died with-
out a groan. I rose to my feet trembling and perfectly exhausted,
and I fervently tried to thank Kind Providence for allowing me to
draw another white bean. I picked up my gun and went slowly back
to camp and by the time I got back to camp my strength and nerve
had greatly revived, so much so that I was able to explain what
had happened, and what I supposed would be the proper mode of
making the advance on the Indians.

My plan was approved and I said, "All follow me, and don't
speak above a whisper or break a dry twig, if you can help it." We
all moved cautiously up the little ravine that seemed to have been
made for this special occasion, passed the curve and over the dead
Indian, and straight forward to the Indian fire.

We approached to within some one hundred yards of the fire
without making any alarm, and here we had a pretty good view of
the fire around which eight buck Indians sat roasting beef. I whis-
pered to my men to take the very best aim they could and at the crack
of my gun to all fire, which was nicely dont, and four big bucks
fell over, some of them into the fire, the other four sprang to their
feet, dashed into the thick brush, and were gone. We reloaded our
guns, and walked up to the fire, picked up the sticks of meat they
were cooking, left the dead Indians just as they fell, and went back to


our horses, unsaddled them, each man staked out his own horse,
sat down by him, ate his piece of Indian beef and remained in that
position until morning.

When good daylight came we saddled up, went around the way
the Indians went the evening before and" rode up to the fire, where
everything was just as we left it, only the Indians that fell in the fire
were pretty well cooked. As our appetites had no cravings for
such meat, and as there was plenty of good beef hanging on a tree
that was left the evening before, we each one cut a piece to suit
himself, tied it to his saddle and then moved down the fatal little
ravine (to the Indian).

When we got down to the curve where I drew my second white
bean, on examination we found that my special antagonist of last
night was the Big Foot Indian, and so the men with one accord
hurrahed for Captain "Big Foot Wallace," and the name has stuck
to me ever since and I gratefully and thankfully accept it as another
"white bean" in the prolongation of my earthly existence."

Descriptive list of Capt. William (alias Big Foot) Wallace: Six
feet two inches high, weight two hundred to two hundred and
twenty-five pounds, beard and hair black and very heavy. Eyes blue,
and by occupation, like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, a frontiers-
man, and one of God's noblemen. His disposition was that of a
child, in peace, but terrible and destructive as a lion in war.


Col. John S. (Rip) Ford. To follow this man through the bat-
tles of the Mexican war of 1816 and 1847, and his councils in
peace in the legislative halls, and his prowess as a soldier on the


battlefield as a Texas Ranger in Central and West Texas, and
the border troubles on the Rio Grande, would require a volume, arid
must be left to a more gifted pen than mine, although the writer has
been with Col. Ford in some of his military expeditions when valuable
service was performed for both the State and the Confederate States.
It will suffice to say that he was a minature Washington ; first
in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his frontiersmen.
He seemed to carry a charmed life that was proof against shot,
shell, fire or the sword, for he passed through a long and eventful
career with but little bodily harm, and died at a green and mellow old
age, at his home, surrounded by a loving family and friends, and had
the very highest respect of all who knew him personally, and left
a bright and brilliant star in the galaxy of the Texas Ranger.

Col. Ford's descriptive list: Six feet high, weight one hundred
and seventy-five pounds. Compelxion light, blue eyes. Occupation,
editor, doctor, representative, soldier, statesman, typical Texas


Gen. Henry McCullough, soldier ranger ancl patriot. This man
was another bright cloud that hung over the frontier of Texas for
BO many long and weary years. This man's service as a ranger,
citizen and patriot -was equal to any and inferior to none, and the
name McCullough will be inscribed on the pages of Texas history
as one of its grand and noble defenders.

Here is a little incident in his life as related by himself in regard
to the strength of the bridle having something to do with the speed
of the horse, particularly when in pursuit of a deadly foe.

Once upon a time when Captain McCullough commanded a com-


pany of Rangers, he was in hot pursuit of a band of Indians when a
Mexican fell in with him riding apparently a very worthless pony.

The Captain said to him, "Your pony is worthless and can't keep
up." The Mexican replied: "Kin sava, senior, yo pienco K see/'

The Indians were soon sighted, and the Banger charge was made,
and as ridiculous as it may appear the Mexican's worthless little
pony outran the Captain's horse from start to finish. After the
fight was over the Captain inquired of the Mexican how it was
possible for him to make such a pony out run his Kentucky horse.
The Mexican rode up to him and with a quizzical expression beaming
from his every feature, and gently taking hold of his bridle said,
"Me no have strong bridle like El Capitano."

Gen. McCullough was a man of strong individuality and dared
to do what he thought was right regardless of the consequences. An
instance of this came within the writer's own knowledge.

In 1862 H. E. McCullough was made Brigadier General in the
Confederate Army; Allen's, Waterhouse's, Randall's and Flourney's
regiments formed his brigade. They were formed into the brigade
near Little Rock, Ark., where Gen. McCullough issued an order that
nc man should kill a hog, and that if any man was caught killing a
hog he would have him dishonorably drummed out of the camp.

A few days after, two men were caught killing a hog. The Gen-
eral at once had the brigade formed in two lines facing each other,
a space of say fifteen feet between them, placed the prisoners at the
head of the column with four men of the guard in the attitude of
charge bayonets behind them, and with drum and fife, had them
marched down the lines with music fitted to the words :

"Poor old soldier, poor old soldier,

Tarred and feathered and sent to hell
Because he broke an order," etc.

The General had the brigade formed into a hollow square facing
inwards. He rode into this square and taking off his hat, said:
"Officers and men of this brigade, I am sorry that my sense of duty


and discipline compelled me to carry our this seemingly tyrannical
order, but as commander of this brigade, my orders must be obeyed as
long as I command it. 1 hope the brigade will stand by me in doing
what I conceived to be the best for the good of the service and the
protection of the citizens and their property. If you do not approve
of my actions, then I will stand alone in doing what I think is right.
All that will stand by me will step one step forward." He then gave
the command "march'" and the entire brigade stepped one step for-
ward, and he was unanimously exonerated. He still rode his fine
Kentucky horse with a strong bridle.

Descriptive list of Gen. Henry E. McCullough : Five feet 10
inches high, light complexion, blue eyes; weight one hundred and
fifty pounds. Occupation, farmer, stock raiser, ranger, soldier,


Gen. John K. Baylor. This name stands in the front rank of
frontier heroes as ranger, frontiersman, soldier, patriot and states-

This man's operations were in Central and North Texas and
he did as much in driving back and holding the Indians in chevk
as any other. He was well versed in the use of all the fire arms
of his day, and in additon he was a perfect expert with the historical
arms of the Indians, the bow and arrow, and the lance, which he
always carried with him when scouting for Indians. He always
killed the meat for his scouting party with the bow and arrow as
the report of fire arms would oftimes give the Indians the direction
of his whereabouts. Like Big Foot Wallace, he was a man of
powerful physique, and could run his horse along by the side of a,


large buffalo, and drive an arrow through its body. In the years
of 1858-9 the government placed the Comanche and Kiowa Indians
or the reservation at Camp Cooper on the Clear Fork of the Brazos,
and placed officers and soldiers to protect them with arms, cannon,
etc. The government fed and clothed and protected them, but did
not keep them from raiding tbe unprotected white settlers, which
was borne by the white settlers until forbearance ceased to be a
virtue, and so they prayed for a commander to lead them against
Camp Cooper and wipe it from the face of the earth as far as
itr. occupants were concerned. Their prayers were answered in the
person of Capt. John R. Baylor, a Texas Ranger of true and tried
ability, who was ever ready to lead a forlorn hope for the good of his
suffering and unfortunate people.

That winter James M. Lovett and Wilson Light and myself had
pone to the Wichita Mountains to join Maj. Earl Vqndorn, who hac*
been ordered to that locality by the United States Government to
make a determined onslaught against the Indians that were reported
to be congregating in great numbers in the Wichita mountains.

When the writer's little party of three reached Maj. YandornY
camp which was located at the south base of the mountains on the
head of the creek called Sandy, the Major had gone on a scout in
which he took an Indian camp by surprise and killed fifty warriors
and piled them up in one pile. He lost several of his men, killed
and wounded, among whom was Lieut. Radsminsky, who heroically
lost his life to save the life of his commanding officer Maj. Earl

When Maj. Vandorn returned to camp he named the camp
Radsminsky in honor of his lieutenant, who so heroically gave his
lite to save the life of his commanding officer. Here the writer
formed the acquaintance of Sol B. Davis, a nephew of Jefferson
Davis, who was the Secretary of War. Sol B. Davis carried with
him an order from the Secretary of Wfir to any commanding officer
of government posts to turn over to the said Sol B. Davis any num-
ber of soldiers for escort, or any government property to suit hi?


pleasure or convenience. Sol B. Davis had just come out to Van-
dorn's camp from Fort Arbuckle, where he had obtained a lieuten-
ant and twenty soldiers for an escort, two six mule teams, wagons,
tents, and other camp accessories.

His own private traveling equipage consisted of a very fine
ambulance with a five hundred djllar pair of mules to draw it, a
man to drive it, a fine saddle horse and saddle mule and a negro
cook, and all kinds of firearms up to date, with tobacco, pipes and
whiskey galore. Myself and Light were pressingly invited to join
him in his buffalo hunts, and as he had wagons, teams, tents and
soldiers to guard us while in camp we cheerfully accepted the in-
vitation, since we were well mounted, well armed and out for venture,
fun or frolic.

In these hunts many things happened, but we will relate one that
was not so very funny. It was on Cash creek, below where Fori
Sill is now located. We had camped on the creek. Davis, Light
and myself went up the creek some three or four miles to kill just
such buffalo as we rruffht fancy. Davis rode his fine horse, bought
for this very purpose. Light and myself rode the best of Texas
horses. Some four miles from camp we discovered a bunch of
buffalo just to our liking, which consisted mostly of two year old
heifers that could run, and "don't you forget it.

We wanted to give Davis a chance to try his fine horse, and to
have something that he could remember and tell when he got back
home, and we did. When we got ready to make the charge, Davis
tied his fine breech-loading rifle fast to the horn of his saddle, in-
tending to use his six-shooter only in the run.

Light and myself were armed with Colt's army six-shooters, cap
and ball, one each. In the charge Light's horse took the lead, and the
buffalo turned and I dashed right into them and commenced firing
as fast as I could. Davis was just behind me. My firing, and the
buffalo, frightened Davis' horse which threw him, and like Brother
Crawford's horse of old, he threw his tail over his back, and said,
"Farewell, Brother Davis." The horse almost flew after he had,


thrown his rider, for with his every jump the muzzle of the gun
would rise and come down with a whack on his side or shoulder, and
this of course drove him to his utmost speed.

We followed him with our eyes for about a mile and a half, when
we taw a bunch of Indians dash in all around him. Light got off
his horse, made Davis mount into the saddle, sprang up behind him
and if we did not make as good time to camp as Davis'"
horse did after he said "Farewell, Brother Davis" why we almost
did, you know how it is yourself if you have been there.

After we got to camp we summed up the casualties of the day's
hunt and it stood thus: No meat, Davis' horse, bridle, saddle, gun
and powder flask lost, Light and Jeff with two empty pistols and
nothing to load them with. Had the Indians overtaken us we would
have fallen easy pray as we had nothing for defense except Davis'
six-shooter and the loads that were in it.

As Sol B. Davis would have something to remember when he
got back home to Baltimore. We returned, to Texas by way of Camp
Cooper, and got to Camp Cooper the day after Capt. John R. Baylor
made his unsuccessful attack on the Indian reservation. This wide
digression was to show how the writer happened to be there the
next day after the attack. If Capt. Baylor had been in command
of two hundred of his old Hangers in all probability he would have
boen successful for the time being. But those big ugly cannon loaded
to the muzzle was more than tenderfeet conld attack.

The movement was productive of good results to the settlers,
anyway, for it caused the government to locate Fort Sill in the In-
dian Reservation and move the Indians to it, which saved many
lives and much property. Baylor was made a Brigadier General in
the Confederate War, and before leaving San Antonio he had a
nice Confederate uniform made suitable to his rank, and the ladies
of San Antonio presented him with a beautiful Confederate flag,
both of which he prized very much.

After the war was over he lived in San Antonio for some years,
and the last time the writer met him was during Gov. Coke's admin-



istration. I met him in the legisaltive hall and after the usual
friendly greeting, he said, "Come, let's go down and irrigate," mean-
ing take a drink. We walked down to an irrigation fountain and
after turning down an exhilarating quantity of the "Oh, be joyful"
the General said, "The doctors advise me since my last sickness to
take a little stimulent pretty often." I replied, "I had not heard of
your sickness." He said, "Oh, yes. I have been at death's door. The
doctors all gave me up, and told Mrs. Baylor that I could not live
and for her to ask me if I had any request to make before I died.
She came to me with tears streaming down her cheeks, and said,
'John, have you any requests to make?' and if so, she would have
them performed. I said, "Yes, if I die I want you to put me in my
Confederate uniform, wrap my Confederate flag around me, and
when I get over there I will walk up to Stonewall Jackson and
report to him for duty." By the time this little speech was ended,
tears were streaming down my cheeks.



In 1883 the United States Government had forced all of the dif-
ferent tribes of Indians that depredated on the frontier of Texas
onto the different reservations, but still there were some roving bands
of the different tribes that found a refuge in the mountain fastnesses
of the Eio Grande where game and fish were abundant and where a
vast country two or three hundred miles in length on either side of
the river was totally uninhabited.

The Texas and Pacific Railway had crossed the western frontier
and the stockmen, eager to take possession of all the water and grass,


made a mad rush westward and drove their stakes and set up their

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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 8 of 14)