Today in Texas History – July 15

From the Annals of the Indian Wars –   In 1839, the main battle of the Cherokee War was fought a few miles west of Tyler.  The Battle of the Neches was the culmination of a genocidal campaign that began when President Mirabeau B. Lamar announced that the time had come for an “exterminating war” on Texas Indians. Lamar and his administration refused to recognize earlier treaties with the Cherokees in East Texas.  To foment war, Lamar accused Cherokees and their the Kickapoos, Delawares and Shawnee of planning to join Mexico in an insurrection.  Texan troops under the command of General Thomas Rusk were sent to remove the Indians from their recognized lands. Under pressure, Chief Duwali (aka Chief Bowl or Bowles) led an evacuation of their main town.  But that did not satisfy the Texans who attacked the Indians at dusk on July 15. The first day’s battle proved indecisive, but on July 16, Texas troops led by Rusk and Edward Burleson routed the Cherokees and their allies near the headwaters of the Neches River in Van Zandt County. Chief Duwali was on horseback but was dismounted and wounded.  He continued the fight on foot but was hit again. As he sat wounded on the battlefield a Texan soldier executed him with a shot to the head. Reports were that 100 Indians were killed in the attack.  Texans claimed only 5 dead and 28 wounded.  The survivors fled to the Indian Territory. This was the end of any major Indian presence in East Texas.

Drawing of Chief Duwali from http://texas-history-page.blogspot.com/2015_03_01_archive.html

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