Tag Archives: Indian Wars

Today in Texas History – December 17

From the Annals of PTSD –  In 1883, Col. Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, a veteran U.S. Army Cavalry officer, was diagnosed as suffering from “paralysis of the insane.”  Mackenzie was from New York and graduated first in his class from West Point in 1862.  He served with great distinction in the Union cavalry during the Civil War, ending the conflict as a brevet major general.  After the war he was stationed in Texas at various times in command of the Fourth United States Cavalry.  He was largely forgotten to history until publication of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne.   Gwynne’s book focused on the Comanches but also told the story of Mackenzie who was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing an end to the Comanches reign of terror over the vast expanse of territory in which their warriors operated.  Mackenzie is best known for his victory against the Comanches at Palo Duro Canyon and for the extralegal Remolino raid into Mexico in pursuit of Kickapoo raiders.  But is was his incredible determination that finally put an end to the Comanches’ raids. Mackenzie had planned to marry and to retire near Boerne, Texas.  However, it seems likely that he suffered from severe undiagnosed PTSD and he was committed to a New York asylum in 1884.  He died on Staten Island in 1889.

Today in Texas History – Jan 5

From the Annals of Depredations –  In 1865, a band of about 100 Indians raided a new settlement in Cooke County near the border with the Indian Territory. The war party killed nine people and rode off with numerous stolen horses.  The raid is considered to be the last Indian raid in Cooke County.

Today in Texas History – October 11

From the Annals of Suicide –  In 1878, Kiowa chief Satanta committed suicide by jumping from his prison cell in Huntsville.  Satanta was probably close to 60 at the time.  He had been a rising leader since the Medicine Lodge Treaty council in October 1867, where he came to be known as the “Orator of the Plains.”  In 1871 Satanta and his fellow chiefs Satank and Big Tree were arrested for their part in the Warren Wagon Train raid. Satank was killed while trying to escape. Satanta and Big Tree were tried for murder at Jacksboro which was the first time Native American chiefs were tried in a civil court. They were convicted and sentenced to hang, but Texas governor E. J. Davis commuted the sentences to life imprisonment. Satanta was quickly paroled in 1873, but was re-arrested for his role in the attack on Lyman’s Wagon Train in Palo Duro canyon and in the second battle of Adobe Walls.  His second incarceration was too much for the Kiowa Chief who took his life rather than spend his remaining days in prison.

Today in Texas History – May 31

From the Annals of the Frontier –  In 1881, Capt. J. B. Irvine closed Fort Griffin and marched the only remaining unit, Company A, 22nd Infantry to Fort Clark near present day Bracketville.  Fort Griffin, located just north of Albany in Shackelford County was instrumental in the campaign against the Comanche, Kiowa and their allies.   The post was established in 1867 on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River.  The fort became the centerpiece of the border-defense line from Fort Richardson at Jacksboro to the Big Bend country. By 1879 the southern buffalo herd was depleted, and the fort and its outposts were within a settled area.

The history of the fort (sort of) and the settlement of Albany and environs is celebrated each weekend June at the Fort Griffin Fandangle.

Today in Texas History – May 18

From the Annals of the Comanche – In 1871, a war party of more than 100 Kiowas, Comanches, Kiowa-Apaches, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes from the Fort Sill Reservation in Oklahoma attacked Henry Warren’s wagon train on the Butterfield Overland Mail route.  The raiders killed the wagon master and six teamsters, but five others escaped.  The raiders lost one dead and five wounded and returned to the reservation. One of the survivors reached Fort Richardson.  When General Sherman and Colonel Ranald Mackenzie heard his first hand account, the Army moved to arrest the leaders of the raid, Chiefs Satank, Satanta, and Big Tree. Satank was killed while trying to escape.  Chief Satanta and Big Tree were tried by civil courts in Texas (the first time Indians had been tried in civil courts), found guilty, and sentenced to hang. Governor Edmund Davis commuted the Indians’ sentences to life imprisonment. The raid caused General Sherman to change his opinion about conditions on the Texas frontier, thus ending his own defensive policy and the Quaker peace policy as well. Sherman ordered soldiers to begin offensive operations against all Indians found off the reservation, a policy that culminated in the Red River War of 1874-75 and the resulting end of Indian raids in North Texas.

Today in Texas History – November 16

From the Annals of the Republic –  In 1845, the Republic of Texas concluded its last Indian treaty.  The agreement was the culmination of the Tehuacana Creek Councils, which began in the spring of 1843.  Jesse Chisholm has worked to convince a number of Indian groups, including the Caddos, Tawakonis, Delawares, Lipan Apaches, and Tonkawas, to meet on Tehuacana Creek near the Torrey Brothers trading post south of present Waco. A second council met at Fort Bird on the Trinity River in the fall of 1843.  These councils resulted in a peace treaty between the Republic and the Wacos, Caddos, and others.  However, the Comanches were not represented.  President Sam Houston called another council meeting at Tehuacana in April 1844. The Comanches were yet again absent, but by October 9, 1844, Houston had negotiated a treaty with a part of the southern Comanches, Kichais, Wacos, Caddos, Anadarkos, Hainais, Delawares, Shawnees, Cherokees, Lipan Apaches, and Tawakonis. At the November 1845 council the Wacos, Tawakonis, Kichais, and Wichitas agreed to the treaty of October 9, 1844.

Today in Texas History – October 22


rom the Annals of the Republic – In 1836, Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first constitutionally elected President of the Republic of Texas.  Among the most pressing issues facing the new President were relations with the Native Americans who still dominated much of the claimed national territory. Houston’s years living with the Cherokees and actually becoming a Cherokee citizen gave him a different perspective than most.  During his first term, Houston held conferences with tribal leaders in an attempt to address past grievances and establish new trust. He appointed agents to deal with the tribes and to run government trading houses.  Houston attempted to limit further settlement by pulling back surveyors and military companies from the frontier.  He did recognize that Anglos needed some protection.  He created a force of 280 mounted riflemen to enforce the trade laws and deal fairly with both sides, removing white trespassers and arresting Indian raiders.  But there was to be no peace between whites and Indians. Many Texans refused to wait for Houston’s policy to work and demanded that the Indians be removed from Texas and violence inevitably resulted – instigated by both sides.  By the end of Houston’s term in 1838, a change in policy was inevitable.

Today in Texas History – October 14

From the Annals of  Gun Safety (or Lack Thereof) – In 1867,  Lt. James Pike died during an Indian attack on his unit.  When Indians attacked Pike’s unit at dinner, the lieutenant seized his rifle and rushed to the defense. The rifle jammed, however, and in his frustration he smashed the barrel on a nearby rock, whereupon the gun discharged and killed him bringing an ignominious end to his rather distinguished career.  Pike was the son of an outspoken newspaper editor.  He arrived in Austin in 1859 and attempted to get a job as a printer.  When that failed, he joined John Henry Brown’s company of Texas Rangers at Belton. For the next two years he took part in a series of campaigns against the Comanches. When Texas seceded from the Union,  Pike left the Rangers and went north, where joined the Fourth Ohio Cavalry. Pike saw considerable action as a scout, spy, and courier in Gen. William T. Sherman’s army.  Pike was captured in 1864 and imprisoned in Charleston, South Carolina, then escaped and returned to Hillsboro, Ohio, where he wrote his memoirs of ranger and army service.  After the war, Pike obtained a commission as a second lieutenant in the First United States Cavalry and was later promoted to first lieutenant.

Pike’s memoirs were published in 1865 as The Scout and Ranger: Being the Personal Adventures of Corporal Pike, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry.

Today in Texas History – October 7

From the Annals of the Red River – in 1759, a Spanish troop led by Diego Ortiz Parrilla was defeated by a group of Native Americans at a fortified Taovaya (Wichita) village near Spanish Fort. Parrilla’s expedition was intended to punish the Norteños (in this case the Tawakonis, Tonkawas, and Wichitas) for their destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission in1758. Parrilla’s force consisted of 400 troops from the provinces of northeastern Mexico and the Texas presidios and 176 mission Indians and Apaches.   The need for retribution was reinforced by continuing attacks.  In December 1758, a Comanche band accompanied by members of eleven other groups surprised a group of Apaches near the presidio and killed twenty-one. In March a native force reportedly made up of the same tribes responsible for the mission attack massacred nineteen men guarding the presidio’s horse herd, leaving only one survivor.

On October 7, the troop was attacked by sixty or seventy warriors who led the Spaniards into a well-laid trap.  In pursuit, the troop was led to a sandbank at the edge of the Red River, before the fortified Taovaya village.  The Spaniards attempted to withdraw to regroup but found the road cut off by mounted Indians firing muskets. The Spaniards were trapped in the sand with horses sinking up to their knees.  The resulting 4 hour battle went badly for the force.  Facing a superior force of Comanches, Yaceales, and Tawakonis, and Taovayas, the Spaniards were attacked from the fort and the field.   The troop eventually unlimbered two cannons but they did not affect the course of the engagement. The Apaches, Mission Indians and a number of Spaniards deserted. As darkness fell, Ortiz Parrilla managed an orderly withdrawal, leaving the cannons on the field but with losses of nineteen men killed, fourteen wounded, and nineteen by desertion.

Ruins of San Saba Mission from Texas Escapes.

Today in Texas History – September 14

From the Annals of the Assassins –  In 1859, Indian Agent Robert Simpson Neighbors was assassinated by Edward Cornett. As a Federal Indian Agent for the Comanches, he employed the “field system” which involved actually visiting the Indians in their homes, and learning their language and culture. This was unique for its time and likely criticized by white settlers as Neighbors spent much time far beyond the then frontier.  However, in the opinion of many historians, Neighbors exercised greater influence over the Indians in Texas than any other white man of his generation.  As with Sam Houston he was one of the few white men to bother to learn Indian languages and almost uniquely would travel to the heart of the feared Comancheria.  Despite many relocations of the tribes, white settlers and renegade bands were still in conflict.  Neighbors was dedicated to protecting the “surrendered” tribes from attacks by the settlers.  As a result, Neighbors had become hated among white Texans because of his support for the tribes.

The events leading to his death concerned the Penateka Comanches who were settled on the Comanche Indian Reservation on the  Clear Fork of the Brazos River near present day Throckmorton.  Neighbors alleged that the Army officers from Fort Belknap and Camp Cooper near the reservations, failed to give adequate support to him and his resident agents, and adequate protection to the Indians and settlers alike.  With some justification, the Army and settlers believed the reservation Indians were committing continuing raids on white settlements.

John R. Baylor, the former Comanche agent, led the opposition to Neighbors and the reservation policy.  Baylor blamed Neighbors for his dismissal and resented him bitterly.  With the aid of federal troops, Neighbors managed to protect the Indians on the reservations, successfully thwarting an attack in May of 1859 by Baylor and 250 marauders.  The raid convinced Neighbors that the Comanches would never be safe in Texas and in August he succeeded in moving 1420 Indians, without loss of life, to a new reservation in the Indian Territory.  Attacked while returning to Texas, Neighbor’s party headed for Fort Belknap.  Neighbors proceeded to the nearby village of Belknap the next morning to “wind up his accounts as superintendent of Indian affairs”, where while speaking with two men, he was shot in the back by Edward Cornett.