From the Annals of the Llano Estacado – In 1871, former slave Britton Johnson was killed by a band of Kiowa who attacked his wagon train. Johnson had been a slave of Moses Johnson, but was treated more like the foreman of his ranch and allowed freedom of movement and to raise his own livestock. In October of 1864, Indians killed his son and kidnapped his wife and other children in the Elm Creek Raid. Johnson pursued his relatives and became somewhat legendary for his exploits across the Llano Estacado that eventually resulted in the ransom of his relatives. After the Civil War, Johnson worked as a teamster hauling goods between Weatherford and Fort Griffin. On the fateful trip he and two other black teamsters were ambushed by a band of about 25 Kiowa four miles east of Salt Creek in Young County. A group of teamsters from a larger train of wagons discovered the bodies and reported that it appeared that Johnson died last in a desperate defense behind the body of his horse. Other teamsters who found the mutilated bodies of Johnson and his men counted 173 rifle and pistol shells in the area where Johnson made his stand. He was buried with his men in a common grave beside the wagon road.
From the Annals of the War Chiefs – In 1875, Kiowa chief Tsen-tainte (“White Horse”) surrendered at Fort Sill. White Horse and his followers were notorious for their numerous raids across Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. He was considered to be the fiercest of the Kiowa chiefs. Along with Satank, Satanta, Zepko-ete, Mamanti and Big Tree participated in the Warren Wagon Train raid at Salt Creek Prairie in May 1871. He also fought in the second battle of Adobe Walls in June 1874. After that he fought with Quanah Parker and Guipago in the Red River War. After the battle of Palo Duro Canyon in September 1874, he became convinced that further resistance was futile. When Gen. Philip Sheridan demanded that Chief Kicking Bird designate men for imprisonment in the east, White Horse was chosen. Along with other he was imprisoned at St. Augustine, Florida. He became a practitioner of Ledger Art while in prison. He was released in 1878 and returned to the reservation near Fort Sill.
From the Annals of Best Intentions – In 1845, the Texas Senate ratified a peace treaty between Anglo settlers and 11 Native American tribes. The treaty was negotiated by Sam Houston whose attitudes towards Native Americans was markedly different than that of the general public based on his years of living with the Cherokee. Houston hoped that the treaty would usher in a new era of peaceful relations between the Anglo-Texan settlers and the tribes still in control of vast areas of the Republic. Had Texas remained an independent country the outcome could have been different. However, with statehood all Indian affairs became the responsibility of the federal government and any chance of peace with the most aggressive tribes such as the Comanche, Kiowa and Wichita was gone.
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.
From the Annals of the Panhandle –In 1874 Col.Ranald Mackenzie and the Fourth U.S. Cavalry attempted a surprise attack on Comanche, Cheyenne and Kiowa encampments in Palo Duro Canyon. Although known as the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, the attack involved little loss of life as it was primarily a raid to seized Indian horses and property. Assisted by Tonkawa scouts, the cavalry wanted to surprise the Indians who were settling into their winter camps. However, the Indians were warned by the Comanche leader Red Warbonnet, who discovered the soldiers and fired a warning shot before being killed by the Tonkawas. Cheyenne chief Iron Shirt, Comanche leader Poor Buffalo, and the Kiowa chief were left in charge. The camps were located in various parts of the vast canyon which did not allow the Indians to mount a united defense. As a result most of the Indians retreated leaving behind over 1400 horses and most of their winter stores. Only three Comanche were killed as was one soldier. The BOPDC was the last major event in the Red River Wars and resulted in the confinement of southern Plains Indians in reservations in Indian Territory.
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.
From the Annals of the Indian Wars – In 1874, Lt. Francis D. Baldwin and three army scouts captured the Kiowa Indian known as “Tehan.” Tehan was a white captive of the Kiowa Indians taken when he was a child, perhaps between five and ten. The Indian name Tehan was their version of Texan likely from the Spanish which many Indians spoke on some level. He was adopted by the Kiowa medicine man Maman-ti and became a respected and fierce warrior. He was in striking contrast to the Kiowa with his red hair, fair skin, and thick neck. Tehan was about eighteen when the Red River War broke out in the summer of 1874. He was among those who fled the Wichita Agency in late August and camped near the upper Washita River while traveling west toward Palo Duro Canyon. While looking for stray horses, he was captured by Baldwin. Although Tehan pretended to be grateful for his “deliverance,” his captors took no chances and kept a rope tied about the prisoner’s neck to prevent any escape attempt. Tehan escaped during a subsequent skirmish with the Kiowas. He rejoined his adopted tribe, sporting a suit of clothes the troops had given him. In later years several men claimed to be Tehan. His actual fate will likely remain a mystery.