SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
DeWitt Colony Indian Encounters, Depredations and Tales
From John Henry Browns History of Texas. In the autumn of 1833 John Castleman, a bold and sagacious back-woodsman, from the borders of Missouri, with his wife and four children, and his wife's mother, settled fifteen miles west of Gonzales, on Sandy Creek, on the San Antonio road. He was a bold hunter, much in the, forest, and had four ferocious dogs, which served as sentinels at night, and on one occasion had, a terrible fight with a number of Indians who were in the yard endeavoring to steal horses tied around the house. The dogs evidently inflicted severe, punishment on the savages, who left abundant blood marks on the ground, and were glad to escape without the horses. In doing so in sheer self-defense, the Indians killed the dogs. Castleman, in his wanderings, was ever watchful for indications of Indians, and thus served as a vidette to the people of Gonzales and persons traveling that exposed road. Many were the persons who slumbered under his roof rather than camp out at that noted watering place.
In the spring of 1835, a party of thirteen French and Mexican traders, with pack mules and dry goods from Natchitoches, Louisiana, en route to Mexico, stopped under some trees a hundred yards in front of the cabin. It was in the forenoon, and before they had unpacked Castleman told them that he had that morning discovered Indian signs near by and urged them to camp in his yard and use his house as a fort if necessary. They laughed at him. He shrugged his shoulders and assured them the were in danger, but still they laughed. He walked back to his cabin, but before he about a hundred mounted savages dashed among them, yelling and cutting out every animal belonging to the part. These were guarded by a few Indians in full view of the camp, while the main body continued the fight. The traders improvised breastworks of their saddles, packs and bales of goods and fought with desperation. The engagement lasted four hours, the Indians charging in a circle, firing, and falling back. Finally, as none of their number fell, the besieged being armed only with Mexican escopetas (smooth-bore cavalry guns) they maneuvered till all the traders fired at the same time, then rushed upon and killed all who had not previously fallen. Castleman could, many times, have killed an Indian with his trusty rifle from his cabin window, but was restrained by his wife, who regarded the destruction of the strangers as certain, and contended that if her husband took part, vengeance would be wreaked upon the family---a hundred savages against one man. He desisted, but, as his wife said, "frothed at the mouth" to be thus restrained from action on such an occasion. Had he possessed a modern Winchester, he could have repelled the whole array and saved both the traders and their goods.
The exultant barbarians, after scalping their victims, packed all their booty on the captured mules and moved off up the country. When night came Castleman hastened to Gonzales with the tidings, and was home again before dawn. In a few hours a band of volunteers, under Dr. James H. C. Miller, were on the trail and followed it across the Guadalupe and up the San Marcos, and finally into a cedar brake in a valley surrounded by high hills, presumably on the Rio Blanco. This was on the second or third day after the massacre. Finding they were very near the enemy, Miller halted, placing his men in ambush on the edge of a small opening or glade. He sent forward Matthew Caldwell, Daniel McCoy and Ezekial Williams to reconnoiter. Following the newly made path of the Indians through the brake, in about three hundred yards, they suddenly came upon them dismounted and eating; they speedily retired, but were discovered and, being only three in number, the whole crowd of Indians furiously pursued them with such yells as, resounding from bluff to bluff, caused some of the men in ambush to flee from the apparent wrath to come; but of the whole number of twenty-nine or thirty, sixteen maintained their position and their senses. Daniel McCoy, the hindmost of the three scouts in single file, wore a long-tail coat. This was seized and tightly held by an Indian, but , Old Dan, as he was called, threw his arms backward and slipped from the garment without stopping, exclaiming, Take it, d---n you. Caldwell sprang, first into the glade, wheeled, fired and killed the first Indian to enter. Others, unable to see through the brush till exposed to view, rushed into the trap till nine warriors lay in a heap. Realizing this fact, after such unexpected fatality, the pursuers raised that dismal howl which means death and defeat, and fell back to their camp. The panic among some of our men prevented pursuit. It is a fact that among those seized with the "buck-ague," were men then wholly inexperienced, who subsequent1y became distinguished for coolness and gallantry.
Among others, besides those already named, who were in this engagement, were: Wm. S. Fisher, commander at Mier seven years later; Bartlett D. McClure, died in 1841; David Hanna, Landon Webster and Jonathan Scott. It is painful to add that this Dr. Miller, later in the same year, became a tory, and left the country, never to return.
From A.J. Sowell, Rangers and Pioneers of Texas. About fifteen miles west from Gonzales, in the Guadalupe valley, lived a settler named Castleman. One evening, just before sundown, there stopped at his house a French peddler, named Greser, accompanied by ten Mexicans. He had a large lot of very costly goods which he was going East to sell. Not being acquainted with the country, he stopped to inquire of the settler where he could find a suitable camping place with good water and grass. Castleman informed him that there was a large pool of water not far from the house. and pointed towards it, but at the same time remarking "You had better camp here by my yard. I have plenty of wood and water, and you can get all you want. The Indians are very hostile now, and might attack you before morning; there is no telling. You will be safe here, for my house is surrounded by strong palisades; and, in case of danger, you can come inside, and I will help you to defend yourself and property." The Frenchman thanked him very politely for his proffered assistance, but declined it, saying they were well-armed and would go down and camp by the pool of water. Castleman made everything secure for the night and retired. just before daylight next morning, he was awakened by the firing of guns and the yelling of Indians in the direction of the Frenchman's camp. He instantly sprang out of bed, and hastily clothing himself, unbarred a small window, and looked out. Day was just beginning to dawn, and the fight by this time was raging at the peddler's camp. The Mexicans seemed to be making a stout defense. The loud reports of their escopetes, (a short, large-bored Mexican gun), continuously firing out on the morning air, mingled with the loud yells of Indians. The sun arose, and still the Mexicans kept them at bay. Castleman stood at the window with his long rifle, and several times thought of trying to get to them, but it was too hazardous, and he could only watch and wait to see how it would terminate. The Indians would make a charge and then draw off; occasionally wait for some time before renewing the contest. The Mexicans were hid from view, but he could see the Indians nearly all the time moving from place to place, and they seemed to be very numerous. About a hundred and fifty yards from the house stood a large tree that Castleman had tacked a white piece of paper on, to serve as a target when he felt disposed to rifle practice. This paper caught the eye of an Indian as he was scouting around, and he came to the tree to see what it was. The settler instantly raised his rifle, as this was too good a chance to be lost. He had often hit a small bit of paper at that distance, and was certain he could bring down the Indian, but his prudent wife laid her hand on the rifle and told him to desist, that if he killed one of them the Indians would be almost certain to attack the house when the fight was over, but otherwise they might go off and not molest them. The Indian in question did not long remain as a mark for the pioneer, for as soon as he discovered several bullet holes in it, and around the paper on the tree, he turned and looked towards the house, and taking in the situation at a glance, ran behind the trees, and using it for a cover, beat a hasty retreat.
The Mexicans now seemed to be reduced in numbers, as their shots were not so rapid, and about io o'clock the Indians made a combined charge and closed in on them from all sides. Their guns were all empty, without time to reload; a short hand-to-hand fight, and all was over. After securing all the goods that they could carry, the Indians rode in single file past Castleman's house and shook their lances at it. He counted eighty as they slowly filed past. But very few of them had fire-arms. They were armed with bows, lances, and tomahawks. As soon as Castleman was convinced they were gone, he went and examined the battleground. It was a terrible scene. The Mexicans had built a breastwork out of bales of goods, saddles, etc., and inside of this little square they lay, horribly mutilated and drenched in blood. The Indians had thrown their dead in the large deep pool of water near by. Castleman then mounted his horse and set out for Gonzales, where he soon arrived and told the news.
It spread rapidly, and, before morning, twenty-seven men were in their saddles and on the way to Castleman's ranch. Among this number were the following names, which I obtained from Mr. David Darst, who was a boy at that time and saw them start: J. C. Darst, Dan McCoy, Mathew Caldwell, Ezekiel Williams, B. D. McClure, John Davis, Malone White, Jesse McCoy, Wash Cottle, Almon Dickinson, (afterward killed in the Alamo), Dr. James H. C. Miller, A. J. Sowell, and Castleman [Jacob (J.C.) Darst, possibly John Davis were also killed in the Alamo, A.J. Sowell was a forager outside the garrison-WLM]. The names of the rest I could not obtain. They selected McClure as commander, and pushed rapidly forward, and soon arrived at the scene of the fight. The trail of the Indians was plain, and the pursuit commenced up the valley of the Guadalupe. After crossing Darst creek, some twenty-six miles from Gonzales, just below where the residence of the late Colonel French Smith now is, the Indians amused themselves by unwinding thread across the level flats on the west side of the creek. They would secure the end of the thread, and then throwing the spool down, let it unwind after them as they traveled, very likely, tying it to the tails of their horses. I expect they were greatly astonished at the length of it. This thread greatly aided the settlers in trailing them. They did not seem to apprehend pursuit.
After passing through this part of the country they gradually bore to the northwest, passing near the head of Mill creek, and then across the York's creek divide. The pursuing party would camp as soon as night came, put out guards, and be off again as soon as they could see the trail in the morning. The second night out, Andrew Sowell left the camp and remained some time alone on a ridge, listening, and while doing so, his quick ear caught a far-off sound like Indians singing; and, after waiting some time longer, he was convinced that such was the case. Hastening to the camp, he informed the captain of the facts, and advised going on some distance further and sending scouts ahead and if it proved to be the Indians, to attack them at daylight. But the commander seemed to think it was coyotes that Andrew had heard; and he sent out a short distance from camp himself and listened, but could hear nothing, and coming back said: "Andrew, I guess you are mistaken, I can not hear anything, and none of the scouts have heard it; let's turn in and be after them in the morning."All right," said Andrew; "but I think I heard Indians singing straight ahead of us, but a long way off."
By daylight next morning they were again on the move, and after traveling about two miles, came to the Indian camp on a high ridge, which overlooks the place where San Marcos now stands; at the head of the river of the same name. About the center of the camp, a pole was sticking in. ground, and the grass tramped down around it, where the Indians had performed the scalp dance the night before. As they always sing when engaged in this merry-making, it proved beyond a doubt that Andrew was right in his assertions the night before. Although the distance was two miles, the Indians being on a ridge, the sounds floated a long ways on the still night breeze. "You were right, Andrew," says the leader, "we would have caught them here, had we taken your advice; but they cannot be far ahead, and we may get them yet before they reach the mountains, unless they started as early as we did. In that case we can not do it, as the foot of the mountains are not more than two miles off. "They might have started three hours before day," remarked some one, "and in that case, they are nearly to the Blanco."
These conjectures only lasted a few minutes and they were off again, every one looking ahead anxiously, expecting a sight of the Indians; for the country was tolerably open ahead for two or three miles; but all in vain. That night the company camped in the brakes of the Blanco river, without sighting the red men. The next morning was very foggy, and they moved with great caution. They knew from the signs they must be very near the Indians. As they were going down into the valley of the river the fog lifted, and presently they heard the yelling of an Indian on a mountain across the river. He had been placed there as a look-out, and was giving the alarm of the approach of the whites to his comrade-, in the valley below. The captain seeing that his party was discovered, ordered a rapid advance. But they soon entered a dense cedar brake bordering the river, and an order to dismount was given. The horses were turned loose in the brake, two scouts were sent ahead, and the balance followed on foot. Finally they came to a narrow opening near the river, where three or four men could walk abreast. At this juncture the scouts were seen running back ,closely pursued by several Indians. The captain and others sprang into the opening and raised their rifles, but could not shoot without endangering the lives of the scouts, who were directly between them and the pursuing Indians, who now began to adjust their arrows. As they ran, the hard-pressed men, taking in the situation at a glance, sprang to one side in the brush, when the captain fired first, killing the foremost Indian. Several more shots were fired in quick succession, and another Indian fell partly across the body of the first as he came running up. A third had his bow stick shot in two while he was in the act of discharging an arrow. The remaining Indians fled back towards the river, yelling loudly. The whites charged and were met by a re-enforcement. The fight then became general, but the Indians soon gave way, and retreated back to the river and commenced crossing. While the first fight was going on some of the Indians were trying to convey the goods across the river, and they partly succeeded in so doing. Owing to the rough nature of the ground, the men scattered along the bank and fought from cover, as the Indians greatly outnumbered them. The Indian could not long stand the sure aim of the deadly rifles. They soon gave way and commenced rapidly to cross the river. Several were killed in the water; and some, after they had crossed to the other side of the stream.
As fast as they got clear of the rifles they disappeared in the dense brakes beyond the river, and were followed no further, as the men knew they scattered after a defeat, so as to prevent pursuit. Three times during this short but bloody fight Andrew's gun missed fire at short range, when he was almost certain to get one, and not until the Indians had crossed the river did he get his gun to fire. He noticed an Indian who bad just got out of the water, going up the bank on the opposite side, and once more he hastily primed his gun, and before the Indian could get to cover, "dumped his carcass" with a large rifle ball in the back. The fight now being over, they began to sum up the casualties, which stood thus: None killed, some wounded and one missing. They at once commenced a search for the missing man, thinking he was killed somewhere in the brush, but their hunt was of no avail, they could not find him, and fearing their horses would wander too far off, they went to secure them before searching any more for the missing man; but while they were gathering up the horses, he came to them without hat or shoes, looking as wild as a buck. When asked what he had been doing, he said he had been running and darting about through the brush ever since the fight commenced; that the yelling and firing was more than he could stand. He had no idea what he had done with his shoes. They were afterwards found on the bank of the river, near the edge of the water, as if he had an idea of crossing. The men forebore to tease him much, as they saw from his torn feet and tattered looks that he had suffered worse than any man in the company.
They were fortunate enough to collect all of the horses, selecting as many costly goods as they could carry, left the balance on the banks of the river, and returned without further incident to Gonzales. A party was afterwards made up and returned to the scene of battle, and carried off the balance of the goods, which, however, were somewhat damaged by the rains.
Davis Murder ca. 1835. (From Sowell's Rangers and Pioneers of Texas). [This probably refers to the murder of colonist James C. Davis-WLM] About this time, the Indians made a raid and stole several horses near town; Andrew's [Sowell] among the number. Those having horses, mounted, and started in pursuit. Andrew, and several others, who had lost their horses, concluded they would take it afoot, and go a nearer way to a point some twelve miles from town, where the Indians were in the habit of passing as they went out on a raid. They made good time, and getting near the place, on a hill, where they could look over in to a creek bottom, stopped, and resting a few moments, heard firing in the bottom ahead of them. The horsemen who were trailing the Indians, had caught up with them, and were engaging them. They started on a quick run and soon entered the bottom, but the fight kept receding from them, as the Indians were running and the mounted settlers pursuing. They used every exertion to overtake them and assist in the fight, but the firing, whooping and yelling, kept always just ahead. They finally came upon a dead man, named Davis, and being exhausted, the footmen stopped by his body until the return of the pursuing party. Several Indians were killed. One lay near the body of Davis, who was killed by him after he had been shot. Davis was a brave and true pioneer, and it was with heavy hearts and sorrowful faces that his comrades picked him up and bore him back. It was late in the night when they arrived at Gonzales, bearing their bloodyburden. The house in which. they laid. out Davis, was still standing a short time ago.
Uncle Dan Davis 1836 (From Now You Hear My Horn by James Wilson Nichols). Soon after we returned from San Antonio the Indians mad a raid and stole som horses and Joe B. Clements raised a small company of nineteen men, and Brother Thomas and I joined his company. We held ourselves in readyness to go when caled on, and later on the Indians mad another raid, stole som horses, and Captain Clements being sick, seven or eight of us started in persuit with old Uncle Dan Davis [presumably this is Daniel Davis of Denton Creek on the Gonzales-DeWittCo line), who was an old setler and had som experience in fighting Indians. We followed on the trail about fifteen miles and lost the trail and in scatering to hunt the trail we lost Uncle Dan. We whooped and hollowed and shot of guns and waited som two hours but we heard nothing of him nor did we find the trail, and we concluded to return and was until after night gitting back, but when we got thare we found the town all in confusion, comotion and forted up.
Now I will mention the most of the men who had families thare at that time. Dan Wash and Jack Davis, Zeke and French Smith, Adam Zumalt, my father, John Sowell, Francis Berry, John Clark, Eli Mitchel, Ed Ballinger, Jim Jipson [Gipson], Joe Clements, Miles Dykes, and Ben Duncan, Johnson Day, Milford Day, John Nichols, and the single men was Anson Neill, John Archer, Arch Jones, Arch Gipson, Bill and Mike Cody, Zeke Williams, C. C. DeWitt, Dave Durst, Andrew and John Sowell, Ed Milloch, Solomon and Thomas Nichols and others.
It apears when old Uncle Dan got lost from us on the Indian trail he got crazy and started for home and he too was after dark gitting in, but his horse was run down, so he had to walk and lead him the last mile or two. He reported the wood full of Indians and he had seen, he said, five or six hundred and they was all painted, som red, som black and all naked. Well, he had always been such a truthful man the people believed him and they sent out, got all the women and children and forted up with all the men on the outside, guns in hand. After a while John Archer and myself was put on guard. We expected to be attacted and layed our plans accordingly, and about midnight the attact comenced but not by Indians.
Old Man Zumalt [this probably refers to "Red" Adam Zumwalt-WLM] had a big fine sow and a great favorite. The night was very dark and the old sow concluded the horses had com and she would devide with them and she was makeing that way when Archer saw her bulk and, he said afterwards, he thought it was three Indians, one after another, on all fores. He squated down low to git them in range and fired and the bulk fell but thare was no attact made. We got a light and found what he had done, he had kiled the old sow, and we mad such a nois and fuss it awoke Uncle Dan whare he had gone to sleepe and he came out raving, mad cursing and swaring, and no boddy had ever heard him sware before. [He] shot of his gun and hollered, "Now, you have done it!" "Done what, Uncle Dan?" someone suggested. "Why, let the Indians git away," said he. "I had them all in the pen and now you have let them all out." "I did not see any Indians," said one. "Why, don't you see them on top of yon house? Som is going up feet formost. Look!" said he, "yonder is a thousand." We began to see that he was crazy and that his first alarm was from amagenation while in a fit of insanity, and that broak up the fort.
It was not long after this the Indians mad a raid on the setlements and stole som horses. Old Man Zumalt had a good horse in his stable built of logs, and the Indians tried the door but it was locked and they shot arrows through the cracks till they kiled the horse. They collected up a small drove of horses and started of but [found] Zeke Williams horse hobbled out with a pare of iron hobbles. They could not cut the hobbles nor take them of but they kiled the horse, cut his legs of at the knees and taken legs, hobbles and all, of with them, evidently to learn the combination and how to take them of if they should ever find such on other horses. [According to Nathan Boone Burkett in Early Days in Texas, these events occurred in 1830-31, it was a man named Patrick with the hobbled horse and it was Williams who lost a horse by arrows shot through the cracks. Burkett says his uncle Abraham Zumwalt was in another incident where he stayed up all night guarding his horse in a stable against theft which precipitated his departure from Texas in 1836-WLM]
Douglas and Daugherty Murders 1836. (From John Henry Brown's, The Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas) While these grand events [after the Alamo defeat in Mar 1836] were transpiring, tile American settlers on tile Guadalupe, the Lavaca and farther east were removing their families eastwardly, flying from the legions of Santa Anna as from wild beasts. Many had no vehicles and used horses, oxen, sleds or whatever could be improvised to transport the women, children, bedding and food. Among those thus situated were two isolated families, living on Douglas' or Clark's creek, about twelve miles southwest of Hallettsville, in Lavaca County. These were John Douglas, wife and children, and [Mr.] Dougherty, a widower, with three children. The parents were natives of Ireland, but had lived and probably married in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, where their children were born and from which they came to Texas in 1832. They were worthy and useful citizens, and lived together. They prepared sleds on which to transport their effects, but when these were completed the few people in that section had already left for the east. On the morning of the 4th of March Augustine Douglas, aged fifteen, and Thadeus Douglas, aged thirteen, were sent out their father to find and bring in the oxen designed to draw the sleds. Returning in the afternoon, at a short distance from home, they saw that the cabins were on fire, and heard such screams and war whoops as to admonish them that their parents and kindred were being butchered; but they were unarmed and powerless and realized that to save their own lives they must seek a hiding-place. This they found in a thicket near by, and there remained concealed till night. When dark came they cautiously approached the smoldering ruins and found that the savages had left. A brief examination revealed to them the dead and scalped bodies of their father, mother, sister and little brother and of Mr. Dougherty, one son and two daughters, lying, naked in the yard---eight souls thus brutally snatched from earth. Imagination, especially when assured that those two boys were noted for gentle and affectionate natures, as personally known to the writer for a number of years, may depict the forlorn anguish piercing their young hearts. It was a scene over which angels weep.
There were scarcely anything more than paths, and few of them, through that section. Augustine had some idea as to courses, and speedily determined on a policy. With his little brother he proceeded to the little settlement in the vicinity of where Hallettsville is, but found that everyone had retreated. They then followed the Lavaca down about thirty-five miles to where their older sister, the wife of Capt. John McHenry, and a few others lived---but found that all had been gone some time. They then took the old Atascosita road from Goliad which crossed the Colorado a few miles below where Columbia is. Near the Colorado, almost starved to death, they fell in with some Mexican scouts and were conducted to the camp of the Mexican general, Adrian Woll, a Frenchman, who could speak English and to whom they narrated their sad story. Woll received them kindly and had all needful care taken of them. In a few days the boys were taken by a Frenchman named Auguste, a traitor to Texas, to his place on Curnmins creek, where he had collected a lot of negroes and a great many cattle belonging to the retreating citizens, from which he was supplying Gen. Woll with beef at enormous prices. The 21st of April passed and San Jacinto was won. Very soon the Mexicans began preparations for retreat. Auguste, mounting Augustine Douglas on a fine horse, sent him down to learn when Woll could start. In the meantime a party of Texians, headed by Alison York, who had heard of Auguste's thieving den, hurried forward to chastise him before he could leave the country with his booty. He punished them severely, all who could fleeing, into the bottom and thence to Woll's camp. When York's party opened fire, little Thadeus Douglas, not understanding the cause, fled down the road and in about a mile met his brother returning from Woll's camp on Auguste's fine horse. With equal prudence and financial skill they determined to save both themselves and the horse. Thadeus mounting, behind, they started at double quick for the Brazos. They had not traveled many miles, however, when they met the gallant Capt. Henry W. Karnes, at the head of some cavalry, from whom they learned for the first time, of the victory of San Jacinto, and that they yet would see their only surviving sister and brother-in-law, Capt. and Mrs, McHenry. In writing of this incident in De Bow's Review of December, 1853, eighteen years after its occurrence, I used this language:
Defeat of Comanches and Wacos on Peach Creek ca. 1838. (From John Henry Brown's, The Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas) Among the survivors of that day, it is remembered as a fact and by those of a later day, as a tradition, that in February, 1839, there fell throughout South and Southwest Texas, the most destructive sleet ever known in the country. Great trees were bereft of limbs and tops by the immense weight of ice, and bottoms, previously open and free of underbrush, were simply choked to impassability by fallen timber. The cold period continued for ten or twelve days, while ice and snow, shielded from the sun, lay upon the ground for a much longer period. This occurred in the latter half of February, 1839, in the same year but several months before Austin, or rather the land upon which it stands, was selected as the future seat of government.
At that time Ben McCulloch, who had entered Texas just in time to command a gun at San Jacinto, was a young man in his twenty-eighth year residing, at Gonzales, having been joined by his brother, Henry E., his junior by several years, during the preceding year. At the same time the Toncahua tribe of Indians were encamped at the junction of Peach and Sandy creeks, about fifteen miles northeast of Gonzales. Just prior to this great sleet Ben McCulloch had made an agreement with a portion of the Toncahuas to join him and such white men as he could secure in a winter expedition against the hostile Indians above. The sleet postponed the enterprise and, when the weather partially resumed its usual temperature, it was difficult to enlist either whites or Indians in the contemplated enterprise. Both dreaded a recurrence of the storm. But following Moore's San Saba trip and in hope of recovering Matilda Lockhart and the Putman children, McCulloch deemed that an auspicious time to make such a trip, and about the first of March left the Toncahua village for the mountains. The party consisted of five white men---Ben McCulloch, Wilson Randall, John D. Wolfin, David Henson and Henry E. McCulloch---and thirty-five Toncahua warriors commanded by their well-known and wily old chief, "Capt. Jim Kerr," a name that he assumed in 1826 as an evidence of his friendship for the first settler of Gonzales, after that gentleman had been broken up by other Indians in July of that year. The medicine man of the party was Chico.
On the second day out and on the head waters of Peach creek, they struck a fresh trail of foot Indians, bearing directly for Gonzales. This, of course, changed their plans. Duty to their threatened neighbors demanded that they should follow and break up this invading party. They followed the trail rapidly for three or four hours and then came in sight of the enemy, who promptly entered an almost impenetrable thicket bordering a branch and in a post oak country. The hostiles, concealed from view, had every advantage, and every attempt to reach a point from which they could be seen or fired upon was exposing the party attempting it to the fire of the unseen enemy. Several hours passed in which occasional shots were fired. From the first Capt. Jim refused to enter or allow his men to enter the thicket, saying the danger was too great and Toncahuas too scarce to run such hazards. One of his men, however, from behind the only tree well situated for defense, was killed, the only loss sustained by the attacking party. Finally, impatient of delay and dreading the approach of night, McCulloch got a promise from Capt. Jim to so place his men around the lower end of the thicket as to kill any who might attempt to escape, while he, his brother, Randall and Henson would crawl through it from the upper end. Wolfin declined a ticket in what he regarded as so dangerous a lottery. Slowly they moved, observing every possible precaution till---"one by one"----each of the four killed an Indian and two or three others were wounded. The assailed Indians fired many shots and arrows, but seemed doomed to failure. In thickets nothing is so effective as the rifle ball.
Finally the survivors of the enemy (nine of an original thirteen) emerged in the branch at the lower end of the thicket and were allowed by Capt. Jim to escape. When the whites effected an exit the enemy was beyond reach, sheltered in a yet larger thicket. This closed the campaign. The Toncahuas, scalping the four dead hostiles, felt impelled by a patriotic sense of duty to hasten home and celebrate their victory. They fleeced off portions of the thighs and breasts of the dead and all started in; but they soon stopped on the way and went through most of the mystic ceremonies attending a war dance, thoroughly commingling weird wails over their fallen comrade with their wild and equally weird exaltations over their fallen foes. This ceremony over, they hastened home to repeat the savage scenes with increased ferocity. McCulloch and party, more leisurely, returned to Gonzales, to be welcomed by the people who had thus been protected from a night attack by the discomfited invaders. Such inroads by foot Indians almost invariably resulted in the loss of numerous horses, and one or more---alas! sometimes many---lives to the settlers.
This was forty-eight and a half years ago; yet, as I write this, on the 19th day of August, 1887, Henry E. McCulloch, hale, well-preserved and spotless before his countrymen, is my guest at the ex-Confederate reunion in Dallas, and verifies the accuracy of this narrative. Our friendship began later in that same year, and every succeeding year has been an additional record of time, attesting a friendship lacking but eighteen months of half a century. After 1839 his name is interwoven with the hazards of the Southwestern frontier, as Texas ranger---private, lieutenant and captain---down to annexation in 1846; then a captain in and after the Mexican war under the United States; later as the first Confederate colonel in Texas, and from April, 1862, to the close of the war, as a brigadier general in the Confederate army.
John Moore's Defeat on the San Saba 1838 (From John Henry Brown's, The Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas). In consequence of the repeated and continued inroads of the Indians through 1837 and 1838, at the close of the latter year Col. John H. Moore, of Fayette, already distinguished alike for gallantry and patriotism, determined to chastise them. Calling for volunteers from the thinly settled country around him, he succeeded in raising a force of fifty-five whites, forty-two Lipan and twelve Toncahua Indians, an aggregate of one hundred and nine. Col. Castro, chief of the Lipans, commanded his warriors, assisted by the rising and ever faithful young chief, Flacco, whose memory is honored, and whose subsequent perfidious fate is and ever has been deplored by every pioneer of Texas.
Among this little troop of whites was Mr. Andrew Lockhart, of the Guadalupe, impelled by an agonizing desire to rescue his beautiful little daughter, Matilda, who had been captured with the four Putman children near his home. Her final recovery, at the time of the Council House fight in San Antonio, on the 19th of March, 1840, is narrated in another chapter. The advance scouts reported to Col. Moore the discovery of a large Comanche encampment, with many horses, on the San Saba river, yet the sequel showed that they failed to realize its magnitude in numbers. With adroit caution that experienced frontiersman, by a night march, arrived in the vicinity before the dawn of day, on the 12th of February, 1839, a clear, frosty morning. They were in a favored position for surprising the foe, and wholly undiscovered. At a given signal every man understood his duty. Castro, with a portion of the Indians, was to stampede the horses grazing in the valley and rush with them beyond recovery. The whites and remaining Indians were to charge, without noise, upon the village. The horses of the dismounted men of both colors were left tied a mile in the rear in a ravine.
As light sufficiently appeared to distinguish friend from foe, the signal was given. With thirty of his people the wily old Castro soon had a thousand or more loose horses thundering over hill and dale towards the south. Flacco, with twelve Lipans and the twelve Toncahuas, remained with Moore. The combined force left, numbering seventy-nine, rushed upon the buffalo tents, firing whenever an Indian was seen. Many were killed in the first onset. But almost instantly the camp was in motion, the warriors, as if by magic, rushing together and fighting; the women and children wildly fleeing to the coverts of the bottom and neighboring thickets. It was at this moment, amid the screams, yells and war-whoops resounding through the valley, that Mr. Lockhart plunged forward in advance of his comrades, calling aloud: "Matilda! if you are here, run to me! Your father calls!" And though yet too dim to see every word pierced the child's heart as she recognized her father's wailing voice, while she was lashed into a run with the retreating squaws. The contest was fierce and bloody, till, as the sunlight came, Col. Moore realized that he had only struck and well-nigh destroyed the fighting strength of the lower end of a lower end of a powerful encampment. The enraged savages from above came pouring down in such numbers as to threaten the annihilation of their assailants. Retreat became a necessity, demanding the utmost courage and strictest discipline. But not a man wavered. For the time being the stentorian voice of their stalwart and iron-nerved leader was a law unto all. Detailing some to bear the wounded, with the others Moore covered them on either flank, and stubbornly fought his way back to the ravine in which his horses had been left, to find that every animal had already been mounted by a Comanche, and was then curving around them. All that remained possible was to fight on the defensive from the position thus secured, and this was done with such effect that, after a prolonged contest, the enemy ceased to assault. Excepting occasional shots at long range by a few of the most daring warriors, extending into the next day, the discomfited assailants were allowed to wend their weary way homewards. Imagine such a party, 150 miles from home, afoot, with a hundred miles of the way through mountains, and six of their comrades so wounded as to perish in the wilderness, or be transported on litters home by their fellows. Such was the condition of six of the number. They were William M. Eastland (spared then to draw a black bean and be murdered by the accursed order of Santa Anna in 1843); S. S. B. Fields, a lawyer of La Grange; James Manor, Felix Taylor, Leffingwell, and Martin, the latter of whom died soon after reaching home. Cicero Rufus Perry was a sixteen-year-old boy in this ordeal. Gonzalvo Wood was also one of the number. After much suffering the party reached home, preceded by Castro with the captured horses, which the cunning old fox chiefly appropriated to his own tribe. Col. Moore, in his victorious destruction of a Comanche town high up the Colorado in 1840, made terrible reclamation for the trials and adversities of this expedition.
Moore's Great Victory on the Upper Colorado in 1840. (From John Henry Brown's, The Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas). Following Col. Moore's defeat on the San Saba in January, 1839, came the Cherokee battles, of July and December, and many encragements or calamities of lesser magnitude during that year, including, the massacre of the Webster party of fourteen men and one child and the capture of Mrs. Webster, her other two children and negro woman, on Brushy creek, in what is now Williamson County. In March, 1840, occurred the Council House fight, in San Antonio, and in August the great Indian raid to the coast, the robbery and burning of the village of Linnville, two miles above the present Lavaca, and the final defeat and dispersion of the Indians in the decisive battle of Plum Creek, on the 12th day of that month.
Following this last raid the veteran soldier, Col. John H. Moore, of Fayette, sent forth circulars ,calling for volunteers to again penetrate the country of the hostiles, on the upper waters of the Colorado, as another lesson to them that the whites were determined to either compel them to abstain from robbing, murdering and capturing their fellow-citizens or exterminate them. A prompt response followed, and about the first of October the expedition left Austin, at once entering the wilderness, Col. Moore commanded, with S. S. B. Fields, a lawyer of LaGrange, as Adjutant. Capts. Thomas J. Rabb and Nicholas Dawson, of Fayette, commanded the companies, the latter being the same who commanded and fell at the Dawson massacre in 1842. There were ninety men in all. Clark L. Owen, of Texana (who fell as a Captain, at Shiloh, in 1862), was First Lieutenant in Rabb's Company. R. Addison Gillespie (who fell as a Captain of Texas rangers in storming the Bishop's palace at Monterey, in 1846), was one of the lieutenants, his brother being also along. Nearly all the men were from Fayette and Bastrop, but there were a few from the Lavaca, among whom I remember Isaac N. Mitchell, Mason B. Foley, Joseph Simons, of Texana, Nicholas J. Ryan and Peter Rockfeller (Simons and Rockfeller both dying in Mexican prisons, as Mier men in 1844 or 1845.) I started with these young men, then my neighbors, but was compelled to halt, on account of my horse being crippled at the head of the Navidad. Col. Moore also had with him a detachment of twelve Lipan Indians, commanded by Col. Castro, their principal chief, with the famous young chief Flacco as his Lieutenant.
The command followed up the valley of the Colorado, without encountering an enemy, till it reached a point now supposed to be in the region of Colorado City. The Lipan scouts were constantly in advance, and on the alert. Hastily returning, while in the vicinity mentioned, they reported the discovery of a Comanche encampment fifteen or twenty miles distant, on the east bank and in a small horseshoe bend of the Colorado, with a high and somewhat steep bluff on the opposite bank. Col. Moore traveled by night to within a mile or two of the camp, and then halted. It was a clear, cold night in October, and the earth white with frost, probably two thousand feet above the sea level. The men shivered with cold, while the unsuspecting savages slept warmly under buffalo robes in their skin-covered tepees. In the meantime Moore detached Lieut. Owen, with thirty men, to cross the river below, move up and at dawn occupy the bluff. This movement was successfully effected, and all awaited the dawn for sufficient light to guide their movements.
The stalwart and gallant old leader, mounted on his favorite steed, with a few whispered words summoned every man to his saddle. Slowly, cautiously they moved till within three hundred yards of the camp, when the rumbling sound of moving horses struck the ear of a warrior on watch. His shrill yell sounded the alarm, and ere Moore, under a charge instantly ordered, could be in their midst, every warrior and many of the squaws had their bows strung and ready for fight. But pellmell the volunteers rushed upon and among them. The rifles, shot-guns and pistols of the white man, in a contest largely hand-to-hand, with fearful rapidity struck the red man to the earth. Surprised and at close quarters, the wild man, though fighting with desperation, shot too rapidly and wildly to be effective. Seeing their fate a considerable number swam the narrow river and essayed to escape by climbing the bluff. Some were shot in their ascent by Moore's men from across the stream and tumbled backwards. Every one who made the ascent to the summit of the bluff was confronted and slain by Owen's men. At the onset two horses were tied in the camp. On these two warriors escaped. Besides them, so far as could be ascertained, every warrior was killed, excepting a few old men and one or two young men, who surrendered and were spared. Many of the Indian women, for a little while, fought as stoutly as the men and some were killed, despite every effort to save them.
In the charge Isaac Mitchell's bridle bit parted asunder and his mule rushed ahead into the midst of the Indians then halted and it sulked -- refused to move. A squaw seized a large billet of wood and by a blow on his head tumbled him to the ground; but he sprang to his feet, a little bewildered, and just as his comrades came by, seeing the squaw springing at him knife in hand, they sang out, "Kill her, Mitchell!" With a smile, not untinged with pain, he replied: "Oh, no, boys, I can't kill a woman!" But to prevent her killing himself, he knocked her down and wrenched the weapon from her hands. A hundred and thirty Indians were left dead on the field. Thirty-four squaws and children and several hundred horses were brought in, besides such camp equipage as the men chose to carry with them, among, which were goods plundered at, Linnville the previous August.
Gonzales Raid of May 1841, Capt. Ben McCulloch in Pursuit (From John Henry Brown's, The Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas). Late in April, or early in May 1841, a party of twenty-two Indians made a night raid into and around Gonzales, captured a considerable number of horses and, ere daylight came, were in rapid flight to their mountain home. It was but one of oft-recurring inroads, the majority of which will never be known in history. In this case, however, as in many others, I am enabled to narrate every material fact, and render justice to the handful of gallant men who pursued and chastised the freebooters.
Ben McCulloch called for volunteers; but not, as was most usual, to hurry off in pursuit. He knew the difficulty and uncertainty of overhauling retreating savages, with abundant horses for frequent change, and preferred waiting a few days, thereby inducing the red men, who always kept scouts in the rear, to believe no pursuit would be made, and in this he was successful.
When ready, McCulloch set forth with the following sixteen companions, every one of whom was personally well known to the writer as a brave and useful frontiersman, viz: Arthur Swift, James H. Callahan (himself often a captain), Wilson Randle, Green McCoy (the Gonzales boy who was in Erath's fight in Milam County in 1837, when his uncle, David Clark, and Frank Childress, were killed), Eli T. Hankins, Clement Hinds, Archibald Gipson (a daring soldier in many fights, from 1836 to 1851,) W. A. Hall, Henry E. McCulloch, James Roberts, Jeremiah Roberts, Thomas R. Nichols, William Tumlinson, William P. Kincannon, Alsey S. Miller, and William Morrison.
They struck the Indian trail where it crossed the San Marcos at the mouth of Mule creek and followed it north westwardly up and to the head of York's creek; thence through the mountains to the Guadalupe, and up that stream to what is now known as Johnson's Fork, which is the principal mountain tributary to the Guadalupe on the north side. The trail was followed along, this fork to its source, and thence northwestwardly to the head of what is now known as "Johnson's Fork" of the Llano, and down this to its Junction with the Llano. Before reaching the latter point McCulloch halted in a secluded locality, satisfied that he was near the enemy, and in person made a reconnaissance of their position, and with such accuracy that he was enabled to move on foot so near to the encampment as, at daylight, to completely surprise the Indians. The conflict was short. Five warriors lay dead upon the ground. Half of the remainder escaped wounded, so that of twenty-two only about eight escaped unhurt; but their number had probably been increased after reaching that section. The Indians lost ever thing excepting their arms. Their horses, saddles, equipages, blankets, robes, and even their moccasins were captured. It was not only a surprise to them, but a significant warning, as they had no dread of being hunted down and punished in that distant and remarkably secluded locality. In March and April, 1865, in command of 183 men, the writer, as a Confederate officer, made a campaign through and above that country, following the identical route from the mouth of Johnson's Fork of the Guadalupe to the spot where this conflict took place twenty-four years before, and found it still a wild mountain region---still a hiding-place for savage red men, and at that particular period, for lawless and disreputable white men.
SONS OF DEWITT