SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
2001, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved.
Memoirs Old Texians | DeWitt Colony Defense | Indian Encounters | The Republic

 

Memoir of Capt'n. C. R. Perry
Johnson City, Texas: A Texas Veteran

Captain Rufe Perry, Texas Ranger ca. 1870Biography (Handbook of Texas).  Cicero Rufus (Old Rufe) Perry, Texas Ranger, was born in Alabama on August 23, 1822. In 1833 he moved with his parents to Bastrop, then in Washington County. He participated in the siege of Bexar, served from July 1 to October 1, 1836, in Capt. William W. Hill's company of Texas Rangers, and was involved in an Indian fight on Yegua Creek. He was wounded on February 12, 1839, while serving under John H. Moore. In 1841 he served under Samuel Highsmith and Thomas Green and scouted for Edward Burleson and Mark B. Lewis. He was also a member of the Somervell expedition. He joined John Coffee Hays's ranger company in 1844 and participated in many of his Indian fights, including the battle of Walker's Creek. In August 1844 he was severely wounded in a fight with the Comanches on the Nueces River, and he and Christopher Acklin were left for dead by their two companions. With three wounds, Perry walked 120 miles, from near Uvalde to San Antonio, unarmed and without food or water. In 1873 in the battle of Deer Creek he came to the assistance of a party led by Dan W. Roberts. In 1874 Perry was appointed captain of Company D of the Frontier Battalion. Roberts served as his first lieutenant and later as his successor. Perry died at Johnson City on October 7, 1898. Described by John Holland Jenkins as having been "tall, muscular, erect-a perfect specimen of the strong and brave in young manhood," Perry had black hair and "dark eyes, bright with the fires of intelligence and enthusiasm." It was said that in his career as a volunteer soldier and Texas Ranger he had sustained twenty wounds from bullet, arrow, and lance.  Thomas W. Cutrer [Photo:  From a reprint in Memoir of Capt'n. C. R. Perry of Johnson City, Texas, A Texas Veteran, Jenkins Publishing Co., Austin, TX (Kenneth Kesselus, editor)].


The following is an edited version by Wallace L. McKeehan of Perry's undated handwritten memoir, the original of which has not been located.  Three typescripts, one in the University of Texas at Arlington archives, were made by Louis Lenz in the 1950's that are thought to be the verbatim copy of Perry's original preserving his misspellings, idioms and lack of punctuation and format.  The unedited typescript was published in 1990 by Jenkins Publishing Co., Austin, TX (Kenneth Kesselus, editor).

My father left Montgomery Alabama in 1832 and landed near Independence in Washington Couny Texas on January 1833, it was then called Coles Settlement, in 1834 we moved to Dr. Puntchards, my father oversaw for him. In 1835 we bought a place on Little Caney from Mrs. Mann when the war broke out Pa joined Houston's army at Gonzales and when the army retreated Pa came home to warn the families they would have to leave their homes then the fixing up commenced. Sleds, carts, trucks and everything but a wagon, we got an old pair of buggy wheels with a box on it and hitched old Archie in it to carry our Provisions in. My mother and Sister rode on the box, myself and two brothers rode on horses, as William packed our headcloths.

We joined Houston's army in the Brazos bottom and the next day crossed the river on the Old Yellowstone, a steamboat that was there to cross the army. We then went to Donahoes and stayed 3 days with the army and the first thing I ever did for Texas was at that place. [This suggests that Perry was not at the earlier battles often cited in his biographies, see Handbook of Texas above--WLM].  Major Somervell came to me and told me that he could not get any one to go to Mosley Bakers Camp opposite San Felipe on the Brazos and ask me if I was afraid to take a dispatch to him as General Houston wanted some one to take to him. I told I would take it which I did, I stayed in Bakers Camp next morning as I left I saw the town in a blaze got back to camp all right. We went on to what now is Montgomery Co, while we was there the battle of San Jacinto was fought we then turned for home. I then joined W. W. Hills Company of 3 months men and went first to Bastrop that was before any of the fellows had got back.

We found a part of the town burned by Indians we did not find any Indians until to the Yegua Creek we saw their trail on the San Gabriel and found them in the Yegua bottom. We did not kill but 3 owing to one old buck being betwen us and their Camp. We had a desperado with us by the name of Colvin the first dead Indian that he come to he jumped on him and commence stabbing him I think if he had of been alive he would have went the other way. There was an old buck woodsman by the name of Dave Lawrence that cut an Indian thigh off and tied it to his saddle and said he was a going to eat it if we did not get anything the next day as we had not eat anything for two days but we struck [Sterling] Robertsons place in Yellow Prairie stayed and got beef and roasting ears, then we done fine. There was a man with us, Bednego Biddy, I gave him the name of Bad Niggar Biddy, he was on guard the night after the fight when come running up to the guard fire and said that the Indians snapped a cannon at him and the Creek that we was camped on goes by the name to this day [Cannonsnap Creek is in MilamCo near Milano and runs to the Little River near Cameron--WLM].

After my time was out I went home. We moved to Bastrop in 1838 and the first thing the Indians done for us was to steal all the horses we had, in fact there was not a moon that I was not after them. Some times we caught them, when we did we gave then the best fight we could. In 1839 [1838] John H. Moore raised 58 men and 42 Lipans and we went on an expedition against the Comanches, we found them in camp on the San Saba and completely surprised them. We commenced the attack at daylight but when we got about half way through their camp, Moore ordered a retreat. We retreated to a gully that protected us, we then fought them until about 2 o'clock. We then fell back to where we left our horses but when we got there we found no horses there nor blankets nor saddles that was worth taking. They got a way with everything we had, saddles, blankets, provisions, in fact all we had there was about 500 surrounding us and kept us at bay until dark. We then started for home, our wounded we had to pack on litters, it being cold we had to build fires and sleep betwen them but one of our wounded men died, that was Martin, Felix Taylor, James Manor, [William M.] Eastland, Leffingwell and one Lipan. We killed 48 Indians dead, wounded many more.

The next expedition that I was on was with Mark B. Lewis. We started to Chihuahua but did not get farther than the head of the Colorado. We then turned back by the head of the Concho thence to San Saba, Llano then to the Neuces. We struck one party of Indians betwen San Saba to Llano. We killed all the bunch there was. The first Indian I ever scalped and the last, I promised Miss Elisor Haynee to bring her a skalp. Her brother Jack was with me when I shot the buck down. He fell as though he was dead, and we thought he was, but when I went to raise his top knot, he raised with me. I tell we had a lively time for a while until old butch got the best of him. It was the busiest time of the year with me. The next day we struck a trail and followed them to the Nueces. We killed two and took one squaw, got all of their outfit. The way the friendly Indians did to keep her was to sleep with her each one every night as their time. Young Flacco told me to tell Colonel Lewis that he and me could sleep with her when they all went around as he was commander and I interpreter, but we did not, but let them have her to themselves.

We then headed for San Antonio, the Indians followed us in, and killed two Mexicans right in town and started off with a lot of cattle, but we got after them and ran them about twenty miles and made them drop the cattle, but did not get close enough to kill any of them. I then as soon as I got home started with Ed Burleson on an expedition against Indians, found but one party, ran them thirty miles, but could not catch up with them. We was out one month and the day that we got back to Bastrop we found all of the men gone to meet the Mexicans under Woll who had taken San Antonio. I got a fresh horse and rode over to Capt Billingsley that night about 25 miles from Bastrop, next morning by day light we was in the saddle. Myself and a Tonk went ahead as spies, Sam Walker went with me it being his first trip. We found nothing to stop us until we got near the Salado when we heard firing of cannon, then the command stopped in musket hollar. I then went ahead to see what it was. I had not went far before I saw a man running on horse back for life. I could not stop him he had no time to tarry, it proved to be Alsey Miller. I went on and got on a hill I saw what it all meant, the Mexicans had Capt. Dawson surrounded in the prairie, no protection, only a few muskets for protection, they brought their cannon to bear on them, but two got a way, Miller and Woods. Thirteen was taken prisoners, they were all killed.

We then stayed where we was until night. Dawson was trying to get to Caldwell who was fighting the Mexicans on the Salado. That night we past over the battle ground that was the most horrible sight I ever saw, we joined Caldwell that night. Woll commenced a retreat that night, the next morning we started in pursuit of them but did not bring to bay until we got to the Hondo there we come up with them and every one thought there would be a fight. Hays was ordered to take the cannon which he did but was not sustained. Wm. Eastland was to sustain him but from some cause he did not do it. We had some of the best men in Texas such men as Hemphill, Cook, Mayfield, Hays, McCulloch, Caldwell old Paint, but we let them march right off with the whole Court, Judge and Juror.

I then joined Jack Hays and what we could the Somervell Campaign. We left the Medina and started to intercept the Laredo road across that Sandy post oak country. It took us three days to get to the road, there was where Jim Henderson got his name of old Smokey. The boys raised the cry, where was Gen Sommervell in 1842, up to his a-- in mud, goddam him, but old S. just laughed and said all right boys we will come out all right yet. When we got through, our horses was about played out. We went all right until we got to the Nueces that was up but we built a bridge out of brush and grass then past over all right. Next day after crossing we got after two Mexicans and shot them both. We kept no guard over them that night thinking they were shot too bad to get away but they did and gave the alarm. Before we got to Laredo, Hays sent Tom Green, Ben McCulloch, Ad Gillespie, Sam Walker, myself on to Laredo to steal all their boats and have them below town opposite Laredo as we knew there was troops stationed there all right. You ought to have heard the Mexican women laughing at us. I told the boys when I heard them laughing that the jig was up and that the birds had flown. I went over and found that they were all gone. We then went into camp as we had been up all night. Then the stealing commenced but as soon as Somervell found it out he ordered every man to bring what he had and put it in a pile so that the owners could get them back but I am satisfied that there was lots that never was put in the pile.  One of Cameron's men got a blanket and his one company drummed him out of camp. One of our men got some pelneys.

The next day we started to Guerrero. Sommervell sent me on ahead with Ben McCulloch, Kit Aclin, John McMullin, Tom Charnan to capture a Mexican for a guide but the command got lost and we did not overtake them until they got to the river and some of them had crossed. After crossing we marched on to Guerrero and found nothing there. As we was crossing there was a boat, 200 Mexicans on the other side but they did not wait for us. We then turned back for home when we got back to the river there where Fisher, Cameron and their command left us to go down the Rio Grande to Mier where they was captured. We then started to San Antonia after crossing the Neuces. Hays sent me on ahead to try and get something to eat, the first thing I killed was a lot of turkeys. I dressed them and hung them up putting the name of Hays and George Neil on them. The next thing was a large work steer which I found by himself as wild as a deer, but I took him in for it was a good ole hog race. After dressing the carcass it commenced to rain. About that time a Mexican Gent rode up, he had some pieces of raw hide in his pocket that he had ben eating on in fact we was nearly starved. As soon as I eat I lit out for ------ ------ evening when ----- ---- ---- until the others come up.

I then went on to Medina before I found anything else there I found a bunch of cattle I had a plenty by that time they all eat up beef without salt but they eat it like it was good, we then rested up for a few days then split up and lit out for home. Stayed at home one month, I then joined Hays to go out toward Matamoras where we heard there was a large body of cavalry expected to be coming to Texas. We went out to near the Rio Grande there I got after a Mexican and caught him and from him learned that there was no Mexican force on this side of the river. When the poor devil found that I was not going to kill him he was the proudest Mexican I ever saw. He waited on me like I was somebody as we come back there was a party of Mexicans overtook us near the Nueces. Shap, Ross Woolfalk was riding behind Hays, Luckey, myself was next. Hays told me for us to get a head and rally the boys. We was scattered all a long the road he broke a head and stopped the boys and started back to my assistance as I saw by looking back that there was but ten Mexicans and they were bound to catch Ross and Woolfalk I went back until I met them, I then threw my horse across the road and pesenting my gun, they all stopped and commenced to fire on me. I held them there until Hays and the boys got nearly back to where I was when the Mexicans sound a retreat. We ran them some distance when we saw about one hundred trying to cut between us and the timber. We then made tracks to beat them to the timber which we did. We got across the Nueces into old San Patricio when we got them between us and them old adobe walls. You bet they let us alone while I had them at bay, you bet it was a hot time for a little while, they shot about fifty shots at me, but we took out there was not over thirty steps from me. I killed one horse and shot the rider through the thigh, I must say I hit others. [This was a Ranger action in early 1843 in pursuit of a bandit named Agaton--Ed.]

The next day we started on to the Guadalupe, that was the nearest settlement. We killed an old mustang to eat as we was nearly starved, but I tell you it was the hardest meal to swallow I ever tried. We struck the settlement on the Guadalupe at Andy Lockharts. It felt to my lot to go to the house as I was acquainted with the family from old Andy's daughter who was the one that the Indians had so long a prisoner. When I told her that we had not eat anything for 3 days she said that she knew what it was to do without eating. She had just cooked a pot of beans and bacon and large oven of cornbread which she gave me with a bucket of milk which stayed our appetite until old Andy came out of the field. When he did the first thing was to kill a beef and by the time it was skinned his gal had us all the bread we wanted. We stayed all day with the old man, we had a fine time, he was with me on the Moore expedition in '39, his daughter was with the Indians that we had the fight with. She told me that she could have come to us but she thought that we was other Indians. She said that we killed 48 dead on the ground and they died for two months after the fight from their wounds. After leaving Lockharts we split up some going to San Antonio and the others to there homes in different counties.

At the time that the Indians burned Linnville I was on a visit to see some friends in LavacaCo and news came that Foley was killed and Ponton was wounded and there was a party soon got together and went to Ponton's house and it to be the fact we then organized a company under Black Adam Zumwalt of some 40 men. We went first to where we found Tucker Foley dead. The Indians had cut all the skin off of the soles of his feet and scalped him. We buried him then started in pursuit. They went straight to Victoria and from there to Linnville, killed all that fell in their way. By the time we got to Linnville there was 200 of us together when we caught up with the Indians, it was in the open prairie, they had stopped to give us a fight. I thought it was the prettiest sight I ever saw to see them decked off in their war costumes. Some of them had on fine broad cloth coats, the hind part with four buttons on their backs. Some with umbrellas stretched.

They commenced the fight by running around us, but we hit them so hot that they soon quit that way of doing. They made one charge on our line where there was mostly Mexicans and they came back very nearly stampeding, but Ben McCulloch, Alf Kelsan [probably Alfred Kelso--Ed] and myself rode out from the line and met the charge and drove them back. We had but one man killed Ben Modica [Benjamin H. Mordecai-Ed.] we then went to a mot of timber and they did not attack us any more, they went on to Plum Creek. Burleson had a fight with them killing a good many, capturing a large lot of mules and horses also a large lot of goods that they got at Linnville.

In the Spring of 1844 Hays organized a Company and I joined him. We had several raids after Mexicans and Indians. One day Hays and eleven of us was riding up the Los Puntos near where the Nat Lewis ranch now is. We saw 5 Indians near a thicket, remarked to Hays that there was more near by, we then went a round to the other side of the brush and come in on them and about sixty of the red devils come out of the brush onto the prairie when we opened fire on them. It was a fight for 10 miles, at times they would stop and form in line and charge through our lines. That was the first fight that Colt's pistols was used. They would charge three in a line, the first expecting to be shot while the other two used their lances, but when we kept on shooting they commenced running but they fought so close that we did not get airy a one though we got 21 horses and saddles. Some horses had shields and quivers containing their bows and arrows, also lances and paint. We had, but two men hurt, that was Sam Walker and Ad Gillespie, they were both speared the next day. We found five and killed them all, got one man killed--Peton Foar. We then went back to our camp on the Madio [Medina?] 12 miles west of San Antonio. Hays sent me and 3 other men after a lot of cattle stolen from the Mexicans by Jack Gainor and Ed Davis. We found the cattle at Victoria but did not catch the men. We had a lot of Mexicans with us, the owners of the cattle, also a man by the name of Tumey the greatest brag I ever saw. One night I got him on guard by telling him that I had seen Gaynor [Gainor] that day and he intended to kill him while he was on guard. I slipped on him and shot at him, the blaze of the powder going to where he stood, he dropped his gun where he stood, he was scared so bad that he did not know which one of the boys he was. The next morning he left us said he would not stay with no such a damned set.

Hays heard that there was some Mexican Cavalry recruiting their horses between the Nueces and the Rio Grande. He sent me with 3 other men, [Christopher "Kit"] Acklin, [James] Dunn, [John] Carlin, to stampede their horses, we got as far as the Nueces just on this side I saw the trail of a horse I followed it until I was satisfied that there was a man on it. I told the boys to camp up on a bluff, but they camped close to some thickets, I told them when I come to camp that an Indian would not have camped there and I thought there Indians not far off. I went up on a hill in order to look out but saw nothing. I had a presentiment that there was something wrong. About after eating our dinner James Dunn and John Carlin went to the river to go in bathing, they had just got off their clothes when Acklin and myself was attacked in camp by about 25 Indians. We both jump to our feet I told Kit to hold his fire until we could get to our horses but he fired his gun killing one in his tracks, then left me. The shot I received was through my left shoulder while I had my gun leveled on one it made me fire a little sooner than I should but my sight was good and downed him. They were not over 30 steps from me. I had one of Colts first 5 shooters, I shot that 4 times and I am satisfied that I did not miss a shot. The next shot I got was through the belly and the third was in the temple cutting an artery that bled so that I fainted from the loss of blood but I soon come too and got to where Dunn and Carlin was at the river. We was joined there by Acklin when he pulled the arrow out of my shoulder leaving the spike in which was cut out two years after. I caught hold of one of the horse's tails and went across, but I fainted again. Carlin took my gun and pistol to load them when the Indians made a second charge on us and they run off and left Acklin and me taking my gun pistol with them. They had their horses about that time I come too and ran to a dense thicket where I lay down with the wound in my face down in the dust and little sticks, it stopped the blood. I did lay long before the Indians got all around the thicket that I was in I could hear them talk and knock on the brush. They stayed but a short time then went away. I remained until dark when I started to the water about 200 yards away. I had to crawl on my hands and knees for I lost so much blood that I would faint and fall to the ground. It took me from dark until day light to get to the water.

I was nearly famished for water after drinking all I wanted and washing my face I filled one of my boots with water and crawled in a hole where there had been a tree blown up there. I stayed all day after dark I started for San Antonio, I did not go over 3 miles before I laid down to die as I thought I could not go any further but after laying a while I got up and started again. I was all night and a part of next day getting to the Leona about 10 miles from where I started. I traveled then when ever I was able to go day or night with out anything to eat but 3 prickly pear apples. I got to San Antonio on the 7th day about dusk, the first one I met was a Mexican boy, Polly Carpear, he ran a head of me and by the time I got to the square I met a great many for I was like one risen from the dead as Dunn and Carlin had told that I was dead and Acklin would die. I was taken to Nat Lewis' store where I remained for a month then I was taken to another place where I stayed two months longer before I was able to ride then George Neil was detailed to take me home which he did. I look more like a ghost than a man, my own mother did not know me. Orey Coleman and son waited on me, old Madam Androon, a Mexican woman and a German woman that came with Castro. Mrs. Jakes, Mrs. Eliet, Mrs. Riddle were very kind to me, but the German and Mexican woman, God never made kinder beings. I shall ever remember them and reverence their memory.

Acklin got there next morning after I did but was all right in 2 weeks, he was up before Carlin and Dunn. They both came in naked and barebacked. It was 2 years before I was able to go out again, when I did I joined Capt. Henry McCulloch's Company and was elected Lt. of the Command. We was mustered. in at San Marcos in the Spring of '46, we was on several Indian raids, but we had no fights.

About the time that Gen. Zachary Taylor fought Santa Anna at Buena Vista we was ordered to Camargo but did not stay long, was ordered back to San Marcos. We then in less than a month was ordered to guard a train to Monclova, Mexico, we had no trouble or fight on the road. Col. Blanco at the Rancho Airemanus or Hot Springs raised 800 men to capture the train but failed to get arms for them. I expect if he had have armed them we would have had a lively time with them but we got through all right. While at Monclova some of the boys wanted to go to the fandango, but the Capt. would not let them go unless I would go with them. When we got to the place we found some of different Companys but taken no hand. I waited outside and listened to what the Mexicans had to say I learned that they had not intended to let us dance, there was 25 couple dancing on the floor. I went up to the leader and told him that we wished to dance, he paid no attention to me, I told the boys to get partners, and when he came waltzing a round I jabbed my pistol right in his forehead and told the bucks to quit the ground. You aught to have seen them stampede, they all told us they were in the habit of making the US troops do as they pleased, but when they come in contact with Texas gringoes they wanted none of the pie. We did not stay but a few days until we was ordered back we remained until after the Mexican war in our old camp, then we went to Hamiltons Valley within 3 miles of where the town of Burnet now stands. We stayed there over a year and was disbanded there.

This concludes the part of Perry's memoirs leading up to statehood for Texas.   The remainder is largely a broad summary without much detail relative to the foregoing of his subsequent life in the state and a few anecdotes---WLM


DeWitt Colony People & Demographics
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
2001, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved.