In May 1848, a company of about 70 soldiers left Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to join the Santa Fe battalion in Chihuahua, Mexico. From Council Grove, Kansas, they were to escort a wagon train of 60 wagons to Fort Mann, just west of Dodge City. West of Walnut Creek, they were joined by an artillery battalion of 60 men with two cannons. On June 17th they camped for the night on Coon Creek, where it empties into the Arkansas River, a few miles west of Lewis, Kansas. Early the next morning, an immense herd of buffalo were stampeded toward the camp, followed by some 200 Comanche and Apache Indians.
The troops were armed with breech-loading carbines, but the bullets rattled harmlessly from the raw-hide shields of the Indians who came on in a charge that looked as though the troops might be exterminated. When they were almost upon the camp the soldiers turned their attention to firing upon the horses, and with their breech-loading guns soon turned the tide of battle. Nearly all the horses in the front rank were killed at the first volley and the remaining Indians sought safety in flight.
After this inconclusive battle, according to the official report, an Indian woman “who seemed to be their queen, mounted on a horse, decorated with silver ornaments on a scarlet dress, rode about giving directions about the wounded.” Her identity is unknown. The campsite is thought to have been along the Arkansas River approximately two miles northeast of present-day Kinsley, Kansas. At this location, a limestone post marker has been placed. Near this location is said to be where the battle took place.
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated June 2018.