Texas Indian Battles



Adobe Walls

Adobe Walls

Adobe Walls – Just north of the Canadian River, in what is now Hutchinson County, Texas, the Bent, St. Vrain and Company built a trading post in about 1843, hoping to introduce peaceful exchanges with the Comanche and Kiowa. Two Indian battles took place here, known as the First and Second Battles of Adobe Walls in 1864 and 1874. More…

Cherokee War (1839) – Occurring in 1839, this war was a culmination of friction between the Cherokee, Kickapoo, and Shawnee Indians and the white settlers in Northeast Texas. The Indians, who had obtained squatters’ rights to the land, from both Spanish and Mexican authorities, were promised title to the land on February 23, 1836, in a treaty made by Sam Houston, representing the provisional government the new Texas Republic. Though the agreement substantially reduced the Cherokee landholdings, the Cherokee agreed, believing it finally gave them a permanent home. Though the treaty was signed in 1836, it was rejected by the Texas Senate in 1837, despite Houston’s insistence.

In the meantime, the Mexican Government was doing everything they could to try to regain control of Texas and after the treaty’s rejection, several Cherokee Chiefs, including Big Mush and Chief Bowles, allied themselves with the Mexicans. As a result of this action, Houston’s successor, President Mirabeau B. Lamar, ordered the Cherokees to leave Texas. But, the Indians refused, resulting in the Battle of the Necheson July 15 and 16, 1839

Council House Fight (1840) – On March 19, 1840, a group of some 33 Penateka Comanche leaders, along with 32 Comanche men, women and children, arrived in San Antonio to conduct peace talks at the Council House. Since the first white settlers had come to Texas, there had been a history of conflict between the Penateka and the pioneers, but driven by the fear of Cheyenne and Arapaho attacks along the northern frontier of Comanche territory, the losses suffered in several smallpox epidemics, and the successes of Texas Rangers against them, the Comanche sought to make peace with Texas.

However, their objective would not be met. Prior to the meeting, Texas had demanded that the Comanche return all captives, but when they arrived they brought only a few prisoners, including one 13-year-old girl named Matilda Lockhart who had been severely abused.

While peace talks were taking place in the Council House, Matilda was being cared for and relayed her story of torture during her capture and revealed that the Comanche still held thirteen other captives that they planned to use for future negotiations or as barter for supplies. Texas soldiers then entered the Council House and informed the Comanche leaders that they were to be held as hostages until the remaining captives were released. When the Indians tried to escape and called to their fellow tribesmen outside the house for assistance, all hell broke loose.

The soldiers killed most of the Comanche who remained in the Council House courtyard. In the melee, 30 Penateka Comanche were killed, including five women and children. Six whites were killed and twenty wounded. The rest of the Comanche were held pending the release of the remaining white captives. Outraged at having their “ambassadors,” who they felt should be immune from acts of war, held hostage, the Penateka leaders refused to respond to the demands of the Texas authorities. The event hardened the Comanche hostility to white settlers in Texas and the Penatekas retaliated by increasing their number or raids. Matilda Lockhart never recovered from her experience as a captive and died several years later.

Battle of Neches, Texas

Battle of Neches, Texas

Battle of the Neches, Van Zandt County (1839) The principal engagement of the Cherokee War, the battle culminated after the Cherokee refused to leave Texas following President Mirabeau B. Lamar’s order. In July 1839, 500 troops, under the command of Kelsey H. Douglass, marched upon the Cherokee and their allies, in order to forcibly remove them. Camped at Council Creek, six miles south of the principal Cherokee village of Chief Bowl, the Texas Army dispatched a commission on July 12th to negotiate for the Indians’ removal. The agreement required that the Indians leave, but would be allowed to profit from their crops and be reimbursed for their removal.

For the next two days, the Indians insisted they were willing to leave but refused to sign the treaty because of a clause that would give them an armed escort out of the republic. On July 15th, the Texans threatened to march on the village immediately if the treaty wasn’t accepted and a white flag flown over the camp. When this did not occur, the Texans attacked, leaving some 18 Indians dead and three Texans killed.

The Cherokee then began to flee and the next morning, the troops engaged them once again near the headwaters of the Neches River. The Indians were forced to the Neches bottom, where Chiefs Bowles and Big Mush, along with a number of warriors were killed. After the last fighting near Grand Saline, it was estimated that more than 100 Indians had been killed or wounded in the engagements.   The Battle of the Neches ended the Indian troubles in east Texas, as the vast majority of the tribe had moved into Indian Territory. A few renegades continued to live a fugitive existence in Texas and even continued to fight against the Texans, but they had little success. Others took up permanent residence in Mexico.

The battle site is represented by a marker at a roadside park on Highway 20, five miles east of Colfax Texas.

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon (1874) – On September 28, 1874, Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie at the head of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry attacked and destroyed a large Indian encampment in Palo Duro Canyon. Mackenzie’s troopers formed part of the Red River Campaign of 1874-75, organized to force the Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Comanche to return to the reservations. On September 28th, Mackenzie’s scouts followed the Indian trail to the edge of Palo Duro Canyon, before the soldiers descended the steep slopes to the valley floor 700 feet below. Taken by surprise, the Indians abandoned their villages, allowing Mackenzie to capture more than 1,100 horses that were later slaughtered to prevent recapture. Although few Indians or soldiers were killed, the unrelenting pursuit of the troopers and the cold weather ultimately forced the Indians to surrender, thus bringing to a close the Red River War. Part of the battlefield is located within Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Contact Information:

Palo Duro Canyon State Park
11450 Park Road 5
Canyon, Texas 79015

Battle of Plum Creek (1840) – The Penateka Comanche were so angry after the Council House Fight in San Antonio, in which many of their chiefs, warriors and women were killed, they retaliated in the summer of 1840 by conducting multiple raids in the Guadalupe Valley. The Comanche band, numbering as many as 600 at times, burned settlements, killed pioneers, stole horses, and made off with the plunder. After sacking the town of Linnville in Calhoun County, the Texas volunteer army along with the Texas Rangers caught up with them at Plum Creek in the vicinity of the present town of Lockhart on August 11, 1840. Over the next two days, the Texans and Comanche battled it out but in the end, the Comanche were badly defeated. The Comanche lost over 80 warriors and a number of others were captured, including women and children. The Texans lost only one man and seven were wounded.

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