Warren Wagon Train Raid, Texas

Warren Wagon Train Raid by BuckTaylor

Warren Wagon Train Raid by Buck Taylor

Known as the Warren Wagon Train Raid or the Salt Creek Massacre, this battle occurred in 1871 when Henry Warren was contracted to haul supplies to Texas forts, including Fort Richardson, Fort Griffin, and Fort Concho.

While the freight train was traveling down the Jacksboro-Belknap Road on May 18th towards Salt Creek Crossing, they encountered General William T. Sherman, who had allowed the Indians to pass unmolested. However, less than an hour later, the freight train spotted a rather large group of Indian riders ahead. This group of about 100 warriors was led by Kiowa Chief Satanta, Ado-eete (Big Tree), and Satank. Recognizing an imminent attack, the wagon train quickly pulled into a ring formation, but the 12 teamsters were overwhelmed by the warriors.

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

When the attack ended, the Indians captured the supplies and killed and mutilated seven of the wagoneer’s bodies. Five men managed to escape, and Thomas Brazeale reached Fort Richardson on foot, some 20 miles away. When Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie learned of the attack, he immediately informed General Sherman, who dispatched Mackenzie to bring the offending Indians to justice. Their mission, however, proved unnecessary as shortly after returning from the raid, the Kiowa traveled to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to claim their rations. While there, Satanta was questioned about the raid by the Indian agent, Lawrie Tatum. The warrior, obviously using bad judgment, responded by boasting about the raid, and a horrified Tatum quickly turned the chiefs over to General Sherman. The warriors were then ordered to be sent to Jacksboro, Texas, to stand trial for murder. Bound hand and foot, Satanta, Satank, and Big Tree left Fort Sill on June 8, 1871. In the end, Satank attempted to escape and was killed while traveling to Fort Richardson for trial.

Big Tree and Satanta were tried and sentenced to death, but Texas Governor Edmund Davis, overruled the court, and the punishment was changed to life imprisonment. However, Kiowa Chief Lone Wolf negotiated for their early release, and the pair were allowed to leave prison in October 1873, conditional upon the good behavior of their people. The following year, Satanta and his warriors were back on the warpath, attacking buffalo hunters and engaging in what is known as the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, which occurred on June 27, 1874. He was later captured and committed suicide in prison. Big Tree, with other chiefs believed to be secretly hostile, were confined as prisoners at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After his release, he lived on an allotment from the reservation until he died in 1929.


Adoeette, aka: Big Tree, Kiowa Warrior

Adoeette, aka: Big Tree, Kiowa Warrior

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated March 2023.

Also See:

Indian War Timeline

Indian Wars, Battles & Massacres

Military Campaigns of the Indian Wars

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

Texas Indian Battles