Famous Men of the Santa Fe Trail

“I accordingly saddled up my mule and set out for Fort Larned. I proceeded on uninterruptedly until I got about halfway between the two posts, when, at Pawnee Rock, I was suddenly jumped by about forty Indians, who came dashing up to me, extending their hands and saying, ‘How! How!’ They were some of the Indians who had been hanging around Fort Larned in the morning. I saw they had on their war-paint, and were evidently now out on the war-path.

“My first impulse was to shake hands with them, as they seemed so desirous of it. I accordingly reached out my hand to one of them, who grasped it with a tight grip, and jerked me violently forward; then pulled my mule by the bridle, and in a moment I was completely surrounded. Before I could do anything at all, they had seized my revolvers from the holsters, and I received a blow on the head from a tomahawk which nearly rendered me senseless. My gun, which was lying across the saddle, was snatched from its place, and finally, the Indian who had hold of the bridle started off toward the Arkansas River, leading the mule, which was being lashed by the other Indians, who were following. The Indians were all singing, yelling, and whooping, as only Indians can do, when they are having their little game all their own way. While looking toward the river, I saw on the opposite side an immense village moving along the bank, and then I became convinced that the Indians had left the post and were now starting out on the war-path. My captors crossed the stream with me, and as we waded through the shallow water they continued to lash the mule and myself. Finally, they brought me before an important-looking body of Indians, who proved to be the chiefs and principal warriors. I soon recognized old Satanta among them, as well as others whom I knew, and supposed it was all over with me.

“The Indians were jabbering away so rapidly among themselves that I could not understand what they were saying. Satanta, at last, asked me where I had been. As good luck would have it, a happy thought struck me. I told him I had been after a herd of cattle, or ‘ whoa-haws,’ as they called them. It so happened that the Indians had been out of meat for several weeks, as the large herd of cattle which had been promised them had not yet arrived, although they expected them.

“The moment I mentioned that I had been searching for ‘whoa-haws,’ old Satanta began questioning me in a very eager manner. He asked me where the cattle were, and I replied that they were back a few miles and that I had been sent by General Hazen to inform him that the cattle were coming and that they were intended for his people. This seemed to please the old rascal, who also wanted to know if there were any soldiers with the herd, and my reply was that there were. Thereupon the chiefs held a consultation, and presently Satanta asked me if General Hazen had really said that they should have the cattle. I replied in the affirmative and added that I had been directed to bring the cattle to them. I followed this up with a very dignified inquiry, asking why his young men had treated me so. The old wretch intimated that it was only a ‘ freak of the boys ‘; that the young men wanted to see if I was brave; in fact, they had only meant to test me, and the whole thing was a joke.

“The veteran liar was now beating me at my own game of lying, but I was very glad, as it was in my favor. I did not let him suspect that I doubted his veracity, but I remarked that it was a rough way to treat friends. He immediately ordered his young men to give back my arms and scolded them for what they had done. Of course, the sly old dog was now playing it very fine, as he was anxious to get possession of the cattle, with which he believed there was a ‘heap’ of soldiers coming. He had concluded it was not best to fight the soldiers if he could get the cattle peaceably.

“Another council was held by the chiefs, and in a few minutes old Satanta came and asked me if I would go to the river and bring the cattle down to the opposite side so that they could get them. I replied, ‘Of course; that’s my instruction from General Hazen.’

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

Satanta said I must not feel angry at his young men, for they had only been acting in fun. He then inquired if I wished any of his men to accompany me to the cattle herd. I replied that it would be better for me to go alone, and then the soldiers could keep right on to Fort Larned, while I could drive the herd down on the bottom. Then wheeling my mule around, I was soon recrossing the river, leaving old Satanta in the firm belief that I had told him a straight story, and that I was going for the cattle which existed only in my imagination.

“I hardly knew what to do, but thought that if I could get the river between the Indians and myself, I would have a good three-quarters of a mile the start of them, and could then make a run for Fort Larned, as my mule was a good one.

“Thus far my cattle story had panned out all right; but just as I reached the opposite bank of the river, I looked behind me and saw that ten or fifteen Indians, who had begun to suspect something crooked, were following me. The moment that my mule secured a good foothold on the bank, I urged him into a gentle lope toward the place where, according to my statement, the cattle were to be brought. Upon reaching a little ridge and riding down the other side out of view, I turned my mule and headed him westward for Fort Larned. I let him out for all that he was worth, and when I came out on a little rise of ground, I looked back and saw the Indian village in plain sight. My pursuers were now on the ridge which I had passed over and were looking for me in every direction.

“Presently they spied me, and seeing that I was running away, they struck out in swift pursuit, and in a few minutes, it became painfully evident they were gaining on me. They kept up the chase as far as Ash Creek, six miles from Fort Larned. I still led them half a mile, as their horses had not gained much during the last half of the race. My mule seemed to have gotten his second wind, and as I was on the old road, I played the spurs and whip on him without much cessation; the Indians likewise urged their steeds to the utmost.

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