Famous Men of the Santa Fe Trail

“Finally, upon reaching the dividing ridge between Ash Creek and Pawnee Fork, I saw Fort Larned only four miles away. It was now sundown, and I heard the evening gun. The troops of the small garrison little dreamed there was a man flying for his life and trying to reach the post. The Indians were once more gaining on me, and when I crossed the Pawnee Fork two miles from the post, two or three of them were only a quarter of a mile behind me. Just as I gained the opposite bank of the stream, I was overjoyed to see some soldiers in a government wagon only a short distance off. I yelled at the top of my voice, and riding up to them, told them that the Indians were after me.

“‘Denver Jim,’ a well-known scout, asked me how many there were, and upon my informing him that there was about a dozen, he said: ‘Let’s drive the wagon into the trees, and we’ll lay for ’em.’ The team was hurriedly driven among the trees and low box-elder bushes, and there secreted.

“We did not have to wait long for the Indians, who came dashing up, lashing their ponies, which were panting and blowing. We let two of them pass by, but we opened a lively fire on the next three or four, killing two of them at the first crack. The others following discovered that they had run into an ambush, and whirling off into the brush, they turned and ran back in the direction whence they had come. The two who had passed by heard the firing and made their escape. We scalped the two that we had killed, and appropriated their arms and equipment; then, catching their ponies, we made our way into the Post.”


By Colonel Henry Inman, 1897. Compiled and Edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated August 2018.

About the Author: Excerpted from the book, The Old Santa Fe Trail, by Colonel Henry Inman, 1897. Note: The text is not verbatim, as minor edits have been made throughout the tale. Henry Inman was well known both as an officer in the U.S. Army and an author dealing with subjects of the Western plains. During the Civil War, Inman was a Lieutenant Colonel and afterward, he won distinction as a magazine writer. He wrote several books including his Old Santa Fe Trail, Great Salt Lake Trail, The Ranch on the Ox-hide and other similar books dealing with the subjects he knew so well. Colonel Inman left a number of unfinished manuscripts at his death in Topeka, Kansas on November 13, 1899.

Also See:

Early Traders on the Santa Fe Trail

Overland Mail on the Santa Fe Trail

Santa Fe Trail – Highway to the Southwest

Pathways To the West


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