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 Indian Depredations and The Battle of Bandera Pass....Part 1

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Cliff Caldwell
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Male Number of posts : 61
Age : 70
Location : Mountain Home, Texas
Registration date : 2009-01-23

PostSubject: Indian Depredations and The Battle of Bandera Pass....Part 1   Sat May 02, 2009 1:22 pm

Indian Depredations
and
The Battle of Bandera Pass
___________________________________________________



[size=12]
After the Great Raid of 1840 where the Comanche’s under Buffalo Hump sacked Victoria and Linnville, Texas President Sam Houston felt he had to strengthen the frontier defenses to prevent similar raids from taking place in the future. Houston appointed several companies of Texas Ranger, know as Ranging Companies, with one particular Company under the command of Captain John Coffee Hays.

John Coffee Hays was born on 28 January 1817 at Little Cedar Lick in Wilson County, Tennessee. He grew up with an fondness for horseback riding and shooting. When he was fifteen his parents died of yellow fever. Jack and two other siblings headed to a plantation in Mississippi. Plantation life didn't suit Jack's adventurous spirit well so he struck out on his own to become a surveyor. After two years he had earned some money and enrolled himself at the Davidson Academy in Nashville. Hearing of the Battle at the Alamo, Hays set off to join the cause of Texas Independence. Hays enlisted in the Texas Rangers and joined the outfit led by scout Deaf Smith. He settled in San Antonio.

On one particular scouting expedition in 1841 (the exact date of this battle has long since been lost to history) Captain Hays had intended to travel to a location near the head of the Guadalupe River. From there he planned to scout some of the canyons in the mountainous area and return to camp. The scouting party consisted of thirty to forty Rangers (although some report it as high as fifty do). In this group of Rangers were several noted Indian fighters, including: Ben Highsmith, Creed Taylor, Sam Walker, Robert Addison "Ad" Gillespie, P.H. Bell, Kit Ackland, Sam Luckey, James Dunn, Tom Galberth, George Neill, and Frank Chevallier. Some of Captain Hays’s regular group of Ranger were still in prison in Mexico after having been taken captive during the ill fated battle of Mier. Among those who remained in the Mexican jail was the legendary William Alexander Anderson "Bigfoot" Wallace, who has been claimed to have been a participant in some erroneous accounts of the Bandera Pass fight.

Captain Hays’s group headed northwest, crossing the Median River near the present day town of Castroville and continuing to a location near what is now the town of Bandera where they made camp for the night. In the morning the group headed north towards Bandera Pass, arriving there at about 10:00AM. The Comanches had observed the group’s movements and had laid a trap for them at the pass. The Indians had all the advantage from the onset, catching the Rangers in the narrow, 125 foot wide pass with steep rock faced hills on both sides filled with narrow canyons and rock features that provided excellent concealment. The Indians allowed about a third of the scouting party to pass before opening fire. The initial barrage threw the men and horses into turmoil and confusion as the greatly outnumbered Rangers tried to find cover. The battle raged for some time. The Indians were armed with guns as well as bows and arrows and lances. There were numerous casualties on both sides. The perspicacious

Captain Hays, cool and collected as always, ordered his men "steady there boys…dismount and tie those horses, we can whip them... No doubt about that".
The combat was often at close range, with pistols, knives and bare hands. Before the fight was over nearly one third of the Rangers were killed or wounded. The Indians retreated north while the Rangers headed to the south end of the pass, making camp near a spring there to nurse their wounded and bury the dead. In total there were five Rangers killed and six wounded. Accounts of the day are somewhat imprecise, but it’s claimed that Ranger Jackson was killed and the list of wounded included Sam Lucky, Kit Ackland, James Dunn, Ben Highsmith, and Tom Galbreath.

Some have reported that the newly invented Colt revolving pistol called the Patterson Colt was used at the Bandera Pass fight. Many historians believe that the Bandera Pass Fight was selected for convenience since the exact location where the Patterson was first used has been lost to history. Given the fact that many of the early records were destroyed, the best accounts available came from individuals who were there at the time and gave oral testimony many years later. The actual first use of the Patterson Colt is said to have been during a later episode that took place on 8 June 1844, when Captain Hayes took about fourteen men on a scouting party up the Nueces Canyon. On this scout they encountered an enormous party of Indians, possiblt as many as 200 or more according to one participant’s report. Although gravely outnumbered, one advantage the Rangers did have at this fight was the new five shot Colt revolver. The Indians had been accustomed to charging a Ranger position after they had heard the sound of one shot having been fired. They knew that after the shot they had several seconds to reach the Ranger’s position before he would have time to reload and fire again. It is said that with the new Colt revolver many Indians were caught in the open while making a headlong charge trying to reach the Rangers before they reloaded, not aware that they had five shots to fire before having to reload the Colt.

Captain Hays ordered his men to "stand your ground, hit something when you shoot and then run among the Indians and give them no chance to retreat". This they did, inflicting tremendous casualties. According to a later report of a friendly Delaware Indian named Bob they had lost half of their warriors. The wounded continued to die for a hundred miles on their way back to the Devils River crossing into Old Mexico.

Although conclusive evidence of the exact location of this fight has been lost to history, some oral testimony of participants claim it was the Pedernales Battle which took place at Enchanted Rock near present day Fredericksburg. Others place it further to the south, in the mountainous regions closer to Bandera Pass. Mike Cox, in his recent book Wearing the Cinco Peso - 1821-1900 contends that perhaps this fight, as well as the fight at Bandera Pass, never happened. Hopefully at some future date a newly discovered relic of this fight will give up aid in giving up its secrets. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Cox, and wish to maintain my belief that this epic battle indeed happened.
These two major Indian fights involving Captain Hayes and his Texas Ranger Ranging Company during 1841 and 1844 were by no means the only, or the last, incidents of Indian Depredations in Kerr County. Although the precise date on which the Indian raid at the home of Matthew and Rachel Wayland of northern Kerr County took place has been lost to history it is believed to have been during the very early 1870’s. Under siege by Indians, Matthew and Rachel Wayland barricaded themselves in their cabin. Afraid to leave and surrender what they had worked so hard for to this band of marauding Indians these brave farmers held out through the night. When dawn came the following day a local Old Timer named Burk Kennemer arrives to aid them. On Kennemer’s advise they reluctantly left their cabin and head towards Fredericksburg to safety. Shortley after leaving their cabin they found their escape path blocked by the Indians. The Wayland’s return home, bringing their horses inside to protect them. Burk Kennemer, now alone, bravely rode on in a desperate search for help. As the Indians pounded on the door Matthew considers letting the horses out and surrendering them to the Indians, knowing that the animals were in part the prize their captors desired. Rachel, displaying the true grit of a frontier Texas woman, refused to let her husband give up the horses. Eventually a group of German settlers from Fredericksburg arrived and rescued the Wayland’s.

In the nearby village of Medina which lies just over the Kerr County line to the south, Mr. Joseph Moore and his daughter Elizabeth were killed by Indians on 4 July 1872. One year later, in 1873, Mrs. Moore was killed near the Jones home in Medina. Their remains can be found at the Arnold Cemetery on the Hick’s Ranch, Medina, Bandera County, Texas.

By 1874 the Galveston Daily News reported that the number of white men and women killed by raiding Indians each year in Texas was at least 100. That estimate was accompanied by the report that the number of cattle and horses taken by these marauding Indians across Texas was over one hundred thousand.

On 14 November 1874 another band of about sixteen Indians were reported to have been raiding in the area of Kerr County, making a general clearing up of all the horses. Some forty head had been taken from the Spring Creek settlement. The party of Indians had last been seen at the head of Johnson Creek. The 18 November 1874 edition of the Galveston Daily News reported that nothing further has been learned as to the whereabouts of this group of raiders.
Not long after this visitation there are reports of an Indian Raid in Kerr County on 20 February 1875. During that raid, where Indians made another visit to Kerr County, several head of cattle were killed and six head of horses were stolen. The raiders managed to get away without a fight.
On 10 May 1876 Ranger Captain Neal Coldwell, Commander of Company "F" of the Frontier Battalion, reported that two bands of Indians had been seen in Kerr County. Each group numbered about ten. A man and a boy were killed by one group on the Nueces, and another man wounded on the Llano. Captain Coldwell estimates that the Indians drove off about thirty head of horses. The Rangers were unable to overtake the group and they managed to escape. The trail of another party consisting of about thirty individuals was discovered.

The Terry Family along with Jack Hardy, a freed slave who had earlier belonged to Dr. John Ridley, lived near Center Point along the Guadalupe about half a mile above the town (placing it along present day Old River Road at the foot of Bowlin Drive). Indians took Hardy captive in the fall of 1876. Shortly after his capture the same group of Indians brutally murdered the Terry Family. The Terry’s lived about a mile and a half south of Center Point (placing them along Elm Pass Road near Verde Creek). The Indians surprised Mr. Terry and four of his children who were some distance from the house. They killed him and two of the children, severely wounding another and taking the nine year old daughter off with them. When the Indians attacked Mr. Terry, who had been sitting on the ground riving cypress blocks, he sprang to his feet and ran about forty yards before he was shot and lanced. Mrs. Terry escaped, leaping over the yard fence and tossing their young baby Joe who was in her arms into the high weeds. That swift move on her part eluding the baby’s discovery by the Indians. The Indian party headed south over the Bandera Pass, proceeding over the mountains and through Hondo, Seco and Sabinal Canyon to below Utopia. Jack Hardy managed to escape (in December 1876) and was rescued by a man named John Dickson from Frio. The severely injured Hardy said that Dickson "treated him kindly, giving him food and clothing and nursing him back to health". A group of men from the area under the command of John Patterson were dispatched to pursue the band of Natives and caught up with them in the Dry Frio Canyon where a serious battle took place. They rescued the little Terry girl, and continued south after the Indians, presuming that they would cross into Mexico at their normal jumping off point at the mouth of the Devils River. This time the Indians made their ford some distance away, at La Villa Nueva. Due to the swollen conditions of the river the posse abandoned the pursuit and they managed to escape back into Old Mexico.
The Galveston Daily News reported that on Wednesday night 27 December 1876 a band of thirty Indians passed within seven miles of the town of Kerrville, stealing horses from Messars James Lyle, Howard Henderson and Callaghan. It was also reported that Mr. Sam Spears of Kerr County was killed by the band on Tuesday or Wednesday night. A detachment of Lieutenant Moore’s Rangers were reported to have been in close pursuit, accompanied by a large number of citizens. It’s unknown if the posse ever caught up with this marauding band.


To Be Continued........
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Cliff Caldwell
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Male Number of posts : 61
Age : 70
Location : Mountain Home, Texas
Registration date : 2009-01-23

PostSubject: Indian Depredations and The Battle of Bandera Pass....Part 2   Sat May 02, 2009 1:25 pm

In the winter of 1876 it is reported that another Indian raid too place at the family home of William & Nancy Alexander who lived in Kerr County about 18 miles above the town(placing it close to where Sunshine River Ranch Lane is today). Living with them were his son-in-law Mr. Wachter who had married their daughter Nancy. At the time of the raid Mr. Wachter and Mr. Alexander had gone to Fredericksburg with shingles, leaving the two women alone. When the Indians struck the place Ms. Nancy Wachter, who is said to have been "a stout woman", saw an Indian in the doorway and struck him with an iron. She then ran out the door through a group of Indians who were firing arrows at her. She fell over a log, lying there for a moment before crawling off into a thicket. The Indians presumed she had been killed and turned their attentions to the mother, Ms. Alexander. Ms. Wachter headed down river to where her brother Wren Alexander and a Negro boy were making shingles. When Wren returned the Indians had burned the home to the ground. The remains of Mrs. Alexander were discovered among the ashes.



On 30 June 1877 Indians once again raided Kerr County and got away with about thirty horses. This group was suspected of being the same band that was reported several days earlier depredating along the Nueces. Texas Rangers and United States Troops pursued them, but to no avail.
Captain Neal Coldwell’s Company "A" reported on 15 August 1877 that during the month his Company logged an impressive 1,632 miles on scout and made 22 arrests. This equaled the earlier Ranger record that had been set by Major Jonese during his raid in Kimbel County. Among the outlaws apprehended by Coldwell was John Bennett who was charged with murdering two Negro’s in Travis County and a man named Champion who had stood down a Deputy Sheriff of Burnett County with a double barreled shotgun.
All of the foregoing Indian depredations left scars on the community, but none so enduring in the memories of old timers and descendents of early pioneers as the massacre of the Dowdy family of Mountain Home in 1878.
Unfortunately the raids were not over yet. In June 1880 the Galveston Daily News reported that depredations along the Brazos continued. Perhaps the last raid in this part of Texas took place in the Frio Canyon on 19 April 1882 when the McLauren family was attacked. Ms. Kate McLauren was killed, along with a young man named Allen Lease who lived with them at the time. This tragedy ended more than thirty years of seemingly continual Indian depredations in the region.
 
 
 
 
 
[size=9]

  1. Galveston Daily News – 15 August 1877
  2. Cox, Mike – "Wearing the Cinco Peso, 1821-1900" - Tom Doherty Assoc LLC – 2008
  3. Davis, John L. – "The Texas Rangers: Images and Incidents" - University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio – 2000
  4. Wilbarger, J.W. – "Indian Depredations in Texas" – 1991
  5. Sowell, A.J. – "Texas Indian Fighters" - 2005
  6. Hunter, John Marvin – "Pioneer History of Bandera County"
  7. ARNOLD CEMETERY ON HICK’S RANCH Medina, Bandera County, Texas


  • Moore, Elizabeth, d 07/04/1872, Mother*, killed by Indians in a raid
  • Moore, Joseph Walker, d 07/04/1872, Father*, killed by Indians in a raid
  • Moore, Mrs. William, d 1873, Joseph Moore’s mother, killed by Indians in a raid the following year


  1. Alter, Judy - "Elmer Kelton and West Texas"
  2. Galveston Daily News – 30 January 1877
  3. Galveston Daily News – 20 February 1875
  4. Believed to have been Samuel Spears from Lamar County, Texas – Born 1846 in Virginia – Wife Mariah – Post Office Paris, Texas
  5. Galveston Daily News – 30 April 1874
  6. Galveston Daily News – 15 November 1874
  7. Galveston Daily News – 18 November 1874
  8. Galveston Daily News – 10 May 1876
  9. Galveston Daily News – 30 June 1877
  10. Galveston Daily News – 15 August 1877


    [/size]



By: C.R. Caldwell
From: "A Days Ride From Here...." Volume I
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Craig S.



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PostSubject: Re: Indian Depredations and The Battle of Bandera Pass....Part 1   Fri May 08, 2009 9:44 pm

Thanks Cliff. I enjoyed reading this. I am always amazed at the hardships that people endured during the days of the American frontier. And we think we're living in tough times!

Craig
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Russell Burrows
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PostSubject: Re: Indian Depredations and The Battle of Bandera Pass....Part 1   Sun May 10, 2009 2:30 pm

Craig S. wrote:
Thanks Cliff. I enjoyed reading this. I am always amazed at the hardships that people endured during the days of the American frontier. And we think we're living in tough times!

Craig

Yes indeed Craig. Those folks had to live a hard life.

Russ
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Cliff Caldwell
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Age : 70
Location : Mountain Home, Texas
Registration date : 2009-01-23

PostSubject: Re: Indian Depredations and The Battle of Bandera Pass....Part 1   Sun May 10, 2009 3:54 pm

Amen Russ....and this part of Texas is one of the examples of true Indian Depredations. The guilty were mainly transplanted Indians and Mexican Raiders and not the Native Americans whos land we appropriated. The blame for that rests on the shoulders of the Spanish first, and then the Mexican Government. History seems to have forgotten how brutal the Spanish were and how profound their impact was on the American West.
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