What was wrong with those whiney Texans? What Indian problems? Weren’t the Kiowas and Comanches tucked away in their reservation across the Red River in Oklahoma? They’d signed the Medicine Lodge Treaty, hadn’t they? The Quaker Indian agents said they were behaving. Well, they left the Reservation to hunt buffalo sometimes. The US Army maintained a line of forts. What was the problem?
William Tecumseh Sherman, Commanding General of the Army, thought the Texans were exaggerating. He decided to inspect the Army forts. He left San Antonio with a small escort of Buffalo Soldiers. They traveled safely from fort to fort. No Indians were seen. So, he asked, what’s the problem?
In mid-May Sherman’s party left Fort Belknap headed west, a quiet morning trip. He didn’t know that he was watched by a party of 100 or so Kiowas led by Chief Satanta. The medicine man Sky Walter advised Santana to hold off and wait for a better target. The next day the Kiowas attacked a wagon train, tortured and killed the teamsters and made off with their goods and mules, headed back to the safety of the Reservation. One teamster escaped and made it to Sherman’s party.
A wake-up call for Sherman. Back at the Reservation, Satanta boasted openly about his deeds. Sherman confronted him and had the Indian and his cohorts arrested (by the Buffalo Soldiers) and sent to Texas to stand trial in a civil court. The Quaker agents were replaced.
Sherman adopted a new strategy for frontier defense. The Medicine Lodge treaty wasn’t working. He started military tactics against the Indians. A few years later, Colonel Ranald MacKenzie defeated the last Comanche band (under Quanah Parker) in the Texas Panhandle.
Larry C. and I enjoyed several Sunday outings in MacKenzie Park, there in Lubbock’s Yellow House Canyon with whatever dates we could manage. I didn’t know the history at that time. Settlement of the Panhandle came fast, once the Indian’s fangs were pulled.
August 21, 2018
“Only the educated are free.” – Epictetus.