Saga of a Texas Ranger–Series by Jeff Robenalt

Texas history and then some.

The Great Comanche Raid–background history for “Saga of a Texas Ranger”

Written By: admin - Nov• 08•10
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The Great Comanche Raid

By: jeffery robenalt

        In the month of August, 1840, under the silvery light of a brilliant full moon known to Texas settlers as a Comanche moon, a huge band of some several hundred Comanche and Kiowa warriors thundered out of the Comancheria and headed directly for the heart of the Republic of Texas. The raid was launched in retaliation for what the Comanches perceived to be the unprovoked killing of twelve Penateka war chiefs and many innocent women and children at the Council House peace talks in San Antonio only a few months before. 
     Under the leadershipof Buffalo Hump, one of the few surviving Penateka Comanche war chiefs, the huge war party passed just to the east of San Antonio before spreading out and cutting a wide path of destruction across the fertile lands that stretched to the southeast between the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers. Those settlers lucky enough to receive a warning fled before their homes were burned and their livestock slaughtered or scattered, but many died where the Comanches found them. The ones who died quickly were the fortunate few. 
     Killing and burning along the way, the warriors didn’t halt their movement southeast until they reached the old settlement of Victoria late in the afternoon of August 6. After quickly surrounding the town, Buffalo Hump did something that few other war chiefs had done before or since, when he led an attack that overran most of Victoria. Many citizens saved themselves by banding together and forting up in the south part of town, but fifteen people, including seven slaves were killed as the Comanches galloped through the streets howling their war cries and firing their flint-tipped arrows at anything that moved. 
     Before the smokefrom the burning buildings had cleared, the Comanches were once again on the move to the southeast, this time driving a herd of nearly two thousand stolen horses and mules ahead of them. The vast herd of “Comanche gold” would eventually prove to be their undoing. Continuing down the Guadalupe River bottom lands, the savage hoard burned and killed as the opportunity arose. Militia companies and other volunteers turned out, but their only contribution consisted of burying the dead, as all along the Guadalupe houses burned and unwary settlers died. 
     On the morning of August 8the Comanches formed into a huge half-moon arc as they approached the Gulf coast and the little seaport town of Linnville located on Lavaca Bay which served as a port of entry for San Antonio. A few citizens spotted them from a distance, but the warriors were mistaken for Mexican traders until they began their screaming charge. There was little time for the bewildered inhabitants to do anything except flee for the safety of the boats anchored in the bay. Some found refuge on the steamer Mustang lying just offshore, or rowed themselves to safety in small boats, but many others were cut down before they reached the water and immediately scalped. Those who did manage to escape were forced to watch as their homes and businesses were looted and burned before their eyes. 
     The Comanches spent the entire day pillaging and burning Linnville. Warehouses packed with goods destined to be shipped to San Antonio were a special delight for the looters. Warriors dressed themselves up in top hats and fancy frock coats. Some even paraded in women’s dresses and petticoats, their ponies’ tails braided with a rainbow of ribbons and even entire bolts of cloth streaming out behind them as they galloped back and forth through town. One citizen was so distraught and angry with the ransacking that he waded ashore waving an old shotgun above his head and challenged the warriors to meet him in combat. The bewildered Comanches, thinking that the man must be crazy and therefore untouchable, simply rode around him, acting as if he didn’t exist. When he finally gave up and waded back out to his boat he discovered that the shotgun had never been loaded. 
     Satisfied that the Comanche blood spilled by the Texans during the Council House fight was fully avenged and all debts paid, Buffalo Hump at long last called for a return to the Comancheria. However, as heavily burdened as the Comanches were with dozens of fully loaded pack mules, many prisoners, and well over two thousand stolen horses, the trail home would prove to be treacherous. At that very moment riders were galloping all over central Texas drawing men from Lavaca, Gonzales, Goliad, Victoria, Cuero, Bastrop, San Antonio and Austin and from more than a hundred widely scattered homesteads. A militia company under the command of Captain Tumlinson pressed the savages hard from the rear using hit and run tactics while frontier leaders like Matthew “Old Paint” Caldwell, Ben McCulloch, and Edward Burleson helped to gather the volunteers together well ahead of the Comanches on Plum Creek not far from present-day Lockhart. 
     If Buffalo Hump had swung south of San Antonio on the return ride, the Comanches may well have escaped the trap being set for them, but instead the war chief arrogantly continued to lead his huge war party to the northwest straight into impending disaster. On August 11, General Felix Huston of the regular Texas army arrived at the Plum Creek site and took command from “Old Paint” Caldwell despite many protests from the volunteers because of his lack of experience in dealing with Indians. On the 12th, Burleson and one hundred more volunteers rode in, and they were shortly joined by Jack Hays’ company of Texas Rangersfrom San Antonio. Tonkawa scouts reported that the Comanches, moving slowly north and raising a considerable cloud of dust, would soon reach the Big Prairie not far from Plum Creek. 
     At Caldwell’s suggestion, General Huston dismounted the volunteers and Texas Rangers and ordered then to take cover in the heavy brush that grew along the Creek. When the unsuspecting Comanches moved out on the adjoining prairie a short time later, the Texans mounted and emerged from the brush at a walk, slowly bringing the two great lines of horsemen together. The Comanches presented quite a spectacle dressed as many of them were in the fancy clothes stolen from the Linnville warehouses, and the fierce horse warriors began to gallop back and forth between the lines, putting on a display of horsemanship that would have rivaled any show in the world. 
     General Huston was more than content to sit his saddle and watch the show, but the experienced Indian fighters like Caldwell and McCulloch quickly realized that loot, not combat was the thing uppermost in the minds of the Comanches. They were only trying to delay the fight until the younger warriors could drive the huge herd of stolen horses and mules further to the northwest out of the reach of the Texans. Caldwell wanted to press the attack home immediately, but General Huston continued to hesitate. Then a Comanche war chief wearing a magnificent feathered headdress solved the dilemma by trotting his garishly painted pony out of the ranks and boldly challenging the Texas leaders to individual combat. Suddenly a shot rang out and the impact of a heavy rifle ball flipped the war chief off the back of his pony. A groan of dismay went up from the Comanches at this sign of bad medicine. 
     ”Now, General,” Caldwell shouted, “Charge ‘em!” 
     Without waiting for an order from the General, the Texans, screaming and shooting, spurred their mounts into the Comanche flank, stampeding the great herd of animals in all directions. The surprised warriors immediately dispersed to gain control the herd rather than remain in their line of battle, and they were stampeded right along with the stolen horses and mules. The Comanches were scattered to the winds and the Texans began to kill every warrior they came across. The struggle was close and cruel and a running fight ensued for the next fifteen miles, but the fighting heart had been cut from the Comanches, and the day eventually became more of a massacre than a battle. Before the fighting was over more than eighty Comanche bodies lay strewn along the fifteen mile battlefield. Only one Texan was killed. The Comanches’ prisoners weren’t as lucky, however, and many of them were killed before they could be rescued. 
     The Battle of Plum Creek punished the Penateka Comanches severely. The warriors had tried a new and unaccustomed form of warfare and they had failed miserably. Never again would the Comanches attack a town in force or raid so deep into Texas. Instead they resumed their old form of guerrilla tactics that continued to prove formidable. President Lamar was now convinced that the Comanches must be taught a lesson for their effrontery, and he ordered Colonel John Moore to prepare an expedition for a retaliatory attack on a Comanche winter village far up the Colorado. The Texas Rangers would once again carry the fight deep into the heart of theComancheria.

**** If you enjoyed reading this article, you will love my book, “Saga of a Texas Ranger”; historical fiction at its finest! To find out more about the book, go to ABOUT THE BOOK and BOOK REVIEW on this web site. To order either the hardback or kindle edition, go to ABOUT THE BOOK on this web site or click on http://amazon.com/Saga-Texas-Ranger-Jeffery-Robenalt/dp/1609761731 . The second book in the series, “Star Over Texas”, is due to be released soon along with the soft cover edition of “Saga of a Texas Ranger.” ****

About the Author

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Jeffery Robenalt was born and raised in Tiffin, Ohio. He served in Vietnam as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and later served as a Platoon Leader and Executive Officer with the 101st Airborne Division. He has a BS in Sociology from Troy University, a BA in History from New York University, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Tech University. After earning his law degree, Mr. Robenalt was an Attorney for the State of Texas for ten years. Saga of a Texas Ranger is his first novel, however, the second volume in the saga, Star Over Texas, will soon be ready for publication. Mr. Robenalt currently resides in Lockhart, Texas where he teaches Texas history at Lockhart Junior High School.

http://amazon.com/Saga-Texas-Ranger-Jeffery-Robenalt/dp/1609761731

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