By Paul H. Carlson

In the center of the arid summer season of 1877, a drought 12 months in West Texas, a troop of a few 40 buffalo infantrymen (African American cavalry led by way of white officials) struck out into the Llano Estacado from Double Lakes, south of contemporary Lubbock, pursuing a band of Kwahada Comanches who were raiding homesteads and searching events. a bunch of 22 buffalo hunters observed the warriors as publications and allies.

Several days later 3 black infantrymen rode into citadel Concho at glossy San Angelo and suggested that the boys and officials of Troop A have been lacking and presumed lifeless from thirst. The “Staked Plains Horror,” because the Galveston day-by-day News known as it, fast captured nationwide cognizance. even though many of the infantrymen finally straggled again into camp, 4 had died, and others ultimately confronted court-martial for desertion. The buffalo hunters had ridden off all alone to discover water, and the surviving infantrymen had lived through ingesting the blood in their lifeless horses and their very own urine. A regimen military scout had become catastrophe of the worst kind.

Although the failed day trip used to be commonly pronounced on the time, its sparse remedies since then have relied completely at the white officials’ debts. Paul Carlson has mined the courts-martial documents for testimony of the enlisted males, stories of a white boy who rode with the Indians, and different buried resources to supply the 1st multifaceted narrative ever released. His gripping account presents not just a fuller model of what occurred over these grim eighty-six hours but additionally a nuanced view of the interplay of infantrymen, hunters, settlers, and Indians at the Staked Plains at this poignant moment prior to the ultimate settling of the Comanches on their reservation in Indian Territory.

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Here, evidence suggests, comancheros traded their village wares and agricultural products to Indian groups, including Comanches, Kiowas, Lipans, Mescaleros, and others. They got in exchange bison robes and hides, dried meat, and other products, which sometimes included cattle taken from settlements toward the east and south or from large ranches in the central plateau of northern Mexico. The Muchaque country was ideal for holding cattle. 28 On occasion human captives may have been part of the comenchero trade.

In February  Little Wolf led his Kiowa followers to their reservation, and in March about sixteen hundred Cheyennes reported back to their agency in Indian Territory. 9 Red Young Man, who had never been to the reservation, and his small band of Kwahadas stayed out. In , they moved south and west deeper onto the Llano Estacado, hid in the sand hills, hunted bison when they could, and camped in such familiar places as Casas Amarillas, Silver Lake (Laguna Plata, sometimes Quemos or Lake Quemada), and the long water hole in Yellow House Canyon.

1 For Comanche people, the decade of the s was no less difficult. Once they had made a living hunting and trading below the Arkansas River in Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico, a region often called Comancheria. In the s and s, however, Texas Rangers and federal troops narrowed the hunting range of the Comanches—Penatekas mostly—in Texas, and in the s they confined it to West Texas. During the Civil War years Indian warriors, now including Kiowas along with Kickapoos and Lipan Apaches from Mexico, sought with mixed success to ride across the state to hunt or to reclaim some of their former Texas lands.

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