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The Old Santa Fe Trail

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The Old Santa Fe Trail
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Author(s): Henry Inman
Date Published: 2010.01
Page Count: 376
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-967-1
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-968-8

A soldier-author's view of the American frontier

The history of the expansion of the frontier of America is particularly marked by the famous—perhaps legendary—trails upon which pioneers in their 'prairie schooners' or cattlemen driving their great herds crossed the vast continental interior. All roads tell their own stories, not by virtue of being routes of passage, but because of the personalities of those who travelled them and the events that took place on or about them. So it is that these highways have encapsulated their own place in the making of a nation. This wonderful book chronicles one of the most famous trails from its earliest days when the Spaniard Coronado trod its dusty path to the Indian Wars of the later nineteenth century. Many of the most famous Westerners make their appearance with in its pages—explorers, scouts, trappers, Indian fighters, lawmen, outlaws, ranchers and military men—together with renowned tribes of native American Indians led in their struggles by equally famous leaders. This book is a treasure trove of American Western history filled with anecdotes, evocative illustrations and substantial first hand account passages by those who made history.

Noiselessly the Indians gained on the little wagon, for they had not as yet uttered a whoop, and the determined driver, anxious to know how far the red devils were from him, again asked Booth. The latter told him how near they were, guessing at the distance, from which Hallowell gathered inspiration for fresh cries and still more vigorous blows with his whip. <br>
Booth, all this time, was sitting on the box containing the crackers and sardines, watching the rapid approach of the cut-throats, and seeing with fear and trembling the ease with which they gained upon the little mules.<br>
Once more Hallowell made his stereotyped inquiry of Booth; but before the latter could reply, two shots were fired from the rifles of the Indians, accompanied by a yell that was demoniacal enough to cause the blood to curdle in one’s veins. Hallowell yelled at the mules, and Booth yelled too; for what reason he could not tell, unless to keep company with his comrade, who plied the whip more mercilessly than ever upon the poor animals’ backs, and the wagon flew over the rough road, nearly upsetting at every jump.<br>
In another moment the bullets from two of the Indians’ rifles passed between Booth and Hallowell, doing no damage, and almost instantly the savages charged upon them, at the same time dividing into two parties, one going on one side and one on the other, both delivering a volley of arrows into the wagon as they rode by.<br>
Just as the savages rushed past the wagon, Hallowell cried out to Booth, “Cap, I’m hit!” and turning around to look, Booth saw an arrow sticking in Hallowell’s head above his right ear. His arm was still plying the whip, which was going on unceasingly as the sails of a windmill, and his howling at the mules only stopped long enough to answer, “Not much!” in response to Booth’s inquiry of “Does it hurt?” as he grabbed the arrow and pulled it out of his head.<br>
The Indians had by this time passed on, and then, circling back, prepared for another charge. Down they came, again dividing as before into two bands, and delivering another shower of arrows. Hallowell ceased his yelling long enough to cry out, “I’m hit once more, Cap!” Looking at the plucky driver, Booth saw this time an arrow sticking over his left ear, and hanging down his back. He snatched it out, inquiring if it hurt, but received the same answer: “No, not much.”<br>
Both men were now yelling at the top of their voices; and the mules were jerking the wagon along the rough trail at a fearful rate, frightened nearly out of their wits at the sight of the Indians and the terrible shouting and whipping of the driver.<br>
Booth crawled to the back end of the wagon again, looked out of the hole in the cover, and saw the Indians moving across the Trail, preparing for another charge. One old fellow, mounted on a black pony, was jogging along in the centre of the road behind them, but near enough and evidently determined to send an arrow through the puckered hole of the sheet. In a moment the savage stopped his pony and let fly. Booth dodged sideways—the arrow sped on its course, and whizzing through the opening, struck the black-walnut “lazy-back” of the seat, the head sticking out on the other side, and the sudden check causing the feathered end to vibrate rapidly with a vro-o-o-ing sound. With a quick blow Booth struck it, and broke the shaft from the head, leaving the latter embedded in the wood.<br>
As quickly as possible, Booth rushed to the hole and fired his revolver at the old devil, but failed to hit him. While he was trying to get in another shot, an arrow came flying through from the left side of the Trail, and striking him on the inside of the elbow, or “crazy-bone,” so completely benumbed his hand that he could not hold on to the pistol, and it dropped into the road with one load still in its chamber. Just then the mules gave an extraordinary jump to one side, which jerked the wagon nearly from under him, and he fell sprawling on the end-gate, evenly balanced, with his hands on the outside, attempting to clutch at something to save himself! Seeing his predicament, the Indians thought they had him sure, so they gave a yell of exultation, supposing he must tumble out, but he didn’t; he fortunately succeeded in grabbing one of the wagon-bows with his right hand and pulled himself in; but it was a close call.<br>
While all this was going on, Hallowell had not been neglected by the Indians; about a dozen of them had devoted their time to him, but he never flinched. Just as Booth had regained his equilibrium and drawn his second revolver from its holster, Hallowell yelled to him: “Right off to your right, Cap, quick!”<br>
Booth tumbled over the back of the seat, and, clutching at a wagon-bow to steady himself, he saw, “off to the right,” an Indian who was in the act of letting an arrow drive at Hallowell; it struck the side of the box, and at the same instant Booth fired, scaring the red devil badly.<br>
Back over the seat again he rushed to guard the rear, only to find a young buck riding close to the side of the wagon, his pony running in the deep path made by the ox-drivers in walking alongside of their teams. Putting his left arm around one of the wagon-bows to prevent his being jerked out, Booth quietly stuck his revolver through the hole in the sheet; but before he could pull the trigger, the Indian flopped over on the off side of his pony, and nothing could be seen of him excepting one arm around his animal’s neck and from the knee to the toes of one leg. Booth did not wait for him to ride up; he could almost hit the pony’s head with his hand, so close was he to the wagon. Booth struck at the beast several times, but the Indian kept him right up in his place by whipping him on the opposite of his neck. Presently the plucky savage’s arm began to move. Booth watched him intently, and saw that he had fixed an arrow in his bow under the pony’s shoulder; just as he was on the point of letting go the bowstring, with the head of the arrow not three feet from Booth’s breast as he leaned out of the hole, the latter struck frantically at the weapon, dodged back into the wagon, and up came the Indian. Whenever Booth looked out, down went the Indian on the other side of his pony, to rise again in a moment, and Booth, afraid to risk himself with his head and breast exposed at this game of hide and seek, drew suddenly back as the Indian went down the third time, and in a second came up; but this was once too often. Booth had not dodged completely into the wagon, nor dropped his revolver, and as the Indian rose he fired.<br>
The savage was naked to the waist; the ball struck him in the left nipple, the blood spurted out of the wound, his bow and arrows and lariat, with himself, rolled off the pony, falling heavily on the ground, and with one convulsive contraction of his legs and an “Ugh!” he was as dead as a stone.