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Wild Life in the Far West

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Wild Life in the Far West
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Author(s): James Hobbs
Date Published: 2010/03
Page Count: 424
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-963-3
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-964-0

The memoirs of a remarkable Westerner

For those fascinated by the history of the American West the lives of its singular characters—particularly in autobiography—never cease to enthral. These resourceful individualists led extraordinary lives of risk and danger of such variety that the modern reader is left in awe. Hobbs, the author of this book, was certainly one of that doughty and resolute breed. Here was another in the manner of Kit Carson (in fact the two were companions) who lived in the trackless wilderness of the old South West. Hobbs hunted, trapped, fought Indians, was captured and held prisoner by the Comanche's. He travelled and traded in Mexico before being recruited to act as guide to Doniphan during the Mexican War. Not only was he one of the 'Forty-Niners' but as if his life of adventure was thus far not enough he joined Mexican Liberal forces during the Franco-Mexican War as a Captain of Artillery. This could be nothing other than a highly entertaining, readable first hand account of astonishing adventure and is highly recommended for those interested in the period.

I was busily engaged, measuring the corn, when a little Mexican boy, the son of the woman who lived within the walls, came running in, crying:<br>
“Oh, mother! the Indians are here !”<br>
“What Indians ?” I asked.<br>
The mother and son were frightened; but I went to the gate, and looking out, saw about eighty of the “Hickories” tribe of Indians, with some four hundred horses and mules, at the watering place. One of the savages was whipping the man who had charge of the mule at the reel, to make him work faster, as they were thirsty, and had travelled a long distance without water.<br>
It was a very hot day, and to secure shelter, a stray ox had gone into a deserted grass shanty, near the watering place. For sport, the Indians had shut the door, and set the shanty on fire, and the poor beast was being roasted alive, making a terrific noise. I ran and shook Gabe Allen, and told him the watering place outside was surrounded by a host of Indians and animals. He partially waked, and asked, “Mexican guerrillas?”<br>
“No,” said I, “Indians!”<br>
Captain Jackson, who was busy seeing to the dinner, which was preparing for us, immediately called up his troops, and running to a porthole, looked out, and saw what the Indians were about.<br>
“Hobbs,” said he, turning towards me, “you and Gabe Allen are older Indian lighters than I am. How had we better light them, on horseback or afoot?”<br>
We said on horseback so we could capture their stock.<br>
Fortunately our horses were inside the walls, and we were soon in the saddle. By this time, four Mexican stock-herders and men-of-all-work, who had gone after beeves for Doniphan’s regiment, came galloping into the inclosure, badly frightened, one of them with an arrow sticking in his back. It had penetrated two or three inches, and was extracted without much injury. The Indians had driven them in, and taken from them the stock they were driving up for us.<br>
We asked these Mexicans if they would take part in the light, to get their stock back, and help us capture the horses and mules of the Indians, telling them we would do the heavy part of the fighting. They agreed to our proposition, and the Mexican owner of the ranche saddling his mule, we mustered a force of twenty-six men. We ran our horses out of the gate, yelling and firing on the Indians, who, having no idea of our presence, were taken by surprise. Some were at the trough, crowded among their animals, in their eagerness to get water, with their guns, bows and arrows resting against a fence.<br>
Many did not have time to get hold of their arms. We killed six at the trough, and the rest fled to the top of a rising piece of ground nearby. They had killed one Mexican at the trough, and had captured two or three Mexican boys and girls. These children had sense enough to run inside the walls as soon as the firing commenced. The boys, however, with the aid of the Mexicans and several of our mounted soldiers, drove nearly all the stock of the Indians inside the walls and shut the gate.<br>
The Indian chiefs hardly ever dismount at short stoppages; consequently their chief was able to get ahead of his scattered warriors, most of whom were now on foot and unarmed. He rallied them on the hill and formed them in position for defence; but, knowing their helpless condition, we charged directly through them, killing a dozen or more. Captain Jackson received an arrow in his upper lip, which penetrated between two teeth. An arrow also stuck in the collar-bone of one of our guard, Michael McLaughlin. He jerked it out, exclaiming:<br>
“Be Jasus! quit sticking your broom straws into me.”<br>
Gabe Allen’s horse was badly wounded. The Indians cried out, “Americans!” and running into a hollow about three hundred yards distant, hid among the brush, and prepared to defend themselves. The chief was on a hill a little way from his men shouting his orders to them. Gabe Allen and I ran in between him and his warriors and cut him off. He tried to escape on his horse, but I gave chase and he, turning in his saddle, discharged several arrows at me.<br>
When I got near enough I shot him in the thigh. He turned his horse to rush past me and connect with his men, when Allen shot him through the breast. He fell from his horse, and, turning on his back as I came riding up, discharged an arrow which struck my favourite horse, Limber Bill, and I felt him sinking under me. He was wounded fatally, the arrow penetrating the stomach, and I sorrowfully abandoned him. I sprang for the Indian’s horse, which was an excellent one, while Allen finished the fallen chieftain with a shot through the head from his revolver.