Two essential accounts of the south western plains in frontier days
This special edition book contains two works—‘Billy’ Dixon’s remarkable autobiography of his life on the south western plains of the American frontier of the post Civil War period and a useful and interesting article taken from the pages of Pearsons Magazine which describes the renowned battle at Abode Walls with contributions from many of the participants. For anybody interested in the history of the West, ‘Billy’ Dixon’s name will be a familiar one. Drawn to the excitement of frontier life when no more than a boy, he lived life in full measure as a teamster, buffalo hunter and scout for the army. Dixon was well known as an outstanding marksman and when the day of battle came in July 1874 there were few among the defenders of Adobe Walls more prepared or more equal to the challenges of those three desperate days of conflict. Here legends were made as the Comanches and Kiowas under the renowned Quanah Parker charged to destruction time and again. By Dixon’s side fought the young ‘Bat Masterson’ soon to be known as another figure of fame on the frontier. After Abode Walls Dixon’s involvement with Miles’ expedition brought him to yet another heroic fight with hostile Indians in the ‘Buffalo Wallow Fight’. Together these two narratives make a unique book. Available in soft cover and hard back with dustjacket.
I then rushed for my gun, and turned to get a few good shots before the Indians could turn to run away. I started to run forward a few steps. Indians running away! They were coming as straight as a bullet toward the buildings, whipping their horses at every jump.<br>
There was never a more splendidly barbaric sight. In after years I was glad that I had seen it. Hundreds of warriors, the flower of the fighting men of the south-western Plains tribes, mounted upon their finest horses, armed with guns and lances, and carrying heavy shields of thick buffalo hide, were coming like the wind. Over all was splashed the rich colours of red, vermillion and ochre, on the bodies of the men, on the bodies of the running horses. Scalps dangled from bridles, gorgeous war-bonnets fluttered their plumes, bright feathers dangled from the tails and manes of the horses, and the bronzed, half-naked bodies of the riders glittered with ornaments of silver and brass. Behind this head-long charging host stretched the Plains, on whose horizon the rising sun was lifting its morning fires. The warriors seemed to emerge from this glowing background.<br>
I must confess, however, that the landscape possessed little interest for me when I saw that the Indians were coming to attack us, and that they would be at hand in a few moments. War-whooping had a very appreciable effect upon the roots of a man’s hair.<br>
I fired one shot, but had no desire to wait and see where the bullet went. I turned and ran as quickly as possible to the nearest building, which happened to be Hanrahan’s saloon. I found it closed. I certainly felt lonesome. The alarm had spread and the boys were preparing to defend themselves. I shouted to them to let me in. An age seemed to pass before they opened the door and I sprang inside. Bullets were whistling and knocking up the dust all around me. Just as the door was opened for me, Billy Ogg ran up and fell inside, so exhausted that he could no longer stand. I am confident that if Billy had been timed, his would have been forever the world’s record. Billy had made a desperate race, and that he should escape seemed incredible.<br>
We were scarcely inside before the Indians had surrounded all the buildings and shot out every window pane. When our men saw the Indians coming, they broke for the nearest building at hand, and in this way split up into three parties. They were gathered in the different buildings, as follows:<br>
Hanrahan’s Saloon—James Hanrahan, “Bat” Masterson, Mike Welch, Shepherd, Hiram Watson, Billy Ogg, James McKinley, “Bermuda” Carlisle, and William Dixon.<br>
Myers & Leonard’s Store—Fred Leonard, James Campbell, Edward Trevor, Frank Brown, Harry Armitage, “Dutch Henry,” Billy Tyler, Old Man Keeler, Mike McCabe, Henry Lease, and “Frenchy.”<br>
Rath & Wright’s Store—James Longton, George Eddy, Thomas O’Keefe, William Olds and his wife; Sam Smith, and Andy Johnson. <br>
Some of the men were still undressed, but nobody wasted any time hunting their clothes, and many of them fought for their lives all that summer day barefoot and in their nightclothes.<br>
The men in Hanrahan’s saloon had a little the best of the others because of the fact that they were awake and up when the alarm was given. In the other buildings some of the boys were sound asleep and it took time for them to barricade the doors and windows before they began fighting. Barricades were built by piling up sacks of flour and grain, at which some of the men worked while others seized their guns and began shooting at the Indians.<br>
The number of Indians in this attack has been variously estimated at from 700 to 1,000. I believe that 700 would be a safe guess. The warriors were mostly Kiowas, Cheyennes and Comanches. The latter were led by their chief Quanah, whose mother was a white woman, Cynthia Ann Parker, captured during a raid by the Comanches in Texas, (Captives! including the story of Cynthia Parkers captivity also published by Leonaur). Big Bow was another formidable Comanche chieftain; Lone Wolf was a leader of the Kiowas, and Little Bobe and White Shield, of the Cheyennes.<br>
For the first half hour the Indians were reckless and daring enough to ride up and strike the doors with the butts of their guns. Finally, the buffalo-hunters all got straightened out and were firing with deadly effect. The Indians stood up against this for awhile, but gradually began falling back, as we were emptying buckskin saddles entirely too fast for Indian safety. Our guns had longer range than theirs. Furthermore, the hostiles were having little success—they had killed only two of our men, the Shadler brothers who were caught asleep in their wagon. Both were scalped. Their big Newfoundland dog, which always slept at their feet, evidently showed fight, as the Indians killed him, and “scalped” him by cutting a piece of hide off his side. The Indians ransacked the wagon and took all the provisions. The Shadlers were freighters.<br>
At our first volleys, a good many of the Indians jumped off their horses and prepared for a fight on foot. They soon abandoned this plan; and for good reason. They were the targets of expert rough-and-ready marksmen, and for the Indians to stand in the open meant death. They fell back.