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Chief of Scouts

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Chief of Scouts
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Author(s): William F. Drannan
Date Published: 2009/01
Page Count: 280
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-593-2
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-594-9

The continuing story of a great Westerner

This is the second volume of William Drannan's substantial memoirs. The thread of his life has now made him an experienced guide, Indian fighter and scout. This was the time of the pioneer trains bound for California and Drannan was constantly occupied as their pilot across the oceans of grass. He was also employed by the US government on many similar missions. This volume is equally full of action as was his first offering. It too is liberally enhanced with illustrations depicting the principal incidents and personalities of his life. The first volume of Drannan's story, ‘Thirty-one Years on the Plains and Mountains' is also published by Leonaur.

The next morning we pulled out of this place by the way of Landers. That afternoon about two o’clock I saw a small band of Indians coming directly towards us. They were about a mile away when I first saw them. I rode to the foot of a little hill which was close to me at the time I saw them. I dismounted from my horse and tied him to a sage brush, and then I crept to the top of the hill to see how many there were of them. I watched them until they were within a half a mile of my hiding place; I then counted thirty. I took them to be a hunting party by the way they were travelling. I signalled to my scouts to come to me at once. When they reached me, the Indians were less than a quarter of a mile from me. I told them what was coming down the ravine and told them to see that their guns and pistols were in order, “for, as soon as they round that little point yonder, we will charge on them, and we will kill every one we can. Now, don’t shoot until we get within thirty yards of them. I will say, fire, then I want every man to get an Indian. Now don’t get rattled, but shoot to kill and shout as loud as you can. It don’t make any difference what you say, only make as big a noise as you can, and as soon as you empty your guns, pull your pistols and go after them.”<br>
In a moment more the time had come to act, and when I said, “Charge,” every man responded and did his duty. I had been in several Indian fights before, but I never saw Indians so taken by surprise as this band was. They did not draw their arrows or run, until we had fired into them, and after they turned to run, they had gone at least two hundred yards, before I saw them try to shoot an arrow.<br>
We got fourteen of them in the first charge, and inside of three hundred yards we got six more. The remainder had reached the thick brush, so we let them go.<br>
We now commenced catching the horses. We caught sixteen horses, and they all had good hair ropes around their necks. We tied them all together, and I left them in charge of two men, and the rest of us went to take the scalps of the Indians, and I was surprised to find when I said, “We will take the scalps of these Indians,” that the men did not know what I meant. I showed them how to take the scalps off, and then they asked what I was going to do with them. I told them I was going to give them to Jim Bridger, and he would make guards out of them. “Jim wouldn’t take the biggest hundred dollar bill you could offer him for these scalps, when he gets his hands on them.”<br>
One of the men said, “What will Bridger do with them horrid bloody things?”<br>
I told him to just wait until night and then Jim would explain the use they would be to him. I tied the scalps to my saddle, left two men to care for the horses we had captured and biding the others to follow me I struck out for the place where we were to camp that night.<br>
Jim told me that night how surprised the emigrants were when the train came to the men who had charge of the horses, and seeing the bodies of the dead Indians.<br>
He said, “I had to let them stop the train a few minutes so they could all look at them.” He said, “Some of the women wanted to know what had become of the hair off the top of their heads. I told them that I reckoned Will had taken them to give to me.”<br>
“And what are you going to do with those horrid Indians’ hair?” one woman inquired.<br>
“I am going to protect you and the rest of the train with them,” he answered her.
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