War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0156 W.FLA., S.FLA., S.MISS., LA., TEX., N.MEX. Chapter XXVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

informed me of the same. A spy was immediately concealed in the bluff opposite them to watch their movements, and, if possible, ascertain their number, means of defense, &c. I marched down the river about 8 miles, and concealed the men and animals in a grove of timber near the river. Several Indians were seen during the evening, but none came to our camp. After dark I took a few men and rode out to reconnoiter their camp, which was found to be about 8 miles above and about 1 mile from the river. They had too many dogs for a night surprise.

About 11 o'clock at night some one was heard halloing opposite out camp across the river. I went down to the river bank and saw there men on the opposite shore. One of the men asked me, in broken English, if they could across the river. I replied that they could easily ford it. My first impression was that it was a detachment of the party above, who had gone ahead and had mistaken our camp for theirs. By this time some of my men had come to me, and we were ready to arrest them as they came out of the river. Just before they reached the shore we discovered that they were Indians. I recognized one of the Indians to be an old friend of mine. He commenced hallowing, and other Indians came across. I told them that we had come down on a friendly visit, and told them that we had some presents for them at our camp. I asked them if they knew who the party was in the camp above. They professed to be ignorant of the existence of another party in the vicinity, and they at once suspected treachery on our part. They thought it impossible that we could come from the same direction and not know who the other party was. However, I, with the assistance of Agent Stapp, convinced them that we had no other than friendly feelings toward them; that we were telling them the truth, &c.; that if the party on the other side of the river above were traders I would not molest them; but if they were going to Fort Smith or to any other part of the Confederacy I must take them back. I told the Indian who could talk English that if he would go to their camp early in the morning, ascertain whether or not they were traders, their number of men, their kind of arms, &c., I would reward him for so doing. I told him upon on consideration to let them know of our presence in the vicinity. I then gave them a midnight meal and they left.

The next morning at day-break we crossed the river, and I selected a good position to surprise the party. Concealed our horses behind a bluff, about 250 yards from the road, leaving a guard with them, while we took our position behind a bluff within a few feet of the road-a most excellent place to surprise a party coming down the road. The Indians came around us in considerable numbers. Their suspicions were again aroused, and the messenger had not gone up to the camp, as agreed upon the night before. But we soon allayed all suspicion again, and Indian Thomas (who speaks English), after receiving instructions to be very cautious and discreet, started for the camp above. About two hours later the returned, bringing a note, directed to the chief of the Comanche Nation, signed Russell & Co. The substance of the note was that they were a party of 18 white men, from Las Vegas, N. Mex., bound for Fort Smith. I told the Indians I should take the party back with me. The Indians were all animated, and wished to participate in the capture of the party. They were instructed that we thought ourselves equal to the task. They still insisted on helping us, and said that they would be governed by my orders. I then told them that if any of the party should escape then they might take them prisoners, and I would reward them for so doing. This satisfied them. They concealed their animals behind a bluff near ours and made great preparations for a fight.