The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

camp out, for it often was more than a day's journey to reach a town
or settlement. Going along by himself he was vigilant not to be
surprised by an Indian; he watched the track not only of the road,
but also through prairie or woods, to see if there were Indian signs.
To explain this more explicitly, I have to say, that the early Tex-
ans, for want of manufactured shoes, often wore moccasins like the
Indians. These latter were either bought from friendly Indians, or
home made of buckskin and cow hide soles. To distinguish the
tracks of an Indian from a white man it took no expert, the Indian
walks with big toes rather inward, while the white man turns his
out. Now, when a white man, by these means, discovered an Indian
track, he was on the alert, and if more such were found, he knew
there was danger of robbery or past murder committed by them and
he hastened to the nearest settlement to give the alarm and to pursue
the Indian trail, either to regain stolen property or to avenge the
death of a settler.
It is astonishing with what facility the Texan could follow an
Indian trail. He rode on horseback on a trot and followed the
Indian; I never could learn the art, and on inquiry how they could
do so, I was told they watched the way the grass is turned by the
horses hoofs, or a twig on a bush is bent, or a pebble or rock is
turned; if turned the ground is moist underneath. By these observa-
tions they followed the trail, and if the Texans struck an Indian
camp, they could even tell very nearly when the camp had been
vacated. Again, if the Indians were several days ahead, and further
pursuit was useless, they would say the trail is cold.
The Indians, though having no telegraph have signals to let each
other know where their encampment is, or whether an enemy is close
by, either to flee from them or make an attack; this is done by means
of damp and dry grass set a fire the smoke ascends and shows for
miles.
Also if the Indians at night want to attack a small party, they
imitate by sounds of wolves or owls; by these means they know how
far they are apart, and stealthily they approach, then their wild
sounds getting clearer, they know they will meet soon and be ready
for the attack.
Horses in camps smell the Indians far off, and snort, but a bear
or wolf will cause them to snort also; nevertheless the watchful
Texan is then on the alert looking out for danger, or a stampede
of horses.
IX
The Comanches was the largest and principal tribe in Texas; there
were some other tribes in northeastern Texas, who were probably ex-
pelled from the United States, or left voluntarily, to hunt better
hunting grounds. Besides the Comanches, we had in western Texas

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed April 18, 2014.