Indian wars and pioneers of Texas / by John Henry Brown.

16

INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.

wife's mother, settled fifteen miles west of Gonzales,
on the San Antonio road and on Sandy creek. He
was a bold hunter,muchin the forest, and had four 1
ferocious dogs, which served as sentinels at night,
and on one occasion had a terrible fight with a 1
number of Indians in the yard endeavoring to steal
the horses tied around the house. They evidently
inflicted severe punishment on the savages, who
left abundant blood marks on the ground and were
glad to escape without the horses, though in doing
so, in sheer self-defense, they killed each dog.
Castleman, in his meanderings, was ever watchful
for indications of Indians, and thus served as a
vidette to the people of Gonzales and persons
traveling on that exposed road. Many were the
persons who slumbered under his roof rather than
camp out at that noted watering-place.
In the spring of 1835, a party of thirteen French
and Mexican traders, with pack mules and dry
goods from Natchitoches, Louisiana, en route to
Mexico, stopped under some trees a hundred yards
in front of the cabin. It was in the forenoon, and
before they had unpacked Castleman advised them
that he had that morning discovered " Indian
signs" near by and urged them to camp in his
yard and use his house as a fort if necessary.
They laughed at him. He shrugged his shoulders
and assured them they were in danger, but they
still laughed. He walked back to his cabin, but
before he entered about a hundred mounted
savages dashed among them, yelling and cutting
out every animal of the party. These were guarded
by a few in full view of the camp, while the main
body continued the fight. The traders'improvised
breastworks of their saddles, packs and bales'of
goods and fought with desperation. The engagement
lasted four hours, the Indians charging in-a
circle, firing and falling back. Finally, as none of
their number fell, the besieged being armed only
With Mexican escopetas (smooth-bored cavalry
guns) they maneuvered till all the traders fired at
the same time, then rushed upon and killed all who
had not previously fallen. Castleman could, many
times, have killed an Indian with his trusty rifle
from his cabin window, but was restrained by his
wife, who regarded the destruction of the strangers
as certain and contended that if her husband took
part, vengeance would be wreaked upon the
family-a hundred savages against one man.
He desisted, but, as his wife said, "frothed at
the mouth" to be thus compelled to non-action
on such an occasion. Had he possessed a
modern Winchester, he could have repelled the
Whole array, saving both the traders and their
goods.

The exultant barbarians, after scalping their
victims, packed all their booty on the capturea
mules and moved off up the country. When night
came, Castleman hastened to Gonzales with the
tidings, and was home again before dawn.
In a few hours a band of volunteers, under Dr.
James H. C. Miller, were on the trail and followed
it across the Guadalupe and up the San Marcos,
and finally into a cedar brake in a valley surrounded
by high hills, presumably on the Rio Blanco.
This was on the second or third day after the
massacre. Finding they were very near the
enemy, Miller halted, placing his men in ambush
on the edge of a small opening or glade. He sent
forward Matthew Caldwell, Daniel McCoy and
Ezekiel Williams to reconnoitre. Following the
newly made path of the Indiais through the brake,
in about three hundred yards, they suddenly came
upon them dismounted and eating. They speedily
retired, but were discovered and, being only three
in number, the whale crowd of Indians furiously
pursued them with such yells as, resounding from
bluff to bluff, caused some of the men in ambush
to flee from the apparent wrath to come; but of the
whole number of twenty-nine or thirty, .sixteen
maintained their position and their senses. Daniel
McCoy, the hindmost of the three scouts in single
file, wore a long tail coat. This was seized and
tightly held by an Indian, but " Old Dan," as he
was .called, threw his arms backward and slipped
from the garment without stopping, exclaiming,
"Take it, d-n you! " Caldwell sprang first into
the glade, wheeled, fired and killed the first Indian
to enter. Others, unable to see through the brush
till exposed to view, rushed into the trap till nine
warriors lay in a heap. Realizing this fact, after
such unexpected fatality, the pursuers raised that
dismal howl which means death and defeat, and
fell back to their camp. The panic among some of
our men prevented pursuit. It is a fact that
among those thus seized with the " buck ague,"
were men then wholly inexperienced, who subsequently
became distinguished for coolness and
gallantry.
Among others, besides those already named, who
were in this engagement were Wm. S. Fisher,
commander at Mier seven years later; Bartlett D.
McClure, died in 1841; David Hanna, Landon
Webster and Jonathan Scott.
Dr. James H. C. Miller, who commanded, soon
after left Texas and settled in Michigan. His
name has sometimes been confounded with that of
Dr. James B. Miller, of Fort Bend, long distinguished
in public life under the province and
republic of Texas.

Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas / by John Henry Brown.. Austin, Tex.. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/. Accessed October 1, 2014.