INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
the roar of artillery could have sounded more
terrible to a sound man than did this scalping process
to him. The shrieks and exultant yells of the
brutes were indescribable.
Christian's life ebbed away, all three were
stripped and scalped; the savages retired and Wilbarger
lay in a dreamy state of semi-consciousness,
visions flitting through his mind bordering on the
marvelous and the supernatural.
The loss of blood finally aroused him and he
realized several wounds unknown to him before.
He crawled to a limpid stream close by and submerged
his body in it both to quench a burning thirst
and stop the flow of blood, and succeeded in both;
but in an hour or two became greatly chilled and
crawled out, but was so weak he fell into a sound
for how long he knew not
from which he found his wounds covered with
those disgustinginsects, "blow flies." Occasionally
refreshing himself in the pool, the hours sped and
night came. He had realized that the escaped men
would spread the news and as soon as the few
settlers below could collect, relief might come.
After dark and many efforts he was able to rise and
then to stagger along
and resolved to
make an effort to reach the Hornsby place. He
traveled about a quarter of a mile, utterly failed
in strength and sank under a large tree, intensely
suffering with cold. When morning came he was
unable to move and his suffeiing, till the sun rose
and warmed him, was intense. He became able to
rise again, but not to walk. He affirmed that while
reclining against the tree his sister, Margaret,*
vividly appeared before him, saying, " Brother
Josiah! you are too weak to go in by yourself!
Remain here and before the sun sets friends will
take you in." She disappeared, going directly
towards the settlement. He piteously called to her:
"Margaret, my sister, Margaret! stay with me
till they come! " But she disappeared, and when
relief did come he told them of the vision and
believed till that time that it was a reality.
During the day-that long and agonizing day
between periods of drowsy slumber, he would sit
or stand, intensely gazing in the direction Margaret
The two men who fled gave the alarm at
Hornsby's, and runners were sent below for aid,
which could not be expected before the next day;
and here occurs one of those incidents which,
however remarkable, unless a whole family and
several other persons of unquestionable integrity
* This sister was Mrs. Margaret Clifton, who had died
the day before at Florissant, St. Louis County, Missouri.
were themselves falsifiers, is true, and so held by
all the early settlers of the Colorado. During the
night in which Wilbarger lay under the tree, notwithstanding
the two men asserted positively that
they saw Wilbarger, Christian and Strother killed,
Mrs. Hornsby, one of the best of wopmen and
regarded as the mother of the new colony, about
midnight, sprang from bed, aroused all the house
and said: " Wilbarger is not dead! He sits
against a large tree and is scalped! I saw him
and know it is so! " Those present reassured and
remonstrated, even ridiculed her dream, and all
again retired. But about three o'clock, she again
sprang from the bed, under intense excitement,
repeated her former statement and added: " I saw
him again! As sure as God lives Josiah Wilbarger
is alive, scalped and under a large tree by himself!
I saw him as plainly as I now see you who are
present! If you are not cowards go at once or he
will die! " "But," said one of the escaped men,
"Mrs. Hornsby, I saw fifty Indians around his
body and it is impossible for him to be alive."
" I care not what you saw," replied the seem.ingly
inspired old mother, "I saw as plainly as
you could have seen, and I know he is alive! Go
to him at once." Her husband suggested that if
the men all left before help came from below she
would be in danger. "Never mind me! I can
take to the dogwood thicket and save myself!
Go, I tell you, to poor Wilbarger! "
The few men present determined to await till
morning the arrival of succor from below, but
Mrs. Hornsby refused to retire again, and busied
herself cooking till sunrise, so as to avoid any
delay when aid should come. When the men came
in the morning, she repeated to them in the most
earnest manner her dual vision, urged them to eat
quickly and hasten forward and, as they were
leaving, took from her bed a strong sheet, handed
it to them and said: " Take this, you will have to
bring him on a litter; he cannot sit on a horse."
The men left and after long search found and
buried the bodies of Christian and Strother.
Wilbarger spent the day in alternate watching
and dozing till, late in the evening, completely exhausted,
having crawled to a stump from which a
more extended view was obtained, he was sinking
into a despairing slumber, when the rumbling of
horses' feet fell upon his ear. He arose and now
beheld his deliverers. When, after quite a search,
they discovered the ghastly object
a mass of
they involuntarily halted, seeing which he
beckoned and finally called: Come on, friends; it
is Wilbarger." They came up, even then hesitating,
for he was disfigured beyond recognition.
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 March 29, 2015.