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

INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.

48

Hill, long a senator and once in President Houston's
Cabinet, for whom Hill County was named: Capt.
Eli Chandler, a brave frontiersman; E. L. R
Wheelock, Cavitt Armstrong, the father of the
Cavitt family of later times, and others.
There was a great desire on the part of both discharged
soldiers and other citizens who had just received
bounty and head-right certificates for land to
have them located and the land surveyed. In the
early summer of 1838, near Richland creek, twelve or
fourteen miles southerly from Corsicana, three men
belonging to a surveying party were surprised and
killed. Their names were Barry, Holland, and
William F. Sparks, a land locator from Nacogdoches.
The remainder of the party, too weak for
defense against the number of the savages, cautiously
and successfully eluded them and returned
home.
Early in October of the same year William F.
Henderson, for many years since an estimable
citizen of Corsicana, fitted out a surveying party
to locate lands in what is now the southwest portion
of Navarro County. He and his assistant each
had a compass. The entire party consisted of
twenty-four men and one boy, and was under the
command of Capt. Neill.
The party arrived on the field of their labors and
encamped at a spring or water hole about two mile
northwest of what after that expedition was and
ever since has been known as Battle creek.
Here they met with a large body of Indians,
chiefly Kickapoos, but embracing some of several
tribes, who were encamped in the vicinity, killing
buffalo. They professed friendship, but manifested
decided opposition to having the lands surveyed,
assuring the party that if they persisted
the Comanches and Ionies would kill them. But it
was believed their design was only to frighten
them away. After a day or two a trial of the
compasses was made, when it was found one of
the needles had lost its magnetism and would not
work. William M. Love, afterward a well-known
citizen of Navarro County, and a Mr. Jackson were
sent back to Franklin for a magnet to recharge
the needle, thus reducing the party to twentythree.
Early on the following morning Henderson
ran a line for a mile or so, more or less Indians
following and intently watching the manipulation
of the compass, one of them remarking: "It is
God's eye." The party, after a satisfactory trial,
returned to camp for breakfast, and after that was
over, returned to, and were about resuming their
work, when from a ravine, about forty yards distant,
they were fired upon by about fifty Indians.
The men, led by Capt. Neill, at once charged upon

them, but in doing so, discovered about a hundred
warriors rushing to aid those in the ravine from
the timber behind them. At the same time about
the same number of mounted Indians charged
them from the prairie in their rear. Neill retreated
under heavy fire to the head of a branch in the
prairie with banks four or five feet high. There
was some brush and a few trees; but seventy-five
yards below them was another cluster, of which
the enemy took possession. This was between 9
and 10 o'clock a. m., and there the besieged were
held under a fluctuating fire until midnight.
Every one who exposed himself to view was killed
or wounded. Euclid M. Cox for an hour stood
behind a lone tree on the bank doing much execution,
but was finally shot through the spine, upon
which Walter P. Lane, afterwards a distinguished
Brigadier-general in the Confederate army, jumped
upon the bank and dragged him into the ravine,
in which he died soon afterwards. A man named
Davis, from San Augustine, having a fine horse,
attempted to escape through the line of Indians
strung in a circle around the little band, but he
was killed in sight of his comrades. A band of
mounted Indians, not participating in the fight,
collected on an elevation just out of gunshot, and
repeatedly called out, " Come to Kickapoo! Kickapoo
good Indian! " and by gesticulations manifested
friendship, in which our men placed no
possible confidence; but among them was Mr.
Spikes, a feeble old man of eighty-two years, who
said his days were few at best, and as he could not
see to shoot he would test their sincerity. He
mounted and rode up to them and was mercilessly
butchered. Night brought no relief or cessation
of the attack, and a number of our men were dead
in the ravine. The moon shone brightly until
midnight. But when it sank below the horizon,
the survivors determined to make an effprt to reach
the timber on a brushy branch leading into a creek
heavily covered with thickets and trees, and distant
hardly half a mile. Three horses yet lived,
and on these the wounded were placed, and the
fiery ordeal began. The enemy pressed on the
rear and both flanks. The wounded were speedily
shot from their horses. Capt. Neill was wounded
and immediately lifted on one of the horses, but
both fell an instant later. A hundred yards from
the brush Walter P. Lane was shot in the leg,
below the knee, shattering, but not breaking the
bone. He entered the brush with Henderson and
Burton. Mr. William Smith entered at another
place alone, and Mr. Violet at still a different
place, terribly wounded, and at the same instant
another man escaped in like manner. Once under

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 September 22, 2014.