The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 534
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
1870os. In chapter seventeen, "Campaign of 1874-76, Actions of Tule
and Palo Duro Canons," Carter writes about the Fourth Cavalry at the
Battle of Palo Duro Canyon. His account has influenced many readers to
believe-erroneously-that he served with the Fourth Cavalry in August
and September 1874 and that he took part in the battle. It is his use of
the first person plural to describe the cavalry's trek to the Panhandle
and the ensuing battle that is misleading.3
Many historians have taken Carter's version of events at face value.
John M. Carroll wrote that "Carter's enormously important writings on
frontier military history will be a source of material for all future histori-
ans." John H. Jenkins wrote that Carter chased Indians across Texas for
five years. (Carter actually served two months short of three years.) In
his foreword to the 1961 reprinting of On the Border with Mackenzie, J. C.
Dykes described the book as "the most complete account of the Indian
wars of the Texas frontier in the Seventies." Carter, Dykes affirmed, was
an eyewitness of the events written in the book.4
At least one Texas newspaper believed that Carter participated in the
battle. When he died in Washington, D.C., on January 4, 1936, the Fort
Worth Star Telegram wrote that he was the last surviving officer of the
Fourth United States Cavalry that cleared West Texas of Indians from
1871 to 1875. The article stated that "Captain Carter served on many ex-
peditions and was in the battle of Palo Duro Canyon, when Lone Wolf
and his band of redskins were driven from their hiding place."5
Carter, On the Border wzth Mackenze, 473-525.
4John M. Carroll, foreword to Robert G. Carter, The Old Sergeant's Story: Fighting Indzans and
Bad Men in Texas from 1870 to 1876 (1926; reprint, Mattituck, N.Y.:J. M. Carroll and Co., 1982),
[i] (1st quotation);J. C. Dykes, foreword to Carter, On the Border with Mackenzze, xi (2nd quota-
tion). Dykes adds, "here is one solid vote for a soldier's eye-witness account that has its spntelier
moments" (xi). See also Wallace, Ranald S. Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier, 146-149; James L. Ha-
ley, The Buffalo War: The History of the Red River Indian Uprising zn 1874 (New York: Doubleday and
Co., 1976), 175; William H. Leckie, The Milhtary Conquest of the Southern Plains (Norman: Universi-
ty of Oklahoma Press, 1963), 221. In chapter eight, "Battle of Palo Duro Canyon," Wallace uses
footnote references from On the Border thirteen times. He compares Carter's writing with that of
the author ("One Who Was There") of "Scouting on the 'Staked Plains' (Llano Estacado) with
Mackenzie in 1874," The United Services Magazine, XIII (Oct., 1885), 400-412, and concludes that
if Carter did not write the "Scouting" article, then he at least drew heavily on it. Although Haley
does not use footnote references to On the Border, his writing about Palo Duro is taken from
Carter's book. Leckie's footnotes also refer to Carter's version of the Palo Duro battle. See also
Walter Prescott Webb, H. Bailey Carroll, and Eldon Stephen Branda (eds.), The Handbook of
Texas (3 vols.; Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1952, 1976), I, 302. The entry on
Carter states that he served five years with the Fourth Cavalry. See also John H. Jenkins, Basic
Texas Books: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works for a Research Library (Austin: Texas State
Historical Association, 1988), 64; Joe F. Taylor (ed.), The Indian Campaign of the Staked Plains,
1874-1875 (Canyon: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1961), 75. Taylor's footnote no. 39 on
page 75 is taken from On the Border. Taylor writes, "Carter gives a graphic report of the battle
[Mackenzie's battle of the Palo Duro and Tule Canyon] and estimated the number of ponies
captured as 1,500 to 2,200."
5 Fort Worth Star Telegram, Jan. 6, 1936.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/m1/612/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.