The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 176
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
planned to catch the whites by surprise and simply overpower them. What
the Indians did not count on, however, was the skillful marksmanship of
the hunters and the long-range accuracy of the hunters' Sharps rifles. Not
only did the hunters manage to repel the Indians, they killed a number of
them. So surprised were the Indians by their own lack of success, they be-
gan to fall back and by the afternoon had almost completely withdrawn
and were firing only sporadically. For all their effort and all their losses,
the Indians had killed only three of the hunters. For the Indians, the tac-
tical purpose in attacking Adobe Walls was to kill the white hunters. The
broader purpose of the attack was to halt the slaughter of the buffalo
herds. The Indians failed on both counts.12
Word of the attack on Adobe Walls spread quickly over the buffalo
range, and panic spread just as quickly among the buffalo hunters. The
Adobe Walls merchants hastily loaded their inventories and returned to
Dodge City, with many of the hunters following them. But their fear of the
Indians did not last long, and within a few months most of the hunters
were again killing large numbers of buffalo on the Texas plains.
As conditions continued to worsen on the reservations, many of the In-
dians who were still there now left to join with the renegade bands who
had returned to the Texas plains. As the buffalo hunt proceeded, the frus-
tration of the Indians escalated, and marauding bands periodically fell
upon isolated hunting parties. The increasing realization that their access
to ancestral lands was diminishing encouraged many of the Indians to
strike at the whites. The realization that the buffalo, their main source of
survival, was quickly disappearing forced them to fight. After Adobe Walls
the Indians spread out over the plains of Texas for one final grasp at the
old ways of life. For them, this brought military retaliation, defeat, and
confinement to the hated reservations.
Following the attack on Adobe Walls, the military made plans to subdue
the Southern Plains tribes once and for all. Known by historians as the
Red River War, the primary objective of the military's Indian campaign of
1874 was the removal of the Indian groups from the Southern Plains,
thereby opening the region to Anglo-American settlement. The military
operations were later characterized by Gen. Philip Sheridan as "not only
comprehensive, but ... the most successful of any Indian Campaign in
this country since its settlement by the whites." Generals Philip Sheridan
and William T. Sherman laid the basis for an offensive campaign against
the Indians in early July 1874, and Secretary of War William Belknap im-
" Miles, Personal Recollections, 16o; S S. Van Sickel, A Story of Real Life on the Plazns (Cedar Rapids,
Iowa: T. S Metcalf, 1895), 15; Frank D. Baldwin diary transcript for Aug. 19-2o, 1874, in "Adobe
Walls" vertical file (Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, Kan.); Derek G. West, "The Battle of Adobe
Walls (1874)," Panhandle-Plains Hstorical Review, 36 (1963).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/228/ocr/: accessed May 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.