The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 179
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2002 Archeological Investigations at the Battle of Red River Site
exceedingly rough and broken terrain surrounding the Salt Fork of Red
River, emerged from Mulberry Creek and crossed a broad and level plain
that ended on the south in a line of low hills that bordered the Llano Es-
tacado, or High Plains farther in the distance. The trail, now very fresh,
led toward the low hills and into a narrow gap between two hills. This gap
has historically been assumed to be Wagon Wheel Gap, which is located
near the head of Battle Creek in the southern part of present Armstrong
County. Lieutenant Baldwin and the scouts were just approaching the
hills when about seventy-five to one hundred Indians attacked them. The
scouts dismounted and repulsed the attack on foot, while Miles deployed
the troops and advanced quickly to assist. The Indians fell back, retreat-
ing to a range of high ravine-cut bluffs where the main body of Indians,
who were principally Southern Cheyenne with a few Kiowas and Co-
manches, had taken position. According to Miles, the Indians occupied
the high bluffs in "an irregular line extending five to seven miles, their
numbers being estimated at from four hundred to six hundred warriors."
Miles ordered a general advance of the troops and the Indians contin-
ued to retreat, but for the next five hours and over a distance of about
twelve miles the Indians fought a strong rearguard action among the
high bluffs and deep ravines, which allowed the Indian families to con-
tinue their retreat."
While the Indian warriors were engaging the U.S. Army, the Indian
families were escaping into Palo Duro Canyon, across the Prairie Dog
Town Fork of the Red River, up Tule Canyon, and out onto the high
plains of the Llano Estacado. By the time the battle was over, the army had
suffered only one soldier and one scout wounded, while as many as twen-
ty-five Indian warriors had been killed. The Indian families and the other
warriors had escaped. For Colonel Miles the battle was a barren victory.
He was able to destroy several deserted camps in Tule Canyon, but this
was of little consequence. Although the material losses suffered by the In-
dians were considerable, this fight did not defeat them. Miles had failed
to secure a decisive victory in the opening battle of the Red River War, but
he did send a strong message to the Southern Plains tribes that the U.S.
Army intended to prosecute the war to the fullest.'8
" Baldwin says there were 75 to ioo Indians but Miles states there were 200 Indians who at-
tacked Baldwin and the scouts. Baldwin I. T. Expedition; Miles to the Assistant Adjutant General,
Sept. 1, 1874, Microfilm M-1495, Roll 8, pp. 509-515 (National Archives), Miles to the Assistant
Adjutant General, Sept 1, 1874 (quotation); Miles, Personal Recollections, 167-168; Marshall, The
Mzles Expedtion, 16-17.
X" Miles, Personal Recollectzons, 167-168. Miles initially reported three Indians killed during the
battle, but later revised that figure, stating, "I find that my report of the number of dead upon the
field was much too small: there have been reported to me Seventeen dead bodies on the battle
field, or hid in cafions on this side of the river . .. from all the reports and information received, I
am now satisfied that the loss was not less than twenty-five killed and a much larger number
wounded " Miles to Pope, Sept. 5, 1874, in Taylor, The Indzan Campaign on the Staked Plazns, 26-28.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/231/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.