The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941 Page: 55
NOLAN'S "LOST NIGGER" EXPEDITION
H. BAILEY CARROLL
"Eighty-Six Hours Without Water on the Texas Plains" by
W. Curtis Nunn in the January Quarterly presents two inter-
esting documents dealing with a dramatic Texas frontier event,
an incident usually referred to as Nolan's "Lost Nigger" Expe-
dition. The King and Cooper accounts in the article referred
to1 tell a story of adventure on the Llano Estacado-a land
that is in itself adventure, for its very nature calls for the
greatest exercise of ingenuity to solve its problems. It would
seem that the essence of adventure is in its challenges-in its
demanding the application of human intelligence to hazy un-
So striking and adventurous were the events and suffering
of the men of this 1877 expedition that legends and traditions,
which stem from the actual events, persist over much of the
Panhandle-Plains area in both Texas and New Mexico. Numer-
ous localities make shadowy claims to having been the site of
happenings connected with the vaguely known expedition. I
first encountered the account in the legendary form; and,
through piecing together several sources, including Captain
Nicholas Nolan's original report which is printed here for
the first time, I believe that a fairly complete historical record
may now be made. Most of the problems associated with the
expedition relate to identification of the area traversed.
Nolan's Expedition of 1877 on the Llano Estacado had its
genesis in events growing from the head-on crash between the
aboriginal Plains Indians and the soldiers of the United States
government, assisted by a small army of buffalo hunters. In
IThese accounts were written by Captain J. H. T. King, post surgeon
of Fort Concho, Texas, and Lieutenant Charles L. Cooper of Company A,
10th Cavalry. Lieutenant Cooper was second in command on the expedi-
tion, but Captain King was not a member, writing his account from hear-
say. These accounts are found in Old Files Division, Adjutant General's
Office (Old Files Section of Executive Division), 55941 A. G. 0. 1882 File
with 5738 A. G. 0. 1877, Department of War, Washington, D. C.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941, periodical, 1941; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/m1/63/ocr/: accessed February 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.