Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 76 of 894
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INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
17th day of July), at the Delaware village, now in
Cherokee County, occupying an eminence in the
open post oaks, with the heavily timbered bottom
of the Neches in their immediate rear. When our
forces overtook them the main body of the enemy
were in full sight occupying tle eminence where the
village was located, while a detachment was posted
in a ravine, tortuous in its course, and was
intended to conceal their movements towards our
rear, with a view to throw themselves between our
men and their horses. But the watchful eye of
Col. Burleson, who well understood the Indian
tactics, discovered this movement in good time,
when he ordered his entire force of three hundred
men to charge and drive the Indians from their
place of concealment. Although the weather was
extremely hot and the men all famished for water,
this order was executed with promptness, routing
the Indians and driving them back towards the
village, surrounded by fences and cornfields.
Gen. Rusk, with all the force (about 400) of East
Texas under his immediate command, had in the
meantime advanced upon the enemy's front and
kept them so hotly engaged in defense of their
women and children that no reinforcement could
be spared from that quarter for the support of
those who had been driven from the ravine. When
they retreated upon the main body, their entire
force was terrorized and fell back in great disorder
upon the cornfields, then in full bearing, and the
dense timber of the river bottom. It was here that
Bowles evinced the most desperate intrepidity, and
made several unavailing efforts to rally his trusted
warriors. * * * It was in his third and last
effort to restore his broken and disordered ranks,
that he met his death, mounted upon a very fine
sorrel horse, with blaze face and four white feet.
He was shot in the back, near the spine, with a
musket ball and three buckshot. He breathed
a short while only after his fall. * * *
' After this defeat and the loss of their great and
chief," the Indians disappeared, in the
jungles of the Neches and, as best they could, in
squads, retreated up the country, the larger portion
finally joining their countrymen west of
Arkansas; but as will be seen a band of them led
by John Bowles (son of the deceased chief) and
Egg, en route to Mexico, were defeated, these two
leaders killed and twenty-seven women and children
captured, near the mouth of the San Saba, on
Christmas day, 1839, by Col. Burleson. These captives
were afterwards sent to the Cherokee Nation.
The victory at the Delaware village freed East
Texas of those Indians. It had become an imperative
necessity to the safety and population of the
country. Yet let it not be understood that all of
RIGHT was with the whites and all of WRONG with
for that would be false and unjust,
and neither should stain our history. From their
standpoint the Cherokees believed they had a
moral, an equitable, and, at least, a quasi-legal
right to the country, and such is truth. But between
Mexican emissaries on the one hand, mischievous
Indians on the other and the grasping
desire of the unprincipled land grabbers for their
territory, one wrong produced a counter wrong
until blood flowed and women and children were
sacrificed by the more lawless of the Indians, and
we have seen the result. All the Indians were not
bad, nor were all the whites good. Their expulsion,
thus resolved into the necessity of self-preservation,
is not without shades of sorrow. But it has
been ever thus where advancing civilization and its
opposite have been brought into juxtaposition for
But to return to the battle-field of Delaware village.
Many heroic actions were performed. Vicepresident
Burnet, Gen. Johnston and Adjt.-Gen.
McLeod were each wounded, but not dangerously
so. Maj. David S. Kaufman, of the militia
(afterwards the distinguished congressman), was
shot in the cheek. Capt. S. W. Jordan, of the
regulars (afterwards, by his retreat in October,
1840, from Saltillo, styled the Xenophon of his
age), was severely wounded when Bowles was
killed, and one of his privates, with " buck and
ball," says Maj. Jones, " had the credit of killing
[In a letter dated Nacogdoches, July 27, 1885,
Mr. C. N. Bell, who was in the fight under Capt.
Robert Smith, and is vouched for as a man of integrity,
says: " Chief Bowles was wounded in the
battle, and after this Capt. Smith and I found him.
He was sitting in the edge of a little prairie on the
Neches river. The chief asked for no quarter.
He had a holster of pistols, a sword and a bowie
knife. Under the circumstances the captain was
compelled to shoot him, as the chief did not surrender
nor ask for quarter. Smith put his pistol right
to his head and shot him dead, and of course had no
use for the sword." ' So says Mr. Bell, but the inquisitive
mind will fail to see the compulsive necessity
of killing the disabled chief when his slayer
was enabled "to put his pistol right to his head
and shoot him dead." I well remember in those
days, however, that the names of half a dozen men
were paraded as the champions, who, under as
many different circumstances, had killed Bowles.]
In this battle young Wirt Adams was the Adjutant
of Maj. Jones' battalion. He was the distinguished
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/76/?rotate=90: accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .