Captain Peacock’s Fight

In September, 1865, I put up improvements on my ranch and took up my residence there.

About seven o’clock in the morning of the twenty-second day of October, I came down out of the hills where I had been hunting my stock. Just as I came down on the road near my place, I met Captain Peacock, who was crossing the plains with a train of forty-four wagons, hauling the government supplies. He stopped and asked me if I had seen any Indians. I said yes, while out on the hills I ran across three and in the distance I saw a large dust and upon watching it closely I concluded there was about a hundred Indians in the bunch.

Peacock said, “I am the man they are after, they have been following me a hundred miles or more.”

I advised him to stay with me until things would quiet down a little, for I had a good defense arranged at my house and could give them good protection. But he persisted in going on. While we were talking, I looked down the road and saw a band of Indians wrecking the telegraph lines. The way they usually did this was to throw a rope around the pole and cut the pole, some then take a number of their ponies and tie their tails together and tie the last one’s tail to the rope, then make them start up quick, jerking the pole over, and would cut the wires, thus cutting off all communication to the fort for aid.

My partner and five men got scared out and went up the river to another settlement and left Henry Smith and myself alone. We watched the train go on down the road and waited to see what its fate would be, at the same time getting in readiness to help them should it be necessary.

Peacock doubled the teams and the wagons were driven two abreast, so if attacked, the drivers could jump down between the wagons and thus protect themselves. We were not watching long before we saw the Indians come down out of the bluffs and begin an attack.

After the fight had lasted quite a while the Indians went back in the hills and came down the second time and attacked the train. This time they had left their horses in the hills out of sight and came down on foot to renew the fight. I turned to my companion and said, “Now, Henry, here is our chance.”

We cautiously circled over the hills, intending to run their horses away and leave the Indians on foot. The country was very rolling and cut up. Ridges and ravines scattered all over it.

Going down over a ridge, I crept up and looked over into a ravine and saw their horses all tied to a telegraph pole that had been thrown across the mouth of the ravine, and three Indians guarding them.

I was preparing to shoot the Indian who was nearest to me, when suddenly a pony was startled and looked up, this caused the Indian to turn and he saw me on the edge above him, and darted in among the horses before I could fire at him. I said, “The jig is up, Smith.” But we fired a few shots to run alarm and the Indians left the attack and ran to their horses. While they were untying their horses, we were hurrying over the ridges down a ravine to the road and turned into the train.

The Indians saw us as we went into the train, but undoubtedly thinking there were more white men in the hills, rode away.

The rough and rolling land gave good opportunities to get away from the Indians, or good places to conceal one’s self.

After scouring over the surrounding country and being unable to find any trace of others that might possibly have been with us, the Indians made another attack on the wagons. This last attack began at one in the afternoon and lasted until four. Finally the Indians saw they could not accomplish their aim in capturing the train and rode away.

When we ventured out from the shelter of the wagons, we found one man killed and two wounded out of the sixty-two poorly armed men, while the Indians had eight dead and fifteen wounded.

I later learned that one of the dead Indians was Old Chief Roman Nose. His son, Young Roman Nose, became chief and led the band on just as great raids as his father had.

Some of the Pioneers of Colorado

Source: True History of some of the Pioneers of Colorado, by Miss Luella Shaw, Press of Carson Harper Co, Denver, Colorado, 1909

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