Red Bead, Roberts and the Comanches

Red Bead, a chief, was at Fort Sedgwick, under the protection of the officers in charge. He had won the entire confidence of all at the fort, and at the same time had secret communications with the hostile tribes.

On one occasion Lieutenant Kidder and ten soldiers were sent out to intercept General Custer on his route and deliver some orders. Red Bead said he knew the way and asked to go as their guide. The officers consented. Some time afterwards the bodies of the Lieutenant and his ten men were found near Custer’s route. Six months later Red Bead returned to the fort and told quite a tale, how they were surprised by the Indians and the white men killed, while he was taken captive and was treated terribly by his captors, until he managed to escape and get back to the fort. The officers took him in, under their protection and into their confidence, just as they had done before.

One day he asked an officer, that if any of his ponies were stolen, what would they do about it. The officer told him the government would pay him for the ponies if they were stolen, while he was under their protection. About three days later twenty-nine head of the Indian ponies disappeared. John Freal and Watson Coburn happened to be out scouting and saw a bunch of twenty-nine horses and nine Indians coming their way. They hid until the horses got close, then they jumped up and began yelling and shooting, causing a stampede. The Indians, thinking they had run into a bunch of scouts, kept going just as fast as they could, while the two scouts captured three of the horses and had a good laugh at the Indians. They ran the horses down to Coburn’s ranch for safe keeping. The officers heard about it and sent a lieutenant and an escort after them. Coburn bluffed them out and they went back without the ponies. But Red Bead was paid for the ponies that his own band stole for him.

The Comanches were considered about the hardest fighters among the Indians, but as a usual thing they confined nearly all of their depredations to stealing stock, only occasionally killing and scalping the settlers.

The ranchers were far apart and had to be almost self-supporting. When one was raided the others were notified and they would gather and follow the raiders. The following incident was told by C. F. Roberts, who was an early settler in Texas, and had many trying experiences with the Comanches.

This particular time seven Indians had stolen a number of head of stock and started toward the west. The owner sent out messages to the other settlers to meet at a certain elevation and they would combine and go after them. They began to meet, fifteen and twenty at a time, and when they had a large enough number they started in pursuit of the Indians.

They overtook the Indians and recaptured the stock and cornered the Indians in a hole in a washout. The men didn’t dare go to the edge of the hole and look in, for the Indians could get a good shot at them. The men would go back and hold council and decide to storm the hole, but they all knew if they did some would be sure to get killed, so they would back out. They counciled, and started a charge several times, and every time would back out. For some time they had not heard any noise in the hole and had almost concluded that the Indians had found some way out, without the men seeing them, but none of them would risk taking a peep to be sure about it. About three o’clock in the afternoon, when they were getting uneasy and wondering what to do, they saw a large dark cloud coming over the western horizon. In a few minutes it began to rain; then suddenly the water rushed in a torrent down the washout. There had been a cloudburst above them. When they were able to reach the hole, they dragged out seven drowned Indians. One of them was a squaw, who had taken a warrior’s place.

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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