At the Tule Canyon Massacre with Mackenzie

2 minute read

“Captain R. G. Carter was there, in Tule Canyon with Mackenzie, when 2000 Commanche horses were destroyed. While barely remembered, this event broke Indian resistance on the Southern Plains and catalyzed Westward Expansion.”

Still another detachment was employed in rounding up the pony herd and getting it out of the Canon by the same trail we had already used.

As our skirmish line advanced, the Indians retired, springing from one rock to the protection of another, until finally they took to the inaccessible sides of the Canon once more; then, in order to hold the large number of ponies captured the command commenced to withdraw from the Canon, which was finally vacated between 3 and 4 o’clock p.m. The whole command now assembled, with the immense herd of captured ponies, on the high prairie (“Staked Plains”). A “hollow square” or huge parallelogram was formed as follows: One troop in line of battle rode in advance; on either side marched two troops in column of twos; and one troop, in line, rode in rear. In the center of this huge hollow square the captured herd of about 2000 was driven along. One troop marched in rear of all as rear guard. It was a living corral and our march was nearly 20 miles.

On September 29th reveille was late. Immediately after breakfast a detail was made to shoot the captured ponies, which, owing to the great number, it was found impossible to take along and properly guard them, or to take them into the nearest military post-the nearest being nearly two hundred miles away. The Indians would follow us and be upon us every night in an effort to stampede and recapture them. Experience had been our lesson. The number, as has been stated, were variously estimated at from 1500 to 2200. The “Tonks’ were permitted to select the best. Numbers of them were young and handsome, and it seemed a pity to be compelled to kill them, but there was no other alternative. It was the surest method of crippling the Indians and compelling them to go into and stay upon their reservations which they had fled from. Many were the best race ponies they had and many pesos had been waged upon them. Some were used to replace those which had died on the march or been wounded in the fight. It was a heavy blow. They were such valuable property that they were held in higher esteem than their squaws.

It took Lawton the most of one day, with one troop, to pile these bodies up on the plains. They were still there-on the “Tex” Rogers ranch some years ago-an enigma to the average Texas boy who looked upon them with wondering eyes.”

Captain R. G. Carter
On the Border with Mackenzie, Or Winning West Texas from the Commanches