Battle of Yellow House Canyon - Battle

Battle

A group of 46 men set out from Rath City on March 4, with the express purpose of finding Black Horse and his men. Jim White was elected captain; a former comanchero from New Mexico, named José, acted as guide. Twenty-six of the men rode horses; the others came by wagon. Two nights into the journey, White began to suffer from bleeding in his lungs, and he was required to turn back to Rath City; one of his lieutenants, Jim Smith, was elevated to captain. The band found the site where Sewell had been captured and there picked up the Comanche's trail, following it westward to just northwest of the present-day city of Post; here, the guide predicted Black Horse and his Comanches would be found in Yellow House Canyon. They did, and they entered the canyon at the site of Buffalo Springs Lake, where they killed a sentry. Scouts sighted the Comanche camp later that same day, and the band began an overnight march to reach it, in the process leaving provisions and wagons at the spring.

The Texans reached the canyon fork, today in Mackenzie State Recreation Area, sometime in the early hours of March 18; for a time, they mistakenly followed the north fork before turning south. Moving west, they found a combined Comanche and Apache camp in Hidden Canyon, a site now marked by Lubbock Lake. By then, much of the day was gone, but the buffalo hunters nevertheless decided to mount an attack. They divided themselves into three groups, two mounted and one not; the mounted men went to the sides of the canyon, on the plain, while the hunters on foot followed the creek in the center. When they were within shooting distance, a charge was ordered. This frightened the natives for a moment, and they started for their horses before discovering how small was the force attacking them. Consequently, they rallied - women ran towards the horsemen discharging pistols, while the warriors set up a defensive position. The spirited defense surprised the Texans, who withdrew. One Joe Jackson was shot in the abdomen; some two months later the wound proved fatal, rendering him one of 12 fatalities on the Texans' side. Several others, including the guide, were wounded, as were a number of natives; most notably among the latter, Herman Lehmann was shot in the thigh, and his companion was killed.

At one point during the fighting, a group of hunters, including John R. Cook, managed to repel a flanking movement from the natives; even so, the outnumbered Texans were forced to withdraw down the canyon. The Comanche then set a grass fire to use it as a smoke screen. At midafternoon, a retreat was ordered, and the hunters set out towards Buffalo Springs. The natives trailed them briefly before breaking off. The Texans used a bonfire as a decoy before pulling out altogether during the night; they set fires behind them to obscure their tracks. They finally returned to Rath City on March 27.

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