- Dec 2011
In my mind it has been Isa-TIE but I have no real idea.
Palo Duro Canyon - Hatfield
Charles Hatfield was a scout with Mackenzie at Palo Duro, Canyon. His account came out years later. He provides a good account with some excellent detail. However, I think this thread can focus on a portion happening even earlier. On the afternoon of the 26th as they first arrived in the area of Tule Canyon. Yes, I feel like I'm building the story backwards.
"An hour before sundown, we came to Tule Canyon, where an old road crossed where it was shallow and wide, and intended to camp but found insufficient grass.
While we were still mounted, a party of thirty or forty Indians came over a slight ridge one thousand yards to the south of us as a challenge. Doubtless the main body of Indians were waiting for us just over the ridge. Colenel Mackenzie, an experienced Indian fighter, had another scheme than desultory fight in the open, and marched his squadron back five miles to good grass on a small rainy-season stream. Expecting a night attack, the horses were doubly secured on full lariats, with hobbles and sidelines. All of us went to rest on our blankets outside of the horses."
Looking down on the village site from canyon rim
"Colonel Mackenzie had sent out a spy, a half-breed Mexican named Johnson, several days before to locate the main winter camp of the Indians. Johson found the permanent camp thirty miles to the northwest of us, in the Deep Palo Duro Canyon of Red River, and had returned to report only twenty minutes before the night attack commenced." One interesting item that recurs in Hatfield's account is the lack of proficiency with firearms in the soldiers. The ex-scout complained twice that "for the total lack of target practice in those days, would have emptied their (Indians) saddle."
That is probably enough from Hatfield. In a later part of the story he admits to using an article from an old New York Herald to refresh his memory. I'm sure that would be the George Albee account in the post above.
The battles of the Indian Wars so often revolved around villages which would always be located along rivers or other water sources. Mackenzie's expeditions against the Comanche generally moved from one canyon to the next. Nobody really stays out on the open plains very much. No water or shade in the summer and cold winds in the winter. I am still working in the aftermath of the Red River War and, specifically, the tragedy of 1877 when Lt Nolan led a disaster onto the high plains. Even though no longer fighting, it seems that Quanah Parker had a direct hand in convincing Nolan to take the waterless route. Not just inhospitable, the Llano Estacado proved itself a deadly weapon as well. Here is a photo of the caprock not too far from Lubbock. The High Plains of the Llano Estacado are above the rim. Many of the rivers in Texas begin in the canyons along this caprock.So I imagine that most battles in the Indian Wars were fought in comparatively normal and ordinary looking though habitable landscapes instead of the "magnificent desolation" of many director's favorite landscapes.
Thus it is amusing to see the spectacular Palo Duro Canyon in the photograph and know that at least one famous historical incident in the west happened in a landscape spectacular enough to satisfy any director of western movies.