Howdy folks and greetings from the Great Plains of North Texas! We're in a series about the Wild West and the story of an 11 year old German boy, Hermann, who was captured by an Apache war party from his family's farm in 1870 in Central Texas.
He's been with them now for several months and has been in training to become a warrior. He knows that soon he will have to prove himself in battle or by killing someone. In this post he is riding with another war party to the settlements.
A skirmish with buffalo hunters
The war party, which included as usual the chief, Carnoviste, (his supposed "father" figure) and a number of braves, were camped by a creek and had killed and were roasting a buffalo and having a feast.
This time though, they had a warrior stationed on a hill to watch for Texas Rangers. In the last post they got ambushed by Rangers. The warrior gave an alert signal and they rushed up to see what was going on.
Four buffalo hunters were walking towards them, three white men and one Mexican. After observing them it was determined that the hunters weren't aware of the Indians so the braves, including Hermann, mounted up and rode down toward the men.
Buffalo hunters in the 1870's:
Those white boys were fast
When they saw the Indians the three white guys ran up into the rocky hillside and hid among the boulders and rocks, they looked like they had guns on them. The other man, the Mexican, made a run for their camp which was a ways off and on the other side of a hill.
He wasn't so fast
They easily overtook him and he spoke to them in Spanish, which they understood, he told them there was no one at their camp site over the hill. Well, the braves figured they'd go check out the camp site and grab whatever valuables were there.
The instructions for Hermann was to hold the man there and not let him escape. It wasn't long before Hermann heard gunshots. The man had lied, the rest of his hunting party was at the camp site and opened fire when they saw the Indians approaching.
Rocks vs. bow and arrow
As soon as the Mexican heard gunshots he picked up rocks and started throwing them at Hermann who shot an arrow at him which grazed him in the side at which he raised his hands in surrender.
Shortly afterwards the war party came galloping back over the hill because they were driven away by the gunfire of the hunters.
Hermann kills his first man
When the chief got back to Hermann and Hermann told him that the Mexican had thrown rocks at him the chief went ballistic and ordered Hermann to kill him. Hermann shot him in the heart with an arrow and he was dead when he hit the ground.
The chief was still furious because the guy had lied to them and they almost got their butts shot off so he ordered Hermann to scalp the man. Hermann said he didn't want to. The chief threatened him with severe punishments if he didn't and that forced him to do it.
His first scalping
Hermann said he took his knife and cut an incision all around the top of the man's head, grabbed the hair and gave it a good jerk. He said when the scalp came off it made a popping sound like a pop-gun. (Hey it's gruesome but at least the guy was already dead.)
A strange ceremony
Hermann was baffled at what he saw next but then again he was baffled everyday by what he saw and experienced. The braves gathered around the body which was faced down and the chief told him to carve a cross on the arrow that Hermann had used to kill the Mexican, and lay it on the man's back.
Entreating the Great Spirit
While he did that the Indians smoked a pipe and blew smoke on each other's chests and held their hands up to the Sun with their palms open. This was some kind of worship to ask the Great Spirit to let good fortune come to them and give them victory over their enemies.
The Apache never used an arrow after it had been used to kill a man but he had no idea why they had him carve a cross in it. They left the other men at the camp site and the men hiding in the rocks because they were well fortified. (with guns.)
The raiding party made their way to the white settlements where they were able to steal large numbers of horses with no resistance and made it back home, so it was a very successful trip.
Plus, the chief had bragging rights that his new boy had killed and scalped, thus proving himself to be a true Apache.
I don't know what killing a man at age 11 would do to a person but I imagine Hermann is getting harder and more caloused. In the next post his tribe goes to war with the Comanche.
Thanks for reading folks, God bless you all!