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 and in the last post he was on his second raiding party. They were having much success in stealing horses and found a family of homesteaders to ambush.
After the ambush and killing of the family of settlers the band rode North for 4 or 5 days, stopping at a lake they called Beaver Lake. Not sure of the location as I couldn't find a lake by that name here in Texas so it may have changed names or is no longer there.
They killed a buffalo and was having a big feast, it had been a successful raid with over 30 head of horses and they had scalps to show off too. Some of the braves were in the lake bathing during the feast when suddenly they were charged by Texas Rangers.
Two of the Indians fell dead at the start. The rest of them including Hermann, grabbed their weapons and headed into the nearby field of Chapparral plants. Those are a tall shrub looking plant, here's a photo:
The raiding party scattered into the fields of Chapparal and disappeared. The Apache were experts at camoflaging themselves into the countryside, whatever the landscape. Three more of their group were shot by the Rangers and the rest escaped.
This part of Hermann's story makes no sense to me in that they appeared to be very nonchalant about their safety and lookouts. I lay this at the feet of the chief. Remember on the long journey to the base camp when Hermann was first taken and every day the chief would send scouts back from where they came to make sure they weren't being followed?
And here you have them stealing a bunch of horses from a Texas Ranger station and killing some of those horses, herding them away, killing a settler family, and they didn't think that the Rangers might be tracking them???
Hermann makes it back to camp
They made it back to camp one or two at a time or small groups of three or four. One was severely wounded but managed to make it back to camp. When the tribe in camp learned of their bad news there was great mourning and cries like Hermann had never heard before.
Squaws wailed and cut themselves with knives. The squaw of the wounded warrior would burn herself every morning so that she might not forget her grief until her master's wounds healed. For days straggling warriors came in, thankful to have gotten back but adding to the sorrow of the defeat.
Other raiding parties were coming home
Hermann found out that four other raiding parties had gone out. The second one came back with one wounded and one that had been killed. The third party came back also defeated with four killed and one taken prisoner.
The camp was in despair and were sure they had offended the Great Spirit so the medicine man went up on a hill doing his incantations and howlings, waving cow's tails and doing other things, it was all a bizarre sight to Hermann. The camp was given orders to fast.
The fourth party came back with many horses and scalps which was a significant success and helped to lift the spirits of the tribe, like maybe not all was hopeless. Hermann didn't know if the three defeated tribes had run-ins with the Texas Rangers like they had or if it was the Army.
The Texas Rangers
Here are a few good pictures of Texas Rangers. In many areas of Texas they were the only help for settlers if the Army wasn't close by.
They were used as scouts as many were professional scouts, they were also used to hunt down criminals and to guard payroll shipments, mines, and things like that.
Some exceptional, some terrible
Oh, and some were also making names for themselves hunting down and slaughtering Indians. So like most groups scattered across vast expanses of territory, some did heroic work and some were cold-blooded killers.
But of course, in those days of the Wild West it took unusually rugged men to defend, fight, and to provide some semblance of order in a lawless land.
It was a dangerous job. True West Magazine says that at least five of the men in the photo below were killed fighting outlaws or Indians:
Here's a group out on the trail:
Here's a great photo of one of the most famous Rangers, Jim Hawkins:
I've only heard of the Texas Rangers in positive terms(except for the groups slaughtering Indians)I DO live in Texas afterall! But I'd like to do a series on them and find out what the real story is.
In the next post Hermann's testing continues and he's forced to take his first scalp.
Thanks for reading folks, God bless you all!