The Adobe Walls trading post started life as a Spanish trading post and fort in 1845 but was abandoned and most of it town down after the original settlers grew tired of Indian attacks. Then in 1 864 the famed and fabled Kit Carson led a group of 300 volunteers from New Mexico against a thousand Indian who were camped near the old structure. That battle ranks as the largest to ever take place between whites and Indian on the Great Plains, but the battle that took place at the site in late June of 1874 has become the stuff of legend.
In the spring of 1874 a scout named Billy Dixon led a group of entrepreneurs to Adobe Walls so they could set up shop and capitalize on the buffalo hunters in the area. Meaning they bought hides or traded the hunters for rotgut from the saloon or for blacksmith services.
As they had thirty years before, the Native American tribes in the area took offense to the white man infiltrating their land and stealing their buffalo.. By that time bands of warriors were feeling the pinch and were desperate to stay off the reservations of Oklahoma and drive the white man from the area.
Quanah Parker, whom I blogged about a few weeks back was one of these restless leaders. As was a Comanche medicine man named Isa-tai. Legend has it that Isa-tai translates to "coyote droppings," but regardless of his name the shaman did what few ever could. He convinced various tribes into banding together to attack Adobe Walls as a single force. Isa-Tai (the man in the photo to the right) told the desperate Plains Indians that his medicine could make the braves bullet proof and that he could create ammo for their guns from his very bowels. It's a persuasive man that convince other he has the ability to shit bullets.
Nevertheless, on June 27th 1874, 700 Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Comanche warriors surrounded the fort in the pre-dawn darkness.
Inside the adobe and sod structure was 28 men and 1 woman. Most were buffalo hunters, but among the inhabitants were a 20 year old Bat Masterson and the scout Billy Dixon.
The Native American warriors nearly took the battle in the initial siege, but despite being outnumbered nearly 30 to 1 the hunters held their attackers off mostly due to superior weaponry.
Even though they hunters had fast firing revolvers they also had luck on their side. They would have been asleep and thusly ill prepared for battle had a lodgepole not have snapped and gotten them up earlier than normal. A hunter stepped outside to take a leak noticed the Indians on the horizon.
After the initial charge the men counted 15 dead braves that had fallen so close to the structures that their fellow warriors could not retrieve the bodies. Incredibly only two inhabitants of the community died in that first charge. A pair of brothers that had fallen asleep in the back of a wagon.
The warriors encircled the encampment and laid siege all through that day and night. occasionally a small skirmish would break out as the braves tested the men inside.
Day two the men inside were growing nervous and as they knew the odds were not on their side despite the early success of defending their position. They watched a group of warriors gathered on a ridge line early a mile away.
Billy Dixon was already noted as a crack shot and the men urged him to take aim at the group of warriors. Getting out his "Big Fifty" Sharps he took aim and dropped a warrior at what some claim as better than fifteen hundred yards.
The various tribes took this as a sign that Isa-tai's medicine was bad and broke off the campaign. a few warriors stayed and there were more skirmishes over the next two days but Billy Dixon's miraculous shot tilted the odds and bought the men inside time until reinforcements arrived a few days later.
Billy Dixon himself never claimed the shot as anything but luck. he didn't even devote a full paragraph the story in his memoirs. Isa-Tai tried to claim his medicine was weakened when a group of warriors killed a sacred skunk just before the battle but he was beaten, dishonored, and discredited after the failed siege.
For more versions or info on Adobe Walls here are a links I drew my research from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
LINKS TO POSTS ABOUT OTHER TOWNS, FROM OTHER MY TOWN MONDAYERS
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City England
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Shauna Roberts -- Southern California
Linda McLaughlin -- San Clemente, California
Barrie Summy -- Malibu, California
Patti Abbott -- Motown - Detroit, Michigan
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Adobe Walls -- A My Town Monday Post
Some forty odd miles Northeast of Amarillo, sits the meager ruins of an old trading post. Simply by looking at the pile of crumbling adobe, one would never realize the history of the place.