Brown County Historical Society Scrapbook Article Brown County Historical Scrapbook: Native American battle

Brownwood Bulletin
Ronnie and Donnie Lappe

There was a Native American and Anglo fight known as the “Totten Fight” in which Brown County men participated. It took place on January 8, 1865 on Dove Creek, near the mouth of South Concho River, between 400 Kikapoo Native Americans and a like number of Anglos. This fight was unusual because the attack of the Anglos was made on friendly Native Americans and the shedding of blood on that occasion was an unfortunate mistake and unnecessary.

The Anglos were exasperated almost beyond endurance at the many attacks committed by the Native Americans on the frontier. They felt that their homeland and their lifestyles were threatened. The Anglos had a motivation for not exercising calmer judgment that would have averted the fight and is serious consequences. In order to avoid taking part in the Civil War, these Kickapoos, then living in the Native American territory, decided to move to Mexico and started through Texas with their families to the Rio Grande. During the Civil War, men from remote frontier counties were exempt from service in the Confederate Army in order that the men might remain at home to protect the frontier against Native Americans. Brown County was among the list of this class of counties and in line with the others, organized a company with D.B. Mosely as Captain and Addison Norton as Lieutenant. When reinforcements were asked, for this occasion, Brown County was drawn on for fourteen men. The following named persons were sent under command of Lieutenant Morton, B.W. Lee, Sr., G. H. Adams, A. E. Adams, John P. Brown, Jas G. Connell, B. M. Hanna, Sam Hanna, Isaac Bradshaw, Pr. R. Clark, T.D. Harris, W.W. Chandler, E.D. Carmack, J. Bolinger and Henry Jones.

Late in the evening of January 7th, it was reported to Major Totten, who was in command of the combined forced, that the attack would take place in the morning. That night, B.W. Lee and a man by the name of James Muley from San Saba County, both of whom had considerable knowledge of Native American habits, reconnoitered the Native American camp on their own, and, on their return to camp, reported to the officers that unmistakable indications pointed to the camp of friendly Native Americans. They advised investigation. Before action was taken, Major Totten said to pay no attention. The attack was made the next morning in a pell-mell but desperate charge which was repeated time and again with heavy loss, but they could not dislodge the Native Americans from the thickets. The fight continued the greater part of the day. Late in the evening, the Anglos were forced to withdraw with a loss of twenty men killed and as many wounded, five of whom died on the march home. The Native Americans lost fourteen killed and eight wounded.

When the fight commenced, Lieutenant Morton was ordered by Captain Fossett to take his men and capture the Native American horse herd, consisting of about 250 horses. This was accomplished quickly. An old Native American man and two Native American boys about 12 and 13 years of age were taken captive. Soon after, the capture was made, Captain Fossett and some of his men rode up and gave the order that the Native Americans must not be taken alive. The old Native American was immediately shot to death, and the two boys would have shared the same fate had it not been that B. W. Lee,

who interfered with positiveness that left no room for misconstruction. He told the officer that he would not permit the murder of those boys. The boys understood the situation and clung to Mr. Lee until he saw a chance for them to escape. Under his directions, they made a dash for liberty, and, when last seen, were entering the Native American lines.

The Anglos camped that night about two miles from the battle ground, leaving their dead on the field. A very heavy snow fell that night, and it continued to snow all the next day. The weather turned intensely cold, causing great suffering among the wounded. The second day, camp was again moved a short distance. Major Totten, with a detail of men, went back and buried the dead.

The Native Americans left soon after the fight was over, abandoning their tents and camp equipment. The captured Native American horses were divided among the men.

In the fight, Isaac Bradshaw had his horse killed out from under him and the horses of A. E. Adams and T. D. Harris were badly wounded, which were the only losses sustained by the Brown County contingent. The Comanche County men lost two brave men in this fight, Mr. Don Cox and Mr. Parker.

Other Native American Attacks:

Captain John Elkins wrote some memories of attacks by Native Americans.

Mr. McReynolds, a highly respected citizen of Coleman County residing on the Pecan Bayou, started to the Willburn Ranch to collect money due him for the sale of cattle. Failing to return home, a messenger was sent to the Willburn’s Ranch. When they checked, they learned that he had been there, collected his money, and started on the return home.

A search was immediately begun and continued for several days without success and was finally abandoned. It was thought that the Native Americans had followed him a long way and perhaps out of the county, then killing him. Mr. Reynolds never carried firearms, so his only chance for life was to run. Eight or ten days after his disappearance, Frank Baugh and another man, a relative of Mr. McReynolds, had been to Camp Colorado and were returning home when they observed an offensive odor that they determined came from a corpse. Following the direction it came from, they found the murdered man in a liveoak thicket abut here miles from Camp Colorado, where he had been killed and scalped. His money, which was in green backs was still in his pocket. The Native Americans had not learned the value of paper money and knew only coin.

Another Native American attack was related by the Coleman County Pioneer Newspaper:

In 1871, Mr. McCain, living on Home Creek in Coleman County, went into the woods for the purpose of hauling wood, taking with him his little twelve year old son. He saw Native Americans advancing on them. He immediately took one of the horses loose from the wagon, taking his little son behind him, and started to run for home. The Native Americans pursued him, firing as they came. A shot struck the little son, killing him instantly. Mr. McCain continued his flight home. He rallied as many men as he could. They returned to the scene of the attack. The Native Americans had gone but the little boy lay there, dead and scalped. The attackers were not satisfied with taking the life of a child. They had horribly mutilated his body, skinning the palms of his hand and cutting his heart out.