Fight Between Indians and Rangers
From A. J. Sowell's "Texas Indian Fighters"
Published in the Frontier Times
    In  1897,  in   Frio  Canyon  the  writer  interviewed  Mr. B. F. Payne,  an ex-ranger,  who  had  some interesting experiences while serving on the frontier.  Mr. Payne is a native Texas boy, and was raised near Austin, Travis County, being born there in the early '50's.
    In 1866 he, in company with his father and several others, among whom was William Rutledge,  went out on a cow hunt.  At this time the Indians still raided  the western portion of the counties bordering Travis on the  west  and  northwest,  and  cowhunters  going  in  that  direction generally went armed, especially with revolvers.   One  day  about  noon,  before  the cowhunt terminated, the party came upon  a band of Indians who had stopped in the bed of a dry ravine and were eating dinner.    The white men, who were on the high ground  above  the  Indians,  were  not  discovered  by  them,  and  they  kept  on  with  their  repast, which  consisted of meat  of  some animal, wild  or  domestic,  slaughterd  by  them.    The white men at once made preparations to attack  them and  drew back  under cover and  held a council.  They did not wish to let the Indians escape without a fight, but Mr.  Payne was concerned about his young  son, Frank, for fear that he would get hurt.   The boy was twelve years of age, and was not carrying any arms.  The elder Payne finally told his son to  remain  where  he  was  and  not  to  leave the spot until the fight was over and some of them came back to him.
    These  arrangements  being agreed upon, the white men advanced  and charged the Indians, who at once mounted  their horses and fled.  The whole party of whites and Indians soon  lost to sight of  Frank across a low  range  of hills.     The  cowmen,  being  on  good  horses,  soon  came  within  pistol  shot  and  the  fight commenced,  the  Indians  giving  shot  for  shot  and  war  whooping  as  they went.  Young  Payne from his position in the rear, heard all the commotion and became very anxious to witness the combat.  Accordingly he  put  spurs  to  his  pony  and  galloped  to  the  top  of  the  ridge  where  he could have a plain view,  not intending to go any further.    When  he  arrived  at  the  crest of the elevation, however, he met a loose and terror stricken horse coming out of the fight, and  the boy's  horse  took  fright  at  him  and  ran away, and instead  of  going  back  the  way he  came, ran straight ahead and followed in the wake of the Indians.  The white men  were scattered  and one of them  unhorsed, and the boy soon passed all of them and ran into the Indians.   Mr. Payne  saw  the peril  his son  was in,  and when  he passed called out, "Hold up, Frank, hold up!"   That was what the boy was trying to do with all his strength, but the pony had the bit in his teeth and was beyond control.   The Indians evidently  thought this a daring and intentional charge on the part of the young white brave, and yelling loudly, prepared to fight him.  The boy passed some of the Indians, who shot at him and threw lances from all sides.   Finally  a  bullet,  arrow  or lance  cut his bridle  rein  in two.   His horse  then  increased his speed  and soon got  clear  of all  the Indians.    Frank now took the rope from the horn of  his  saddle,  and  making  a  loop,  leaned  forward  and secured it over the nose of his horse, finally stopping him.
    In the meantime,  the elder  Payne  had  followed  his son as fast as he could in order to try and save him, and fought his way through the Indians, assisted by  some of his companions.   He succeeded in killing some of the Indians and scattering the balance.   Young  Frank  made a circle and came back.  Besides having his bridle reins severed, two arrows were sticking in the saddle.  One one of the cow hunters was wounded.  He was able to ride, and when his horse was brought back he  mounted, and the party arrived at home without further incident.

    In 1870 Frank Payne,  although  still  young,  joined  a  company  of  rangers commanded by Capt. Rufus Perry.  The captain was an old Jack Hays ranger, and  was  the  same  who had such a fearful experience in Nueces  Canyon  when  he  and  Kit Ackland were so severly wounded.  Captain Perry's company stationed at  a  place  called  Little  Red  River,  near  Camp  San  Saba  Springs.    Where there the rangers received information  that  a  large  body  of  Indians  were  raiding  below and had carried of a drove of horses near Dripping Springs, in Hays County.    The rangers lost no time and were soon at the scene of the raid and on the  trail  of  the  redskins.    The trail was discovered near Shovel Mountain, and was so plain and fresh the rangers  knew  the  Indians  could  not  be  far  ahead, and dashed on as rapidly as the nature of the ground would permit, all eager for the battle.   When nearing the base of the mountain a white man was discovered running  full  speed  and  being  pursued  by Indians.    The latter stopped on seeing the rangers and turned back, and the hard pressed settler made his escape to the ranger boys.  The Indians had 100 head of horses, and were going slow on account of the rough country.    The  rangers  now  made  a  flank  movement to the right,  kept  under  cover  of  the  brush  until  near the horses, and then making a sudden dash cut them off from  the  Indians  in a  narrow  place.  They ran them back south against the foot of Shovel Mountain,  and left three men to hold them there until the battle was over.  The rangers knew that they would have to fight the Indians, as they were in large  force  and yelling loudly.  It seems that during the excitement of running the settler the Indians and horses had  become  scattered,  and  the rangers, taking cover and coming out in an unexpected place, by a bold quick move had secured the horses.    The  Indians collected in plain view of the rangers and begain to divest  themselves  of blankets and outrigging and to pile them up on the ground.  The rangers now advanced and dismounted in  a post oak ravine, tied their horses, and filled the magazines of their winchesters full of cartridges,  and  awaited  the charge which they saw the Comanches were about to make.  The Indians numbered 125, as near as could be ascertained, and the rangers 28, besides the three who were holding the horses against the mountain.    The  Indians  when  they  did  charge made a turn and tried to recapture the horses, but the rangers charged in turn and opened such a  rapid fire that the savage warriors retreated back to their position.   The  three plucky fellows who were with the horses remained at their  post  and also opened fire.    The indians  could  not  get  the horses without passing in gunshot of the  position occupied by the main body of rangers.  The next charge of Indians came close to the rangers, and a short but desperate fight took place.    The  Comanches,  however,  soon gave back before the galling fire of the  winchesters.    They  fought  with  muzzle  loading  guns,  bows  and  lances.   Captain Perry was a good Indian  fighter  and  handled  his  men  well.   The  Indians  killed  in  the charge were carried off by daring fellows  on  horseback, who  would  lean  from  the  saddle,  and  taking them by their long hair would drag them back to cover.  In the third charge the Indian chief was killed and his horse ran in among the rangers with the dead body, which was held by a strong strap of leather.   If  the horse had gone back the other way the  body  of  the chief  would  not  have  been  captured.   The  Indians  evidently overrated the force of the rangers  on  account  of  the  number  of  shots  fired.  The Comanches finally left after suffering heavy loss.  The  dress and rigging of the dead chief were taken  to Austin and  placed  in the capitol building.     Of the men in the fight the writer can  only  get  the  names of Captain Perry, B. F. Payne, Frank Enoch, the three Bird Brothers, Griffin from Austin, Page from Blanco and a man named Cox.
    The three Bird Brothers displayed great bravery  and exposed themselves in every charge to the enemy's fire.   One of  them  was  killed  and  the  other  two  wounded, one in the nose, and the other in the ear with arrows.   Other rangers and horses  were wounded.  The dead ranger was carried to Birdtown and buried.  The stolen  horses numbered 100 head, and were carried back and turned over to the owners.  The rangers in this fight were all young men, none being over 25 years of age.

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