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WALKER'S CREEK, BATTLE OF

WALKER'S CREEK, BATTLE OF. Capt. John Coffee Hays left his headquarters at San Antonio on or about June 1, 1844, with fourteen men of his ranger company to scout the hills to the north and west for a Comanche war party led by Yellow Wolf, which had recently been raiding into Bexar County. The party rode as far as the Pedernales River without encountering hostiles and turned back, following the Pinta Trail to its crossing of the Guadalupe River in the area of present Kendall County. The rangers camped there on June 9 and had begun to fell a bee tree when Private A. Coleman descried a body of Indians following Hays's trail. A moment later Noah Cheery called from atop the bee tree, "Jerusalem, captain, yonder comes a thousand Indians!" The rangers quickly saddled and mounted, while the Comanches, whose numbers were variously estimated at from forty to upwards of 200 warriors, fell back into a thicket from which they apparently hoped to spring an ambush. As the rangers-drawn forward by a single horse left out as "bait"-advanced to within a few hundred yards of the hidden Indians, approximately twenty warriors revealed themselves, bantering Hays's men for a fight. The rest of the war party remained concealed in the woods. The rangers, however, refused to fall into the trap. The entire Indian force then rode forward in line of battle to draw the ranger attack. To the Comanches' rear ran a dry ravine, and beyond that rose a high hill covered with timber and brush and strewn with rocks. Hays's men advanced at the trot while the Indians fell back onto this superb defensive position. From behind rocks and trees they taunted the rangers in Spanish, hoping to provoke a frontal assault. Hays, however, led his men around the hill, his movement shielded by the ravine, and attacked the Indian line from the rear. The fight for the hill top, wrote Ben McCulloch, was soon hand-to-hand, and "they took it rough and tumble." The rangers repulsed two counterattacks on their flanks, after which the Indians fled the field and were pursued for three miles under heavy fire from the rangers' revolvers. "Crowd them! Powder-burn them!" were Hays's orders. At the end of the hour-long battle, Indian casualties were estimated at from twenty to more than fifty killed and wounded, with Yellow Wolf among the slain. Ranger losses amounted to one killed and four seriously wounded. Among the latter were Samuel Walker and Robert A. Gillespie, both thrust through the body with lances. Walker was not expected to live, but he and Gillespie both survived to become highly effective ranger captains in the Mexican War.

The Houston Morning Star characterized the Walker's Creek fight, also known as the battle of Pinta Trail Crossing, the battle of Asta's Creek, or the battle of Sisters Creek, as "unparalleled in this country for the gallantry displayed on both sides, its close and deadly struggle, and the triumphant success of the gallant partisan captain of the West." This fight marked the first time an entire company of rangers used Colt revolvers in combat, and a Comanche who had taken part in the battle later complained that the rangers "had a shot for every finger on the hand." According to Josiah W. Wilbarger, it is the Walker's Creek fight that is depicted on the cylinder of the 1847 Walker Dragoon model Colt revolver.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

James K. Greer, Colonel Jack Hayes: Texas Frontier Leader and California Builder (New York: Dutton, 1952; rev. ed., Waco: Morrison, 1974). Andrew Jackson Sowell, Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: State House Press, 1986). Texas National Register, December 14, 1844.

Thomas W. Cutrer

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Thomas W. Cutrer, "WALKER'S CREEK, BATTLE OF," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/btw02), accessed December 25, 2014. Uploaded on September 19, 2010. Modified on January 6, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.