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Kickapoos rout Confederates in battle of Dove Creek

January
08
1865

On this day in 1865, about 160 Confederates and 325 state militiamen lost a battle against the Kickapoo Indians about twenty miles southwest of present San Angelo. A month earlier a scouting party had discovered an abandoned Indian camp and, assuming the group was hostile, dispatched forces to pursue them. A militia force under Capt. S. S. Totten and state Confederate troops under Capt. Henry Fossett set out, but the two forces lacked a unified command and full communication. When the troops and militiamen finally rendezvoused near the timbered encampment of the Kickapoos along Dove Creek, the forces concocted a hasty battle plan. The militia waded the creek to launch a frontal attack from the north, while Confederate troops circled southwestward to capture the Indians’ horses and prevent a retreat. A well-armed Indian fighting force, possibly several hundred strong, easily defended their higher, heavily-wooded position as the militiamen slogged through the creek. The Confederate force was splintered into three groups caught in a heavy crossfire. Three days later the battered Texans retreated eastward, while the embittered Kickapoos, once peaceful, escaped to the Mexican border. Thus began a violent period of border raids on settlers along the Rio Grande.

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