Battle Creek Fight

By: Harry McCorry Henderson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: September 30, 2020

The Battle Creek Fight, also known as the Surveyors' Fight, a skirmish between a surveying party and an Indian force, took place on October 8, 1838, just east of Battle Creek, near the site of present Dawson in western Navarro County. The Indian force probably numbered around 300 and included a large number of Kickapoos as well as other groups, including Wacos, Tehuacanas, and Caddoes. About twenty-five White surveyors, including William Fenner Henderson, Walter Paye Lane, and James Smith, took part in the battle, although historians continue to disagree about the precise number. The surveyors' original mission was to map what is now southern Navarro County for bounty and headright grants for soldiers who had served in the Texas Revolution. The Indians, resentful of incursions, first asked the surveyors to leave and then attacked en masse. In the ensuing twenty-four-hour battle about thirty Indians and eighteen surveyors were killed. Three of the seven surviving Whites managed to reach another Kickapoo camp. There they reported that they had been fighting with different Indians, and the Kickapoos supplied provisions and a guide to Fort Parker. Several of the surveyors, with a group of about fifty men from Old Franklin, returned to the site of the battle several days later to bury the dead. The battlefield site is marked by a state plaque on State Highway 31 a mile west of Dawson.

Harry McCorry Henderson, "The Surveyors' Fight," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 56 (July 1952). Annie Carpenter Love, History of Navarro County (Dallas: Southwestern, 1933). Dudley Goodall Wooten, ed., A Comprehensive History of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Scarff, 1898; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1986).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Military
  • Campaigns, Battles, Raids, and Massacres

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

Harry McCorry Henderson, “Battle Creek Fight,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 30, 2020