Nolan Expedition [1877]

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: March 6, 2021

The Nolan expedition actually consisted of two expeditions whose purpose was to pursue marauding American Indians and recapture stolen stock. The first division, approximately twenty-four buffalo hunters led by James Harvey, started in May 1877. The second group, Capt. Nicholas Nolan and about sixty Black troops of Company A, Tenth Cavalry, started from Fort Concho in July. The buffalo hunters had been searching for the American Indians over the Llano Estacado for months when they met Nolan on Bull Creek in mid-July. The combined groups set up a supply base at Double Lakes, Lynn County. A party consisting of Nolan, his first lieutenant C. S. Cooper, forty enlisted men, and twenty-two buffalo hunters began an unsuccessful pursuit of the American Indians on July 26, and when the trails scattered on July 27, the hunt was abandoned and a search for water was begun. On July 28 Nolan turned back to Double Lakes, and the buffalo hunters turned southwest, where they did find water. Nolan marched another thirty-eight hours before reaching Double Lakes some eighty-six hours after his troops had last had water. His casualties were four men dead or missing, twenty-five horses, and four pack mules. Eastern newspapers erroneously reported that the expedition had been massacred by American Indians. The buffalo hunters proceeded to the site of present Lubbock, where they found much of the stolen stock and learned that the American Indians were returning to Indian Territory. The hunters believed that this was the last Comanche raid in Texas.

H. Bailey Carroll, "Nolan's `Lost Nigger' Expedition of 1877," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 44 (July 1940). W. C. Nunn, "Eighty-Six Hours without Water on the Texas Plains," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (January 1940).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Military
  • Campaigns, Battles, Raids, and Massacres
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

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

Anonymous, “Nolan Expedition [1877],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 12, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 6, 2021