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Nolan Expedition [1877]

General Entry

The Nolan or "Lost Nigger" expedition actually consisted of two expeditions whose purpose was to pursue marauding Indians and recapture stolen stock. The expedition may have received its name after the Comanche chief "Old Nigger Horse" or possibly for Nigger Hill, located just across the border in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, and possibly the end of the expedition's search for the Indians. 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 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 Indians on July 26, and when the Indian trails scattered on July 27, the Indian 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 Indians. The buffalo hunters proceeded to the site of present Lubbock, where they found much of the stolen stock and learned that the 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 October 27, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.