The battle of Stone Houses, a conflict between eighteen Texas Rangers and 150 to 180 Kichai Indians, occurred on November 10, 1837, ten miles south of the site of present-day Windthorst. The battle is named for three stone mounds that looked to the Indians like houses. In early October 1837 Kichai Indians raided Fort Smith on the Little River. On October 13 a company of Texas Rangers under Capt. William M. Eastland pursued the Indians up the Colorado River but lost the trail. A quarrel then arose between Captain Eastland and Lt. A. B. Van Benthusen, and the company separated. Seventeen men under Van Benthusen headed north, located the Kichais' trail on November 1, and continued north to the Brazos River. On November 3, near the site of the future Fort Belknap, they found a band of Cherokees and Delawares led by a Kichai guide. Benthusen's men killed the guide but spared the rest when they claimed friendship to all Texans and enmity for the Comanches. On November 10 the rangers came upon the Kichais, who had stopped running and were now primed for attack. It is said that Cherokee and Delaware Indians who were present tried to act as peace agents, but that one of the rangers, Felix McClusky, jumped an Indian and killed him. When reprimanded, McClusky replied that he would kill any Indian for a plug of tobacco and then showed one he had taken from the dead man's body. This infuriated the Indians, and they attacked. The rangers abandoned their horses and sought protection in a shallow ravine. In the first attack the Kichais lost their leader, but they retired to elect a new one and soon resumed the battle. The fighting continued for two hours, often at close quarters, until the Kichais decided to smoke out the rangers by setting fire to the prairie. The rangers charged through the smoke and waiting Indians and escaped into the woods. Four rangers died in battle before the fire and six more during the escape. Eight rangers survived and arrived at the Sabine River settlement on November 27, having walked all the way after losing all their horses and equipment. The site of the battle of Stone Houses was marked with a historic marker in 1970.
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Walter Prescott Webb, The Story of the Texas Rangers (Austin: Encino, 1971). Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982). J. W. Wilbarger, Indian Depredations in Texas (Austin: Hutchings, 1889; rpt., Austin: State House, 1985).
Campaigns, Battles, Raids, and Massacres
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Jack O. Loftin,
“Stone Houses, Battle of,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
July 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 4, 2020