It dominates the landscape of eastern Llano County. A monstrous mound of sandstone that has held a mystique since the first Spanish explorers searched for precious metals along the summit. They, like those who came after them, found that this was Comanche land. The first settlers in the area named the mound Packsaddle Mountain and it was to be the scene of the last clash between Native American and Anglo Settler in the Hill Country.
Following the Deer Creek fight a year passed without incident. Then came the Comanche Moon of late summer. The raiders first appeared along Beaver Creek in the southwest part of Llano County. Two days later they were in the Legion Valley area. It was August 4, 1873 when they made their presence known at the Moss Ranch. That evening two cowboys went out to bring in a milk cow when they realized something was wrong. The cow had been pierced by an arrow. The men raced back to the ranch and notified James and Will Moss of the threat. Will Moss and E. D. Harrington immediately rode out to retrieve the horse herd from the pasture, hoping to reach it before the Indians. They no sooner sighted the horses than the Indians appeared. The two rounded up the horses and stampeded them toward the ranch house with the raiding party in pursuit. The party gave up the chase after a few hundred yards and Moss and Harrington escaped. That night the hands stood guard over the horses as James Moss gathered a posse of local men.
About five the next morning the party was ready to move out. James Moss was in the lead. His brothers Will and Stephen along with Robert Brown, Eli Lloyd, Arch Martin, Pink Ayers, and E. D. Harrington followed him. All were young men in their twenties, well armed with revolvers and repeating rifles. They picked up the trail where the Indian band was last seen and followed them east to Sandy Creek. There the trail turned north toward the mountains. They arrived at the base of Packsaddle Mountain where the trail led straight up the side. James Moss halted the posse and had them check their weapons. Boys he said, were going up there after them. If theres any of you who think they cant stand to be shot at, heres the place to turn back.
The posse started up the rocky trail.
It was so steep and narrow that the men had to go single file, leading their
horses. Just as they reached the top they saw
the Indian camp. There were about seventeen
warriors, two women and a boy. They were
resting under a grove of trees, dining on a large quantity of roasted beef spread out on a
Will Moss emptied his pistol and retreated to the edge of the flat to reload, when he was hit in the side by a shot from an Indian who appeared from below the slope. A mirror and some war paint later found on a flat rock indicated that the warrior had been posted as a lookout but had fallen asleep. He vented his humiliation at not sounding the alarm, by taking dead aim on the first white-eyes he saw.
The situation became perilous. Arch Martin was hit in the left groin and Eli Lloyd and Pink Ayers were also wounded. About the time it appeared hopeless the Indians started up a doleful chant and began to file off below the ledge. Once they had disappeared the able bodied men put aside their rifles and began to tend to the wounded. Suddenly eight of the bucks sprang up over the ledge in one last attempt to reach their horses. The cowboys grabbed their guns and laid down a barrage that quickly stalled the charge. Only one warrior continued forward as he urged the others to follow. He advanced against the withering fire defiantly only to fall a few yards short of his objective. With the lead warrior dead the others fled from the ridge top.
When they were sure the Indians had withdrawn, the men gathered their horses and helped the wounded to mount. The party started down the slope leaving Harrington to round up the horses and follow. He noted three dead Indians in the camp as he collected the abandoned blankets, saddles and other equipment left behind, and piled it on the fire. Then he rounded up the Indian horses and herded them down the trail. Though Will Moss was not expected to live, he survived and was back in the saddle only one month later.
Thus ended the final Indian fight in central Texas. It had lasted only a few moments but sounded the end of an era. One year later the Red River War would break the resistance of the last free Comanches and drive them onto the reservations. A way of life was finished and another chapter in the history of our State came to an end.
Indian Trouble in the Early Days Copyright Glenn Hadeler 2001, all rights reserved
REPRINTED BY PERMISSION.
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