An Apache raiding party came down the
Late in the evening of
Early the next morning the eight cowboys at the ranch
assembled to pursue the Indians, each armed with a six shooter and a Spencer or
The Spencer repeating rifle had been adopted by the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was a manually operated lever-action, repeating rifle with cartridges fed from a tube magazine. This rifle was very reliable under battle conditions, and it had a sustainable rate-of-fire in excess of 20 rounds per minute. This firepower gave the cowboys a distinct advantage over the Indians, who outnumbered them three to one.
The names of the eight cowboys were:
· William B. Moss
· James R. Moss (brother of William B. Moss)
· Stephen B. Moss (brother of William B. Moss)
· E. D. (Dever) Harrington
· Robert Brown
· Eli Lloyd
· Archer Martin
· Pinckney (Pink) Ayres
The settlers in the area had been subject to such raids for more than ten years. But this time the band of 20-25 Indians were followed by eight cowboys who were determined to put a stop to the Indian raids.
Early on the morning of
At the foot of the mountain the cowboys dismounted to check their weapons because they knew that they would soon be in the middle of a significant fight. The leader, James R. Moss, said, "Boys, we are going to catch these Indians, and if there is a man in this bunch that doesn't want to fight, here is the place to turn back." One young man, Pink Ayres, who was not experienced in Indian fighting, said, "I am untried, but don't want to turn back."
The cowboys walked up the mountain leading their ponies and reached the summit, taking the Indians completely by surprise. The Indians had set up their camp near the cliff, where they had stopped to rest and slaughter and cook a cow. Their horses were grazing on the grass in a little flat area a short distance away from the Indians, who mostly were lying down. It seems that the Indian lookout was some distance to the southwest, and had fallen asleep. The accounts of the Indian lookout vary but in any case, the cowboys were able to plan the battle before the Indians knew they were on the mountain.
The cowboys mounted their horses and charged between the Indians and their ponies, which left all the Indians afoot. Nevertheless, the fighting was very intense. All of the cowboys dismounted, except the young man, Pink Ayres, who had said that he was untried in Indian fighting. He was confused and remained on his mule, which became unmanageable and ran straight into the Indians. No one can explain why this inexperienced young man was not killed because the Indians all turned to fire toward him instead of the other cowboys. The result of Pink Ayres’ foolish action was that James R. Moss and his men were able to quickly overpower the twenty Indians, and make them retreat.
After the Indians retreated, one of the Moss boys caught Pink Ayres’ mule by the reins and ordered him to dismount. But the young man said that he could not because he was wounded. He had been shot in the hip, and the mule he been riding had also been shot. James R. Moss told the Ayres to dismount, stand behind a tree, and shoot every Indian he saw.
The Indians retreated to a ledge covered with black jack
oaks and brush. They soon made a second charge, but the cowboys held their
ground and fought fiercely. W. B. Moss had just emptied his pistol and was
bending over to knock the shells from it when a bullet entered his body near
the right shoulder, passed through his lungs, and came to rest in his left side
dangerously near the heart. James Moss saw his brother fall and thought that he
had stopped to reload, but immediately noticed that he was struggling. James
ran to his brother to ask him if he was hurt badly. His brother spit out a
mouthful of blood and said, "Yes, I think they have killed me. I wouldn't
hate it so bad if I could have fought till the battle is over." He
survived but carried the Indian bullet in his body for fifteen years. Arch
Martin threw his gun into position to fire, but a bullet from an Indian's gun
struck the guard of his
The Indians retreated again into the underbrush which hid them completely from view, and the cowboys thought that they were gone for good. So they put down their weapons and began gathering up the Indians’ equipment and ponies. Just then, the brave, but foolish, young Indian chief came out of the brush, shouting and gesturing to get the other Indians to charge the cowboys again. But the other Indians had been beaten badly and did not want to rejoin the fight. The cowboys quickly grabbed their rifles and watched as the brave and daring young chief walked slowly toward them, firing his rifle as he came. It was a very brave but foolish gesture, and he was killed by at least six bullets. Seeing that their chief had been killed, the remaining Indians fled. James R. Moss and his men continued to fire at them as long as they could be seen. But since four of the cowboys were seriously wounded, they were unable to follow the Indians.
After the battle, they rode to the John B. Duncan ranch, where they received medical attention from Dr. C. C. Smith from Llano. Four of the cowboys were wounded, including Arch Martin who was shot in the left groin, Eli Lloyd who had three wounds in the arm, Pink Ayres who was twice wounded in the hip, and William B. Moss who received the most serious wound and carried an Indian bullet in his body for fifteen years.
Although the cowboys were outnumbered three to one, the
Indians were scattered and three of them were killed. The
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TexasBeyondHistory.net, s.v. " Los Almagres, the Lost Spanish Mine," http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/plateaus/images/he13.html (accessed
· Ernie Wymer. February 2008. TexasEscapes.com. Packsaddle Mountain http://www.texasescapes.com/TRIPS/Packsaddle-Mountain-Texas.htm (accessed May 18. 2008).
Wikipedia, the free
N. G. Ozment,
"San Antonio Express".
of Texas Online, s.v. "Packsaddle Mountain
Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia. Spencer Repeating Rifle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spencer_repeating_rifle
Wikipedia, the free
Wikipedia, the free
Compiled from various sources by
Voices of the Texas Hills