The following information which refers to HAGAN the Wagonmaster was taken
from "OVER THE SANTA FE TRAIL - 1857", from the original 1905 edition by
William B. Napton. Published by the Stagecoach Press, Santa Fe, 1964.
CHAPTER 4 - COMPANIONS OF VOYAGE
Pages 24 through 27.
Before reaching Pawnee Rock we overtook a train of thirty wagons belonging
to the leading freighters of the West, Majors, Russell & Waddell, with which
we traveled to Fort Union, their freight being consigned to that post. This
train had thirty wagons, built, I believe, In Philadelphia, with heavy iron
axles and spindles, which seemed superior to any others I had seen on the
prairie. Hagan a sandy-haired man, who rode a large bay mule, a drowsy
animal with immense lop ears that moved back an forth as he walked. This
ungainly mule, I found out, in a day or two afterwards, had his good points.
He could run as fast and get up close to a buffalo as any horse in either
Notwithstanding Hagan's generally uncouth appearance, he was a man of
sterling worth and a capital hand at killing buffalo. Subsequently we
joined in many chases, and I found him an agreeable companion. On the rear
end of each of the wagons in Hagan's train there was pasted a set of printed
rules for the government of the employees in the service of Majors, Russell
& Waddell. Both liquor and profanity were absolutely prohibited, but of the
strict enforcement of the rules I cannot speak.
While riding in advance of the train, in company with Captain Chiles, we saw
our Mexican friend, whose acquaintance we had formed at Westport, the master
of his own train, galloping toward us, with a buffalo cow following close
behind his horse. As was his habit, he had attacked the animal with his
spear, stabbing her until se became infuriated so that she turned on him and
was following him a little too closely to be agreeable. We rode rapidly
toward him, an as we were drawing near the cow became so exhausted by loss
of blood that she stopped still, when Captain Chiles rode up and gave her a
broadside with his shotgun, which finished her.
Whenever the found buffalo in plenty the Mexicans would halt for several
days to kill enough to supply their trainmen. They preserved the meat by
cutting it in thin strips and hanging it on ropes about the corral until it
was dried by the sun. But thus cured, it had a sour and disagreeable taste
to me. The Mexicans would stew it with quantities of red pepper and devour
it with great relish.
As we approached the valley of the Little Arkansas, where the view of the
country was more extensive than any we had yet seen, there was no limit to
the herds of buffalo, the face of the earth being covered with them. We
camped at noon at the crossing of this stream. The buffalo were crossing
the creek above us, moving westward, in bands of from twenty-five to a
hundred or more. At the crossing they had a trail cut down through the
steep banks of the stream three or four feet in depth.
But I had had enough of buffalo chasing, except when we were in need of
fresh meat. It was too much like riding out into the pasture and killing
your own domestic cattle. I found antelope hunting much better sport.
After Walnut creek, the next place of interest was Pawnee Rock near which
many battles between the traders and the Indians had taken place. This
bluff, facing the road on the right hand side, at a distance, perhaps, of a
hundred yards, was of brown sandstone about fifty feet high, the bluff end
of the ridge extending down to the river bottom. I climbed up the almost
perpendicular face of the elevation, where I found many names cut in the
soft stone - names of Santa Fe traders who had traveled the trail, among
them that of Colonel M. M. Marmaduke, who crossed to Mexico as early as
1826, and was afterwards governor of Missouri, and James H. Lucas, a
prominent and wealthy citizen of St. Louis.
We were not particularly apprehensive of Indian troubles, although we knew
the Cheyenne's were turbulent. Elijah Chiles, a brother of our captain, had
been loading goods at Kansas City when we left - a train of twenty-six
wagons for the Kiowas and Comanches - and was doubtless a few day's drive
behind us. But we kept on the lookout day and night; the guard around the
cattle doubled, and each teamster had a gun of some sort, which he kept
strapped to the wagon bed, loaded and ready for service.
CHAPTER 5 - PESTIFEROUS INDIANS
Pages 28 through 31.
All the while we knew the Indians could wipe us out if they were determined
to do so. In both trains there were not above sixty men, while there were,
nearby, warriors by thousands. A days journey beyond Pawnee Rock, we were
visited by a hunting party of fifteen or twenty young Kiowa bucks, the first
real "wild" Indians we had seen. They did not seem the least wild, however,
but uncomfortable "tame," and disposed to make us the objects of their
amusement that afternoon.
They scattered up and down the length of both trains, taking and laughing
with the teamsters. Two of them took particular fancy to my friend Reece,
riding on either side of him, taking hold of his arms and seeming to admire
his long hair and the handsome horse he rode. Reece was not at all afraid
of them and permitted no undue interference with his person or property.
Reece was no coward. While we were still in the dangerous region, he would
ride for miles ahead of the train, alone, dismount and lie down to rest or
sleep. When I said to him that he was incurring unnecessary risk of being
killed by the Indians, he remarked that if the did kill him they could not
rob him of much in this world.
Along where we were traveling at the time of the visit of the Kiowa bucks,
the river bottom was as smooth as a billiard table. Hagan's train was in
the lead of ours a space of perhaps thirty yards intervening. Hagan and I
were riding abreast at the rear of his train, when suddenly, two of the
young bucks raised up a loud whoop and started their horses at full speed.
Taking a corner of their blankets in each hand and holding them above their
heads so that they made a slapping sound in the air, they went sweeping
along right against the cattle, almost instantly creating a stampede, the
cattle turning out of the highway making the big wagons rattle as they went.
For an instant Hagan sat on his mule stock still, apparently dumbfounded.
In another moment he put spurs to his mule, intending to head the fleeing
cattle. But instead of running, the mule suddenly "bucked," throwing Hagan
and his saddle also (the girth breaking) over his head and landing him in
the road, flat on his back. Hagan got up, pulled himself together and
rubbed the dust out of his eyes, but said nothing, though gifted in the way
of eloquent profanity.
No great harm resulted from the stampede. Some others of the party of
Indians ran ahead and stopped the cattle. There was no collision of wagons
and no damage, but the affair left an ugly feeling of resentment among the
teamsters toward the Indians. The Indians laughed and talked about the
affair among themselves. Any effort to punish them was out of the question,
the entire tribes of Kiowas and Comanches being encamped within a day's
journey above us.
The Indians kept along with the train all of the afternoon. Observing my
horse and accouterments, they inquired through Juan, the Spaniard, if he was
fleet and good for buffalo, and pressed me to go out with them for buffalo
the next day. I would gladly have seen the Indians engaged in a buffalo
chase, but declined the invitation, making such excuses as I could without
expressing any want of confidence as to their good fellowship. My scalp was
intact and I felt disposed to keep it so.
The Kiowas begged Captain Chiles and Hagan to them some flour and sugar,
but they refused, knowing that a donation would be necessary later on, when
we should meet the entire tribes of Kiowas and Comanches encamped above us,
awaiting the arrival of their agent and the train load of goods for them.
Late in the evening, after we had corralled and the cooks were preparing to
get supper these Indians having ridden off in the direction of the river,
two of them reappeared. They returned to the camp, each with a bundle of
dry driftwood, picked up on the river bank, which they threw down near the
camp fire. This meant that they wanted supper, and Captain Chiles gave
directions for the preparation of food for them. The Indians took supper
with us, after which they departed, evidently feeling better and good
naturedly disposed toward us.
That night there was much discussion of the Indian problem, with which we
seemed now confronted. At noon the next day, as the cattle were being
driven into the corral, another party of young warriors made their
appearance at our camp, and came near involving us in a serious conflict.
The trouble was brought on by the impatient action of our assistant
Wagonmaster, Rice. Four or five young fellows rode up into the rear
entrance of our corral and were sitting there on their horses looking on at
the yoking of the cattle. They partially blocked up the opening and
interfered with egress of the teams. Rice, coming up behind them, without
warning gave one of their horses a blow with a heavy blacksnake whip. The
horse spring forward, nearly unseating the rider, who, as soon as he could
gather up the reins of his bridle, turned upon Rice in a towering rage,
jerked an arrow from its quiver and fixed it in his bow. Forcing his horse
right upon Rice, the Indian punched him with the point of the arrow until he
knocked his hat off his head. Rice made no effort to resist the affront and
threatened assault, but kept backing out of the Indian's reach.
I was standing near by and seized my pistol, thinking that a fight was
imminent. At the height of the excitement, Captain Chiles made his
appearance and commanded peace, in manner and language that the Indians
could understand, but it required some time a deal of talk to get