As I write this true story, I look out over a rolling prairie across which a stone ballasted railroad extends where crack passenger trains now speed at 60 miles per hour and I see a smoke rise spirally out of the hills beyond and my mind reverts to other days when a far different scene was enacted on this same prairie and on those same hills now dotted with happy homes inhabited by peaceful citizens.
Not all the mortal combats for possession of this fair land were engaged in between the Indians and the white men which was often so sadly the case; but the wild Indians as they were then called lived here and claimed this as their hunting grounds.
Long before the Choctaw Indians bought this country from the United States, bands of hunting parties of Choctaws came from east of the Mississippi River and hunted the buffalo on these same grounds and had many fights with these more savage people; some times winning, but more often losing their land and many times their lives as well.
So after the Choctaws had bought this land in 1830 and moved here they began to raise horses and cattle on a large scale and then their troubles really began; for it must be known that these wild Indians were a roving sect and the horse was a most valuable possession for quick transportation and much coveted by these fierce men.
Being a roving unsettled class of men they did not raise horses themselves but have them they must, and of course some one must furnish them and as the Choctaws had them what was easier than to have them furnish these fierce men all the mounts they might need even if it had to be done without the consent of the Choctaws?
A horse or even five or six horses missing at any time was seldom mentioned as horses were plentiful and cheap.
Many Choctaws had more horses running at large on the prairies than they could take care of or use but they did not care to have them driven off without some pay or at least thought to have been worth the asking.
A roving band of these wild tribes called Caddoes were the most frequent violators of this breach of etiquette.
The Comanches, another fierce and roving set of untamed men from the plains country, often visited the Choctaws and helped themselves to cattle and horses but as their lands were some hundred miles to the west the visits they made were not frequent enough to cause so much uneasiness as the visits made by the Caddoes who occupied a country so much nearer and who it seemed did not care about etiquette so long as they got the horses.
It appeared that the Caddoes just could not be satisfied.
Because the Choctaws did not chase them very far after these raids or fight them very hard it appeared the Caddoes decided to not raise any horses at all and have the Choctaws supply them with all their mounts whether they wanted to or not.
But the Caddoes made one raid too many.
Some fifteen years after the Choctaws removed to this country they organized themselves, so as to rid their country forever of these horse stealers; and that they did an efficient job the results will show.
When the Choctaws were to remove west their captains and chief men already had knowledge of this wild untamed race and knew they might have trouble with them so they required in these treaties at removal that the United States Government should furnish each able bodied warrior with a gun, a pair of bullet molds and ammunition sufficient for one year for his personal protection and the protection of his family. Which was a very wise provision for this country was then a wilderness and no food was to be had but that of wild game which had to be killed and there was no law to protect the lives of any one but that of the rifle. The rifle thus became a cherished possession and all the warriors became experts in its use. The organization which the Choctaws created for their protection in this emergency was known as "The Minute Men" and was as follows: Twelve able-bodied men were chosen out of each community within a radius of thirty miles of 1Chahta Tunaha totaling some four hundred warriors.
2Each of these warriors was required to have ready at all times one good saddle horse and equipment consisting of two
2Legends of Choctaw Tribesmen, also personal recollections of Cornelius Jones born 1837 and related to writer.
blankets and ten days’ rations of dried corn, jerked or dried beef and a quantity of cold flour also one good rifle and one hundred rounds of ammunition.
Another very important consideration was that, they were only enlisted for extreme emergencies so must be ever ready for the march day or night whenever the runner from the Captain brought the call for them.
Six of these minute men were to come at once at the first call and the other six at the second call and if another call was made all the able bodied men were to come with whatever arms they had or could get. By this arrangement fresh warriors were ever ready to enter the fights and relieve the wounded or disabled. A runner was the bearer of these emergency calls. Some four hundred Caddo Indians from the western plains country on a marauding expedition arrived near the western border of the Choctaw country and pitched their teepees and began to make raids on the neighboring prairies.
A few horses and cattle were taken at first but as no great damage was done they were not molested as it was thought they might leave and not cause much trouble.
The Choctaws who lived near watched their actions closely but the Caddoes became more bold and moved their camp some nearer than it had been and challenged the Choctaws with whom they came in contact and grew more insolent and destroyed so much property that a council was called and there it was decided a stop should be put to these depredations.
Accordingly a runner was dispatched for the Minute Men. In the meantime the Caddoes had become so violent in their actions that a second runner was sent and the full force of warriors was on the way to the battle grounds.
By the time the minute men had arrived the Caddoes had burned several houses, laid waste the country, gathered a large number of horses and cattle and returned to camp where they were having a grand celebration of their successful raid.
The Minute Men proceeded to take a hand in this grand rally by charging directly into the herds of horses and cattle and causing them to stampede and run wild and scatter all over the prairies where they were entirely beyond control
and soon disappeared in the wilderness. After the herds of horses and cattle had thus been disposed of the Minute Men gave their immediate attention to the Caddoes themselves. They surrounded the camp and poured volley after volley of rifle bullets into it charging on horse back through the camp and yelling and shooting. So many were wounded and disabled that the Caddoes sought to save themselves by flight but the Minute Men were well mounted and destroyed them as fast as they ever made the attempt.
So many were killed in a short time that they soon gave up that plan and sought safety in retreating to a number of timbered hills near by.
But alas, the Choctaws were a desperate and determined band and must have revenge. The timber was a slight protection from the bullets of the Minute Men who soon surrounded the hills with their rifles in their hands and awaited the quarry. Whenever a target came into view a rifle spat fire and a Caddo was accounted for. The emergency call for help had been sent out by the Choctaw Captains and the Minute Men never relaxed their vigilance day or night.
The weather was warm for this was the month of June and there was only one spring where water might be had to quench thirst and thirst is no respector of persons and must be quenched at whatever risk even to that of life itself.
At or near this spring the last of the raiding Caddoes gave up his life.
A monument to this event will go down in history for these same hills are known to this day as the "Caddo Hills" and may be seen from the town of Caddo on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railway in southeastern Oklahoma where the crack passenger trains now speed at 60 miles an hour over a stone-ballasted double track railroad through the same once turbulent country where the tragic spectacle of a war of extermination occurred between "Indian against Indian."