Reed Anthony, Cowman HTML version

IV. A Fatal Trip
Before leaving Fort Sumner an agreement had been entered into between my
employers and the contractors for a third herd. The delivery was set for the first
week in September, and twenty-five hundred beeves were agreed upon, with a
liberal leeway above and below that number in case of accident en route.
Accordingly, on our return to Loving's ranch active preparations were begun for
the next drive. Extra horses were purchased, several new guns of the most
modern make were secured, and the gathering of cattle in Loving's brand began
at once, continuing for six weeks. We combed the hills and valleys along the
main Brazos, and then started west up the Clear Fork, carrying the beeves with
us while gathering. The range was in prime condition, the cattle were fat and
indolent, and with the exception of Indian rumors there was not a cloud in the
Our last camp was made a few miles above Fort Griffin. Military protection was
not expected, yet our proximity to that post was considered a security from Indian
interference, as at times not over half the outfit were with the herd. We had
nearly completed our numbers when, one morning early in July, the redskins
struck our camp with the violence of a cyclone. The attack occurred, as usual,
about half an hour before dawn, and, to add to the difficulty of the situation, the
cattle stampeded with the first shot fired. I was on last guard at the time, and
conscious that it was an Indian attack I unslung a new Sharp's rifle and tore away
in the lead of the herd. With the rumbling of over two thousand running cattle in
my ears, hearing was out of the question, while my sense of sight was rendered
useless by the darkness of the morning hour. Yet I had some very distinct
visions; not from the herd of frenzied beeves, thundering at my heels, but every
shade and shadow in the darkness looked like a pursuing Comanche. Once I
leveled my rifle at a shadow, but hesitated, when a flash from a six-shooter
revealed the object to be one of our own men. I knew there were four of us with
the herd when it stampeded, but if the rest were as badly bewildered as I was, it
was dangerous even to approach them. But I had a king's horse under me and
trusted my life to him, and he led the run until breaking dawn revealed our
identity to each other.
The presence of two other men with the running herd was then discovered. We
were fully five miles from camp, and giving our attention to the running cattle we
soon turned the lead. The main body of the herd was strung back for a mile, but
we fell on the leaders right and left, and soon had them headed back for camp. In
the mean time, and with the breaking of day, our trail had been taken up by both
drovers and half a dozen men, who overtook us shortly after sun-up. A count was
made and we had every hoof. A determined fight had occurred over the remuda
and commissary, and three of the Indians' ponies had been killed, while some
thirty arrows had found lodgment in our wagon. There were no casualties in the