Published on July 20, 2014 by Amy
Adobe Walls was the name of a trading post in the Texas Panhandle, just north of the Canadian River. In 1845, an adobe fort was built there to house the post, but it was blown up by the traders three years later after repeated Indian attacks. In 1864, the ruins were the site of one of the largest battles ever to take place on the Great Plains. Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson led 300 volunteers from New Mexico against a force of thousands of Indians; the results of the battle were indecisive, though Carson was acclaimed as a hero for successfully striking a blow against the Indians and for leading his men out of the trap with minimal casualties.
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Ten years later, merchants from Dodge City, Kansas, set up a large trading post about a mile from the old ruins. The complex quickly grew to include two stores, a corral, a restaurant, and a blacksmith shop, all of which served the population of 200-300 buffalo hunters in the area.
The remaining free-ranging Southern Plains bands (Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Arapaho) correctly perceived the post and the buffalo hunting as a major threat to their existence. That spring, the Indians held a sun dance. Comanche medicine man Isa-tai promised victory and immunity from bullets to warriors who took the fight to the enemy. At dawn on June 27, 1874, about seven hundred Indians under the leadership of Quanah Parker and Isa-tai attacked the post. (See Texas Treasures for more on the life of Quanah Parker.) The defenders numbered only 28 white men and one woman. However, Isa-tai’s prophecy proved to be an illusion. The hunter’s superior weapons enabled them to fend off the attackers. As many as seventy Indians were killed and many others, including Parker, were wounded. The Indians were forced to retreat.
The result of Adobe Walls was a crushing spiritual defeat for the Indians. It also prompted the U.S. military to take its final actions to crush the Indians once and for all. Within the year, the long war between whites and Indians in Texas would reach its conclusion.