Johnson City Record Courier
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The Battle of Deer Creek
Thursday, May 22, 2008 • Posted May 22, 2008

(Reprinted from the Johnson City Record Courier)

…Captain Dan Roberts, the Texas Ranger who was the key figure in the battle, was interviewed many times in later life and his recollections over the years varied very little from his original statements, and they correspond with the reminiscences of the other survivors.

So that you may …understand our history a little better, the following is an exact (typed verbatim with no spelling or punctuation errors corrected) copy of an excerpt from “Tales of a Texas Ranger,” reprinted in the Fredericksburg Standard, issue of June 19, 1916. Our thanks to the present publishers for permission to reprint.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Phelps who resided were my parents lived near Round Mountain in Blanco County, while fishing, had been murdered and scalped by savages. A meeting of the men of the locality was held and it was resolved we should, whenever Indians appeared within our vicinity, pursue thim and if possible rout them. We knew this to be better tactics that to permit them to come upon us, our relatives and friends, and murder us in the night.

“It was not long after the assassination of the Phelps couple we learned Indians were raiding in our vicinity. There were only six of us in the party that rode out after them from the Round Mountain Settlement. They were Thomas Bird, Joe Bird, John O. Biggs, Stanton Jolly, George Travis Roberts, who was my brother, and myself. We struck the Indian trail on Hickory Creek and while following it were joined by Captain James Ingram, William Ingram, Frank Waldrip, and Cam Davidson. This unexpected reinforcement augments out number to ten.

“All were young but seasoned plainsmen, inured to hardships of frontier life. We all knew how to ride hard and to shoot straight. The equipment of our band was poor, probably inferior to that of the Indians. I remember several of our boys had not weapons other than pistols-not very good ones at that. I and an old Spencer saddle gun, which had been in army service. It was of large caliber and its magazine held seven shells. It was the best weapon in the partys ordinance. We came upon a place on the trail were the Indians had killed two steers and carried away with them practically all the meat. We also had noted the tracks of many of the horses, so we know the Indian band was large.

“After following this trail at a run for fifteen miles we saw an Indian who was on an eminence, run down rapidly. He was about a quarter of a mile from us. He had discovered us at the same time we first saw him. Then we knew his band must be near. We spurred our horses to a still faster gate and moved around a little hill. When we came within range of the Indians they opened fire on us. Our answering volley was discharged before we dismounted. Cunningly they had selected the place in which to be over taken. As we swept into plain view and within range of their guns, we realized they possesed every natural strategic advantage.

“We never troubled ourselves about the handicap. We were there to fight. They were sheltered by a little ‘draw’, or shallow ravine. Our only way to attack was in the open directly in their front. To add to their advantage there was a growth of scrub Spanish Oak on each side the ravine they occupied. On the further side of the ravine they had tied their horses. The mare I rode had tired greatly. This had caused me to be considerable in the rear of our party when the Indians opened fire.

“When I reached the force I found that my brother had been badly wounded. A large-sized bullet struck him on the right side of his face grazing the cheek bone just under the eye, passing through his nose and grazing his left check bone, where it emerged. Had the wound been an inch further back it would have been fatal. I asked Stanton Jolly to remove my brother, which he did. This reduced our force to eight men.

“We continued to pepper the Indians and they us with the final result from the beginning in doubt. We could not see when our bullets found lodgement. As the remainder of our party were holding their ground directly in front of the enemy, I edged around to the left, finally reaching the side of the gully. From here, as long as I was able, I put the Indians under a cross fire. There I had a much better view and could do more effective shooting. Whenever an Indian rose from behind the brush my time came to shoot, and I did so. Bullets struck all around me.

“I used Indian tactics from one side of the gully to the other, always holding my gun in position so as to take advantage of an opening for a fair shot.

“Perhaps I grew trifle careless. During a momentary lull in the firing, I was standing with my gun in position when a large bullet struck me in the left thigh missing the bone, but passing entirely through the limb. This shot did not knock me down, but blood spurted so freely that I thought the main artery had been severed.

“By this William Ingram had worked around where I was and I told him I believed I was mortally wounded and urged him not to come any closer to me for fear he might be shot. I continued to stand with my gun in position to shoot.

“Bill Ingram was a heavy set, good-natured boy, but with the heart of a lion. It was useless for me to tell him to avoid danger when a comrade was in need of his services. Utterly disregarding the fire of the Indians he came right up to me. Finding me helpless he went out into the open, caught his horse, brought the animal back and lifted me up into the saddle while a perfect deluge of bullets was raining about us. He carried me out of range of fire.

“My wound bled so freely and I was so athirst for water that our band realized that my brother and I both should be taken from the field.

“Another one of our band, Joe Gird (Editor’s note: Bird) had ben grazed by bullets that glanced from bother of this shoulders and several our horses had been slightly wounded, so we retired to Johnsons ranch, two miles distant, where we who were wounded got prompt attention, while a courier was sent to Captain Rufe Perry, who lived half a mile distant.

“Perry and my comrades went back after the Indians, but the savages had fled and got such a start our force was unable to overtake them, so the Indians got away.

“In that Deer Creek fight our strength was ten at the start, but tow of our number were unable to continue the combat, while a third also was wounded, so at the time we were compelled to abandon the conflict we had but seven men to cope with twenty-seven savages, or almost four times our number.

“We succeeded in killing four Indians and wounding a number of others.

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