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INDIAN TERRITORY Hardeman + Wichita Pease Rrvtrimassacre (Foard) Wilbarger Montague Grayson YOUNG TERRITORY Archer *l Young Denton Collin V Haskell Belkna Dallas Weatherford FortWordi Buchanan (Stephens) rarrant Palo Pinto Parker TEXAS Northwest Texas in i860, showing route to Comanche hunting camp along Mule Creek. Map drawn by Curtís Peoples of the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. The "Battle" at Pease River and the Question of Reliable Sources in the Recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker By Paul H. Carlson and Tom Crum*££"W"WILL VENTURE TO SAY THAT THERE HAVE BEEN MORE DIFFERENT I erroneous stories written and printed about Cynthia Ann Parker JLthan any person who ever lived in Texas," wrote Araminta McClellan Taulman, a member of the famous Quanah Parker family, to Frontier Times editor J. Marvin Hunter in ig2g. She may have been right—especially about the December ig, i860, "battle" along Mule Creek near Pease River and the taking of Naudah (Cynthia Ann Parker) from her Comanche family and friends. Because the Comanches at Mule Creek were caught by surprise, were running away, put up no resistance except when cornered, and all but a few of them were killed in the village , the "batde" perhaps more accurately should be considered a massacre , as several historians have called it.1 Eyewitness reports of the fight—or more properly, "massacre"—and the recapture of Parker are often suspect and unreliable. They contain conflicting information, fabrications, and errors of major significance. Some of the eyewitnesses changed their stories (including written accounts) , an important diary of a participant in the incident was rewritten by persons unknown years later, and the original copy of at least one crucial document is missing and perhaps stolen. Even the location of the batde site remains in question. For historians trying to sift through the ?Paul H. Carlson is Professor Emeritus of History at Texas Tech University and a fellow of die TSHA. Tom Crum, a past president of die West Texas Historical Associadon and a reared state districtjudge, lives in Granbury. 1 Araminta McClellan Taulman, The Capture of Cyndiia Ann Parker," Frontier Times 6 (May 1929): 311. For comments that die Pease River fight was a massacre, see Margaret Schmidt Hacker, Cynthia Ann Parker: The Life and the Legend (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1990), 21; Gary Clayton Anderson, The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land, 1820-iày; (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005), 332; and Bill Neeley, The Last Comanche Chief: The Life and Times of Quanah Parker (New York:John Wiley Sc Sons, Inc., 1995), 47, 49. Vol. CXIII, no. 1 Southwestern Historical QuarterlyJuly 2009 34Southwestern Historical QuarterlyJuly confusing record, use of such accounts has led to predictable results: too many books and articles, from the first ones written in the 1880s to the most recent ones written in the last few years, have been based on the fabrications, altered reports, and refashioned diaries.2 Consequently, a major need exists to examine extant eyewitness reports and to judge their reliability as historical documents. Lawrence Sullivan "SuI" Ross, who led the Texas Ranger attack at Mule Creek, by changing his narrative of events throughout the following decades, used his participation in the affair at Pease River for political gain, not an uncommon occurrence in nineteenth-century Texas. Other accounts of the fight—Charles Goodnight's recollections, the rewritten diary ofJonathan Baker (the diary was not rewritten by Baker, it must be added) and especially probably non-participant Benjamin Gholson's oral testimony—are also problematic. Over time the brief engagement along Mule Creek, at least in our collective consciousness of myths and folklore, has gone from being remembered as a revenge attack to a major battle, and one that destroyed Comanche hegemony in northwest Texas. How did it happen? How did a brief, crushing blow on mostly women in a tiny hunting camp become in many histories a major battle and something of a cause célèbre? And, how is it that many of us who write about the so-called battle cannot get the story straight? Answers to the first two questions bear upon at least three developments . First, they concern SuI Ross's growing political ambitions...


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