Indian Attacks in Austin, Part 1

September 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Humorous Indian attacks are about as hard to find as 7-leaf clovers. During my years of research, I have uncovered one, which occurred in Austin, in 1841. Due to its length, it will be presented in installments.

During the first two or so years of life in Austin, Indian attacks were a common occurrence and resulted in several tragic deaths. But public hysteria, no matter how well founded, produced at least one humorous episode, the first installment of which follows. It first ran in the Matagorda Colorado Gazette and Advertiser, William D. Wallach, editor, in March 1841, following a visit by Wallach to the new capital.

Indians in Austin. Part 1.

On February 15, I, along with my friend Dr. B., mounted up and headed for Austin. Few and uninteresting were the adventures which befell our humdrum self, until we dismounted safely in Austin, and having washed and dressed we sallied out after tea to find Gov. Smith’s (old Henry) office. We soon got into a discussion about the shortest way of making every body rich without work, for that seems to be the upshot of most modern scheming on that subject.

The governor had just waxed sufficiently warm in the matter to be himself, in his glory. He was sawing the air with his hands when whiz! bang! pop! went the pistols and rifles within 100 yards of us. That cut short our interesting colloquy, and between the shots our friend Col. L.P. Cook’s voice must have been heard a good mile, crying out, “Indians! Indians! Indians!” – whiz! “The damned rascals are here murdering my family!” bang! “Come up here to rescue us, you damned cowardly _______ pup!”

Whew, how the late secretary of the Navy swore!

We sprang up in our confusion to run across the street to his assistance, but the Governor, who knew a thing or two, seized us by the coattail, with preemptory orders to stay still. He assured us the best policy was to blow out the light, cover the fire and keep as quiet as two little rabbits. We yielded consent to the old gentleman’s wishes, and kept still amid the banging of firearms and swearing of the Colonel. Our mentor would not let us budge. “No,” said he, “if you run bulging into town, you’ll be sure to find drunken men enough to shoot you for an Indian.”

As soon as they drew sufficiently near to hear our voices, the Governor opened the door and we hastened out to meet them. What a martial sight met our eyes, as we closed with the accidental advance guard of the pell mell volunteers for the occasion. If we mistake not it was a battalion of three. There was our little friend Teulon [editor of the Austin City Gazette newspaper – Ed.] in the van; looking like a venerable bellweather, with his musket, fixed bayonet, and long sword. There he was puffing and blowing under his load, yet apparently ready to eat a Comanche raw, if he could catch him. Close in his rear came a denizen, with a fragment of rock in each hand, whose stalwart proportions and iron grey hair, and underdone roast beef complexion, looked as though he might have been of real service in an Indian “scrimmage” had he been properly armed. The rear was brought up by the very man we should expect to see turn out promptly in time of danger. We mean his honor, the Secretary of War, whose manner of carrying his musket, trailing far back on his shoulder, showed quite plainly that his day for doing his country effective service in the ranks, had departed. (To be continued next week.)

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