SEPTEMBER 28, 1874


The major battle of the Red River War ended in the confinement of southern Plains Indians (Comanches, Kiowas, Kiowa Apaches, Cheyennes, and Arapahos) to the reservations in Indian Territory. In September 1874, the warring nations had camped in the canyon, where Kiowa shaman, Maman-ti, promised safety. The 4th U.S. Cavalry, having reached the canyon guided by Tonkawa chief Johnson, launched a sunrise surprise attack that was thwarted by Comanche leader Red Warbonnet. However, as the camps were scattered widely on the canyon floor, the camps could not organize a united defense. The cavalry & Tonkawa scouts destroyed Red Warbonnet’s village spreading panic among the other villages in the canyon. By night, the villages had been captured. Deaths were few: 3 Indians, 1 white. However, 1,400 Indian ponies were seized and supplies, including their entire winter food supply, was destroyed. The battle represented the southern Plains Indians’ last effort at military resistance.

Source:  Thomas F. Schilz, “Palo Duro Canyon, Battle of,” Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association, 12/1/1995.  Retrieved, 3/20/2022, TSHA | Palo Duro Canyon, Battle of (
Photo:  Leaflet, 11/20/2002. Permissive Use.

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