Adobe Walls Battle of 1874
Prelude to the Adobe Walls Battle of 1874
In the Spring of 1874, around buffalo 50 hunters and freighters arrived at a site on the Canadian River in what is now Hutchinson County, Texas. The site was just north of what remained of the Bent, St. Vrain & Co. trading post, Fort Adobe, which was built in 1836. The ruins and the area had come to be known as Adobe Walls. The adventurers from Dodge City, Kansas had come seeking their fortunes on the vast expanse of the Great Plains over 200 miles from the nearest civilization. The beasts they sought were the very life blood of the Plains Indian tribes that followed the herds during their annual migrations. This fact put the hunters at great risk the moment the left Dodge City. The trail these fearless frontiersman had chosen led to the very heart of the country the Plains Indians considered their own.
The Legend of Adobe Walls - the Battle of 1874
Before leaving Dodge City to establish a trading post at Adobe Walls, Charles Rath and Robert Wright (Rath & Wright Co.) invested about $50,000.00 to stock their new store. Charles Meyers and Fred Leonard (Meyers & Leonard Co.) spent close to $40,000.00 on merchandise to provision their new business on the frontier. For that time, these were enormous investments and just getting the goods to Adobe Walls was a risky endeavor. The danger of attack by Indians was great and moving that much valuable freight 200 mile through wilderness to the new business site was an enormous task.
The new Adobe Walls trading post was a sizable layout even by today’s standards. Within two months, as many as 50,000 buffalo hides were stacked around the camp awaiting shipment to points north and east. This enterprise was a calculated risk. The business men knew that the local Indians would be aggravated by their presence but weren’t truly aware of the extent of the insult caused by the invasion of the Indians’ territory and hunting grounds.
On June 27, 1874 as many as 1,200 Indians (accounts of the number vary - 1,200 is accepted by those knowledgeable of the time and place) of the Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes attacked the camp. Twenty-seven men and one woman held off the Indians for three days when they abandoned the fight after realizing that victory was impossible. The Battle of 1874 is thought to be the largest Indian battle ever fought in Texas.
Billy Dixon and Buffalo Hunters
HD Bugbee sketch of the 1874 battle at Adobe Walls.
Hutchinson County Historical Museum • 618 N. Main Street • Borger, TX 79007 • 806 273 0130
Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. • Saturday 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.