Monday, January 21, 2019

Union General John Sedgwick -- His Loss Was Felt

General John Sedwick
In my article, The Late 1800s - U.S. Military Action Abroad, I mention: "While it is true that the Navy and Marine Corps was key to conflicts around the world, in November of 1866, the U.S. Army was deployed to Mexico to protect American residents along our Southern Border. Or rather, a unit under General Sedgwick deployed itself to defend the U.S. - Mexico border.

It's true, U.S. Army General Sedgwick and 100 Soldiers left Brownsville Texas and crossed the Rio Grande to obtain the surrender of the city of Matamoras where outlaws had ruled the town. They did this without orders from Washington. After 3 days, and a quick campaign to rid the border of problems, General Sedgwick was ordered by the Chiefs in Washington to withdraw. Later, his act was repudiated by the President as an act of an over-zealous Officer. But yes, it took care of the problem for a while!"

Well, I've been taken to task over this. As my reader put it, "General Sedgwick died in 1864 and subsequently couldn't have been in Mexico in 1866."

Union Army General John Sedgwick was a soldier's soldier. He was born on September 13, 1813. In 1860, Col. Sedgwick was the commander of an expedition to establish a new fort on the Platte River in present day Colorado. It is said that the remote location had no railhead nearby. This meant that all of their supplies had to be either packed in by mules and horses, before eventually coming in by wagons from riverboats. Before the supplies started to arrive, it's said hunger and starvation was looking them in the face. While they hunted for what game there was, they built shelters to brave that winter. It was an experience that gave him a reputation of staying calm in a bad situation.

During the Civil War, he missed the First Battle of Bull Run because he was recovering from cholera. But soon after that, he was commanding a brigade and then a division. At the Battle of Antietam, his commander was General Sumner. It was there that General Sedgwick's division was sent in mass to engage Confederate forces under General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Confederates were on three sides and General Sedgwick's troops were slaughtered.

After all was said and done, he lost almost half of his men. And he was shot three times, once in the wrist, in the leg, and in the shoulder. The huge loss of Union troops, and the wounds inflicted upon General Sedgwick were a result of a superior officer foolishly ordering his unit into a battle without proper reconnaissance.

His wounds kept him out of the fighting for a while. In fact, his wounds kept him from participating in the Battle of Fredericksburg. Later though, under his command, his troops played an important role in the Chancellorsville Campaign at the Second Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Salem Church. As for his involvement at the Battle of Gettysburg, his corps was the last to arrive. So no, they did not see much action there.

General John Sedgwick was killed by a sniper, what was known as a sharpshooter back in those days. That happened at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House on May 9, 1864. He is well remembered for his  last words. When told he saw his men dodging incoming rounds, he said, "Why are you dodging like this? They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Those were his last words.



It's said that the Confederate sharpshooter was anywhere from 800 to 900 yards away. Some reports say 1000 yards away. The sharpshooter was using a Whitworth rifle when he placed a round under the General's left eye.

The Whitworth rifle was an English-made muzzle-loading single-shot rifled musket. It was a .45 caliber rifled musket that had an effective range from 800 to 1,000 yards. It's maximum range was said to be 1,500 yards. A good rifleman could get 2 to 3 rounds off in a minute. As is the case, a sharpshooter takes longer than that to do their handy work. Such is life for a slow moving sniper who wants to place his shot exactly where he wants it to go.

As a point of interest, because of it's excellent long range accuracy when used with a scope, the Whitworth rifle is considered the world's first sniper rifle. I find it interesting that General Sedgwick and General John F. Reynolds, who was killed on July 1st, 1863, at Gettysburg, are two of the four highest-ranking Union soldiers to be killed in the Civil War. Both Union Generals Sedgwick and Reynolds were killed by Confederate sharpshooters using Whitworth rifles.

On the last day of his life, General Sedgwick's chief of staff was Col. Martin T. McMahon. He reported the General's death, "I remember distinctly that I commenced to say 'General, they are firing explosive bullets.' when his face turned slowly to me, and blood spurting from his left cheek under the eye in a steady stream, brought to me the first knowledge of our great disaster. He fell in my direction and I was so close to him that my effort to support him failed, and I went to the ground with him."

Though medical personnel rushed to his aid, fifty-year old General Sedgwick never regained consciousness.

General Sedgwick was fondly referred to by his troops as "Uncle John". It's said that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant couldn't accept that he was dead. In fact, he is said to have repeatedly asked, "Is he really dead?" General Grant told his staff that the loss of General Sedgwick was worse than than that of an entire division.

Confederate Robert E. Lee who served with his old friend before the war is said to have asked to be alone after hearing of his death. Another old friend was Union General George G. Meade. He openly wept at the news of his death. Yes, General John Sedgwick sounds like an outstanding officer.  

There are a few statues of him here and there. One monument of General Sedgwick is at the United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point. There is a legend at the academy that says, a cadet who spins the rowels of the spurs on the boots of General Sedgwick's statue at midnight while wearing full parade dress gray over white uniform under arms will have good luck on his or her final exam. 

It's true. tradition says a cadet has to visit the statue and spin the General's spur rowels at the stroke of midnight. The cadet then has to run like hell back to the barracks as fast as he or she can. Again, according to legend, if General Sedgwick's ghost catches them, then they will fail the exam. If not, the cadet will pass the exam and the course. 

While being out of their rooms after midnight is definitely against West Point regulations, it's also said that such violations have been known to be overlooked for the sake of tradition. It would be interesting to know how many cadets have actually tried doing this. Or more importantly, it would be interesting to find out how many felt that they needed to do this to get through a course.

Col. Thomas D. Sedgwick
Now to the original question of how could he die in 1864 and lead 100 U.S. Army troops to invade and occupy a small city across our Southern border in 1866? 

Well, he can't. That's because the General Sedgwick who led those 100 troops to invade that town on his own was not General John Sedgwick but was actually General Thomas D. Sedgwick. Yes, a second General Sedgwick.

As for General Thomas D. Sedgwick, while I can't find almost anything about him, I did find that he did in fact take 100 of his troops into Mexico in November of 1866 because of attacks on American citizens on the border. 

Because it was an embarrassment to the United States government, as he did in fact occupy the city of Matamoras for 3 days, I can't help but wonder if he was still a General after returning to this side of the river. The U.S. Army doesn't appreciate their commanders using our troops for such unauthorized actions. 

Tom Correa

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lynchings In Lookout, California 1901

J.W. Leventon's Blacksmith Shop on Main Street, Lookout, California
The tiny town of Lookout, California, was known as Whitley's Ford back in the 1870s. The folks there original named their town after a local hotel owner by the name of James W. Whitley. And while there is some speculation that he was the first to settle there, I haven't been able to confirm that. The original post office in Whitley's Ford only operated for a little over a year from 1874 to 1875 and then closed. The post office reopened in 1880 when the town became known as Lookout. The name Lookout was chosen because of the nearby hills. They were used as lookouts for Native Americans tribes there.

That part of upper Northern California has traditionally been a ranching and farming community. That's the way it was back in 1901 when a gang of rustlers and thieves known as the Hall Gang roamed that area. Calvin Hall was the leader of the gang. He was 73 years old in 1901. His son James age 19, his adopted sons 32 year old Frank and 15 year old Martin Wilson, and a Dan Yantis who was believed to be in his early twenties, were all part of his gang. 

Some say they were all pretty well known throughout that area as rowdies and thieves. All in all, the gang was a bunch of known for their thievery. From what I could find out, it appears they were mainly cattle rustlers. But let's not think these outlaws were harmless, they weren't by a long shot. In fact, to describe them properly I'd have to call them vicious and sick. Not for what they did to people, them being rowdy punks and trouble-makers, thieves. It has to do with their deviant behavior of mutilating cattle and horses. 

Among some of the more ghoulish acts, the gang members were known to sneak into farms and cut the throats of cattle a let them bleed-out. They would cut off the udders of nursing cows, while knowing that would kill the mother and starve her calf. As for horses, they were known to stab horses, cut their fetlocks, and even stampede them into barbed wire. Yes, all the while knowing that the cut up horses would have to be put down. 

Where their mutilation of animals was horrible enough, as replacing stock cost ranchers and farmers dearly, the gang also vandalized homes and equipment. They were known to break windows knowing that glass was precious and hard to come by. They were known to cut up harnesses, ruin wagons, destroy saddles, steal supplies and make off with prized cattle. 

Year's ago when I was studying for my degree in Criminal Justice, I remember being told that criminals who hurt animals, especially those who mutilate them, later end up hurting people. Serial killers all have that in common. In fact, according to an FBI report, aside from killing dozens of innocent people, a significant percentage of serial killers practiced their sick deeds on animals. Serial killers often tortured or killed small animals from an early age, and men who commit child abuse or domestic violence very frequently harm household pets as well. 

"If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they’re also hurting a human," said John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association in a 2016 interview. Today, the standard criminal charge for mutilating animals, including horses and cattle, is simply animal cruelty. In some places, that's not even a felony even if it effects one's livelihood for the worse. 

So while the Hall Gang may sound like rustlers, vandals, and petty thieves who were a nuisance to the folks in the area, their preforming stock mutilation was taken as a sign of worse things to come. The people of Lookout instinctively knew that these were not merely criminals, but were demented individuals that needed to be stopped before they didn't that cutting up cows was a bore and they needed to move to cutting up people. 

On May 30th, 1901, the gang was arrested for theft, stock mutilation, and vandalism. All five members of the gang were taken to the Lookout Myers Hotel. They were to be kept there while awaiting trial. According to reports, the citizenry had had enough of the Hall Gang. The tipping point came when the townsfolk found out that the gang members would face the lesser charge of petty larceny. 

In the early morning hours of May 31st, about two dozen masked men rushed the guards and captured the prisoners. Calvin Hall age 73, his son, James, 19, his adopted sons, Frank, 32, Martin Wilson, 15, and gang member Dan Yantis, were jerked from the hotel and taken to the nearby Pit River Bridge.  

According to reports, while some say that James, Frank, and Dan Yantis had terrorized locals by robbing and stealing, and by rustling and mutilating livestock, those reports say young Martin Wilson  and Calvin who was believed to be 73 were completely innocent of any crime. While that may have been the case, that didn't stop the lynch mob from hanging all five from the railings of the Pit River Bridge. 

The local citizenry had enough from the people they knew as the Hall Gang. After being arrested on May 30th, and the men were taken into custody for cattle rustling, the people of lookout weren't going to have some lawyer set bail and them get off as they had done in the past. This time the locals citizens formed a vigilante committee and lynched them. 

Photo Credit: Modoc County Museum
Lookout was soon swarming with curiosity seekers as a result of newspapers running a picture of the Pit River Bridge with the story of what took place there. Besides the curious, it's known that a few bounty hunters showed up wanting to find out if there was money on the heads of those who did the lynching.  

A grand jury convened a month later on June 10th, and indicted local residents R.E. Leventon, Isom Eades and James Brown. They were held for trial with the county sending more deputies so that local vigilantes would think twice about attempting a jail break. Besides the increase in lawmen, it's said that reporters from around the state, attorneys, and state officials all descended on the town of Lookout after the news of the indictments went public.

Los Angeles Herald
Number 263, 20 June 1901

INVESTIGATING THE LOOKOUT LYNCHING

Modoc County Grand Jury Completes Its Work Six Indictments Inspected to Be Filed. Mrs. Perry Summers Gives Important Testimony Which May Identify the Members of the Mob

ALTURAS — The Modoc county grand jury has about completed its labors in the Investigation of the Lookout lynching, and will probably adjourn tonight. All of the witnesses have been excused and have started for their homes. It will not be known for several days whether or not there will be any indictments found, but It seems to be the impression that there will be about six bills filed.

Mrs. Perry Summers made a remark in Alturas this morning to the effect thaf she had given evidence before the grand jury yesterday that would necessitate her moving from Lookout, as she would now consider her life in danger. It later leaked out that Mrs. Summers had testified that on the night of the lynching at Lookout she heard the mob, got up and followed the procession to the bridge but thought it was some joke. She witnessed the hanging and identified a number of the mob. According to her testimony she remained some distance from the scene of the bloody work. It is claimed by parties from Lookout that the woman is partially insane and does not know what she is talking about. 

Some excitement was made manifest here yesterday over a rumor which became current that there was now a reward of $118,000 in all offered for the conviction of the Modoc lynchers from different sources. This cast a shadow on some of the faces of the Lookout delegation, as they seem to fear that detectives will be soon put in the field.

Amador Ledger
Volume 1901, Number 20, 20 December 1901

THE MODOC LYNCHING.

ALTURAS — The Modoc county lynchers are now on trial, and it is dollars to doughnuts that there will be no conviction. There is reason for this. The citizens of that county had been annoyed for the past few years by haying their stock stolen, shot and mutilated, and, after having invoked the aid of the law on several occasions without securing a conviction, took the law in their own bands and did a little wholesale^hanging. Mob law is to be deprecated on all occasions, but the fact still remains that when justice fails to be meted out to the wrongdoers; citizens step in and administer it in a crude but sometimes satisfactory way. — Dispatch.

-- end of articles.

As for the verdict? After Modoc County spent $40,000 on the trial, all of the men were acquitted in January of 1902. 

There's no telling who stayed around and who left town after that. But today, four of the five ropes used to hang the Hall Gang are on display at the Modoc County Museum. 

As of July, 2018, the town of Lookout had a population of 87. Among the things one can still see left there from the old days is J.W. Leventon's blacksmith shop on Main Street. Though vacant today, it is a reminder of a time gone bye. Another landmark for it's infamy is the Pit River Bridge. But the original hanging bridge is gone. A concrete and steel structure replaced the original wooden bridge long ago.

Tom Correa



Monday, January 14, 2019

It's the Cowboy Way

Chris Potter, Russell Powell, and Lance Alcorn ready to leave with donations

Imagine a fire that takes lives and burns over a million acres. In early 2017, fires raged through the Texas Panhandle, Kansas, and Oklahoma. About the same time that year, wildfires also ravaged parts of Colorado.

In Texas, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported that nearly 500 square miles burned to the ground in the northeast corner of the Panhandle near the Oklahoma border. At the same time, a separate fire to the south burned more than 200 square miles. And believe it or not, those two weren't the only fires being fought in Texas as a another fire to the west, near Amarillo, also took its toll on the land and the people there.

Along with thousands of head of livestock killed in those Texas fires, homes and barns were destroyed. And sadly, people were also killed. There were a few folks who died in Texas, but Oklahoma and Kansas also saw the loss of precious lives.

In Gray County, it's said that Sydney Wallace and Cody Crockett both died while trying to save cattle and horses. The same happened to rancher Sloan Everett when he was lost trying to save his cattle and horses. In Lipscomb County, Cade Koch died as a result of that fire.

Along with crews from the Texas A&M Forest Service and Department of Public Safety, firefighters from Hoover, McLean, Groom, Wheeler County, Pampa, Gray County, Carson County, Donley County and Wheeler County were all called. And yes, parts of Ochiltree, Hemphill, Roberts, and  Potter counties were also ablaze.

In the end, it was reported by the Texas Cattle Feeder's Association that more than 5,000 head of cattle were in immediate need of hay and feed supplies. As with such emergencies, thankfully an outpouring of support started and soon there were those who tried to do what they could to help buy hay for ranchers who lost pasture and were barely hanging on.

Those fires in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado drove thousands of Americans from their homes. And later, once a better assessment of the actual size of the fire could be made, it was found out that the fires also burned over 850,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma. In fact, seventy-five percent of Clark County, Kansas, a total of 461,000 acres burned that year. Frankly, it was the worse fire that most could remember as hundreds of square miles of land were simply scorched earth.

A Story That Needs Telling: Cowboys Donate A Saddle 

As most who read my blog know, I tend to write more about historical events and people while trying to connect what took place and their deeds to our human nature, to what we know as "the human condition." The human condition is defined as "the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality." It also speaks to our moral concerns such as the "goodness" or "rightness" of our behavior. Yes, it talks about our better Angels.

The story of what happened to Mary Kaltenbach is one that I'm hoping you'll find it as a testament to our better Angels.

According to reports:

Chris and Amy Potter, who work for Drummond Ranch on the Maple City, Kan. camp, were on a trip to South Dakota as the fires raged. Amy was keeping up with events on Facebook.

'What started it was I started texting with Erin Boggs,' Amy said. Erin Boggs and her husband, Austin, ranch near Ashland, Kan., which was one of the hardest hit areas. Clark County, Kansas was 75 percent incinerated, with 461,000 acres burned. The famous Gardiner Angus Ranch in Ashland was burned in that fire.

Erin was mobilizing her 4-H members to take orphaned calves for bottle feeding. She kept Amy informed on the fire's progress. The farther Chris and Amy drove, the worse the fire damage became.

'We had a lot of time to talk about it,' Amy said. 'So finally Chris said 'maybe we should go help them.' So I put on Facebook that we were thinking about doing that and it just went viral.'

Amy told neighbors and friends to drop off items at their house and barn, never thinking what that would mean. When the Potters arrived home, "we found all kinds of stuff everywhere," Amy said. A total of five pallets of milk replacer and creep feed, "and people had left bags of feed all over," Amy said. Hay, medicine, household items, food – anything someone might imagine would be needed.

Chris, a former Working Ranch Cowboy's Association Top Hand, and three friends, Lance Alcorn, Russell Powell and Connor Grokett, started planning the trip. Last week, they loaded up all the supplies, along with two new saddles bound for someone who had lost theirs.

Chris was in the middle of calving 800 Drummond cows, but he knew Amy, a former Women's Ranch Rodeo Association champion, and their kids, Colt and Carlee, could handle that for a few days.

A soft-spoken man not prone to exaggeration, Chris explained what he saw in Clark County this way, 'the death loss is pretty bad. They spent days shooting cattle that were all but dead. The fences are gone. There's some wire left, but all that will have to be torn out and rebuilt. The T-posts are left, but a lot of the braces burned. Most of these are not big herds and 80 percent of the cows were lost in many herds.

'The first thing we did when we got out there was help this couple gather what was left of their cows. We penned 28 head of 55 they had in the herd, I think, and they had to shoot about 20 of those. They had burned udders and feet falling off.'"

As the newspaper report stated, "For people who make their living tending cattle from the back of a horse, a saddle is one of their most important tools. Handmade saddles can take a lifetime to acquire – and one wildfire to lose."

Chris Potter, and friends, Lance Alcorn, Russell Powell and Connor Grokett, all went to Ashland, Kansas, to deliver the donations and lend a hand in the aftermath of the fires. With things still smoldering and folks there in a desperate situation, those four cowboys hauled needed supplies to the area. Along with the large amount of donated supplies, the cowboys took with them two saddles. Yes, all in the hope of finding a couple of people who had lost their saddles in the fire.

Both of the saddles were handmade and new, never used. One was a trophy saddle that Chris Potter won in a ranch rodeo. The other had already had a productive life, though it had never been on a horse. Amy Potter, Chris's wife, said Justin and Brooke Cargill donated that handmade saddle for Junior Ranch Rodeo Association (JRRA) members to raffle.

Amy Potter is reported to have said, "Our neighbor, Dave Harris, has given me $100 or $200 every year and told me to put it in the raffle – but he didn't want any tickets. His tack is 50 years old, so this year I wrote him some tickets." The JRRA raised $5,000 raffling the saddle.

Dave Harris won the JRRA saddle in that drawing. After Mr. Harris learned of Chris Potter's helping out and taking needed supplies to Ashland, he gave the saddle to Chris, along with $400, with a request that Chris find someone who needed that saddle more than he did. Yes, it's people like Mr. Harris that make America great.

Mary Kaltenbach and her husband Mark spent their lives building a cattle ranch in Kansas. On March 6th, 2017, devastation burned everything but their family's home.

When the four cowboys arrived in Ashland, they dropped off their load of supplies and volunteered to help in any way they could. Fate put them there to help the Kaltenbachs find what was left of their herd.

Chris Potter was reported as having said, "You know most of those people don't have big herds, but it's taken a lifetime to get them. We finally gathered up 28 cows and got them penned. I think they had to shoot 20 of them. You know that guy had worked in an implement company and had been putting his deal together, and he has just retired and was going to expand the ranch."

The fire set that plan back to square one. As stated before, the Kaltenbachs lost everything except for their the house. Of course, while there, Chris and the other cowboys learned that Mary Kaltenbach had lost her saddle. As it turned out, Mr. Harris' raffle saddle was just her size.

"We knew she wouldn't take it if we tried to give it to her outright," Chris said.

Knowing what to do, just before they left Ashland, Chris and the other cowboys put the saddle on a rack at the Kaltenback's house and left a note on it. They also left the $400, all weighed down with a T-post.

The note read, "Dear Mark and Mary, We want to thank you all for the place to eat and shower. One of our neighbors sent us this and said to find someone who could use it more than him. We want to give it to you. It seems to be the right people. Thank you all and God bless. Chris Potter, Lance Alcorn, Connor Grokett, Russell Powell."

Mary Kaltenbach found the saddle left for her by those cowboys. They came to deliver supplies and helped her family. I'm thinking it meant more to her than words can describe. Four cowboys who demonstrated what our better angels are made of.

As for the other saddle, it was reported that on the return trip home, Chris had learned about a cowboy across the Oklahoma state line who had lost everything in that fire. His wife Amy is reported to have said, "We got an address and we are shipping that other saddle right to him."

The report that I read about this concluded this story better than I can, as it stated:

"Those saddles are a symbol of what members of the ranch community do for each other. First Mary's was given to a junior association who made $5,000 raffling it, then it was donated to a stranger, any stranger, who was without one and in need. The other will be a welcome surprise a cowboy would never expect, from a cowboy he doesn't know. Just two examples of how ranchers have banded together and given help in many forms to the victims of one of the largest wildfires in recent history.

Donations poured into the Potter home when people found out the cowboys were going to help fire victims, including five pallets of milk replacer and creep feed. More will be needed and it will take a long time and many dollars to rebuild, but Mary Kaltenbach will be doing it from the best seat on a horse."

Justin and Brooke Cargill, Mark and Mary Kaltenbach, are all folks who make America great. As for the Kaltenbach's, as great as their loses were, they will to come back and rebuild. That's just what they're made of. That's just who they are. As for Justin and Brooke Cargill, their gesture of donating such a saddle to the Junior Ranch Rodeo Association speaks volumes about their goodness. As for Dave Harris who saw the needs of others ahead of his need to own such a trophy saddle, how can anyone deny his good heart.

And let's not forget all of the many folks who stepped up and gave what they could in donations when Americans were in need. These are the folks who make our nation great. Truly great. We are all blessed to have such neighbors and friends. We are all blessed that we have fellow Americans who give to strangers in need. We can all learn from them.

As for Chris and Amy Potter,  Lance Alcorn, Russell Powell, Connor Grokett, the proof of their good hearts come from what they did for others when it was time to do the right thing. All cowboys. All great folks. All made from the right stuff. All doing what is the cowboy way of doing things. God bless them all.

That's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa




Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Horse Down -- Getting Cast


Since my wife and I were concerned about snow a few days ago, I brought our horses in and put them up in our barn. While the others have been fine, one of our horses has not been a happy camper. Because he has a tendency to kick his stall, before heading off to bed, I decided to check on our horses.

Our stall kicker is a tall gelding. I got him, Gunner, and an older Arab mare, Tango, as a pair looking for a new home. Gunner and Tango are tied at the hip. Yes, as herd bound as can be. Separate one and the other is in distress, and vice versa. 

Now before you start typing to tell me how bad it is to have herd bound horses, I'd normally agree with you if I were riding either. If either were being ridden, then riding a herd bound horse is a pain since they don't want to be too far from the other. But frankly, these two rescues are not ridden. 

Also, I see horses being herd bound as a plus of sorts. In nature, in the wild, horses are herd bound. Because horses are prey animals, being herd bound is a matter of survival. Yes, their survival depends on being a herd because they see safety in numbers. A herd works together to use their senses of smell, hearing and sight to be on guard to possible danger. When the alarm sounds, a herd can go from grazing to a dead run in an instant. Because of this, their instinct for survival leads them to join up with others. My tall gelding joined up with my old Arab mare a long time before I got them. When she is in trouble, he throws a fit to alert me. Yes, he sees me as part of his herd as well. And yes, that's the plus of horses looking to be part of the herd. Horses can and will bond with people just as strongly as they do with other horses. 

If you're around horses for a while, you can't help but see that horses are thinking caring animals. They're not the dumb animals that some seem to think. For example, introduce a new horse to the mix and watch how they will instantly form opinions of that horse. From establishing a pecking order, to instant hostility, to establishing respect for a leader, they are more keenly aware of each other than we are of each other. And don't fool yourself, horses establish relationships within the herd. They partner up. I have a few horses and they've all paired up to a certain extent. 

While walking to our barn last night, I noticed that Gunner who was in the stall next to Tango was in a lather. Not kicking, just agitated as if something were wrong. 

My barn is built to where each 12 foot by 12 foot enclosed stall leads out to a 12 by 12 pen. Those outside pens were considered "outside" the barn until fairly recently when I built a lean-two over them. So now, in effect each stall is actually a 12 by 24 foot stall. 

Well, Gunner was agitated because Tango was down and stuck. She couldn't get up. She had cast against and under the outer fence rails of the outside portion of her stall. Yes, a horse can get stuck. It's called "cast" or "casting" in a stall. A horse is said to be "cast" when they lay down or rolled and managed to position themselves with their legs are so close to a wall or fence that they can't get up or re-position themselves to roll over.

In this case, that was the situation with Tango under the fence rails of her pen. Her legs were positioned in a way that she was caught and couldn't get up or roll over. 

Frankly, the last time that I saw such a thing take place was about 35 years ago. At the time, a neighbor's horse was stuck against a stall wall and I was called to help get his horse out. After a great deal of trial and error, with my neighbor almost being kicked a few times, it took him, me, and two other men to drag his horse out and away from that stall. 

I remember how we tried rolling him over and he nearly kicked the hell out of us. We tried one thing or another before we ended up tying a loop around it's neck and a loop around its hind quarters and dragged it out of that stall. He was a 1,200 pound horse and it took everything we had to pull it out of that stall. Once out, once the horse was on its front feet it worked to get it on its feet completely.

I haven't seen it happen since but I know full well that horses have a talent for getting themselves in trouble. Having a horse cast is said to take place in the wild, and while it can happen to horses in pastures in regards to rolling too near a fence or in a pen near a panel, it's a lot more common for horses to get cast in a stall.

What Is Cast?

"A horse is said to be cast when it gets stuck on its back or side and a bit like a turtle, can't get its feet under it to stand up again. The horse's legs may get jammed against a wall or fence, caught in a rope, its own halter, or blanket straps, stuck under a feeder, rail or another object, or the horse might lie down in a hole or hollow in the ground and not be able to scramble out of it." ​

How Does A Horse Get Cast?

"Horses that lie down in their stalls may lie down too close to a wall, and be unable to stretch out their legs to get up again. A horse may roll in its stall and get stuck with its legs up against a wall, or tangled in a hay feeder, or under stall boards. A horse will roll to scratch itself and get comfortable, or a horse might roll if it has colic. If a stable blanket gets shifted while the horse lies down, it can get tangled in the leg straps and be unable to stand up. In the pasture, horses can get cast when they lie down too close to fences or other objects. Even lying down in a hollow, or against a hill can prevent a horse from regaining its feet. Sometimes soft footing makes it hard for a horse to stand up after lying down. In the winter time, horses that lie or fall in deep snow can become cast. Horses can fall in trailers, and be unable to get up. Many horses, especially youngsters scratch their ears with a hind toe and can get tangled in their halter. Once tangled, the horse may fall and be unable to get up."

What Happens When a Horse Gets Cast?

"When a horse becomes cast, two things may happen: Feeling entrapped and unable to regain its feet can cause a horse to panic. As it flails and struggles, it can injure itself. The struggling horse can also hurt anyone who comes near. Although it seems trivial compared to what the panicking horse can do to itself and to the people trying to help it, it can also damage the stables, fences or anything else it strikes."

What Are "Reperfusion" Injuries?  

Besides a struggling horse possibly injuring itself, there is the problem of "reperfusion." If a horse is cast too long, there is the possibility that "reperfusion" injuries can take place. 

"The weight of their own bodies restricts blood flow to various areas of the body. When the horse stands on its feet again the blood flowing back into the affected areas causes pain and inflammation. Besides reperfusion injury, blood can pool in the muscles on the underside of the horse and nerves can become damaged by the pressure of the horse's own body weight. If the injuries from struggling and/or damage due to pooling blood are severe enough the horse may have to be euthanized. Blood can also pool in the lungs. If that happens, after a while, the horse can suffocate."

This is why time is so important and the horse has to get back on its feet. If the horse is not found for many hours when it becomes cast, it may die.

What to Do When a Horse Becomes Cast?

For me, I knew I had to stay calm and act quickly. After checking out the situation, I checked Tango's breathing and I looked for injuries. While I couldn't see anything in her dimly lit outside pen, I figured that I'd recheck her for injuries once I got her back on her feet. I knew the clock was ticking and I had no idea if she were down for minutes or hours. 

I put a loop around her neck and tried to roll her over while making sure that I wouldn't get hit with a flailing hoof. I noticed that at first she tried to get up even though she was stuck, then she calmed down almost as if knowing that I was there to help. Even though that's what I thought it seemed like at the moment, I've been around horses long enough to know that a horse that appears calm can start up again without notice. I was hoping to just roll her over, but that was not going to happen. 

When I couldn't roll her over, I knew I needed a longer rope, more light, help, and more muscle. As I made my way back up to my house, I formulated a plan to get Tango out of there and back on her feet. The first thing was to get my wife Deanna to help. Since she was still up, I told her we have a horse down and we have to get her on her feet. She joined me in the rain to help without even asking me what I planned to do. Yes, that's trust.

I took my pickup and pointed it toward Tango, and left it running with the high-beams on for light. I retrieved a few ropes, and then had my wife drive our Chevy Tahoe around the side of our barn. She then faced the front of the vehicle toward Tango's pen/stall. 

I moved a board Tango had knocked loose and I removed as many of the fence pen's enclosure that I could. About then, the rain started to come down harder. I took a rope and slipped a loop around her neck and tried to set a loop around her hind quarters as well as I could. I tied the end of the rope to the tow hook on the front of our Chevy Tahoe. 

I asked my wife to reverse very slowly when I gave the signal. Besides not wanting to hurt Tango, the rain made for traction problems that I wanted to avoid. 

Deanna watched my hand signals and reversed our Tahoe. Tango was tugged very slowly out from that predicament. When I though she was free, I signaled Deanna to stop. When I saw that she wasn't free yet, I signaled Deanna to pull more. And stop! 

Tango was away from the fencing and free. Almost immediately she worked her front feet and then her back to stand up. I gave her room as she stood. The poor thing was shaken and looked exhausted. I checked her again for cuts and injuries. Then after a few minutes, when I thought she was able to walk, I walked her around and into another pen. 

It's said that we shouldn't just pull on a horse's head and neck because that can possibly cause spinal injuries. But if that's all that we can do to save our horse, than that may be the only alternative that we have to solve the problem and save our horse. 

I knew time was huge factor and that I had to get her on her feet quickly or run into all sorts of problems which meant that I might lose her. I knew better than to put myself between her and the fencing that she was under. I knew that I tried to get her to roll over and couldn't, and with that I knew that I needed ropes, help, and more muscle to drag her out of her predicament. My wife jumped in and helped as we used a lunge line and our Chevy Tahoe to get her out of trouble. 

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here's my advice:

Above all else stay calm and be careful of not getting hurt when approaching a horse that's thrashing. Wait for the horse to calm down. Don't pull on a halter to try to move a downed horse, instead loop the neck. Also, don't pull on the horse's legs. They will resist that and permanent injuries can result in pulling the legs. 

If in a stall, make sure you have enough room to roll a horse that's cast. Stay as far back from the horse as you can after re-positioning her. As soon as the horse feels that she may be able to get up, there's a chance that she may start thrashing around trying to do just that.

Once a cast horse is on her feet, she'll calm down. Give her a few minutes before moving her. Take that time to check her for cuts or injuries like swellings. It's said that most horses escape casting unscathed. But others, especially a horse that was down for a long time until someone discovered her, can be pretty banged up. 

I rechecked Tango a few times today. It may have been my imagination, but I somehow think she appreciated seeing me even more than usual.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Cutthroat Gap Massacre

In 1833, there were only 24 stars on Old Glory. The map of the United States was called the "eagle map" because of the configuration of our states and territory. It resembled an eagle.


On March 4th of that year, President Andrew Jackson was sworn in for his second term. On May 11th, a French-American farmhand by the name of Antoine le Blanc murdered a family of three and was properly hanged. On June 6th, Andrew Jackson became the first U.S. President to ride a train.

On August 12th, the town of Chicago was established at the estuary of the Chicago River by 350 American settlers. It would very quickly become a large city. That year, from November 12th to the 13th, what was called "the Leonid meteor shower" took place. It was observed in Alabama. The spectacular site came to be known as the days the "Stars Fell on Alabama."

Just 29 years earlier, back on July 4th, 1803, the United States effectively doubled the size of the United States through a land deal with France. It was called the Louisiana Purchase. Through the Louisiana Purchase, the United States bought 828,000 square miles of land from France for the sum of 15 Million dollars. Yes, less than a home in Hollywood these days.

The whole deal included land from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and from Louisiana to Montana and up into what is present day Canada. The area belonged to the French from 1699 until 1762. As crazy as it sounds, that's when it became Spanish property. France gave the whole thing to Spain as a present. Yes, as a present. Supposedly France gave it to Spain because they were allies against the British.

As for how it got back into French hands, well it didn't last very long in Spanish hands because Napoleon Bonaparte of France was an Indian giver and took it back in 1800. Of course, at the time Napoleon was at war with the British and he need money because his war was getting expensive. Because he needed cash to fight the Brits, Napoleon sold the land to the United States for $15 Million.

The territory was huge. It was actually bigger than most of Western Europe and included what is today Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Arkansas, parts of Minnesota and Louisiana west of Mississippi River, a huge chunk of northeastern New Mexico, South Dakota, northern Texas, some parts of Wyoming, Montana, and even Colorado. Yes, also portions of Canadian provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan. And of course Oklahoma, which was known as Indian Territory.

Of course that's the other part of those European imperialists giving gifts of land to each other, taking them back, and then selling it. They didn't really care about who was already living there. Or should I say, who was waging war there. For example, in 1833 in Oklahoma, the Osage and the Kiowa were at war and had been for a long time. No, not against the French or the Spanish or the Americans, but against each other. And in reality, those tribes hated each other for a long time.

Some say that the Osage and the Kiowa were at war for decades or longer. In the Spring of 1833, that's when the Cutthroat Gap massacre took in what is today Cooperton, Kiowa County, Oklahoma.

It's said that the Kiowa gathered their tribes on the Plains near the Rainy Mountain Creek to organize their annual Sun Dance ceremony. The Sun Dance is considered the most important spiritual ceremony of the Plains tribes. During the ceremony, the tribes also hold their tribal council meetings. When the Kiowa arrived near the Rainy Mountain Creek, it's said they found a warning sign and decided to leave the area as quickly as possible. The warning sign was an Osage arrow left there for the Kiowa to find.

Why leave and run away? Well, the Osage were simply a bigger tribe and such a warning was taken seriously. The Osage had more warriors and more weapons. They were the Kiowa's biggest enemy. The Kiowa's mortal enemy.

The problem for the Kiowa was one of grave concern. The situation they faced was one of having to make a difficult choice between two equally undesirable choices. Their Sun Dance religious ceremony was at the heart of who they are as a people and because it was extremely important to them, it needed to take place. It was already agreed upon that all of the Kiowa would have to come back to take part in the ceremony.

Kiowa Chief Islandman's group headed by the left the creek and went southwest. They found a place west of a mountain that had good grazing and looked as though it could be defended if need be. Thinking they were safe there, they set up camp. Then almost right after arriving, most of their warriors decided to leave their new camp to raid a nearby Ute camp. Some say they left to hunt buffalo. Either way, they left their camp undefended. Most of the men left to raid a Utes camp and to hunt buffalo.

Kiowa Chief Islandman sent out his warriors not realizing that they had been noticed by a hunting party of Osage warriors from Three Forks. The Osage warriors had been out hunting buffalo on the Kiowa lands when they spotted Chief Islandman small group on the move looking for a place to set up camp. They stalked Chief Islandman’s group every since they quickly left the meeting site near the Rainy Mountain Creek.

Besides being mortal enemies, the Osage saw that the Kiowa had horses in their camp. The Osage wanted the Kiowa's horses. But also, they wanted their food and supplies. The Osage knew that they needed more warriors to launch an attack and take what they wanted. And no, it didn't matter to the Osage if they killed every Kiowa there in the process.

The small band of Osage warriors attacked the Kiowa camp and mercilessly slaughtered all of the women and children, included the elderly. The attack was easy because the Osage found the camp defenseless. While they were after the horses and supplies, they and saw it their chance to wipe out that small group.

Genocide being what it is, "the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation." No one can argue the point that the Osage intention was genocidal in nature. Like it or not, killing warriors is warfare. Killing women and children to halt the existence of a people is genocide.

The Kiowa warriors who were said to have either been away from camp buffalo hunting or raiding a Ute camp left the camp unprotected and the Osage killed approximately 150 Kiowa because of that fact. The Osage did take a couple of children as slaves, but also took the Kiowa's sacred Tai-me medicine bundle.

It was a surprise attack, and the Kiowa women found themselves outnumbered. Panic sent the Kiowa women and children in every direction hoping to find safety. Though mayhem swept through the camp, a visiting Pawnee warrior attempted to fight off the Osage warriors to help the Kiowa women flee with their children. One Kiowa father who had not left the camp is said to have grabbed his young son and actually carry him with his teeth as he tried to fight his way out of the carnage. the story goes that he would put his son down, fire arrows at the Osage invaders, pick him up again and run.

There's another story of a young Kiowa boy who put himself between the Osage warriors and the other children while firing arrows at the Osage. Some of the Kiowa women fought as hard as they could while telling their children to run and hide. Some gathered up their babies and fled but were no match for the Osage who roared into the camp. Though screaming for mercy, the Osage ruthlessly decapitated, scalped, and murdered all there. After the killings, the Osage then burned down their teepees to deprive shelter to those returning. And no, the horror didn't stop there. The worse was found later when the Kiowa warriors returned to camp.

It's said someone escaped and alerted a nearby Kiowa camp. This had their warriors rushing to the help Chief Islandman's tribe. By the time the Kiowa warriors arrived, Chief Islandman's warriors returned to the camp. They found the decapitated and dismembered bodies of their wives and children, and even their elderly. To their horror they also found that the Osage warriors had taken the heads of their victims and placed them in cooking pots where they were left there to be found.

The Kiowa warriors also found that two sibling children were taken. One was a small boy named Thunder and a girl named White Weasel. As for White Weasel, she was returned to the Kiowa a few year later. Her brother, Thunder, had later died a slave of the Osage.

After the massacre, Chief Islandman was blamed for not providing proper security, for not setting up some sort of a perimeter, for not leaving enough warriors behind to protect the camp. He was held responsible for the camp being attacked and was replaced by Chief To-hau-san. Besides the horses and supplies that they were after, the Osage also took the Kiowa's sacred Tai-me medicine bundle that was necessary in order to perform the Sun Dance. Because of that, the Kiowa were not able to perform the Sun Dance ceremony for two years after the massacre. It took Chief To-hau-san a long time to talk the Osage into giving their Tai-me bundle back to the Kiowa.

The place of the massacre became known as Cutthroat Gap. After the massacre, the Kiowa never used it again for their Sun Dance ceremony. In fact, legend has it that the spirits of the Kiowa dead still wander the area. Some say their screams for mercy can still be heard in the wind.

Tom Correa