Skip to content

The Battle of Plum Creek

The Battle of Plum Creek and the events leading up to it are famous in the annals of The Republic of Texas’ History. The famous Battle of Plum Creek was sparked by the unfortunate Council House Fight in 1840.

Early that year, The Penatekas or “Honey Eater” Comanches—suffering from attacks by Cheyenne and Arapaho, and from battles with the Texas Rangers, in addition to facing dwindling numbers due to smallpox—agreed to hold to peace talks with Texas. When the talks were agreed to, and before they were held, the Texas government representatives demanded return of all captives, and that the Comanche would pledge to abandon Central Texas, avoid white settlements, and not interfere with Texas incursions.

The following March 19th, twelve chiefs, twenty-one warriors, along with thirty-two other Comanches arrived in San Antonio for the negotiations. Only one anglo captive was delivered, a 16 year old girl who had been badly treated. She was covered with bruises and scars and her nose was burned off to the bone. She revealed that there were more than a dozen other captives which the Indians planned to ransom later.

The Texas representatives informed the chiefs that they would be held hostage until the remaining captives were delivered. The Chiefs let out a war whoop in response and reached for their weapons. A fight ensued and all twelve Comanche chiefs and eighteen warriors, three women and two children were killed, others captured. Several troops were killed or wounded. The situation enraged the Comanches who believed those engaged in peace talks were immune from acts of war.

As an aftermath of the Council House Fight, the Comanche launched a retaliatory raid, led by their remaining chief, Buffalo Hump. Estimates from the time are that there were probably 500 warriors and as many as 500 other members of the band, including families. On August 6th, the Raiders  began a two-day attack of the town of Victoria, killing a number of residents, capturing more than 1500 horses and mules, including a herd belonging to Mexican traders. The defending residents were able to prevent the complete sacking of the town and a group of Victoria men went for help.

Leaving Victoria, the Indians proceeded to the small port town of Linnville, killing three men along the way. On the 8th of August, the Comanche attacked the town, plundering the houses, stores, and a large warehouse. Fortunately the citizens fled oceanside and most were saved by boarding small boats and a schooner. A few citizens were killed and at least four hostages taken.

For the entire day the Comanche butchered cattle, gathered and loaded goods from the local warehouse onto horses and mules. Stealing an estimated $30,000 worth of merchandise which had been destined for San Antonio and the Mexican trade—clothing, hats, umbrellas, silk, and other goods. Attired in items they had stolen—wearing shoes, top hats, coats worn upside down and buttoned up the back, and riding horses draped in calico with yards of ribbon tied to their manes and tails, and carrying silk umbrellas, they fired all the structures except the warehouse and left. The final count of settlers killed in the two attacks was twenty three.  A small group of Linwood men followed to keep track of where the Indians traveled and a few skirmishes occurred.

As word of the Victoria/Linnville attacks spread, Texas Ranger groups and other Texans from all around began to gather at a ranch between Gonzales and Austin on the path the Indians were taking. Waiting for more men to gather they waited until they were concerned that the Indians would escape. They began to position themselves for attack at Plum Creek, just as Major General Felix Huston, head of the Texas militia arrived and took command. Fighting ensued, Chief Buffalo Hump was killed, the Comanche began retreating and the battle turned into a running fight which stretched for miles as the Comanche scattered. The Indians abandoned their plunder, killed all but one hostage—who was wounded in the chest, but was saved from death by her corset. When it was over, one report says 80 Comanche were killed. The Texans reported one man dead and seven wounded.

So ended one of the boldest Comanche attacks on Texas towns.*

*Historians may differ on a few details, but  much of this report from written reports of participants. including James Wilson Nichols in his Journal and  William Hall in his memoir Brazos.