Thursday, November 17, 2011

Comancheria

George Catlin, 1834:  Comanche Feats of Horsemanship
The path south on Highway 183 through Kiowa County traverses a small section of the land known during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as "Comancheria."    The Comanche people that lived there have been likened to migrating birds: they would go south to stay warm for the winter months and travel north to stay cool during the summer season searching all the while for the herds of buffalo which provided their primary source of food, fuel, housing  and clothing.   Comanches were among the first Native Americans to acquire horses brought to North America by the Spaniards.   They mastered animal husbandry over the years and became legendary for their horsemenship.  It was reported that they could ride, full-speed, on their battle-trained ponies while accurately shooting their weapons, even while crouching horizontally off to the side for protection.  Additionally, Comanches mastered violent warfare.  Their constant migration pattern put them into frequent territorial battles with the Spanish, the Mexicans and the other plains Indian tribes as well as the outposts of white settlers claiming more and more land in the 1800s.  They were known to ruthlessly torture defeated enemies on the battlefield in horrid ways.   Human scalps were trophies of the battle and a Comanche warrior's prestige was often measured by the number of scalps he collected.

Cries for protection grew with the westward expansion of white settlements into the plains.  U. S. troops were sent to man a string of forts that were built throughout the area.  This protection was primarily defensive.  The newly formed state of Texas, particularly effected by Indian raids, had organized their own state troops to protect its citizens.  These troops were willing to go on the offensive against the Indian raids.  They would ride well into the Comancheria to attack -  they were The Texas Rangers.   The U.S. Army commander at Texas' Fort Belknap later got permission to do the same.  This was a clear shift in military strategy.  He sent Major Earl Van Dorn with four Companies of the 2nd Cavalry to pursue the Comanches into their territory north of the Red River.  In 1858 the troops went north and established a camp along Otter Creek near a part of the highway between the present day Mountain Park and Snyder communities in Oklahoma.  They named their base for this offensive Camp Radziminski after a fallen member of their Cavalry.

Camp Radziminski Marker (from blogoklahoma.us)

There were never any permanent structures built at Camp Radziminski.  It was to be used as an outpost to launch raids into Indian Territory.  The site was abandoned by the Army just a little over a year later.  Today there are only a few piles of stones left at the site of the encampment - stones and a lone highway marker.

4 comments:

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

Men have been waging wars and committing otrocities for thousands of years. The Indians were killing and capturing each other before the white man got there. Neither did each other much good. My realtives were Cherekee and my grandmother's grandmother marched in the Trail of Tears. (That's my grandmother's side. My grandfather's family were British nobility. I don't know what that makes me!! lol)

It sad anytime a way of life is destroyed.

mary said...

The Trail of Tears was a very sad tale. Was she from Georgia or NC at that time? Maybe you have found your way "home" now that you live there!

Rob From Amersfoort said...

This post triggered me to read more about the Comanche. What a powerful, fierce, tribe. I'm surprised Oklahoma is so interesting! The trail of tears is very sad, it reminds me of what the Turks did with the Armenians during WW1.

mary said...

Rob, you're right. Comanche were terrifying to whites and Indians alike at that time. The Cherokee lived in North Carolina and Georgia on prime cotton producing land. They were one of the 5 "Civilized" tribes. They lived like white people, were educated, had normal jobs, were plantation owners and slave holders. They were sent to live in Indian Territory in a way they didn't know how.