At 2:00 o'clock in the morning, a sharp crack woke several hunters sleeping in Hanrahan's Saloon. They thought the ridge pole had split. This woke the camp. Billy Dixon dozed until dawn and rose to saddle his horse.
Olive K. Dixon, Billy Dixon's wife wrote of that moment. "Then I was thunderstruck. The black body of moving objects suddenly spread out like a fan, and from it went up one single, solid yell! A war whoop that seemed to shake the very air of the early morning. Then came the thundering roar of running horses, and the hideous cries of each of the individual warriors engaged in the onslaught. I could see that hundreds of Indians were coming.
Had it not been for the ridge pole, all of us would have been asleep."
At first Dixon believed they were aiming at the Walls' horses in a pasture along Bents creek. His own horse reared and bolted as he tried to get a shot off. Now, it was obvious. They weren't trying to steal horses. "They were coming as straight as a bullet toward the buildings, whipping their horses at every jump. There was never a more splendid barbaric sight. In after years I was glad that I had seen it. Hundreds of warriors, the flower of the fighting men of the southwestern Plains tribes, mounted upon their finest horses, armed with guns and lances, and carrying heavy shields of thick buffalo hide, were coming like the wind. Over all was splashed the rich colors of red, vermilion and ochre, on the bodies of the men, on the bodies of the running horses. Scalps dangled from bridles, gorgeous war-bonnets fluttered their plumes, bright feathers dangled from the tails and manes of the horses, and the bronzed, half naked bodies of the riders glittered with ornaments of silver and brass. Behind this head-long charging host stretched the plains, on whose horizons the rising sun was lifting its morning fires. The warriors seemed to emerge from this glowing background."
Dixon ran to the door of Hanrahan's saloon. It had already been closed and bolted. Bat Masterson, on the inside, managed to unlock the crude door just as Dixon banged on it with his rifle again.
"Hold it," Dixon screamed as the bullets splattered into the adobe and the arrows stuck in the wood. "Billy Ogg is right behind me."
Ogg tumbled into the open door and the three of them slammed it shut. An Indian rammed his horse into the door. Then he tried to back his horse in, whipping him and trying to get him to kick the door in. Another Indian jumped on the roof and tried to pull the sod patches off so he could shoot down at the men. A few booming shots from the buffalo guns discouraged the Indian at the door. Shots through the roof did the same for the Indian dancing above them.
The first charge had ended. Adobe Walls stood.
There had been no surprise. Only two men were dead. The Sadler brothers who were sleeping in their wagon were killed and scalped. Their dog was killed as well and a patch of hide was cut from the animal's side.
The Indians grouped for another charge and the men in the adobe buildings were ready this time. Several of them were veterans of the Civil War. For an unexplained reason, again a first, the Indians had a bugler. He knew every bugle call the Army had. Rally! Charge! Retreat! As he blew the calls he only told the men at the 'walls' what to expect.
The fierce charges by the Indians went on for hours. By mid morning, dead horses and some dead Indians were stacking up near the buildings. As Dixon said, "the poor animals, wounded, would come to us for help. There was nothing we could do." Many of the men were still in their underwear without shoes.
After so many hours of combat the nine men in Hanrahan's saloon were running low on ammunition.
Last Update: 10/16/97
Web Author: David White