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    Indian Depredation Case Files The Sworn Depositions Part VI

    The Direct Examination of Andrew Johnson

    Rath and Company (represented by Charles Rath, Robert M. Wright and James Langton), Myers and Leonard, and the Cator Brothers filed suit in the U.S. Court of Claims for the recovery of losses they suffered during and after the battle of Adobe Walls. Their sworn depositions contain interesting information regarding the actual battle of Adobe Walls and the immediate events afterward. Other individuals who provided sworn depositions either in support or contradicting previous testimony concerning the events at Adobe Walls were Andrew Johnson, William “Billy” Dixon and W.B. “Bat” Masterson.

    The men were questioned individually and gave formal depositions at various locations and dates. Rath, Wright, Johnson and James Cator had gotten together some days before they were to provide their sworn testimony to discuss the events and refresh their memories. What’s interesting is even though these men had gotten together, to get their stories straight so to speak, there was disagreement about the facts in the sworn depositions they gave.

    This is going to be a fairly long series of articles as some of the depositions were quite long. The information provided about the circumstances surrounding the battle of Adobe Walls, the differences in memory and styles of testimony, along with the general history of the great buffalo hunts, certainly make them interesting reading and worth repeating here. We hope you agree.

    We continue this series with the Direct Examination of Andrew Johnson:

    Complainants then produced Andrew Johnson, their next witness, who, being duly sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the cause now in hearing, deposed and testified as follows:

    Q.  Please state your name, residence and age.

    A.  Andrew Johnson, age forty-seven, reside at Dodge City, Kansas.

    Q.  Where were you on the 27th of June, 1874?

    A.  Adobe Walls, Pan Handle, Texas.

    Q.  Were you engaged in any business there at that time?

    A.  I was employed by Chas. Rath & Co.

    Q.  In what capacity?

    A.  Working in store, working with hides, and so forth.

    Q.  Were you present at Adobe Walls on the 27th of June, 1874, when there was a raid made upon that place by some Indians?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  How long had you been at Adobe Walls at that time?

    A.  Between a month and a half and two months, I guess.

    Q.  Had you been in that country at any time before that?

    A.  No sir.

    Q.  Where had you been living prior to going to Adobe Walls?

    A.  Dodge City, Kansas.

    Q.  How long had you been living at Dodge City?

    A.  Since the spring of ’73.

    Q.  Are you able to state what Indians it was that came to Adobe Walls on the 27th of June, 1874?

    A.  Kiowa, Comanche and Cheyennes.

    Q.  Any others?

    A.  No sir. The Arapahoes were not in the raid.

    Q.  How do you know they were Cheyennes, Kiowas and Comanches?

    A.  We told by the dead Indians left on the ground after the fight.

    Q.  State in your own language and way, and describe the attack and fight when it commenced, where you first saw the Indians, and what they did.

    A.  About the break of day in the morning there was an alarm given to the store that the Indians were coming. We got up, before we got lights we was surrounded. They commenced shooting.

    Q.  When they came up surrounding you, did they fire on you?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  Did they kill any one?

    A.  Killed four men.

    Q.  How long did the fight last?

    A.  Probably about two hours.

    Q.  Then what did the Indians do after they had been fighting two hours?

    A.  Went off a little west and stayed round about three days.

    Q.  How far did they draw off?

    A.  About a mile or two, around the creeks.

    Q.  During this time did they come up and fire any at you?

    A.  Yes sir, two or three days after about sixty come up within gun shot to drive off some stock. There were some hunters come in during that time and they come up to get their stock - about thirty or forty head of stock.

    Q.  When the attack was made, the first attack, how many of you were at Adobe Walls?

    A.  Twenty-two.

    Q.  There were four of those twenty-two killed?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  Where were the twenty-two men during the time of the fight? Where were you when fighting?

    A.  I was in the store I was employed in - Rath & Co.’s store.

    Q.  You fired from the store?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  Did you have any stockade there?

    A.  We had a part of a stockade, we did not have it finished. We had not worked on it for several days before that attack.

    Q.  When those hunters came into camp, how many men were there then?

    A.  After all the hunters came in I expect between a hundred and fifty and two hundred men were in and around there.They were a week or ten days coming. Some continued to come in for two weeks. It was two or three days before any hunters came in. We had to haul the dead horses and ponies away. They left their dead ponies and they made a bad stench.

    Q.  How many days before any hunters came in?

    A.  I think one or two came in the second day.

    Q.  Then during the entire fight there, there was nobody but you twenty-two men?

    A.  No sir.

    Q.  Did you send some couriers or messengers to Dodge City?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  Did Rath & Co. have any buffalo hides there?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  Do you know how many?

    A.  I cannot state exactly just how many.

    Q.  How many to the best of your judgment.

    A.  I judge there were between eight to twelve thousand.

    Q.  During that fight, were any of those hides destroyed?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  How?

    A.  They were stacked up and was quite high, stacks twelve or fifteen feet high, and they was torn down and rain come and they was laying out and got on them and they got spoiled that way.

    Q.  Were any of them hurt by shooting into them?

    A.  I do not know that shooting into them would have damaged them very much.

    Q.  Were you there when the goods were removed?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  How long after the fight was it that the teams arrived to remove the goods?

    A.  About a month after we sent the message before we got transportation.

    Q.  During that time, were you guarding all the while?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  Who did the guarding?

    A.  We who was working around there, and a good many of the hunters who came in. They stayed and lived around there. We fed twenty five to seventy five men a day.

    Q.  During all this time, were the Indians around there?

    A.  About three days they were around.

    Q.  The balance of the time before transportation came, were there Indians about?

    A.  Of course, once in a while we could see them scouting about the country, but they didn’t make any more attacks.

    Q.  They did not attack you any more after that?

    A.  No sir.

    Q.  Did you help to load the goods in the wagons that came there to remove them?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  After you were through loading the goods sent back, were any goods left there on the ground?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  What kind?

    A.  Grain, flour, bacon.

    Q.  What kind of grain?

    A.  Corn and oats, I think.

    Q.  Did you go back to Dodge with that train?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  Are you able to state the value of the goods left there?

    A.  I could not state the value of the goods – the exact value.

    Q.  Can you state anywhere near the value – approximating?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  You may state what, in your judgment, the goods left there were worth. (Objected to by Government counsel as being incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.)

    A.  Perhaps two thousand dollars or more. Goods come pretty high down in that country.

    Q.  They were composed of corn, bacon, oats and flour?

    A.  Yes, and sugar and coffee.

    Q.  Did these hunters all live there at the time you folks went back to Dodge City?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  All went with you?

    A.  Well, some probably went some other direction, but all left there.

    Q.  Why were those goods left there?

    A.  The corn was too expensive to haul back, they did not have enough transportation, and took the most valuable goods.

    Q.  About how many Indians made the attack at Adobe Walls?

    A.  I judge between four and six hundred.

    Q.  Between four and six hundred?

    A.  Yes.

    Q.  Do you know anything about a mule that Rath & Co lost down there?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  What became of that mule?

    A.  I do not know what became of it. It was drove off by the Indians.

    Q.  During this time?

    A.  Before we had our fight.

    Q.  When they came in there before the attack?

    A.  The mule was run off before the attack.

    Q.  Do you know anything about the horse they had there?

    A.  Yes.

    Q.  Where was that horse?

    A.  Tied to the wagon.

    Q.  What became of the horse?

    A.  It was killed.

    Q.  During the fight?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  By the Indians?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  Are you able to state the value of that horse?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  What is the value of that horse?

    A.  One hundred dollars.

    Q.  What buildings did Rath & Co. have down there?

    A.  Store buildings.

    Q.  Did they have some additions to it?

    A.  Yes sir, block-houses or fortifications as we called them.

    Q.  Did you go down there with Mr. Rath when he first went down?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  What was the value of those buildings?

    A.  I do not know exactly the value of the buildings.

    Q.  What became of the buildings?

    A.  I do not know, it was left there when we left there.

    Q.  It had not been destroyed when you left?

    A.  No sir.

    Q.  Who paid, if you know, and fed the men that guarded the store?

    A.  Charles Rath & Co.

    Q.  Did you know whether there were guards with the train that came down?

    A.  Yes sir, there were guards.

    Q.  Can you state how many?

    A.  Must have been fifty or more.

    Q.  At the time you went down with Mr. Rath to Adobe Walls were there any hostile Indians in the neighborhood that you know of?

    A.  No sir.

    Q.  Do you know how far it is from Adobe Walls to the Cheyenne & Arapahoe reservation?

    A.  No sir.

    Q.  Prior to the raid on the 27th of June, had there been any disturbances from any of those Indians there?

    A.  Yes sir, on the 11th of June four hunters were killed.

    Q.  Do you know how far from Adobe Walls to where they were killed?

    A.  No, I do not, exactly. They were killed some where near the Whitefish.

    Q.  Was that all the disturbance you had heard of up to that time?

    Q.  Had the Indians been in the habit of coming around over there?

    A.  No sir.

    Q.  Had you seen any Indians around there until that morning?

    A.  Well, the evening before the attack, about dark, we could not tell if it was Indians or buffalo, we seen three or four     objects out on the hills. We could not tell whether Indians or buffalo.

    Q.  Up to that time had there been any Indians around there?

    A.  No sir, they come all at once when they come to see us.

    Q.  Do you know how many left on the ground – how many killed there?

    A.  Yes sir.

    Q.  How many?

    A.  Fourteen left on the ground right in front of the store, scattered around, and some out on the hills.

    Q.  Do you know of any others?

    A.  Nothing except reports. They took a good many away on their horses, did not leave them, but took them away on their horses. We saw afterward a good many bloody bandages around there on the hills.1

    Next Issue: The Cross Examination of Andrew Johnson C


    1. U.S. Court of Claims, Indian Depredation Case Files. Case 4593, Charles Rath and Company Claimants. Record Group 123, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C.

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