The scouts’ most celebrated action took place in 1875 during a skirmish with
Comanches. After tracking about 25 Comanches to their camp on the Pecos River,
three scouts and Lieutenant Bullis opened fire. They killed three warriors
before the Comanches realized how few were their attackers. The scouts escaped
when the Indians counter-attacked, but Bullis could not corral his mount.
Turning back, Sergeant John Ward led a dramatic ride into the teeth of the
enemy, narrowly rescuing Bullis while Private Pompey Factor and Trumpeter Isaac
Payne kept the Indians at bay. The four men dashed to safety, then rode 56 miles
to reach Fort Clark later that day. Bullis credited the scouts with “saving his
hair,” and all three scouts received Medals of Honor for their gallantry.
Throughout the period, though they were often outnumbered in hostile
engagements, the scouts never lost a man. Had they been white, their courage
would have been the stuff of legend.
Sources: Wallace 92-111, Mulroy 122, Porter Black 193-194.
Part 4, Freedom: l