The Indian’s Head

Authored by Dennis Muncrief, June 23, 2002.

On March 18th, 1854, a troop of twenty Dragoons arrived at Ft. Arbuckle searching for some killers. The lieutenant reported to Captain Seneca Simmons, post commander 7th Infantry Company “H”, and informed him that Indians had murdered Jesse Stern, the Indian Agent at Ft. Belknap, Texas and a companion near that fort.

The Dragoons had followed a trail from Belknap to the Arbuckles. It was thought the Indians were Delaware and there was a band of four hundred Delaware living at Arbuckle under their chief Black Beaver. Captain Simmons immediately summoned Black Beaver to his headquarters.

Colonel Seneca G. Simmons
Colonel, then Captain Seneca G. Simmons

Black Beaver was one of the most influential Indians in the west and was a highly respected and sought after scout and interpreter. Captain Simmons demanded he turn over the killers to the army. Black Beaver told Simmons that he had heard of this killing and that it was not Delaware, but Kickapoo that had committed the murders.

At this same time there were also about five hundred Kickapoo that lived at Ft. Arbuckle. Simmons sent a runner to bring in Mosqua, the Kickapoo chief. Mosqua told Simmons that the men who did the killing were indeed Kickapoo but the men heard of the Dragoons coming for them and they had already fled the military reservation.

This response did not please Simmons in the least as he did not believe Mosqua and thought he was hiding the guilty men. Tempers quickly flared and Captain Simmons ordered the entire garrison of 250 men to prepare for a combat patrol to the Kickapoo village.

The math doesn’t work too well here as there were 250 soldiers and 900 Kickapoo and Delaware that were getting stirred up at the thought of the army coming into their camps. Black Beaver began trying to defuse things between Mosqua and Simmons. If the army had marched on the two villages they would have been massacred. Although the Kickapoo and Delaware were peaceful Indians they were not about to let the army just march in and tear things up looking for people that were already gone.

After things settled down a bit, a young boy was found in the Kickapoo village that had accompanied the killers to Texas. He identified the two killers as Sa-Kok-Wah and Pe-a-Tah-Kak. The boy said that the Indians had attacked a carriage with the agent and a companion about six miles from Ft. Belknap. They had only two bullets in their rifle and shot two holes in the carriage but missed the occupants. The white men had been killed with a tomahawk and beaten with the empty rifle and their property taken.

Simmons told Mosqua that he had better bring in the guilty parties or the army would act swiftly and decisively. The next day, the Kickapoo brought in the body of Pe-a-Tah-Kak, he had been shot. Simmons, upon seeing this, decided that Mosqua was telling the truth all along but told him he must also punish the other killer.

Simmons told Mosqua that the remaining murderer must be killed. He told the chief that if the man was killed within 25 miles of Ft. Arbuckle to come and get him and he would ride out and identify the body. If the fleeing felon was killed farther than 25 miles from Ft. Arbuckle to cut the man”s head off and bring it in to the fort.

Sa-Kok-Wah had fled to Tom Pecan”s village forty miles up the Washita where he had a brother living. When the brother ask Sa-Kok-Wah what his problem was, he told his brother that he had killed the agent in Texas. The brother then asked what he planned to do. He said he would go to the Comanche country in Texas or maybe to Missouri. At that moment, the killer saw through the window the Kickapoo posse approaching. He made a dash for the back door where upon his brother struck him in the head with a hatchet, killing him.

Two days later, Mosqua returned to Captain Simmons headquarters at Ft. Arbuckle with the head of Sa-Kok-Wah.

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Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.