EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE CANADIAN RIVER EXPEDITION.
Two lengthy autobiographical manuscripts and related correspondence by Corporal Leander Herron, one of the few recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor for service in Kansas during the Indian Wars. Herrons citation was granted for assisting a party of 4 enlisted men outside Fort Dodge in 1868, who were attacked by about 50 Indians at some distance from the fort and remained with them until the party was relieved. He also was engaged in a number of pivotal events on the frontier, including the Canadian River expedition and the Battle of Coon Creek, and worked for a time on the Pony Express. There is a statue of Corporal Herron in front of the Howard County courthouse in St. Paul, Minnesota, erected in 1919 to recognize his service on the frontier.
This cache of materials was received by Robert M. Wright in preparation for his book on Dodge City. The collection includes:
1. Autograph Manuscript Signed (Lee Herron of Saint Paul, Nebraska, one of Wallaces scouts and one of the Government messengers called the Pony Express,), 33 pages, 4to, np, n.d., in pencil, some soiling and marginal tears, but readable. A fascinating account of the preliminary thrust of General Alfred Sullys Canadian River Expedition south of the Arkansas River in 1868. Herron begins by recalling some of the men on the tour who had been trained in the ways of Indians, like California Joe and Wild Bill Apache. After mustering at Fort Dodge the troops cross the little Arkansas and immediately come under attack by the Southern tribes. Herron evinces great respect for the prowess of the enemy. The Indians became bolder on every opportunity where they could secrete themselves behind a clump of timber or in a ravine nigh enough to our skirmishes and to be close enough to use their bows and arrows. They done so with deadly affect. And let me say right here a bow and arrow at a range from one to two hundred feet in the hands of an expert was more deadly than a Colt or a Remington revolver, and no one can have any conception of the force of these Indian implements of war without seeing them manipulated by an expert--at a distance of 100 yards an arrow would go clean through a huge buffalo.
General Sully organized his troops in a protective square as they moved resolutely forward on the Indian villages. One day as we bivouacked for dinner a medicine man more daring than usual and to convince the warriors that the white mans bullets could do him no harm would come out in front of the warriors on his pony and wave defiance at us with streamers of what appeared to be colored cloth. He could not have been more than a hundred yards off but was constantly on the move back and forth. At least a hundred shots had been fired at him and as far as I could tell he was not hit at least not seriously. California Joe and me were sitting on the ground nigh one another partaking of our black coffee and hard tack. He was quite much interested in the shooting at the medicine man without any apparent satisfaction [at the] results and became disgusted as he expressed it at such wild shooting. He leisurely reached over picked up Old Bess as he called his Spencer rifle took deliberate aim at the medicine man and at the first shot dropped him off his horse. But the medicine man jumped up and mounted his pony again and got back to his warriors. Whether the warrior ever recovered from his wound from Joes Spencer I never knew.
The manuscript is full of fascinating details, including how the Indians made poison arrows by agitating rattle snakes to attack a piece of liver and then secreting the juices, or how Bill Wilson, the legendary scout sent down from Fort Dodge, escapes an ambush by doubling back and having his men hide in the tall grass. He concludes with a massive battle in a mountain pass of the Wichita mountains, which forces their retreat back up the Santa Fe trail to Fort Dodge, almost exhausted of ammunition.
2. Autograph Manuscript Signed (Lee Herron of Saint Paul), 15 pages, n.d., 4to, in pen, with marginal chips and wear, else readable. Entitled Capturing the Box family, the manuscript is Herrons account of the rescue of the Box girls in 1866. The Box family had been overtaken by Indians while returning to their home. The father was killed because he would not surrender and the youngest child was also killed but the mother and three girls were taken prisoner. Robert M. Wright reprints a version of this manuscript by Herron in Dodge City, Cowboy Capital.
3. Three Autograph Letters Signed, circa 1913-14, offering Wright the use of his manuscripts on the Sully expedition, the Battle of Coon Creek, and others. Evidently Mr. Herron had been approached by a film company in Cincinnati about doing a project on his life but he thought Wright would be a bette