Saving Lieutenant’s Hair


Buffalo Soldier Series

Just above the mouth of the Pecos River in Val Verde County, Texas, April 25, 1875 – Having tracked a band of hostile Comanche Indians for five days, John L. Bullis and three Seminole Negro Indian Scouts were ready for action. Slowly and methodically, Bullis and his three troopers inched closer, undetected toward the Indians. For decades, hostile bands of native peoples in the region had raided settlements and then slipped back across the Mexican Border to the sanctuary of the high mountains south of the border. It was Bullis’ job to see that this particular party was punished for its conduct. As the four men lay concealed about seventy-five yards from the Indians, Bullis noted there were some seventy-five horses and twenty-five to thirty Indians. On his orders, the scouts opened fire on the hostiles and for nearly forty-five minutes the two sides had a spirited gun battle. Twice Bullis and his men captured the Indian ponies, but eventually the sheer numbers of the enemy and the fact that they possessed repeating Winchester Rifles turned the tide of the battle in favor of the Comanches. Seeing that they were about to be cut off from their horses, Bullis wisely ordered a withdrawal. Writing just two days after the action, he described the final moments of the engagement, “We were at last compelled to give away…I regret to say I lost mine [horse] with saddle and bridle complete and just saved my hair by jumping on my Sergeant’s horse, back of him.” Bullis lauded the bravery of his men and recommended each for a decoration. All three soldiers, John Ward, Issac Payne, and Pompey Factor were later awarded the Medal of Honor. John Bullis was indeed proud of his scouts, and he should have been, as few groups in American history made a greater contribution to the taming of the west than the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts.

Release Year: 2001

SKU: gl-082 Category:

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