These men were now ordered to dismount and lie down, as the opposite side would take a hand when the swimming wolves came within range of shotguns and carbines, to say nothing of six-shooters. The current carried the swimming ones down the river, but every man was in readiness to give them a welcome. The fusillade which greeted them was like a skirmish-line in action, but the most effective execution was with buckshot as they came staggering and water-soaked out of the water. Before the shooting across the river had ceased, a yell of alarm surged through the line, and the next moment every man was climbing into his saddle and bringing his arms into position for action. No earthly power could have controlled the men, for coming at the line less than two hundred yards distant was the corralled band of wolves under the leadership of a monster dog wolf, evidently a leader of some band, and every gun within range opened on them. By the time they had lessened the intervening distance by one half, the entire band deserted their leader and retreated, but unmindful of consequences he rushed forward at the line. Every gun was belching fire and lead at him, while tufts of fur floating in the air told that several shots were effective. Wounded he met the horsemen, striking right and left in splendid savage ferocity. The horses snorted and shrank from him, and several suffered from his ugly thrusts. An occasional effective shot was placed, but every time he forced his way through the cordon he was confronted by a second line. A successful cast of a rope finally checked his course; and as the roper wheeled his mount to drag him to death, he made his last final rush at the horse, and, springing at the flank, fastened his fangs into a stirrup fender, when a well-directed shot by the roper silenced him safely at last.
During the excitement, there were enough cool heads to maintain the line, so that none escaped. The supreme question now was to make the kill with safety, and the line was ransacked for volunteers who could shoot a rifle with some little accuracy. About a dozen were secured, who again advanced on the extreme right flank to within a hundred and fifty yards, and dismounting, flattened themselves out and opened on the skurrying wolves. It was afterward attributed to the glaring of the sun on the white sand, which made their marksmanship so shamefully poor, but results were very unsatisfactory. They were recalled, and it was decided to send in four shotguns and try the effect of buckshot from horseback. This move was disastrous, though final.
They were ordinary double-barreled shotguns, and reloading was slow in an emergency. Many of the wolves were wounded and had sought such cover as the driftwood afforded. The experiment had barely begun, when a wounded wolf sprang out from behind an old root, and fastened upon the neck of one of the horses before the rider could defend himself, and the next moment horse and rider were floundering on the ground.