About four o’clock in the afternoon the boy corporals and myself, tired with our work of repairing and arranging quarters, sat down to a lunch of broiled grouse.
We were busily picking the last bones when we were startled by loud shouts. Quickly running to the centre of the parade, where the men were rapidly assembling with their arms, I saw the soldier-herdsman coming towards camp as fast as he could run, waving his hat and shouting. Behind him the steers were running in the opposite direction, driven by six Indians on foot. They were waking the echoes with their war-whoops.
ATTACKED BY NAVAJOS
The six Navajos made no attempt to shoot the herder, although for some time he was within easy rifle range. They contented themselves with driving the cattle towards the southern section of the valley.
At the first alarm Sergeant Cunningham got the men into line without a moment’s delay. He had hardly counted off when the report of the sentinel’s rifle was heard, followed by his shouting, excitedly, “Indians! Indians! This way! This way!”
In the direction of the guard-house I saw the sentinel and guard getting into line with great rapidity. They were gesticulating wildly to us. Frank Burton, who was standing near me, shouted, “Henry, get your carbine and fall in with me on the left!”
“Don’t expose yourselves, boys,” I said. “The colonel told me to keep you out of danger.”
“We are needed, sir,” answered Frank, promptly, and the two youngsters instantly placed themselves on the left of the line.
I broke the company to the rear through the intervals between the cabins. The men had only the marching allowance of ten rounds of ammunition, so I had a couple of boxes broken open with an axe, and cartridges were distributed to them. The two Mexicans joined us, and steadily and rapidly we advanced up the slope to unite with the guard.
Scarcely two hundred yards distant we saw a compact body of over three hundred Indians. They were charging down upon us, and with a general and frightful war-whoop they began firing.
We deployed as skirmishers. The men fired by volleys, sheltering themselves behind bowlders, logs, and ridges.
Instantly, at the head of the mounted column, there was an emptying of saddles. The onset was suddenly checked, and the Indians broke into two divisions. Part of the force swept along the outer side of the horseshoe ridge to the south, and the other part wheeled round to the north.
I met the attack by dividing my men into two divisions. The men moved along the interior slopes, firing as they ran, and kept pace with the ponies running to the extremities.
The Navajos had lost twenty men. A chief, who had been in the front of the fight throughout, had the utmost difficulty in holding them in close column.