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Amos Chapman

 

(March 15, 1839 - July 28, 1925)

 

Amos Chapman's beginnings are not known. He wandered to the west escorting wagon trains following the Santa Fe trail from Missouri to Trinidad, CO. The wagon master described the young Amos Chapman as having a way with Indians and second only to Kit Carson in this ability.

 

Chapman had married a Cheyenne woman named Mary Longneck. Learning the Cheyenne language helped Amos when he encountered Roman Nose, the great Cheyenne Dog Soldier.

 

Chapman scouted for Sully along the southern plains, chased outlaws in the Oklahoma Indian Territory, and scouted for Nelson Miles. Miles was chasing renegades in the Texas Panhandle and these wanderers had moved in behind and cut off his supply route. Miles sent Chapman, Billy Dixon and four enlisted men to Camp Supply. This is where the adventure begins.

 

As told by Glenn Shirley in the book Buckskin and Spurs:

 

The six men traveled for two nights, concealing themselves during daylight. On the morning of September 12, while searching for a place of concealment, they topped a rise and found themselves surrounded by a hundred and twenty-five Kiowa and Comanche warriors. Realizing that whatever chance they had was, in making a standing fight together, they dismounted. The Indians charged them, yelling and firing their weapons. The scout party drove the Indians back, but in this first attack every man of the six was wounded, Smith fatally. Their horses stampeded with coats, canteens, and haversacks attached to the saddles.

 

Without food or water, and in a badly exposed position, the situation seemed hopeless. Then the keen eyes of Chapman spotted a buffalo wallow a hundred yards away. It was a slight depression on the prairie, only ten feet in diameter. One after the other, all the men except Smith, reached it. While the soldiers kept firing, Chapman and Dixon worked with bowie knives to deepen the depression and throw soil around the rim for additional protection,

 

Under almost constant fire, outnumbered twenty-five to one, the little party of five defended their lives. Down the slope Smith lay where he had fallen, presumably dead. When the excitement of the first charge of the Indians had quieted down, the supposedly dead man began to move.

 

Immediately the Indians began firing at him. To leave him out there, helpless to reach the shelter under his own power, meant certain death.

 

Chapman told his comrades: "Keep them off me! I'm going down to get Smith."

 

As the hostiles charged, the besieged men opened fire. Leaving his rifle behind, Chapman sprang over the rim and ran full speed to Smith. He seized and shouldered him and began staggering under his weight back to the shelter. Thirty yards away a dozen Indians swooped down at him on running ponies.

 

Chapman drew his pistol. Unable to hold Smith on his back with one hand, he let the trooper fall. From the buffalo wallow his companions fired a fusillade, and Chapman began firing his pistol.

 

The Indians scattered, yelling and tumbling from their ponies, dead. A few escaped. The way was clear, and Chapman again lifted Smith to his shoulder in an effort to reach the wallow.

 

His pistol was empty, and this time he did not stop to fight. Twenty yards from the wallow a gaudily painted savage rode almost upon him and fired. Chapman felt his left leg collapse, and he fell with Smith on top of him.

 

Again his comrades opened fire, and the Indians withdrew, losing most of their number in the charge. Chapman jumped up, picked up Smith, and this time gained the safety of the wallow.

 

"Amos," exclaimed Dixon, "you're badly wounded!"

 

"Naw," Chapman replied.

 

"Look at your leg", said Dixon.

 

Glancing at his leg, Chapman saw that it had been shot off above the ankle. In his last desperate effort to save the life of a comrade he had walked on bone, dragging his foot behind him.

 

This fight became known as the Battle of Buffalo Wallow and all the men received a Congressional Medal of Honor, but since Chapman and Dixon were civilians they had to give them up. Amos Chapman had his leg amputated, but as Colonel Dodge said "as useful and as ready for a fight as any two-legged scout."

 

Amos Chapman settled near Seiling, OK and is buried in the Brumfield Cemetery in Seiling, OK.

 

 

Gravesite Map

 

Information compiled by Steve Grimm

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© Wild West History Association - a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation

http://www.WildWestHistory.org