By June 7th, 1844, the reputation of the Rangers had already been established. Deadly. The Comanche raiders who had slaughtered and raped their way north into Central Texas from the no-man’s lands of the Rio Grande certainly knew of it. And they knew that their return to Mexico would not go unchallenged by those stone-faced Anglos.
The Comanche though, had established their own reputation. Fearless in battle, lethal with the bow, they were arguably the finest horsemen to have ever lived. They’d developed flawless tactics that drew wasted fire from their enemies, enabling them to swoop down upon them with overwhelming force as they dismounted to slowly reload. So, when the scouts peered over the flinty ridge along the Pedernales River and saw only fifteen Rangers circling a campfire, they raced back to their camp to tell of the advantage.
Before those scouts even mounted their horses, Captain John Coffee Hays had already begun speaking softly to his men.
“I reckon’ you all saw that... probably have a little war dance tonight and attack when the sun comes up. Now, they’ll be seventy-five... at least. And they’ll try to draw us apart; don’t let ‘em. Wait ‘til they form up. We stay mounted. Now get some sleep.”
The next morning unfolded as predicted, and when the Rangers fired their single-shot rifles, the Indians confidently advanced with a terrifying cry. Facing five to one odds on open ground, not a single lawman should have been left alive. But the Rangers had some five to one odds of their own. For the first time, the new Colt Paterson 5-shot-revolver was used in the field; “one bullet for every finger.” Fifty-three Comanches fell in those violent fifteen minutes while the Rangers suffered only four casualties.
A new era in American/Indian relations was dawning.