Friday, July 29, 2016

Cremony's Comanche chief Janamata

still grazing horses in the prairies - :)
John Cremony, soldier, explorer, traveler and interpreter, wrote a book titled ''Life Among the Apaches '' in 1868. This book is quite extraordinary and full of exquisite detail on the life of the Apache and other tribes during the period of 1847-60s. The Long Riders Guild has an article on his ride across the Jornada de Muerto pursued by the Sierra Blanca Apaches in 1851 (perhaps I will attach the excerps from this fantastic feat ).
Today I will share with you another part of the book, this one a short description of an encounter with a Comanche war party during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.

My first business acquaintance with "Lo" occurred in the year 1847. A band of about one hundred Comanche warriors, led by a chief named Janamata. or the
"Red Buffalo," taking advantage of the subdued and defenceless condition of the Mexicans, crossed the Rio Grande, about seventy miles below Old Reynosa (Reynosa Viejo, the older settlement 9? miles west from Reynosa), and
commenced a series of depredations. 

Information was immediately given to the American officer commanding at that post, and the writer was detailed, with a force of fifty men, to drive off the invaders, with orders not to engage in hostilities, unless the Indians proved refractory and deaf to all other appeals.

After marching fifty miles, which was accomplished in two days, we arrived at the scene of operations, meeting the Comanches on the highway. Our force was immediately disposed to the best advantage, and placing a white handkerchief on the point of my sabre, I advanced alone toward the chief, who, leaving his warriors, rode forward to meet me. He spoke Spanish fluently, having evidently acquired it in his many marauding excursions into Mexico.
     Janamata was a good type of his tribe, in point of physical development. He was about five feet ten inches in height, with well proportioned shoulders, very deep chest, and long, thin, but muscular arms. His forehead, was very broad and moderately high, his mouth enormous, and garnished with strong white teeth. His nose was of the Roman order, broad and with much expanded nostrils, which appeared to pulsate with every emotion; but his countenance was rigid and immovable as bronze. 
His arms consisted of a bow and quiver full of arrows, a long lance, a long sharp knife, worn in the top of his moccasin boot, and a very good Colt's  Paterson revolver. A strong shield of triple buffalo bide, ornamented with brass studs, hung from his saddle bow, and his dress was composed of buckskin and buffalo hide well tanned and flexible, but wholly free from ornament. 

Lino Sanchez y Tapia watercolor
''I afterwards learned from a Texas Ranger that he was called Janamata, or the "Red Buffalo," from a desperate encounter he once had with one of those animals, which had ripped up his horse, and attacked him on foot. 

In this encounter Janamata had only his knife to depend on, as he had lost lance and bow when unhorsed. It is related that as the buffalo charged upon him, he sprang over the animal's lowered front, and landing on his back, plunged his knife several times into its body; then, as suddenly jumping off behind, he seized it by the tail and with one cut severed the ham-string. These details made an impression upon me at the time which has never been effaced or weakened.''
(story not dissimilar to this Minneconjou Sioux more tragic story about the chief called La Corne Suelle who using only a knife was killed by a bison bull/tatanka - see Edwin Thompson Denig, Five Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri: Sioux, Arickaras, Assiniboines..,p.23-24).
Unfortunately John Cremony did not remember anything about the Comanche horses during this encounter.

1 comment:

Dario T. W. said...

Catlin's illustration come from his book
Illustrations of the manners, customs, & condition of the North American Indians : with letters and notes, written during eight years of travel and adventure among the wildest and most remarkable tribes now existing... , vol II 1876 edition