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Federalist Wars: Final Phase

ticipated in the siege of Béxar. In March of the next year he organized a company of cavalry at Goliad and was elected its captain. He fought in the battle of San Jacinto, and in 1836 was a member of the Texas delegation sent to Matamoros to effect an exchange of prisoners. There he was thrown in jail by the Mexicans, but soon effected his escape, after which he lived at San Antonio where he became known as an able frontier Indian fighter. On August 10, 1838, Karnes' company of twenty-one men was attacked on the Arroyo Seco by a party of two hundred Comanche warriors, and defeated them. None of Karnes' men were injured. Karnes, however, received a slight wound from a rifle bullet which grazed his temple.

In October 1838, he left Houston for New Orleans to make plans for raising troops and supplies for a force needed for a campaign against the Indians on the western frontier. In December of that year he was authorized to raise eight companies of volunteers to carry out a campaign against the Comanches. The following year, hearing reports of Comanches lurking about San Antonio, Karnes went out to look to the safety of a caballada of horses that he had in the vicinity. Seeing someone lying in the road, he rode up and asked who he was. Whereupon, an Indian wrapped in a blanket sprang to his feet and shot Karnes with an arrow in the hip, severely wounding him.[3]  He never fully recovered from this wound; yet, in the summer of 1840, he agreed to raise a force of sufficient strength to protect the territorial integrity of the Republic.

Karnes was short of stature and weighed approximately 160 pounds.[4]  According to Brown, he was one of the "most unselfish and bravest of men who fought for Texas at any time between 1821 and 1846."[5]  Mrs. Maverick knew him as "a short, thick-set man with bright red hair." Although uneducated, "he was modest, generous and devoted to his friends."[6]  He was brave, untiring, and a terror to the Indians, who spoke of him as "Captain Colorado" ("Red Captain") because of

3. Lamar Papers, IV, pt. I, 232; Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto, pp. 307-308; Telegraph and Texas Register, Sept. 1 and Oct. 20, 1838; Anna Muckleroy, "The Indian Policy of the Republic of Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XXVI (1922-1923), p. 14.

4. H. Yoakum, History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846, I, 373 n.

5. John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas, pp. 50-51.

6. Rena Maverick Green (ed.), Memoirs of Mrs. Mary A. Maverick: Arranged by Mary A. Maverick and Her Son George Madison Maverick, p. 41.

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AFTER SAN JACINTO: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
Joseph Milton Nance, 1963