Massacre Along The Medicine Road

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9780870043895: Massacre Along The Medicine Road
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During three desperate days in August of 1864 the worst Indian raid in Nebraska territory took place.

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About the Author:

Ronald Becher is a native of Nebraska.  He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Concordia Teachers College in Seward, Nebraska.  Massacre along the Medicine Road is his first book.  He currently resides in Valparaiso, Nebraska.

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Part II Chapter Three, The Raid on the Martin Family

The two boys had watched their father's race for life from their wagon in the hayfield a mile away and were uncertain as to its outcome. They knew only that the attack had ceased and that one of the Indians was coming up the trail in their direction. After unhooking the cattle from the loaded wagon, Nat boosted Bob onto the mare's back and jumped up behind him. Turning their mount toward the river, they attempted to disappear behind a rise of ground which cut off their view from the road.

It might have worked except that the Indian near the barn drove Bob's pony to the river, and in so doing, caught sight of the boys on their mare. That brave turned and signaled to the others, who came galloping down from the bluffs toward the youngsters. They could do nothing now but retreat back down river, farther away from home.

The old, brown mare ran only a short distance before she sensed trouble back at the barn. One of the colts there was hers, and the other she had "adopted" when its mother died. Now she did what any good mother would do: She ran to protect her young. Nat and Bob could only hang on for dear life. Straight through the Indians she ran on a bee line for the barn. One of them tried to frighten her and turn her around. Yelling like a demon, he closed in and came alongside-but he got too close. In a blind fury the mare bared her teeth and bit his pony on the neck, nearly throwing horse and rider to the ground.

The Indian pony recovered its stride and the rider made a second attempt to head off the flying mare and her passengers. As he came alongside, the mare grabbed at his saddle blanket while Nat reached for his bow. Three times the boy lunged for the weapon, but he and his horse both missed their opportunities and the warrior, tired of the game now, loosed his first arrow. From short range it drove into Nat's elbow, the four inch head wedging itself solidly into the joint. In fear and pain the boy broke off the arrow and flung it back into the Indian's face.

The mare was running with everything she had, and home was only a quarter mile away. George and Anne were worried frantic about their sons and ran outside to climb to the top of the root cellar to see what had become of them. There they were, both hanging on to the brown mare, galloping furiously for home with an Indian brave close behind. It was then that the pursuer loosed his second arrow.

This one went true. With terrific velocity it tore through Nat's back beneath the shoulder blade, pierced his liver, came out through his lower chest, and lodged in Bob's backbone. A third arrow sliced through Nat's thigh and lodged in Bob's left hip. Thus pinned together, the boys struggled to stay atop their plunging horse, while the violent motion caused Nat excruciating pain as the feathered shaft worked back and forth in his wound. Desperately they looked toward their home. Over a swell in the ground they could see their parents standing atop the root cellar, and Nat knew he wasn't going to make it. As his world began to spin and grow dark, he had just strength enough to hook his hands inside the waist of his brother's pants. Both boys slid from the back of the rampaging mare and crashed to the ground. Their horse soon became entangled in the loose reins and was captured.

The force of the fall tore the arrow completely through Nat's body and dislodged it from Bob's spine. Several warriors rode up and dismounted, walking around the two and wrestling with a problem of procedure: Should they scalp the boys or not? Nat and Bob did not look like very big boys as they lay crumpled in the grass, and both had recently had their hair cut short. At last one of the attackers said in plain English, "Leave the boys alone." The rest agreed, grunting that "Papoose scalp no good-no honor kill papoose." Nat, they knew by the fountain of blood pouring from his chest, would soon die. Bob was still moving, so they knocked him unconscious with a war axe. Then they rode away.

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