Saturday, December 16, 2006

By Clinton L. Smith

Clinton and Jeff Smith had their lives irrevocably changed on February 26, 1871. They were captured by Apache raiders. What began as a terrifying experience ended up with the boys becoming Indians themselves. The lads were split up, Jeff went to the Apache and was adopted by Geronimo while Clint became a Comanche.

Like many other children captured by the Comanche, Clint was adopted into the tribe. After an initial testing period he was treated no differently from other Comanche boys and expected in time to become a full-fledged warrior. The objective in taking captives, besides the possibility of ransom, was to bring fresh blood into the tribe and replace numbers decimated by war and disease. Clinton Smith lived alongside Adolf Korn, a German boy who had been captured and adopted. Many other Germans, Americans, and Mexicans became Comanches in this way. The Comanches’ greatest chief Quanah, was the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, a captive/adoptee who was related to one of Texas’ most prominent families.

Clinton Smith recounts Comanche raids for livestock and sometimes for bloodshed. He became fiercely attached to the Comanche point of view, a feeling reinforced when the 4th cavalry attacked the camp he lived in. As result of Comanche reverses, they were forced to send Clinton Smith back to his family. His brother was captured by Mexican bandits, who shortly returned him for a reward. They became cowboys and managed to re-adapt themselves to white society.

The Boy Captives tells about Clinton smith’s coming of age at a critical time in Texas history. It is a remarkable recounting of both sides of the bloody war that ended the Comanches’ way of life, as such if you are interested in how Texas came to be it is essential reading.
-Dave Hardy

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