Private Robert Nickles

Private Robert Nickles

Texas Rangers, Texas

End of Watch Wednesday, May 12, 1858

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Robert Nickles

The Battle of Antelope Hills or the Canadian River Campaign involved Texas Ranger Captain John Salmon (Rip) Ford with a force of 102-111 rangers and Captain Shapley P. Ross, Indian agent, with a force of 113 partisan Indians from various tribes (Waco and Tonkawas are named) from the Brazos Reservation. Ford knew the Comanche wintered along the Canadian River in the Indian Territory. Ford’s Indian spies had located a Nokonies’ (northern Comanche) war party of 400 warriors, woman and children who were believed to have committed depredations on the frontier for several months. The ranger force faced about 600 Comanche led by Chief Pohebits Quasho (called Iron Jacket for the armor plated vest he wore). Iron Jacket was killed in the initial barrage. The battle field stretched six miles by 3 miles and involved many single combats. Privates Oliver Searcy and Robert Nickles were pursuing retreating Comanche when they ran into a large contingent of Comanche coming from another encampment to assist their brethren. Searcy told Nickles to not to gallop but to halt occasionally and fire at the Comanche party to hold them in check. Nickles got to running and could not stop. The charging Comanche lanced him to death. Searcy was rescued by partisan Indians. Lieutenant Nelson tried to recover Nickles’ body but was turned back by a large number of Comanche. Captain Ford reported two men killed – Robert Nickles and an unnamed Waco Indian – and three wounded. He estimated that the Comanche lost 76 killed and a great many wounded. The ranger force departed on May 13 and arrived at Camp Runnels on May 21 after a 30-day campaign.

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum report Private Robert Nickles and Private “Waco Indian” as having died in the line of duty. Newspaper accounts of Captain Ford's official report indicate his last name was “Nickles.” State records indicate a Robert Nickel enlisted in Bosque County on January 10, 1858 at age 21 and served 4 months and 2 days until May 12, 1858. His brother, John R. Nickel, 28 served in same company until July 10, 1858. No other information is known about him.


  • Age 21
  • Tour 4 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Stabbed
  • Location Oklahoma
  • Weapon Edged weapon
  • Offender Not available

Most Recent Reflection

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No passage of time can ever erase your service and sacrifice. Rest in peace always.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

May 12, 2021

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