Dorothy Sloan -- Books


Chromolithograph Kickapoo War Game Depicting the Battle of Dove Creek

Rare Texas Lithograph

247.     [KICKAPOO WAR GAME]. La Guerra de los Kikapoos. [chromolithograph pictorial game] Lit. Debray Sucr. esquina Portal coliseo viejo 6. y callejón Espíritu Santo. México. Propiedad de los Editores [below image] Explicación…. Mexico, n.d. [ca. 1870s]. Chromolithograph broadside pictorial game with rules for playing printed in letterpress beneath image. Neat line to neat line: 29.2 x 29.2 cm. Sheet size: 44.6 x 32.8 cm. Creased where formerly folded with some minor losses at folds. Margins with a few short tears not affecting image. Lower left blank corner wanting. Light overall browning with some minor foxing. Verso with ink spots. Overall a very good copy with bright coloring. Very rare ephemera.

     Unrecorded. This game appears to depict a scene from the Battle of Dove Creek, Texas (near present-day San Angelo), which occurred on January 8, 1865, in which the Kickapoo inflicted a decisive defeat on a combined Confederate and militia force. The Kickapoo forces are shown on the near side of the creek and the opposing forces on the far side. Several Kickapoo ford the creek toward their opponents. The opposing Anglo forces have considerably more dead and wounded than do the Kickapoo, and the left side of their line is fleeing in disarray. After the battle, the Kickapoo quickly retreated into Mexico, their original destination when they were attacked. This battle marked the beginning of a long period of conflict between Texans and the Kickapoo. Prior to the Battle of Dove Creek, the Kickapoo were considered peaceful. An attack upon them was unnecessary since they were merely returning to their reservation in Mexico to escape the dissension and violence of the Civil War. See Handbook of Texas Online: Battle of Dove Creek.

     The game is played on a grid of bright red circles interconnected by red lines. Four lines of battle on each side are numbered one to four. Meant for two players, each starts with sixteen soldiers and two commanders, the soldiers situated on lines one and two and the commanders on three and four. The soldiers may move to the left and right; the commanders may move in any direction. The game is played like checkers, from which it is probably derived; the person with the most pieces remaining who reaches Line One of the enemy’s position is the winner.

     Mexican lithographer Victor Debray continued to work on his own after he and Decaen dissolved their partnership in 1868. Among their outstanding lithographic productions was Castro’s México y sus alrededores, a work W. Michael Mathes refers to as “the most important work illustrating Mexico in the nineteenth century” (Mexico on Stone, p. 30). The ca. 1875 full-color edition of that work includes a plate entitled Indiens Kikapoos… (perhaps the earliest lithograph made in Mexico from a daguerreotype) showing a group of Kickapoo in tribal dress with runaway slaves from Texas who were living with the tribe. The Kickapoo, a branch of the central Algonquin, in 1809 ceded to the U.S. their lands in Illinois and lived successively in Missouri, Kansas, East Texas, and Mexico. The tribe survives today, dividing its time between their lands at El Nacimiento in Mexico and in southern Texas near the international bridge at Piedras Negras.

     Although this is not openly stated, this game would seem to be a Mexican satire on the Texans and their defeat. In any case, this broadside clearly shows Native Americans winning this battle.