Battle of Packsaddle Mountain Marked an End of an Era in Llano County

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


Also known as the Packsaddle Mountain Fight, the Battle of Packsaddle Mountain ended wars with the Native Americans in Llano county for good. Despite being a small skirmish, this battle proved decisive in the war. Llano county settlers could rest easy after this battle, knowing that they would never again know of the raids that had plagued their county for the previous decade.

Packsaddle Mountain

The site of the battle of Packsaddle Mountain

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Packsaddle Mountain features a pair of peaks which make it look like a saddle, hence the name. Located in Llano County, about five miles from Kingsland, this mountain rises high above the local landscape. At its highest point, the mountain looms 650 feet above the roadway below. It’s thought the Spanish sought gold in the mountain and unsuccessfully attempted to mine it. During the 1920s, some proposed trying to tap the mountain for gold again, but nothing came of it. Today, Packsaddle Mountain remains untouched by miners.

Llano County in 1873

Packsaddle Mountain Cliff side in Llano County

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the 1870s, Llano County consisted of just under 100 farms, and the amount of farm and ranch land had shrunk compared to before the Civil War. Native Americans frequently raided this low-population frontier area. Reports of which tribes raided vary with some mentioning the Apache and others the Comanches. Whoever they were, the Native American raiders had the same goals in mind, to steal horses and occasionally food from the settlers. Whenever the settlers fought back, bloodshed resulted, sometimes with a loss of life. It was a dangerous time to live in Llano County.

Battle of Packsaddle Mountain

Battle of Packsaddle Mountain MarkerBattle of Packsaddle Mountain Marker

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

August 3, 1873, started off quietly until a cow with an arrow lodged in its side wandered onto a ranch in Llano County. The arrow indicated Native Americans nearby, likely the same ones who’d been stealing horses from the settlers. Brothers James R., William B., and Stephen B. Moss gathered together five other friends to hunt down the suspected marauders. They set out early on August 4 to track down the horse thieves.

The following day, after traveling for 25 miles, the group found 21 Native Americans on top of Packsaddle Mountain, where the Natives had laid out 300 to 400 pounds of beef to dry in the sun. An inattentive lookout allowed the whites to catch the Native Americans unaware. They also had likely been caught off guard when they saw William Moss charging toward them on, of all creatures, a mule (his horse had been one of those stolen). In the ensuing, hour-long fight, three Native Americans lost their lives, including the chief who led the group. Reports say that he took anywhere between two and four bullets before he fell. Four of the eight settlers were wounded, though not fatally. After this battle, Native Americans would no longer raid into Llano County, allowing for the continued growth of the area as the settlers felt safer.