"one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella"
1889 engraving depicting Comanche raiders intercepted by militia and Texas Rangers at the Battle of Plum Creek following the Great Raid of 1840
Public Domain1889 engraving depicting Comanche raiders intercepted by militia and Texas Rangers at the Battle of Plum Creek following the Great Raid of 1840 - Credit: www.texasbeyondhistory.net

McCarthy’s description of Comanche warriors dressed in stovepipe hats and carrying umbellas is a detail made no less bizarre by having a basis in historical fact. During the Great Raid of 1840, Comanche warriors ransacked the Texan port town of Linnville, emptying the stores and warehouses of their inventories, including a shipment of top hats and umbrellas on their way to San Antonio.

Historian James Thomas DeShields provides this description of the Comanche warriors with their Linnville plunder:

 

Several of the Indian chiefs charged up in front of the Texans and hurled defiant arrows at them. One of these daring chiefs rode a fine horse with a fine American bridle, with a red ribbon eight or ten feet long tied to the end of his horse. He was dressed in elegant style from the goods plundered at Victoria and Linville, with a high-top silk hat, fine pair of boots, leather gloves and an elegant broad-cloth coat hind-part before him with brass buttons shining brightly up and down his back. When he first made his appearance he carried a large umbrella stretched.

 

You can see another depiction of the Comanche Linnville raiders in Howard Terpning's painting Comanche Spoilers. Click here to see the painting.