"stripping the clothes from the dead and seizing them up by the hair and passing their blades about the skulls of the living and dead alike and snatching aloft the bloody wigs and hacking and chopping at the naked bodies, ripping off limbs, heads, gutting the strange white torsos and holding up great handfuls of viscera, genitals, some of the savages so slathered up with gore they might have rolled in it like dogs and some who fell upon the dying and sodomized them with loud cries to their fellows."

The Comanche were an immensely fierce, warlike tribe, and anyone who dared to cross their warpath (as the unfortunate filibusters do) could expect little in the way of mercy. However, it should be noted that this was a period in which no one group possessed a monopoly on barbarity, and Blood Meridian is true to history in presenting all parties (be it American, Mexican or Native American) as equally given to committing atrocities.


Illustration of unidentified Indians mutiliating their defeated enemies (1591)
Public DomainIllustration of unidentified Indians mutiliating their defeated enemies (1591) - Credit: Theodore de Bry

For those readers who feel McCarthy’s graphic desciption of the Comance attack verges on the sensational, it may be worth quoting historian Tom DeShields on the Indian treatment of enemies:


Though having lost one of their comrades in the fight, the Tonkawa were elated over the victory, and after scalping the dead and dying Wacos and Comanches, cutting off their hands, feet, arms and legs, and fleecing strips of flesh from their thighs and breast, they were ready and anxious to return to their village and engage in their usual cannibal-like and mystic war dance.

(Border Wars of Texas)