August 18, 2013
The 16-year-old girl’s once-beautiful face was grotesque.
She had been disfigured beyond all recognition in the 18 months she had been held captive by the Comanche Indians.
Now, she was being offered back to the Texan authorities by Indian chiefs as part of a peace negotiation.
To gasps of horror from the watching crowds, the Indians presented her at the Council House in the ranching town of San Antonio in 1840, the year Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.
‘Her head, arms and face were full of bruises and sores,’ wrote one witness, Mary Maverick. ‘And her nose was actually burnt off to the bone. Both nostrils were wide open and denuded of flesh.’
Once handed over, Matilda Lockhart broke down as she described the horrors she had endured — the rape, the relentless sexual humiliation and the way Comanche squaws had tortured her with fire. It wasn’t just her nose, her thin body was hideously scarred all over with burns.
When she mentioned she thought there were 15 other white captives at the Indians’ camp, all of them being subjected to a similar fate, the Texan lawmakers and officials said they were detaining the Comanche chiefs while they rescued the others.
It was a decision that prompted one of the most brutal slaughters in the history of the Wild West — and showed just how bloodthirsty the Comanche could be in revenge.