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Savage Frontier Volume IV 1842-1845

Rangers, Riflemen, and Indian Wars in Texas

Stephen L. Moore

Publication Year: 2002

This fourth and final volume of the Savage Frontier series completes the history of the Texas Rangers and frontier warfare in the Republic of Texas era. During this period of time, fabled Captain John Coffee Hays and his small band of Rangers were often the only government-authorized frontier fighters employed to keep the peace. Author Stephen L. Moore covers the assembly of Texan forces to repel two Mexican incursions during 1842, the Vasquez and Woll invasions. This volume covers the resulting battle at Salado Creek, the defeat of Dawson’s men, and a skirmish at Hondo Creek near San Antonio. Texas Rangers also played a role in the ill-fated Somervell and Mier expeditions. By 1844, Captain Hays’ Rangers had forever changed the nature of frontier warfare with the use of the Colt five-shooter repeating pistol. This new weapon allowed his men to remain on horseback and keep up a continuous and deadly fire in the face of overwhelming odds, especially at Walker’s Creek. Through extensive use of primary military documents and first-person accounts, Moore sets the record straight on some of Jack Hays’ lesser-known Comanche encounters. “Moore’s fourth and final volume of the Savage Frontier series contains many compelling battle narratives, but there is a wealth of social as well as military history lurking in these chapters. No one who is interested in the people and the problems of the Texas Republic can afford to leave these pages unread.”—James E. Crisp, author of How Did Davy Die? And Why Do We Care So Much?

Published by: University of North Texas Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

The completion of this final volume of the Savage Frontier series would not have been possible without the support of several key people. First and foremost, Donaly Brice of the Texas State Archives deserves great credit for his tireless efforts to support the research of this Texas Rangers series during the past ten years...

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1. The Vasquez Incursion

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pp. 1-20

In his first full year as a Texas Ranger captain, John Coffee Hays had gained the respect of the men he rode with and the men he rode against. His first combat had been under Captain Deaf Smith in 1837 and he had later helped defeat the Comanches in the battle of Plum Creek in August 1840...

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2. Spring and Summer Ranger Actions

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pp. 21-52

The buildup of volunteer troops in Texas as a result of the Vasquez incursion lasted only for a month. In Goliad, citizen soldiers from Victoria, Jackson, Matagorda and Brazoria counties had remained on station for two weeks under the direction of commander Clark L. Owen before disbanding...

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3. Woll Seizes B

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pp. 53-58

President Santa Anna was intent on restoring the territory of Texas to Mexico during the summer of 1842 and he urged his Congress to approve a new campaign. He sent orders on June 5 to the new commander in chief of the Army of the North, General Isidro Reyes, to prepare for another attack upon San Antonio. The July battle at Lipantitl

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4. Salado Creek Battle: "Give Them Hell!"

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pp. 59-84

When Reverend Zachariah [or Zacharius] Morrell reached Seguin on Monday, September 12, he assisted the volunteers in gathering ammunition to use in their attack on General Woll. Recruits poured into Seguin during Monday night. On Tuesday morning, Colonel Caldwell...

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5. Hondo Creek Skirmish

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pp. 85-94

Colonel Caldwell's volunteers spent a dark, anxious night camped on the Salado following their battle with General Woll's troops. Reverend Zachariah Morrell received word that Captain Dawson's forces had been overrun and massacred. He was deeply worried about the fate of his son, Allen Morrell...

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6. The Somervell and Mier Expeditions

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pp. 95-116

The Texans had allowed Woll's troops to escape, but they did not give up the plans for revenge and for recapturing their own men. Mathew Caldwell's report indicates that many of his men had returned home but that he planned to reassemble forces in 30 days...

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7. "Active, Vigilant and Efficient"

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pp. 117-138

The Texas Congress was taxed with creating a new system for protecting its frontiers in the wake of the Mexican incursions of 1842. Citizens from the eastern portions of the state had not been of benefit to the more sparsely settled western counties during the times of crisis. Deciding that reestablishing a formal Texas Army was futile...

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8. The Deadly Colts on Walker's Creek

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pp. 139-154

The key Indian agent in Texas from the U.S., Pierce Butler, had more resources and thus more negotiating power than Sam Houston's appointed agents. He found the Indians receptive when he called for a meeting of all Plains Indians to be held at Cache Creek of the Red River in December 1843...

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9. "I Laid Down to Die"

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pp. 155-170

Captain Hays' rangers remained in San Antonio through the latter days of June to let his men recover from their wounds received in the Walker's Creek fight. They were still in town on June 27, when his company completed new muster rolls...

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10. The 1845 County Ranging Companies

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pp. 171-186

Newly seated President Anson Jones quickly took steps to reimburse the senior ranger commander for the expenses he had incurred while keeping Mexican bandits and Comanches in check throughout 1844. Jones recommended after his December inauguration that the Ninth Congress should pass legislation to settle the various...

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11. Rangers in Federal Service

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pp. 187-200

U.S. President James Polk did not want war but Mexico's hostile nature had compelled him to move U.S. regular army troops into Texas after the Ninth Congress had voted overwhelmingly in favor of annexation. The impending movement of Texas under control of the United States had brought about discussion of the Texas Rangers in Austin...

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12. Afterword

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pp. 201-206

The Republic of Texas was no more but the legendary Texas Rangers continued by necessity. John Coffee Hays would also continue to be the predominant figurehead of the ranging service even as it came under control of the U.S. military during the Mexican War...

Appendix: Texas Ranger Companies of the Republic of Texas

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pp. 207-220

Chapter Notes

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pp. 221-240


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pp. 241-246


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pp. 247-263

E-ISBN-13: 9781574413472
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574412932

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 24 b&w illus., 5 maps
Publication Year: 2002

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- Texas -- Government relations.
  • Indians of North America -- Wars -- Texas.
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Texas -- History.
  • Texas Rangers -- History.
  • Texas -- Politics and government -- 1836-1846.
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