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Savage Frontier Volume II 1838-1839

Rangers, Riflemen, and Indian Wars in Texas

Stephen L. Moore

Publication Year: 2006

This second volume of the Savage Frontier series focuses on two of the bloodiest years of fighting in the young Texas Republic, 1838 and 1839. By early 1838, the Texas Rangers were in danger of disappearing altogether. Stephen L. Moore shows how the major general of the new Texas Militia worked around legal constraints in order to keep mounted rangers in service. Expeditions against Indians during 1838 and 1839 were frequent, conducted by militiamen, rangers, cavalry, civilian volunteer groups and the new Frontier Regiment of the Texas Army. From the Surveyors' Fight to the Battle of Brushy Creek, each engagement is covered in new detail. The volume concludes with the Cherokee War of 1839, which saw the assembly of more Texas troops than had engaged the Mexican army at San Jacinto. Moore fully covers the failed peace negotiations, the role of the Texas Rangers in this campaign, and the last stand of heroic Chief Bowles. Through extensive use of primary military documents and first-person accounts, Moore provides a clear view of life as a frontier fighter in the Republic of Texas. The reader will find herein numerous and painstakingly recreated muster rolls, as well as a complete list of Texan casualties of the frontier Indian wars from 1835 through 1839. For the exacting historian or genealogist of early Texas, the Savage Frontier series will be an indispensable resource on early nineteenth-century Texas frontier violence.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

About the Author

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p. v-v


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pp. vi-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Volume I of Savage Frontier traced the early days of the Texas frontier defense system. Ranger battalions were organized in 1835 by acts of the provisional government of the Republic of Texas. Ranger companies were in the field continuously from October 1835 through 1837. At its peak in mid-September 1836, the service had boasted...

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pp. xiii-xiv

As with Volume I, Donaly Brice of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin was a key source during the writing of Volume II. He continually fulfilled search requests for muster rolls and various archival documents which helped fill in the blanks in this manuscript. For the illustrations, I appreciate John Anderson...

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1 The Texas Militia Takes the Field

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pp. 1-36

Colonel Henry Karnes, the cavalry commander stationed in San Antonio, hoped to negotiate peace with the hostile Indian tribes of Texas. He had most recently concluded a peace treaty with three Tonkawa Indian chiefs in San Antonio on November 22, 1837. Just days after this accord, Colonel Karnes was notified that more of the...

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2 East Texans Called to "Chastize the Indians"

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pp. 37-62

Two days after Rusk was ordered to disband his militiamen documentary evidence was obtained that proved the Mexican agents had been making proposals to Indian leaders in Texas. On August 20, the chief Mexican agent, Captain Julian Pedro Miracle, was killed on the Red River by a Spanish man named Alexander...

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3 The Kickapoo War

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pp. 63-80

As the Surveyors' Fight survivors were struggling back to civilization, Major General Rusk was preparing his Texas Militia for another foray against the hostile Indians in East Texas. Almost all of the men who had followed him on the previous August 1838 expedition had been discharged back into civilian life. Word of the Killough...

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4 To the Border and Beyond

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pp. 81-102

News of Tom Rusk's big battle at the Kickapoo village spread quickly. In Nacogdoches, Colonel William Sparks' Second Regiment of the Third Militia Brigade of Texas was called back into service on October 17, 1838. Sparks had commanded the Second Regiment during Rusk's August campaign to Chief Bowles' Cherokee village, but...

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5 Campaigns of the Red River Riflemen

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pp. 103-132

Major Baley Walters had a certain ability to glean information from his Indian sources. Through careful scouting and persistent interrogation of friendly Indians in December, he was able to uncover a planned night raid on Nacogdoches. Walters had served with Colonel Sparks' Second Regiment of the Third Militia Brigade until its staff had returned to Nacogdoches on...

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6 Morgan Massacre and Bryant's Defeat

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pp. 133-146

The new year of 1839 would prove to be a busy and bloody year on the frontiers of the Republic of Texas. Indian depredations, battles, and campaigns were more frequent than in any other year since Austin had colonized Texas. In the Third Militia Brigade, word soon reached General...

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7 Moore's Comanche Raid and the Battle of Brushy Creek

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pp. 147-178

Captain John Wortham's rangers mounted up and departed Fort Houston on January 22, expecting a confrontation with Indians. They had received reports that the Indians were on the move near Hall's trading post, which was located about twelve miles away on the Trinity River. Wortham's frontiersmen had not reached the Trinity, however,...

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8 The Córdova and Flores Fights

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pp. 179-210

The winter of early 1839 was brutal in southwest Texas, with hard freezes and ice that snapped tree limbs and even many trees. The severe cold lasted about two weeks and cloudy days prevented ice and snow from melting. This cold snap occurred during mid to late February 1839. It was during this harsh weather that an expedition...

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9 Bird's Creek Fight

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pp. 211-234

President Lamar, having decided that the Cherokees were conspiring with Mexico to forge another assault on his young republic, authorized Major Baley Walters to raise two companies to be stationed at the Neches Saline. Walters, a veteran of the 1838 Kickapoo battle, was to occupy the saline, located in present Smith County just...

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10 The Cherokee War

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pp. 235-280

About ten days after receiving Lamar's ultimatum, Chief Bowles finally reported in mid-June that he and Chief Big Mush were unable to reach a peaceful agreement. From Fort Lacy, agent Martin Lacy, Dr. Jowers, John Reagan, and their interpreter Cordray again visited the Cherokee leader near present Alto. Reagan was impressed with how the Indians...

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11 Pursuit and Removal

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pp. 281-304

The body of Chief Bowles remained on the battlefield as a grisly testament to the loss of the Cherokees. His lonely skull and skeleton were reportedly still visible on the spot for years. Some felt that his body was neglected by his followers due to a tribal custom which declared that Indians who had been scalped were not to be given...

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12 Colonel Neill's Gunmen On the Offensive

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pp. 305-322

By the end of September, Colonel Edward Burleson's regular army was gearing up to move to the new capital city which was under construction. President Lamar and his cabinet would transfer the seat of Texas government to Austin by October 1. Colonel Pinckney Caldwell, quartermaster for the Frontier Regiment, was in Houston...

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13 Karnes' Hill Country Comanche Expedition

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pp. 323-336

In Galveston County, the locals had wasted no time in organizing their sixty-man mounted gunmen company following President Lamar's August 24 requisition. Sheriff William F. Wilson volunteered his services and was quickly joined by the requisite number of young men from his county. The citizens preferred to raise...

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14 "Short But Decisive Affair"

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pp. 337-351

The summer's Cherokee War had scattered the people of Chief Bowles considerably. One small band of the Cherokees had a brush in late 1839 with Fort Houston settlers led by former General Nathaniel W. Smith, who had brought his family to Fort Houston from Athens, Tennessee, in late 1838. Smith's son-in-law, Dr. James...

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pp. 353-359

Colonel Edward Burleson's Frontier Regiment was two weeks into 1840 before returning from its final Indian campaign of 1839. His troops marched out of Camp Shawnee on January 1, 1840, and headed east toward the Brazos River. They crossed a chain of small mountains dividing the Colorado and Brazos rivers, making camp on...

Appendix: Texan Casualties of the Frontier Indian Wars, 1835-39

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pp. 361-366

Chapter Notes

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pp. 367-386


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pp. 387-394


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pp. 395-426

E-ISBN-13: 9781574413984
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574412055

Page Count: 440
Illustrations: 36 b&w illus., 9 maps
Publication Year: 2006