Southwestern Historical Quarterly
4A order AJcident of 1878
oAm the oaurmal of
Captain ffohn S. jAcAaught
Edited by GEORGE A. SCHNEIDER
WRITING IN THIS JOURNAL SOME THREE DECADES AGO, AN
authority on United States-Mexican relations described
the years from 1865 to 188o as the most turbulent in the
history of the stormy Rio Grande border.' During those years
Texas suffered both from the aftermath of a bloody war and from
Reconstruction, while the neighboring Mexican states were cor-
respondingly burdened by revolution after revolution. Added to
those hardships was the uncertainty of life in the region; the
instrument for the transfer of property being more likely gun and
bullet than pen and ink.2
Indians and bandit gangs pillaged either side, robbing, murder-
ing, and burning with complete abandon. Whether the outrage
was the work of Indian, Mexican, or American, there was little
difference in the degree of savagery visited upon the hapless vic-
tims. Although cattle and horses were the principal booty, any-
thing of value was taken. Smuggling, another "border occupation,"
cost the United States treasury millions of dollars annually in lost
The area was thinly populated; ranches and farms were isolated.
Policing was ineffective, because only meager manpower was
available to patrol vast areas. Even when reinforced, the army
could afford but a single man for each 12o square miles of Texas
xJ. Fred Rippy, "Some Precedents of the Pershing Expedition into Mexico,"
Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XXIV, 299. See also O. Clark Fisher, "The Life
and Times of King Fisher," ibid., LXIV, 236, 240.
aThe military reported thirty-seven civilians killed in Texas during 1868 by
Indians or other marauders, seven in territory adjoining the border. Philip H.
Sheridan, Record of Engagements With Hostile Indians Within the Military Divi-
sion of the Missouri from x868 to x882 (Washington, 1882), 7-18.
8Senate Report No. x66, 41st Cong., ad Sess. (Serial 1409), 282.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/. Accessed July 8, 2015.