U.S. Army Combat Operations in the
Indian Wars of Texas, 1849-188z
THOMAS T. SMITH*
IN JULY 1992 THE Southwestern Historical Quarterly PUBLISHED MY "FORT
Inge and Texas Frontier Military Operations, 1849-1869." That arti-
cle treated Fort Inge as a case study in applying an analytical methodolo-
gy to examine combat actions between the U.S. Army and the Indians
on the Texas frontier. The purpose of this article is to expand the data
base and methodology tested in that study to include all of Texas in the
The historical question is fairly straightforward: What was the nature
of army combat operations against Indians on the Texas frontier? My
goal is to produce a historically based analysis that will inform scholars
and give general readers a solid foundation to replace the impressionis-
tic, anecdotal history and generalities found on television and in classic
John Ford movies and revisionist westerns alike.
The data base of this study is the historical record of the 219 actions
and skirmishes between Indians and the U.S. Army units assigned to or
patrolling in Texas between 1849 and 1881. Also included in the data
are all actions of Texas-based army units that pursued Indians across the
border into Mexico or into the Indian Territory, as well as actions of
units stationed outside the state whose campaigns led them to fight on
Texas soil. The basic information is found in Francis B. Heitman's His-
torical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (1903).2 From
* Maj. Thomas "Ty" Smith completed his assignment in the Department of History at the
United States Military Academy at West Point and is now attending the U.S. Army Command and
General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His second book, A Dose ofFrontzer Soldering:
The Memoirs of Corporal E. A. Bode, Frontier Regular Infantry, 1877-I882 (University of Nebraska
Press, 1994), was a featured alternate in the Military Book Club and was nominated for the Dis-
tinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History. He published an article, "West
Point and the Indian Wars, 1802-1891," In the Spring, 1994, issue of Military History of the West.
' Thomas T. Smith, "Fort Inge and Texas Frontier Military Operations, 1849-1869," Southwest-
ern Historical Quarterly, XCVI (July, 1992), 1-25.
2 Francis B. Heltman, "Chronological list of battles, actions, etc., in which troops of the Regu-
lar Army have participated, and troops engaged," in Historical Register and Dictionary of the United
States Army ... (2 vols.; Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1903), II, 400-446.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed January 25, 2015.