Texas Almanac, 1952-1953 Page: 51
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BRIEF HISTORY OF TEXAS. 51
ing of the conflict between the North and
the South in 1860 had withdrawn military
protection. Many murderous raids had been
made by the Indians during the war years
and the confusion attending Reconstruction
administration after the war prevented great
improvement of the situation. Particularly
during the years 1865 and 1866 was the fron-
In 1868 General Sheridan had succeeded in
concentrating many of the Comanches. Kio-
was and Apaches at the Fort Sill reservation
in Oklahoma, but the Indians continued to
make raids into Texas from the reservation.
Finally, in 1871, in response to appeals from
the frontier, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
visited Texas, marching with a small detach-
ment from San Antonio along the line of
Western posts to Fort Belknap. apparently
without realizing there was great danger of
attack. At Fort Griffin a delegation of citi-
zens from Jack, Parker and adjacent counties
had assembled to appeal for aid. General
Sherman seems to have been impressed, too.
by a raid by Comanches and Kiowas on a
wagon train, in which the drivers were killed,
on the trail which the army expedition had
traveled a few days previously.
Sherman ordered an investigation at Fort
Sill and Satank, Santanta and Big Tree,
chieftains, were arrested, charged with the
wagon-train raid and ordered to Jacksboro,
Texas, for trial before civil authorities.
Satank was killed en route trying to escape,
but Santanta and Big Tree were convicted
and given the death penalty, which was later
commuted by Governor Davis to life impris-
onment and the Indians were confined at
Huntsville penitentiary. They were released
in 1873 conditioned on good behavior. Subse-
quently Santanta was rearrested and returned
to the\penitentiary, where he killed himself
Finally, Gen. R. S. Mackenzie of the United
States Army was commissioned to round up
the Indians of Northwest Texas and return
them to the Indian Territory reservations.
This he did in an aggressive campaign which
ended when Mackenzie's forces trapped the
main body of the Comanches and Kiowas at
the junction of the Tule and Palo Duro Can-
yons after their horses had been stampeded
by a surprise night attack. This campaign,
which ended in 1874, first year of Coke's
administration, marked the end of Indian
hostilities in Texas except some minor inci-
dents in the Big Bend and along the Lower
Rio Grande border.
Throughout the early troubled years of con-
flict within and along the borders of Texas
the 'Texas Rangers have played an effective.
valiant and honorable role. True, it has var-
ied in organization and policy under varying
conditions, demands for service and political
administrations, and it has not been of en-
tirely unbroken continuity. However, it has
existed almost continuously, and without a
great deal of variation in general purpose
and integrity, from the era of colonization
to the present.
Stephen F. Austin employed a small body
of Rangers as early as 1823 to protect the
frontier colonies against bloodthirsty Karan-
kawas and other tribes. On Oct. 17, 1835, on
the eve of the Texas War of Independence,
the council of the revolutionists formally
authorized the employment of a corps of
Rangers to guard the frontiers. The Rangers
protected the settlements against the incur-
sions of Indians while Sam Houston and his
ragged army defeated the troops of Santa
"This summary of the Texas Ranger Force is
from "The Texas Rangers," by Prof. Walter
Prescott Webb of the University of Texas, pub-
lished by the Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston,
In the period of the Republic, the Ranger
organization was enlarged and was used to
patrol the frontier and punish Indlan raid-
ers. Depredations by freebooters on the Rio
Grande and threats of invasion by Mexican
troops also kept them busy on the border.
Each Ranger provided himself with a good
horse, a rifle and a brace of pistols.
When Texas was annexed by the United
States, the Federal Government assumed re-
sponsibility for protecting the frontier and the
Ranger organization virtually was dropped.
However, the federal troops, largely infantry.
were so unaccustomed to border and Indian
warfare that the Rangers were reorganized.
In the Mexican War, which followed soon
after annexation, Texas Rangers served as
scouts for the invading American armies and
took Important parts in the fighting. They
"were not only the eyes and ears of General
Taylor's army, but its right and left arms as
well." In Mexico City they were called Los
Diablos Tejanos-the Texas Devils.
The period between the Mexican War and
the War Between the States was marked by
a number of bloody conflicts with Indians
which ended with the removal of most of the
red men to federal reservations outside Tex-
as. Rangers were required also to end the
depredations of cattle thieves and other out-
laws along the Rio Grande. The most for-
midable band of raiders was that led by Juan
N. Cortinas. Many South Texas ranchers suf-
fered from the depredations of Cortinas and
his men In the early part of 1860. In 1859, he
and 100 of his men had taken possession of
Brownsville for a short time, terrorizing the
citizens and killing three Americans. Texas
Rangers invaded Mexican soil and put the
Cortinas army to flight.
During the War Between the States. the
Ranger organization was neglected. Many
members and former members of this frontier
fighting outfit enlisted in Terry's Texas Ran-
gers, which made an admirable record in the
Confederate Army. In the Reconstruction pe-
riod, the Rangers were reorganized as the
State Police during the administration of
Gov. E. J. Davis, and were used to enforce
carpetbagger laws, many of which were un-
popular with Texas citizens. The State Police
was abandoned with the overthrow of the
In 1874, the State Police body was suc-
ceeded by two organizations of Rangers. One,
known as the Special Force of Rangers, put
down banditry on the Rio Grande. A larger
body, officially called for some time the
Frontier Battalion, was made up of mobile
companies used wherever needed. Indian raid-
ers in Northwest Texas, cattle thieves on the
Rio Grande and train robbers operating out of
Denton County kept these Rangers especially
busy during the remainder of the decade.
In 1877, the Rangers restored order in the
westernmost part of Texas after the Salt War
-resulting from a dispute over the removal
of salt from salt lakes near the Guadalupe
Mountains-had led to the killing of a number
of citizens. One of the most celebrated ex-
ploits of the Rangers came in the following
year, with the killing of Sam Bass and several
members of his robber band at Round Rock.
After Passing of Frontier.
In the following decade, the Rangers con-
tinued to catch cattle thieves and also oper-
ated against fence-cutters.
By this time the frontier had almost dis-
appeared, and the activities of the Rangers
were directed not so much against Indians
and Mexicans as against outlaws of their own
race. This gradual cange made the service
distasteful to many who had fought coura-
geously on the frontier. It also tended to
lessen the popularity of the Rangers, espe-
cially since more and more of the counties
were organized and many sheriffs resented
the invasion of their territory by outside-
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Texas Almanac, 1952-1953, book, 1951; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117137/m1/53/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.