The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998 Page: 80
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
King Ranch Homestead, ca. 1870. On December 23, 1863, a party of approximately eighty
men under the command of Captain James Speed of the First and Second Union Texas Cav-
alry sacked King Ranch. According to King, the Union attackers "fired several shots into the
house, killed one man, broke open trunks, and took what they wanted ... leaving it a com-
plete wreck." Courtesy King Ranch Archives.
frontier." They reveal King as an ardent Confederate, dispelling the
characterization of him by some writers as a "Rhett Butler" type of
Rebel opportunist (it should be noted, however, that King did amass a
fortune during the Civil War, and he was enumerated by the U.S. Census
in 1870 as the wealthiest individual in Texas).'1 Also, they shed new light
on the Union raid on King Ranch, documenting that King had been
gone from the ranch several days prior to the fracas, pursuing cattle
thieves into Mexico and scouting for any advancing Yankee troops. This
contradicts the strong oral tradition and family history that King had
been warned of the raid just before the attack and had left his homestead
Ford's Texas, 462. For a biographical sketch of Holbein, see Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe,
The New Encyclopedia of Texas (Dallas: Texas Development Bureau, 1930), 924.
" King, who had little formal schooling, had an aversion to letter writing and depended on
Holbein to draft most of his correspondence. His extant correspondence in his own hand is
filled with grammatical and spelling errors, in contrast to the more polished and efficient use of
the language by Holbein. In 1872, King told Richard Henry Savage, a Federal Commissioner to
Texas investigating the cattle wars along the border, that "I know but little, but I know enough to
have competent men around me." King to Savage, Aug. 28, 1872, Richard King Papers, King
Ranch Archives; and, Richard Henry Savage, For Life and Love: A Story of the Rio Grande (London:
George Routledge and Sons, 1894), 248.
1" Ralph A. Wooster, "Wealthy Texans, 1870," SHQ 74 (July, 1970), 24-35.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998, periodical, 1998; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/m1/108/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.