|Depredations, the Civil War, and Indian
Policy on the North Texas Prairies
|J. W. Wilbarger's book, "Indian Depredations in Texas" (1890)
chronicles and condemns the raids against white settlers. In a drawing
accompanying the book, white child captives are rescued by yelling
"We are white children!" (courtesy Texas State Library and Archives)
|Laymen tend to argue that southern states seceded from the Union in 1860 and 1861 because the Confederacy
was defending its respective states' rights, but that's not the whole picture. In reading the original secession
documents, it becomes clear that southern states were galled that the Union wasn't enforcing, and in many
cases allowing northern states to supersede, federal laws such as the fugitive slave acts. Most southern states
actually demanded a stronger federal government that would protect their right to keep slaves. So, the "states'
rights" is a double-edged sword of an argument. But there was a whole 'nother agenda that one particular
secession document addressed as well.
|Warren Wagon Train Raid - Young County
William Tecumseh Sherman, who had once trained at Camp
Cooper in Thorckmorton County, visited Texas in 1871 to
witness these so-called "depredations." A day after he traveled
on the road from Fort Griffin to Fort Belknap, Kiowa, Apache,
and Comanche warriors from Fort Sill ambushed a wagon train
on that very road, killing six men. Sherman decided that the
men responsible for the raid should stand trial for murder. This
decision changed Indian Policy, as raids had been previously
viewed as acts of war, not as crimes. Satank, Satanta, Big Tree,
and Skywalker were arrested at Fort Sill and brought to trial in
Jacksboro (Satank was killed in an escape attempt on his way to
Jacksboro). This raid brought an end to the "Quaker Peace
Policy" and immediately impacted the Red River Wars.
|Warren Wagon Train Raid site on the Salt Creek Prairie, Young County
|Robert S. Neighbors was born in Virginia but sought adventure as an Indian agent in the "old southwest" of Louisiana, Texas, and Indian
Territory. His dedication to protecting Native American tribes was punished in 1859, when Edward Cornett, a white settler, shot and killed him.
The inscription on the marker reads:
Major Robert Simpson Neighbors
Who served in the army of Texas, 1836 * Captured by General Woll, 1842 * U.S. Indian Agent, 1845
* Born in Virginia, November 3, 1815 * Died September 14, 1859.
Erected by the State of Texas, 1936
|Elm Creek Raid - Young County
in 1864, Kiowa and Comanche warriors descended on settlers
near Fort Belknap, where they scalped a young woman, killed an
enslaved boy, and kidnapped the Fitzpatrick and Johnson
families. Several settlers, soldiers, and warriors were killed in
rescue attempts following the ambush. Comanche Chief
Asa-Havey, of a different Comanche band, brokered peace by
ransoming the captives and returning them to their families
(legend has it that Britt Johnson, an enslaved man, rescued
both families instead).
|Lost Valley Raids - Jack County
In the 1860s and 1870s, several raids took place between Kiowas,
who had been forced onto reservations in Indian Territory, and
Anglo settlers. Many of the attacks focused on stealing or
spooking cattle. Texas Rangers tended to patrol the valley.
|Flag Springs - Young County
The first permanent Anglo settlement in Young County was also
home to various Indian tribes, as the springs provided a steady
supply of water. Several raids took place around Flag Springs in
the 1860s and 1870s, including a raid on horses and cattle.
|You may ask: Why did you put quotation marks around the word "frontier"? I did that to show understanding that the word has some
contentious history: the idea that a line separated "civilized" Americans from "savage" Indians is rooted in racism.
|Questions or comments? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Pioneer cabin in Bryson, Jack County, Texas