|Depredations, the Civil War, and Indian
Policy on the North Texas Prairies
|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.
|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)
|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
|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.