Texas and the Western Frontier

At the end of the U.S-Mexican War in 1848, Anglo Texans hoped that federal troops would stop the violent encounters with Indians and Mexicans. White settlers were far away from the new military installations built at war's end to protect the population. The state and federal governments were often disagreed between policies of peace and war.

For many Tejanos, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo brought an alien legal system along with a change in citizenship. Some victims of the new economic and political order used illegal means to fight against it.

Warrior Indian bands continued to probe the defensive gaps along the line of the settlers' expansion.

Hispanics and Indians struggled to survive, as lack of land made them dependent on the material goods and alcohol of Anglos. They were also sickened by smallpox and other diseases. Ecological changes upset the annual migration of the great bison herds. Indian tribes fought one another.

As the 1850s unfolded, villages and colonies sprang up. Settlers learned to survive with the support of neighbors. The Southern Overland Mail cut a path across the plains. A series of stations became anchors around which communities grew.

As settlers pushed farther west on the Texas frontier, the U.S. Army established a new line of forts to provide protection.

The federal government leased several leagues of land for two Indian reservations. Many settlers expressed their admiration for the Indians' efforts to take up farming and ranching, but others wanted the native people run out of Texas for good. At the same time, there were rumors of slave rebellions.

In the Reservation War of 1859, militiamen of Northwest Texas fought the Indians on both reservations. The conflict resulted in the expulsion of the native people.

Then came the Civil War, and the pioneer folk lost the protection of the federal troops and much of its home guard. Indians attempted to reclaim their former homeland and hunting grounds.

Some settlers "forted up" in family compounds during the Civil War years.

The Civil War ended, raising pioneers' hopes of security. The federal government, however, did little to help with Indian problems, which they believed were the Texans' own fault. The raids continued.

Source: Texas and the Western Frontier
Copyright Texas Beyond History, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) at the University of Texas at Austin

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