At the beginning of the Civil War, the United States withdrew the soldiers that held the forts protecting the northwestern frontier of Texas. Texas replaced them with state troops, most of whom soon volunteered for the Confederate army. Hostile Indian tribes like the Comanche and the Kiowa quickly took advantage of the situation. They pushed the Texas frontier back nearly 200 miles by the end of the war.
Local law enforcement officials were forced to deal with a rising number of murders, robberies, horse and cattle thefts, and bloody feuds.
In 1874, Governor Richard Coke decided to organize a battalion of Texas Rangers. They would tame the northwestern frontier, remove the Indian threat, and either imprison or hang many of the worst outlaws in the West. They protected settlers from the thieving Indian war bands. Yet small bands of Apaches continued to burn, pillage, and murder, escaping into Mexico whenever the Rangers and Buffalo Soldiers closed in. Eventually, the Mexican army joined a coordinated campaign with the Texas Rangers.
As the era of Reconstruction ended, Texas was beginning to show signs of economic recovery. Millions of cattle were driven north to railheads in Kansas, and thousands of settlers came to Texas in search of a new start. Railroads were also spreading out across the prairie in a network of commerce that brought new wealth to the western frontier.
With the explosive population growth and the introduction of barbed wire, the big range country of West Texas turned into a land of big pastures, and the work of the Frontier Battalion was largely complete. The Battalion’s efforts had transformed the frontier from a lawless society where men lived strictly by a six-gun code of personal justice, to an organized society that could stop violence through law enforcement and a system of honest courts.
Source: The Texas Frontier Battalion
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