Runnels to Rip Ford, March 10, 1858

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John Salmon (Rip) Ford served Texas as an elected official and a newspaper editor, but he won his greatest fame as a soldier. A veteran of the Republic of Texas, he won his distinctive nickname during the Mexican War. As an adjutant, he had the duty of sending out official notices of deaths in the war. He kindly included "Rest in Peace" at the beginning of these messages, and later shortened this notation to "R.I.P." He would be known as "Rip" the rest of his life.

As a Texas Ranger, Ford became known as an Indian fighter and also fought the Mexican outlaw and folk hero Juan N. Cortina. During the Civil War, Ford commanded the Rio Grande district as a colonel in the Confederate Army, and led troops in the Battle of Palmito Ranch, the last battle of the Civil War. After the war, he was active in politics and journalism, and he became an early promoter of the study of Texas history, in which he had played such a colorful part.

In this personal letter to Ford, Governor Runnels confides his frustration about the difficult task of trying to fortify the frontier without support from the federal government or the authority to create a fighting force of his own.

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Runnels to Rip Ford, Page 1

Private and confidential

Executive Office,

Austin March 10th 1858.

Dear Sir,

I wrote you last sunday and intended to leave to

your discretion what ever temporary augmenta-

tion of force you might deem necessary.

You will in no event augment for any

length of time the number of men in service unless ab-

solutely necessary, the howlings of corrupt and designing

or mad men, will not be permitted to have any influence

on your action I hope, as I am determined they shall

have none on mine. I have seen the letter of the

old vagabond written to the Intelligencer, my only

astonishment is that any man possessing any claim

to decency should have aided or penned it for him,

I suspect some puppy now in the pay of the State

and living on the supplies furnished for the substance

of the men in service to have done this thing and if

I had proof of it I would order him dismissed

the service. If you do not contemplate an expidition

against the Indians at their rendezvous or lodges

I am of the opinion you have men enough for all

present purposes if properly distributed. Unless for

some regular expidition [sic] you must not exceed the ap-

propriation of the Legislature.

If you call out any more men I shall

object to Connor or one eyed Indians as comman-

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Runnels to Rip Ford, March 10, 1858, Records of Hardin Richard Runnels, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: March 30, 2011