The American Civil War, 1861-1865

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Texas’ secession from the United States expanded the role of the Rangers. 

In December 1861, the Ninth Texas Legislature authorized the formation of the Frontier Regiment.  This unit of Texas Rangers replaced the Confederate First Regiment and Texas Mounted Riflemen at frontier forts.  
The Frontier Regiment had three primary goals: defense of the northern and western frontier against Indian and Mexican incursions, defense of the coast against Union invasion, and suppression of Union loyalists within Texas. Rangers were also tasked with protecting the movement of trade goods.

The Frontier Regiment consisted of nine companies ranging in size from 115 to 125 men each.  In the early stages of the Civil War, most militia groups disbanded.  Young, able-bodied men joined either the state or the Confederate armies.  For service closer to home, men could enroll in the Frontier Regiment.  

As the war progressed, circumstances changed for the state of Texas and the Confederacy.  More men were needed.  In Texas, state military leaders were concerned with protecting the frontier and trade.  To this end, they encouraged available men, including men considered too young, too old, or too disabled for Confederate service, to defend against specific Union attacks.  Other methods included using furloughed Confederate soldiers.

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The financial burden of war began to take its toll on Texas.  It cost money to pay and equip Rangers to defend the frontier and support the war effort.  The Regiment was organized according to Confederate army regulations and was renamed the Mounted Regiment of Texas State Troops.  This was done in the hopes to entice the Confederate government to muster the Regiment into Confederate service.  This would shift the payment of troops and supplies from Texas to the Confederate government.  

One drawback: the Regiment would be under Confederate command and could be withdrawn at any time from the frontier to the battlefield.  
Concerns for frontier protection remained high.  In December 1863, the 10th Texas Legislature passed an act to transfer the Mounted Regiment, formerly the Frontier Regiment, to the Confederacy.  The transfer went into effect in March of 1864.  The act also created the Frontier Organization as a replacement unit.  This unit lasted the duration of the war.  

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Discharge and payment papers for Private Daniel A. Rees, February 26, 1864.  Adjutant General Department, Texas State Troops, Ranger records, 401-830.

After serving three years, Private Daniel A. Rees, aged 32, was discharged from the Mounted Regiment.  In this document, he cited a disability as the reason.  During Rees’ service, the Frontier Regiment became the Mounted Regiment in 1863.  The Mounted Regiment transferred to the Confederacy on March 1, 1864 -- five days after Rees’ discharge.

Agreement of service for the Texas Frontier Regiment, June 12, 1862.  Adjutant General Department, Texas State Troops, Ranger records 401-830.

As men enlisted in the Confederate Army, this created a manpower shortage in the state, especially on the frontier.  Men from certain counties were exempted from Confederate service so that Ranger companies could be formed to protect the frontier. 

Letter from Chief Justice Robert Bean of Jack County to Governor Francis R. Lubbock, April 5, 1862. Governor Francis Richard Lubbock records, 2014/092-3.

In this letter, Chief Justice Robert Bean defended the importance of frontier protection.  According to Bean, ‘protection was not perfect, but it was necessary.’ Jack County is located near the northern border of Texas.

The Frontier Regiment faced challenges in finding enough supplies to survive.  Citizens attempted to provide food, ammunition, and horses to Rangers, but there was seldom enough.

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Cooper Firearms Manufacturing Company double action pistol, circa 1863. Artifacts Collection, ART 0461.

The history of the Texas Rangers and the Colt’s Manufacturing Company are intertwined.  During the Civil War, it was difficult for Ranger companies to obtain weapons due to Confederate military demands and the Colt’s Manufacturing Company’s embargo on the South.  Imitation weapons, such as this Cooper Firearms Manufacturing Company double action pistol, came onto the market as a way to meet the demand.

Brown leather holster, undated. Artifacts Collection, AFT 0258.

A holster protected the weapon from the elements, restricted unintended movement, and allowed for easy withdrawal.  The wearer could attach a holster to any belt for easy access. 

Letter from Captain John Salmon of the Texas Fifth Regiment to Colonel J.M. Norris, June 21, 1862. Governor Francis Richard Lubbock records, 2014/092-3.

In this letter, Captain John Salmon solicited Colonel J.M. Norris for an honorable discharge for Sergeant Jacob McCarty, aged 50.  According to Salmon, McCarty’s reason for the discharge was that the ‘services are harder than he feels able to bear.’ The need for men to serve in the Confederacy and the Frontier Regiment was high.

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Letter from Colonel John Salmon “Rip” Ford to Governor Francis R. Lubbock, September 18, 1863. Governor Francis Richard Lubbock records, 2014/092-5.

In this letter to Governor Lubbock, John Salmon ‘Rip’ Ford suggested the use of furloughed Confederate soldiers for frontier protection. According to Ford, this strategy enabled the Rangers to use trained men for short-term expeditions. From 1862-1865, Ford served in the Confederate States Army along the Texas-Mexico border.

Letter from Governor Francis R. Lubbock to General P. O. Hebert, May 29, 1862. Governor Francis Richard Lubbock records, 2014/092-3.

In this letter, Governor Lubbock suggested to General P.O. Hebert the use of underage and overage men to monitor the Gulf of Mexico in the event of a Union attack.  Hebert was in charge of the Louisiana militia and the defense of New Orleans.  Lubbock believed such a force would serve an important purpose for the Confederacy at ‘no expense to the Confederate government.’

Letter from Oliver Loving to Governor Francis R. Lubbock, circa 1862. Governor Francis Richard Lubbock records, 2014/092-5.

Native American depredations affected settlers as well as trade.  During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops encouraged Native Americans to disrupt the opposing side.  Cattle rancher Oliver Loving, frustrated by these depredations, suggested a Frontier Regiment-led expedition to destroy Native Americans. 

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Page last modified: May 20, 2016