Early Statehood, 1845-1860

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With annexation in 1845, Texas transitioned from a sovereign country to a member in the United States. During this period, raids by Native Americans continued to be a threat to Texas.

Human lives and property were lost to the raids. Frequently settlers retreated to nearby towns and cities for protection. Governor Elisha Pease (1853-1857) received numerous requests for additional protection of the frontier, specifically requests for assistance from the Texas Rangers. In 1855, Pease received petitions from the citizens of Bexar and Comal counties regarding increased raids by Lipan Apaches, former allies turned enemies. After each raid, they retreated to the safety of Mexico. The citizens needed help.

On July 5, 1855, Pease wrote James H. Callahan and instructed him to form a company of Rangers to protect those counties. Callahan, a veteran of the Texas Revolution and survivor of the Goliad Massacre, enlisted 111 men on the promise they would be paid by the Texas Legislature. For several months, the company protected citizens in and around Bexar and Comal counties.

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In September of 1855, Callahan and his men pursued a group of Lipan Apaches believed to be carrying out the raids. In October 1855, the Rangers crossed the Rio Grande in pursuit of the Lipan Apaches. This crossover into Mexico became known as the Callahan Expedition.

The Rangers continued south for over twenty miles. Near the Escondido River, Mexican troops and a group of Native American warriors met the Rangers. At the Battle of Escondido, Ranger forces reported four dead and three wounded. Mexican forces reported three dead and four wounded. The Texas Rangers retreated to the town of Piedras Negras on the Mexican border. To cover their return to Texas, Callahan ordered his men to set fire to the town.

Governor Pease praised Callahan for his efforts during the Battle of Escondido. Pease initially requested no harm come to Mexican citizens. He later stated the Rangers’ actions were excusable, as the Mexicans had fought alongside the Native Americans. The Texas Legislature paid the Rangers for their service and compensated Mexican citizens for damages to their property.

Texas’ relationship with Mexico remained tense in the years to come.

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Items in this exhibit

The links shown below to the items displayed in this exhibit will open in PDF format in a separate window or tab. The documents are shown here in their entirety so some of the files contain multiple pages.

Proceedings of a public meeting in Bexar County concerning Indian attacks, enclosure of letter dated May 24, 1854. Governor Elisha Marshall Pease, Records of the First Two Terms, 301-23.

These proceedings documented a public meeting held in San Antonio concerning the frequent Native American raids in the area and the need for increased frontier protection.  The committee resolved to appeal to Governor Pease and the state of Texas for aid.

“Indian Outrages!!,” Newspaper clipping from the San Antonio Ledger, approximately April 27, 1854. Governor Elisha Marshall Pease, Records of the First Two Terms, 301-23.

This clipping is one of seven articles sent to Governor Pease as evidence of the raids committed by Native Americans.  It described the raids as “murderous crimes, which are becoming almost of daily occurrence on our frontier.”  A year later, this information was included in a petition to the Governor for additional frontier protection. 

Letter from Judge William E. Jones to Governor Elisha M. Pease, September 22, 1855. Records Relating to Indian Affairs, 2-9/30.

Judge William E. Jones wrote Governor Pease in September of 1855 to describe recent events related to the raids by Native Americans and the activities of Captain Callahan’s troops.  In this letter, Jones described his meeting with Callahan, which occurred two weeks prior.  According to Jones, Callahan believed three or four additional companies were needed to protect the frontier around Comal and Bexar counties.  He related that Callahan prepared to move his company westward to locate the Native Americans responsible for the raids. 

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Letter from Governor Elisha M. Pease to Texas Ranger Captain J. H. Callahan, October 10, 1855. Governor Elisha Marshall Pease, Records of the First Two Terms, 301-24.

Upon learning that Captain Callahan and his troops had captured the Mexican town of Piedras Negras, Governor Pease wrote to Callahan.  He indicated Callahan and his troops were justified in crossing the Rio Grande to pursue the Lipan Apaches, but also stated:

“you had not the right to take possession of or to occupy Piedras Negras or any other village or property of Mexican citizens…you should have returned immediately to this side of the Rio Grande and I trust that you have already done so.”

Governor Pease later excused Callahan’s orders to occupy and burn Piedras Negras as the Mexican troops had fought with the Lipan Apaches.

Affidavit of loss concerning William H. Clopton, January 8, 1856. Adjutant General Department, Ranger records, 401-1153.

The company commanders of the Callahan expedition submitted affidavits to verify property had been lost.  This affidavit indicated William H. Clopton was killed at the Battle of Escondido and his horse and arms were lost.  With this document, Clopton’s family could be reimbursed for the lost property.

Affidavit of loss concerning Joseph G. Hines, January 8, 1856. Adjutant General Department, Ranger records, 401-1153.

Captain Callahan submitted this affidavit on behalf of Joseph G. Hines (also spelled Hinds).  An affidavit was required so that Rangers like Hines could be reimbursed for lost items.  Hines lost his horse at the “battle of Piedras Negras.” 

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Page last modified: May 20, 2016