Runnels to Rip Ford, March 10, 1858
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.
Private and confidential
You will in no event augment for any
If you call out any more men I shall
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.