Historical Society scrapbook: The frontier battalion of the Texas Rangers

Brownwood Bulletin
Ronnie and Donnie Lappe

Brown County men served in the Texas Rangers under Captain Jeff Maltby, Company E and directed by Major Jones.

On the morning of July 12, 1874, Lieutenant Wilson returned from scouting and reported a fresh Native American trail going down the east side of Salt Creek. Major Jones, Captain Stevens, Lieutenant Wilson and 24 men started on the trail at a gallop.  They followed the trail for 15 miles over the prairie and into the mountains. The Rangers were close upon the Native Americans, who, upon entering Lost Valley, were joined by about 50 more, bringing the total force to one hundred warriors. Once in the mountains, the Native Americans divided and the Rangers separated to look for them. A squad of 12 men was attached, but managed to retreat and the entire Ranger force joined together and sought refuge in a draw in Lost Valley, while the Native Americans concealed themselves behind the rocks and brush of the adjacent hills. Here, the Anglo men were held in siege for the remainder of the day. While attempting to get water, D.W.H. Bailey and W.A. Glass of Steven’s company were cut off and killed, and Lee Corn of Coldwell’s company and George Moore of Maltby’s were wounded.

It appeared to the Rangers that there situation was desperate. They were surrounded in an open valley by four times their number and without water. Their only hope was to steal away in the night or to send a messenger to the government fort for help. They had lost 12 horses. It was difficult to have horses for all the men to ride. They decided to send a messenger for help and to hold their ground.

One of the men volunteered to make the ride, but he was not sure that he could find his way. Lee Corn, one of the wounded men, had an excellent horse, and it was believed that the horse knew where the fort was. Corn directed the rider to ride his horse, point him toward the fort and set the horse on his way. The rider got through. Captain Baldwin and a squad of African Americans troops, known as Buffalo Soldiers, arrived in Lost Valley before daylight. The combined force scoured the valley at dawn. They found out that the Native Americans had departed without leaving a trail. The dead men were rolled in blankets and carried to the fort for burial. The wounded were left for medical attention. Medics from the Fort would come tend to them. Three Native Americans were killed and three wounded. The Rangers captured one Native American horse and an assortment of bows, arrows, and moccasins. Major Jones reported that the Native Americans were armed with breech-loading guns.

After this battle, Major Jones continued his patrol northward. He stated that he would combine several companies to search for Native Americans, which he expected in large numbers. His Rangers were near Captain Steven’s Flat Top Mountain camp. Major Jones reported that two detachments had found the trail of the Native Americans, who fought at Lost Valley and estimated the number between 100 -150. Lieutenant Campbell had found a Native American camp on the Big Wichita on July 11 and took 43 horses from the Native Americans. On July 25, Ranger Israel with ten men of Maltby’s Company E discovered that they  trail of six Native Americans near the headwaters of the Clear Fork of the Brazos, killed two and wounded three, one of whom was captured and later died. The captive reported that the Native Americans left Fort Sill four days before the fight to go into the settlements after horses and scalps. The Rangers scalped the two Native Americans killed o the field, captured two bows, quivers, arrows, a shield, a Spencer rifle, two six-shooters and one horse. They lost a horse and had one man wounded.

Major Jones spent the first three weeks on the frontier. He moved to Fort Griffin which was garrisoned by U.S. troops under General Buell. He soon reached a good understanding wit the federal officer and instructed his captains to give Buell prompt notice of any Native Americans headed in the direction of Fort Griffin. Then he moved to Captain Waller’s camp on Sandy Creek, where he found some of the men scouting and a half dozen ill in camp. By August 9, he was at Captain Maltby’s camp at the head of Home Creek in Coleman. Major Jones was not aware that the emergency required the captain’s presence in Austin. Pistols could have been sent to him. The lieutenant was reported to be ill, but had no surgeon’s certificate. The Major informed both of them by letter that they had no approved reason to claim illness. Major Jones saw a letter from Maltby authorizing 11 furloughs to residents from Coleman and Brown and promising others to men from Burnet. He countermanded the permits and stopped furloughs except in special and extraordinary cases. He stated that it was extremely difficult to make the men understand that they were not at liberty to go home when they pleased, or to get a brother or friend to substitute for them. He established this rule,

On September 5, 1874, he was with Captain Neal Coldwell, the southernmost outpost of his command. He found the men in good condition, but the horses were worn down from scouting after Native Americans who had captured all the horses belonging to a party of bee hunters. Though the company was not well located, he could not move it because the whole country from the Llano via the head of the Guadalupe and Frio to the Nueces had been burned, and there were few places where water and grass could be found together. He reported that he had traveled a whole day at a time without finding any grass.

Major Jones commended Captain Neal Coldwell as an active and zealous man who showed a disposition to discipline and control his men. Coldwell had relieved a private and sergeant for insubordination, and Major Jones upheld him by discharging the private and reducing the sergeant to the ranks. When a lieutenant named Nelson requested a transfer to another company, on the ground s that his life was in danger from some of the men in the command, Major Jones told him he would have to resign or go on with the command. He did this because he had formed the opinion that Nelson was not fit for this position. The same firmness which he exhibited toward his men served him against the influential citizens who demanded special favors, wanting Rangers stationed near their property, for their own safety, at the risk of other settlers.

These Brown County men served under Capt. Maltby: Sgt. D.W. Wheelaw, Lt. N. O. Reynolds, Lt. B.X. Foster. Capt. William Scott served in Company F. Lt. George H. Adams and Sgt. J. J. Company served with Company G. Capt. J. G. Connell was Captain of Company E before Capt. Maltby. Thomas Jefferson Majors served under him.

These men also served in Company E: Vince I. Brannard, James Albert Byrd, John Carnes, James Albert Cheatham, Thomas W. Clark, Caleb M. Grady, William W. Jones, and Henry M. Nichols. Andy Gibson Patterson served in G.S. Gitz Hugh’s Company.