Today in Texas History – January 8

Slag bij Dove Creek | rebelcivilwar

From the Annals of the Civil War – In 1865, the Kickapoo Indians defeated a Confederate Army force fighting with about 325 state militiamen at the Battle of Dove Creek in present day Tom Green County.  In December 1864, a force of Texas Militia under Captain N.M. Gillentine discovered an abandoned Indian camp on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River.   Gillentine believed that Comanche or Kiowa might have been at the site and called for action.  A few days later,  Confederate Texas Frontier Battalion troops under the command of Captain Henry Fossett arrived at Fort Chadbourne to address the supposed threat.  Fossett located an encampment on Dove Creek.  Fossett was unaware that it was a band of Kickapoo – a relatively peaceful tribe since the Black Hawk war.

As Fossett prepared for an attack, the Texas Militia troops arrived after a forced march and a joint attack was planned. The Militia launched a frontal assault on the camp from the north.  The Confederates under Fossett maneuvered around to the southwest, captured the Indians’ horse herd, and attack from the flank.

The entire operation was bungled.  The Kickapoo benefited from the well-placed camp, located on a tall bank covered with light timber and protected by natural brier thickets.   The Militia got caught in the brier and came under intense rifle fire.  Three Texan officers (including Gillentine) and sixteen enlisted men were killed in the first few minutes.

The Confederate force was initially successful in capturing the horse herd, but an attack on quickly faltered splintering the Rebels into three groups who were routed with heavy casualties.  The Confederates and Texas Militia retreated eastward.  The now embittered Kickapoos headed south for Mexico and began raiding settlers along the Rio Grande.

Map from rebelcivilwar.wordpress.com

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Red’s Reading List for 2019 – Topics

Red has put together the following topics for his 2019 Reading List.  Red picks out his topics for the year which typically do not vary too much, but he mostly fills in specific books as he goes in no particular order. Any suggestions would be welcome.

The following topics to be covered in 2019.

  1.          Texas History – Three Roads to Chihuahua (in progress).
  2.          U.S. Civil War History
  3.          American History General
  4.          WW II History
  5.          European History
  6.          Mexican History
  7.          Ancient History
  8.          American Biography
  9.          World Biography
  10.         American Politics General
  11.        Texas Biography/Politics
  12.        8th Grade Summer Reading (i.e. a book Red should have read that summer)
  13.       12th Grade Summer Reading
  14.       Classic English Novel – pre 20th Century
  15.       Classic Foreign Language Novel – pre 20th Century
  16.       Classic American Novel – pre 20th Century
  17.       20th Century American Novel
  18.       21st Century American Novel
  19.       Latin American Novel
  20.       Texas Novel
  21.       Other Southwestern Fiction
  22.       Complete Fluff Novel
  23.       Feminist Dystopian Novel (probably The Water Cure)
  24.       General Dystopian Novel
  25.       Short Story Collection – multi author
  26.       Short Story Collection – single author
  27.       A.S. McCall
  28.       E. Kelton
  29.       S. Lewis
  30.       English Mystery
  31.       American Mystery
  32.       American Hard-boiled Detective Novel – the trashier the better
  33.       Young Adult Fiction
  34.       Law/legal issues
  35.       Sports
  36.       Music
  37.       Cattle/Ranching
  38.       Art
  39.       Birding
  40.       Golf
  41.       Bullfighting
  42.       Misc.

Individual 1 Presents a Bad Movie Poster

Let’s dissect this just a bit.  As an initial matter, this shows a fence – not a wall.  And what is with the O with the lines through it.  It appears to be some sort of religious symbol – which is appropriate as Trumpism tends more towards religion in that only faith can sustain it – because facts just aren’t available or even really desirable to the true believers.  Also note that only the letters appear to be made of “beautiful concrete.” And what is one to make of the giant, hulking, red-eyed monster looming over the “wall.”  Is he on the U.S. side staring down some Honduran family who will run away screaming at the very sight?  Or is he an apparition – a ghostly warning to all who would pass?  Is he a Macy’s Parade balloon?  Is he untethered?  Is he high?

Recognize this for what it is – complete and utter real estate developer con man BS.

Today in Texas History – January 7

Vintage Postcard, Waco Suspension Bridge, Waco, Texas ...

From the Annals of Engineering – In 1870, the Waco Suspension Bridge opened to traffic.  The WSB is a 475 foot long single-span suspension bridge over the Brazos River that looks like a smaller version of the Brooklyn Bridge.  The twin double-towers on each side of the Brazos were considered engineering marvels of the day and contain more than 3 million bricks made onsite.  At the time of construction, Waco lacked the ability to manufacture much of the material needed.  The suspension cables were made by the Roebling Company of Trenton, NJ and other materials were made in or imported via Galveston and then shipped up the Brazos to Bryan and then by oxcart to Waco.

The WSB could accommodate two stagecoaches passing each other.  But the main initial use was for cattle crossing and pedestrian traffic.  For years it was the only bridge crossing the Brazos.  As a result, the $141,000 cost to build the bridge was quickly paid back by tolls.

The WSB It was closed to vehicle traffic in 1971 and is now open only to pedestrians and bicycles. The bridge is in the National Register of Historic Places and received a state historic marker in 1976.

Alex Jones – Bum Steer of the Year

Calling Alex Jones a conservative whacko is something of an insult to conservative whackos everywhere.  The Austin-based Jones has promoted various bizarre conspiracy theories to an eagre cadre of rightwing nut jobs who eat it up – including his utterly vile claim that the Sandy Hook massacre was complete fiction.  Jones faces multiple lawsuits and has been banned from many social media sites.  Yet, he endures.  And for his efforts, Texas Monthly has given him the coveted Bum Steer of the Year Award.

Today in Texas History – January 4

The Texas Underground: Samuel Hamilton Walker

From the Annals of Weaponry –  In 1846, Captain Samuel Walker of the Texas Rangers procured an order of 1,000 revolvers for gunmaker Samuel Colt.  Colt had previously produced the Paterson Revolver which proved to be useful but too fragile for rough conditions and ready use.  As a result, Colt’s business had gone bankrupt.  His friend, Walker, pointed out the problems with the Paterson and suggested improvements to the trigger and the need for a pistol that did not require removal of the barrel for reloading. Colt was eager to restart his business and agreed with Walker’s suggestions and made some additional improvements on his own.

The result was the most powerful handgun yet made.  The six-shot “Walker” Colt had a 9 inch barrel, a longer cylinder than the five-shot Paterson and was manufactured in .44 caliber rather than .36, and was easily reloaded.  The big gun weighed a hefty 5 pounds, but the longer barrel and weight improved its accuracy.

Colt needed a buyer and Walker went to straight to President Polk to whom he was known from his army and Texas Ranger exploits.   The celebrated Texas Ranger explained the benefits and need for Colt’s new revolver.  Polk immediately ordered his Secretary of War to purchase 1,000 of the revolvers for twenty-five dollars each.  Colt contracted with Eli Whitney to manufacture the weapons.  The power and accuracy of the new weapon completely changed the ability of mounted fighters to conduct operations from the saddle.

Today in Texas History – January 3

Image result for groundbreaking ceremony astrodome

From the Annals of the Taxpayer Funded Stadiums –  In 1962, the ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Harris County Domed Stadium (later dubbed the Astrodome) in Houston. It was designed to be the first fully air-conditioned and completely enclosed sports stadium in the world.  The Houston team at the time was named the Colt 45’s so the ceremony was not held with the standard gold-plated shovels.   Harris County Judge Roy Hofheinz and other local dignitaries shot Colt .45 pistols into the dirt.  Red is disappointed to learn they shot blanks and that the pistols have been lost to history; but it was a foreboding sign for a team that would take 55 seasons to finally win the World Series.  The Astrodome itself is rusting hulk that has now sat empty for more than 15 years.