From the Annals of the Comanche – In 1860, Cynthia Ann Parker was captured by a group of Texas Rangers under the command of Sul Ross. The so-called Battle of the Pease River was actually an attack on a Comanche hunting camp at Mule Creek in Foard County. The Rangers completely surprised the Comanche and most were slaughtered including women and children. During the raid the rangers found Parker who had been kidnapped from Fort Parker by Comanche warriors on May 19, 1836. Parker had no desire to be “rescued” as she was completely socialized as a Comanche with a war chief husband in Pete Nocona and three children – including Quanah and Topasannah (Prairie Flower). Sul Ross did his best to glorify the battle including making the disputed claim that the famed warrior Nocona had been killed in the “battle.” Quanah Parker claimed that his father was not killed at the Pease River, but died years later from his many war wounds. Hiram B. Rogers, a Ranger who joined the Ross command in October 1860, said, “I was in the Pease River fight, but I am not very proud of it. That was not a battle at all, but just a killing of squaws.”
From the Annals of the Little Known Battles – In 1835, one of the smaller engagements of the Texas Revolution occurred. The battle of Lipantitlán was fought on the east bank of the Nueces River in San Patricio County, directly across from Fort Lipantitlán. The Fort was one of the last two garrisons of Mexican troops remaining after the initial engagements of the revolution. Most of the Mexican forces had left the fort for operations in the field. While they were engaged elsewhere a Texian force of around seventy men from Goliad under the command of Capt.Ira J. Westover seized and dismantled the fort. The Mexican force of about ninety men under the command of Capt. Nicolás Rodríguez encountered the Texians as they were attempting to cross the rain-swollen Nueces River on their return to Goliad. The short battle lasted only about 30 minutes, but the Texian long rifles proved decisive in a longer distance fight against Mexican troops armed with close range muskets. The Mexican troops were forced to retreat with between 3 and 5 soldiers reportedly killed in action. The Texans reported only one relatively minor casualty.
From the Annals of the Civil War – In 1863, Major Santos Benavides led 79 men in the Thirty-third Texas Cavalry across the Rio Grande in pursuit of the bandit Octaviano Zapata. Zapata had been an associate of Juan Cortina. During the Civil War he was recruited by Union forces to aid them in military action in south Texas seeking to prevent the Confederacy from exporting cotton to Matamoros. Zapata’s raids also kept Rebel forces occupied in Texas. Zapata’s force often flew the American flag during their raids – leading Texans to refer to the group as the “First Regiment of Union Troops.” The Cavalry caught up to Zapata near Mier, Tamaulipas the following day. The confrontation ended with Zapata and 9 others were dead. The remnants of the bandit gang dispersed.
From the Annals of the Civil War – In 1866, the Civil War officially ended when President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation of peace between the United States and Texas. Johnson declared that “the insurrection in the State of Texas has been completely and everywhere suppressed and ended.” Johnson had previously declared a state of peace between the U.S. and the other ten Confederate states on April 2, 1866. Being the most remote of the rebellious states, fighting in Texas did not end until May 13, 1866 when the last land battle of the war took place at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1832, a rebel force attacked Anahuac in the first armed clash between Anglo-Texians and Mexican troops. Juan Davis Bradburn, formerly an American citizen, was commander of the Mexican post at Anahuac on Galveston Bay. He was an ardent opponent of slavery which was illegal under the Mexican Constitution of 1824. Bradburn was unpopular with the Anglo-Texians in the area for his opposition to slavery and enforcement of Mexican law. When he granted asylum to 3 escaped slaves from Louisiana, tensions began to heat up. Attorney William B. Travis was hired by the slaves owner to attempt to regain control of the slaves. Travis was probably involved in writing a letter to Bradburn claiming that 100 men were coming from Louisiana to reclaim the slaves. When Bradburn realized it was a hoax, he arrested Travis. Patrick Jack, a ringleader of the Texians opposed to Bradburn confronted Bradburn about Travis’ arrest and was himself arrested. The arrests provoked Jack’s brother to bring a contingent of men from Brazoria and other towns to secure the release of the prisoners. Bradburn agreed to exchange Travis and the other Anglos for nineteen cavalrymen held by the insurgents. The cavalrymen were released, but when Bradburn discovered that a number of rebels had remained in town overnight, he refused to free his prisoners and began firing on the town. The insurgents withdrew to Turtle Bayou, where they drew up a series of resolutions explaining their action. Bradburn appealed for help from other military commanders in Texas. Col. José de las Piedras marched from Nacogdoches, but met with Anglo insurgents near Liberty and agreed to remove Bradburn from command and free Travis and the others.
From the Annals of the Unlucky – In 1865, the last battle of the Civil War was fought near Brownsville at Palmito Ranch. Union and Confederate commanders had previously reached a local truce thinking that a confrontation in the what appeared to be the waning days of the war over non-strategic ground in south Texas would be a waste of time, ammunition and most importantly lives. Despite this on May 11, Col. Theo. H Barrett sent 300 mostly Black troops to take possession of Brownsville. The Union force surprised about 150 Confederate cavalrymen and quickly routed them. However, later in the afternoon the Confederates engaged the Union in a skirmish. The Union commanders assumed that the Confederates had received reinforcements and quickly withdrew. On May 13, Col. John “Rip” Ford arrived with artillery and assumed command. The Confederates opened up with the cannons and an ensuing cavalry charge. The Union troops were quickly routed and fell back to Brazos Island. Approximately 30 unfortunate Union soldiers were killed in the meaningless and unnecessary battle. After capturing some Union troops, the Confederates learned of the surrender of Lee and Johnston. This small battle is only remembered because it was the last actual battle of the Civil War.
From the Annals of the Border Wars – In 1846, U.S. forces under the command of Gen. Zachary Taylor defeated a Mexican force in the Battle of Palo Alto near present day Brownsville. The battle was the first major engagement of the Mexican-American War but was fought prior to the actual declaration of war against Mexico. The movement towards war had begun when the U.S. annexed the Republic of Texas as a new state in 1845. Mexico had refused to recognize Texas as an independent country and disputed the Rio Grande as an international boundary instead claiming sovereignty up to the Nueces. After the Texas annexation and in a move to deliberately provoke the war, President James K. Polk ordered Taylor to defend the Rio Grande border. Taylor positioned his forces along the Rio Grande. Mexican General Mariano Arista viewed this as a hostile invasion of Mexican territory, and on April 25, 1846, he took his soldiers across the river and attacked. Polk having achieved the conflict that he desperately sought asked Congress to declare war which they did on May 13. But the real fighting had already started. In the weeks following the initial skirmish along the Rio Grande, Taylor engaged the Mexicans at the battle of Palo Alto on May 8, and the next day at Resaca de la Palma. Taylor, nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready” by his soldiers, emerged from the war a national hero ultimately becoming President in1848. He proved to be an unskilled politician who accomplished little before dying in office in 1850.