The Settlers' War: The Struggle for the Texas Frontier in the 1860s *Paperback*
By Gregory Michno
6x9, 480 pages, Paperback, maps, bibliography, index.
During the decades from 1820 to 1870 the American frontier line expanded 2,000 miles across the trans-Mississippi west. In Texas the frontier line only expanded about 200 miles. The supposedly irresistible European force met a nearly immovable Native American resistance and a contest for possession of Texas’ hills and prairies ensued for decades. The struggle was down and dirty.
In Texas in the 1860s, there were no large scale battles between the army and the Indians. The targets of the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches usually were the homesteaders on the Texas frontier. In Texas the non-combatants bore the brunt of the warfare, losing far more than the soldiers who were supposedly there to protect them.
The majority of killings were done by Indians on unsuspecting white families. But their story is seldom told—a tale of white victims is not a popular one today. The conflict in Texas had the trappings of a “modern” guerrilla war in which non-combatants suffered because of the inability of most chiefs, soldiers, and politicians to find a diplomatic path to peace. It was hell on the home front.
The 1860s was the bloodiest decade in the western Indian wars. Most of the blood, however, came from those who should have been allowed to remain on the sidelines while the main adversaries battled to a conclusion. It wasn’t to be. The war on the Texas frontier was fought by the settlers.
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