Frontier Regiment, 1862-1863

Newly elected governor Francis Richard Lubbock shouldered the responsibility of providing protection to the frontier after the withdrawal of Van Dorn and McCulloch's Rifles. He placed Col. James M. Norris in command supported by Lt. Col. Alfred J. Obenchain and Maj. James Ebenezer McCord. Ranger Sowell's account of patrolling with Goodnight illustrates the men's disdain for Norris and deadly hatred of Obenchain. McCord took over command in February, 1863 and located his headquarters at Camp Colorado, wisely relying on Lt. Col. James (Buck) Barry to coordinate the defenses north to the Red River.

Posts of the Frontier Regiment, 1862-63

Eighteen camps were occupied for use of the regiment. Part of A. Brunson's Company A deployed in northeastern Wichita County, not far from the Big Wichita, with the rest probably at the old Texas Mounted Rifles camp at the junction of Beaver Creek and the Big Wichita River, in southwestern Wichita County. This company soon shifted eastward to Red River Station, in Montague County. Part of Capt. Jack Cureton's Company B was posted at Camp Cureton, where the Gainesville-Fort Belknap road crossed the West Fork of the Trinity River, in Archer County, with the rest of the company at Camp Belknap near Fort Belknap. Half of Capt. John Salmon's Company C was stationed at Camp Breckenridge, in Stephens County; the other half at Camp Salmon near Sloan's Ranch on the East Fork of Hubbard's Creek, in northeastern Callahan County. Half of Capt. T. N. Collier's Company D was posted at Camp Pecan, where the Camp Cooper-Camp Colorado Road crossed Pecan Bayou, in Callahan County; the other half at Camp Collier at Vaughn's Springs in Clear Creek, in Brown County. Half of Capt. N. D. McMillan's Company E was stationed at Camp McMillan near Hall's Spring at the headwaters of Richland Creek, in San Saba County; the other half at Camp San Saba, where the Camp Colorado-Fort Mason Road crossed the San Saba River.

Picture of General E. Kirby Smith
General E. Kirby Smith
Center for American History

In August, 1863, Confederate General Kirby Smith ordered General John Bankhead Magruder to place General Henry McCulloch in overall command of the northern frontier.

Picture of Confederate Gen. John Bankhead Magruder
Confederate Gen. John Bankhead Magruder
Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Major William Quayle, regimental commander at Pea Ridge and Corinth and State Senator in 1863, took command of the first frontier district in January, 1864. His right-hand was George B. Erath, veteran of John H. Moore's Ranger Company of 1835, Battle of San Jacinto, 1836, and extensive Ranger duties through the 1840s. North Texas had long been a haven for deserters and those avoiding conscription primarily because of the general perception that there was no war in California and the Cross Timbers provided good camping and game in preparation for the long trek west.


John R. Baylor
Picture from the book, Blood & Treasure, by Donald S. Frazier

McCulloch managed to capture, or forced to surrender, a large number of these traitors, the best of which were allowed to join what was called the Brush Battalion, originally under the command of John R. Baylor. Baylor soon left for Virginia to serve in the Confederate Legislature and was replaced by Maj. John R. Diamond.

In August, 1863, Generals Henry McCulloch and Edmund Kirby Smith Utilize Quantrill's Raiders

In August, 1863, Generals Henry McCulloch and Edmund Kirby Smith Utilize Quantrill's Raiders

Through the summer, reports of large concentrations of hostile Indians, west of the reservations, demanded the Texans' attention but no punitive strikes could be mounted due to a shortage of manpower. Buck Barry's command was ordered to the Gulf Coast. Raids increased through the fall, climaxing into the big raid in Montague and Cooke Counties during December, 1863.

Early in his command, Quayle was surprised to be approached by a subordinate, Captain Luckey and asked if he could speak "off the record." He then described a large population, not only in the community but in the ranks, of Union sympathizers. With border commander Bourland's help, a dependable spy named L.L. Harris from Bonham secretly surveyed the situation arming Quayle with the knowledge he needed to sort out the renegades.

The following account is from the book Frontier Defense in the Civil War by David Paul Smith:

Quayle Rounds Up Deserters in Wise, Parker and Jack Counties, April 1864

This is also from the above-mentioned book:

By mid-summer, 1864, Bourland's companies and commanders were located at the folowing stations: Company A, Capt. C.L. Roff, Camp Simons (southwest of Fort Arbuckle); Company B, Capt. James J. Diamond, Fort Arbuckle; Company C, Capt. A.J. Nicholson, Fort Arbuckle; Company D, Capt. A.B. White, Fort Belknap; Company E, Capt. F.M. Totty, Victoria Peak (west-central Montague County); Company F, Capt. S.F. Mains, Fort Belknap; Company G, Capt. S.P.C. Patton, Gainesville; Company H, Capt. James Moore, Hubbard Creek (eastern Shackelford County); Company I, Capt. J.B. Anderson, Buffalo Station (Buffalo Springs, southeast Clay County); and, Company K, Capt. William C. McKaney, Camp Twitty (near Spanish Fort, just east of Red River Station). Captain Roff soon became major of the regiment, in charge of the small battalion at Fort Belknap, while Lt. Col. John R. Diamond commanded the battalion that operated out of the Fort Arbuckle vicinity. Regimental quartermaster was Capt. William C. Twitty.

A few determined settlers stayed on the frontier. Most forted up and the Rangers and soldiers increased their vigilance. Nothing could have prepared them for the size or ferocity of the October, 1864, Elm Creek Raid in Young County.

In late March, 1865, Capt. George Bible Pickett led thirty men northwest from Decatur to join Col. Diamond and Captains Earhart, Shoemaker and Shannon in pursuit of deserters.


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