With entry into the United States, things were changing in the Nueces strip

In 1848, the Nueces County Commissioners Court appointed William L. Cavanaugh agent and commissioner to lay out a road between Corpus Christi to Laredo. Late that year, Col. Henry Kinney opened a similar trail to Laredo, 138 miles away, through Los Angeles. William Manning of Corpus Christi surveyed Kinney’s road, which was laid out by affixing a plough share to a wagon to turn a furrow the whole distance to the Rio Grande. This served as “a clear and perceptible trail until a permanent road” was cut. The road covered a distance is 145 miles and had an upper branch that split off to Mier and a lower branch to Rio Grande City and Camargo.

The return of peace and the new roads, gave rise to increased business between Mier and Corpus Christi. Traders from Mier traveling through Duval County brought in some 90 to 100 wagons to Corpus Christi to purchase some $40,000 worth of lumber and other supplies for both sides of the Rio Grande. While there was considerable trade between Corpus Christi and Laredo and other nearby points, the method of transporting merchandise were by Mexican carretas, which were slow and easy prey for bandits and Indians.

Peace in the frontier was always a hit and miss proposition. In 1849, reports came in from the countryside that Indians, in groups of 50 to 100 were roaming the area “murdering and stealing and destroying everything.” The Comanche were not alone in performing atrocities; white and Mexican desperados were also freely plundering without challenge from any authority. The country between Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande was said to be quickly reverting again to desolation and settlers were abandoning their ranches once again and returning to the to the towns along the Rio Grande.

In August 1849, droves of mustangs and herds of deer roamed freely in the area between Laredo and Corpus Christi. Large herds of wild cattle were also commonplace. These wild livestock were once the property of Mexican ranchers that had been ordered to abandon their ranches under threat of treason. General Valentín Canalizo, the Mexican comandante along the Rio Grande had threatened the ranchers with the penalty of espionage if they were found within three leagues north of the Rio. This situation was an invitation for Texans to raid the area for wild horses and cattle left behind by the rancheros in the hinterland between the Rio Grande and the Nueces.

In late September 1949, Captain John “Rip” Ford moved his company of 28 men from San Antonio to Corpus Christi and then to Fort McIntosh in Laredo. His company tried to provide security for the area between Laredo, Fort Ringgold in Rio Grande City and Corpus Christi. Their particular interest was to protect the Laredo to Corpus Christi trade.

Two years later, in September 1851, after the ranchers began to reclaim their lands and the area’s roads were again safe for merchants to ply their trade, Ford’s company of rangers disbanded. The San Antonio Ledger bemoaned that with the absence of the rangers, the Comanche would soon return and resume their ways of “death and devastation.” The newspaper was convinced that “cattle stealing and scalping forays along the whole line of settlements from the farms and ranches above Laredo, to Davis’s ranch, and from thence across the country to Corpus Christi” would return now that the rangers had been removed.

2 Comments on "With entry into the United States, things were changing in the Nueces strip"

  1. Thanks. This is enjoyable and informative reading.

  2. You are welcome. Thanks for your kind words.

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