Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State's Military History by Alexander Mendoza | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State's Military History

Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State's Military History

by Alexander Mendoza

View All Available Formats & Editions

Beginning with tribal wars among Native Americans before Europeans settled Texas and continuing through the Civil War, the soil of what would become the Lone Star State has frequently been stained by the blood of those contesting for control of its resources. In subsequent years and continuing to the present, its citizens have often taken up arms beyond its borders


Beginning with tribal wars among Native Americans before Europeans settled Texas and continuing through the Civil War, the soil of what would become the Lone Star State has frequently been stained by the blood of those contesting for control of its resources. In subsequent years and continuing to the present, its citizens have often taken up arms beyond its borders in pursuit of political values and national defense. 

Although historians have studied the role of the state and its people in war for well over a century, a wealth of topics remain that deserve greater attention: Tejanos in World War II, the common Texas soldier’s interaction with foreign enemies, the perception of Texas warriors throughout the world, the role of religion among Texans who fight or contemplate fighting, controversial paramilitary groups in Texas, the role and effects of Texans’ ethnicity, culture, and gender during wartime, to name a few. In Texans at War, fourteen scholars provide new studies, perspectives, and historiographies to extend the understanding of this important field. 

One of the largest collections of original scholarship on this topic to date, Texans and War will stimulate useful conversation and research among historians, students, and interested general readers. In addition, the breadth and originality of its contributions provide a solid overview of emerging perspectives on the military history and historiography of Texas and the region.

Partial listing of CONTENTS

Alexander Mendoza and Charles David Grear

PART  I. Texans Fighting through Time: Thematic Topics
1. The Indian Wars of Texas: A Lipan Apache Perspective p. 17
Thomas A Britten
2. Tejanos at War: A History of Mexican Texans in American Wars
Alexander Mendoza
3. Texas Women at War p. 69
Melanie A Kirkland
4. The Influence of War and Military Service on African Texans p. 97
Alwyn  Barr
5. The Patriot-Warrior Mystique: John S.  Brooks, Walter P. Lane,
Samuel H. Walker, and the Adventurous Quest for Renown p. 113
Jimmy L. Bryan  Jr.
6. "All Eyes of Texas Are on Comal County": German Texans' Loyalty
during the Civil War and World War I p. 133
Charles David  Grear

Wars in Texas History: Chronological Conflicts

7. Between Imperial Warfare: Crossing of the Smuggling Frontierand Transatlantic Commerce on the Louisiana-Texas Borderlands,
1754–1785 p. 157
Francis X. Galan8. The Mexican-American War: Reflections on an Overlooked Conflict p. 178
Kendall Milton9. The Prolonged War: Texans Struggle to Win the Civil Warduring Reconstruction p.196
Kenneth W. Howell
10. The Texas lmmunes in the Spanish-American War p. 213
James M. McCaffrey
11. Surveillance on the Border: American Intelligence andthe Tejano Community during World War I p. 227
Jose  A. Ramirez
12. Texan Prisoners of the Japanese: A Study in Survival p. 248
Kelly E. Crager
13. Lyndon B. Johnson's Bitch of a War: An Antiwar Essay p. 269
James M. Smallwood
14. Black Paradox in the Age of Terrorism: Military Patriotismor Higher Education p. 283
Ronald E. GoodwinIndex p. 301

Editorial Reviews

Donald S. Frazier

"Texas, perhaps more than any other state in the Union, has a reputation for martial prowess and a history often punctuated with wars and rumors of war. Mendoza and Grear have crystallized this perception into a useful anthology of essays that will prove valuable in the classroom and as a primer to any student of Texas and Texans."--Dr. Donald S. Frazier, professor at McMurry University; editor of The U.S. and Mexico at War

Robert Wooster

"Stemming from the fertile minds of a new generation of Texas historians, these well-written, imaginatively conceived, and at times provocative essays capture the rich diversity of the Texas military experience better than any single other single work."--Robert Wooster, Regents Professor in the Department of Humanities at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Richard McCaslin

"Many people are familiar with stories of Texans' military prowess, but the editors of this work provide a collection of essays that dig deeper to convey a fuller understanding of the true martial history of the Lone Star State. Armed conflicts can have starkly different impacts on various groups, and this collection makes that abundantly clear. This anthology includes new analyses of such organizations as the Texas Rangers, and it also contains fresh perspectives for historians eager to integrate the experiences of all Texans, regardless of ethnicity or gender, into a broader narrative."--Richard McCaslin, chair for the Department of History at the University of North Texas

Choice - K. J. Volanto

“Mendoza and Grear have assembled an excellent collection of essays chronicling elements of Texas military history from the 18th century to the present. All original works, the 14 essays provide a fine introduction to the wide breadth of people and events that make up Texas military history.”—K. J. Volanto, Choice
Texas Books in Review - Jane Manaster

"Despite its bleak title, Texans and War is enlightening and compelling."--Jane Manaster, Texas Books in Review
James W. Pohl

"Texans and War is an excellent book, each chapter informative and interesting. It will be well recieved not only by those who love either Texas history or military history, but also by those who life well-researched and well written history." -- James W. Pohl, Texas State University-San Marcos
The Journal of Southern History

"The compelling scholarship in Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State's Military History... examines the rich diversity of what military history has now become through the lens of the Texas experience... The fourteen essays cover a broad range of topics, from Native American and Tejano experiences, to Texans in the Spanish-American War, to the assorted roles played by Texas women in various American conflicts... These approaches typify what military history writ large has been doing now for several years, to the benefit of military history and the broader historical profession... War is an undeniable part of the Texas narrative. The Lone Star State's military heritage and continued importance to the armed forces of the United States are important to understanding both Texas history and Texans themselves. Editors Mendoza and Grear have produced an important collection of essays that further explores this diverse story while giving voice to the understudied issues and peoples who have contributed to Texas history... This superb collection... is highly recommended for students and scholars of the Texas experience." —William Thomas Allison, Georgia Southern University
JST - Kemp Dixon

"Loaded with interesting information new to many readers... Overall this is an informative and interesting book." -- Kemp Dixon
On Point - Col. Gordan Bratz

"Texans and War... reveals the ever-emerging role and reactions of Texas and Texans to military conflicts. Its fourteen essays offer considerable scope: new perspectives of earlier scholarship or, more revealingly, unexplored cultural, social and political aspects of Texas' military history... A provocative discussion... As enlightening as these essays and as valuable as the authors' contributions are to this book, it is supremely valuable for the extensive footnotes that accompany each eassay... Without question, this compilation of essays helps us understand how wars have affected Texas and how the Lone Star State has affected the history of the United States." --Colonel Gordon Bratz, USA-Ret.

Product Details

Texas A&M University Press
Publication date:
Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University , #116
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
9 MB

Read an Excerpt

Texans and War

New Interpretations of the State's Military History

By Alexander Mendoza, Charles David Grear

Texas A&M University Press

Copyright © 2012 Texas A&M University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60344-695-2


The Indian Wars of Texas


Thomas A. Britten

THE AMERICAN INDIAN wars of Texas began centuries before Francisco Coronado led his expedition of Spanish explorers, treasure seekers, and missionaries across the Texas Panhandle en route to Quivera. The archeological record suggests that Indian violence was common in the Southwest and Great Plains, and archeologists have recognized its occurrence in human skeletal remains dating back to A.D. 400. Anthropologist Clayton A. Robarchek writes that precontact warfare was a "regional cultural institution, a complex of values, ideas, and behaviors that persisted for at least two thousand years." Scholars examining skeletal remains unearthed on the southern plains, and in the Texas Panhandle in particular, have determined that violence in the area was frequent during much of the fifteenth century. Disarticulated remains indicate that fifteenth-century combatants took trophy skulls, dismembered bodies, and burned the dwellings of their enemies. Although the specific causes of warfare remain unclear, scholars speculate that competition over valuable commodities such as bison hides and meat or over the use of the Alibates flint quarries (north of Amarillo) may have been precipitating factors.

Following European contact and the subsequent introduction of guns, horses, and manufactured goods, Indian warfare in Texas intensified as native peoples jockeyed for advantage in the ever-changing political landscape. Some tribes sought new commercial opportunities and to gain access to high-status trade items like horses and firearms, while others desired to make alliances with the Europeans as a means of subduing (or gaining protection from) their traditional enemies. As time passed and the new imperial powers shifted their attention to and from Texas, some Indian peoples seized upon changing circumstances to bolster their pursuit of self-sufficiency, independence, and the expansion of their tribal domains. Others watched helplessly as their traditional economies, cultures, and homelands evaporated in the face of intense competition by powers both larger and stronger than they had ever encountered. That being the case, there was no monolithic "Indian perspective" on the various conflicts that raged across the region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but a collage of conflicting attitudes and interests. The experiences of the Lipan Apaches provide a useful window for viewing the Indian wars of Texas since they faced off against practically every Indian and non-Indian group that crossed their path. A fiercely independent and remarkably adaptable people, the Lipans were the dominant tribe in Texas during the seventeenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, however, the consequences of frequent warfare, epidemic disease, and near-constant displacement led to demographic collapse. And when the Indian wars of Texas finally ended in the 1880s, the Lipans wavered on the brink of extinction.

The factors that compelled the Lipan Apaches to engage in warfare were typical of most other Indian peoples inhabiting Texas in the three centuries following European contact. The Lipans, for example, possessed a rich oral tradition that featured cultural hero Killer-of-Enemies (or Enemy Slayer). They looked to Killer-of-Enemies as the originator of raiding for horses, making weapons, scalping, and of warfare itself. To follow his example was a lifelong goal of all Lipan men. A host of more-mundane causes and motivations also led Texas Indians to make war. In general, these fall into two broad categories: Those attributed to various material and socio-cultural concerns—the de facto causes of war, and those credited to the various psychological needs or motivations of individual warriors. The former group included competition over critical resources (bison herds, fertile soils, water, wood, pasturage, and holy places), defense of homeland or territory, and a variety of economic issues such as gaining access to or control over commerce, high-status trade items (European weaponry and manufactured goods), and other valuable commodities such as horses and enemy captives. The psychological motivations that help explain why individuals were willing to engage in warfare include their desire for status, prestige, respect, and social mobility. Warfare also provided opportunities for men to fulfill familial obligations to exact revenge on enemies who had killed or captured relatives.

During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, control over the bison lands of northern and central Texas provided the crucial impetus for a ferocious war that pitted the Comanches and various Wichita tribes (whom the Spaniards called Norteños, or Nations of the North) against the Lipan Apaches. The Comanches, who entered Texas in the early 1700s, soon carved out an empire on the southern plains that rivaled that of Spain or France. Bison hides and meat were crucial trade commodities that these Indians traded with Pueblos and Spaniards in New Mexico for corn, blankets, and a host of highly desired articles such as horses, guns, hatchets, and metal blades. In 1747 the Comanches and Wichitas forged an alliance in an effort to expand their commercial activities. The Comanches found the Wichita villages a convenient market for trade and probably expected their new allies to help them connect with French traders in Louisiana. The Wichitas, meanwhile, traded their surplus agricultural produce to the Comanches. Various Norteño tribes such as the Taovayas and Iscanis became middlemen in the Comanche-French exchange network, trading the Comanches' hides, horses, and captives to the French for weapons, gunpowder, and other coveted items. Like the Tonkawas and Caddoan-speaking tribes of the Hasinai Confederacy, the Wichitas and Comanches viewed the Lipans as an attractive source of horses and slaves.

Taking captives served as a significant precipitant for violence and warfare. Both Indians and Europeans considered these individuals as spoils of war and bartered them as they would any other commodity. During the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Apache, Wichita, and Comanche raiders preyed on one another to acquire captives that they could sell or barter at trade fairs for horses and weapons. Lipans also took captives (usually women and children) to exchange at trade fairs, to hold for ransom, or to adopt into their bands to bolster declining populations. But over time this trade worked to the Lipans' disadvantage. The Comanches' patrilineal kinship system and patrilocal residence permitted them to assimilate outsiders into a particular band with comparative ease. The Lipans, in contrast, were a matrilineal people with matrilocal residence, which made it more difficult for their men to take captive women as wives as the latter had neither relatives nor kinship connections so vital to that society.


As is the case with any organized group of people that has made the decision to go to war, careful preparation is essential for success. Among the first orders of business is the preparation of weapons. The most important weapon to the Lipan Apaches, as well as most other plains and Southwest tribes, was the bow and arrow. Lipan bows measured over five feet long since, with one end of the weapon resting on the ground, the other reached as high as its owner's head. To ensure discharged arrows flew straight and with accuracy, warriors fluted them with feathers from eagles, hawks, turkeys, and crows. They transported their arrows in cylindrical quivers constructed from the skins of deer, mountain lions, wildcats, or peccaries, which warriors carried at their side, under their arm, or slung across their back. Texas Ranger Noah Smithwick recollected that the Lipans "could discharge a dozen arrows while a man was loading a gun," while Lipan captive Frank Buckelew maintained that a warrior "could present and string his bow, then shoot an arrow almost as quickly as we can shoot our modern rifles today."

Additional Lipan weapons included the lance, which may have been ten feet long and required two hands to throw. The lance shaft was usually eight to nine feet in length and tipped with a two-foot-long straight blade or saber made of iron or steel. Warriors also used pikes, spears, war clubs, slings, hatchets, knives, and even sticks for close-order fighting. Lipans carried circular shields with a convex front, possessing a diameter of approximately two to three feet, constructed from layers of dried bison or cowhide stretched around a wooden frame. They cut two slits into either side through which they inserted buckskin straps so that the warrior could wear it on his forearm, thereby shielding his body from arrows and bullets. During the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, warriors wore protective leather "armor" constructed of layers of bison hide that they had glued or sewn together, and they fitted their horses in similar gear, although they abandoned these accessories with the introduction of firearms.

Lipan Apaches probably acquired guns at some point in the eighteenth century. Although early firearms were not always dependable, many Indians preferred them to bows and arrows. The loud explosion and smoke inspired fear and awe on the part of enemies, giving gun owners a psychological advantage. American Indians also understood that bullets traveled faster than arrows, were more lethal, and were less likely to be deflected by brush.

The members of Lipan raiding and war expeditions observed a set of rituals that they believed would protect them from danger and confer important advantages over their enemies. Before conducting a raid, for example, warriors performed rituals directed at enhancing successful concealment and thwarting pursuit. Ritual preparations for war, however, were more elaborate. On the eve of battle, Lipan warriors may have burned sage to ward off evil spirits, bathed themselves with yucca suds to achieve purification, fasted, and consulted various amulets or fetishes, summoning their power and influence for success and bravery in combat. They also participated in dances of incitement to recite the enemies' misdeeds, to enlist the support of Killer-of-Enemies, and to prepare warriors emotionally for inevitable hardships and perhaps injury or death. Warriors consulted shamans to conduct ceremonies and lead prayers, puffing smoke or blowing pollen to the four cardinal directions. Shamans might also apply sacred paints of red ochre, yellow ochre, and white to the head, face, or body of warriors, while special clothing was prepared to ensure that combatants returned home safely.


Most Lipan engagements were small-scale episodes involving war parties of twenty or fewer participants. Campaigns were generally short in duration, given the fact that the Lipans were unable (due to ammunition and food shortages or because their families were nearby) to sustain active combat or continual maneuvering for any appreciable length of time. Warfare was also seasonal as warriors had to transition to hunting during annual bison harvests, although the congregation of several bands at this time provided opportunities for conducting larger campaigns. All the same, large war parties were uncommon—raids, ambushes, and skirmishes were the norm. Raiding operations conducted for horses, captives, or supplies were relatively commonplace occurrences that satisfied the varied cultural, social, and psychological needs of warriors. That is not to imply that these engagements were little more than "stylized sporting events" or that deadly fighting did not take place. More often than not, these small-scale operations provided the catalyst for larger campaigns.

The most frequent and effective Lipan tactic was the raid, often followed up with an ambush of the pursuers. If the opposing force was small and the raiders enjoyed a numerical advantage, a favorite battle formation was to advance in a crescent-shaped line with ends thrown forward to outflank and surround the enemy as rapidly as possible. In September 1731, for example, a small group of Lipans stole sixty horses from the presidial herd at San Antonio. The Spanish commander sent five men in immediate pursuit and shortly thereafter led a second group of soldiers out in support. As the Spaniards rode into battle, an estimated five hundred Indians came out from their hiding places and encircled the soldiers, who hastily dismounted to make a stand at the foot of a tree. The warriors pressed the attack, but then much to the Spaniards' astonishment, they began to flee, perhaps worried that additional reinforcement might come from the presidio or possibly content with keeping the horses they had stolen. At any rate, this clever luring of a small group of Spanish troops into ambush probably accomplished all that the Indians had hoped for, leaving fifteen enemy casualties.

The observations of Col. Don Antonio Cordero provide crucial firsthand insight into the detailed preparations required to conduct a raid. According to Cordero, once a band of Lipans had decided to launch an offensive expedition and selected leaders, the warriors found shelter for their families and then set out in small groups toward the target. The leader placed one group at a good ambush site and sent the others ahead to lure away the enemy by stealing some cattle or horses. Communicating with one another via smoke signals, waving buckskin, or through animal calls, the raiders coordinated their actions. At the given moment, warriors seized the herd, the victims gave pursuit and were lured into the ambush site, where the Lipans launched their surprise attack. The Indians then withdrew, leaving in place a rear guard with fast mounts. If they became aware that their enemy was in pursuit, they waited in a pass and committed a second ambush, repeating this trick as often as their good luck and the inexperience or foolishness of their opponents made it possible. Thus, Lipan raids and ambushes required extensive preplanning, knowledge of the terrain, timing, communication, and flexible leadership that was willing to make quick decisions as circumstances merited.

The Spanish Period

During the eighteenth century, the Spaniards launched several campaigns into Lipan Apache territory in hopes of putting a stop to relentless raiding and attacks. In the early 1720s, warriors from the various Lipan bands residing in south central Texas conducted frequent raids on the presidial horse herds of San Antonio Béxar. One stormy night in August 1723, one raiding party made a daring foray on the herd. Despite the fact that the horses were under a ten-man guard and enclosed in a locked corral, the Indians managed to break in and run off eighty animals. In response Capt. Nicolás Flores led a force of soldiers and mission Indians to follow the Lipans' trail. On September 24, over a month after leaving their presidio, they came on an Apache ranchería of two hundred people near present-day Brownwood, Texas. According to Spanish reports, a six-hour battle ensued in which soldiers killed thirty-four Indians and captured twenty women and children. The Spaniards "recovered" about 120 horses together with a large quantity of plunder, suffering only three light casualties (including the captain, who lost a tooth).

An important reason why Spaniards seized Lipan captives was to gain useful intelligence and to use them to encourage their families and leaders to make peace. Following his return to San Antonio, Captain Flores dispatched a captive woman to her own people astride a horse loaded with gifts to entice the Indians to discuss peace and gain the release of their relatives held in San Antonio. In late December a party of thirty Lipans arrived in San Antonio to begin negotiations, but talks broke down amid rumors that they were not at all interested in peace but only in securing the release of the captives.


Excerpted from Texans and War by Alexander Mendoza, Charles David Grear. Copyright © 2012 Texas A&M University Press. Excerpted by permission of Texas A&M University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ALEXANDER MENDOZA, the author of Confederate Struggle for Command: General James Longstreet and the First Corps in the West (Texas A&M University Press, 2008), teaches at the University of North Texas. CHARLES DAVID GREAR is an assistant professor of history at Prairie View A&M University. He is the author of Why Texans Fought in the Civil War (Texas A&M University Press, 2010).

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >