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The Texas-Comanche War The Indian Wars of the Republic of Texas (CEC)

The Colt Paterson Model revolver, the first commercial repeating firearm employing a revolving cylinder with multiple chambers aligned with a single, stationary barrel. Its design was patented by Samuel Colt on February 25, 1836, named for its place of production, Paterson, New Jersey. Initially this 5-shot revolver was produced in .28 caliber, with a .36 caliber model following a year later. As originally designed and produced, no loading lever was included with the revolver; a user had to disassemble the revolver partially to re-load it. Starting in 1839, however, a reloading lever and a capping window were incorporated into the design, allowing reloading without requiring partial disassembly of the revolver. Unlike later revolvers, a folding trigger was incorporated into the Colt Paterson. The trigger only became visible upon cocking the hammer.

The Comanches now maneuvered for peace with the Texans. The real target of Comanche ambitions was Mexico and its vast herds of horses. In many ways, skirmishing with Texans was bad for business. In early 1840, Chief Muguara and around 60 other Comanches traveled to San Antonio to discuss terms with Texas officials and to return captive Matilda Lockhart as a sign of good faith. On March 19, 1840, talks took an ugly turn over Comanche leveraging of additional captives as a way of wringing more goods and ransom out of the Texans. Gunfire erurpted, and dozens of people on both sides died in what would become known as the Council House Fight.

Texans and Comanches now prepared for a war that neither wanted. The Indians mounted a 600-warrior raid under Chief Buffalo Hump to chastise the Texans as well, attacking Victoria and sacking Linnville on the coast early that August. As they headed back toward their homes in Comancheria, laden with plunder and driving nearly 3,000 purloined horses and mules, a party of Texas Ranger and hastily formed militia intercepted them at the Battle of Plum Creek on August 12.

The Texans hit back, destroying Comanche villages on the upper Colorado near present-day Colorado City. The Texas Rangers, though, learned hard lessons as well. By some estimates they suffered a 50% casualty rate during the period of the Republic of Texas.

Some, however, like Jack Hays, Samuel Walker, and Ben McColluch became apt pupils of Comanche warfare. Technology helped. On June 9, 1844, Captain Hays and forty men defeated 200 Comanches under Yellow Wolf at the Battle of Walker’s Creek between present-day Fredericksburg and San Marcos, and began the wholesale use of revolvers on the Texas Frontier. This weapon—the Colt Patterson model superseded by the much harder hitting Colt Walker Dragoon—revolutionized warfare on the southern plains.

Peace came that fall. On October 9, 1844,Texas officials presented the Treaty of Tehuacana Creek at Torrey’s Trading Post. Representatives of the Comanches, Delawares, Cherokees, Caddos, Wichitas, and Lipans all signed. Comanche chief Buffalo Hump again wanted a line of demarcation between Texas and Comancheria, with lesser tribes settled along that line to form a buffer, but Texans demurred on that point.

With this simmering feud apparently settled, Comanche raids into Mexico accelerated in intensity and frequency. Texas joined the United States in 1846, leading to war with Mexico—already reeling from the scope and devastation of Comanche raids.

The Numunu reaffirmed their friendship with the Americans on May 15 with the Treaty of Council Springs. One of the signatories, Buffalo Hump, began to sincerely understand the size and scope of the new nation that claimed Comancheria as its own domain. Other chiefs—Santa Anna and Old Owl—agreed. A Comanche delegation left Texas for a meeting with President James K. Polk to underscore the new arrangement.