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FRONTIER REGIMENT. The Frontier Regiment was established on December 21, 1861, by the Texas legislature, to replace the (Confederate) First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen. On January 29, 1862, Governor Francis R. Lubbock appointed the ranking officers of the regiment: Col. James M. Norris, Maj. James E. McCord, and Lt. Col. Alfred T. Obenchain. The new law directed that the companies of the Frontier Regiment be divided into detachments of at least twenty-five men each, stationed twenty-five miles apart and just west of the line of settlements from the Red River to the Rio Grande. Between March 17 and April 7, 1862, Norris and his officers rode along the proposed line and established sixteen camps to be occupied by the regiment: Rio Grande Station and camps Cureton, Belknap, Breckenridge, Salmon, Pecan, Collier, McMillan, San Saba, Llano, Davis, Verde, Montel, Dix, Nueces, and Rabb. Eventually, only nine companies of the regiment entered the service, as a Confederate regiment under John S. (Rip) Ford occupied the line from Fort Brown to Fort Bliss. In its first six months on duty the regiment, 1,050 men strong, established patrols from each adjacent camp at two-day intervals; each patrol usually consisted of five privates and one officer. The Indians soon discovered the weakness of a patrol system so familiar in routine and during the winter of 1862-63 began to make more numerous and bolder raids.

On January 17, 1862, the Confederate Congress authorized the secretary of war to receive the Frontier Regiment into Confederate service for the protection of the Indian frontier of Texas. Five days later, however, President Jefferson Davis vetoed the bill because it withheld the control of the executive of the Confederate States over the troops. Texas wished to absolve itself of the expense of maintaining the regiment but insisted that the regiment be kept under state control to ensure the best possible protection for the frontier. In early 1863 Governor Lubbock attempted once more to transfer the regiment to Confederate service. To meet Confederate Army regulations he disbanded the regiment and reorganized it into a full complement of ten companies with the new title of Mounted Regiment, Texas State Troops, although Texans continued to call it by its original name. At the reorganization McCord was elected colonel and James Buckner Barry lieutenant colonel. Once more President Davis refused to accept the regiment if hampered by the condition that it remain under Texas control; it remained on the frontier still funded by Texas authorities.

Detachments of the regiment now occupied a number of other posts in addition to the original sixteen camps, including previously abandoned United States Army forts. Colonel McCord, with evidence before him that the patrol system was breaking down, ordered it discontinued; instead larger numbers of rangers swept to the west and northwest of their camps. Finally, state authorities transferred the regiment to Confederate control, but only after the legislature approved the establishment of the Frontier Organization to ensure protection of the frontier. The transfer took place officially on March 1, 1864. At the same time the ten companies were reduced in number to only eighty men each so that two additional companies could be formed. Two months later the six southern companies moved to the interior to replace troops stripped from the coast. In August 1864 Barry received orders to transfer his four companies from the Fort Belknap region to Harrisburg, near Houston, leaving only a two-company battalion at Camp Colorado on the frontier. Barry's men returned to the northwest frontier in October, but the six southern companies remained for the rest of the war chiefly in the central subdistrict.

The Frontier Regiment's six companies were joined by two other organizations to cover the northwestern settlement line. Capt. Henry S. Fossett's two companies at Camp Colorado patrolled south of that point; Barry's four-company battalion covered the region between Camp Colorado and Fort Belknap; Col. James G. Bourland's Border Regiment protected the region from the Red River to Fort Arbuckle in Indian Territory, and companies of the Frontier Organization covered gaps among the other units. During the last eighteen months of the war the Frontier Regiment found that the Indian menace on the frontier was often overshadowed by use of the frontier units to enforce Confederate conscription laws, arrest deserters, and track down renegades and outlaws.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: James Buckner Barry, Buck Barry, Texas Ranger and Frontiersman, ed. James K. Greer (1932; new ed., Waco: Friends of the Moody Texas Ranger Library, 1978; rpt., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984). James M. Day, ed., House Journal of the Ninth Legislature, Regular Session, November 4, 1861-January 14, 1862 (Austin: Texas State Library, 1964). Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, comp., Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 (10 vols., Austin: Gammel, 1898). William Curry Holden, "Frontier Defense in Texas during the Civil War," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 4 (1928). William Curry Holden, Frontier Problems and Movements in West Texas, 1846-1900 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1928). Frances Richard Lubbock, Six Decades in Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: Pemberton, 1968). David Paul Smith, Frontier Defense in Texas, 1861-1865 (Ph.D. dissertation, North Texas State University, 1987). Michael Reagan Thomasson, James E. McCord and the Texas Frontier Regiment (M.A. thesis, Stephen F. Austin State University, 1965). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

 

David Paul Smith

http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/FF/qjf1.html

 

CAMP NUECES (Uvalde County). Camp Nueces, at the San Antonio-Eagle Pass road crossing of the Nueces River in southwestern Uvalde County, was established by James M. Norris in April 1862, as a ranger station for the Frontier Regiment.Manned by a company under Capt. John J. Dix, Jr., the camp sent out scouts on the frontier, probably until consolidation of the regiment in March 1864.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: William Curry Holden, Frontier Problems and Movements in West Texas, 1846-1900 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1928).

 

CAMP DIX. Camp Dix, a Confederate outpost established by James M. Norris on April 4, 1862, was at the crossing of the San Antonio-Eagle Pass road and the Frio River, a spot on the river known as Black Waterhole, seven miles east of Uvalde. The camp was a Frontier Regiment post under the command of Capt. John J. Dix, Jr. The road had become a vital commercial route to Mexico for the Confederate cause when the Union forces gained control of the entry points to Mexico along the lower Rio Grande. Camp Dix was one of several encampments established to protect Confederate export wagon trains on their way to Mexico. It was abandoned after the consolidation of the Frontier Regiment in March 1864.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Ruben E. Ochoa

 

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