Fannin County Museum of History

   

One Main Street, Bonham, Texas

General Tarrant and the Raid on Fort Inglish

By Tom Scott

Date and place of publication not known


By the autumn of 1837 bands of marauding Indians had so terrorized the new settlers of the Red River valley that many considered abandoning their homestead and returning to their former homes. As protection against the murderous raids, Bailey Inglish, who had introduced the first settlers into the heart of Fannin County, proposed to his neighbors that they construct a blockhouse and stockade for those living in the vicinty.

The structure, which became known as Fort Inglish, was one of four protective forts constructed in the region. Fort Warren, on Red River, had been designed as a combination fort and Indian trading post. About five miles south of Fort Inglish, Captain Mabel Gilbert built a blockhouse without a stockade, and ten miles southeast of that point several families constructed Fort Lyday near the Fannin - Lamar County line.

Although the 1837 raids abated somewhat, by 1841 massacres were again taking place throughout the valley. In the summer General Edward H. Tarrant sent out a call for volunteers to rendevouz at Fort Inglish and organize a militia to drive the marauders from the area. For several days men from all up and down the valley converged at the meeting spot until force of nearly 250 men were organized. The company was divided into several smaller units with captains for each group.

Scouts were sent out through the area to gather information about suspected locations where the Indians could be found. It was believed that several different groups of renegades, independent of each other, were staging the raids. Up to this time it had been estimated that over 200 settlers had been killed.


​As the reconnoitering was taking place, other men were preparing their weapons, ammunition, and food supplies for the anticipated campaign. Each of the several units under Tarrant's command were camped in and around Fort Inglish awaiting orders to begin the campaign.

Late one afternoon, William Cox, who lived about four miles northeast of the fort sent his young son and a friend to the bottoms of Bois d'Arc Creek to drive home the cattle for the night. The marauders were as adept at horse and cattle theft as they were at raids on homesteads.

After a longer than normal period of time had elapsed, the two boys failed to return home and Cox and other family members went in search. The cattle were located still grazing in the creek bottom but the boys were nowhere in sight. It soon became apparent, from the excessive number of hoof prints in the area and other evidence, that the boys had been taken captive by Indians.

A messenger was sent to Tarrant at Fort Inglish who immediately dispatched the various militia units in all directions to search for the boys. Left at the fort were only women, children, and some elderly men who took shelter inside the blockhouse and stockade.

Just before sundown, the boys' captors launched a half-hearted raid on Fort Inglish. The attack was short lived, the band only circling the fort three or four times firing ineffectual arrows at the walls. The only casualty was an old squaw who was shot by one of the defenders and left lying on the ground. Later that night her body was recovered by some of the raiding party. The boys were observed riding behind two of the braves during the raid.


During the night as the militia groups searched, one company actually spotted the Indians but in the darkness supposed them to be others of the militia. When they called out, the Indians immediately spurred their horses in several directions creating confusion among the searchers. Chaos ensued when some of the pursuers horses fell with their riders, guns were lost in the darkness, and the Indians made their escape.

The boys were held captive for six month during which time they were treated cruelly by their captors. An agent of the U.S. government finally ransomed them and returned them to their families Tarrant's campaign was something of a success. In the next several months all the Indians that could be located were pushed further to the west of the valley and after that time only isolated depredations were reported in the area.