In Texas, the scouts and their families continued to squat
on lands near Fort Clark, hoping for a resolution to “the
treaty” of 1870, which they understood as a promise of land.
Bullis, Mackenzie, General C.C. Augur, and General E.O.C.
Ord were just some of the leading officers who tried to
persuade the Office of Indian Affairs to settle the
situation by granting lands in Texas, Florida, or Oklahoma.
Their work was in vain, as bureaucratic obstacles combined
with racist politics to prevent any resolution.
It did not help that the military necessity of the scouts
was dwindling over the same period. After major expeditions
in 1876 and 1877, the scouts did not have another encounter
with hostile Indians until 1881. They fought their last
Indian battle in April 1881, tracking a band of Lipan
Apaches who had committed robbery and murder. This was the
last major Indian raid in southwest Texas. Fittingly, black
warriors led the counter-response that closed the Texas frontier.
The scouts remained an active contingent on the frontier
into the next century. Though their unit retained its name,
however, the group became increasingly mixed ethnically,
adding Hispanics and “state-raised” blacks who had no direct
ties to the maroons. As the glory days of their Indian
tracking receded, the scouts also faded into obscurity;
their absence from the historical record made it all the
easier for myths of white men taming the wild frontier to
take full hold in the popular imagination.
Sources: Porter Black 206-207.
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