The settlers of the Peters Colony arrived on the grassy plains of north Texas in the 1840s expecting to raise crops and domestic livestock and to build towns. But the advertisements that had drawn them from their homes along the Ohio River valleys had not disclosed the claims to this country that were held by Comanche and Kiowa Indians. The colonists encroached on the fringes of the historic bison range, and the resulting conflict was predictable. Intertribal warfare had driven Apache and Tonkawa peoples from these hunting grounds. Officials of the Republic of Texas had used force to open the region to white settlement, but had not removed the Plains Indians from striking distance. A succession of United States Army posts would be established across northwestern Texas as government policy and military doctrine lurched toward a solution to the problem of frontier defense.
When the United States Army returned to Texas after the Civil War, Fort Griffin was one of the posts constructed to protect the northwestern frontier of white settlement from Comanche and Kiowa raids. The fort was the operations base for several army expeditions across the Plains, and the nearby boom town known as "The Flat" bustled with the raucous activity of buffalo hunters, cattle drovers, outlaws , and gamblers. Legendary charactersfrom Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp to John Wesley Hardinplayed a part in honing the town's reputation as "Babylon on the Brazos." Famed warriors, from Ranald Mackenzie to Quanah Parker and Kicking Bird, fought over who would ultimately claim the vast prairie lands.
To begin your journey through the north Texas frontier, click on The Most Dangerous Prairie in Texas for an overview of the conflict, and then take a closer look at the fort in The Post on Government Hill. You may also wish to "meet" some colorful characters who were in the area at the time, such as gambler Doc Holiday, salt-maker William Ledbetter, and General William T. Sherman, in the children's section: Meet the People of Fort Griffin and The Flat!