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VILLAGE CREEK, BATTLE OF

VILLAGE CREEK, BATTLE OF. The battle of Village Creek, fought on May 24, 1841, was a running gunfight along the banks of Village Creek, a major tributary of the Trinity River, in eastern Tarrant County. The stream now forms the city limits of Arlington and Fort Worth, and much of the battlefield has been inundated by Lake Arlington. A series of Indian villages situated along the creek, housing Indians including Caddos, Cherokees, and Tonkawas, served as a stronghold against the encroachments of white settlers from the east and Comanches from the west. As frictions increased between settlers and Indians, the government of the Republic of Texas authorized a number of punitive raids against the Village Creek settlements. Two such expeditions launched in 1838 failed to locate the towns but did cause the Indians to intensify their raids of frontier settlements. In 1841 Gen. Edward H. Tarrant, in response to increased Indian raids, organized a company of some sixty-nine volunteers from the Red River counties. They moved out from their rendezvous point at Fort Johnson on May 14 and proceeded west, eventually entering the Cross Timbers and capturing a lone Indian, who revealed the exact locations of the Village Creek settlements. On the morning of May 24 the company galloped into the southernmost village with little opposition. Captains John B. Denton, Henry B. Stout, and James G. Bourland then led scouting detachments down the creek toward the Trinity River; the remainder of the command burned huts. The Texan scouts encountered increasingly larger villages and stronger Indian resistance as they rode along the creek. Near the thickets bordering the Trinity River, Indian musketry killed Denton and wounded Captain Stout. The Texans were routed. Tarrant, learning from the prisoners that the villages were home to over 1,000 warriors, decided to withdraw. Captain Denton was the only Texan fatality, although eight other militiaman were wounded. At least twelve Indians died, and scores had been wounded. The engagement along the banks of Village Creek had also compromised the Indians' formerly secure position. In July 1841 Tarrant returned with 400 men but found the villages deserted. In September 1843 a treaty between the Village Creek tribes and the republic opened the region to settlement and removed the Indians to a reservation on the upper Brazos River (see BIRD'S FORT TREATY).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

William Allen, Capt. John B. Denton, Preacher, Lawyer, and Soldier: His Life and Times in Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas (Chicago: Donnelly, 1905). James H. Baker and Raymond E. Cage, The Indians in the History of Tarrant County (Fort Worth: Tarrant County Archeological Society, 1962?). Verana E. Berrong, History of Tarrant County: From Its Beginnings until 1875 (M.A. thesis, Texas Christian University, 1938). Walter G. Cook, "The Battle of Village Creek," Junior Historian, May 1945. Michael Walter Farrington, Middleton Tate Johnson: Texas' Would-Be Governor, General, and Railroad Entrepreneur (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Arlington, 1980). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Journals of the 6th Congress of the Republic of Texas, 1841–1842, ed. Harriet Smither (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1940–45). Arista Joyner, comp., Arlington, Texas: Birthplace of the Metroplex (Waco: Arlington Bicentennial-Centennial Celebration Committee, 1976). Harold Schoen, comp., Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of Texas Independence (Austin: Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations, 1938). Rex Wallace Strickland, "History of Fannin County, Texas, 1836–1843," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33, 34 (April, July 1930).

Donald S. Frazier

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Donald S. Frazier, "VILLAGE CREEK, BATTLE OF," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/btv01), accessed November 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.