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FRANKS, L. B.

FRANKS, L. B. (?–?). L. B. Franks, commander of the Texan artillery during the siege of Bexar, was in Robertson's colony as early as 1834. There he owned a league on the Brazos River on what became the Falls-McLennan county line and served as an assistant surveyor under John G. W. Pierson. On November 27, 1835, Gen. Edward Burleson, commander of the Texas forces, appointed Franks lieutenant colonel of the Texan artillery-comprising two cannons and fifteen gunners-and, due to the illness of James C. Neill, Franks served as artillery commander at the siege of Bexar, December 5–9, 1835. His one twelve-pounder, however, became unmounted, and the artillery did little effective service in the fight. Although fearful that the enemy had received a large-caliber mortar that would be damaging to the assaulting troops, Franks advised that the Texans not retreat but press home their attack on the Alamo. His irritation at Burleson's aide-de-camp, Peter W. Grayson, for failing to forward reinforcements to the troops assaulting the Mexican fortifications caused him, on the third day of the battle, to send an intemperate note to Grayson, who thereupon withdrew from the army. Later that month Grayson and Franks met at San Felipe, and as a result of the meeting Franks published an apology to Grayson acknowledging that his note "was an unjust and wanton attack upon his feelings and character," for which Franks asked Grayson's pardon. The note, however, also drew the wrath of General Burleson, who, when Grayson was running for the presidency in 1838, attacked Franks as having held "a temporary but undeserved standing in the army." Franks considered the attack mere "electioneering."

On March 8, 1836, Franks wrote from the Nashville (Robertson) colony informing the convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos that he had formed a volunteer company of thirty men to take the field against Indian raiders on the northern frontier. With this force, mounted at his own expense, Franks pursued the raiders to the headwaters of the Little River. There he hoped to induce them to attack his force, which he disguised to resemble an immigrant wagon train. His letter was referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs. On April 23 George P. Digges reported to Sam Houston that he had organized two spy companies, one under Franks, which was to patrol between Robbins' Ferryqv and Gonzales.

About May 1, 1838, Franks left his Washington County home for a trip into West Texas. On May 26, 1838, he, R. R. Royalqv, and three other San Antonio men offered a reward of $1,000 for the arrest and conviction of the persons who broke into and robbed San Fernando de Béxar Cathedral of its plate, crucifix, and candlesticks, valued at $1,000. Most of the time that he was away from Washington County, however, was spent "in the woods." He returned to San Antonio on or about July 25 to learn of and respond to Burleson's "misrepresentation" of his actions at the storming of Bexar. Franks returned in the fall of 1838 to the west, where he remained for two or three months.

A Littleberry B. Franks was charged with the murder of a Henry Castledine but escaped custody of Milam county sheriff Ordera Watson "during the storms and darkness of the night" on July 10, 1842. A fifty-dollar reward was offered for his recapture. He was said to have been six feet tall, of a fair complexion, with red whiskers and sandy colored hair, and of "thin visage."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Clarksville Northern Standard, July 27, 1843. John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Malcolm D. McLean, comp. and ed., Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas (19 vols., Arlington: University of Texas at Arlington Press, 1974–93). Telegraph and Texas Register, December 16, 1836, June 9, 18, December 15, 1838.

Thomas W. Cutrer

Citation

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, "FRANKS, L. B.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffr03), accessed September 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.