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Civil War and Reconstruction
The South During the Civil War
The Neglect of Texas Cattle Herds During the War

The following document is an excerpt from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 from Texas. From C.O. Edwards's point of view, why were the cattle herds in Texas neglected during the war?

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"My place of birth was Tarrant Co, Texas, west of Fort Worth, on a farm owned by my father, L. J. Edwards. The date of my birth is Jan 29, 1851, which makes my age 86.

"My entire life has been devoted to the cattle indrustry. My father began his career in the cattle business prior to the Civil War. He started with a herd of about 500 and adopted 'LED' as his brand.

"Father entered into an agreement with Calvin Smith, in 1860, that agreement provided that Smith would take charge of the herd and receive a precentage of the increase for his pay.

"Smith drove the herd to the mouth of the Little Wichita River and located a ranch North of Seymour, in Baylor Co. That arrangement continued for a period of five years, which covered the duration of the Civil War.

"There was not much sale for cattle after the war began and, also, for a time after the war ceased. Therefore, at the end of five years we had a tremendous increase. In spite of strays, Indians and other troubles the 500 head had increased to about 4000. The Indians helped themselves to our cattle, for use as food, as they desired to. We found cattle with our brand as far South as Tarrant Co. It is difficult to estimate the number of cattle we would have had, if none got away.

"At the conclusion of the five period with Smith, father turned over to me 1,000 head of cattle and I began my career in the cattle industry, and since that time I have never been out of it. I have had herds that numbered 50,000. In fact, there were times that I did [not] know how many cattle were carrying my brand. . . .

"Cattle rustling became a business with many men after the close of the Civil War and the cattlemen were partly at fault for developing the [practic?]. It started with paying the waddies bonus for branding mavericks.

"During the Civil War many of the herds were neglected, due to the scarcity of help and because of the poor market. Many ranchers considered it a waste of money to roundup and brand calves. In a few years were produced thousands of cattle, in the Southwest, which were running the range with no brand.

"It was impossible to determine the owner of the mavericks and one person had as much right to the animals as another. For a time no one gave any attention to the mavericks."
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View the entire interview with Mr. Edwards from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.