Landing craft have been an important means of delivering soldiers over the years. But did you know a landing craft was used to deliver men into a foreign country back in 1859? And, at the time, we weren’t even at war with the country.
At the age of 21, John Salmon Ford moved to Texas. After a short stint in the Texas Army, he practiced medicine for about six years. He then served in the Texas Legislature and later became the editor of the Texas Democrat Newspaper.
When the Mexican War broke out, John became a regimental adjutant. It was at this time that he got the nickname “Rip.” Each time he would send out an official death notice, the notice was labeled “R.I.P.” for Rest In Peace.
In 1849, Rip Ford joined the Texas Rangers, where he became a major. In 1859 Rip and his Rangers were engaged in a skirmish with a Mexican Guerilla named Cortina. Cortina would make raids into Texas and then run back to Mexico.
The Texas Rangers had a steamboat named Ranchero. On Feb. 9, 1859, Rip and his men were on the Ranchero when Cortina’s men fired a shot from the Mexican side, and put a hole through the Texas flag the Ranchero was flying. This was just too much for Rip. He ordered the steamboat to head for the Mexican side. Beached like a landing craft, 45 men disembarked. The small force of Texas Rangers encountered about 300 heavily armed men. But these men were no match for the Texas Rangers. Cortina was able to escape, but he no longer crossed the border into Texas.
Concerned about an international incident, the U.S. Secretary of War sent an emissary to talk to Rip about not crossing into Mexico again. The emissary was the new commander of the Department of Texas. A Colonel Robert E. Lee.
Dakota Livesay is editor of the Chronicle of the Old West. For more information about the Old West, visit www.ChronicleoftheOldWest.com
You can hear Dakota 10 a.m. each day on KZUZ 93.5 in Show Low and KZUA 92.1 in Holbrook.