The Salt Wars
The Salt Wars began in the late 1860s Republican
leaders to acquire a legally questionable ownership title to the
salt deposits at the foot of Guadalupe Peak, ninety miles east
of the city. Their scheme resulted in a famously intense dispute
over control by two factions led by W.W. Mills and Albert J. Fountain.
Violence broke and resulted in the killing of Judge Gaylord Judd
Clarke on December 7, 1870, and Fountain soon moved to New Mexico.
Violence erupted again seven years later,
when local Democrat Charles Howard
filed ownership on the salt deposits. Howard’s scheme infuriated
local political boss and W. W. Mills ally, Louis
Cardis who had previously helped Howard win political election.
In retaliation, Cardis incited a mob of angry Mexican Americans
that held Howard captive in San Elizario for three days.
Howard escaped with the help of the Texas
Rangers, but soon returned for revenge against Cardis and shot
him dead with a shotgun. Two months later, Howard was executed
by presumed Cardis loyalists. The executioners were never found,
but the violence caused the reestablishment of Fort Bliss, which
had been closed earlier in the year.
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