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LITTLETON, JOHN (ca. 1825–1868). John Littleton, Texas Ranger and state senator, was born in Tennessee about 1825. He moved to Texas in 1856 to become a rancher near the Karnes County community of Helena. He enlisted as a private in Capt. William G. Tobin's company of Mounted Volunteers on October 30, 1859, and served until November 3 of that year. At the beginning of the Cortina War (see CORTINA, JUAN NEPOMUCENO) he returned to Tobin's company as a lieutenant, and when Tobin was elected major of what had previously been John S. (Rip) Fordqv's battalion, Littleton was elected captain of his old company. He fought with distinction against the Cortina forces, crossing the Rio Grande on December 27, 1859, and on February 4, 1860, to fight Mexican bandits. On January 20, 1860, he left Tobin's battalion to join a new battalion under Ford.

Littleton was the Karnes County delegate to the Secession Convention, January 28, 1860, through February 4, 1861. When the United States troops evacuated the forts on the Rio Grande, his sixty-man company, described by the Clarksville Northern Standardqv as "well mounted, well armed, and well posted on fighting Indians," moved in to garrison Ringgold Barracks. During the Civil War Littleton was commissioned a captain of cavalry and served on the frontier defending against Indian raids until December 27, 1863, when he again joined Ford for a campaign against the federal invasion on the lower Rio Grande that culminated in the battle of Palmito Ranch.

After the Civil War he was elected to represent the Twenty-ninth District in the Senate of the Eleventh Texas Legislature. Littleton became suspected of attempting to collect the reward offered for the capture of Sutton-Taylor feud suspects Hays and Doboy Taylor in Wilson County. In the spring of 1868 Taylor clan members ambushed and killed him and a companion on the Old Gonzales Road near Nockernut.


John S. Ford, Rip Ford's Texas, ed. Stephen B. Oates (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Thomas W. Cutrer


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

Thomas W. Cutrer, "LITTLETON, JOHN," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.