2. The El Paso Salt War was fought in two phases
Beginning in 1870, several factions claimed ownership of the salt beds at the base of the Guadalupe Mountains. At first, none of them established clear, legally recognized ownership of the land. Opposing factions emerged, one of which supported private ownership. Another supported the county government owning the salt beds, and a third supported the idea of common use by all. In 1873 the Democratic Party seized control of the state government in Texas, though strong Republican sentiment remained in West Texas. Charles Howard, a Democrat, won election as a district judge, and immediately injected himself into the ongoing political battles over control of the salt beds. In 1877, Howard established a claim of the lands containing the salt beds, filed in the name of his father-in-law. The claim ended the political phase of the salt war and opened the violent phase.
In late September 1877, Howard stopped a group attempting to retrieve salt from his lands through a legal injunction enforced by the sheriff. In response, a group of armed men arrested Howard, held him prisoner for three days, and forced him to sign a document relinquishing his claims on the salt deposits. On October 10, Howard shot and killed Louis Cardis, a leader of the community rights faction. He then fled to New Mexico. The local Tejano people, enraged at the death of their leader, effectively overturned the local government and controlled the region through secret meetings of groups known as juntas. The juntas raised fears among the smaller Anglo-American community. With the sheriff effectively helpless, the Anglo-Americans turned to the state government for help, requesting the assistance of the militia and the Texas Rangers.