Private Joseph R. Riff

Private Joseph R. Riff

Texas Rangers, Texas

End of Watch Tuesday, December 6, 1870

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Joseph R. Riff

In the summer of 1870 the State of Texas created the Frontier Forces as an effort after the Civil War to protect its western frontier. German born Captain Henrich Joseph Richarz commanded Company E assigned to Fort Inge in Uvalde County. Captain Richarz’s company was to prevent Indian raids from Mexico.

On December 6, 1870, a ranger scouting party led by Doctor J. E. Woodbridge, who had suspended his practice to serve as a ranger officer, were on patrol with fourteen men, with three men on a side scout. The rangers met an estimated seventy Comanche. The Comanche formed two lines on a slight rise and soon flanked the eleven rangers, who made a stubborn resistance using their repeating Winchester rifles to wound several Indians. Woodbridge was hit in the head by an Indian and unhorsed in a hand-to-hand encounter. When several rangers came to his rescue, Private Lorenzo Biediger was killed. The three absent rangers heard the sounds of heavy firing and returned, striking the flank of the surprised Comanche, killing a chief. The Comanche withdrew back into Mexico.

Also on December 6, another band of Indians killed Privates Walter Richarz, son of Captain Richarz, and Joseph Riff, at a creek about sixteen miles from Fort Inge. Evidence at the scene indicated the two rangers put up a fierce fight. Lt. Xaver Wanz departed from Fort Inge with the reserve force to track the Indians, but the raiders had escaped back into Mexico.

All three rangers were from Medina County and enlisted on September 9, 1870 and served for two months and 27 days until their deaths on December 6, 1870. Walter Richarz was 24, single, and was buried in the Rudinger/Richarz Cemetery in D’Hanis in Medina County. Lorenzo Biediger was 24, single, and was buried in the St. Louis Cemetery in Castroville in Medina County. Joseph R. Riff was 23, married, and was also buried in the St. Louis Cemetery in Castroville in Medina County.


  • Age 23
  • Tour 2 months, 3 weeks
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Unknown weapon
  • Offender Not available

Most Recent Reflection

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On this 150th anniversary of your untimely death, please know that no passage of time can ever erase your service and sacrifice. Rest in peace always.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

December 6, 2020

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