When the Civil War ended in April 1865, many Texans returned to find their farms and ranches neglected, their cattle running wild and unbranded. The Federal troops sent to occupy Texas in June 1865 could not control the widespread cattle thieving and general lawlessness of the Reconstruction Period.
Gen. J. J. Reynolds, commander of the Federal forces, appointed Jack Helm special marshal to the Goliad area in June 1868. A former deputy sheriff of DeWitt County, Helm captained a vigilante band of 50 men, mostly local ranchers, known as the Regulators. Based at Middletown (now Weesatche), these volunteers pursued criminals with vigor and often with cruelty. They ordered known and suspected lawbreakers to leave the state within 10 days. Those who defied the warning were shot without benefit of trial. In 1870 Helm was appointed by Gov. E. J. Davis to the newly formed state police force but was soon discharged for his ruthlessness.
The activities of the Regulators and of the Texas Rangers, reorganized under Gov. Richard Coke in 1874, did much to restore order in this area. By 1876, most of the violators had left, and the Regulators were able to devote their time to ranching and farming.