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Winchester Warriors

Texas Rangers of Company D, 1874-1901

Bob Alexander

Publication Year: 2009

The Texas Rangers were institutionally birthed in 1874 with the formation of the Frontier Battalion. They were tasked with interdicting Indian incursions into the frontier settlements and dealing with the lawlessness running rampant throughout Texas. In an effort to put a human face on the Rangers, Bob Alexander tells the story of one of the six companies of the Frontier Battalion, Company D. Readers follow the Rangers of Company D as—over time—it transforms from a unit of adventurous boys into a reasonably well-oiled law enforcement machine staffed by career-oriented lawmen. Beginning with their start as Indian fighters against the Comanches and Kiowas, Alexander explores the history of Company D as they rounded up numerous Texas outlaws and cattle thieves, engaged in border skirmishes along the Rio Grande, and participated in notable episodes such as the fence cutter wars. Winchester Warriors is an evenhanded and impartial assessment of Company D and its colorful cadre of Texas Rangers. Their laudable deeds are explored in detail, but by the same token their shameful misadventures are not whitewashed. These Texas Rangers were simply people, good and bad—and sometimes indifferent. This new study, extensively researched in both primary and secondary sources, will appeal to scholars and aficionados of the Texas Rangers and western history.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Frances B. Vick Series


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pp. v

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pp. vi-xii

“Another book about the Texas Rangers—Why?” There is little wonder such an evocative question would be—and should be—asked. There, too, is an acceptable answer. A perfunctory assessment of previous volumes dealing with the Texas Rangers normally subdivides...

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pp. xiii-xiv

Adequately extending thanks is tricky business. An error of omission is likely. The research phase of this project has extended over several years, involving a multitude of devoted helpmates; that facet increases the odds for inadvertently forgetting someone, a nonfiction writer’s...

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Chapter 1: “A carnival of crime and corruption”

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pp. 1-17

Luke Gournay in Texas Boundaries: Evolution of the State’s Counties writes that Lampasas is a Spanish translation for an English language word: Lilies.1 There is another truism about Lampasas. Despite the genteel sounding name, at nineteenth-century Lampasas, Texas...

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Chapter 2: “A big six-shooter and a good horse”

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pp. 18-38

With gusto, Major Jones began exercising managerial duties and earning his $125 per month salary. There was a lot of work to be done. Six captains, with two lieutenants for each company, had to be found and employed at $100 and $75 per month, respectively. Thereafter the call would go out for privates desirous of filling the...

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Chapter 3: “I’m shot, sure as hell”

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pp. 39-55

The morning of July 12, 1874, found Major John B. Jones and his permanently assigned escort detachment in the broken and hilly country northeast of old Fort Belknap, then abandoned, near present day Graham, Texas.1 Fortuitously they were not the only band of heavily armed...

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Chapter 4: “I was acting the fool kid”

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pp. 56-73

The Company D boys detailed as part of Major Jones’ escort would have a whopping good story to tell upon returning to Menardville, the company’s headquarters station.1 Though they may not have mixed it up with vengeful Kiowas that summer, the main body of Company...

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Chapter 5: “As yet they’ve harmed no good men”

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pp. 74-91

The boys of Company D were simply attending the schoolroom of hard knocks. Continually they were being pitched into the churning waters of manmade turmoil and indifferently told to either sink or swim. Most of these young Texas Rangers, and it speaks rather well...

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Chapter 6: “They’d killed every damn one of us”

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pp. 92-109

The peaceful accord reached between the “Germans” and the “Americans” lasted exactly nine days. Then, Timothy P. “Tim” Williamson, a thirty-three-year-old cowman and no virgin when it came to a fracas, was arrested at Castell in Llano County by Mason County Deputy...

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Chapter 7: “Buckskin officials in full blast”

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pp. 110-126

While it is abundantly clear Lieutenant Ira Long’s platoon of Texas Rangers continued to garner the good will of many Mason County folks, it does not signify the boys of Company D were relegated to the ash heap of Hill Country doings.1 To the contrary—and...

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Chapter 8: “Or borrow from some of the men”

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pp. 127-145

Lieutenant Moore’s command was not short of work. There was plenty. Herds of suspected stolen cattle were held for closer inspection, citizens’ reports of alleged Indian depredations poured in compelling highly mobile and exhausting horseback searches, and local...

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Chapter 9: “Walked into his own trap”

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pp. 146-163

As the new year of 1880 kicked off, it may be reported that since the Frontier Battalion’s formation in 1874 several rangers had made the ultimate sacrifice. Five had been killed by Indians; two more by rioting Mexicanos during the recklessly wasteful El Paso Salt War...

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Chapter 10: “Got drunk often, and stayed drunk long”

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pp. 164-181

Although written documentation is elusive there really is little doubt Captain Roberts had undervalued the antipathy of Menard County’s electorate. Dan Roberts’ Texas Hill Country standing as a gutsy Indian fighter was rock solid. Citizens throughout Texas—those...

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Chapter 11: “Smoke boiled from that gentleman’s gun”

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pp. 182-201

Realizing practical advantages of disbursing his troops, especially after the triumphs of the West Texas detachment, Captain Sieker deployed a three-man squad to Eagle Pass, Maverick County, straight across the Rio Grande from Piedras Negras, Coahuila...

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Chapter 12: “A deplorable mistake on both sides”

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pp. 202-228

After the Menard County sojourn at Camp Johnson, Captain Sieker moved the Company D base back to Camp Leona in Uvalde County— briefly. The company was ordered back to the border country—cow stealers and killers were running wild. Sheriff Oglesby was...

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Chapter 13: “A dynamite cartridge under the saloon”

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pp. 229-249

Dawn may have broken for a new decade, but the history of Company D reveals some things remained unchanged. Texas Rangers, in most instances, were not making state service a career. Again, comparing two Company D Muster Rolls is illustrative. A 1890 roster contains...

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Chapter 14: “Compelled to do some killing”

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pp. 250-271

The case had been closed on Gus Jones, too. Although it troubled him, Captain Jones fired his cousin along with Private J. L. Faubin. The fellows had failed to properly maintain respective nighttime watches, leaving the camp unguarded. There were excuses of course...

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Chapter 15: “But such is life in the far west”

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pp. 272-295

The early 1890s may have been a period when Company D Texas Rangers were compelled to do some killing, but as time ticked toward an upcoming century mark gunfire would still be a constant reminder lawmen ever walked a tightrope precariously stretched...

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Chapter 16: “Wants us in the parade”

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pp. 296-311

For the Texas Rangers of Company D, 1897 had ended on a sour note. Privates Wood Saunders, Sam Newberry, and Ernest St. Leon, who was back on the Muster Roll as a state paid Texas Ranger as of October 1, jointly arrested fugitive Harry (Henry) English. He had...


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pp. 312-370


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pp. 371-381


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pp. 382-402

E-ISBN-13: 9781574413557
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574412680

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 100 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Frances B. Vick Series

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Subject Headings

  • Texas -- History -- 1846-1950.
  • Texas Rangers. Frontier Battalion. Company D -- History.
  • Law enforcement -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
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