Texas Ranger John B. Jones and the Frontier Battalion, 1874-1881
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of North Texas Press
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Texas in the early 1870s was raw and violent. Communities in the eastern part of the state were taking shape, and local governments had come to provide some semblance of competency in the shadow of Reconstruction. However, in the unsettled northern and western areas, in what would be...
1. Irresistible on Horseback
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THE YOUNG MEN HUDDLED ALONG the shallow dry ravine as they listened to the pop-pop of gunfire from the Indians facing them on the crest of the ridge ahead. The shots whistled above them, uncomfortably close, occasionally striking one of the horses abandoned to...
2. Daring Gallantry
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PREPARATIONS FOR THE COMING conflict began quickly in Navarro County. On Monday, May 6, 1861, Colonel Henry Jones organized a company of Home Guards, scheduled to meet and drill regularly at Corsicana. On June 4, Brigadier General L. T. Wheeler of the...
3. The Right Man
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JOHN B. JONES & COMPANY, partnered by Jones and A. F. Robbins, described itself as a business of “bankers and exchange dealers,” “general commission merchants,” and “wholesale and retail grocers,” maintaining a “full stock of groceries constantly on hand...
4. No Carpet-Knight
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MAJOR JONES CONTINUED his tour of inspection, arriving next at Maltby’s Company E, fifteen miles west of Brownwood, on June 28, 1874. After reviewing the company’s activities, Jones determined that all was quiet locally and that the company could do better service elsewhere...
5. A Heavy Task
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AS JONES MADE HIS WAY BACK DOWN the line to his headquarters in Austin, the companies continued their hunt for raiding Indians and wayward outlaws. On August 3, General Steele commissioned J. T. Nelson of Stephenville as a second lieutenant in Waller’s Company...
6. The Abominable Legislature
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ON NOVEMBER 24, 1874, THE BAD news came for the six-month- old Frontier Battalion. At Governor Coke’s direction, because the current appropriation for frontier defense was insufficient to sustain the battalion until the next legislative session in January when a new budget...
7. Kill All the Dutch
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THE ACTIVITY O N THE RIO GRANDE reached such a level of international tension that Adjutant General Steele felt compelled to make a tour of the area in May of 1875. Leander McNelly and his men were encamped at Edinburg, fending off horse, cattle, and oxen thieves...
8. Gallant and Untiring
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LEAVING THE MASON COUNTY VIOLENCE behind him for the time being in November 1875, Jones began another inspection tour, arriving first at Foster’s Company E, which he found “in good condition and doing good service.” The people in the area credited the presence...
9. Terribly Tongue-Lashed
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RANGERS CAME UNDER CRITICISM in San Antonio when, on September 13, 1876, several men from Company A were confronted by city policemen for “parading the streets . . . armed to the teeth.” The company, as Jones’ escort, was camped on the Leon River...
10. A Bedouin in the Saddle
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MAJOR JONES LEFT KIMBLE COUNTY and by May 6, 1877, was at Fort McKavett, where he requested of General Steele that Dr. E. G. Nicholson be once again reinstated as Battalion Surgeon, the appointment to date from April 19. Jones then moved on to Coleman...
11. Here Comes the Rangers!
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MAJOR JONES LEFT AUSTIN for El Paso County by stagecoach on the morning of October 24, 1877. A detachment of Rangers was readied to proceed separately to El Paso, but, if Jones was able to reach an “amicable adjustment” of the affair before their arrival, the...
12. A Manly and Vigorous Effort
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JONES FOUND HIMSELF at Fort Bliss in February of 1878, jousting with his fellow commission members as they took testimony from witnesses such as Tays, Kerber, and others, and collected all available documentation. In the interior of the state, the Frontier Battalion continued...
13. Agin’ My Profession
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CONFRONTED IN THE UNDERBRUSH of Denton County by running gunbattles with various posses, including Peak and his men, Sam Bass and his gang—Henry Underwood, Seaborn Barnes, Frank Jackson, Arkansas Johnson, Henry Collins, and Charles Carter—fled to...
14. Stately as a Queen
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ALTHOUGH IT HAD BEEN PROCLAIMED that the problem of raiding Indians had been diminished by the state troops, companies continued to scout for their presence. Usually all they found was evidence of the Indians’ presence in an area, but occasionally there was a...
15. Scared on Our Arrival
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PEGLEG CROSSING SAT ON the San Saba River about twelve miles east of Menard in Menard County for many decades. A relay station was constructed there to accommodate a stage line running between Fort McKavett, Fort Mason, and San Antonio. The fact that horses pulling...
16. Promptness and Fidelity
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JANUARY 1880 BEGAN with a bizarre conflict between two Rangers and two company commanders in which Jones had to ultimately intervene, although the details are murky as some of the essential correspondence is not in Ranger records. In October of 1879, Sergeant...
17. Sober, Steady, and Respectable Man
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IN EARLY AUGUST 1880, the Sheriff ’s Association of Texas met at the Dallas Opera House. Sheriff Eugene Glover of Duval County offered a resolution that the Frontier Battalion and Oglesby’s Special Troops “were recognized as an auxiliary to the regular constabulary force...
18. Pangs of Sorrow
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JONES ALWAYS HAD a fragile constitution. His health problems were a periodic problem, and he suffered frequent attacks of what was termed “derangement of the liver.” In January and February of 1881, he felt rather good and even put on a few pounds. However, on March 6, his...
19. The Best Officers and Men
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ALMOST IMMEDIATELY the question arose as to Jones’ successor. Speculation centered on Neal Coldwell, who had been acting adjutant general and Jones’ pick to handle his inspection and quartermaster duties. General William P. Hardeman, a superintendent of the Texas Confederate...
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Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 38 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Frances B. Vick Series