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Tracking the Texas Rangers

The Nineteenth Century

Edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Harold J. Weiss, Jr.

Publication Year: 2012

Tracking the Texas Rangers is an anthology of sixteen previously published articles, arranged in chronological history, covering key topics of the intrepid and sometimes controversial law officers named the Texas Rangers. Determining the role of the Rangers as the state evolved and what they actually accomplished for the benefit of the state is a difficult challenge—the actions of the Rangers fit no easy description. There is a dark side to the story of the Rangers; during the war with Mexico, for example, some murdered, pillaged, and raped. Yet these same Rangers eased the resultant United States victory. Even their beginning and the first use of the term “Texas Ranger” have mixed and complex origins. Tracking the Texas Rangers covers topics such as their early years, the great Comanche Raid of 1840, and the effective use of Colt revolvers. Article authors discuss Los Diablos Tejanos, Rip Ford, the Cortina War, the use of Hispanic Rangers and Rangers in labor disputes, and the recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker and the capture of John Wesley Hardin. The selections cover critical aspects of those experiences—organization, leadership, cultural implications, rural and urban life, and violence. In their introduction, editors Bruce A. Glasrud and Harold J. Weiss, Jr., discuss various themes and controversies surrounding the 19th-century Rangers and their treatment by historians over the years. They also have added annotations to the essays to explain where new research has shed additional light on an event to update or correct the original article text.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Frances B. Vick Series


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pp. v-vi

Timeline: 19th Century Texas Ranger History

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xii

This book, Tracking the Texas Rangers: The Nineteenth Century, had its genesis at a meeting of the Texas State Historical Association where the two editors discussed the possibility of preparing an anthology on Texas Ranger history. Both concurred that it was a viable project, and subsequently spoke with Ron Chrisman...

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In Pursuit of the Texas Rangers: The Nineteenth Century [Images Included]

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pp. 1-19

In Texas mythical history the Rangers exist as the saviors and protectors of Texas society. According to this story, the Rangers wore the white hats. They protected Anglo Texas from American Indians and from Mexican nationals, from peoples of color. They served as runaway slave catchers. ...

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Encomium: Bad Day at Round Rock

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pp. 20-23

Sam Bass has a bold plan. He and his outlaw band will case the bank in Round Rock, Texas, one more time and then strike tomorrow (Saturday) when the surrounding farmers make their weekly deposits. The air is hot and muggy as three of the gang, including Bass, rein up in an alley behind the bank, tie off, and walk around...

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1. The Texas Rangers Revisited: Old Themes and New Viewpoints

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pp. 24-49

Such verse conjures up timeless images of Rangers battling desperadoes in furious gun battles. The Rangers as heroic figures can be seen as Cossacks on horseback, Mounties without uniforms, six-shooter Sir Galahads who knew no fear and persevered as guardians of law and order. ...

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2. “Valor, Wisdom, and Experience”: Early Texas Rangers and the Nature of Frontier Leadership

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pp. 50-61

Spurred by Napoleonic notions of glory, Luther Giddings followed General Zachary Taylor into Mexico in 1846. As an officer in the First Regiment of Ohio Volunteers, he was no spit-and-polish regular. The Ohioan nonetheless shared a number of assumptions with West Pointers. ...

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3. The Great Comanche Raid of 1840

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pp. 62-86

The Great Comanche Raid of 1840 was the boldest and most concerted Indian depredation in the history of Texas. It embodied two of the bloodiest Indian battles Texas has ever witnessed. More significantly, it represented a turning point in Texas history, marking the end of the Indian threat to frontier expansion...

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4. The Deadly Colts on Walker’s Creek

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pp. 87-100

The key Indian agent in Texas from the U.S., Pierce Butler, had more resources and thus more negotiating power than Sam Houston’s appointed agents. He found the Indians receptive when he called for a meeting of all Plains Indians to be held at Cache Creek of the Red River in December 1843. ...

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5. Los Diablos Tejanos!

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pp. 101-119

In the sweltering twilight of May 22, 1846, a company of sunburned, grim-faced Texas Rangers, the advance unit of a newly organized Texas regiment, rode into Fort Brown, the farthest southern outpost of Anglo-American civilization in Texas and combat headquarters of General Zachary “Old Rough and Ready”...

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6. The Callahan Expedition

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pp. 120-141

In the summer of 1855, Lipan Apaches, reportedly aided by Seminoles, conducted some of their most daring raids yet. They crossed into Texas and struck settlements as far north as the Blanco and Guadalupe rivers, taking horses, cattle, and scalps along the way. ...

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7. “Rip” Ford’s Indian Fight on the Canadian

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pp. 142-169

Throughout the year 1856, settlers on the northwest frontier of Texas found it possible to till their fields and graze their herds with comparatively little interference from Indian attack. So tranquil appeared the situation that the War Department began a series of transfers of the Regular Army...

Photo Gallery: Rangers and Popular Images

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8. Rangers, “Rip” Ford, and the Cortina War

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pp. 170-188

The greatest border challenge for newly elected Texas Governor Sam Houston came on the Rio Grande, when Juan N. Cortina, a rancher and accused cattle rustler who was a folk hero to some local Tejanos, shot the Brownsville marshal and fled into Mexico. Cortina returned to occupy Brownsville with a small force...

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9. Hispanic Texas Rangers Contribute to Peace On the Texas Frontier, 1838 to 1880

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pp. 189-199

In the last decades of the twentieth century, historian Rodolfo Acuna accused earlier writers of being apologists for the crude, and sometimes brutal, manners of the Texas Rangers during the days of the Texas frontier (Acuna 1981: 25). For most of the nineteenth century much of Texas was nothing more than a frontier...

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10. The “Battle” at Pease River and the Question of Reliable Sources in the Recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker

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pp. 200-225

“I will venture to say that there have been more different erroneous stories written and printed about Cynthia Ann Parker than any person who ever lived in Texas,” wrote Araminta McClellan Taulman, a member of the famous Quanah Parker family, to Frontier Times editor J. Marvin Hunter in 1929. ...

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11. Capturing the Grand Mogul (John Wesley Hardin)

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pp. 226-239

As late as June 17, 1874, the Texas Rangers suspected John Wesley Hardin still considered Comanche home. Ranger W. J. Maltby wrote Major John B. Jones from Brownwood, and said the local people are still “severely threatened by the notorious outlaw John Hardin and a band of desperadoes that he has enlisted...

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12. Rangers and Mounties Defending the Cattleman’s Empire

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pp. 240-266

With passage of the 1884 fence cutting legislation, state leaders in Austin had demonstrated their resolve to protect private property and to defend an industry of unquestioned economic value to the state. Officials charged the Texas Rangers with eradicating fence destruction, which became the primary mission...

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13. Rangers of the Last Frontier of Texas

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pp. 267-280

A new era began in 1881, an era when most of the Ranger force turned from chasing Indians to hunting and arresting outlaws. The death in that year of Major John B. Jones marked a new era for the Texas Rangers and the Frontier Battalion which had been organized in 1874 and which existed until 1900...

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14. The Jesse Evans Gang and the Death of Texas Ranger George R. Bingham

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pp. 281-294

Western buffs readily recognize Jesse Evans, the desperado whose name will be forever linked with that of Billy the Kid. Virtually every book dealing with the Kid devotes some space to Evans. We are concerned here not only with the Texas crimes of Jesse Evans...

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15. The Struggle for the Individual and the Union, 1888–1903

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pp. 295-324

For fifteen years after the Texas & Pacific Coal Company purchased the Johnson assets, a core group of miners, most of Welsh, Scots, and Irish ancestry, led a protest movement that challenged the very heart of Colonel Hunter’s system of operation in Thurber. Their lives most likely paralleled that of Gomer Gower...

The Texas Rangers: A Selected Bibliography

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pp. 325-329


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pp. 330-333

Source Credits

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pp. 334-335


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pp. 336-358

E-ISBN-13: 9781574414790
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574414653

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 9 b&w illus. 1 map.
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Frances B. Vick Series

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Subject Headings

  • Texas Rangers -- History -- 19th century.
  • Law enforcement -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Texas.
  • Texas -- History -- Republic, 1836-1846.
  • Texas -- History -- 1846-1950.
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