The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 39, July 1935 - April, 1936

Book Reviews and Notices 333
BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICES
The Texas Rangers. A Century of Fro*tier Defense. By Walter
Prescott Webb. Pages xv, 584. (Boston and New York:
Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1935.)
"A Texas Ranger could ride like a Mexican, trail like an
Indian, shoot like a Tennesseean, and fight like a devil." This
terse description is the central theme of Webb's book. With his
skill at simplification he shows how these traits were evolved in
the clash in Texas between the Anglo-Americans and the Mexi-
cans and Indians whom they sought to overcome or displace. It
was necessary that the Texan learn from his adversaries; cour-
ageous and resourceful though he was, he had to adjust his equip-
ment and fighting tactics to conform to his new environment.
He had to adopt the plainscraft of the Comanche, the horseman-
ship of the Mexican, and add to these certain innate or acquired
qualities which his enemies did not possess. Among the things
the Texans learned was that they had to fight. They could not
surrender to the Indians, neither would the Mexicans show mercy
to a vanquished foe.
The distinctive characteristics of the Texas Ranger force were
developed by 1835. They were "an irregular body; they were
mounted; they furnished their own horses and arms; they had
no surgeon, no flag, none of the paraphernalia of the regular
service. They were distinct from the regular army and also
from the militia." Thenceforth until 1935, when the organiza-
tion was all but legislated out of existence, the Rangers main-
tained this system and practice. The scope of their service has
been wide and varied. They have served as a State police force;
for several decades they fought marauding Indian bands and
patrolled the frontier settlements in an effort-not very success-
ful-to make secure life and property among the pioneers; and
repeatedly they have been called upon to defend the settlements
near the Mexican border against assaults of bandits and guerrilla
bands. They have never been discreet in their tactics or partic-
ular as to the place where they fought. On at least one occasion
they made an extended campaign into Indian Territory and they
repeatedly invaded Mexico. During the last fifty years the or-

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 39, July 1935 - April, 1936. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101095/. Accessed September 24, 2014.