The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Book Reviews

In any discussion of the Texas Rangers it is safe to say that if you need to
know anything, just ask Ben Procter. His Just One Riot: Episodes of Texas Rangers
in the 2oth Century portrays vividly, in Webb's tradition, the Texas Rangers in
modern times. His first chapter is as fine an essay as one is ever likely to read
on the changes that beset the Rangers as they moved from a frontier force to
a modern law enforcement agency. The "episodes" in the subtitle refer to the
six chapters which each highlight one Ranger, or group of Rangers, and their
involvement in a dramatic incident. The topics range from "Bill McDonald and
the Brownsville Affray" in 1906 to the sensational hostage situation at Hunts-
ville Prison in 1974. The Rangers in these pages are certainly portrayed as
quite human, with all their prejudices, but also with all the fearlessness and
"qualities of character" (p. 141) that have attended descriptions of Rangers
since their inception. Procter's Just One Riot, extensively researched, with many
of the participants interviewed by the author, is a highly readable account of a
remarkable body of men.
Any reader of these two books will discern the common thread of charac-
ter and traits that bind the Rangers, old and new. Both these books deserve a
place on any bookshelf of Texana, as they help us to a better understanding of
an organization that figures so prominently in the history and legend of the
Texas past.
Garland DAVID P. SMITH
Frontier Defense in the Czvil War: Texas' Rangers and Rebels. By David Paul Smith.
(College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992. Pp. xiv + 237. Intro-
duction, appendix, bibliography, index, maps. $39.50.)
By Secretary of War Jefferson Davis's estimate, in the decade prior to the
outbreak of the Civil War 30,000 "nomadic and predatory" tribesmen ranged
nearly 2,000 miles of Texas frontier while lines of communication in that state
ran through more than 1,200 miles of Indian territory. Although 2,886 officers
and men, a full one-quarter of the United States Army, were stationed in that
department in 1855, the secretary considered that force "entirely inadequate
for its protection and defense." Even when augmented by the elite Second
United States Cavalry and seconded by the Texas Rangers, the army remained
unable to provide absolute peace and security to the Anglo-American frontier
against the formidable Comanche and their Kiowa allies. With the withdrawal
of United States forces following the state's secession, a problem compounded
by the enlistment of most former rangers into Rebel armies east of the Missis-
sippi River, the state felt a dire need for the protection of its western frontier.
From Richmond's perspective, however, the nomadic Plains Indians were, in
the words of Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker, "merely predatory," and, in
view of the life-and-death struggle being waged by the Confederacy on the
killing fields of Shiloh, Sharpsburg, and Gettysburg, were to be considered, at
best, as a side show. Indeed, the Confederate government could offer Texas
only a single regiment, less than one-third of the force required to maintain
peace and security on the frontier, and even this regiment was too often drawn

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed September 17, 2014.