The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 146
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146 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
Texas Smoke: Muzzle-Loaders on the Frontier. By C. F. Eckhardt. (Lubbock: Texas
Tech University Press, 2oo0. Pp. 128. Index. ISBN 0-89672-439-5. $15.95,
At first glance this is a misleading book. One would quickly consider it a slim
reference volume, void of footnotes and bibliography, about muzzle-loading
weapons on the Texas frontier. But after the first few pages, it is apparent that
the author intended this for a younger audience. In that light this could be a fun
little volume intended not only to educate but to entertain interested younger
Texas history students.
Certainly Eckhardt's style is free spirited, and for those who do not know the
author, he is a storyteller. Eckhardt loves a good story and sometimes, it appears,
doesn't let the facts get in his way. In one story (on p. 58) he has David Crockett
using "Old Betsy" at the Alamo. "Betsy," in fact, never made it to Texas, and at last
report was still in a bank vault in Arkansas. The section concerning Samuel Colt's
arms sales to the Republic of Texas makes the statement (p. 94) that the weapons
were to "go to the Republic of Texas Regular Army (which existed only on paper
and in Lamar's mind)." The author makes this statement again three paragraphs
later. However a careful examination of even basic sources shows that there was
indeed a Texas Regular Army during Lamar's presidency, complete with a raised
regiment of infantry and cavalry with uniforms and equipment.
In his discussion about Samuel Hamilton Walker and the Colt Walker pistol,
Eckhardt states that Walker wanted Colt pistols for "his company of rangers."
In fact Walker wanted them for Company C, Regiment of Mounted Rifles, a
regular army unit that Walker raised in Baltimore and commanded toward the
end of the Mexican War. Eckhardt furthers this by stating that upon Walker's
death at Huamantla, it "took a regiment of U.S. Dragoons to corral Walker's
ranger company," when in fact there were no Texas Rangers at the battle and
Walker's Company were the U.S. Regulars. Eckhardt further complicates the
history by saying Walker was born in Virginia, when in fact he was from Prince
George County, Maryland. If these types of errors can be found in the above-
mentioned sections, one has to wonder what other mistakes slipped into the
narrative as well.
Where does this leave Texas Smoke as an educational tool for young Texans? In
the history department it falls short, but as to how weapons worked on the Texas
frontier it does its job. The problem is balancing the historical errors with the
accuracy of firearm mechanics.
Landmark Inn State Historical Park KEVIN R. YOUNG
Empresarzos' Children: The Welders of Texas. By Bill and Marjorie K. Walraven.
(Corpus Christi: Javelina Press, 2000. Pp. 256. Introduction, epilogue, lin-
eages, index. ISBN 0-9646325-4-3. $36.95, cloth.)
A few miles north of Sinton, U.S. Highway 181 runs past the Rob and Bessie
Welder Wildlife Refuge, Dedicated in 1961, it sits on seventy-eight hundred acres
along the south bank of the Aransas River, and its support foundation subsidizes
graduate student research in several areas of soil, plant, and wild animal manage-
ment and conservation. The refuge and foundation acknowledge a little-heralded
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/174/?rotate=90: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.