The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 640
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
companies in the field against Amerindians and Mexican nationals. Yet the au-
thor concluded from his research, "Despite all the problems, the short-term
ranger commands did provide some degree of protection to ever-expanding set-
tlements and isolated farms" (p. xii).
In concise prose Wilkins covers the events and personages, major and minor,
in Ranger annals in the decade of the 1850s. Major events included the move by
the forces under James H. Callahan on Amerindians located in Mexico; the at-
tack led by John S. Ford on the Comanches near the Canadian River; and Ford's
search for Juan N. Cortina in southern Texas and Mexico. Except for Callahan,
Ford, Henry McCulloch, and W. A. "Big Foot" Wallace, the deeds of other field
captains of the ranging companies, like John Davenport, William Henry, and
Owen Shaw, have faded into the past. In these endeavors Ranger leaders had
both friendly and hostile relations with the United States armed forces located
in the Lone Star State.
Surprisingly, more coverage is given to the numerous clashes between Rangers
and Native Americans than to the fights between Texians and Mexicans. In more
than one battle at the start of the 185os ranging companies under Ford engaged
Comanche raiding parties in southern Texas. After fighting at long range and
close quarters more Indians than Rangers lay dead and wounded on the field of
honor. Then came Callahan's raid in 1855. The governor ordered Callahan to
"pursue any marauding parties of Indians" and "follow up and chastise them
wherever they may be found" (p. 46). Callahan's command did just that, as they
crossed into Mexico, attacked both Amerindians and Mexican nationals, and
burned Piedras Negras. Equally important at the end of the 185os, Senior Cap-
tain Rip Ford led his Rangers and reservation Indians northward across the
Canadian River and defeated Comanches under Iron Jacket. Slowly but surely
Native Americans had been losing control of the land-and their lives.
Not surprisingly, the most important Ranger officer in the 1850s would be Rip
Ford. Besides engaging Comanches, Ford also became involved with the doings
ofJuan Cortina on both sides of the border in southern Texas. Here Ford stood
head and shoulders above Ranger William G. Tobin and helped to show that
Cortina and his men were not invincible on the battlefield. In addition, Ford be-
came a Confederate officer in the American Civil War and won acclaim for his
efforts in the Lost Cause.
This work completes the four-volume study by Wilkins of the Texas Rangers in
the nineteenth century. In perspective the book happens to be one of the more
satisfying studies in the series. It is better illustrated and has as many colorful
characters and incidents as the work on Ranger history before 1845. It is more
balanced in the pros and cons of Ranger operations than the volume on the
ranging companies in the U.S.-Mexican War. And it is better organized and
more readable than the book on the Frontier Battalion. In conclusion, as
Wilkins wrote, "So, after all the years of neglect, here are a few words of appreci-
ation to the rangers of 1848-1861" (p. xii).
Jamestown Communzty College
HaroldJ. Weiss Jr.
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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/m1/718/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.