History of the Texas Rangers Part I: A Force to be Reckoned With

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Tony Maples Photography


On November 24, 1835, Texas lawmakers instituted a force to reckon with known as the Texas Rangers. With a complement of 56 men over three companies, officers received pay in parity with the United States dragoons, and privates received $1.25 per day. Aside from that, however, they each supplied their own horses, firearms, rations, and any equipment they needed, and at all times they were required to be ready to ride.

History of the Texas Rangers Part I: A Force to be Reckoned With

Photo: Facebook/Cortland Mehl

With 100 rounds of powder and ball (as was required by official sanction), each Texas Ranger rode out on their tours, however, their outset wasn’t at all glamorous. During the Texas Revolution, they performed the tasks of couriers and scouts, and after the fall of the Alamo, while settlers fled east, the rangers conveyed many across swollen streams and muddy trails, retrieved cattle, and destroyed equipment and produce that was left behind. And during the battle of San Jacinto (April 21), they performed “escort” duty, but when Mirabeau B. Lamar succeeded in becoming the leader of Texas in December 1838, the role of the Texas Rangers also changed.

History of the Texas Rangers Part I: A Force to be Reckoned With

Photo: Facebook/The Vintage News

Congress gave Lamar the authority to recruit increased numbers of Texas Ranger companies throughout Central and South Texas and over the next three years, they waged war against Native Americans. By the end of Lamar’s administration, they had all but completely broken the most powerful tribes. Upon Sam Houston’s reelection to office in December 1841, he recognized that the ranger companies were a valuable resource for protecting the frontier and subsequently, under the direction of Captain John Coffee “Jack” Hays, 150 rangers figured prominently in resisting Mexican invasions in 1842 and protecting against attacks by Native Americans over the following three years.

Can’t get enough of the Texas Rangers’ history? Continue on to Part IIPart III, and Part IV of this series.



Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum

Texas State History