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

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During annexation and the Mexican War in 1846, the Texas Rangers earned global fame, and after admirable performance in the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma on May 8–9, 1846, they became an even greater force to be reckoned with, as the “eyes and ears” of Gen. Zachary Taylor. With the best of mounts, the best of arms, and familiar with their territories, the rangers forged the route through to Monterrey for the U.S. army, and in early in 1847, provided enough military information to assist the General in winning the battle of Buena Vista. And with the assistance of an American army under Gen. Winfield Scott making their way into the Valley of Mexico, the rangers figured prominently in U.S. victories over the next five months under the direction of Jack Hays and Samuel Walker. They proved so successful against Mexican guerrillas in ruthless warfare that the local populace called them “los diablos Tejanos.” By 1848, the term “Texas Ranger” had grown to be a common household term, synonymous with a great force.

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

Photo: Facebook/Texas Ranger Association Foundation

Following the Mexican War, over the next 10 years, the Texas Rangers became a dormant force. With the U.S. assuming responsibility for protecting the frontier in Texas, the rangers were given no official function, nor were they enlisted by the state for service. Losing its famous captains and the vast contingent of its frontier defenders, it wasn’t until 1858 when John S. “Rip” Ford was appointed as senior captain that the rangers briefly returned to their fighting traditions. In the late spring of that year, they moved into the northern parts of Texas to fight a large band of Native Americans, killing the noted Comanche chief, Iron Jacket in the process. By March of 1859, they were assigned to the Brownsville area, where they fought alongside the U.S. Army, with only small success, against the “Red Robber of the Rio Grande,” Juan N. Cortina. Following this, however, for approximately 14 years, the rangers had little impact in Texas. With the pending Civil War in 1861, they individually joined the Confederates, and to protect its frontiers, the Lone Star State had to rely on a mixture of young boys, old men, or those that were rejected from Confederate conscription.

History of the Texas Rangers Part II: A Force to be Reckoned With
Photo: Facebook/John G Smith

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