Ever since the masked man in the white hat rode across the silver screen upholding the law and saving damsels in distress, I’ve been a fan of the Texas Rangers. From a few carefully chosen men protecting the Texas frontier to the elite of modern law enforcement, the history of the Texas Rangers is as colorful as the land and people they protect.
Hollywood has been enamored with this badge-wearing hero since 1910, when the first movie featuring a Ranger was released. But who are the real Texas Rangers?
In 1823 the Empresario of Mexico, Stephen F. Austin, created two companies of men to act as “rangers for the common defense.” These men had to be strong leaders and fighters, and needed some specialized skills:
>marksmanship with rifle and pistol;
>mastery of the outdoor life; and
>knowledge of the foe.
They also had to have their own horse and weapons, since the government provided only powder, lead and a few provisions. After that, they had to fend for themselves.
The Texas Rangers have been formed and disbanded many times in their history. In 1835, the provisional Texas government authorized recruiting 25 Rangers. That number grew to 3 companies of 56 men each, who all mustered out in 1846 and joined the Army as scouts and guerilla fighters, and became sensations in the eastern newspapers. That’s where the legend of the Texas Rangers began.
1874 brought the creation of six companies of 75 “young men, in good physical condition, without families, who owned good horses.” The state was to furnish arms and ammunition at cost, the amount to be deducted from the first pay of each soldier. Because the state only provided .45 caliber ammunition, the Rangers began using what is arguably the best-known weapon of the West: The New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol, aka
A FEW MILESTONES FOR THE TEXAS RANGERS:
1877 Salt War in El Paso
1877 Outlaw John Wesley Hardin shot in Pensacola, Florida
1878 Notorious outlaw Sam Bass captured near Round Rock, Texas
1880 Company “C” sent to the Panhandle to explore, making expanded
1883 Free Range War - sent to stop fence cutting and enforce peace
1900 Galveston Hurricane - maintain the peace and uphold the law
1901 Law enforcement around the oil boom
1915 Pancho Villa & the border raids
1920s Enforced Prohibition laws
In 1939, Captain Frank Hamer and 49 retired Texas Rangers offered their services to the King of England to defend their shores against Nazi invasion. That sent rumors flying through Hitler’s Reich that the Texas Rangers planned to infiltrate Nazi Germany. The rumors were based on tales of U.S. Army Ranger commandos, but by then the Texas Rangers were so famous that the Gestapo and Ministry of Propaganda assumed they would be facing the Texas Rangers.
By the way, Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Manny Gilbert were the law enforcement officers responsible for stopping Bonnie & Clyde.
The Texas Rangers didn’t become a permanent force until 1987. Today, the Rangers are made up of 116 officers, organized in Six Companies – the same six companies that were first put together in 1874.
Today’s Texas Rangers are considered to be one of the most effective investigative law enforcement agencies in the world.
And Hollywood still loves them. To date, Texas Rangers have appeared as characters in more than 220 films.
If you have never visited the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, Texas, put it on your must-see list. It is a fascinating glimpse of the men and women who make up this amazing law enforcement agency. http://www.texasranger.org/
Visit www.tracygarrett.com for information about me, my books and my stories in PRP's exciting anthologies WISHING FOR A COWBOY: Her Christmas Wish; & HEARTS AND SPURS: Coming Home!