What was it really like to be a Texas Ranger in 1887-88? Deconstructing myths, reconstructing realities, this gritty, day-to-day portrayal, written by Private A. T. Miller, Company B, Frontier Battalion, yields a complex vision of the passing West and its lawmen. A Private in the Texas Rangers takes us for a tumultuous ride along the fading Texas-Oklahoma frontier. Three diaries, excerpted and antated by Miller's great-grandson, John Miller Morris, provide the grist of a remarkable story--a tale of true crime and punishment set against the scenic backdrops of the Rolling Plains, Panhandle, and Old Greer empires. Miller's Texas tolerated prostitutes in town but t guns, and death by morphine suicide was often more likely than death by gunfight. Rethinking the dominant legends of sensational frontier violence and lawlessness, Miller's daily journal entries bring to life land and water, law and order, decent people and indecent towns, chases and arrests, stabbings and shootings but highlight the rarity of Rangers' killing badmen and the long periods of effort and sometimes fruitless activity preceding capture of a wanted outlaw. With Company B's newest recruit, we saddle up for the wild Texas and Oklahoma trails, ride the new iron rails crossing the Great Panhandle from Fort Worth to Denver, watch meteor showers, flirt with the ladies, and listen to a boy preacher try to save souls. With Miller, we fall in love with the western prairie and encounter some of Texas' most famous lawmen, ranchers, and trail bosses. Historians, regional scholars, and anyone interested in Texas and the Old West will enjoy this insider's view of how Rangers worked together--building loyalty and trust, their lives possibly forfeit if teamwork failed--and yet still endured the loneliness and frustration of life on the closing American frontier.
John Miller Morris is an associate professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Author of the award-winning El Llano Estacado: Exploration and Imagination on the High Plains of Texas and New Mexico , 1536-1860, Morris lectures widely on topics in geography and history.