The Texas Rangers: Wearing the Cinco Peso, 1821-1900


This is the first in a planned two-volume series about the famous fighting men who came to be known as the Texas Rangers. The first volume focuses on the rangers’ formation in 1821, a hybrid growing out of the traditions of game wardens of 14th-century England and hard fighting warriors of the French and Indian War, and the mounted tradition of law enforcement that exited in the widespread Spanish Empire.

The first Texas Rangers were a handful of men formed from settlers of the vast Texas territory who fought the Karankawa Indians to near extinction. The next generation became a larger, better trained force to meet the needs of a growing Anglo population. As the century wore on, the enemies of the Rangers grew and changed from outlaws to Comanche, to Mexican soldados and banditos, to Union soldiers. The nature of Texas topography, expansion, and sparse population ensured that its famous fighting force would always have unique responsibilities and challenges.

Written in a clear, engaging style, Mike Cox’s scrutiny does not spare the rangers their fierce and often controversial history that includes accusations of vigilante-style racism and murder as well as personal heroism. Over its first eighty years, he illuminates how this band of men became a defining force in the creation of a state. In so doing, the men who wore the cinco peso rode off into both history and legend.

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