A Private in the Texas Rangers
A.T. Miller of Company B, Frontier Battalion
Texas History
6.125 x 9.25, 352 pp.
27 b&w photos., 4 maps.
Pub Date: 03/01/2001
Canseco-Keck History Series
  cloth
Price:        $24.95

978-0-89096-964-9

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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A Private in the Texas Rangers

A.T. Miller of Company B, Frontier Battalion

By John Miller Morris

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 annotated 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 not 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.

What Readers Are Saying:

“The only extensive, first person, day-to-day account of the life of a Ranger private in 1887-1888, or any other period, for that matter. What emerges is a struggle to keep warm, find enough to eat, cross harshly county in any weather, fight boredom, yet be constantly alert. This is NOT the Ranger life of the Wild West novels. This is Ranger life as it was!”--Frederick Wilkins

“The only extensive, first person, day-to-day account of the life of a Ranger private in 1887-1888, or any other period, for that matter. What emerges is a struggle to keep warm, find enough to eat, cross harshly county in any weather, fight boredom, yet be constantly alert. This is NOT the Ranger life of the Wild West novels. This is Ranger life as it was!” --Frederick Wilkins

“Frontier ranger diaries are almost as scarce as rain is in West Texas. John Miller Morris has done a great job editing and annotating his forbear’s diary. This book makes an excellent contribution to Texas Ranger lore.” --Mike Cox

“If you would like to open a window into the daily life of a Texas Ranger in the 1880s, this book is recommended. The author has done a fine job at tying together all the people, events, and details that Miller mentions in his diary and in the process he has created an unusual and interesting book.” --Denver Westerners Roundup

“The editor adds useful insights on stages of settlement and race relations involving Mexican Americans and African Americans. Biographical sketches of Rangers are generally favorable, but reveal unique personalities . . . Not only are the Ranger diaries uncommon; This volume is especially valuable because diarist and editor offer one of the most realistic and analytical accounts of the law officers as they made a transition toward modernization. Historians of western and southern law enforcement will welcome this addition to their field.” --Alwyn Barr

“A sumptuously researched window in the late nineteenth-century frontier as it transformed itself into the Texas of today....for the true researcher and historian, the book is essential to understanding this era in the development of Texas....What makes the book even more notable, though, is the work and thoughtfulness behind the annotations that frame and contextualize the diary entries....Every page of the book is filled commentary that the book shines. In providing the necessary background to understand these diaries, Morris has revealed the humanity of his great-grandfather, but even more importantly, this essential history reveals the shared humanity of the townsfolk and settlers of an era of Texas history.” --Steve Zani

“This book is a detailed day-by-day reality of Texas Ranger life, not the Hollywood version.” --True West

“Approaching literary gold. . . . Morris’s exegesis of his forebear’s diary. . . makes this a singular contribution to Texas Ranger lore. . . . enhanced with three excellent maps showing the range where Private Miller and his peers operated. . . . a stunning tour-de-force guaranteed to make its way onto the roster of basic Texas books, a work that is useful, thoughtful, illuminating, and entertaining. Would that more historians could rise so impressively to the challenge.” --Texas Books in Review

“What really makes this book interesting and of value is not just A.T. Miller’s short diary entries but the longer and insightful annotations and explanations of events added by his great-grandson, John Miller Morris. . . .This is a book worth reading.” --East Texas Historical Association

A Private in the Texas Rangers: A. T. Miller of Company B, Frontier Battalion will please those who find history in the details.” --Victoria Advocate

“A.T.’s entries are laced with humor, sarcasm, and loneliness. Those with a keen interest in western, regional, or Texas and Oklahoma histories will find themselves indebted to Morris for unearthing and editing A.T. Miller’s diaries that comprise a nostalgic piece of Americana.” --Chronicles of Oklahoma

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