Ranger Jim's Ramblings for October.
First, I'm not going to start a discussion about white men versus red. That's a quicksand trap. I will say, despite the misconception so many people have, the Comanches were not the first Indian tribe to settle in Texas and the Southwest. They were driven there from the northern Plains by some of the other Plains tribes, and the Comanches displaced tribes such as the Tonkawas. So, when the white settlers drove the Comanches out of Texas, they only did what the Comanches had done previously to other Indians.
I'm no expert on guns, relying strictly on my friends Karl Rehn and Penny Riggs to provide me the information I need for my books. However, as everyone knows, and is clearly illustrated in the two Andy Thomas paintings illustrating the covers of my two latest books, one bullet in the right place can do a tremendous amount of damage to the human body.
Obviously, from the Rangers' point of view, this coudln't continue. Samuel Colt had already designed a prototype of a working revolver, then promptly gone bankrupt. However, Captain Samuel Walker of the Texas Rangers knew of the gun, tinkered with the design, and came up with a more workable weapon, one that didn't have to be completely dismantled to be reloaded. He and Colt, with the help of Colt's friend Oliver Winchester of Winchester rifle fame, arranged to have what would come to be called the Walker Colt, a five shot cap and ball revolver, manufactured, with the first ones going to the Texas Rangers.
The first time the Comanches faced the Rangers after the new revolvers had been delivered, they used their usual tactic, waiting for the Rangers to fire their guns, then, believing they would have to reload, swooped in for the kill. Instead, they were mowed down when the Rangers were able to fire five shots in a row without pausing. The fight turned into a complete rout, and was the beginning of the end of the Comanche Wars in Texas.
It would still be many years before the repeating rifle was developed, and even more before cartridge guns replaced the cap and ball weapons, but with their new firepower, the Rangers were able to drive the Comanches back from the frontier, a process which was slowed, but not stopped, by the Civil War. By the early 1870s, virtually all Indians had been removed from Texas.
Personal footnote. I grew up only a couple of miles from the Winchester factory in New Haven, and still drive by the old Colt factory in Hartford regularly, on my trips back and forth from New Hampshire to Connecticut. The Winchester factory has been carved up into space for many smaller, scientific research companies, while the Colt factory, which is still mostly empty despite many attempts to rehabilitate it for apartments or businesses, has just been nominated as a National Historic Park, to be run by the National Park Service. It may be the last chance to save the building, with its distinctive onion shaped dome, which is covered in deep blue, and gold leaf stars, and topped by a rearing gold-leaf covered colt.