The Comanche war, the Republic of Texas and the Victorian Age began in 1836. Rangers and troopers alike adorned sabers and adopted the manners and vallantry of ancient European knights. In the Cross Timbers the knights were usually cowboys riding patrol, dividing their time between Ranger and ranch duties. Their heroic exploits and courtly behavior was the germ of the modern American cowboy myth.
Their powerful enemies were worthy opponents, perhaps the best horseback fighters the world had ever seen. Led by the Comanches, compact, athletic and deadly accurate with gun or bow, they expertly executed sophisticated and highly complicated battle tactics that usually defeated and always awed their opponents. Versions of their blazing battles with the cowboys have been told and retold again and again in everything from dime novels to television productions, but nothing compares to the real accounts.
Painting by Alfred Jacob Miller
Subject was Sioux warrior demonstrating Comanche riding technique.
Second generation Texas Ranger A. J. Sowell admiringly described Comanche Chief Oska Horseback at the 1872 battle scene on the Keep Ranch in upper Wise County:
"He made several dashes towards us, and was the best rider I ever saw. He was a slim, trim-made Indian, about twenty-two years old. He was mounted on a beautiful blood-bay horse, with black mane and tail, and star in the face. This chief rode no saddle, but had a red blanket strapped around his horse. He could dismount and mount again, with his horse in a gallop; displaying an agility that was surprising. He could drop down on the opposite side of his horse, as quick as a flash, and expose nothing but his hand and foot, his horse going at full speed. He wore red leggins, and fine beaded moccasins. He also wore a beautiful beaded ornament on his breast, which entirely covered it. He had his scalp-lock platted, and a prairie chicken's head tied to the end of it, which hung down to the middle of his back. The chicken's head was painted a deep red..."