Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum: 1-35 and University Parks Drive | PO Box 2570, Waco, TX 76702-2570 | (254) 750-8631
by James Hale brings Commemorative back
to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
Psst Collections Manager
James M. Hale of Northwest Arkansas recently donated an “Official
Texas Ranger Dragoon Colt Revolver” commemorative modeled after
the Colt presentation revolver given to Texas Ranger Ben McCulloch January
1, 1848. Colt
hoped that McCulloch, a famous Texas Ranger and Mexican War officer,
would endorse his firearms and help make them a commercial success.
The firearm commemorates
the 1848 Whitneyville Hartford Dragoon, a transitional early colt between
the legendary Colt Walker and the 1st Dragoon model.
This firearm was
produced by America Remembers for the U. S. Historical Society and authorized
by the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. Through an oversight at
the time, no example of this commemorative—which helped fund the
construction of the Hall of Fame—was saved for the collections.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame is very grateful
to Mr. Hale for bringing this wonderful piece back to the museum.
Mr. Hale, an amateur
historian and firearms collector, became interested in the life of Captain
Ben McCulloch while learning about his own family history. His Great
Grandfather James Wardrup served in the 2nd Arkansas Mounted Rifles
under McCulloch during the Civil War.
James Hale acquired and later donated this commemorative because of
its association with Captain Ben McCulloch. He had the following to
“The original McCulloch Dragoon, the Whitneyville-Hartford Colt
no. 1337, is still in existence. I know where it is, and accept the
fact that it is well beyond my means to obtain it. I feel no one really
owns a pistol like that one. It becomes a form of stewardship at that
level of gun collecting.
It is my sincere
hope that an investor may one day agree that Ben McCulloch’s old
Dragoon belongs to history and to Texas now. It’s true home is
here in the Hall of Fame, where generations of young people may learn
of the revolver and the Ranger its served so long and so well.”
Benjamin McCulloch was born November 11, 1811 in Rutherford County,
Tennessee. Late in 1835 he and his brother Henry, made their way to
Texas arriving after the fall of the Alamo. Ben joined the Texan army
and at the Battle of San Jacinto manned one of the cannons known as
the "twin sisters." He won praise and a battlefield promotion
from Sam Houston.
After leaving the army, he worked as a surveyor and joined Jack Hays'
company of Rangers. He was involved in many skirmishes with the Indians
including the battle of Plum Creek in 1840, and in the campaign against
Indians located along the tributaries of the Guadalupe River in 1841.
In 1842 he was elected as 1st Lieutenant in Jack Hays' company of Rangers.
During the Mexican War, McCulloch raised Company A of Col. Jack Hays'
First Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers. Showing great skill in tracking
and scouting, he was named Gen. Zachary Taylor's chief of scouts and
rose to the rank of Major.
In 1849, he caught
"gold fever" and traveled to Sacramento, California where
he served as sheriff until he returned to Texas in 1852. He was appointed
U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Texas and was appointed as
one of the commissioners charged with investigating the Mormon troubles
in Utah in 1857.
In May 1861, he offered his services to the Confederacy, was commissioned
a brigadier-general, and ordered to Fort Smith, Arkansas. During the
Battle of Pea Ridge, March 7, 1862, McCulloch commanded the Confederate
right wing that overran and drove the Union forces from their position.
Later, riding through the undergrowth to ascertain the new Union position,
he was shot and killed.