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AUCTION 22

 

Presentation Copy from Pioneer Texas Bookman “Shorty” Shettles

 

 


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387.     McCONNELL, H.H. Five Years a Cavalryman; or, Sketches of Regular Army Life on the Texas Frontier, Twenty Odd Years Ago. By H.H. McConnell, Late Sixth U.S. Cavalry. Jacksboro, Texas: J.N. Rogers & Co., Printers, 1889. [i-vii] viii, [9-11] 12-319 [1, blank] pp., printed on “Brooks Brothers pink” paper. 8vo (19.5 x 14 cm), original dark green blind-embossed cloth, title stamped in gilt on upper cover and spine, and blind on lower cover. Light foxing on fore-edge, minor binding wear, text block split (but holding) at pp. 96/97, overall very good. With signed ink presentation from Elijah Leroy Shettles, to J.P. Thompson, dated at Austin, July 28, 1924. Shettles (1852-1940) was a prominent Texas minister, writer, and bookman. Although over six feet tall, Shettles had the inexplicable nickname of “Shorty.”

     First edition. Adams, Guns 1393: “Scarce.” Adams, Herd 1380: “The appendix concerns cowboys and cattle thieves.” Braislin 1212. Campbell, p. 66. Dobie, p. 52: “Bully.” Graff 2579. Holliday Sale 715. Howes M59. Rader 2280. Raines, p. 142. Tate, The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography 2809: “A valuable primary account of soldiering at Ft. Richardson, Texas, during some of the most important confrontations between Comanches and Kiowas of the late 1860s and early 1870s.” Basic Texas Books 131:

This is the most lively and authentic account of cavalry life in West Texas after the Civil War. McConnell was a private in the 6th Cavalry who arrived in Galveston with the Reconstruction occupiers in November, 1866. He served at Fort Belknap and Fort Richardson on the Texas frontier until 1871, then settled at Jacksboro. Throughout his service, he kept a journal from which he frequently quotes verbatim. During this period he also issued a post newspaper, “The Flea,” from which he also quotes liberally. McConnell gives us the best surviving account of what it was like to be an ordinary cavalryman in occupied Texas as well as of life on the frontier outposts after the war. He does not at all glorify his officers or fellow soldiers; he reports on their heavy drinking, their general disorganization, their boredom, their thievery—neither with moral judgments nor rationalization. McConnell’s acute insights into human nature appear repeatedly…. Also gives an excellent description of Texas cowboys on a spree in Kansas after a cattle drive.

     McConnell relates interesting material on ranching and cattle, such as his discussion of the inseparability of the cowman and his horse (“he was a veritable centaur”). Regarding the system of Texas brands, he comments: “The complicated system of marks and brands was as unintelligible to me as the marks on an Egyptian monument, but was so plain to the native that ‘he who ran might read,’ and this literally, for as the cowman dashed over the prairie at full speed the marked ears and the often obscure brand was as an open book.” Another report in the appendix is Lt. R.G. Carter’s “The Cowboy’s Verdict” about the capture of Kiowa chief Satanta and his subsequent suicide at the Huntsville Penitentiary.

($150-300)

Sold. Hammer: $250.00; Price Realized: $300.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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