Tag Archives: James Pike

Today in Texas History – October 14

From the Annals of Culling the Herd – In 1867, Lt. James Pike of the First United States Cavalry died when he smashed his malfunction rifle against a rock in frustration.  Pike’s last act occurred during an Indian attack.  Pike arrived in Texas in 1859 and joined John Henry Brown’s company of Texas Rangers. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Pike left Texas and went to Ohio, where he passed himself off as the nephew of Albert Pike. He joined the Fourth Ohio Cavalry in 1861 and saw considerable action as a scout, spy, and courier under Gen. William T. Sherman, who praised his “skill, courage and zeal” but warned him to “cool down.”  After the war, he joined the First U.S. Cavalry,  His memoir The Scout and Ranger: Being the Personal Adventures of Corporal Pike, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry (1865) is a lively account of his career and has been praised by historians even though some of Pike’s claims are demonstrably false.

Today in Texas History – October 14

From the Annals of  Gun Safety (or Lack Thereof) – In 1867,  Lt. James Pike died during an Indian attack on his unit.  When Indians attacked Pike’s unit at dinner, the lieutenant seized his rifle and rushed to the defense. The rifle jammed, however, and in his frustration he smashed the barrel on a nearby rock, whereupon the gun discharged and killed him bringing an ignominious end to his rather distinguished career.  Pike was the son of an outspoken newspaper editor.  He arrived in Austin in 1859 and attempted to get a job as a printer.  When that failed, he joined John Henry Brown’s company of Texas Rangers at Belton. For the next two years he took part in a series of campaigns against the Comanches. When Texas seceded from the Union,  Pike left the Rangers and went north, where joined the Fourth Ohio Cavalry. Pike saw considerable action as a scout, spy, and courier in Gen. William T. Sherman’s army.  Pike was captured in 1864 and imprisoned in Charleston, South Carolina, then escaped and returned to Hillsboro, Ohio, where he wrote his memoirs of ranger and army service.  After the war, Pike obtained a commission as a second lieutenant in the First United States Cavalry and was later promoted to first lieutenant.

Pike’s memoirs were published in 1865 as The Scout and Ranger: Being the Personal Adventures of Corporal Pike, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry.