PIKE, JAMES (?–1867). James Pike, Texas Ranger and United States soldier, was the son of an outspoken newspaper editor. As a youth he served as a printer's assistant in Ohio and Missouri before joining a party of horse drovers bound for Texas. He arrived in Austin in 1859 and attempted unsuccessfully to secure work as a printer, then joined John Henry Brown's company of Texas Rangersqv at Belton on July 1. For the next two years he took part in a series of campaigns against the Comanches, including John M. Smith's incursion into the Indian Territory and to the headwaters of the Red River in 1860. When Texas seceded from the Union, Corporal Pike left the rangers and went north, where he passed himself off as the nephew of Albert Pike. He joined the Fourth Ohio Cavalry on November 20, 1861, and saw considerable action as a scout, spy, and courier in Gen. William T. Sherman's army. Sherman, who took an avuncular interest in Pike, praised his "skill, courage and zeal" but warned the scout to "cool down." Pike failed to do so. He 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.
In the reorganization of the army after the end of the Civil War, Pike was commissioned a second lieutenant in the First United States Cavalry and promoted to first lieutenant on September 27, 1867. He saw at least some duty in California. Although it is not verified in Robert Heitman's definitive list of officers killed and wounded in action, the popular account of Pike's death on October 14, 1867, is as colorful and as revealing of his character as any of his life. 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. Pike's reminiscences were published in 1865 as The Scout and Ranger: Being the Personal Adventures of Corporal Pike, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry. This account is highly readable and thought to be generally factual, although many of Pike's claims are demonstrably false. J. Frank Dobie considered this book "a bully story to be ranked along with the personal narratives of those other two vivid ranger chroniclers, James B. Gillett and N. A. Jennings," and John H. Jenkins IIIqv lists it among his basic Texas books.
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas W. Cutrer, "Pike, James," accessed June 27, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpi40.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.