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Private James Gilleland | Texas Rangers, Texas Texas Rangers, Texas

Private

James Gilleland

Texas Rangers, Texas

End of Watch: Thursday, March 7, 1839

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 40

Tour: 1 week

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Incident Date: 2/25/1839

Weapon: Rifle

Offender: Not available

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A band of 200-300 Comanche warriors were raiding communities in central Texas near present day Bastrop. Twenty-five volunteers organized a ranger company and elected Jacob Burleson as their captain. Three other Burleson brothers joined the company – Jonathan, John and Aaron. Another brother was Edward Burleson who was the colonel of the frontier range forces. Another volunteer company of twenty-seven men commanded by Captain James Rogers, a brother-in-law of Burleson, joined the campaign.

The ranger companies spotted the Indians near Brushy Creek and the Indians started racing for a thicket. The rangers tried to cut them off from the thicket. When the rangers dismounted, the Indians charged. Captain Burleson saw a young ranger, aged 14; jump on his horse without untying it. Burleson ran back and untied the boy’s horse. Racing to own horse, Burleson was just mounting the saddle when he was shot in the back of the head. Burleson reeled and fell from his saddle. The Indians fell upon Burleson’s body with a vengeance thinking they had killed Colonel Edward Burleson.

Colonel Edward Burleson arrived with an additional thirty rangers. Both sides started sniping at each other. Privates Edward Blakey and John B. (Jack) Walters were shot in the head and killed outright. Private James Gilleland was shot in the neck, the ball going down through his lungs. He would survive for 10 days and die on March 7. Colonel Edward Burleson reported that probably thirty Indians were killed.

Jacob Burleson’s father was an early founder of Stephen F. Austin's colony in Texas in 1823. His parents had 12 children. He was 36 years old at the time of his death. He was survived by his pregnant wife and two children. His wife had a son two months after his death and the child was named after him.

Edward Blakey was single and was survived by his widowed mother. It is unknown what his age was at the time of his death. His father and brother had both been killed fighting for Texas independence.

John B. (Jack) Walters, 24, had come to Texas from Missouri in 1825, and had worked as a carpenter, gunsmith, and a ranger in Texas. He was single and was survived by his widowed mother.

Reverend James Gilleland, 40, was an organizer of the first Methodist Church in Stephen F. Austin’s little colony in 1834. No information on whether he was married or had any children.

The State of Texas has recognized the sacrifice of these volunteers who formed a ranger company to protect the frontier. In 1925, a red marker was placed on private property about 1.4 miles south of Taylor on Highway 95 in Williamson County to honor the rangers killed in the battle. The Texas Historical Commission erected a marker commemorating the “Battle of Brushy Creek" on State Highway 95, four miles south of Taylor and named the four men killed in the battle.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Captain Jacob Shipman Burleson
Texas Rangers, Texas
End of Watch: Monday, February 25, 1839
Cause: Gunfire

Private Edward Blakey
Texas Rangers, Texas
End of Watch: Monday, February 25, 1839
Cause: Gunfire

Private John B. Walters
Texas Rangers, Texas
End of Watch: Monday, February 25, 1839
Cause: Gunfire

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RIP Sir, a hero you were

James Kotke
Civilian / Former Officer
WSF Park Police (Wi.)
February 25, 2012

 

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