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Ben H. English

BEN H English.TEXAS ALPINE

BOOK RELEASE:

Good morning,

A long, somewhat emotionally arduous journey was completed over this past weekend. My fifth book, ‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol,’ was released in both electronic as well as paperback versions.

I want to thank everyone who encouraged as well as supported me in this effort. My advance team of readers, families and friends of fallen officers, fellow officers who befriended me during my career, those others who served as both role models and mentors, citizens who were always there for my family when I was engaged elsewhere, and my readers who have served as the foundation for whatever success I may enjoy in the literary world.

To each and everyone involved, mere words can never convey my feelings of gratitude and humbleness for what you have so graciously provided.

At present both the book as well as Kindle version are only available on Amazon, where Black And White quickly snagged and maintains a ‘Number One New Release’ designation. Once the printing presses catch up, orders will be filled for chain retail houses, independent book stores, gift shops and the like.

Matter of fact, I am currently waiting delivery on my own shipment for my scheduled book tours.

Which reminds me, those of you who wish me to come to your area and put on a presentation? I ask you to make contact with your local library, museum or civic organization and have them invite me. In return, I will do my very best to be there.

Also please free to share this with others and if you are so inclined, leave a review or a rating with whomever you purchase your copy from.

To me, the best advertising and worthwhile opinion are those from a satisfied customer.

Or in this case, satisfied reader!

God bless to all,

Ben

FUTURE BOOK SIGNINGS AND TALKS:

--BOERNE Saturday, July 9th Patrick Heath Public Library, 11 am-3 pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th The Core House Ministries Book Signing, 11 am-2 pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th Faith and Freedom Celebration Speaker Medina Community Library 4 pm
--ABILENE Thursday, August 18th Frontier Texas! 3-5 pm
--ALPINE Saturday-Sunday, September 3rd-4th, Big Bend Gun & Knife Show, Pete P. Gallego Center
--SAN ANGELO Thursday, September 15th Stephens Central Library, 6-8 pm
Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
HS Teacher: 2008-2010
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

Creative Texts Publishers
The Stable Performance Cars
Far Flung Outdoor Center
Haley Memorial Library and History Center
Billy the Kid Museum
Midland Centennial Library
Fort Stockton Public Library
Crockett County Public Library
Sutton County Library
Kimble County Chamber of Commerce
El Progreso Memorial Library
Lubbock Public Library
Front Street Books
Javelinas and Hollyhocks
Bandera General Store
Dan Edwards
Dave Durant
Chris Ryan
Mendell Morgan
Tumbleweed Smith
Kimble County Library
Julie Kawalec-Pearson
Sue Land
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Ben H. English

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

@peacewriter51
SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND: Ben H English ~ Texas 

I suppose due to more than one influence, perhaps even being in my genes, is to always be on the lookout for reliable water sources. Wandering along in my usual zig-zag, meandering sort of a desert waltz, my cadence and timing is determined by the discovery of the liquid gold this lonesome land hides so well.

And that is always followed by a very personal feeling of joy.

On this day I was working both banks of the upper reaches of Tornillo Creek, which ultimately runs beyond the park boundary and into private land northeast of the Paint Gap Hills. Back and forth I prowled, sometimes a half mile to either side and other times along the creek bed itself, cutting for a sign.

Some people have asked me what I mean by saying ‘cutting for sign.’ Much like in other long-time ranching and pioneer families of Texas, this means searching for tell-tale indicators that give hints as to what you might be looking for; be it livestock, wild game, predators, hiding places or perhaps even another man.

In this country, all will sooner or later lead you to that same liquid gold, as well as other places where both man or animal have dwelled since time immemorial.

Doing so on this one journey alone allowed me to find seeps, tinajas, waterholes, rotting remnants of fence lines, near gone corrals and still rutted wagon roads, as well as shelters, predator lairs and Indian campsites. All interconnected by those same tell-tale indicators, as both man and beast are creatures of much the same habits and needs.

Yet it was late in the evening, as I was easing along back to my vehicle, that several of these signs all came together and I knew there was a good deal of reliable water nearby.

By that hour the physical strain of the day was upon me, beads of sweat running down a dirty face, shoulders rubbed raw and aching from the pack, legs bandy with little of their spring left from the morning, and two feet that would need fresh socks soon or they would surely blister.

But the rotting corral, the gathering tracks of wildlife, the peculiar outside bend in the creek bed itself and the solitary cottonwood made me forget my heretofore discomfort altogether. Changing my course to a now near direct line, I followed the growing game trail in and out of the badly eroded dirt creek banks.

Dropping off into the creek one last time, I came to what you see in the photo.
And the liquid gold of the desert, mixed with the golden rays of the setting sun, revealed its singular, life-sustaining presence.

Followed by that very personal, singular feeling of inexplicable joy.

God bless to all,
Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Teacher: 2008-2010
Author: 2016-Present

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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Ben H. English

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

This past week has been a hard one in the state of Texas, and much harder on some than others. The utterly reprehensible, even evil, acts of a single cankerous sore upon humanity have sown heartbreak and discord which will ripple out for generations to come.

I was born in Uvalde, and by that time my mother’s people had already been there several decades. They were peace officers, firemen, farmers, bee keepers, painters, linemen and military veterans and each had a somewhat mild mannered, genteel quality that laid lightly over an underlying good natured wit and wisdom. Visiting them was always a blessing, and my boyhood was made full with their memories.

Then last Tuesday morning happened.

Soon enough, amid the grief and sense of irreplaceable loss the all-too-predictable vicious rancor and finger pointing began, aided and abetted by a sensationalist driven media, base political intrigues and crass, even vulgar public behavior by those who should know better.

Each were drivers of all sorts of rumors, ugly innuendos, cries of cowardice, and demand for easy, instant answers and solutions from a complicated, tedious criminal investigation, which in turn only added fuel to the already hellish blaze.

In the original Star Trek TV series, there is a tell-tale episode where an alien entity manipulates the natural emotions of the crew of the Enterprise, turning them into raging animals with no sense of reasoned thought or common decency. They become little more than bloodthirsty beasts, brimming with uncontrollable hates.

Meanwhile, the alien entity became only stronger and more formidable, as hate is what it fed upon and which served as its only reason to exist. When put into a Biblical context, the true enemy should become immediately apparent.

Those same thoughts came to me a few days later, as I worked my way through the upper reaches of the Tornillo Basin. Alone in this lonesome land where I find balance and sustenance, my mind wandered as much as my body as both drifted along farther away from anywhere or anyone else.

While so far adrift as to be nearly at the park boundary, I spied a mostly hidden spot with more than a few stories to tell. Turning up the wide, sandy creek bed, I began my usual zig zag pattern to better see what was around me.

Soon enough I came to the point of three dry pour offs, some twenty to thirty feet high and arranged in a semi-circular pattern. It was a wild, somewhat verdant place for the general location, made more so by water being usually present. The signs of javelina, coyote, deer, elk and of the big cat were in abundance, as well as the watchful shadows of the carrion birds soaring above.

It was the last pour off explored where the salve for my sagging spirit was found. Amid the twisted, gnarled trunks and branches of mesquite I spied the one in the photograph, making its last stand on the very rim.

Undaunted by lack of moisture, the blazing sun, its perilous position or time itself, this supremely hardy symbol of West Texas continued to take on all comers. Meanwhile below and coming through solid rock, a tap root reached for something to sustain it from below.

One word alone came to me while viewing this long-standing struggle, and I christened this never ceasing gladiator ‘Faith.’

For this is perseverance.

This is survival.

This is life.

And this is how we must fight our one common enemy.

God bless to all,

Ben

FUTURE BOOK SIGNINGS AND TALKS:
(NOTE: THE EVENT IN MIDLAND HAS BEEN POSTPONED BUT WILL BE RESCHEDULED)
--HICO Friday-Saturday, June 10th-11th Billy the Kid Museum Old West Festival
--BOERNE Saturday, July 9th Patrick Heath Public Library, 11 am-3 pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th The Core House Ministries Book Signing, 11 am-2 pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th Faith and Freedom Celebration Speaker Medina Community Library 4 pm
--ABILENE Thursday, August 18th Frontier Texas! 3-5 pm
--ALPINE Saturday-Sunday, September 3rd-4th, Big Bend Gun & Knife Show, Pete P. Gallego Center
--SAN ANGELO Thursday, September 15th Stephens Central Library, 6-8 pm
Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol' (scheduled release June 2022)

‘Graying but still game’

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com
BEN H ENGLISH TEXAS AMERICA
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Ben H. English

BEN H. ENGLISH ~ TEXAS ~ ALPINE

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

It was coming on to evening on a long summer’s day. I had started out early that morning from the Croton Spring area; swinging a wide, zig-zagging sort of loop over to Rough Spring, then another unnamed one at the foot of Pulliam Bluff, and now was skirting the slopes of the northwestern slopes of the Chisos.

What I had seen on this one day alone brought home the reason for my life-long love affair with this magnificently lonesome land, as well as the same concerning generations of family and kin from a hundred and twenty plus years before.

Wildlife was in abundance, feeding on the ripened red fruit of the prickly pear. In the gorge leading to Rough Spring, the sign of black bear was prolific. Scat and tracks in mud and dirt, along with the tell-tale snapped off trunks of persimmon saplings, so the bruin could obtain the tasty offerings above. Here and there was the buzzing of bees, going about their business to and from small pockets of water.

The leavings of man were here too, but mainly stretching only from the pre-park era back to the time of the Ancients. Man is supposedly the highest order of animal, and a born predator to boot. His kind is attracted to such environments as easily as any other, plus with man there is that innate desire to explore, to build and to have a place to call home.

It was all here for me to see and experience, as plain and easily observable as the big stand of giant century plants halfway across, their outsized stalks of twenty feet and more all toppled over in the same direction from a past big blow.

And now the sun was beginning to set. There is something special about the coming of evening in this country; the settling of the breeze, the coolness on the face, the rays of the sun tinting the land with a golden hue, and the quietude only broken by the call of the dove and the scraping of boot upon rock as you move along.

Then you stop for a breather on top of some higher ground and feast your eyes on what is before you, knowing that if God Almighty Himself struck you down at this very moment, you would die in complete content.

Because heaven would not be that far to go.

God bless to all,

Ben

FUTURE BOOK SIGNINGS AND TALKS:

(NOTE: THE EVENT IN MIDLAND HAS BEEN POSTPONED BUT WILL BE RESCHEDULED)

–HICO Friday-Saturday, June 10th-11th Billy the Kid Museum Old West Festival
–BOERNE Saturday, July 9th Patrick Heath Public Library, 11am-3pm
–MEDINA Monday, July 11th The Core House Ministries Book Signing, 11am-2pm
–MEDINA Monday, July 11th Faith and Freedom Celebration Speaker Medina Community Library 4pm
–ALPINE Saturday-Sunday, September 3rd-4th, Big Bend Gun & Knife Show, Pete P. Gallego Center
–SAN ANGELO Thursday, September 15th Stephens Central Library, 6-8pm

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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Ben H. English

BEN H English ~

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER BIG BEND:

“In this timeless desert I have wandered far and wide, miles upon miles on foot across some of the most inaccessible, inhospitable land found in the lower Big Bend in search of something special. Something to admire, something to ponder upon, something that brings back a memory of another time, an event, or a person now long since passed.

Those memories can be joyful, poignant, wistful, sad, even painful. But I have learned to embrace that pain, for without our pains from the past we would not be who we are today. And with much of that pain, there was usually an important lesson in life learned the hard way.

Few places bring back so many of those memories than Terlingua Creek. Our old ranch headquarters sat on high ground with it winding below us, not more than a couple of hundred feet from the house. The times I have crossed it on foot, by horseback, or by vehicle easily numbers into the thousands. Yet I cannot think of a single time when something within me did not stir upon doing so. That stirring brings back those same memories and emotions, time and again.

There are times, usually late in the evening, where everything is so still and quiet that you can feel the desert itself breathing. This wild, winding, ever-changing, and surprising old run, some seventy miles or so in length, serves as one of this desert’s main arteries to feed its singular way of living.

Without the Terlingua, the Tornillo, the Fresno and the Rio Grande collecting them all, this dessert would surely die.

And so would my memories…” --Ben H. English ‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’

This past week has finally brought the moisture this dry, parched desert incessantly thirsts for, and that is a very good thing. Much of this country had had no real measurable rainfall since last August, and everything from bird to bee to plant to animal, as well as man himself, was suffering because of it.

Yet this photograph from years back was a reminder that this is the way of the desert. A harsh, unforgiving land where survival can be a day to day struggle, or even an hourly one. The name given by the early Spanish explorers, ‘El Desplobado,’ has likely been repeated in other tongues now long dead for as long as man has been here.

Embrace such treasured visions of verdancy, my friends. For I have seen this part of Terlingua Creek as hot and dry as the unwelcoming gates of hades itself.

And such a time will come again, and sooner than you might think.

God bless to all,

Ben

FUTURE BOOK SIGNINGS AND TALKS:

--HICO Friday-Saturday, June 10th-11th Billy the Kid Museum Old West Festival
--MIDLAND Saturday, June 18th Haley Memorial Library and History Center, 11am-3pm
--BOERNE Saturday, July 9th Patrick Heath Public Library, 11am-3pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th The Core House Ministries Book Signing, 11am-2pm
--MEDINA Monday, July 11th Faith and Freedom Celebration Speaker Medina Community Library, 4pm
--ALPINE Saturday-Sunday, September 3rd-4th, Big Bend Gun & Knife Show, Pete P. Gallego Center
--SAN ANGELO Thursday, September 15th Stephens Central Library 6-8pm
Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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Ben H. English

Ben. H. English

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

“A heap of broken images, where the sun bears,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.
Only there is a shadow under this red rock.”
–T.S. Eliot

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO:

Much as a banished rock figurine from his like brethren in faraway Easter Island, a lone sentinel looks out across the Chihuahuan Desert, staring toward the Christmas Mountain Range in the north. Perched above Alamo Creek in Big Bend National Park, he has likely served as a landmark for as long as man has journeyed this way.

Nearby are the slowly vanishing remnants of an old road that once wound past, snaking its way up a feeder gorge that provides the easiest access into the adjoining maze of arroyos and canyons running north and west of Tule Mountain.

The worn and eroded track ends at a man made pond some distance away, where it turned into a trail that ran through the pass between Tule Mountain and the western edge of Burro Mesa. Ultimately, it led all the way to Tule Spring and the collapsing ruins situated there.

Over the decades, this path has for the most part near disappeared.

But the natural terrain features and ease of passage the route followed remain, giving the occasional sojourner several options to veer off into the vastness to either side and beyond.

Lying in this general area are otherworldly formations of sheets of rocks, clefts and boulders of every color and description. There are also tinajas, springs and shelters used by the Ancients who now occupy unknown graves, their stories also unknown due to dead languages that no human ear has heard for a thousand years.

Few go here. When the uninformed eye sweeps over this terrain, the only instinct is to move on to greener expanses. It is too hot, too windy, too dry, too remote and too inhospitable in every manner, save for lizards, snakes, the muley deer an occasional black bear and the big cat.

But the banished sentinel knows better, and that is why he was emplaced here eons ago. His is the spot that marks the outermost boundaries of the hidden grandeur to be found in such a land, and he guards the secrets contained within to the best of his etched in stone ability.

Stoicism is his main forte, and duty his only cause for existence.

God bless to all,

Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

The Stable Performance Cars
Far Flung Outdoor Center
Medina Community Library
Groves Branch Library
Front Street Books
Javelinas and Hollyhocks
Creative Texts Publishers
Museum of the Big Bend
Billy the Kid Museum
Dan Edwards
Dave Durant
Chris Ryan
Vicki Shroyer
Bridgit Bailey-Giedeman
Sue Land
Julie Brunson Childs

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Ben H. English

Ben H. English Texas🤠

“God never made an ugly landscape. All that sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.”
–John Muir

Some months ago I was approached by Bob Krumenaker, Superintendent for Big Bend National Park, who was seeking support for two things: a 3500 acre addition that sits along Terlingua Creek and the inclusion of the park into the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The extra acreage was simple enough for me, my family had ranched some of that area many years ago. I learned it fairly well as a boy, working cattle through there horseback and knew some of the history, as well as sites containing ruins, graves and other items of archaeological interest.

A few of those sites likely predate Terlingua Abaja, which is often referred to erroneously as the first settlement along Terlingua Creek. To be more precise, it was the first settlement along the creek to survive. Up to a point in time, the Comanche, the Kiowa, and the Apache saw to that.

However the wilderness designation was new to me , so I had to do some research before committing myself. What it basically means is what has been touched by man’s hand stays there, but nothing else will be allowed for perpetuity. No more development of any sort, period.

Now some might say this is redundant, as the land is already in the park system. I tend to disagree, as plans for some of the greatest damage to this country were proposed after Big Bend National Park was created.

Early on ideas were bandied about such as building a monorail to the South Rim or a paved highway to the top of Anguila Mesa. In fact, I have seen period maps with that highway actually having an official designation. Thankfully, none of this ever came to being.

Yet there were other detrimental programs actually enacted and enforced, as in the so-called ‘back to nature’ program.

The results were disastrous. Whether by bulldozer blade or high explosives, many structures erected by pioneer families and those who came before, were turned to rubble or blown to oblivion. Space does not permit the listing of dozens of locales where this occurred, but I can provide ample evidence to these tragic miscalculations.

Bear in mind this is not a damnation of the National Park Service, for without them everything inside the Chisos would now look like Lajitas and everything outside would look like Terlingua Ranch. Mistakes were made with the best of intentions, and everyone realizes where that road too often leads.

I mentioned Lajitas and Terlingua Ranch. Both were nothing but mostly ruins and empty spaces when I was young. Never would I have ever believed that such a change could occur in my lifetime.

And yet it did and there is no turning back now. This wilderness designation will keep it from ever happening inside the proposed seventy percent of land residing within park boundaries.

After some serious thought and looking at the question from every possible angle, I threw my full support behind the idea. Since then, I have spoken with congressmen, done interviews, appeared before groups, and discussed the proposal with an assortment of local people. No one has been dead set against once made aware of what this means and does not mean.

The biggest controversies comes from the federal government being involved, and rightfully so. But there are no disadvantages here to anyone, not the local businessman, the private land owner, the teeming masses from urbania or my fellow West Texans.

For once, this just might be a win-win proposition for everyone involved. To learn more about the program, you can follow the links below.

We all need room to roam, folks, and a place where we can take our descendants to show them what it really means to be a Texan, as well as an American.

This is where it all began, with land to roam in every direction.

And when it’s gone, it’s gone…

God bless to all and please feel free to share,

Ben H. English

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/podcast
https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2022/03/seeking-wilderness-big-bend-national-park

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

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Ben H. English

Ben H. English Texas America

“A ruin should always be protected but never repaired – thus may we witness full the lingering legacies of the past.”
–Walter Scott

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO:

North of the long-abandoned De La O headquarters and not too far away from what is presently called River Road, is a ruined dam near the mouth of one of several canyons feeding into the area. As in so many other spots of this desert, the structure was built over where other cultures once existed. Mortars and metates abound along both walls of the chasm.

How long it has been here is open to conjecture, the style and materials appear to date sometime around the early 1930s. By eye I estimate the dam at about seventy feet in length and at least twenty feet high, and large enough to make photographing the structure difficult due to the size and location.

Who built it also remains a question in my mind. My two likeliest guesses would be either Wayne Cartledge or Homer Wilson, or perhaps it was an old CCC project. The site is closer to the Cartledge holdings but that is only a matter of distance, which often had little to do with who actually had what. On occasion ranchers in this country would swap acreage on little more than a handshake, as natural terrain features served as better boundaries than any man-made fence line.

Homer Wilson had been a military officer in World War One and was an engineer by training and experience, and the quality of the remaining design and materials utilized makes me think of him. Plus the size itself, this structure is one of the largest of its type that I know of in the lower Big Bend.

The size is probably what led to its ultimate downfall. Though some might opine that it fell victim to high explosives after the National Park Service took over, I know of no other instance involving the demolition of a dam inside this park. Not to say they did not blow up many other things, but if true this would be a first to my knowledge.

More likely is the sheer force of water converging during a flash flood through this lower bottleneck for the chasm. Though it appears to have been well anchored on both sides into solid rock, evidently it was overcome by Mother Nature herself during one of her thunderhead-crowned fits in the form of a massive deluge.

And as far too common in my life-long explorations of this enigma of a land, I am left with too many questions, an overabundance of speculation and very few answers.

Yet my personal journey continues in search of the mostly unanswerable.

God bless to all,
Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas

USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008
Author 2016-Present

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Ben H. English

Ben.H. English Texas America

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

“Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred…”
--Tennyson

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO:

The Big Bend country is rife and then overflowing with myths, legends, and mysteries, the kind that shape the land with the spoken word as they are passed down through the generations.

Lost gold and silver mines, ghosts, haunts, strange lights in the sky, sagging old ruins, nameless graves, steers branded ‘murder,’ bodies by the hundreds found in gruesome repose. All combine to tell of a fearsome, unforgiving land.

Most are likely a mere figment of the imagination, few have little brassiere is one that stands alone, in both fact and documentation, and yet remains a continuing puzzle for all.

It is best known as the Mays Massacre.

At the outbreak of war, Confederate troops occupied military sites throughout West Texas. Their missions were multifold, and included keeping the hostile Comanche, Kiowa and Apache placated.

These bastions included recently completed Fort Davis, which was a key outpost in many respects.

In early August of 1861, a Mescalero Apache band under Chief Espejo and Nicolas raided the fort’s beef herd, driving them south. Lieutenant Ruben Mays and fourteen of his men, along with a Mexican guide by the name of Juan Fernandez, took up pursuit.

All of the cavalrymen were from Lavaca County, full of fight and vigor but woefully inexperienced in the art of such.

More so, none knew the country ahead and none had ever dealt with the wily Mescalero.

The all too obvious trail led down Musquiz Canyon, past Cathedral Mountain, through Persimmon Gap, and into the lower Big Bend. Note my choice of words in “all too obvious.”

Ten days following their departure, the Mexican guide Fernandez returned alone with chilling news. The rest of the detail was dead, wiped out by a superior force of Apaches in textbook fashion ambush.

A relief force was sent from the badly undermanned outpost, who found the site and buried what was left of their compatriots. Official dispatches stated that Mays and his men did not go down easy, they fought with tenacity and bravery against the foe for hours.

But the exact location of the fight remains unknown to this day.

Though cloudy in all respects, the one possible site specifically named was the valley below Grapevine Spring. If this is true, then that doomed force from 160 years ago passed right through the lens of my camera at that point.

For this is the creek that leads into that valley and the only way in when mounted.

Ride hard, Sons of Texas. Your destiny awaits just a mile more.

A destiny now enshrouded by time, the elements, and this secretive desert.

God bless to all,
Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

‘Graying but still game’

Categories
Ben H. English

Ben H. English Texas

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

“Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred…”
–Tennyson

THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO:

The Big Bend country is rife and then overflowing with myths, legends, and mysteries, the kind that shape the land with the spoken word as they are passed down through the generations.

Lost gold and silver mines, ghosts, haunts, strange lights in the sky, sagging old ruins, nameless graves, steers branded ‘murder,’ bodies by the hundreds found in gruesome repose. All combine to tell of a fearsome, unforgiving land.

Most are likely a mere figment of the imagination, few have little basis. But there is one that stands alone, in both fact and documentation, and yet remains a continuing puzzle for all.

It is best known as the Mays Massacre.

At the outbreak of war, Confederate troops occupied military sites throughout West Texas. Their missions were multifold, and included keeping the hostile Comanche, Kiowa and Apache placated.

These bastions included recently completed Fort Davis, which was a key outpost in many respects.

In early August of 1861, a Mescalero Apache band under Chief Espejo and Nicolas raided the fort’s beef herd, driving them south. Lieutenant Ruben Mays and fourteen of his men, along with a Mexican guide by the name of Juan Fernandez, took up pursuit. All of the cavalrymen were from Lavaca County, full of fight and vigor but woefully inexperienced in the art of such.

More so, none knew the country ahead and none had ever dealt with the wily Mescalero.

The all too obvious trail led down Musquiz Canyon, past Cathedral Mountain, through Persimmon Gap, and into the lower Big Bend. Note my choice of words in “all too obvious.”

A relief force was sent from the badly undermanned outpost, who found the site and buried what was left of their compatriots. Official dispatches stated that Mays and his men did not go down easy, they fought with tenacity and bravery against the foe for hours.

But the exact location of the fight remains unknown to this day.

Though cloudy in all respects, the one possible site specifically named was the valley below Grapevine Spring. If this is true, then that doomed force from 160 years ago passed right through the lens of my camera at that point.

For this is the creek that leads into that valley and the only way in when mounted.

Ride hard, Sons of Texas. Your destiny awaits just a mile more.

A destiny now enshrouded by time, the elements and this secretive desert.

God bless to all,

Ben

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Facebook: Ben H. English
Webpage: benhenglish.com

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