Description[Texas Rangers]. Captain Leander H. McNelly Honorable Discharge Signed "L. H. McNelly." One partially-printed page, 8.5" x 11", Victoria, February 1, 1877. Texas Ranger Captain Leander McNelly is hereby certifying that "G. L. Boyd a Private of Captain L. H. McNellys Company (Special State Troops) . . . was mustered into the State Service on the 26th day of July 1876 and is this day honorably Discharged." In addition, Boyd is owed "the sum of One hundred and Twenty dollars," though he is indebted to the state a sum of $95.42. Countersigned on the verso by Private S. J. Adams, best known for his poem "The Battle of San Bennidito," and Private G. L. Boyd. In 1874, McNelly accepted a commission to head "Special Force" unit of the Texas Rangers, known as the Washington County Volunteers, charged with patrolling the Nueces Strip. The group was criticized on both sides of the border for their aggressiveness and they often crossed into Mexico, contrary to U.S. and Mexican law, in pursuit of cattle rustlers. This discharge is for a private who served on this special unit, and is signed in the last days of McNelly's service as Captain. By 1877, the tuberculosis he had first contracted in 1860 was taking its toll and forced him into retirement. He died in September 1877. Of the leaders of the Texas Rangers, McNelly's signature is one of the scarcer. Text is faded slightly, but still wholly legible. Light overall toning.
Leander H. McNelly (1844-1877), a native of Virginia, arrived in Texas with his family sometime in the late 1850s. When the Civil War erupted, McNelly enlisted in Confederate Army under Gen. Henry H. Sibley as a member of Campbell's Company, 2nd Regiment, 5th Texas Cavalry (aka 5th Texas Mounted Rifles), rising to the rank of captain before war's end. During the war, McNelly took part in the New Mexico Campaign and saw action at Galveston and in Louisiana. After the war, he returned to Texas and joined the State Police as a captain during Reconstruction. He was wounded in 1871, but continued to serve for another three years; and thereafter was commissioned to head the Washington County Volunteers.
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