Leander McNelly is considered the best of the post-Civil War Ranger Captains. He is often the model for fictional characters, and he is a popular model for artists.
LEANDER MCNELLY, TEXAS RANGER®, by historical artist Joe Grandee. McNelly was 5'6" tall and thin, 130 lb. or so, suffering from tuberculosis most of his adult life. So he was probably not quite as imposing as the artist paints him. But, from his actions, we can imagine his opponents thought him this big and imposing. The hat appears to be a U. S. Cavalry hat with cavalry hat cords visible. The rest of the outfit looks appropriate, though we know he didn't wear a white shirt at least one time when chasing Mexican rustlers. He took one man's white shirt and tore it into strips and made each man wear a white armband so they could be told apart from the enemy.
He probably didn't wear a badge. According to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, badges weren't issued until 1887. It was felt they weren't needed until then. But individual Rangers could have had badges made.
The rifle is a Winchester '73 and is accurate. The pistol is a long-barreled, stag gripped Colt in a Mexican 2 loop holster, worn strong side. Considering the photo of Ranger Gillett, this is possible. The boots are "mule ears" and look correct.
McNelly's Raiders, an original oil painting by Clyde Heron opa. This painting hangs in the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum with the title, Leander McNelly, Captain, Texas Rangers.
This paintin seems to have been painted after the artist viewed an Indiana Jones movie. The hat looks more Indiana Jones than Texas Rangers, as does the jacket. He is shown wearing chaps and firing a pre-1873 open-topped Colt, possibly an 1872 model, or a converted 1851 Colt Navy or 1860 Colt Army. Since all contemporary records talk about .45 cal. Colts, it would have to be either the Army or the 1872 open-top. The hat on the man to his right, our left, is out of the late 20th century as no photos of 1870s Rangers show that much roll to the hatband.
But both paintings look good. If you're planning on going as an 1870's Texas Ranger to a SASS event, this outfit will probably get you as many compliments as historically correct ones. As the man said, when fact and legend conflict, print the legend. These paintings bring the legend of the 1870-1900 Texas Ranger to life as well as any existing photograph, perhaps better.
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