Historic rifle to be displayed Saturday

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Texas Rangers Heritage Center to feature gun used by Ben Milam in Siege of Béxar

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Homer (Trey) Garrison III felt honored when the Texas Rangers Heritage Center asked to display this historic family heirloom.

An 1820s-1830s .45 caliber fine-shooting flintlock rifle used by Ben Milam, Garrison’s great-grandfather, during the Siege of Béxar, has been passed down through the family for generations. Trey got it from his father, Col. Homer Garrison Jr., the former director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“We had it above our fireplace for years, but it has never been on (public) display,” Garrison said.

He feels like having it on display will not only be an honor to his family, but it would also bring more attention to the Texas Rangers and the history of the Lone Star State.

“I want people to know the history and the importance of the Texas Rangers and where they came from,” Garrison said. “They’re a special piece of our history.”

On Dec. 5, 1835, Milam, a colonist and elder statesman of Mexican Texas, was the man who led more than 300 men into battle to defeat Mexican forces, led by General Martin Perfecto de Cos, who had taken control of San Antonio that fall.

“The Texan forces, under command of Stephen F. Austin, at first were outside the city and trying to decide what was the appropriate action,” said Dr. Jody Edward Ginn, executive director of the Texas Rangers Heritage Center. “It was Ben Milam who finally broke the impasse of those who wanted to go and those who didn’t.”

Milam was famously quoted for asking, “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?”

The attack ended in victory for the Texas volunteers on Dec. 9, 1835, with General Cos surrendering. Milam, however, was unable to see the victory, as he was shot in the head and killed during the battle.

Garrison said Milam was secretly buried with his gun during the battle, and when it ended, he was relocated, and his gun was brought back home to his family. Since then, it has been passed down for generations.

The rare flintlock rifle will be on local display for one day at the Texas Rangers Heritage Center, 1618 E. Main St, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Heritage Center.

“This is a unique piece of history loaned to us because there’s not many of those types of artifacts that survived,” said Joe Davis, President of the Former Texas Rangers Foundation.

Then, it will go to the Texas Ranger Museum at the Historic Buckhorn Saloon, 318 E. Houston St., in San Antonio, just in time for the anniversary of The Battle of the Alamo.

The gun will stay there until Phase II of the Texas Rangers Heritage Center Museum opens in August of 2023, just in time for the 200th traditional anniversary of the Texas Rangers.