Joaquin Miller was a college educated literary Bohemian Cowboy. Here is the real deal.
BENTON, NATHANIEL (1811–1872). Nathaniel Benton, Texas Ranger, Confederate cavalry officer, county judge, and teacher, was born in 1811 in Tennessee, son of Nathaniel and Dorothy M. (Branch) Benton. He attended two years of training at West Point, but after his father’s death, he joined his mother and her family en route to Texas in October 1835. They settled near Waco on the Brazos River. During the Texas Revolution, Benton and his brother Alfred fought in Sam Houston‘s army. Benton’s career with Houston’s army was cut short when he accidentally shot himself in the foot and almost died. His brother Alfred went on to fight at San Jacinto.
In 1837 Benton traveled back to Tennessee to marry Harriet McCulloch, the sister of Texas revolutionary Ben McCulloch. They settled in Dyersburg, Tennessee. They had one son, Benjamin Eustace. His wife died in 1845, and he and his son moved to Guadalupe County, Texas. In 1849 he moved to California seeking fortune in gold but was disappointed by that state’s prospects and returned to Texas. In 1855, while Benton and his son were Texas Rangers under the command of Capt. James Hughes Callahan, they engaged in a battle with Lipan Apaches and Kickapoos. Benjamin was severely wounded in the eye but later recovered.
Sometime in the 1850s Benton married for a second time to Jane Harris, a native of Tennessee, and they lived near Seguin in Guadalupe County. She died in 1861.
Once the Civil War erupted, Benton raised a company of Texas mounted riflemen. Two days later, this company was mustered into service in the Confederate Army as Company B of the Thirty-Sixth Texas Cavalry. Shortly after being mustered, Benton was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the regiment on June 1, 1862. His company was assigned to the Trans-Mississippi Department. He was severely wounded at the April 12–13, 1864, battle of Blair’s Landing and as a result lost his right arm. Other sources claim that his wound was a result of the siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana, during the summer of 1863. Despite the discrepancy, Benton’s military career ended when he surrendered along with his unit in June 1865. He was subsequently paroled on August 13, 1865. He returned to Seguin where he was elected county judge and taught school. He was a Methodist and a Democrat. He died April 13, 1872, at the home of his brother-in-law General Henry McCulloch in Seguin and is buried in Vaughan Cemetery, Seguin.