Harry Love was the head of California's first law enforcement agency, the California State Rangers. Volunteering in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War with a regiment of Alabama volunteers, he quickly made a name for himself as a courier working the border along the Rio Grande River. With the Gold Rush...
Harry Love was the head of California's first law enforcement agency, the California State Rangers. Volunteering in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War with a regiment of Alabama volunteers, he quickly made a name for himself as a courier working the border along the Rio Grande River. With the Gold Rush in 1849, Love came to California to seek his fortune and ended up working as a bounty hunter and outlaw fighter. When Governor John Bigler created the California State Rangers on May 11, 1853, Love was named as the captain and commander. Their mission was to track down and capture a murderous gang of outlaws and their leader, the infamous bandit, Joaquin Murrieta. In July 1853, they accomplished their mission, and in August, Governor Bigler paid Captain Love the $1,000.00 reward money and then disbanded the Rangers. Some people in California were less than happy with Love’s exploits, claiming that he had dispersed a group of harmless Mexicans and pointed out that Murrieta’s body was never produced. Biographies and films have been made of Love’s colorful life.
Autograph Letter Signed as President, Washington, to his Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. “Will you send me the recommendations on file for Capt. Love of California?” On the verso appears Pierce’s address of the letter to his Secretary of War. This is a scarce letter from a sitting president to a member of his cabinet. From the fact that Pierce is asking the War Department for Love’s files, we can infer that these would have been military files from the Mexican War. But why Pierce would want Love’s files is a speculation. Perhaps a complaint from some quarter about Love’s conduct raised questions best answered in his military records. In any event, in 1868 Love died from wounds received in a gun fight with the man his estranged wife had hired to keep him away.
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