Terry's Texas Rangers

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8th Texas Cavalry
Flag of Terry's Texas Rangers.gif
Active August, 1861 - April 26, 1865
Country Confederate States of America
Allegiance CSA Dixie
Branch Cavalry
Nickname Terry's Texas Rangers
Engagements American Civil War
Battle of Shiloh
Battle of Perryville
Battle of Murfreesboro
Battle of Fort Pillow
Battles of Chattanooga
Battle of Chickamauga
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Colonel Benjamin Terry
General John Wharton

The 8th Texas Cavalry, (1861–1865), popularly known as Terry's Texas Rangers, was a group of Texas volunteers for the Confederate States Army assembled by Colonel Benjamin Franklin Terry in August 1861. Though lesser known than The Texas Brigade, famous for their actions during the Battle of Gettysburg, the "Terry Rangers" distinguished themselves at several battles during the Civil War. In four years Terry's Texas Rangers fought in some 275 engagements in seven states. The unit earned a reputation that ranked it among the most effective mounted regiments in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.

Organization, loss of commanders[edit]

A group of Terry's Texas Rangers, c. 1861.
Company "C"

Following the secession of Texas with the rest of the Confederacy, Benjamin Franklin Terry, a wealthy sugar planter, recruited for and organized the Rangers in Houston, Texas, in August, 1861. Initially bound for service in Virginia and the "eastern theater", the regiment instead was placed under the command of Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnston for service in the "western theater". They immediately saw action, with their first skirmish being on December 17, 1861, near Woodsonville, Kentucky, when they engaged Union forces while being supported by the 6th Arkansas Infantry. The skirmish, while minor, cost them Colonel Terry, who was killed in action. Colonel Terry was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lubbock, who received a promotion to colonel. However, Col. Lubbock died from disease before ever actually taking command. John Austin Wharton then received a promotion to colonel, and assumed command. He would hold that position until he was promoted, eventually rising to the rank of Major General. After his first promotion he would be replaced by Col. Thomas Harrison.

Major battles, shock troops[edit]

Terry's Texas Rangers Memorial at the Texas State Capitol. The inscription includes a quote by Jefferson Davis: "The Terry Rangers have done all that could be expected or required of soldiers."

By now a part of the Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg, their riding abilities and the versatile weapons they chose to use led to the cavalry regiment often being used as shock troops. Their first full scale battle was at the Battle of Shiloh, in which they performed well. They would then support the cavalry of Nathan Bedford Forrest during the Battle of Murfreesboro. At the Battle of Fort Pillow, the Texas Rangers were credited by Union survivors with refusing to participate in the massacre and with saving prisoners' lives. Between engagements they were sent behind enemy lines to harass Union forces, and break down communication lines. They would later fight during all three of the Battles of Chattanooga, the Battle of Chickamauga, the Knoxville Campaign, and the Atlanta Campaign.

Their abilities in harassing enemy forces were utilized often during the Confederate defense against Sherman's March. By July, 1864, Sherman's army had reached Atlanta. On July 30, "Terry's Texas Rangers" met a force commanded by Union Col. E. M. McCook, which they engaged and defeated. They then concentrated on destroying railways, however the Union forces had a sophisticated repair system and the damage done by the "Rangers" had little effect. Following the loss of Atlanta, the cavalry regiment was used to harass the flanks of Sherman's force, but it had become obvious to all by this time that the Confederacy did not have the means to stop his advance. Their last battle was at the Battle of Bentonville, where they made their last charge, and during which they lost three of their officers, Colonel Cook, Lt. Col. Christian, and Major Jarmon. They surrendered on April 26, 1865, with the rest of the Army of Tennessee.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bailey, Anne J., Texans in the Confederate Cavalry, McWhiney Foundation Press, 1995, ISBN 1-886661-02-2.
  • Bush, Bryan S., Terry's Texas Rangers: History of the Eighth Texas Cavalry, Turner Publishing Company, 2002, ISBN 1-56311-790-8.
  • Cutrer, Thomas W., Our Trust is in the God of Battles: The Civil War Letters of Robert Franklin Bunting, Chaplain, Terry's Texas Rangers University of Tennessee Press, 2006, ISBN 1-57233-458-4.
  • Cutrer, Thomas W., The Terry Texas Ranger Trilogy State House Press, 1996, ISBN 1-880510-45-6.
  • Murrah, Jeffrey D., None but Texians: A History of Terry's Texas Rangers Eakin Press, 2001, ISBN 1-57168-552-9.

External links[edit]