Terry's Texas Rangers

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8th Texas Cavalry
ActiveAugust, 1861 - April 26, 1865
Country Confederate States of America
Allegiance Confederate States of America,  Texas
Branch Confederate States Army
TypeLight cavalry
RoleCavalry tactics
Maneuver warfare
Shock tactics
Sizeregiment (1,787 men)
Nickname(s)Terry's Texas Rangers
EngagementsAmerican Civil War
Battle of Shiloh
First Battle of Murfreesboro
Battle of Perryville
Second Battle of Murfreesboro
Battle of Fort Pillow
Battles of Chattanooga
Battle of Chickamauga
Col. Benjamin Terry
Gen. John Wharton
Gen. Thomas Harrison

The 8th Texas Cavalry Regiment (1861–1865), popularly known as Terry's Texas Rangers, was a light cavalry regiment 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 8th Texas Cavalry distinguished itself at several battles during the American Civil War. In four years of service, Terry's Texas Rangers fought in about 275 engagements in seven states. The regiment earned a reputation that ranked it among the most effective mounted regiments in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.[1]

Organization, loss of commanders[edit]

A group of Terry's Texas Rangers, Company "C", from left to right, Walter S. Wood, Thomas S. Burney, Anthony D. Schumaker, William A. Lynch, and Peter L. Kendall, circa 1863

Following the secession of Texas and its joining the Confederacy, Benjamin Franklin Terry, a wealthy slave holder and sugar planter, recruited and organized the regiment in August 1861 in Houston, Texas. Initially intended to serve in Virginia, the regiment instead was placed under the command of Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnston for service in west of the Mississippi. They soon saw combat, their first skirmish taking place on December 17, 1861, near Woodsonville, Kentucky, when they engaged the Union and were supported by the 6th Arkansas Infantry. The skirmish cost them Colonel Terry, who was killed in action. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lubbock next became colonel, but died of disease before taking command. John A. Wharton was then made colonel, and held the position until he was promoted to brigadier general. Wharton was in turn succeeded by Thomas Harrison.[2]

Major battles and shock troops[edit]

Terry's Texas Rangers Monument 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."

Now a part of the Army of Tennessee led by General Braxton Bragg, the Texans' riding and shooting skills often caused them to be used as shock troops. Their first major action was at the Battle of Shiloh, where they distinguished themselves. They also supported Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry during the Battle of Murfreesboro. After that, they were sent behind enemy lines to harass the enemy and break their lines of communication. They were engaged in all three of the Battles of Chattanooga, the Battle of Chickamauga, the Knoxville Campaign, and the Atlanta Campaign.

The Rangers' ability in harassing the enemy was often called upon against William Tecumseh Sherman. By July 1864, Sherman's army had reached Atlanta. On July 30, Terry's Texas Rangers met the troops of Union Col. E. M. McCook, and defeated them. They then undertook to destroy the railway lines, though with little lasting effect. Following the loss of Atlanta, the regiment harassed the flanks of Sherman's force as it marched through Georgia, although by then the Confederacy lacked the strength to stop him. Their last engagement was at the Battle of Bentonville, where they made their final charge, losing three of their officers: Gustave Cook, the regimental colonel since Harrison had been promoted, Lieutenant Colonel Christian, and Major Jarmon. Declining to surrender with the rest of the Army of Tennessee on April 26, 1865, the Rangers made their way south in an effort to link up with other Confederates that had yet to surrender. Ultimately, they made their way back to Texas in small groups without surrendering.[3] On May 1, 1865, the regiment led a raid on a Confederate commissary and quartermaster in Washington, Georgia.[4]

List of documented soldiers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Giles, Leonidas B. Terry's Texas Rangers. Austin, Tex., Von Boeckman-Jones Co., Printers, 1911.
  2. ^ Karen Kay Esberger. Spotlight on History: Terry’s Texas Rangers, The Daily Light, March 21, 2014
  3. ^ Terry's Texas Rangers at Handbook of Texas Online
  4. ^ Davis, William C. An Honorable Defeat. Harcourt, 2001 ISBN 0-15-100564-8
  5. ^ William Andrew Fletcher
  6. ^ Rebel Private, Front and Rear
  7. ^ Silas Henry Vanschoubroek

Further reading[edit]

  • Bailey, Anne J. Texans in the Confederate Cavalry. McWhiney Foundation Press, 1995. ISBN 1-886661-02-2.
  • Blackburn, James K. P., Reminiscences of the Terry Rangers, Littlefield Fund for Southern History, University of Texas, 1919.ISBN 1-231148-26-8
  • 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
  • Fletcher, William Andrew, Rebel Private, Front and Rear. ISBN 978-0-292-74089-1

External links[edit]