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(s) 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 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 "Terry Rangers" distinguished themselves at several battles during the 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.

Organization, loss of commanders[edit]

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

Following the secession of Texas and its joining the Confederacy, Benjamin Franklin Terry, a wealthy 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 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 Austin Wharton was then made colonel, and held the position until he was promoted to general Major General. Wharton was in turn succeeded by 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."

Now a part of the Army of Tennessee led General Braxton Bragg, the Texan's 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 his 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 now 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, Colonel Cook, Lieutenant Colonel Christian, and Major Jarmon. The regiment 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]