Terry's Texas Rangers

The 8th Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers, had its beginnings on a stagecoach between Austin and Brenham, Texas, in late March 1861. Benjamin F. Terry, Thomas S. Lubbock and John J. Wharton were returning home from the secession convention, to which they had been delegates. Discussing the impending war, they resolved to offer a regiment of Texas Cavalry to the Confederate government then organizing at Montgomery, Alabama.

At the Confederate capital, Thomas Lubbock found himself among many other all seeking commissions in the new Confederate States Army. Since he had no political connections he was unable to secure any official favor. He was told by the Confederate War Department that it would be unnecessary to organize troops in a state so distant, that the cost for transportation would be to great, that enough men could be enlisted nearer the actual conflict, and that the war would be of a short duration. After arguing for several weeks with no luck he returned to Texas to report his failure. When he returned he found his friends had already raised two companies and was told that others had raised companies also and were planing on assembling a regiment upon his return. These plans were frustrated by Lubbock's account of his experience at the Confederate War Department.

With the newspapers reporting the buildup of armies at Richmond and Washington with the first great battle of the war expected soon, Terry and Lubbock alone with Thomas J. Goree left for Richmond. In Richmond the three found friends and were installed as volunteer aides on the staff of Brigadier General James Longstreet. They served in this role during the First Manassas (Bull Run) where Longstreet's approving remarks in his report and the fact that the Confederate War Department saw that the war was not going to be a short war and that they could use troops from all over they were given authorization to raise a regiment for the Confederate Army.


In September 1861, in Houston each company was officially mustered into the Confederate Army. For unknown reasons Terry and Lubbock chose to delay the formal organization of the regiment until they arrived in Virginia. These men were a special breed, ranchers, framers, layers, etc. and they were independent to a fault. Before they left Texas all of thier Horses were sent home and they went by boat half way to New Orleans and walk the rest. When the regiment arrived in New Orleans they men found themselves been regarded as Texas Rangers which they could not correct or did not want to correct and they bore the name through out the war which meant that they had to live up to the name.

While in route to Richmond, Terry received a telegram from General Albert Sidney Johnston, commanding the Confederate forces in the West. Johnston asked Terry to join his army rather than have them continue to Richmond to join the Army of Northern Virginia. General Johnston had the authority from Richmond to order them to join his command but he left it up to Terry. After consulting his officers he accepted the General offer. When they reached Nashville Tennessee the regiment had their first casulty due to measles. After a ten day stay, the regiment moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky were they were formally organized into a regiment. The regiment was designated the 8th Texas cavalry, which irritated the rangers to the point were they simply called themselves "Texas Rangers" instead of using their numrical designation.

None of the Rangers, at this time were in uniform of any particular style or pattern. Most of them were in citizen's dress of one sort or another. General Johnston node that, htough better armed than most of his other regiments, the Rangers were equpped with pistols, rifles and shotguns of twenty different calibers. some carried as many as four revolvers. No ranger wanted to carry a saber but they all carried Bowie Knives. While in Bowling Green the Regiment was mounted with some of the best horses in Kentucky, where the horses came from is still a mystery since all mounted troops are suppost to supply their own horses.

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.

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. On July 13, 1862, the Rangers captured 1200 Union Infantry.

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. Of the original regiment only 90 were left.

Lt. Terry Raemhild, Commanding