Posts Tagged ‘Forrest’

Terry’s Texas Rangers

February 4, 2010

Flag image,  and much more,  can be found here: Terry’s Texas Rangers


A friend has kindly handed us a brief sketch of the Terry Rangers whose achievements in the late war constitute an interesting chapter in its history. Among the gallant members of the regiment was Capt. Griffin, who joined it in August 1861. It was in the skirmish at Woodsonville that Colonel Terry was killed. Gen. Johnston evacuated Bowling Green February 1862, when the Terry Rangers covered the retreat to Shiloh, soon after which the battle of Shiloh was fought. Soon after the victory of Murfressburo was won at which the Rangers were commanded by Forrest.

Subsequently this Regiment joined Bragg at Sparta, Tennessee, and bore a conspicuous part in the battle of Perryville, and afterwards covered the retreat through Cumberland Gap into East Tennessee. Next this Regiment went to Murfreesboro, where it performed nearly all the Post and scouting service, until the attack by Rosecrans which was repulsed successfully and a Confederate victory obtained. It was here that Capt. Griffin was captured,  while on out post duty, and taken to Nashville, and after eight days sent to Bowling Green, and thence to Alton, Illinois, thence, in company with 800 prisoners, he was started to Camp Douglas, but made his escape on the way by jumping from the cars in company with Joseph Stewart, another Ranger.

After various adventures Capt. G. finally joined his Regiment again near Shelbyville in April 1863, and was with the Regiment in the battle of Chickamauga, and was promoted to a Captaincy for meritorious conduct in the spring of 1864, by Col. Patterson, and afterwards that honor was confirmed by Gen. Johnston, by whom he was assigned to special scouting service, in which he continued in separate command of his Company to the close of the war. Every surviving member of that Regiment could, doubtless, furnish us with many interesting events of their campaigns which should constitute a portion of the future history of the war.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas)  Jul 1, 1866

Thomas Harrison (Image from

We noticed incidentally the other day the arrival of Col. Thomas Harrison. We think his services and record during the war entitle him, on his return home, to a more extended notice.

He entered the service as Captain in 1861, and was, on the organization of that celebrated regiment, the “Terry Rangers,” elected Major. In 1862 he was Lieutenant Colonel. —

In the fall of that same year he was commissioned Colonel. Not many months after his appointment be was placed in command of a brigade, under General Wharton, and very earnestly recommended by Wharton, Polk, Hardee and others for promotion, in terms as highly honorable as a soldier could desire. A miserable intrigue retarded his promotion until a short time before the war closed, when he received the appointment of Brigadier General. During the time he was Colonel, he had the command of a brigade or division. He was always in demand when fighting was on hand, and has fought many times in the States of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and North and South Carolina.

It is believed that he has been under fire a greater number of times than any other officer in the service. It is no compliment to him to say that as commander of a regiment, brigade or division, no officer in the army, known to us, has exceeded him in devotion to the service, in gallantry, or in the judgment with which he fought his command. This at least is conceded by all who have known his history during the war. He had been wounded shortly before General Johnston’s surrender and was not present when that event occurred. He made his way to Alabama, not intending to give his parol, in the hope that Texas was still under arms. —

Finding, however, that our army had been disbanded, he gave his parol. We welcome back this gallant soldier who has won his laurels on so many battle-fields. Whatever has been our misfortunes, we are sure they are not attributable to him. We trust he may yet enjoy many years of happiness; that he may yet be useful to a country for whom he has freely offered his life, and would, as we believe, have freely given it.

The Colonel’s baggage, horses, &c., together with his boy, Jerry, were in Greensboro when the Yankee surprised it. The horse the Colonel had used through the war was saddled; Jerry mounted him and escaped. He made his way to his master in Mississippi, and was much delighted to meet him. He is on his way home by land. We mention this as an incident to show the deep seated affection of thousands of slaves to their old homes and old masters. All the legislation in the world cannot change that feeling. All the fanaticism of the world cannot destroy it.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jun 16, 1865

Terry’s Texas Rangers.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal.

It is well known that the late Confederate States cavalry, so-called, were in the main strictly speaking, simply mounted infantry, doing splendid service, it is true, but always dismounting and preferring to dismount and fight, unless the want of time and circumstances prevented. Terry’s Rangers were, however, an exception.

They were organized, armed and equipped and in action specially reserved for regular cavalry charging. Circumstances and the nature of the ground may have sometimes prevented, but this was their forte. Each was armed with a double-barreled shot gun, two revolvers and a ponderous bowie, and adding to courage, confidence, and being most excellent horsemen, they may in truth be said to have been the Mamelukes of the war. They were in many respects a remarkable body of men — remarkable for the esprit du corps, their unwavering confidence in the final success of the cause, their lofty bearing in camp and in field, and the general intelligence of the rank and file. No bills of lading or chimney corner receipts for the cure of whooping cough and measles, or other false or fabricated papers, written, or printed ever passed spy or bummers through lines guarded by ranger pickets; while their reports of the strength, position and movements of the enemy were always timely, valuable, and wonderfully correct.

At Murfreesboro, Friday night, when Bragg was secretly and silently preparing for one if his famous movements to the rear, a ranger galloped up and exclaimed,

“General, the enemy himself is in full retreat.” He was reprimanded and headquarters passed on.

Afterwards Hardee was heard to remark, “not a devil of those rangers but would make at leaset a Brigadier.”

Their excellent material is accounted for by the fact that they were picked men, and the flower of the Texas youth. It had been charged by Union men pending the vote on the proposition for the State to secede, that secession was war, and that having brought it on rich men’s sons would seek place and power, and poor men would have to do the fighting. This aspersion it was important to refute, once for all, and at the first bugle’s blast.

Accordingly, Terry, the Bayard of the State, issued a call which inspired the wildest enthusiasm, and the sons of the most eminent, most influential and most wealthy vied with each other in a zealous and prompt response. In less than ten days the regiment was filled beyond the maximum. Numbers went away disappointed, some dejected, like the Spartans of old, because not chosen to die for their country. At their own request they were sworn in “for the war,” absolutely and without condition, and this months anterior to the call for troops for three years. Each man furnished his own horse, arms and equipments, and in a large measure paid his own way to the seat of conflict. They left Houston, Texas, 1160 strong; 500 recruits were received from time to time, making a total muster roll of 1660 names. They were in over one hundred distinct engagements from first to last, from Woodsonville, Ky., to Graham station, N.C., near which place they fought the last fight of the war, and surrendered, 244 all told, with but one deserter.

Image from

Gen. Albert Sidney Johnson, at Shiloh, witnessing their charge in column upon a strong position, while Hardee moved in the rear, and which resulted in the capture of Gen. Prentiss and his entire command, enthusiastically exclaimed, “with a little more discipline they would be the equals of the Old Guard.” Tuesday evening at Shiloh, the enemy had passed to within one mile of Breckinridge, who was covering the retreat with the remains of his shattered and wearied division. Midway between, the rangers contesting the ground almost truly inch by inch.

The fresh troops of Buell, impatient at delay, and flushed with the hope of overtaking and capturing the gallant Kentuckian and his entire force, which they believed exhausted and a sure prey from hard marching and two days’ desperate fighting, now threw forward two regiments of infantry, supported by one of Ohio cavalry, who, in fine array, came rapidly on as hounds and hunters when their game is at bay. The rangers had suffered a loss of over one hundred, more than ten per cent., in the two days previous conflicts. Wharton, their third colonel since the mournful fall of Terry at Woodsonville, had lost several horses, was twice wounded and borne to the rear the preceding day. Lieut. Col. Ferrill, detached with two companies to burn the white-tented cities, still standing despite the storm that had swept through and over them, was yet absent; so that the whole force left under Major Harrison did not exceed three hundred men.

He had just wheeled from column of fours into line of battle, stretching across the road, and exhorted his men to check their pursuers and give the little army placed in their keeping time to bridge through the mire that impeded their wearied limbs, or opportunity to form if necessary, when Forrest with forty men rode up and lengthened the line to the right. The enemy halted. A level space of some six hundred yards lay between, clear and open except a dead tree here and there on the opposite side. Behind these trees sharp-shooters took post and began to pour in damaging shots just as the command “Reserve fire for close quarters, forward!” passed from right to left re-echoed by subalterns. Horse and rider, though both were jaded, caught new life, and swept onward, straight onward at topmost speed.

The horse, noble everywhere, nowhere bears himself so proudly as in battle. He seems conscious of the danger into which he plunges, but emulous to bear his rider the foremost and bravest of them all; and mortal must be the wound if either foresakes his trust. The well known Texas yell is raised now, and swells louder and louder, and even above the roar of musketry. Horse and rider, one, the other, now in heaps, fall, but the line knits together where gaps have been made, and moves, thunders on into the deadliest sheet of flame. Anon, they waver. The horses falter. A miry bog had impeded the way, but they clear it. At fifty yards the double barrels, loaded with buck and ball, are brought into play, each volley making wide openings in enemy’s line.

Still shouting and “slinging” their guns on the pummels of their saddles, the rangers draw revolvers and make short fire and finishing work, just as the rattling of artillery coming to the enemy’s relief is heard in the distance. One-third of the enemy’s infantry are rode and shot down. The remainder brake and flee through the ranks of their cavalry. These are bowed further and further back, and despite the appeals of their gallant colonel to stand firm, they yield or flee, one, two, and squads at a time — until their leader falls, and the Grey are victorions to the last on Shiloh’s bloody ground.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Feb 27, 1869


The Recent Reunion Reminds a Veteran of an Incident at Shiloh.

HEMPSTEAD, Tex., December 20. — TO THE NEWS:

The interesting report of THE NEWS in to-day’s paper of the reunion of Terry’s Texas rangers in Houston last night reminded the writer of a reminiscence of the battle of Shiloh, fought April 6 and 7, 1862, between the forces of General U.S. Grant of the federal army, and General Albert Sidney Johnston of the confederate.

The writer was a private in Captain William Christian’s company, Second Texas Infantry regiment. The battle was planned by General Johnston to be opened on Saturday morning, April 5, at daylight, and the entire army slept on their arms in front of the federal army on Friday night, the 4th. A heavy rain storm fell and the troops were soaked thoroughly.

The plan of opening the battle on the 5th failed on account of Major-general Breckinridge’s division failing to reach the point assigned them in the order of battle. The heavy rains caused the roads to be almost impassable, and the cavalry and artillery made their condition worse than ever. Breckinridge could not come up until twenty-four hours later. This was why the battle was opened on Sunday.

The federal army was encamped between Lick and Owl creeks, extending from Pittsburg landing, on the Tennessee river, over a distance of two miles. General Johnson formed his army into three lines of battle. The first one was composed of Tennesseeans, who made the advance and struck the first line of encampments almost before the men could get out of their tents. The frightened troops then collected toward the second line of encampment, where the confederates encountered the federals drawn up in line of battle, and a furious fight opened all along the line. This was kept up all day until General Johnston in comman after he had been killed about 2 o’clock p.m. Many of the confederates, believing that they had won a great victory, became demoralized and scattered during the night, many plundering the deserted federal camps.

At daylight Monday morning, the 7th, it was learned that General Buell, with 20,000 fresh men, had reinforced General Grant’s whipped army of the 6th. The confederate rallied in every direction, and soon another great battle was in progress. The federals slowly drove the confederates back over the route of their advance the morning before.

The writer had been slightly wounded on Sunday afternoon in the advance on General Prentis’ division, and in company with about 200 stragglers and wounded men, had sought to escape the cannon balls of the federals. While waiting here a dashing cavalryman rode up and commenced a speech.

“Who are you?” several inquired.

“One of Terry’s rangers,” was the reply.

“Oh yes, we are nearly all Texas boys,” was the reply.

“Men of Texas, descendants of the old heroes of San Jacinto and other glorious achievements of your fathers, rally once more and come up here and form into line. I will lead you as an independent company. We can whip the Yankees as easy as yesterday. Come up, I say, and show what Texas boys can do.” {He ducked his head occasionally as a cannon ball whizzed by.}

“I tell you, boys,” said Bill Mathews of the Second Texas, “that fellow is a good speaker.”

“He must be a preacher or a lawyer,” said another.

“He talks well,” several remarked; but the line was not formed.

The lone cavalryman happened to cast his eyes in the direction of the river, and coming down a hill was seen several thousand of the federals advancing with the first two lines having crossed bayonets. “Boys, look out, there they come; save yourselves,” said he, and spurring his horse he made very fast time to the rear.

The writer hopes the gallant ranger may be alive and read this. He will doubtless laugh as loud as anybody.

After General Beaureguard had given the order to retreat to Corinth on Monday afternoon Terry’s rangers were ordered to act as a rear guard while the infantry and artillery could retreat. They formed several lines of battle across the Corinth road and drove back the federal cavalry advance.

True the war is over now, but old soldiers love to talk over the exciting events of a quarter of a century ago. We have all had war enough, and the survivors of the war venerate the star spangled banner as much as those whe met on the battlefields of the war twenty-five years ago.

National decoration day, May 20, shows that, and the gallant men who met each other in the shock of battle now go arm in arm and scatter the flowers of spring over the graves of brave men, not inquiriing whether they once wore the blue or the gray.

SIOUX, War Correspondent.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Dec 23, 1888

Terry's Texas Rangers Reunion 1902 - Dallas (Image from

The Survivors of the Eighth Texas Regiment Concentrate for Action.


“Welcome, Terry Rangers.”
This was a voluntary offering to the survivors by the wives of resident Rangers, and hung over the stage at the north end of the hall.

“We will do it or die.” — Gustave Cook.
This answer was made by Col. Gustave Cook, commanding, when asked by a general officer if his regiment could dislodge a heavy field battery, with a brigade reserve.

“They know no such word as fail.” — John A. Wharton.
Reply of this distinguished soldier when asked if he could hold a position for a length of time against a largely superior force.

“You have done well.” — Thos. Harrison.
After a successful charge by the regiment in a critical hour of battle. Revered by the regiment from the fact that he rarely complimented any individual or concerted act of heroism, however great, and that his command was above praise for any action.

“If there is danger ahead put the Terry Rangers in front.” — Joseph Wheeler.
This was the universal order of march when there was work ahead or anticipated by this celebrated cavalry general.

“Yes, go to sleep; the Terry Rangers are between you and the enemy.” — N.B. Forrest.
This was a reply of this great soldier when asked by a brigade commander if he should unsaddle and rest and sleep.
Capt. Christian proposed — The Memory of Gen. John A. Wharton, Drunk standing and in silence.

A member of the command then read the
which was written for the occasion by Mrs. C. M Pearre of Galveston:


A few fierce years we met together
In a desolate land of graves,
Braved shot, or shell, or roughest weather,
Our glorious Southern cause to save,
Together, saw our hopes pass away.
Radiant-colored hopes that beamed
Resplendent on that bright spring day
When o’er us first a banner streamed.

Together, saw a strange banner unfurled
With the aroma of blood, suggestive cost
These burning words for a gazing world,
Thy cause, they Southern cause, is lost!
Met wars fiat, as brave men meet,
With folded hands and heads bowed low;
But unswerving eyes on that last retreat
Told our valor to the conquering foe.

Then came of years a dreary dearth,
Our manhood in lethargy was shrouded;
When mental chaos by painful birth,
Produced a rainbow all unclouded.
It spanned our glorious country round,
Warmed hostile hearts of each brother,
Who thereon read this truth profound:
This is our country, we have no other!

Then brighten the day with joy and mirth,
Let music peal her gladest strains,
Sing the songs of camp and hearth,
Spirit voices may sound the refrains.
Let the sparkling wine go round,
Toast Reunion day in every form,
Until each comrade’s heart is bound
With chords magnetic, true and warm.
Last of all, one toast we will call
(Drink it comrades with bowed head,
Other forms will throng the hall) —
In memory of our “Noble Dead.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Dec 17, 1876