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Title: Terry's Texas Rangers
Author: Giles, Leonidas B.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Terry's Texas Rangers" ***

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                             TEXAS RANGERS

                  [Illustration: Texas Rangers Logo]

                              L. B. GILES

                   _Copyright, 1911, by L. B. Giles_



  CHAPTER                                                         PAGE

     I.  Assembly and Organization of the Regiment                  12

    II.  Woodsonville                                               20

   III.  Retreat                                                    27

    IV.  Shiloh                                                     29

     V.  Forrest at Murfreesboro                                    35

    VI.  Many Marches and Skirmishes--The Kentucky Campaign         40

   VII.  Murfreesboro                                               49

  VIII.  The Donelson Trip and Retreat to Chattanooga               53

    IX.  Chickamauga                                                58

     X.  Wheeler’s Great Raid                                       65

    XI.  East Tennessee Campaign                                    69

   XII.  Sherman’s Wagon Train and the Affairs with McCook
         and Stoneman                                               81

  XIII.  Wheeler’s Second Raid into Tennessee                       86

   XIV.  “The Rome Races”                                           90

    XV.  The Last Campaign                                          94

   XVI.  Conclusion                                                 98


It is but natural that man should desire to leave some record of his
achievements for the information of succeeding generations. This desire
was manifested in the infancy of the race, and is shown in monuments
and chiseled stone, and in writings on skins and reeds.

Here in the South, when the great war of the ’60s had terminated and
the various actors in the great drama had time to look about them, the
desire was universal that the record made by Southern manhood should be
perpetuated. The regiment of Texas cavalry known as the “Terry Rangers”
shared that feeling; and when the survivors began to meet in annual
reunion this desire became manifest. Two propositions appealed to them:
one for a history which should tell of their campaigns, their marches,
battles, hardships, sufferings; one for a monument which should contain
the name of every man who served in the regiment. For reasons which I
need not discuss here the plan for the history failed. All funds raised
for either purpose were combined into one and placed in control of
the monument committee. The equestrian statue which now stands in the
grounds of the State Capitol in Austin is the result.

The desire for a narrative still survived, however, discoverable in
many personal sketches of events, some taking the form of memoirs,
written by various members of the command. I have long contemplated
such a work but have felt the lack of ability. It is now perhaps too
late to attempt anything like a complete history of the regiment, as
the necessary data can hardly be procured. Yet, when my former comrade,
D. S. Combs, appealed to me to write something that would supply his
children and grandchildren with some knowledge, however imperfect,
of the part borne by the Rangers in the great war, I unhesitatingly
promised to try it and do the best I could. I wish with all my heart I
could make my story as complete as it ought to be, for I firmly believe
that a well written narrative of the regiment’s wonderful career would
be the most entertaining book in the literature of war.

As a first step toward the accomplishment of the task I had undertaken,
I wrote to Comrade Combs asking him for such data as he might have or
such as his personal recollections might supply; also as to the scope
and form of the work as he wished it to appear. His answer is so kind
and trusting that I here insert it and, as the lawyers say, make it a
part of the record. His letter, written from his home in San Antonio,
is dated January 5th:

 “My Dear Lee:

 “Yours of the 26th of December came duly to hand, and I should have
 replied sooner but I have been strictly on the go for the last ten
 days, and I have neglected many things that should have had attention.

 “Now, Lee, I wish to state with all the sincerity of my heart, that
 all I want is plain statements of facts; and while I give you a brief
 outline of my movements, from the day I was sworn into the service of
 the Confederate States to the close of the war, I simply do this that
 you may know where D.S. Combs was, and it is a matter of indifference
 to me whether my name is mentioned a single time in your story of the
 doings of the regiment, and, more especially, of the part old Company
 D played in that drama.

 “I was very fearful that the war would be over before I saw a live
 Yankee. So Charley McGehee and I went fifty miles from home to join a
 company, and joined Ferrell’s company between Bastrop and La Grange.
 According to my recollection this was in the latter part of August,

 “From that day to the day I left the regiment, I was not away from
 Company D more than ten or twelve days, and then on account of
 sickness; once at Shelbyville for five or six days; at another time
 near Nolensville for about the same length of time.

 “My initiation was at Woodsonville, and the last of the chapter was
 at Mossy Creek, Dandridge, and the brick house where N. J. Allen was
 killed and the artillery duel where Captain Littlefield was wounded.
 This, I think, was early in January, ’64. Here I drew a furlough, and
 in company with Ike Jones, Bill Fisher and Jeff Burleson, I struck out
 for home. On my arrival at home my parents and sisters insisted that
 I ask for assignment to duty on this side of the Mississippi. I had
 lost one brother by sickness at Searcy, Arkansas, one had been killed
 at the battle of Chickamauga, one badly wounded at Port Hudson, and
 another desperately wounded at Mansfield, Louisiana.

 “Accordingly, I applied to General E. Kirby Smith for such assignment,
 and he gave me orders to report to General Magruder at Galveston for
 assignment to duty in any cavalry command I might select. I chose
 Colonel J. S. Ford’s command on the Rio Grande. I was attached to
 Captain Carrington’s company in Major Cater’s battalion, and was
 with that command in the last fight of the war. This was between
 Brownsville and the mouth of the Rio Grande, and was about two weeks
 after General Smith had surrendered the Trans-Mississippi department,
 but the word had not reached us. I am glad to say that in this last
 fight of the war the Confederate arms were victorious. A few days
 after this we got word that the war was over. So we folded our tents
 and quietly and sadly turned our faces homeward. As a company or
 battalion we never surrendered. We simply laid down our arms and tried
 to forget the past and all its disappointments.

 “Now to go back and come over the story as it actually occurred,
 I will simply say that I was never wounded during the war, but
 particularly unfortunate with my mounts. I had three noble animals
 killed under me, two at Murfreesboro, one at College Hill, opposite
 Knoxville, also one wounded at Mt. Washington, near Louisville,

 “I was with you at Farmington and at Nolensville, where Ferg Kyle led
 his line of dismounted men, deployed as skirmishers, up against a
 solid line of blue, a regiment of infantry, who poured a galling fire
 into our ranks and caused us to reel and stagger like a drunken man.

 “I was with you at Woodsonville, Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Bardstown,
 Perryville and Chickamauga. Also at Murfreesboro when Forrest with his
 little band swooped down on the two camps and took them in out of the

 “Again, Lee, I will say that I wish you to handle the story in your
 own way, and I will be perfectly satisfied. What we want is the doings
 of the _company_ and _regiment_. I care not for individual mention. If
 you and I are satisfied I care not whether others are or not.

 “I wish to emphasize this statement. I appreciate more than you know
 your willingness to undertake this for me, and will gladly remunerate
 you as far as it is in my power to do for the time you put in on the

 “Mrs. Combs and I wish to thank you and your daughter for the kind
 hospitality to us during the reunion, and hope you may both find it
 convenient to visit us in the near future. Wishing you both a pleasant
 and prosperous New Year, I am,

                            “Always yours,
                                         “D. S. Combs.”

If I had regretted my promise or had wavered in the slightest from my
intention, this letter would have renewed in me the purpose to do my
best. Yet I do not see why anyone who writes as well as Comrade Combs
should desire another to write for him. I would not, with intention, do
injustice to anyone; I know I can not do justice to many deserving the
highest praise; but I must say that the regiment had no better soldier
than D. S. Combs.

Since this work was well under way Comrade A. B. Briscoe of Company
K has kindly placed at my service a large lot of MS. of his personal
memoirs. I have used this in several instances, of which due credit is
given in the proper places.

Austin, May, 1911.

                              CHAPTER I.


When in 1861 it became evident that war between the sections was
inevitable and imminent, B. F. Terry, a sugar planter of Fort Bend
county, and Thomas S. Lubbock, of Houston, determined to be in the
fight from the start, hurried to Virginia, at their own expense,
where they participated in the first battle of Manassas, rendering
distinguished services as scouts before the action and in pursuit
of the routed enemy afterward. Later the War Department gave them
authority to recruit a regiment of Texans for mounted service in
Virginia. Returning to Texas they at once issued a call for volunteers.

The conditions were exacting. Each man must furnish his own arms and
equipment--a gun of some sort, Colt’s repeating pistol, a saddle,
bridle and blanket. Notwithstanding these requirements, the response
was so prompt that in less than thirty days the ten companies were on
their way to the rendezvous at Houston. Some of the companies had the
full complement of one hundred men, rank and file, and in a few more
days all would have been full. Probably two or more regiments could
have been raised at that time if the call had been made.

The personnel was of the very highest. Sons of leading families, many
of them college graduates, professional men, merchants, stockmen, and
farmers, served in the ranks as privates, all young, in their teens and
early twenties. Rank was scarcely considered. The supreme desire was to
get into the war in a crack cavalry regiment.

Since I write without data and from memory only, I must necessarily
deal more particularly with the company of which I was a member, known
as Company D in the regimental organization. It was recruited largely
from Bastrop, with contingents from Hays, Travis and Burleson counties.
This organization, full at the beginning, always one of the largest for
duty, sustained the greatest loss in killed of all the companies of the
regiment. The first officers elected were:

  Captain, Stephen C. Ferrell.
  First Lieutenant, Charles L. Morgan.
  Second Lieutenant, Jesse W. Burdett.
  Second Lieutenant, William R. Doak.

The assembly for the company was to be in the town of Bastrop, and
notice was given that on a certain morning the march would begin. The
men from the adjoining counties reached Bastrop the night before.

It was a bright, sunny August morning. The people, _en masse_, turned
out to bid us good-by. Men, women, children, with tears in their eyes,
said, “God bless you!” when they clasped our hands as we stood in line.
This painful ordeal over, we mounted and rode away on what we believed
was a few months’ adventure.

Alleyton, sixty miles away, then the terminus of the railroad, was
reached without any very exciting adventures. We sent our horses back
home and took the train for Houston. The trains were then run to
Harrisburg, but we were dumped off in the prairie at Pierce Junction
to await a train from Columbia. The hours passed, and the night. We
slept little on account of the mosquitoes, which were more numerous
and voracious than any I ever met elsewhere. Next morning, as there
was still no train, we walked into Houston, a distance of nine miles,
pushing by hand the freight car with our saddles and baggage. Here we
went into camp in an old warehouse and met some of the other companies.

From McLennan and adjoining counties Captain Thos. Harrison led a
company which became Company A. Captain John A. Wharton had a full
company raised chiefly in Brazoria and Matagorda counties. It became
Company B in the organization and continued the largest in enlistment.
Companies C, commanded by Mark Evans; E, by L. N. Rayburn; and I, led
by J. G. Jones, were recruited in Gonzales and surrounding counties.
Many of these were stockmen and expert horsemen. Company F was from
Fayette and commanded by Louis M. Strobel. Company G was from Bexar and
Goliad counties. Its first captain was W. Y. Houston. Company H was
from Fort Bend county chiefly, and commanded by John T. Holt. Company
K, Captain John G. Walker, was from Harris and Montgomery counties,
and was full. The word “chiefly” ought to be used in telling where
the companies were recruited, for all of them had men from several
counties. Here, too, on the 9th of September we were “mustered in,”
swearing to serve “so long as this war shall last.”

From Houston to Beaumont, over a newly constructed railroad, it took
nearly all day to make eighty miles. From Beaumont, by steamboat, down
the Neches and up the Sabine to Niblett’s Bluff; thence a hundred miles
on foot, through water much of the way; thence forty miles in carts.
It is easy to remember this cart ride. The wheels were six or seven
feet high. Motive power, oxen, two pairs to each cart. Engineers,
little bow-legged Creoles, each armed with a long, sharp-pointed pole.
The vehicles had no springs. As there were no seats, the six or eight
passengers in each conveyance had to stand on their feet. At New
Iberia, on Bayou Teche, we were transferred to boats, and went down
between the beautiful banks of that stream to Brashear, now Morgan
City. From there we went through an almost continuous sugar farm to New
Orleans. The trip from Houston to New Orleans took over a week. It is
now made in less than twelve hours, in a palace car.

In New Orleans we learned that our destination was not Virginia, but
Bowling Green, Kentucky, where General A. Sidney Johnston was trying to
assemble an army for the defense of that frontier. This was pleasing to
us, as General Johnston was a Texan, and personally known to many of us.

The box cars in which we left New Orleans had been used for shipping
cattle, and were not overly clean. Our seats were rough planks without
backs. In this luxurious fashion we rode for twenty hours until we
reached Nashville. There we encamped in the fair grounds. Ladies in
great numbers visited us, and for their entertainment our most expert
horsemen gave the first really-truly “wild-west” entertainment ever
seen east of the Mississippi.

At Nashville our first death occurred, Thomas Hart, whose loss saddened
us greatly. He was a promising young man, not personally well known to

We had expected to receive our horses here and go on horseback to
Bowling Green, but one night Colonel Terry received orders to bring on
his regiment “at once.” At 1 o’clock in the morning we marched to the
station and waited till 2 p. m. for our train. That same afternoon we
reached Bowling Green. Our horses were driven through from Nashville
by a detail sent back after them. We now received tents, camp utensils
and wagons. Here, too, the companies were formally organized into a
regiment by the election of the following field officers:

  Colonel, B. F. Terry.
  Lieutenant Colonel, Thomas S. Lubbock.
  Major, Thomas Harrison.
  The following staff officers were appointed:
  Adjutant, M. H. Royston.
  Quartermaster, B. H. Botts.
  Commissary, Robert D. Simmons.
  Chaplain, R. F. Bunting.
  Surgeon, Dr. John M. Weston.
  Assistant Surgeon, Dr. Robert E. Hill.
  Sergeant Major, W. B. Sayers.

Terry was a native of Kentucky, about 40 years old, of great force of
character, firm and self-reliant. His appearance was commanding, and in
all ways he was fitted for high rank.

Lubbock was some years older than Terry. He was a native of South
Carolina. He was small of stature, pleasant and affable, and made a
favorable impression on us. At that time he was in poor health, soon
had to go to Nashville for treatment, and we never saw him more.

Harrison was a native of Mississippi. He was a lawyer by profession. A
small, nervous, irascible man, who proved to be a fine soldier, became
a brigadier general of cavalry, and distinguished himself on many

Winter was now at hand, and the climate was trying on young men raised,
as we had been, in the far South. Many fell ill of measles, mumps,
pneumonia, and other diseases peculiar to raw levees. Scores went to
the hospital, and not a few under the sod. Still the spirits of all,
from the youngest private to the resolute colonel, were of the highest,
and all were anxious to meet the foe. Such as were able drilled daily,
mounted guard, and performed other duties incident to camp life in time
of war.

                              CHAPTER II.


Terry, anxious to be doing something, was ordered to lead the regiment
to the front on picket and scouting duty. On the 17th of December,
Brigadier General Hindman led an expedition to Greene river. When
he reached that stream he found the north bank in possession of the
enemy’s outposts. He deployed some infantry skirmishers, who engaged
the enemy at long range but with little effect. Called himself from the
immediate front, he left Colonel Terry in charge with instructions to
decoy the enemy up the hill and away from support to a point where our
infantry and artillery could be used to better advantage.

The enemy allowed themselves to be decoyed, and came across in large
numbers. Terry, however, was not the man to invite visitors and then
leave someone else to entertain them. Sending Ferrell with about
seventy-five men against their left, he led the rest against their
right. We charged, yelling, each man riding as fast as his horse could
go. Terry fell, dying almost instantly.

Ferrell led his force into an open field against a body of the enemy,
who rallied behind a straw stack and such fences as they could find,
pouring a galling fire into us. On our part it was a furious but
disorderly charge of comparatively undrilled men into one of the best
drilled regiments of the Federal army. This was the Thirty-second
Indiana Infantry. The officers and men were Germans, who had probably
learned their tactics in the old country. They were ignorant of the
English language. They were brave fellows, and stood like veterans till
shot down.

In view of the great disparity of the forces engaged and the losses
sustained, this was one of the most remarkable of all the conflicts of
this very remarkable war. One of the very few actions where mounted men
engaged infantry on their own ground. It also shows of what stuff the
Southern volunteer was made. In support of these statements I invite
attention to the official reports. The first is by Colonel Willich.
Omitting some unimportant details, it is as follows:

“But now ensued the most earnest and bloody part of the struggle. With
lightning speed, under infernal yelling, great numbers of Texas Rangers
rushed upon our whole force. They advanced to fifteen or twenty yards
of our lines, some of them even between them, and opened fire with
rifles and revolvers. Our skirmishers took the thing very coolly, and
permitted them to approach very close, when they opened a destructive
fire on them. They were repulsed with severe loss, but only after
Lieutenant Sachs, who left his covered position with one platoon, was
surrounded by about fifty Rangers, several of them demanding of him
three times to give up his sword, and let his men lay down their arms.
He firmly refused, and defended himself till he fell, with three of his
men, before the attack was repulsed.

“Lieutenant Colonel Von Trebra now led on another advance of the center
and left flank, when he drew down upon his forces a second attack
of the Rangers in large numbers, charging into the very ranks, some
dashing through to the rear, which might have proved disastrous.

“In the fight participated three field officers, one staff and sixteen
officers of the line, twenty-three sergeants and 375 men. Our loss is
one officer and ten men dead, twenty-two wounded and five missing.
According to reports of our surgeons several of the wounded are beyond
hope of recovery.”

I have omitted from the foregoing interesting and more or less
instructive details of the parts played by Lieutenant Colonel Von
Trebra, Major Snachenberg, Captain Wilchbilling, Adjutant Schmidt,
Lieutenant Mank and other heroes whose names are hard to spell and
harder to pronounce. Valiant men all, and all doubtless recommended for
promotion. As will be seen hereafter, to fight with the Rangers was to
be in line of advancement in this world or the next.

I now give General Hindman’s report from the Confederate side:

“The firing ceased for about half an hour, and I went in person to
select a suitable place for camp, leaving Colonel Terry in command,
with instructions to decoy the enemy up the hill, where I could use
my infantry and artillery with effect, and be out of the range of the
enemy’s batteries.

“Before returning to the column the fire from the skirmishers
recommenced. The enemy appeared in force on my right and center.
Colonel Terry, at the head of seventy-five Rangers, charged about 300
of the enemy, routed and drove them back, but fell mortally wounded.
A body of the enemy about the same size attacked the Rangers under
Captain Ferrell on the right of the turnpike, and were repulsed with
heavy loss.[1]

  [1] Attack was really made by Ferrell on the enemy, advancing under
      command of Von Trebra, as Colonel Willich reports.--G.

“My loss in this affair was as follows: Killed, Colonel Terry and three
men of his regiment; dangerously wounded, Lieutenant Morris and three
men of the Texas Rangers; slightly wounded, Captain Walker and three
men of the Texas Rangers and two men of the First Arkansas battalion.”

From General Hindman’s report it will be seen that the Rangers had 150
men in the fight, seventy-five with Terry, seventy-five with Ferrell;
there being, in fact, two charges. Our loss was twelve altogether.
Colonel Willich reported that he had, officers and men, 418 engaged.
He had eleven killed, twenty-two wounded and reported five missing, a
total of thirty-eight; his missing being prisoners in our hands. Thus
150 men charged 418, inflicting a loss of thirty-eight, sustaining a
loss of twelve. Of this number Company D lost five: W. W. Beal and
Frank Loftin killed, L. L. Giles mortally wounded, L. B. Giles and John
R. Henry slightly wounded.

If a complete record could be obtained I believe a similar disparity
of losses would appear in nearly all the engagements in which we bore
a part. The splendid horsemanship of our men, and their skill with
firearms, made them easily superior to any foe they went against. In
this fight our loss was irreparable in the death of our gallant leader.
Had he lived he would, without doubt, have reached the highest rank and
would have achieved a fame second to none. We had other brave leaders,
but none like the matchless Terry.

In the election of officers which followed the death of Terry,
Lieutenant Colonel Lubbock was advanced to the command of the regiment,
and Captain John G. Walker became lieutenant colonel. Lubbock, who was
at that time in bad health, died a few days later. Captain John A.
Wharton was chosen to fill his place.

Wharton was a man of ability, of a distinguished family, liberally
educated, a lawyer and a captivating public speaker. Enterprising and
ambitious, he never forgot during a wakeful moment that the soldier who
survived the war would be a voter. He distinguished himself on many
fields and became, successively, brigadier general and major general.

About this time Lieutenant Morgan of Company D resigned and Fergus
Kyle was elected first lieutenant. Kyle was subsequently promoted to
captain, and made a very efficient officer, distinguishing himself on
many fields.

The regiment now resumed its duty of guarding the front. The weather
was cold, varied with rain, sleet and snow. The men suffered greatly.
Some suffering, as to the weather, I escaped, having received a slight
wound. I was sent to the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, where I
stayed two days, going from there to the home of a relative, where
I spent nearly seven weeks. In the care of my kindred I had all the
comforts and some of the luxuries of life. I reported for duty just
before the retreat from Bowling Green.

The burial squad informed me that my poor horse, who received some of
the lead intended for his master, and yet had no personal interest
in the row, had five bullet wounds. He fell under me near the straw
stacks. I rode off the field behind John B. Rector, who halted in a
shower of bullets and kindly assisted me to mount.

                             CHAPTER III.


The word is not reassuring to seasoned soldiers. To new troops it is
very depressing. Johnston’s line was broken on the right at Fishing
Creek, and was threatened on the left at Donelson. Bowling Green was,
therefore, untenable, and now we must fall back behind the Cumberland.

The Rangers must cover the retreat. It was snowing the morning we
left, and the enemy were throwing shells into the place. Our march to
Nashville was without incident. We crossed the Cumberland in the night
and camped just outside the city. We now learned that Donelson had
fallen, and the retreat must be continued. We were ordered down toward
Donelson to guard in that direction, and to afford succor to such as
had escaped the surrender and might be making their way south.

Returning, we found the army at Murfreesboro, but it moved on by
Shelbyville, Huntsville and Decatur to Corinth, Mississippi, the
Rangers guarding the rear. The weather was bad and the progress slow,
but the enemy did not press us. We crossed the Tennessee river on the
railroad bridge, which had been floored for the purpose. When we went
into camp rations of bacon and flour were issued to us. Our wagons
and camp equipment being somewhere else, we were confronted with the
problem of preparing this flour for the immediate consumption of the
chronically hungry soldier. If necessity is the mother of invention,
hunger is a most capable handmaid of the good dame. An oilcloth is
spread on the ground, and on this the flour is kneaded, but how to bake
it was the question. Some rolled the dough around a stake or ramrod,
which they stuck in the ground by the fire, but the stuff would slip
down. Some of us tried a flat rail, and that answered very well. First
heating the rail thoroughly, we stuck our biscuits on it, set them
before the fire, and watched them brown, our appetites growing keener
all the while. The treatment of the bacon was easy. We broiled it on a
stick held before the fire or above the coals, and that is the best way
it was ever cooked.

At Corinth we had a few days’ rest. Absentees came in, and the _morale_

Buell did not follow our line of march, but moved by the more direct
route through Franklin, Columbus and Pulaski, intending to unite with
Grant at Pittsburg Landing.

                              CHAPTER IV.


Johnston planned to attack Grant before the arrival of Buell, and
had brought together the largest army ever before assembled in the
Confederacy. He had the force under General Hardee from Bowling Green,
the remnant of Zollicoffer’s army, Bragg from Pensacola with a fine
corps of well drilled and well equipped troops, and Polk from Columbus
with a light force, altogether nearly 40,000 men. They were to attack
an army of veterans flushed with the victory at Donelson.

Johnston ordered the army to move on the morning of April 3, but some
of the troops did not get away until that afternoon. It was said
that this delay was due to the inexperience of both staff and men.
Johnston had intended to attack on the 5th, but the army, delayed by
the bad roads, did not arrive in time. Thus we lost twenty-four fateful
hours--twenty-four hours of as precious time as was ever lost in war.

Our regiment reached the front on the 4th and was ordered to guard the
left wing of the army. In detachments we guarded every road, trail and
opening around the whole left front and flank, with strict orders that
none of us be allowed to sleep at all. Soon after nightfall it began to
rain. It poured down in torrents, and the night was pitch dark. Whether
in the saddle, on post or in camp, we could hardly have slept in that
downpour. It was a long, dreary night, but morning, a bright spring
morning, came at last.

The regiment assembled once more, very wet and uncomfortable. Our arms,
too, were wet and, fearing they would fail us in action, we implored
Colonel Wharton to let us fire them off. With no thought of possible
consequences he consented. Pointing to a wooded hillside, he said:

“Go off there and shoot.”

We discharged all the firearms we had. It sounded like a brisk
skirmish. The colonel was immediately summoned to headquarters. Camp
rumor said that his interview with his superiors was rather stormy,
that he was severely reprimanded. It is a fact that on his return he
made us a speech, telling us that by yielding to our importunities he
had committed a serious blunder which had subjected him to unfavorable
criticism by persons in the higher military circles. He seemed to be
much perturbed mentally. He asked us to wipe out the stain by our
gallant behavior in the coming engagement; asked us to ride further
into the enemy’s ranks than any other regiment. I think most of us
audibly promised to do what he asked; and we kept the promise as far as
circumstances would permit, as will be seen.

The whole army had arrived by Saturday afternoon. Early Sunday morning,
April 6th, the forward movement began. The enemy were either in bed or
preparing breakfast, and were taken by surprise. I know the surprise
has been denied by so eminent a person as General Grant, but as he
was sleeping at Savannah, nine miles away, he is hardly a competent
witness. Thousands of us saw camp kettles and coffeepots on the fires,
beds just as the occupants had left them, blankets spread and clothing
strewn about.

It is not my purpose to describe the battle of Shiloh. I wish merely to
speak of some principal incidents. It was a continuous advance of the
Confederates nearly all of the day, Sunday. The roar of big guns and
the rattle of musketry was unceasing.

The Rangers were kept in column just in the rear of the left wing, and
had no part in the conflict till late in the day, when our eagerness to
take part in the fight was gratified by an order to clear our extreme
left, and assail the enemy, who was then retiring through thick woods.

We had to cross a muddy branch. At first two abreast could get over,
but it soon became so bad that only one at a time could cross, and then
it was a good long jump for a horse. Not half of the regiment was over
when the leading files rushed up the hill through a small open field.
Turning to the right they came to a high rail fence behind which was a
line of blue. From this line came a most destructive fire which emptied
many saddles. John Crane of Company D was killed. Clint Terry, a new
arrival, brother of our former colonel, fell mortally wounded.

We were too few to make any impression, although some of our men
dismounted and began throwing down the fence. A few even crossed into
the wood. The firing was so hot that we beat a hasty retreat in spite
of the appeals of Colonel Wharton and other officers, who did all they
could to stop our flight. We didn’t stop until we were out of range,
when we re-formed at once. Thus our second encounter with the enemy met
with a repulse. I may say, however, that this charge, if it be proper
to call it a charge, was not without good results to our cause. Several
years since I received a letter from Colonel Chisholm, who was then
on the staff of General Beauregard. He wrote that it was he who led
the regiment in that advance; that the object of it was to detain the
enemy until other troops could be brought up; that for this purpose the
movement was measurably successful.

That afternoon we learned with sorrow of the death of General Johnston.
This we then regarded as a great calamity, and time has not changed our

We were not engaged again that day. We spent the night on the
battlefield, amid the dead of the enemy, subsisting ourselves and our
horses from the abundant supplies on every hand. Though it rained
another downpour, and though we had no shelter, we slept as only tired
soldiers can.

Reinforced by Buell’s 40,000, the enemy assumed the offensive next day.
The Confederates only resisted, as best they could, to get off their
wounded, their trains and artillery, over muddy roads. The Rangers were
dismounted to aid in resisting the forward movement, losing several
men. John H. Washington of Company D was shot through the hips and
left on the field for dead; but under the care of Federal surgeons he
recovered, and is living today.

Tuesday, the 8th, two companies of the Rangers, under Major Harrison,
with part of Forrest’s men, all under the command of Forrest, made a
brilliant charge on a mounted force of the enemy, believed to be a
large escort of a general officer, and ran them back to the main force
of infantry.

The pursuit now ceased and, without further molestation, we returned
to Corinth. Here we remained two or three weeks, and received some
recruits, the first since leaving Texas. Company D got six, T. A. W.
Hill, William and A. J. Kyle, George T. McGehee, T. M. Rector and S.
M. Watkins. They were quite an addition to our force. All were fine
soldiers and continued to the end. There was much sickness, caused by
bad water. Everybody was anxious for more active service.

The regiment was now ordered into Tennessee. Crossing the river at
Lamb’s Ferry, we captured a detachment of the enemy, guarding a
railroad bridge, after a hot fight, in which we lost several men.
Captain Harris of Company I was killed; also William DeWoody of Company
D. There is one incident of this affair which I shall never forget.
Among our prisoners was a captain of an Ohio regiment. He had six
bullet wounds in his body. He sat up in the boat as we crossed the
river, and walked unassisted up the hill on the other side.

                              CHAPTER V.

                       FORREST AT MURFREESBORO.

We were now ordered to Chattanooga. Here we were placed in a brigade
under the command of Colonel N. B. Forrest. At this time but little
was known of this great soldier. He had not then become famous, and
there were not wanting officers of high rank who predicted disaster as
the result of his operations. Without the advantages of education, he
possessed strong common sense, unfaltering courage, energy that never
flagged, and unbounded confidence in himself. Under his leadership our
metal was not to grow rusty for lack of employment.

Setting out from Chattanooga on the 8th of July, we crossed the
Tennessee river and the Cumberland mountains into middle Tennessee.
On the 11th we reached McMinnville and remained until the afternoon
of the 12th. Here Forrest made his regimental commanders acquainted
with his plans. His objective was Murfreesboro, over forty miles away,
garrisoned by a force of the enemy estimated at 2000 men, under the
command of Brigadier General Crittenden.

Late in the afternoon we started for an all night ride. At Woodbury we
halted and fed our horses, resuming the march at midnight. We reached
the vicinity of Murfreesboro at daylight on the 13th.

Now occurred one of those unfortunate blunders which often mar the best
laid plans; probably made by Forrest himself. Colonel Wharton with the
Rangers was to attack a camp of the enemy on the Liberty pike north of
town. Forrest, who had been riding at the head of the column, turned
aside to allow us to pass. When six companies had gone by he fell in
with his staff and escort. Thus it happened that nearly half of the
regiment followed Forrest into the town and out to the westward. The
courthouse was garrisoned by a company of the Ninth Michigan Infantry,
who poured a hot fire into our ranks from the windows. Forrest and the
Rangers rode on, but the sound of firing had aroused the good ladies
from their beds; looking out they saw the dear defenders of their
cause. Without taking time for very elaborate toilets, they rushed into
the streets just as the Georgians came up. Pointing to the courthouse,
they begged them to attack the hated foe. With a “Hurrah for the
women!” these perfectly green troops dismounted, broke down the doors,
and captured the garrison, but with severe loss.

When Forrest discovered that he had with him only a handful of Rangers,
he turned back to look after the rest of his command. Captain Ferrell,
now the ranking officer, led us through the suburbs of the town towards
the right, or north where he thought to find the regiment. While we
were passing through a field of standing corn, the artillery of the
enemy opened on us at short range. The first shot struck William Skull
of Company G, taking off both legs and passing through his horse,
killing both instantly.

We found the main part of the regiment about half a mile east of the
town, on the road by which we had come. They had made a spirited attack
on the enemy, but were too weak to get any favorable results, and had
retired, Wharton being wounded. As soon as the regiment was united
Wharton sent the adjutant, M. H. Royston, and ten men to report to
Forrest for orders. I was of this party. We found Forrest in the town.
He spoke with some show of irritation:

“Tell him to bring his men up here.”

During all this time he had been attacking the enemy with the forces at
hand, but there was little result of a decisive nature.

Some of his chief officers had advised him to be content with what
he had already accomplished and withdraw; but he was not of the
withdrawing kind. Preparing for a final assault, when the Rangers came
up, he delayed the attack long enough to send a demand for surrender
to the camp of the Michigan regiment. This was promptly agreed to. He
now sent a like demand to the Third Minnesota. Colonel Lester of that
regiment asked for an hour’s time and an opportunity to consult with
Colonel Duffield. This officer was seriously wounded. Forrest allowed
half an hour and the privilege of the interview. As Lester was going
to the room of Colonel Duffield opportunity was given him to see our
strength. When the half hour was up he surrendered his entire force.

The troops surrendered consisted of fifteen companies of infantry, six
of the Ninth Michigan and nine of the Third Minnesota; seven companies
of cavalry, four of the Fourth Kentucky and three of the Seventh
Pennsylvania; and two sections (four guns) of Hewett’s battery: in all
1765 men.

The brigade commander, General Crittenden, was found hiding in a room
at a tavern.

The spoil was immense; a large number of wagons, with military stores
and equipment of all sorts.

The merits of this enterprise are very great, but it must be admitted
that had the enemy all been together, under a resolute commander, they
could have beaten us. They had nearly 1800 men of all arms, infantry,
cavalry and artillery--a miniature army--while Forrest had a little
over 1300 men, some of them absolutely green troops.

In regard to this affair, General Buell, commanding the department,
published a very caustic order, of which a short extract is here given:

“Take it in all its features, few more disgraceful examples of neglect
of duty and lack of good conduct can be found in the history of
wars. It fully merits the extreme penalty which the law provides for
such conduct. The force was more than sufficient to repel the attack

                              CHAPTER VI.


We rested at McMinnville three or four days, and then started a hard
ride with little rest for Lebanon, a distance of fifty miles, intending
to surprise and capture a force of 500 cavalry stationed there. On the
morning of the 20th we dashed into the place, but the enemy had been
warned and had left in a hurry for Nashville.

We remained one day and night in this beautiful little city, recipients
of the unbounded hospitality of its splendid people. They fed us on
poultry, roast pig, ham, cakes and pies like “mother used to make,” and
filled our haversacks for the march.

From Lebanon our route was by “The Hermitage,” so long the home of
Andrew Jackson. Here a short halt was made, and many of the men visited
the house and grounds. Mounting, we moved on to Stone river, seven
miles from Nashville, where a small picket force was captured. Thence
we crossed over to the Murfreesboro turnpike, only four miles from the
city, and destroyed four railroad bridges, capturing the guards--in
all about 120 men. We then turned off in the direction of Lebanon, and
camped for the night after riding for a few miles; here we paroled our
prisoners. Passing around Murfreesboro we marched to McMinnville, where
we rested till the 10th of August.

We then advanced to the line of railroad, captured the pickets and
burned a few bridges. The enemy had now begun to erect stockades for
their guards at the bridges. There was one not yet finished, and
Forrest tried to capture it but failed. Captain Houston of Company G
was killed in this attack.

Moving in the direction of Altamont we camped in a cove near the
mountain. The enemy advanced in force on all the roads. We had to take
the dry bed of a creek which ran parallel to one of the roads on which
the enemy was advancing. We traveled in this creek a mile or two, and
then emerged into the open. A battery of the enemy, on the McMinnville
road, not more than 600 yards away, opened fire upon us. The very best
of troops, who will charge anything, are often thrown into a panic by
an attack from an unexpected quarter. We broke into a run and were soon
out of range, though in considerable disorder.

Marching leisurely to Sparta, we joined forces with Bragg’s army,
then on the move into Kentucky. Forrest was ordered to guard the left
flank and harass the rear of the enemy in his retreat to Nashville. We
came up to their rear guard at Woodbury, and chased them clear up to
Murfreesboro, but could only run them through the place.

Bragg soon moved by Glasgow and on to Mumfordsville, getting in ahead
of Buell and on his line of march. He had a strong position, but for
some unaccountable reason turned off and let the Federal army pass on
to Louisville. Forrest kept on the left and in close touch with the
enemy till the army turned aside, when we went on to the vicinity of
Louisville. Forrest was now relieved and ordered to Tennessee, and
Colonel John A. Wharton was placed in command of the brigade. We kept
close up to Louisville, in observation of the enemy’s movements. Had
a small but spirited skirmish at Mt. Washington, as related in the

Early in October Buell began to move with some vigor. An enterprising
brigade of cavalry got between us and our main army. They took position
at Bardstown and thus we were “cut off.” When intelligence of this
move reached Wharton he called in his outposts, threw his command into
column, Rangers in front, Company D leading. At a gallop we started
for the seat of trouble. The enemy had chosen a strong position at
the mouth of the lane in which we were traveling, and had their
courage been equal to their enterprise they could have given us a warm
entertainment. When we came in sight of them our bugle sounded the
charge and we went at them as fast as our horses could carry us. They
broke almost at once, firing only a few shots. It was now a chase for
miles. We caught over 200 of them, and strewed the woods with their
dead and wounded. General George H. Thomas, of the Federal army, says
they lost about “twenty killed and wounded, and a great many missing”;
these “missing” were our prisoners. Our loss was small--I can not
recall the casualties. It was one of the softest snaps in the way of a
fight that we had during the war.

Some amusing incidents nearly always occur, but the laughter rarely
takes place till all danger is past. After the long chase we, as well
as the enemy, were very much scattered. John B. Rector seeing a lone
Federal, rushed up and demanded his surrender. “Surrender yourself,”
replied the man, leveling his pistol. Now Rector had discharged every
chamber of his pistol and promptly complied. Just then Bill Davis
dashed up. He was a large, fierce looking man, on a powerful horse not
less than sixteen and a half hands high. He broke out, “John, why the
---- don’t you disarm that ---- ---- Yankee?” “I am a prisoner myself,
Bill.” Quick as a flash Davis was at the fellow’s side and bringing his
pistol against his head broke out, “Give up them pistols, you ---- ----
blue-bellied ---- ----.” The shooting irons were promptly handed over
and the prisoner escorted to the rear.

In the language of the great American game it was pure “bluff” all
around for all the firearms were empty, but Bill Davis was always
loaded to the muzzle with quick firing profanity which he could
discharge in rattling volleys on the slightest provocation. I am glad
to say, however, that he no longer goes loaded thus, for he has been a
strict churchman for several years.

General Bragg published a general order highly laudatory of the Rangers
for this affair, but I have found no record of it. It was read to the
regiment and complimented us in high terms.

Bragg’s army was widely dispersed, gathering supplies in that fertile
section. Buell was pressing him, and to get time for concentration, and
to get his train out of the way, we made a stand at Perryville, where,
on the 8th of October, was fought one of the fiercest combats of the
war. Fourteen thousand Confederates kept at bay for nearly two days the
immense army of the enemy, but with heavy loss to both sides. Wharton’s
brigade held the extreme right and did a full share of the fighting.
Among our killed was Major Mark Evans of the Rangers. Captain Ferrell
of Company D succeeded him, and Lieutenant Kyle of Company D became

I was in the battle of Perryville, not with the regiment, but in a
small detachment on the left while the Rangers were on the right.
Hence I avail myself of the description of “Perryville” given by A. B.
Briscoe, who kindly placed his “Personal Memoirs” at my service.

“The enemy was on the west side of the creek and our army on the east.
The valley between was open field and the tops of the hills covered
in places with timber. It was an ideal battlefield; there were no
breastworks, but the hills on both sides were crowned with artillery.
Polk was in command of the Confederate forces and expected the enemy
to attack and waited for them until about 2 p. m. In the meantime the
artillery was making the very earth tremble with a duel of nearly
100 guns. We lay in a little valley a few hundred yards to the rear,
partially sheltered from this storm of shells. At 2 p. m. we were moved
in column through the lines of infantry and the smoking batteries to
the front. The open valley was before us with a deep creek spanned
by a wooden bridge. Down we charged in column of fours across the
bridge. After crossing, each squadron formed left front into line,
which made us present five lines, one behind the other, and in this
order we charged up the hill, into the woods and among the Yankees.
This whole movement was made in a sweeping gallop and as if on parade.
How different from the way we were handled at Shiloh! The Yankees were
brushed back from the hill and woods and when the bugle sounded the
recall and we returned, our own infantry and artillery had crossed the
creek and were taking position on the hills from which we had driven
the enemy. But again we had lost our commander, the gallant Lieutenant
Colonel Mark Evans, who fell mortally wounded at the head of the

I have copied this literally, but I am of the opinion that Evans was
only major.

Bragg had secured the needed time. He now started for Cumberland Gap,
leaving the cavalry to protect his rear and retard, as best they could,
the onward march of the enemy. Colonel Joseph Wheeler was made chief of
cavalry and had command of all in the rear. The country was timbered,
broken, not very fertile, affording little in the way of food for man
or beast. We had to form line and skirmish several times a day. The
service was very trying. For more than a week there was no order to

At last Buell gave up the pursuit and started to Nashville. We went on
through Cumberland Gap to Knoxville, where we had a snowstorm. From
Knoxville, by Kingston and over the mountains, we went to Sparta,
Murfreesboro and Nolensville. At Nolensville we had a position on the
left of the army. Here some promotions were announced. Colonel Wharton
became a brigadier general, his commission dating from the Bardstown
fight, the 4th of October. Harrison became colonel, Ferrell, lieutenant
colonel, and Gustave Cook, major. Ferrell was soon compelled to resign
on account of bad health. Cook then became lieutenant colonel and S.
Pat Christian, major. In Company D, Dechard became first lieutenant and
W. R. Black, second lieutenant.

We remained at Nolensville nearly two months, picketing and scouting.
We passed our second Christmas, a serious and sober set, thinking of
the homes and loved ones far away, and wondering if we should ever see
them again.

                             CHAPTER VII.


The enemy did not allow us much time for repining. Promptly on the
26th they moved out in force. We were sent forward to develop their
strength. The regiment, under the command of Captain Kyle, was drawn
up in a field and dismounted. Our leader conducted us over a high rail
fence into an open wood of cedar trees. We went along listening to his
encouraging words until we reached the top of a slight rise. Just over
the crest was a solid line of infantry lying down. Kyle at once ordered
a retreat. At least that’s what he meant, though the words he actually
used are not in the manual. He said:

“Get out of here, men! There’s a whole brigade!”

We understood him and so did the Yankees, who sprang to their feet and
delivered a volley, doing little damage. The high fence had not seemed
a serious obstacle as we went in, but when I got back to it on the
return, with bullets striking it like hail on a roof, it looked very
formidable. I sprang up on it and just fell off on the other side.
When I got up the command was moving off rapidly. I had started to the
rear as soon as the others, but they outran me, and I didn’t “throw”
the race either. I turned to the left, down the line of fence, climbed
another, and was now reasonably safe but nearly exhausted. I had still
to go half a mile before I reached the command. My saddle felt mighty
good and restful.

It was now plain that it was a general advance of the enemy, and
Bragg prepared for the battle of Murfreesboro, whither we now marched
promptly. In the line Wharton’s brigade occupied the left. When the
ball opened in earnest he led this command around the right of the
enemy’s line, and within 600 yards of Rosecrans’ headquarters attacked
and captured a wagon train going to the rear. We could not hold it
long; but we captured a four-gun battery and held on to that; moved
down toward Nashville and ran into the train again.

In these operations Company D lost two killed, Sam Friedberger and
Wayne Hamilton. Kenner Rector was wounded. John W. Hill and P. J.
Watkins were made prisoners. Hill’s horse was killed as we were
retiring before superior numbers. He was away three or four months, and
greatly missed, for he was a good one.

After a strenuous day of it, with a good many prisoners and the four
guns, we returned to the army and were sent to the right, taking
position on the right of Breckenridge’s line. We saw that gallant
officer and his splendid division move forward through an open field
with the precision of parade, under a furious cannonading from the
Federal batteries strongly posted in a cedar wood. The shells plowed
great gaps through their ranks. When the colors fell other hands seized
them and bore them onward. When they reached the position of the enemy
they wavered and began to give way, in order at first, but as they
retreated under a distressing fire of artillery and musketry, they
broke into a run. We stood there and could not help them, although
every man of us would have gone to their aid with a whoop.

This charge deserves to rank with Malvern Hill, Franklin, and other
useless sacrifices of life. Like the charge of the light brigade, “it
was magnificent, but it was not war.”

This was Bragg’s final effort, and he withdrew from the contest. The
only tactics he seems to have learned was to wait till the enemy came
up to his lines and fortified himself; then attack and lose more men
than the enemy, then sneak away. He had heard somewhere that “he who
fights and runs away may live to fight another day.”

Bragg stopped at Shelbyville. Rosecrans was content to stay at
Murfreesboro, begging his government for more cavalry; nor did he feel
safe in advancing till he had a large addition to his mounted force.

We took position on the left of the army, picketing and scouting the
front, with occasional skirmishes and reconnoissances.

                             CHAPTER VIII.


Just who conceived this wild-goose chase, I am not informed. For
suffering, hardships, and barrenness of results, it is only exceeded by
Napoleon’s Russian campaign. On the 25th of January, General Wheeler,
in command of the brigades of Wharton and Forrest, took up the line
of march for Dover, or Fort Donelson. I do not know how to describe
the weather, except in the language of the grammar on the comparison
of adjectives: cold, colder, coldest. We crossed one little stream
fifteen or twenty times in one day. The water froze on the legs of our
horses until they were encased in ice above the knees; their tails were
solid chunks of ice, while we had to walk to keep warm. Men and horses
suffered intensely.

When we reached the vicinity of Dover, Forrest reported to Wheeler that
he had but a scant supply of ammunition; and investigation disclosed
the fact that Wharton’s brigade was little better off in this regard.
Forrest did not hesitate to advise withdrawal of our forces without
attempt at action, but Wheeler determined to proceed.

Forrest attacked from the north and east, carried the enemy’s outer
works, and drove them into the redoubts, but with great loss of life.
His ammunition was now exhausted, and he was compelled to fall back.
Wharton attacked from the Donelson side, and captured one brass field
gun, but he, too, was compelled to retire because his ammunition was
running low. The Rangers had been sent out on the Fort Henry road
before these operations were begun and so had no part in the assault.

Jordan, in his “Life of Forrest,” says:

“The Confederate losses were heavy. Forrest had one-fourth of his
force, or 200 of his officers and men killed, wounded and captured, and
Wharton’s casualties did not fall short of sixty killed and wounded.”

Now the retreat began. All the command, except the Rangers, practically
out of ammunition. The weather did not moderate. The second or third
night a report reached Wheeler that a heavy column of the enemy,
cavalry and infantry, under General Jeff C. Davis, had left Nashville
to head him off. About midnight we were ordered to saddle up. It was
so cold that if we touched a gun-barrel or bridle bit our hands stuck
to the metal, and we had to put those bits into the mouths of our poor

We reached Duck river about daylight, and found it bank full, the
surface covered with floating ice. After some search a ford was found
and we crossed to the south side. As Davis’ command did not show up, we
went into camp and warmed ourselves a little. After a rest of a day or
two we moved leisurely back to our old position.

I do not know what could have been accomplished by this expedition
beyond the capture of a small garrison. Certainly the suffering and the
losses of men and horses were very great. For a long time when the men
wanted to reach the superlative of suffering they spoke of the Donelson

In April we moved over to the right and camped a few days at Sparta.
The regiment captured a mail train between Murfreesboro and Nashville,
getting about a dozen officers. The men rifled the mail sacks and
amused themselves reading the letters of the Yankees. They obtained
also a considerable amount of greenbacks; also a silver-mounted pistol,
said to belong to General Rosecrans. My horse was lame and so I missed
this expedition--and my share of the greenbacks.

Toward the last of June the Federal army, having received
reinforcements, including heavy additions to its cavalry force, began
another forward movement. The Rangers were dismounted to skirmish with
the advance. During this action a heavy rainstorm came up; we thought
this would suspend the affair, but when the rain ceased we found the
Yankees had advanced their lines considerably. Regarding this as a
violation of the rules of the game, we mounted and rode off.

Their cavalry now showed unusual spirit and audacity, pressing us
pretty close. On the 4th of July, at the site of the present University
of the South, the Rangers had to charge and drive them back. The
retreat was continued across the mountains and the Tennessee river to

The Rangers took position at Rome, Georgia. There we had a few weeks’
needed rest and recruited our jaded horses. Roasting ears were in
season, fruit was beginning to ripen, and so we feasted on good things.
The runabouts--“pie rooters” we called them--made the best of their
opportunities. Bill Arp said they found every road in the county, and
then some.

Dr. Bunting, our chaplain, started a series of meetings, and many
embraced the opportunity to pledge themselves to the better life.
The boys, from their scant pay, contributed money to buy a horse for
General John A. Wharton. The presentation speech was made by John B.
Rector, Wharton replying. Both speakers pledged the last drop of their
blood, etc. Same old story, but a trifle stale by this time.

                              CHAPTER IX.


Rosecrans maneuvered Bragg out of Chattanooga. He now seemed to have
a contempt for his adversary, and divided his army into three columns
in an effort to bring ours to bay. One crossed the mountains and took
position at Alpine, forty miles south of the center, evidently to gain
the rear of the Confederates.

We were sent to look after this column. Lieutenant Baylor of the
Rangers reported to Wharton that a heavy force of infantry was at
Alpine. Wharton reported this to Bragg with a note vouching for
Baylor’s reliability. Bragg broke out:

“Lieutenant Baylor lies: there is no infantry south of us!”

In a day or two, however, he became convinced that the report was true,
and made some feeble effort to attack them in detail. Nothing came of
it except that Rosecrans, who now discovered that his enemy was not
retreating so precipitately, took the alarm and began to concentrate
his widely separated columns. The force at Alpine had to cross the
mountains. It took them two days to get to the center, now menaced by
the Confederates. Imagine Stonewall Jackson in Bragg’s place!

Of the larger events of the battle of Chickamauga I shall treat very
briefly. It has been truthfully called the soldiers’ battle. Whatsoever
of strategy or generalship there had been had miscarried and the two
armies stood face to face for a trial of strength: a test of manhood.
The numbers were about equal, not far from 70,000 on a side. The
Federals had the advantage of position, which they had fortified. The
Confederates had to attack. Never was fiercer attack and defense. Never
was shown greater courage.

The enemy were driven from their works, but with frightful loss to the
Confederates. Their killed numbered 2389. The wounded 13,412; while the
Federals’ loss in killed was 1656, wounded, 9769. It was such dearly
bought and fruitless victories as this which finally defeated the South.

The Terry Rangers were on the extreme left of the line and were ordered
to drive the enemy from their front. This order was executed in
handsome style. The enemy proved to be our old antagonists, the Third
Ohio Cavalry. After the charge a message was brought to Lieutenant
Dechard, of the Rangers, that a wounded Federal officer wished to see
him. He rode to the spot and dismounted. When he saw the wounded man,
he said:

“Why, it’s my old friend, Major Cupp. I am sorry to see you thus.”

“Lieutenant Colonel Cupp,” replied the other, “but I’ve had my last
promotion. You people have got me this time.”

More than a year before, these officers, each a lieutenant in command
of an escort for a flag of truce, had met. They met again, a few weeks
later, under the same circumstances, but Cupp was now a captain. After
the fight in Bardstown Dechard was in command of the guard for the
prisoners, and recognized his former acquaintance. “Captain Cupp, I am
glad to see you,” said he.

“Major Cupp,” corrected the prisoner, “but I can not say that I am glad
to see you under the circumstances.”

As the cartel was still in force, he was soon exchanged, and as we have
seen when he fell, Dechard was near. These facts were related to me
by Dechard himself, and he was known to be perfectly reliable. These
incidents confirm the old adage, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

The dying officer desired Dechard to take his watch and other
belongings and send them to his relatives in Ohio, which was done a few
days later by flag of truce.

Wheeler and Forrest followed the discomfited Federals up to
Chattanooga. Here it was remembered that two detachments under
Lieutenants Friend and Batchelor had been left on picket in gaps of
the mountain away to the left of the battlefield, and I was ordered to
go to them at once and direct them to join the command, which would be
found on the Athens road.

There was about an hour of daylight, and I hoped to pass the ground of
the terrible struggle before night, knowing that there was nothing for
me or my horse until I did so. In this I was disappointed. Darkness
came on shortly after I reached the scene of that awful carnage. Many
of the Federal dead and wounded still lay where they had fallen. The
air was freighted with a horrible odor, the battlefield’s commentary
on war. The wounded hearing my horse’s footfalls, began calling me to
give some assistance. Dismounting I picked my way to the first one. He
desired to be turned over. Another wanted his canteen. The poor fellow
had struggled while there was strength, and now unable to move further,
was out of reach of his canteen. These were relieved and others not
specially remembered here. It seemed that hundreds were calling. I was
ever a coward in the presence of suffering, besides duty required that
I should proceed on my journey. So I asked:

“Are you aware that your own surgeons with their details and ambulances
are here uncontrolled on the field?”

“Oh, yes,” was the answer, “they come around every day and leave us
water, a little food and medicine, but it is awful to lie here this

I mounted and rode off, feeling sad at the fate of these men dying
unattended hundreds of miles from home and loved ones, but I steeled my
heart by the thought that if they had stayed at home with their loved
ones they would not be thus dying.

I was now lost. It was dark and my horse could not follow any road,
for roads were everywhere. Artillery wheels make many roads on a
battlefield. After a while I saw a light and went to it. It was the
camp fire of the details for the care of the wounded. These men sat
around. The ambulances and mules were near. There was a little house,
too. On the porch I saw some officers in uniform. Surgeons they were.
I inquired for some resident. A slender girl came to the door and in
reply to my request directed me to Lee and Gordon’s mill.

The moon was now rising. I was on that part of the field from which
the dead and wounded had been removed, but there was wreck and ruin
everywhere. Maimed and groaning horses, and no one to waste a load of
ammunition to end their suffering; broken gun carriages, the debris of
a battlefield.

I crossed and watered my horse in the stream at the mill. As I rode
up the hill I met two of my own company, who had been at the wagon
camp cooking for the company. When they learned how far it was to the
command and the horrors of the battlefield, they readily agreed to
camp, for it was now late. So I had supper, for my comrades had sacks
of bread and bacon, but my poor horse had nothing. We lay down and
slept under the shining moon, although but a few miles away hundreds of
human beings lay dying.

On the morrow I proceeded on my journey. When I reached the first
detachment under Lieutenant Friend and delivered my message, he kindly
sent one of his men on to tell Batchelor: gave me some forage for my
horse, and all gathered around anxious for news of the battle. Here
they had been in sound of the mighty struggle, the boom of the great
guns, even the rattle of small arms, while their comrades were in dire
peril, but denied the privilege of sharing in their danger or triumph.
They had heard that the enemy had been driven from the field, but had
heard nothing from their own command. They were hungry for news from
the Rangers. What part they took, and who were killed or wounded? For
they knew if the Rangers had been engaged somebody was hurt.

These occurrences took place nearly forty-eight years ago, and yet
their memory is clear in my mind, and when I think of my lonely ride in
Chickamauga’s gloomy woods, of the dead and dying, the wreck and ruin
of that awful night, I am convinced that there is no more expressive
definition of war than General Sherman has given.

When Batchelor’s squad came up we started to overtake the command,
joining it on the following day, as well as I remember. It was then
well on its way to the Federal rear in middle Tennessee.

                              CHAPTER X.

                         WHEELER’S GREAT RAID.

Our march was up the Holston river to find an unguarded ford, but the
pickets were everywhere. We halted in a field at night, and Company D,
armed with picks and spades, was directed to go to the river bank and
there make a way for the artillery. A guide from the vicinity showed
us a way across, by a ford unknown to the Yankees. We captured a few

Wheeler now divided his forces, himself leading a column into
Sequatchie valley, where he captured and burned 2000 wagons. He then
overtook the remainder of the command as we descended the mountains.
Our route was by McMinnville and Murfreesboro, and the way was
sufficiently familiar to us, since we had traveled it so often under
Forrest the year before.

When we reached the vicinity of Murfreesboro, Captain Kyle with his
squadron, consisting of Companies D and F, was ordered to ride around
the place, reach the railroad leading to Nashville, and try to capture
a train. We came to the railroad a little before daylight, but there
were no trains running; the enemy had learned that the “rebels” were
in the country. Captain Kyle heard of a lot of wagons down toward
Nashville and decided to take them in. This he did without resistance.
The teams had been engaged in hauling wood to the garrison at
Nashville, and the wagons were drawn by oxen, the only instance of this
kind that we saw during the war. The oxen being fat, and also too slow
of foot to go with us in any other form, were converted into beef.

We crossed over to Shelbyville pike, the scene of some of our
operations in the spring. Learning that a small force of cavalry held
Shelbyville, General Wharton ordered the Rangers to attempt their
capture. We saddled up early, and rode briskly, reaching there about
daylight, but the enemy had left. There were several stores in this
place, established by some enterprising Yankees, and stocked with
clothing and dry goods. Rather than have their doors broken down, the
owners opened them. Winter was coming on, we were a long way from home
and nearly naked, and here was our chance for winter supplies. Some of
the boys got a black “Prince Albert” coat. This was presented to the
chaplain, who wore it a long time.

The line of march led by Farmington. Here the enemy had taken a strong
position in a cedar thicket. Over the ground were scattered large
boulders. The enemy, armed with Spencer rifles, were lying behind
these stones. The Rangers were ordered to charge this position. We
got up pretty close; in fact, into the edge of the thicket; but they
poured such a destructive fire into us that it did not take us long to
discover that we had more than we could handle. We took some prisoners.
We also got some of these rifles, the first of the kind I had ever
seen; they would shoot seven times without reloading. The casualties
are not remembered, except that Major Christian and Lieutenant
Blackburn were wounded. Love, of Company C, was killed.

That night at headquarters they were discussing the incidents of the
day. Wharton said the Rangers had done all that any soldiers could do;
that it was impossible for mounted troops to drive brave men, armed
as were the enemy, from such a position. General Wheeler said they
had done all that he expected; had held the enemy engaged while our
artillery and wagons ran by through a field, thus saving the command
from a bad situation. Then Colonel Harrison spoke:

“It was no fight at all! I’m ashamed of them! If they can not do better
than that I’ll disown them!”

A staff officer put in:

“I always thought that regiment somewhat overrated anyhow.”

This aroused “old Tom,” who got up, shook his finger in the fellow’s
face and broke out furiously:

“Who the ---- are you? There is not a man in that regiment who can not
kick you all over this yard, sir!”

As he strode off to his horse, he was heard to say:

“By ---- I’ll curse them all I want to; but I’ll be ---- if anybody
else shall do it in my presence!”

Moving on to the Tennessee river, we crossed that stream at one of the
fords along the Mussel Shoals. From there, in a more leisurely manner,
we went back to the army, still besieging the Federals at Chattanooga.

                              CHAPTER XI.

                       EAST TENNESSEE CAMPAIGN.

Bragg felt so sure that Rosecrans would be starved into surrender that
he dispatched Longstreet to Knoxville to take in the garrison stationed
there. Our division, commanded by General Martin, was sent along with
him. Longstreet laid siege to the place. We were transferred from one
side of the river to the other, fording the freezing water at night. We
had a little skirmish on College hill; details not remembered, except
that Lieutenant Black was wounded.

It was reported that the “loyal” people up the river were in the
habit of loading small boats with provisions, setting them adrift to
float down the river for the use of the garrison in Knoxville, the
boats being caught by a boom across the stream. Someone conceived the
brilliant idea that if trees were cut down and rolled into the river
above, they would float down and break the boom. Our regiment, placed
temporarily under the command of somebody’s staff officer anxious to
distinguish himself, was detailed for this service. A worse selection
could hardly have been made for the performance of such work. Probably
not one man in twenty was possessed with any skill with the ax. Young
men raised on the prairies, professional men, boys from the stores,
sons of planters, who had slaves to do their chopping, composed this
force of axmen. Night, a very dark night at that, was the time selected
for the exploit. A light drizzle was falling. Imagine anybody trying to
cut down trees under such circumstances! The staff colonel in command
stopped at a house where there was a blazing fire, dismounted, and took
a comfortable seat. The regiment went up on the hillside and hacked
away for hours. I believe some trees were actually felled, chopped into
convenient lengths, and rolled into the stream and appeared to sink in
the water. All suffered from the cold. It was such foolish services
as this that tended to demoralize the Confederate soldier and sap a
man’s courage and patriotism as nothing else will. There is something
inspiring in a charge, albeit there is danger, too, with comrades
falling all around; but spirited troops would choose a charge every
time rather than such imbecile business as that midnight tree-cutting

When the Confederate army was driven from Missionary Ridge, Longstreet
was compelled to raise the siege of Knoxville. He retired to the
eastward, taking position on the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad,
near Morristown, if I remember correctly, the cavalry guarding his

The cold was intense. The people, in sympathy with the enemy, furnished
them with excellent guides to any exposed position of ours. Hence we
had to be exceedingly vigilant. Imagine going on picket at 2 a. m. with
temperature at zero or below; but the army must sleep, and the cavalry
must guard the outposts. We had also numerous skirmishes, but I can not
remember the details of them.

A letter written by me to my parents dated January 4, 1864, enumerates
six fights during November and December in which the regiment lost
twenty-seven killed and wounded; one on the road to Cumberland Gap.
This was early in November. We chased some cavalry several miles,
taking a dozen or more prisoners and wounding a few without a single
casualty on our side, unless someone’s ears were frost bitten, for it
was a very cold morning and a biting wind raged.

We had three or four skirmishes near Mossy creek. In one of these, on
December 26, 1863, Captain G. W. Littlefield was badly wounded by a
large fragment of a shell which lacerated his left hip for a space five
or six inches by twelve or thirteen. It looked like a mortal hurt. A
strong constitution pulled him through, yet he was compelled to retire
from the service, and even now (1911) suffers from the wound.

On the 29th of December we were ordered to drive a force of the enemy
who were dismounted and lying behind a large brick residence and the
outbuildings. We had to break down the garden fence, which we did by
forcing our horses against it. We drove them all right, took a few
prisoners, but sustained serious losses ourselves. In Company D, N. J.
Allen was killed outright. Richard Berger was shot through the face,
losing the sight of one eye, and William Nicholson had a slight scalp
wound. There was another on the 24th, near the same place, and one
near Dandridge, but I am unable to recall the incidents, although the
letter referred to says that I participated in all of them. In all we
sustained serious loss, and so far as I can see without any appreciable
effect on the campaign; but as Forrest said, “War means fight, and
fight means kill.” Besides our blood was up and life held cheaply.

One little engagement, all one-sided, and as far as we were concerned,
was more amusing than serious. Our brigade under Colonel Harrison,
and an Alabama brigade commanded by General John T. Morgan, so long a
Senator from Alabama after the war, were out on separate roads which,
however, came together some distance in the rear of our position. The
Alabama brigade, attacked by the enemy, gave way. We were called back,
and when we reached the junction of the roads the enemy was passing in
hot pursuit. In columns of fours we took them in flank, killed a few,
took several prisoners and scattered the remainder, for they were so
completely surprised that they made no resistance. They were Brownlow’s
brigade of East Tennessee Cavalry and rather shabby soldiers. We had no

The service was very arduous; besides the picketing alluded to above,
foraging became very laborious. The country along the streams is quite
fertile and produced abundantly of food for man and beast, but cavalry
troops consume rapidly, and the valleys were soon exhausted. So we had
to go away out into the mountains for supplies. Often wagons could not
go the roads and we had to bring supplies on our horses over mountain
trails for ten or fifteen miles. These expeditions were not without
danger, for these rude mountaineers were good shots, and lying in the
woods, did not see their bread and meat taken with kind feelings. They
sometimes fired on these foraging parties, but at long range from
mountain crag or other secure position, and I believe injured no one.

As I am not relating these things in chronological order, this will be
a good place to set down the facts concerning the night alarm on the
banks of Pigeon river. We were in camp for several days on the banks of
this stream which, though small to be called a river, was yet rather
deep at that place; though it could be forded, as will be seen.

Across from our encampment, some two or three hundred yards from the
banks, was a stately mansion, the home of a wealthy and refined family.
I think the people’s name was Smith, but I am not sure. The name will
do anyhow. The head of the family, a general or colonel, was away from
home, with the army no doubt. The family at the house consisted of
the mother and three or four daughters, all charming ladies. They had
secured a house guard to protect them from insult. Joe Rogers, being a
little indisposed, was duly installed as guard. This meant good times
for Joe; a bed to sleep in, three meals a day with plate, knife and
fork, a stable for his black horse Nig, of which, by the way, he was
very fond.

It was not long before the society men of the regiment acquired the
habit of slipping out after evening roll call to enjoy a game of cards
at General Smith’s. One night several of them, a lieutenant, a clerk
of the quartermaster’s department, and one or two others, crossed
the river in a small skiff and were soon pleasantly engaged in the
fascinating game of euchre with the young ladies. Suddenly there was
a cry of “Halt! Halt!” and pistol shots rang out on the night air.
Out went the lights, and the visitors rushed for doors and windows,
knocking over chairs, tables, and even the young women. They rushed to
the river, plunged in and across, and made for their companies. The
first alarm was plainly heard in the camp. Sharp orders to “saddle
up” were given and repeated from company to company, and the brigade
was soon in line. Colonel Harrison sent Tom Gill and a small party to
ascertain the cause of the row. Tom passed General Smith’s, where all
was dark, and went on to the picket stand. Pickets reported all quiet;
no enemy had passed their post. Tom returned to the house, where he
met Joe Rogers. It appeared that Joe had not run with the others at
the first alarm. He had gone out the back way to look after Nig and
his equipment. While getting these he heard voices, accompanied with
laughter, and the voices seemed somewhat familiar. Peeping around the
house he soon ascertained that the alarm had been caused by three or
four Rangers. He reported the cause of the disturbance to Gill and his
scouting party, and Gill reported it to Colonel Harrison.

“The old man” was furious at first, for a false alarm in war is a
serious matter and a grave offense. However, after some reflection, he
concluded to drop the matter, as he thought the incident would have a
wholesome effect on the guilty parties. The men did not so easily let
it drop. Frequently at night for some months afterwards someone would
call out:

“Who waded Pigeon?”

From some other part of the camp the answer would come:

“Murray! Brownson!”

The story got into the comic papers and caused some amusement and some
mortification to the victims of the joke. John Haynie, one of the best
soldiers in the regiment, was the leader of the alarmist jokers. If I
ever learned the names of the others I have forgotten them.

We had now been in the service for considerably over two years, and
there had been no general system of furloughs. Our regiment might have
fifteen if they would re-enlist, but as we had already enlisted for the
war we could hardly perform this condition. However, it was demanded
that we make declaration of our intention to continue in the service.
Some of us considered this a reflection on our honor, and decided to do
without the coveted furloughs. Then some of the boys got together, made
a speech or two, passed a preamble and resolutions, declaring we would
never--no never--quit as long as an armed foe trod our sacred soil.
This was considered satisfactory at headquarters, and the furloughs
were ordered. Lots were drawn for the three assigned to Company D.
These fell to D. S. Combs, I. V. Jones and J. F. McGuire, who left at
once to visit their homes.

At that time the enemy was at the mouth of the Rio Grande. They
evidently intended to invade the country far enough to break up a most
profitable trade between the States west of the Mississippi and the
outside world by way of Mexico. This traffic was carried on by means
of wagons, hundreds of which went in a constant stream to the Rio
Grande, loaded with cotton, and brought back supplies of all kinds. The
people feared the enemy would penetrate the interior, as the State had
been stripped of its defenders. Every persuasion was used to prevail
on these men to remain on this side, and they finally agreed to stay.
The lieutenant general commanding the department readily agreed to the
arrangement, and thus Company D lost three good soldiers. We could not
blame them, for, given the opportunity, every one of us perhaps would
have done the same thing.

It was during this winter that one of the saddest events of all our
career happened; the hanging of E. S. Dodd by the enemy. He was a
member of Company D. He was of a good family and well educated. For
many years he kept a diary, setting down at night the happenings of
the day. He was taken prisoner with this diary in his pocket. On that
evidence alone he was condemned and executed as a spy.

Spring was now approaching. Those masters of the art of war--Grant and
Sherman--were preparing to strike the final blows at the tottering
Confederacy. Longstreet went to Virginia. Our cavalry went to Georgia
to our old commander, General Joseph Wheeler. Our way was up the
French Broad river, through western North Carolina and South Carolina,
marching leisurely where there were abundant supplies. We reached
Georgia as Sherman was preparing to move. On the 9th day of May, just
north of Dalton, we were ordered to charge a force of the enemy, which
proved to be our old acquaintance, La Grange’s brigade of Indiana
cavalry. We went at them in our usual style, at top speed, every fellow
yelling as loud as he could. They broke and retreated precipitately.
We took more than sixty prisoners, including the brigade commander,
Colonel La Grange. His horse was wounded and fell, pinning his rider to
the earth just at a large farm gate. John Haynie, quick as a flash, was
at his side, securing the prisoner, evidently an officer. Addressing
his captor, the prisoner said:

“You have a prize indeed. I am Colonel La Grange. I did not know that
you boys had got down here from East Tennessee. I knew you as soon as I
saw you coming.”

With the help of some of the prisoners he was released from his
fallen horse, mounted on another, and escorted by his captor to
Colonel Harrison. This incident came under my own observation. For the
interview which followed his presentation to Harrison I am indebted to
that officer himself, who related it to me several years after the war.
La Grange said:

“I was in command of the brigade, and was anxious for the commission
of brigadier general. Had some influential friends who were helping
me. My division commander told me to go out, run in the rebel pickets,
skirmish a little and send in a report, which he would forward with
strong recommendations for my promotion. I came out, ran into the Texas
Rangers, and am a prisoner.”

“Only the fortune of war, my young friend,” said Harrison. “Only the
fortune of war.”

Our loss was quite heavy. Among the killed were Charles T. Pelham of
Company D, an educated young man, of good family and fine promise, a
civil engineer by profession; D. F. Lily, a young lawyer, who fell
almost in sight of his mother’s home, and W. H. Bigelow, a native
of Canada; both of these last were of Company G, and both educated

                             CHAPTER XII.


The enemy, over one hundred thousand strong, under one of the ablest
commanders in the Federal army, advanced on all the roads, overlapping
the Confederates, who took position after position, to be turned by the
superior numbers of their adversaries.

At Resaca there was quite a spirited engagement with a part of the
advance. At Cassville we took position and offered battle, but retired
before the flanking movement of the enemy. Near this place Wheeler
turned their left and captured a train of wagons within a few miles
of Sherman’s army. The Rangers were not in this capture, but when
the enemy sent a force of cavalry to retake his train, we met it in
the most unique engagement of the war. Sherman’s great army with its
hundreds of cannon, thousands of wagons and other vehicles had passed
along, pulverizing the roads and fields into fine dust, which covered
everything, in many places several inches deep. A single horseman
riding along raised a cloud, a company or regiment, such a dense fog as
to obscure everything. We were in line on one side of a slight rise in
the land. The cavalry of the enemy above mentioned were approaching on
the other side of the hill. We were ordered forward, and at the top of
this hill we met each other, enveloped in clouds of dust. We raised the
usual yell, although in doing so we took in large quantities of Georgia
real estate. We emptied our pistols into the dust, and the enemy broke.
We did not pursue them very far; for we knew we were near their main
army, and feared we might run into a brigade or two of infantry, as
we could not see anything twenty feet away. Previous encounters had
given us a contempt for their cavalry and we did not hesitate to charge
a whole brigade if need be; but we had a wholesome respect for large
bodies of infantry. We took a few prisoners, but did not know, owing to
the dust, what other casualties were inflicted on them. We had seven
wounded, including George Burke of Company D, who was shot in the

Wheeler was determined to save his train, so he tried to march all
night, but a violent electrical storm came up, rain fell in torrents,
and our progress was very slow, for the drivers of the teams could not
see the road, except by the glare of the lightning. After this had gone
on for several hours, making scarcely so many miles, the command camped
in column--I believe without orders.

Wheeler dearly loved their wagon trains. I believe it is safe to say
that from the first to the last he captured as many wagons as he
commanded men. Thousands were burned, but other thousands were secured
for the use of our army. The Northern contractors probably enjoyed this
as much as Wheeler; no doubt they would have been glad to replace all
the wagons, for a reasonable consideration.

The retreat of the army continued to the very gates of Atlanta. Here
the Rangers made another charge, in which Jesse Billingsly of Company D
was killed.

During the last week of July the enemy undertook to play our game, and
simultaneously made two raids on our communications. One column under
General McCook, with 3500 cavalry, turned our left. They crossed the
Chattahoochie near Campbelltown, passed through Fayetteville, where
they burned between fifty and one hundred wagons, and struck the Macon
railroad near Jonesboro, twenty or twenty-five miles below Atlanta. As
soon as intelligence of this movement reached Wheeler he started for
the raiders. We rode all night, coming up with them about daylight.
They made very feeble resistance and we ran over them. It was now a
chase of twenty miles to the Chattahoochie again. As this stream was
not fordable, they made a stand to gain time for crossing the river,
which they were attempting by means of boats. Our column was strung
out for several miles, Harrison’s brigade in front. We were dismounted
and pushed into the thick woods. It was afternoon of the first day of
August, and about as hot as such days ever get. The enemy made some
resistance, but we drove them steadily some four or five hundred yards,
when we heard firing in our rear where we had left our horses. So we
had to face about and fight our way back. We got mixed up with Ross’
brigade, which had been dismounted as soon as it came up. After some
three hours of this work, the enemy surrendered; that is, all who had
not crossed the river.

Wheeler reported 950 prisoners, 1200 horses and two pieces of artillery
as the fruits of this engagement. There were many of their killed and
wounded lying in the bushes. I have no information as to the number.
Our regiment lost two killed and ten wounded, including one from
Company D. This was V. Catron, who was shot in the leg.

The other column of the enemy, led by General Stoneman, turned our
right flank and struck our communications lower down, near Macon. His
force was reported to be 3000. General Iverson of the Confederate
cavalry attacked them and took 600 prisoners, including Stoneman
himself, with two pieces of artillery. The remainder of their force in
small detachments made their way back as best they could. Iverson did
not have force enough to pursue them.

General Shoupe of General Hood’s staff recorded in his diary, that
the “First of August deserved to be marked with a white stone.” These
operations cost the enemy nearly half of the two raiding parties, and
fully justified General Hood in saying that our cavalry were equal to
twice their number of the enemy.

                             CHAPTER XIII.


Wheeler was now ordered to operate on the long line of the enemy’s
communications. Finding the posts and bridges south of Chattanooga too
strongly fortified to offer any promise of successful attack, Wheeler
determined to go over into middle Tennessee again. He went up along
the Holston above Knoxville, and then had to cross under a severe fire
of the enemy’s pickets. For this undertaking there was a call for
volunteers. It looked as if the whole of the Rangers were volunteering,
and Wheeler had to stop them. The fording was deep, but the enemy were
easily driven from their position. A small force, not of the Rangers,
was sent down toward Knoxville. They met the enemy and were roughly
handled; about half of them were taken prisoners, and the exultant
enemy came on at a furious rate. Our regiment was formed in an open
field. Colonel Harrison took position in front. We went forward in a
walk at first, and then in a trot. The men were impatient. Officers
kept saying:

“Steady, men! Keep back there!”

Then we heard the popping of pistols, and all eyes were turned on
Harrison. The routed Confederates came into view. Next the enemy in
close pursuit. The men could now hardly be restrained. Finally Harrison

“Well, go then! ---- you, go!”

The tap of the drum on the race track never sent jockeys and racers to
the front more impetuously than the Rangers went at the sound of these
words. The enemy’s force was small, and they faced about at once. Their
horses were nearly exhausted, and we soon overtook them, capturing
nearly the whole party, which did not exceed two companies.

Our march was now across the Cumberland mountains, by McMinnville, the
familiar route we had traveled two years before under Forrest, and one
year before under Wheeler. Just before reaching Murfreesboro we turned
to the left and began to destroy the railroad leading to Chattanooga,
over which Sherman’s supplies had to be carried. We piled fence rails
on the track and set them on fire. The heat caused the rails to expand
and bend into all shapes, rendering them useless until straightened
out; of course the ties were burned also. In this way we destroyed some
fifty miles of the road; but the enemy had unlimited resources, and
kept trains loaded with railroad material at Nashville and Louisville;
these were rushed to the scene of our operations. With large forces
working day and night they soon got the tracks in order.

We now moved forward to the Mussel Shoals, where we were to cross the
Tennessee river. In a little skirmish on the north side W. H. Caldwell
of Company D was wounded in the hip. He was disabled for the remainder
of the war by this hurt; never entirely recovered, in fact, walking
with a limp for the rest of his life.

After crossing the river the men of the Third Arkansas, who had shown
courage and devotion on many fields, became greatly demoralized.
Finding themselves nearer home than they had been for years, many of
them deserted. One morning it was reported that twelve of these men
had gone. A detail of twenty Rangers under Lieutenant Joiner, the
whole under Captain Bass of the Third Arkansas, was sent after the
deserters. I was one of this detail. Riding forty or fifty miles a day,
we overtook four of them about twenty miles from the great Mississippi
and made them prisoners. On the return my horse was badly injured by
falling through a broken plank in an old bridge, and I was left afoot.
Joiner gave me orders to remain until my horse recovered, or until I
could procure another, and then join some other command until I could
get company over Sand mountain, as that region was infested with
bushwhackers and murderers. It was some weeks before I could get a
mount, for horses were very scarce, but this is not a narrative of my

                             CHAPTER XIV.

                           “THE ROME RACES.”

I am indebted to Comrade A. B. Briscoe for a description of this

“General Harrison, our old colonel, was in command of the forces
composed of ours and Ashby’s brigade of mounted infantry and a battery
of four guns. For some reason, but contrary to all former usages,
our regiment was dismounted and placed near the battery, and Ashby’s
infantry kept mounted to protect the flanks and led horses. The fight
had barely commenced when it was realized from the immense bodies of
infantry in our front that it was a bad one. The battery was ordered
to the rear, but just as they were limbered the Yankee cavalry poured
in on our flanks and completely enveloped us. I did not give an order
to run nor did I hear an order of any kind, but I soon found myself
dodging through and among the Yankee cavalry, who were shouting to us
to surrender. We reached our horses, which were not over 150 yards in
the rear, mounted, and after a very hasty formation charged out through
the enemy, and although we made repeated rallies they ran us back
about five miles. Why the Yankees did not capture more of our men is a
mystery, as outside of the battery we lost very few prisoners. To give
an appropriate name to this battle we called it “Rome Races,” for such
it was.”

In this race the colors furled around the staff and in the oilcloth
were lost--not captured--as the subjoined letter shows:

                                    “Dallas, Texas, May 18, 1898.

 “Terry’s Texas Rangers Association, Austin, Texas.

 “Gentlemen: I have been in Texas since 1890, and have frequently
 endeavored to find some members of Terry’s Texas Rangers, and finally,
 by accident, met with your comrade, H. W. Graber, and reported to
 him the finding of your flag the day after our engagement with your
 forces near Rome, Georgia. It happened in this way: I was directed
 by the general commanding to take two companies and move through the
 woods on the right of our line to a certain point where a country
 road intersected the main river road then occupied by our brigade.
 Just before coming into the main road I picked up a package or roll
 of something, threw it over my saddle, and on my return to the main
 command examined the same and found it to be the Terry’s Rangers’ flag
 in its case. It seemed to have slipped off the staff and been lost
 in that way. At the suggestion of your comrade--Graber--I have made
 a request on the authorities of the State of Indiana, who have had
 charge of it ever since, soon after its capture, and herewith enclose
 you a letter from Chas. E. Wilson, military secretary at Indianapolis,
 which seems to indicate there is no authority with the executive
 department of the State to return the flag, as it is in absolute
 control of the State Legislature, which is a matter of exceeding
 regret to me, as I should like to have returned the flag to you in
 time for your next reunion at Austin. I am furthermore able to assure
 you that this flag was never displayed in the streets of Nashville, as
 has been reported, but remained in possession of our regiment until
 soon after it was found. We returned direct to Louisville, from which
 point it was sent by express direct to the State of Indiana.

 “In view of the existing unsettled condition of the country, I would
 suggest we let the matter rest until our country is again pacified and
 returned to its normal condition, when I will take pleasure in making
 a further effort to return this flag, which was not captured, but
 found, and I consider, therefore, property should be returned to its

 “With kind regards and best wishes, hoping to have the pleasure of a
 personal meeting with your association, I am, with great respect,

                          “Yours very truly,
                                      “J. J. Wiler,
             “Maj. Com. 17th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.”

This flag was returned to the survivors at Dallas in October, 1898.
Its loss was very mortifying to the Rangers, as it had been presented
shortly before by the ladies of middle Tennessee.

In justice to the knightly “Count” Jones, I must say that no one could
have taken the colors from him without taking his life.

In this action fell Wm. Nicholson of Company D and Lieutenant Batchelor
of Company C, and perhaps others, but I have no record of them.

                              CHAPTER XV.

                          THE LAST CAMPAIGN.

Wheeler’s cavalry was now almost the only obstacle to Sherman’s great
march to the sea. They harassed his columns front, flanks and rear,
picking up many prisoners; but three or four thousand cavalry could
make little resistance to the onward sweep of 60,000 veterans under
one of the greatest captains of modern times. Conflicts were of almost
daily occurrence. The Rangers were engaged at Buckhead Church and
Waynesboro, Georgia. Again at Aiken, South Carolina. At Averysboro
and Fayetteville, North Carolina, where, after a night’s march, they
surprised Kilpatrick’s cavalry camp, but failed to bag that redoubtable
leader. In all of these conflicts the losses were heavy. Old Company
D lost in killed, John Gage, P. R. Kennedy, Dave Nunn, Sam Screws and
Jim Wynne. Their list of wounded, too, was large. P. R. Kyle and Geo.
T. McGehee, good ones both, were badly hurt at Aiken; McArthur, Brannum
and P. J. Watkins also. The other companies sustained heavy losses.
Lieutenant Heiskell of Company K was killed. I wish I could name them

In all of these actions, the remnant of nearly 1200 enlistments
charged with that dauntless courage which had characterized them at
Woodsonville, at Bardstown, at Dalton and many other brilliant fields
of arms. Their old colonel, now a brigadier general, Thomas Harrison;
their colonel, the knightly Cook, and the staid and ever reliable Major
Jarmon, were all stretched on beds, racked with the pains of severe
wounds. The command now devolved on Captain Matthews, who but a little
over a year before had been elected lieutenant, promoted to the rank of
captain by the bullets of the enemy which brought down his superiors,
was now, at Bentonville, to lead the old regiment in the last charge,
which will always rank as one of the most brilliant feats of arms in
the history of wars. As I was not present I will let Lieutenant Briscoe
tell of it, for he tells it well.

                           THE LAST CHARGE.

“We did but little fighting the first day, as the enemy changed
positions very rapidly. But the second we were engaged in some severe
skirmishes all the forenoon, in one of which Major Jarmon, our only
remaining field officer, was severely wounded, when we were withdrawn a
few hundred yards to rest and give place for the infantry.

“We had been in this position resting and eating our rations probably
over an hour, when we heard the boom of artillery directly in our rear.
Every man pricked up his ears, for we knew that it meant something
serious. Captain Doc Matthews of Company K (my company) was in command
of the regiment, which numbered about 100 men. We were standing talking
of the probable cause of the artillery fire in our rear when General
Wheeler galloped up and asked for the commander of the Rangers. He
seemed a little excited. His order was, ‘Captain, mount your men, go
as fast as you can and charge whatever you find at the bridge.’ These
were almost his exact words. In less time than it takes to tell it, we
were mounted and racing to the rear. Within about half a mile of the
bridge we passed a small brigade of infantry ‘double quicking’ in the
same direction. We saluted each other with a cheer as we passed, for
all felt that it was a critical time in the battle. As we came upon
some rising ground we had a good view of the enemy across an open field
about 500 yards distant. Here we halted an instant to close up the
column, and for Captain Matthews to salute General Hardee and staff,
who wished to know what troops we were.

“Captain Matthews told him and of our orders from General Wheeler. He
took a look across the field at the dense blue line and said, ‘Then
execute your orders.’ It looked like the old regiment was this time
surely going to its grave. Everything was so plain and clear you could
see the men handling their guns and hear their shouts of command.
Without a moment’s hesitation Captain Matthews gave the order, ‘Charge
right in front,’ and with that wonderful rebel yell we charged across
the 500 yards of open field upon and among the mass of Yankees. We rode
them down and emptied our pistols at close range. When the force of the
charge was expended we fell back with about 200 prisoners.”

Like our other brilliant charges, it was the very audacity that brought

In this charge fell, mortally wounded, Wm. J. Hardee, Jr., son of
Lieutenant General Hardee. Nearly a year before he, with several other
boys, had run away from school to join the Rangers, but on account of
their extreme youth Colonel Harrison sent them back to school. The boy
would not remain in school, so General Hardee kept him with him for
several months, but he fretted to join the Rangers. Finally the father
consented. The boy was enlisted in Company D and fell in this, his
first action.

I reached the command shortly before the surrender. The regiment in
numbers was little more than a good company. Battle and disease had
claimed and received their toll; but this little remnant seemed as full
of courage and spirit as when first they left their State.

The dream was over. General Lee, “yielding to overwhelming numbers and
resources,” had laid down his arms. General Johnston, again in command
of the Army of Tennessee, agreed with Sherman to disband his army.
Sadly the Rangers dispersed, taking the roads to their distant homes.

General Wheeler issued the following order, which for intense feeling
and felicity of expression is a gem:

                     “Headquarters Cavalry Corps,
                                     “April 28, 1865.

 “Gallant Comrades: You have fought your fight. Your task is done.
 During a four years’ struggle for liberty you have exhibited courage,
 fortitude and devotion. You are the victors of more than 200 sternly
 contested fields. You have participated in more than a thousand
 conflicts of arms. You are heroes! Veterans! Patriots! The bones of
 your comrades mark battlefields upon the soil of Kentucky, Virginia,
 North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. You
 have done all that human exertion could accomplish. In bidding you
 adieu, I desire to tender my thanks for your gallantry in battle, your
 fortitude under suffering and your devotion at all times to the holy
 cause you have done so much to maintain. I desire also to express my
 gratitude for the kind feelings you have seen fit to extend toward
 myself, and to invoke upon you the blessing of our Heavenly Father,
 to whom we must always look in the hour of distress. Brethren, in the
 cause of freedom, comrades in arms, I bid you farewell.

                           “Joseph Wheeler,
                                 “Major General.

  “Wm. E. Waites,
   “Assistant Adjutant General.”

                             CHAPTER XVI.


I am well aware of the imperfections of this work. I can only say that
I have tried to tell an unvarnished tale, to do no one injustice,
nothing extenuate nor set down aught in malice. Beyond a few old
letters which have escaped the ravages of mice, and such official
reports as I could find, I have been compelled to rely on memory--frail
and unreliable at best, more so after the lapse of half a century. I
beg to remind those who may find fault that it is much easier to find
fault than to do good work. No two persons see events exactly alike.
This is illustrated in our courts every day.

From the standpoint of the martinet our organization could hardly be
called a regiment. A distinguished lieutenant general is reported as
saying that it was not a regiment at all but “a d--d armed mob.” If
there was ever any serious attempt to discipline it the effort was soon
abandoned. Volunteers we began, volunteers we remained to the end. If
any wished to evade duty, they found a way, and the punishment for
evasion was light. To our credit it may be said that few ever avoided
a fight. There were few real cowards among us, and they were simply
objects of pity. If a man did not wish to go into a fight he held his
horse until it was over.

One reason of our almost uniform success was the superiority of our
arms. It will be remembered that at the beginning the possession of a
good pistol was a requisite for enlistment. If a man died or was killed
his comrades kept his pistol. When a prisoner of the enemy’s cavalry
was taken this part of his outfit was added to the general stock, so
that after a few months most, if not all, had two weapons of this kind,
and some even tried to carry three or four. No other regiment of the
army was so supplied.

Again, it was a noteworthy fact that the men were all good horsemen,
accustomed to the use and management of horses from childhood. When
three or four hundred of such men, charging as fast as their horses
would go, yelling like Comanches, each delivering twelve shots with
great rapidity and reasonable accuracy, burst into the ranks of an
enemy, the enemy generally gave way. It did not take us long to find
this out; also the enemy were not slow to “catch on.”

If it be said that other commands lost more men in battle, the
explanation is simple and easy. The purpose of fighting is to destroy
the enemy in battle; all drill, organization and hard marches are to
this end--to kill and wound as many of the enemy as possible. If this
is granted, the Rangers invite comparison with the best in any army.
It is safe to claim that the regiment killed, wounded and captured a
number of the enemy at least several times our highest enlistment of
nearly 1200. If it be said that my claim for superiority is biased by
prejudice in favor of my own regiment, I will give estimates of others.

In a letter to me acknowledging an invitation to one of our reunions,
General Wheeler said:

“They were unceasingly vigilant, matchlessly brave and daring.”

General Thomas Jordan, an educated soldier, a writer of ability,
chief of staff to General Beauregard, was selected by Forrest and his
principal officers to write a history of the campaigns of that great
soldier. In a note on page 160 of his book, General Jordan says:

“This regiment was raised and commanded by the lamented Colonel Terry,
whose brief military career, beginning as a volunteer scout at the
first Manassas, was full of distinction. He was killed at Woodsonville,
Kentucky. The privates included a large number of the wealthiest and
best educated young men of Texas, who, with many others specially
trained in the business of stock raising on the vast prairies of that
State, had acquired a marvelous skill in horsemanship. The career of
this regiment has been one of the most brilliant in the annals of war.”

Dr. John A. Weyeth, who also wrote a life of Forrest, says, “No braver
men ever lived than the Texas Rangers.”

General Hood (“Advance and Retreat,” page 202) writes of the cavalry:

“I had, moreover, become convinced that our cavalry were able to
successfully compete with double their numbers. The Confederacy
possessed, in my opinion, no body of cavalry superior to that which I
found guarding the flanks of the Army of Tennessee when I assumed its

I now quote Federal authority. Writing of the comparative merits of
the soldiers of the two armies, in a paper on the Kentucky campaign,
General Buell, while denying the superiority of the Southern soldiers
over the Northern, admits it was true of the cavalry. He says:

“Another sectional distinction produced a more marked effect in the
beginning of the war. The habits of the Southern people facilitated
the formation of cavalry corps which were comparatively efficient
even without instruction; and accordingly we see Stuart, John Morgan
and Forrest riding with impunity around the union armies, destroying
or harassing their communications. Late in the war that agency was
reversed. The South was exhausted of horses, while the Northern cavalry
increased in numbers and efficiency, and acquired the audacity which
had characterized the Southern.”

Read that again. It comes very near saying that the South was overcome
because the supply of horses failed. The writer is an educated soldier
and student of war.


My task is done. My story is told. I have derived pleasure as well as
pain and grief from the recital; pleasure in going back over the dreary
waste of years to the morning of life, and dwelling in memory amid the
scenes of my early manhood; pain that I can not do justice to all who,
at the call of country, periled their young lives for home and the
right; grief for the heroic dead, who sleep in unmarked graves wherever
duty lead to danger and death. Their matchless courage and devotion
earned undying fame.

    “Their praise is hymned by loftier harps than mine;
    Yet, one I would select from that proud throng”:

Because he was my bedfellow, and I loved him as a brother; faithful in
the discharge of every duty, clean, brave, and true--William Nicholson.

Transcriber’s Notes:

Italics markup is enclosed in _underscores_.

Some typographical errors have been corrected.

  Page  Printed      Correction    Extract
  58    Leutenant    Lieutenant    Lieutenant Baylor of the Rangers
  59    brough       brought       a message was brought to
  95    enlisments   enlistments   1200 enlistments charged with
  97    month        months        for several months
  99    Alamaba      Alabama       Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi

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