Saturday, December 17, 2011

150-Year-Ago -- Col. B.F. Terry Killed in Skirmish at Woodsonville, Ky.

Col. Benjamin Franklin Terry
8th Texas Cavalry
      WOODSONVILLE, Ky. - Colonel  Benjamin Franklin Terry, commander of the 8th Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers, was killed in action this day, December 17, 1861, in a skirmish with the 32nd Indiana Infantry at Woodsonville, Kentucky.
     Ironically, Terry was killed in his native state, having been born in Russellville, Kentucky  on February 18, 1821. He moved with his family to Brazoria County, Texas in 1833 or 34. He married Mary Bingham in 1841 and the couple had three sons and three daughters. In 1851, Terry formed a partnership with William J. Kyle to build the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway from Harrisburg and Houston to the Brazos River. Terry was a member of the Texas Secession Convention in  1861 and was one of the senior officers that disarmed federal troops at Brazos Santiago in June of that year. His first service to the Confederate Army was as a volunteer aid to Brig. Gen. James Longstreet, with the rank of colonel, and took part in the First Battle of Manassas on 21 July 1861. Terry  and Thomas S. Lubbock were authorized by the War Department to raise a cavalry regiment in Texas and they formed the Rangers with 1,170 men in August of 1861.
     His men  were sworn into Confederate service in September and designated as the 8th Texas Cavalry in November. There was no uniformity of dress of the men at first. They wore clothing of red, blue, green and yellow, with sombreros, felt hats and caps. On their way to Virginia, they were diverted to Bowling Green, Kentucky where they joined Brigadier General Thomas Hindman's division of General Albert S. Johnston's army. The 8th Texas and Mississippi artillery were directed to destroy a bridge  over the Green River south of  Woodsonville. The Texans collided with the 32nd Indiana, a unit made up of German immigrants, and a sharp skirmish ensued. The Rangers charged three times before they were repulsed. Both sides withdrew from the battlefield. Colonel Terry was among the Confederate dead.
    The regiment changed it's name to Terry's Texas Rangers to honor their fallen commander. Terry's body was sent to Nashville, Tennessee where the legislature adjouned to excort the remains to the state capitol where it lay in state. Terry's remains also were given honors in New Orleans and Houston. The governor of Texas said of Terry, "no braver man ever lived-no truer patriot ever died." He was buried in Glenwood Cemetery  in Houston. Terry County was named in his honor.
     Terry's Texas Rangers went on to become one of the hardest fighting regiments in the war. It was assigned to Wheeler's, Wharton's and T. Harrison brigades. Its battle honors also include Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga,  the Knoxville campaign, the Atlanta campaign. It also fought in defense of Savannah and the Carolinas toward the end of the war, and it surrendered with about 30 men on April 26, 1865.
     Other field officers of ther regiment included Colonels Gustave Cook, Thomas Harrison, Thomas S. Lubbock, and John A. Wharton; lieutenant colonels Samuel P. Christian, Marcus L. Evans, Stephen C. Ferrill and John G. Walker; majors William R. Jarmon and Leander M. Rayburn.

James Francis Miller was a veteran of
Terry's Texas Rangers when this photo
was taken while he was a Member of the
U.S. Congress from 1883-1887. He served
as private in Company I and was in all four
years of the war. He was born in 1830 in
South Carolina and practiced law in Gonzales, Texas.
He was the first president of the Texas Bankers' Association.
Miller died in 1902 and is buried in Masonic
Cemetery in Gonzales, Texas.
(Library of Congress)

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