Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Man Behind Terry's Texas Rangers

Benjamin Franklin Terry, the first commander of the 8th Texas Cavalry was killed December 17th 1861 during the Battle of Rowlett’s Station.

Benjamin Franklin Terry the son of Joseph R and Sarah D [Smith] Terry, was born February 18th 1821 in Russellville, Kentucky.  His father left the family in 1833 and his mother moved the family to Texas to live with a Grandmother.  Terry was a wealthy land holder in Fort Bend County, Texas and a builder of railroads.  A big, popular man, Terry was elected as a delegate to Texas’ Secession Convention.  It was while at the Convention that Terry and fellow delegates Thomas S Lubbock and John A Wharton decided to raise a company of cavalry.

In early 1861 Terry was involved in the campaign to disarm Union troops at Brazos Santiago.  In June 1861 he sailed from Galveston, Texas to New Orleans and then by train onto Richmond, Virginia to offer his service to the Confederate Army.  He was appointed Colonel and made an aide to General James Longstreet.  Following First Manassas the Confederate War Department gave Terry permission to raise a Cavalry Regiment.  Making a call for volunteers at Houston, Texas on August 12th 1861, the unit was organized in November 1861 as the 8th Texas Cavalry with 1,170 men.  The 8th was known as Terry’s Texas Rangers.  They headed for Virginia, but were re-routed to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The first battle for the 8th was fought near Woodsonville, Kentucky, the Battle of Rowlett’s Station on December 17th 1861.  Terry was killed during the battle, which ended in victory for the Confederates.  Terry’s body was sent by train to Nashville, Tennessee where he laid in state in the Capitol, then on to New Orleans and finally Houston.  He is buried in the Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas.

A web site with more infortion about Benjamin Franklin Terry is the  Texas State Historical Association

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