Union General William T. Sherman called them “the most dangerous set of men which the war turned loose upon the world.”
The cowboys of of the 8th Texas Cavalry were known as Terry’s Texas Rangers, reckless men who didn’t much like discipline. A Confederate colonel once recommended that the commander of a Union regiment surrender because he had five hundred Texas Rangers that he “couldn’t control in a fight.”
One night in Nashville, three or four Rangers slipped out of their barracks, got drunk and went to a play. When the actress playing Pocahontas was “roughed up” as part of a scene, one Ranger took offense and fired his six-shooter at the offending actor.
A captured Union officer wrote in a letter: “The Rangers are as quick as lightning. They ride like Arabs, shoot like archers at the mark, and fight like devils. They are wholly without fear themselves, and no respecter of a wish to surrender.”
Of the more than 1,000 Rangers who were mustered in, less than 300 returned home. In Austin, Texas there is a bronze statue depicting a Terry’s Texas Ranger wearing a poncho, a slouch hat and carrying a shotgun astride a spirited horse. One of the inscriptions is:
“There is no danger of a surprise when the Rangers are between us and the enemy.”