"We Are Stern and Resolved":
The Civil War Letters of John Wesley Rabb,
Terry's Texas Rangers
EDITED BY THOMAS W. CUTRER*
W ITH THE OUTBREAK OF THE CIVIL WAR, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TERRY,
a wealthy Fort Bend County sugar planter, received authoriza-
tion from the Confederate War Department in Richmond to raise a
regiment of cavalry for service in Virginia. On August 12, 1861, he
issued a call for volunteers. One thousand one hundred seventeen
young Texans responded. Each man was required to furnish his own
arms and equipment-a shotgun or carbine, at least one Colt revolver,
a Bowie knife, and a saddle, bridle, and blanket. The army would pro-
vide the regiment mounts.'
*Thomas W. Cutrer Is the associate director of the Texas State Historical Association and
managing editor of the I-andbook of Texas He is currently at work on a biography of Texas
Ranger and Confederate general Ben McCulloch.
The editor wishes to acknowledge the cordial cooperation of Miss Lilhan Rabb of Smithville
and Don E. Carleton and Ralph Elder of the University of Texas Barker Texas History Center
in making these letters available and the generous assistance of Donaly E. Brice of the Texas
State Archives and Michael R. Moore of the Fort Bend Historical Society in helping to identify
Rabb's kinsmen and acquaintances.
The editor has taken the liberty of regularizing the punctuation of these letters. The origi-
nals were quite innocent of commas, semicolons, and periods. The initial letter of each sen-
tence has also been capitalized. The spelling and syntax are Rabb's own.
' Among the most significant of other primary documents dealing with the career of the
Eighth Texas Cavalry are the memoirs of L[eonldas] B Giles, Terry's Texas Rangers (Austin: Von
Boeckmann-Jones, 1911; reprint, Austin: Pemberton Press, 1967); J[ames] K. P. Blackburn,
Reminiscences of the Terry Rangers ([Austin]: University of Texas, Littlefield Fund for Southern
History, 1914; reprint, Austin: Ranger Press, 1979), and also reprinted in the Southwestern Hs-
torcal Quarterly, XXII (July, 1918), 38-77, (Oct, 1918), 143-179; Dtary of E. S. Dodd, Co D,
and an Account of Hs Hanging as a Confederate Spy (Austin: Ranger Press, 1979); William Andrew
Fletcher, Rebel Prvate, Front and Rear (Beaumont: Greer Print, 19o8; reprint, with introduction
by Bell I. Wiley, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1954; Batchelor-Turner Letters, 1861-1864,
ed. H[elen] J. H. Rugeley (Austin: Steck Co., 1961); Jessie Burke Heard (comp.), "A Terry's
Ranger Writes Home: Letters of Pvt. Benjamin F. Burke .. ." (photocopy of typescript, 1965,
Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center, Unlversity of Texas, Austin, cited hereafter as
BTHC); the letters of William Nicholson in Margaret Belle Jones (comp.), Bastrop A Compila-
tion of Materal Relating to the History of the Town of Bastrop, with Letters Written by Terry Rangers
(Bastrop: n.p., 1936), 41-45, 49-70; the letters of John F. Hill, Robert E. Hill, and Dionysius
O. Hill, in Pauline Scott Goldman, "Letters from Three Members of Terry's Texas Rangers,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed December 4, 2013.