Commanding officer: Colonel Benjamin F. Terry
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas S. Lubbock
Major Thomas Harrison
The regiment was organized in Houston on September 9, 1861, with over 1,000 men. They supplied their own arms and equipment, enlisting mostly for the duration of the war. The first battle of the unit was Woodsonville, Kentucky, in December, 1861. The 8th Texas Rangers participated in the battles of Shiloh and Chickamauga. It took part in Forrest’s Murfreesboro Raid, Wheeler’s Tennessee Raid, the Atlanta Campaign and finally the Carolinas campaign. The last battle was at Bentonville, North Carolina, on March 21, 1865.
For much of the war parts of the regiment fought irregularly in Tennessee. Soldiers of the 8th were present at Sinking Cane, TN.
Between March 11 and 12, 1864, five Texas Rangers and an Alabama soldier riding with them had spent the night at the house of William Alexander Officer, a Confederate sympathizer who lived with his family not far from present-day Monterey, Putnam Co., TN.
The soldiers were:
2nd Lt. Robert S. Davis
John P. York
William A. Lipscomb (Alabama)
The group was eating breakfast at the Officer home on the morning of March 12 when 200 Union troops under the leadership of Col. William B. Stokes of the 5th Tennessee (Unionist) Cavalry stationed at Sparta rode up to the farm unnoticed by the inhabitants.
It could well be that the Union troops were on edge, since the day before other Union troops had tangled with a force of 150 Confederates near the Calfkiller River. Among the Confederates wounded in that skirmish was the man Col. Stokes called “the notorious Champ Ferguson” (a Confederate guerrilla leader executed by the Union after the war; see Tennessee chapter).
The force of 200 had been sent out that day to locate “the enemy in…force”, but were unable to do so. When they found the six men…at the Officer farm, they immediately began “terrorizing the family and the entire neighborhood”, in the words of one anonymously-written account of the incident.
It wasn’t long until shooting started. Without even bothering to move their prisoners out into the yard, the Union troops started shooting them. Lipscomb, Shipp, York, Garrett and Slaughter all
Shipp had made an attempt to escape, and as the Union troops shot at him a stray bullet struck Mrs. Cynthia Molford Officer, wife of William. She fell with the bullet in her back…
Lt. Davis, whom Col. Stokes called the “leader of the band” of Confederates, was wounded but not killed outright. He was taken immediately from the house and leaned up against a cedar gate post on the left side of the yard for a more military-style execution than the others had received.”
Lt. Davis last words, according to a witness, were:
“You ought not to do this. I have never done anything but my sworn duty.”
Davis never flinched, even when several rifles cracked and riddling his body with bullets, while stray shots hit the post.
Later the bodies were laid out in the yard and the men of Col. Stokes tried to burn the house. Officer resisted, and put out each blaze in spite of death threats from the Union soldiers.
After the Union soldiers had left the bodies were buried in a common grave at a nearby cemetery. They went unmarked until government markers were put up around 1980 (Cameron Judd, ‘Was It A Massacre? Civil War Dead Marked’ (Herald-Citizen, Cookeville, Tennessee, July 13, 1980).