Formed out of the Eighth Texas Cavalry in mid-1864 by General John Bell Hood, Captain Alexander Shannon’s “Scouts” was one of the most colorful and effective cavalry units during the war. The thirty-man force regularly attacked Sherman’s foraging parties that terrorized Southern civilians, often thrashing units four times their number.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Punishing Sherman’s Vandals
“A passage from a letter written by Enoch John, one of Shannon’s Scouts, on December 18, 1864, reveals the hard nature of the war
waged by these men.
“I have enjoyed myself on this trip but think, sometimes, I am getting hard-hearted,” he wrote. “But I notice the tears of a lady always
bring tears to me eyes and the smoke and flames of a dwelling prevents the prayers of the Yankees for their lives, even when on their
knees, being heard, and steadies my nerves to kill them all . . . I have a brace of pistols that never snap.”
[Shannon’s] Scouts often employed hit-and-run tactics. “Witnesses stated that Shannon’s rule was immediately to attack any enemy force encountered and if it proved too strong to withdraw,” wrote one historian of the unit. If endangered, the Scouts remained concealed, waiting for a chance to pounce on stragglers.
“[Crossing into North Carolina the Scouts] . . . hardly had time to feed their horses before the picket reported Yankees just down the road robbing a house.” [General Joe Wheeler led] twenty of Shannon’s men in a small ambush against some [enemy] troopers pillaging a residence near Rockingham.
The Confederates routed the stunned Yankees and killed or captured thirty-five in a spirited skirmish. Two troopers from the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry were killed, as were two of the 8th Indiana Cavalry. Mathew S. Ross of Company G surrendered, but one of Shannon’s men shot him in the back of the head nonetheless, the ball lodging between his skull and the skin of his forehead. “He lived until after dark that night when he died . . . [recalled a captured comrade]”
(The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads, Eric J. Wittenberg, Savas Beatie, 2006, pp. 87-89)