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On April 21, 1862, the Confederate Congress passed the Partisan Ranger Act. The law was intended as a stimulus for recruitment of irregulars for service into the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. The Act reads as follows:

Section 1. The congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the president be, and he is hereby authorized to commission such officers as he may deem proper with authority to form bands of partisan rangers, in companies, battalions, or regiments, to be composed of such members as the President may approve.

Section 2. Be it further enacted, that such partisan rangers, after being regularly received in the service, shall be entitled to the same pay, rations, and quarters during the term of service, and be subject to the same regulations as other soldiers.

Section 3. Be its further enacted, That for any arms and munitions of war captured from the enemy by any body of partisan rangers and delivered to any quartermaster at such place or places may be designated by a commanding general, the rangers shall be paid their full value in such manner as the Secretary of War may prescribe.

The Confederate leadership, like the Union leadership, later opposed the use of irregular warfare, fearing that the lack of discipline among rival guerrilla groups could spiral out of control. On February 17, 1864 the Partisan Ranger Act was repealed after pressure from Robert E. Lee and other Confederate regulars persuaded Congress to repeal the act. Only two partisan rangers groups were exempt and allowed to continue to operate to the very end of the war: The Mosby's Raiders, and the McNeill's Rangers. Both of these independent partisan rangers operated in the western counties of Virginia and were known to exercise military discipline when conducting raids.


  • Neil Hunter Raiford, "The 4th North Carolina Cavalry in the Civil War", McFarland & Company, 2003, ISBN 0-7864-1468-5, page 5.
  • Robert R. Mackey, "The UnCivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865," University of Oklahoma Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8061-3736-0.
  • Inc Ebrary, "Modern Insurgencies and Counter-Insurgencies: Guerrillas and Their Opponents Since 1750", Routledge(UK), 2001, ISBN 0-415-23934-6, page 10.

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