An Illustrated History of the Fourth Texas Infantry

The following is a month-by-month history of the activities of the Fourth Texas Volunteer Infantry, one of the three Texas regiments to serve in Hood's Texas Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. Emphasis has been given to stories of Company B (``The Tom Green Rifles''), but that company's history is inextricably linked to that of the Fourth Texas Regiment and the Texas Brigade as a whole. The history is presently incomplete, but monthly additions are made in accordance with the 135th anniversary of the events occurring within each month. So check back each month to find out what the boys were up to!

Illustrations are highlighted in color . Just click and view!

This history has been gleaned from the following scholarly works:

Primary source:

Simpson, Harold B., Hood's Texas Brigade: Lee's Grenadier Guard , Copyright 1970, Texian Press, Waco, Texas

Secondary sources:

McMurry, Richard M., John Bell Hood and the War for Southern Independence, Copyright 1982, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London

Pfantz, Harry W., Gettysburg: The Second Day , Copyright 1987, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London

Polley, J. B., Hood's Texas Brigade: It's Marches, It's Battles, It's Achievements , Copyright 1988, Morningside House, Dayton, Ohio

Power, J. Tracy, Lee's Miserables: Life in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to Appomattox , Copyright 1998, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London

Priest, John M., Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle , Copyright 1989, Oxford University Press, New York and London

Rhea, Gordon. C., The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864 , Copyright 1994, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London

Rhea, Gordon. C., The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern, May 7-12, 1864 , Copyright 1997, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London

Wert, Jeffry D., General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier - A Biography , Copyright 1993, Simon & Schuster, New York



Table of Contents (Just click on the month!)

1861 1862 1863 1864 1865
Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Jan Feb Mar Jan Feb Mar Jan Feb Mar Apr
Apr May Jun Apr May Jun Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sep Jul Aug Sep Jul Aug Sep
Oct Nov Dec Oct Nov Dec Oct Nov Dec Their Journey Home


1858 - October 1861

In the spring and summer of 1861, the Richmond government issued three levies on Texas troops for service in the Confederate army. Eleven companies of men answered the first two levies, and another 20 companies answered the third call. Among the latter was a local militia group, the Quitman Rifles, which had been organized at Austin in 1858. Before the Quitman Rifles marched off to their first camp of instruction at Camp Clark on the nearby San Marcos River, the citizens of Austin contributed $1000 to equip their future home-town heroes. The company was presented with two flags, one in April and one in June, by leading ladies in the Austin social circles. Shortly thereafter, the Quitman Rifles became known as the Tom Green Rifles, in honor of their commandant at Camp Clark. In late July, the companies formed under the third levy gathered at Camp Van Dorn in Harrisburg, Texas, for debarkation to Virginia. On August 16, the first five companies, including the Tom Green Rifles, began their long journey to Richmond.

During their trek east, the Texas troops experienced the first of what would be many hardships over the next four years. Val Giles, a member of the Tom Green Rifles, wrote after the war that ``our march across Louisiana ... will never be forgotten by any surviving soldier who made it. For twelve days and nights it rained continuously.'' Giles' company arrived at Richmond on September 12. After reaching the destination, the troops were formally organized into regimental companies bearing numbers and letters representing the order of their departure from Camp Van Dorn. The Tom Green Rifles, led by Captain Benjamin F. Carter, was the second company to depart Camp Van Dorn and officially became Company B of the Fourth Texas Volunteer Infantry on September 30, 1861.

By October 1861, all the companies raised in Texas for service in Virginia, except one, had completed their journey eastward. (Company M of the First Texas would not arrive until April 1862.) While the company officers were elected by their own troops, the regimental and staff officers were appointed by Richmond authorities. The first man to be appointed colonel of the Fourth Texas was R. T. P. Allen, the former drill instructor at Camp Clark. Disliked as an overbearing martinet, Allen was rejected by his troops in a matter of hours. In his place was appointed John Bell Hood, a native Kentuckian whose name would be forever synonymous with the Texas Brigade. Hood's colonelcy of the Fourth Texas officially began September 30, 1861. John Marshall, editor of the Texas State Gazette of Austin and the man most responsible for bringing the 20 companies of Texans to Virginia, was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Texas. Marshall had no formal military training. Bradfute Warwick, a well-to-do Virginian with much military experience, was appointed major of the regiment. Both Marshall and Warwick ranked from October 2, 1861.

The other original staff and noncommissioned officers of the Fourth Texas were: Howell G. Thomas, Surgeon; D. C. Jones, Asst. Surgeon; J. D. Wade, Asst. Quartermaster General; T. M. Owens, Commissary Officer; R. H. Bassett, Asst. Adjutant General; Nicholas A. Davis, Chaplain; J. T. Cunningham, Sergeant Major; W. H. Stewart, Quartermaster Sergeant; C. B. Way, Commissary Sergeant; and Dan Collins, Chief Musician. These officers and NCOs were appointed between October 1 and 19, 1861. Dr. Thomas was a well known, highly educated, and skilled Richmond surgeon, but was too reserved and taciturn for the Texans. The men resented his appointment and the officers refused to cooperate with him. Thomas resigned his position within a few weeks, publicly stating that ``his connection with the Texans was the most unpleasant [time] of his life.''

In early October, the Fourth and Fifth Texas moved their camp from the York River Railroad to a more permanent location about four miles east of Richmond. Officially known as Camp Bragg, the Texans named it Camp Texas in honor of the Lone Star state. The men spent their time drilling, drawing supplies and equipment, and preparing for movement northward to the west bank of the Potomac. On October 25, the Fourth and Fifth Texas were officially assigned with the First Texas, per General Orders No. 15. On the same day, Brig. Gen. Louis T. Wigfall was designated commander of the Fifth Brigade, Fourth Division, Potomac District, Dept. of Northern Virginia commanded by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Wigfall's Brigade consisted of the three Texas regiments and a Louisiana regiment of unknown designation. While at Camp Bragg, the Texas Brigade drilled, paraded, were inspected, and deloused almost continuously.

The first three serious discipline problems on record occurred within a two-day period in late October. All three were committed by men in the Fourth Texas. On October 25, Frank Rogers (company unknown) was caught with an altered furlough. Rogers had been granted a 9-day leave which he had changed to read 29 days. On the same day, C. B. Butler (Co. K) was caught stealing money from a comrade and was drummed out of the regiment wearing the word ``THIEF'' on his knapsack. On October 26, an unnamed member of Co. D was arrested for attempted desertion into Federal lines. The man's fate is not a matter of record.

The Texas Brigade was fortunate to have good bands to help make their off-duty hours more bearable. The band of the Fourth Texas was the most popular and best organized. After the companies organization into regiments, the original company musicians were transferred to regimental headquarters as members of the Regimental Band. The Fourth Texas Band was led by Dan Collins, the original musician of Co. G.

By late October, the Fourth and Fifth Texas were considered well enough trained and equipped to take their places on the Potomac line alongside the First Texas Infantry.

November 1861

On November 4, the Fourth and Fifth Texas Infantries were ordered to pack up their excess baggage and send it back to the Texas Depository Depot at the corner of Main and Seventh Streets in Richmond. Rumours had circulated that the troops were to be sent to the Kanawha Valley in western Virginia, but on November 7 the Texans learned that they were to join the Confederate Army of the Potomac (including the First Texas Infantry) near Dumfries, Virginia.

A few days later, the elated men boarded the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad and traveled to Brooke's Station, a few miles north of Fredericksburg. Here the Texans stayed a few days and experienced for the first time the act of foraging. An 18-man detail led by Lt. J. D. Wade and Chaplain Nicholas Davis of the Fourth Texas procured wagons, corn, and potatoes from three nearby homes. According to Davis, they left behind a bevy of crying women and children. Although a man of the cloth, Davis was known to carry a rifle, a six-shooter, and 100 rounds of ammunition.

On the night of November 12, the Fourth and Fifth Texas broke bivouac and began a march for Dumfries, hastened by an urgent request from General Wigfall for assistance in repelling a large Federal force which had supposedly crossed the Potomac and entrenched above the Occoquan River. The march was moonless and muddy, and many troops fell by the wayside. The next day, the exhausted Texans arrived in Dumfries only to learn that Wigfall had sounded a false alarm. This action was immediately followed by another false report of a Federal advance further down the Potomac. Again the Fourth and Fifth Texas scurried north toward the Occoquan to meet the nonexistent threat. Thus the men under Cols. John B. Hood and James J. Archer learned of the panicky nature of their brigade commander. Fortunately, they were not destined to suffer long. On November 16, Wigfall was elected by the Texas Legislature to represent the Lone Star State in the Confederate Senate.

On November 17, the Fourth and Fifth Texas went into winter camp and entrenched in the hills overlooking Powell's Run and Neabsco Creek. The Fourth Texans named their site near Powell's Run ``Camp Hood'', which was about a mile from the Fifth Texas's ``Camp Neabsco''. Initially, the men had no tents and suffered from cold, winds, and short rations. The First Texas, under Col. Hugh McLeod, was encamped at nearby Camp Quantico. On November 20, the three Texas regiments were joined by the Eighteenth Georgia Infantry under the command of Col. William T. Wofford. The Georgians set up their Camp Fisher near the Potomac between Powell's Run and Neabsco Creek. Thus were joined the first four regiments of Wigfall's (later Hood's) Texas Brigade.

December 1861

As 1861 slipped into its final month, the regiments of the Texas Brigade began a routine of patrolling and entrenching along the Potomac, foraging supplies from the local citizens, constructing winter quarters, and keeping themselves entertained. The brigade was responsible for guarding the Virginia-side of the Potomac from Occoquan Creek to Quantico Creek -- a distance of about ten miles. The false alarms of northern invasions continued to be sounded by the jumpy Gen. Wigfall, whose judgment in such instances was often clouded by his fondness for hard cider. Joseph B. Polley of the Fourth Texas wrote that ``Wigfall's imagination was too often quickened by deep potations to be reliable.'' By mid-winter, Cols. Hood and Archer of the Fourth and Fifth Texas began ignoring the long rolls coming from brigade headquarters.

The impending harsh winter weather forced the members of the brigade to scour the surrounding countryside for materials from which to build suitable winter quarters. Log cabins became popular, but so did plank structures built with timbers stolen from nearby homesteads, both abandoned and not. A Mr. Dunnington of Dumfries wrote to Confederate authorities on December 16 that when he arrived at his future home, he ``found every plank taken from the stable, the office removed, the kitchen and servant's house all gone but the brick chimneys, the shed portions of the dwelling entirely gone, the window-sash and doors and weather-boarding torn off and carried away, the fencing gone, and what I expected to be my future home a complete wreck... The enemy have not destroyed any man's property so completely.''

Because of bad weather, few large-scale drills or formations were held. The troops chiefly employed themselves with cooking, eating, sleeping, picketing, and policing the camp. For amusement, the troops engaged in playing cards, ``news walking'' (spreading news and gossip), visiting relatives and friends in nearby regiments, hunting, visiting the brigade sutler, or attending the ``Lone Star Theater''. The theater was made up of professional and amateur actors, musicians, and singers who organized themselves into brass bands, choirs, and an acting troupe known as ``Hood's Minstrels.'' Despite these distractions, the troops did suffer some hardships. According to Polley, ``The one monotony was the staying in one place -- the grievous lack was feminine society.''

January 1862

The first month of 1862 brought little activity to the Texas Brigade outside the daily rituals of camplife. For most of the winter of 1861-1862, the brigade was, like the rest of the army, practically immobile because of the severe sickness that swept through the camps. J. B. Polley of the Fourth Texas noted that his regiment and the Fifth Texas were particularly hard hit. The principle ailments were measles, rheumatism, diarrhea, and typhoid fever. J. M. Polk of Company I, Fourth Texas wrote, ``...our losses in the winter of 1861 from sickness and exposure, incident to camp life were very heavy. I had the measles; had a relapse and developed a case of typhoid-pneumonia, and my fate was uncertain for about six weeks. For ten or twelve days I did not eat a mouthful of anything. Mrs. Oliver, a citizen of Richmond, had me removed to her house, and by close attention, managed to pull me through.'' Many of the Texas Brigade were lost to disease before ever firing a shot in battle. The highest ranking fatality from illness was Col. Hugh McLeod of the First Texas, who died of pneumonia on January 3, 1862.

Life for the Fourth Texas during this time wasn't all misery, however. In January 1862, Fannie and Louise Wigfall, daughters of the Texas Brigade's commander, presented the Fourth and Fifth Texas with their first battle flags. The flags were made in Virginia from dyed silk taken from the silk wedding dress of Gen. Wigfall's wife. The flags featured a blue St. Andrew's cross with 13 white stars, the largest being in the center, and white trim against a field of pale red. In time, the red dye would fade to almost pink. The flag of the Fourth Texas would sustain 65 bullet holes and 3 tears from artillery fragments before it being retired in October 1862.

February 1862

By February 1862, the illnesses persisting among the Texas troops since the onset of winter had taken their toll. The number of able-bodied men defending the banks of the Occoquan near Dumfries was becoming dangerously small. (By winter's end, 50% of the men in Company E of the Fourth Texas would have been hospitalized or lost forever.) To combat these staggering losses, the Richmond government embarked upon an ambitious recruiting drive. In most instances, one officer and one enlisted man from each company of the brigade returned to Texas to find replacements for those men lost during the brutal Virginia winter. A quota of 1500 recruits was established for the Texas Brigade. Although this goal was overly optimistic, several companies did manage to replenish their ranks handsomely. For example, Lt. L. P. Hughes of Co. F, Fourth Texas and 3rd Sgt. R. H. Wood of Co. G, Fourth Texas each brought 43 new men back to their respective companies. Others were not so lucky. After five weeks of campaigning, Lt. J. M. Brandon of Co. E, Fourth Texas managed to enlist only seven men for his illness-ravaged company.

On February 20, 1862 -- three months after being elected by the Texas Legislature to the Confederate Senate -- Brig. Gen. Louis T. Wigfall finally resigned his military commission and assumed his civilian seat in Richmond. That same day, command of the Texas Brigade was passed to the senior colonel in the brigade, Col. James J. Archer of the Fifth Texas Infantry. Unfortunately for Archer, the command would be short lived.

During the winter of 1861-62, scouts from the Texas Brigade would frequently cross the Occoquan River and infiltrate the Federal picket line on the north bank. Mostly, these ``raids'' went undetected. On February 28, however, a party of ten scouts from the First and Fifth Texas Regiments found themselves in a deserted house near Pohick Run, surrounded by a large detachment of Federal cavalry and infantry. The Yankee commander, Lt. Col. Burk of the 37th New York Infantry, demanded the Texans' surrender. A short firefight ensued, until an imaginative Texan yelled from a second story window, ``Hurra boys, [Wade] Hampton's coming, I hear him on the bridge.'' Hearing this, Lt. Col. Burk and his men promptly fled the scene, leaving their dead behind. Hampton, of course, was nowhere to be seen. After burying the Federal dead the following morning, the Texans returned to the south side of the Occoquan carrying their only casualty, James S. Spratling of Co. E, First Texas. Spratling was the first member of the Texas Brigade to be killed in action.

March 1862

In early March 1862, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, commander of the Dept. of Northern Virginia, ordered all Confederate troops along the Potomac River to abandon their line and move southward to Fredericksburg. On March 5, a detail of 20 men from each of the Texas regiments was sent up to Occoquan Creek to serve as a rear guard for Hampton's South Carolina Legion as it moved south. On March 8, the Texas Brigade left its camps near Dumfries and reluctantly moved south. Noting the bitter disappointment and low morale of the Fourth Texas as it ``retreated'' toward Fredericksburg, Col. John Bell Hood delivered this stirring speech to the regiment:

Soldiers -- I had hoped that when we left our winter-quarters, it would be to move forward; but those who have better opportunities of judging than we have, order otherwise. You must not regard it as a disgrace -- it is never a disgrace to retreat when the welfare of your country requires such a movement. Our is the last Brigade to leave the lines of the Potomac. Upon us devolves the duties of a rear guard, and in order to discharge them faithfully, every man must be in his place, at all times. You are now leaving your comfortable winter quarters to enter upon a stirring campaign -- a campaign which will be filled with blood, and fraught with the destinies of our young Confederacy. Its success or failure rests upon the soldiers of the South. They are equal to the emergency. I feel no hesitation in predicting that you, at least, will discharge your duties, and when the struggle does come, that proud banner you bear, placed by the hand of beauty in the keeping of the brave, will ever be found in the thickest of the fray -- Fellow soldiers -- Texans -- let us stand or fall together. I have done.

The men gave three cheers for Hood and marched on, carrying only their personal belongings, frying pans, and camp kettles. Only one wagon was allowed for every two companies. The remainder of their possessions, tents, and cooking utensils were left behind to prevent the Yankees from discovering that the camps had been abandoned. The Texas Brigade marched eight miles on bad roads that day, finally camping at 10 pm on the south bank of Chopawamsic Creek.

The next day, March 9, the brigade continued its ``mud march'' another 8 miles and went into bivouac on Austin's Run near Stafford Court House. On Sunday, March 10, the Texans marched to within 4 miles of Fredericksburg. First Sergeant Oscar Downs of the Fourth Texas wrote in his diary, ``The roads are awful and my shoulders are nearly bleeding from carrying a heavy knapsack. I thought several times that I was broken down, but as I was the Orderly I could not give up.'' The next day, the brigade was given a much needed rest. On March 12, the Texans finally crossed the Rappahannock River at Falmouth, and went into camp in a beautiful pine orchard about two miles west of Fredericksburg. The Rappahannock was now the new Confederate defensive line.

As the Texas Brigade went into camp on March 12, Col. Hood received orders from Richmond that he was to assume command of the brigade from Col. Archer, his senior in rank by a few days. Hood's new rank of brigadier general was dated March 8. Archer returned to his former command as colonel of the Fifth Texas. The motivation for replacing Archer with Hood is not clear, for at that time Hood had not much opportunity to distinguish himself above the other colonels of the brigade. One possible motive stems from President Jefferson Davis's political friendship with Lt. Col. John Marshall, who, on March 12, replaced Hood as colonel of the Fourth Texas. Maj. Bradfute Warwick was elevated to lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Texas, and Capt. J. C. G. Key of Co. A was promoted to major to fill Warwick's vacancy.

On March 13, a scavenging and scouting party was organized from the officers and ranks of the Texas regiments. The party of 48 was to return to Dumfries with the hope of capturing or killing Yankees and recovering as much Confederate property as they could handle. The party captured many prisoners, reclaimed much of the abandoned property, and burned the huts that had protected them throughout the harsh winter. One of the prisoners was a Chinese servant who made the mistake of ``giving lip'' to Pvt. J. C. Barker of Co. G, Fourth Texas. Barker placed the ``ruthless invader'' across his lap and administered a belt lashing that the servant had probably not received since childhood. Such scouting and scavenging parties to Dumfries would be common until the brigade's next movement early the following month.

April 1862

On April 3, 1862, Union General Dan Sickles and his New York Excelsior Brigade crossed the Potomac near Chopawamsic Creek and marched south to Stafford Court House, eight miles north of Fredericksburg. The Excelsiors were the same troops that had tangled with Texas scouts near Pohick Run just over a month before. Marching in two columns, the Excelsiors again encountered scouts from Hood's Brigade near Aquia Church and engaged them in a skirmish. The overwhelmed scouts withdrew and sent a courier to Maj. Gen. W. H. C. Whiting, who commanded Confederate forces in the area and to whose division the Texas Brigade had been assigned. Whiting responded by dispatching the Texas Brigade to the scene.

Hood's brigade marched out at 10 pm, with the Fifth Texas in the van and the 18th Georgia in the rear. The brigade marched all night, but failed to contact Sickles' force. On the way, Col. John Marshall of the Fourth Texas fell asleep in the saddle during a halt and was not awakened by his men until the Fifth Texas had moved out of sight. In his haste to catch the lead regiment, Marshall led the Fourth Texas down a wrong road. The brigade, now split up and in great danger of being attacked, wasn't reunited until morning. Fortunately for the Texans, Sickles had been content with pillaging Stafford Court House and had withdrawn his men back across the Potomac. The Texans spent the night of April 4 in a snowstorm on an exposed hill south of Dumfries. The next morning, they began their march back to camp by way of Falmouth.

Meanwhile, overall Union Commander Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan had turned Gen. Johnston's right flank by landing his army at the tip of the peninsula between the York and James Rivers. Johnston's response was to transfer his army from the Rappahannock line to Yorktown, which lay between Richmond and McClellan. On April 6, Hood received orders to prepare his brigade for a southward march on an hour's notice. Stragglers and foragers were to be severely disciplined. On April 7 or 8, the brigade marched through sleet, snow, and rain to Milford Station on the railroad below Fredericksburg. Without blankets and tools for building fires, the brigade spent a miserable day soaked and chilled to the bone. Hood remarked that it was ``the severest weather that he had ever experienced on a march.'' When the troops reached a very wide and waist-deep creek along the way, they waited for Hood to come up and give direction. The new brigadier promptly dismounted his horse and plunged into the creek, exhorting his men to to follow. They did so without hesitation.

At Milford, the Texans boarded cars of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad for a 21 mile trip southward to Ashland, where they arrived on April 10. Here the brigade rested, drilled, and cleaned their equipment. On April 14, the brigade began the last 85 miles of its march down the peninsula to Yorktown. The Texans arrived on April 19, after a leisurely and uneventful trip, and took went into camp two miles west of town near trenches dug during the Revolutionary War. On April 18, Johnston organized his forces into four divisions, consisting of left, center, and right wings, and a reserve. Whiting's Division was assigned to the reserve under the command of Maj. Gen. Gustavus Woodson Smith.

Hood's men were tired of the marching, drilling, and inactivity. Capt. Wm. P. Townsend of Co. C, Fourth Texas, reported that the Texas Brigade was ``in fine spirits... and anxious for a fight. We feel perfectly confident that we can and will beat the enemy.'' The men were soon called upon to provide sharpshooters to harass Yankee scouts and skirmishers who closely approached the Confederate works. The Federals soon learned the effectiveness of Enfield rifles in the hands of the Texans and Georgians, and they quickly ceased their infiltrations. This victory, however, came at the cost of two Texans killed and several wounded.

During a dress parade on April 26, the Fourth Texas presented Gen. Hood with a gift horse that they had purchased as a token of their esteem and admiration. First Sgt. J. M. Bookman of Co. G addressed Hood and the ranks with the following speech:

SIR: In behalf of the non-commissioned officers and privates of the 4th Texas Regiment, I present you this warhorse. He was selected and purchased by us for this purpose, not that we hoped by so doing to court your favor, but simply because we, as freemen and Texans, claim the ability to discern, and the right to reward merit wherever it may be found. In you, sir, we recognize the soldier and the gentleman. In you we have found a leader whom we are proud to follow -- a commander whom it is a pleasure to obey; and this horse we tender as a slight testimonial of our admiration. Take him, and when the hour of battle comes, when mighty hosts meet in the struggle of death, we will, as did the troops of old, who rallied around the white plume of Henry [of Navarre], look for your commanding form and this proud steed as our guide, and gathering there we will conquer or die. In a word, General, ``you stand by us and we will stand by you.''

Hood mounted the horse, thanked the men, and promised them that they ``should not look in vain for a rallying point when the struggle came.''

May 1862

By the beginning of May 1862, the Federal navy had gained control of the York and James Rivers up to Yorktown. On May 3, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston responded to the threat by ordering the Confederate forces at Yorktown to withdraw north toward Richmond. Whiting's Division was assigned the rear guard of the army, and the Texas Brigade was detailed as the rear brigade. The Fourth Texas was the last unit of the rear guard -- the most honorable and dangerous position in the army. Johnston's intended surprise move, however, was spoiled by looting Confederate cavalry who accidentally set off hidden mines and precipitated a large fire in the town.

The Texas Brigade cleared the burning Yorktown by the morning of May 4, passed through the main Confederate line drawn up near Williamsburg, and camped four miles northeast of town on the road to Barnhamsville. While the main Federal and Confederate armies clashed at Williamsburg on May 5, Whiting's Division marched northwest through the hamlet of Burnt Ordinary toward Eltham's Landing (or West Point) on the Pamunkey River. Whiting was ordered to prevent the landing of a large amphibious force under Union Gen. William B. Franklin which was advancing along the Pamunkey. (Franklin's objective was to intercept Johnston's supply and artillery trains headed toward Richmond a few miles west.) After an exhausting 14-mile march through rain and mud, Whiting's men fell into bivouac north of Barnhamsville and 2 miles from Eltham's Landing.

Whiting's Division remained in bivouac through May 6, awaiting -- as ordered -- its lagging supply trains. The commissary permitted the troops to forage the countryside, and Gen. Hood's men took full advantage of a nearby corn crib. Chaplain Davis wrote that ``such corn-cracking as followed has seldom been heard outside a hog-pen.'' Meanwhile, Whiting advanced Texas scouts and skirmishers to determine Franklin's location and strength. Word was returned that Franklin was putting ashore infantry and artillery in the vicinity of Eltham's Landing. Contact was made that night, as shots were exchanged between opposing scouts and pickets.

On May 7, Maj. Gen. G. W. Smith ordered Whiting to drive back the Federals and shell their landing and transports. Whiting selected the Texas Brigade as the main attacking force, with Col. Wade Hampton's brigade in support. Hood, riding alongside the Fourth Texas, personally led the advance. Hood ordered the men not to load until they had reached a cavalry outpost on the hill to their front. As the brigade marched through the picket lines and approached the hill, a large body of Federal skirmishers appeared over its crest. The Yankees quickly opened fire. Col. Marshall of the Fourth Texas ordered his men to retreat to the woods in their rear and load their guns. Knowing this would be a mistake, Hood leaped from his horse and ordered the Fourth to advance at the double-quick, form a battle line on the hill's crest, and then load. As the men were forming their battle line, a Federal soldier took direct aim at Hood. Before he could squeeze his trigger, however, the Yankee was killed by a shot from Pvt. John Deal of Co. A, Fourth Texas, who had already loaded his gun contrary to Hood's orders. (Chaplain Davis reported that Pvt. Doak Sater of the same company also fired at the skirmisher. There is no record of either man being punished for his disobedience.)

Hood immediately ordered the Fourth Texas to load and advance, and personally deployed the companies of the regiment. Leaving the 18th Georgia to support a battery of artillery, the Texas regiments drove the Federal skirmishers back through dense woods. The Federals soon counterattacked and flanked the First Texas, which had advanced in the rear of the Fourth. This assault was repulsed when the Fifth Texas came up on the right of the First, and the Confederate advance resumed. Hampton's brigade then moved up on the right of the Fifth, and, together with the Texans, drove the Federals back to the Pamunkey and the protection of their gunboats.

During the battle, Cos. E and G of the Fourth Texas came upon and attacked a group of about 80 men from the 31st New York Infantry hidden in the underbrush. Captain Hutcheson on Co. G ordered the Federals to throw down their arms and surrender. Sixteen complied with the order, but the remainder took advantage of the surrender formalities and bolted for safety -- right across the front of the Fifth Texas, which was lying down in a battle line. Col. Archer of the Fifth ordered a volley from his men, and the execution of the sprinting New Yorkers was completed.

By 3 pm, the Battle of Eltham's Landing diminished to an occasional shell from Union gunboats. The First Texas, being the only unit of the brigade to face heavy Federal infantry, bore the brunt of the fight. The First Texas lost 12 men killed (although J. B. Polley reported 15 killed), including Lt. Col. H. H. Black and two lieutenants, and 19 wounded. The Fifth Texas lost 2 men killed (including their commissary captain), 5 wounded, and 2 missing. The Fourth Texas suffered the least -- one man killed (Pvt. Charles W. Spencer of Co. G) and another wounded (1st Cpl. H. T. Sapp of Co. H). In contrast, Union Gen. Franklin reported 48 Federals killed, 145 wounded, and 38 captured.

On May 7, the Texas Brigade was personally and publicly credited with the major role in the victory at Eltham's Landing. President Davis remarked that ``They saved the rear of our army and the whole of our baggage train.'' In his official report, Gen. Smith stated, ``all of the troops engaged showed the finest spirit, were under perfect control and behaved admirably. The brunt of the contest was borne by the Texans, and to them is due the largest share of the honors of the day at Eltham.'' Unfortunately, the brigade was also accused by the Federals of robbing and committing atrocities against the dead and dying Federals. Adding credence to these claims, Pvt. Val Giles of Co. B, Fourth Texas, reported that Etanial Jones of his company pulled the boots off a dead Yankee officer ``so that he could rest easier.''

That night, Whiting ordered Hood and Hampton to lead their brigades back to their bivouac area north of Barnhamsville and remain there until the trains had cleared the road to Richmond. Once done, Whiting's Division took up Johnston's line of retreat toward the Richmond defenses along the Chickahominy River. Again, the Texas Brigade was the rear guard of the army. Several times during the slow retreat the Texans had to face about and fight off the Federal advance guard. Miles Smith of the Fourth Texas reported that the mud along the retreat was so deep that the ``boys would be sounding the mud and water like sailors sound the sea. All up and down the line they would be halooing `ankle deep, knee deep, thigh deep, etc.''' On May 13, the Texas Brigade became the last Confederate unit to cross the Chickahominy and bivouacked on the south side of the river. On May 17, the brigade moved to a more permanent campsite called ``Pine Island'' about 3 miles northeast of Richmond on the Mechanicsville Turnpike.

On May 22, Smith marched his command, including the Texas Brigade, across the Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge as part of an ill-planned offensive against the Federals. After hiding all day in woods, the Texans learned that the plan had been aborted and were marched back to their camps. A few days later, Johnston enacted a second plan to attack the Federals south of the Chickahominy before they could be reinforced from north of the river.

On May 31, Smith's command was ordered to advance eastward along the Nine Mile Road to Old Tavern and be prepared to support either the main attack to the south or the Chickahominy defenses to the north. When Hood's men reached Old Tavern, they listened to the sounds of the Battle of Seven Pines coming from the south and tried to avoid the bullets and shells that sometimes fell among them. Late in the afternoon, Johnston ordered Smith to support Confederates engaged at Fair Oaks Station on the York River Railroad. The Texas Brigade was to form Smith's right and contact the Confederates to the southwest, but Hood's men soon found themselves immobile in a waist-deep swamp. Col. Marshall had misunderstood orders, and Gen. Hood again was forced to correct the situation. By the time the brigade had rejoined the main column, the day's action was finished. Back at Fair Oaks, the brigade spent the night on wet ground with no blankets. There they heard the news that Gen. Johnston had been gravely wounded that day, and that Gen. Smith had assumed overall command of the Confederate army in Virginia.

June 1862

With the dawn of June 1 came a renewal of the Battle of Seven Pines. The Texas Brigade remained in reserve on the embankment of the York River Railroad. It saw action only when a small party of Federals fired upon the Fifth Texas, wounding one man, and then withdrew. Many of the Texans spent the day collecting firewood or pillaging the abandoned camp of the 61st Pennsylvania, as they had done the previous day. Miles Smith of the Fourth Texas appropriated a valise containing a Yankee officer's uniform, shirts, and socks. He ``shucked [himself] of his old dirty fellows [socks] and slipped into 2 of them and gave the others to one of the boys.'' At 3 pm, the brigade was ordered to fall back two miles toward Richmond, where it went into bivouac.

The Battle of Seven Pines ended with the Texas Brigade suffering only 20 men wounded and one missing. Capt. James Reilly's North Carolina Battery, in support of Hood's men, lost one man and one horse killed. At 2 pm, as the last shots of the battle were being fired, President Davis appointed his military advisor, Gen. Robert E. Lee, to be commander of the Confederate army around Richmond. Maj. Gen. G. W. Smith's tenure in that position lasted less than 24 hours.

On June 3, with both armies positioned as they were before Seven Pines, Lee reorganized his army. Hood's Brigade was strengthened with the addition of Hampton's Legion -- eight infantry companies from South Carolina that had once formed a true legion of infantry, cavalry, and artillery -- under the command of Lt. Col. Martin W. Gary. Hood, however, lost Col. James J. Archer of the Fifth Texas, who was promoted to brigadier general in command of the Tennessee Brigade. (That brigade's former commander, Robert Hatton, had been killed at Seven Pines.) Lt. Col. Jerome B. Robertson was promoted to colonel of the Fifth Texas, replacing Archer.

For the next week, approximately 200 officers and men of the Texas Brigade were detailed to act as spies, scouts, and sharpshooters in a search for weaknesses in the Federal lines. According to Rev. Davis, these men ``operated beyond and independently of the regular pickets, and soon became at terror to the enemy.'' On June 7, these men overran the 71st Pennsylvania, capturing, wounding, or killing about 50 of the enemy in the rout. The next day, the Federals attacked a work detail from Hood's brigade, but the Texans soon drove the enemy off. A captured Yankee noted, ``The firing of the Texans was so accurate and their movements so cunning and Indian like, that ... [the Northerners] never wish to make their acquaintance again.''

On June 11, Whiting's Division was ordered to march to Richmond as the first step toward reinforcing Gen. T. J. ``Stonewall'' Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. (Lee planned to fool the Federals into thinking that Jackson, fresh from his highly successful Valley Campaign, was turning his sights on Washington. Lee hoped this feint would keep Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell's 30,000-man corps close to Washington, thereby preventing McDowell from reinforcing McClellan.) By 5 pm, the Texas Brigade and Whiting's old brigade (now under the command of Colonel Evander Law) marched from their camps through Richmond and over the James River to the depot of the Richmond and Danville Railroad, where they spent the night. Along the way, the men were ordered to make loud demonstrations to ensure that word of their movement would be sent North.

On June 12, Whiting's Division boarded the train bound for the Valley. Four days and several train changes later, the men arrived in Staunton, Virginia and joined Jackson's command. On June 17, Whiting and his officers received word that Jackson's Army would not be advancing on Washington but would instead return to Richmond to initiate a surprise attack on McClellan. The next day, Jackson and Whiting marched eastward through the Blue Ridge toward Charlottesville. Boarding the Virginia Central Railroad at Meecham's Station, the Texas Brigade alternatively rode and marched to Frederick Hall, about 35 miles northwest of Richmond. The brigade arrived at Frederick Hall on June 21, and immediately set up camp in a nearby dense forest. The men had travelled almost 400 miles in 10 days. The next day -- a Sunday -- Jackson ordered his men to rest.

Early on the morning of June 23, the Texas Brigade marched toward Ashland. Two days later, the column stopped six miles from Ashland and drew rations and ammunition. On June 26, Hood's Brigade led Jackson's Army southeast through Ashland toward the village of Cold Harbor, just north of the Chickahominy. Along the way, Hood's men were impeded by skirmishing Federal outposts, felled trees, and burned bridges. From the south came the sounds of the battle now raging at Mechanicsville. (Gen. A. P. Hill initiated Lee's offensive against McClellan without the planned assistance from Jackson, who had lingered too long at Frederick Hall and Ashland. Hill was repulsed with heavy losses.) That evening, Jackson's men reached Hundley's Corner, where they bivouacked for the night.

At dawn on June 27, Jackson resumed his southward march toward Cold Harbor and Gaines' Mill on Powhite Creek, which flowed southward to the Chickahominy about nine miles northeast of Richmond. Once again, the men could hear the sounds of battle coming from the south. (Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter's three Federal divisions had abandoned their line at Mechanicsville for a stronger one along a series of hills on the east bank of Boatswain's Swamp, located a mile east of Powhite Creek. Confederate generals James Longstreet and A. P. Hill were initiating a series of unsuccessful attacks on Porter's well entrenched corps.) Jackson sent Richard Ewell's Division to the left and directly south. Whiting was sent southwest with Jackson's other divisions. In the afternoon, Whiting received orders to support Longstreet who was preparing to attack Porter's left flank. Hood's Brigade led the way. At 5 pm, Hood's skirmishers emerged into the clear area where the battle was raging.

Whiting's Division entered the arena opposite Turkey Hill, a steep wooded hill which was located across Boatswain's Swamp at the place where the creek turned sharply eastward from its southerly flow into the Chickahominy. Turkey Hill was the highest point of Porter's line. It was defended by a line of abatis and Hiram Berdan's First U.S. Sharpshooters at its base, then by three brigades under Gen. George Morell entrenched in two lines (one halfway up the hill, the other near the top), and finally by eighteen guns of Capt. William Weeden's artillery on the crest. A battalion of regular cavalry under Gen. Philip St. George Cooke stood between Porter's left and the Chickahominy. The Confederate approach to Boatswain's Swamp and Turkey Hill was both downwardly sloped and exposed.

Desperate for a last-chance breakthrough of Porter's line, Lee ordered Whiting to perform a direct assault against Turkey Hill. Whiting deployed his division in a line with Law's Brigade to the right of Hood's. The Texas Brigade was arranged with Hampton's Legion on the left, the Eighteenth Georgia on the right, and the First and Fifth Texas in the center. The Fourth Texas was placed in reserve. Lee and Whiting rode over to Hood, and Lee asked if Hood could break the line. ``I shall try,'' responded Hood.

Hood reconnoitered the scene ahead from an open field to the right of the Eighteenth Georgia. Between his men and the enemy lay 800 yards of exposed, rolling field broken only by one thin strip of woods on the near bank of Boatswain's Swamp. Strewn across the field were the dead, dying, and wounded from Longstreet's previous unsuccessful assaults. Hood's men would be vulnerable to the same artillery fire from Turkey Hill that had thwarted these earlier attacks. With the Confederate artillery already knocked out by Union counterbattery fire, Hood's men could not count on a covering fire during their approach. Hood noted that a better avenue of approach lay to the right of Law's present position. He also recognized that the previous assaults had failed partly because the Confederates had stopped short of crossing the creek to return the enemy's fire. This action, Hood reasoned, had broken the momentum of the charge and made the reloading Confederates easy targets.

Hood dismounted his horse and told the men not to fire upon the enemy until so instructed. He then ordered the brigade forward with ``quick step and determined spirit.'' Immediately noticing a gap between Law and Brig. Gen. George Pickett's men to Law's right, Hood turned to the Fourth Texas -- still standing in reserve -- and ordered Col. Marshall to direct his men by the right flank and follow him. Along with one or two companies of the Eighteenth Georgia, the Fourth Texas marched across the rear of Law's Brigade. Once clear of Law, Hood fronted the troops, dressed the line, and again ordered that no man should fire until he gave the order. Hood then ordered the troops forward, personally leading the advance.

As the Fourth Texas emerged into the clearing, it immediately came under a storm of artillery fire. Col. Marshall, the only officer who refused to dismount his horse, was killed almost immediately. Command of the Fourth passed to Lt. Col. Bradfute Warwick, but Hood continued to exercise the leadership of his old regiment. As the Texans advanced, frontal fire from Turkey Hill and enfilading fire from across the Chickahominy tore gaping holes in their ranks. Hood exhorted his men to be steady and hold their fire. As the men advanced to within 300 yards of the creek, musketry from Berdan's Sharpshooters and Morell's infantry began to take a heavy toll. The ever-thinning battle line then reached a low hill 150 yards from the creek where it passed over a line of Confederates hugging the ground and ignoring their young lieutenant's pleas to advance. Lt. Col. Warwick seized the group's battle flag and exhorted them forward, but the terrified men would not budge. Warwick pressed onward, still carrying the flag. The lieutenant, disgusted with his own men, seized a gun and joined the Fourth Texas, only to be killed a few minutes later.

As the Fourth Texas crested the low hill, Warwick ordered his men to halt and fire. Hood immediately overruled him and ordered the men to fix bayonets and charge at the double quick. As the Fourth Texas closed within 100 yards of the creek, the enemy's fire slackened as the line of sharpshooters began to give way and retreat to the entrenchments up Turkey Hill. With ranks still fairly well aligned, the Fourth Texas splashed across the steeply banked but narrow creek, sending the remaining sharpshooters rearward. Soon the Texans closed in on the first line of entrenchments occupied by J. H. Martindale's Brigade. The panicked Federals quickly abandoned their works and fled up the hill. No longer waiting for Hood's order, the Texans opened fire on the fleeing Federals with great effect. The routed Federals soon overran the second line of entrenched infantry, which was unable to fire without hitting its own men. The second line promptly became infected by the growing panic, and the rout became general. The retreating Federals managed only a few scattered volleys into the ranks of the oncoming Texans. One bullet pierced the lungs of Lt. Col. Warwick, who fell mortally wounded with the battle flag still in hand.

As the Fourth Texas and elements of the Eighteenth Georgia reached the top of Turkey Hill, Hood sent word for the other regiments to hasten their advance and exploit the breach. Soon the First and Fifth Texas and Hampton's Legion appeared on the plateau above Turkey Hill. Porter's left flank began to crumble quickly as Law's and Pickett's Brigades widened the breakthrough. Hood halted the Fourth Texas in an orchard on the hilltop, where they were immediately greeted by canister from Weeden's artillery posted on their left. Facing them toward the guns, Hood ordered the men forward. Supported by the Eighteenth Georgia, the Fourth Texas charged the guns and captured fourteen of the eighteen pieces.

The Texans and Georgians then continued after the fleeing Federal infantry. As the Fifth Texas advanced across the plateau toward the Chickahominy, it was fired on from the rear. Turning about to contront the attack, the Fifth Texas faced the entire Fourth New Jersey Infantry, which had been bypassed during the breakthrough. Seeing that resistance was useless, the surrounded New Jerseyites lowered their flag in surrender. Meanwhile, the Fourth Texas heard the rumbling of Cooke's Fifth U.S. Cavalry charging toward them in an attempt to prevent the capture of more Federal artillery. Once again, Hood wheeled his men about to face the threat. When the cavalry was within forty yards, the Fourth Texas and Eighteenth Georgia leveled their Enfields and fired a devastating volley that unseated nearly 150 of the 250 horsemen. Pvts. Pat Penn and Haywood Brahan of Co. F, Fourth Texas, dismounted two of the horsemen with their bayonets. Brahan was unable to hold onto his gun, which was carried away until its impaled victim finally fell from the saddle. Cooke's assault was the last aggressive action by the Federals of the day.

That night the Texas Brigade ministered to its wounded and slept on the battlefield. As the Fourth Texas formed for roll call the next morning, Hood rode up to his old command. ``Is this the 4th Texas?'', he asked. ``This is all that remains,'' was the reply. Hood turned his horse in a vain attempt to hide his tears. Of all Hood's regiments, the Fourth Texas had suffered the most at Gaines' Mill. Their casualties numbered 44 killed, 208 wounded, and 1 missing. Half of all the enlisted men and all the field-grade officers were casualties. Col. Marshall and Lt. Col. Warwick were killed, Major J. C. G. Key was wounded, and ten captains and lieutenants were killed or mortally wounded. (Nine more were wounded.) Companies C, D, F, and H lost over 60% of their men. The mascot of Company B (the Tom Green Rifles), a white terrier named Candy, was found lying in the arms of Pvt. John S. Summers, who had been killed atop Turkey Hill. Amazingly, Hood -- who led the Fourth through the entire charge -- emerged unscathed. His brigade did not. The total loss for the Texas Brigade was 571 -- 86 killed, 481 wounded, and four missing.

The men of the Fourth Texas had spearheaded the final assault that broke the Union lines and gave Gen. Lee his first victory. Their valor at great cost earned for them high praises throughout the army, as well as the sobriquet ``The Hell-Roarin' Fourth''. As Gen. Jackson inspected the Federal position on Turkey Hill, he remarked, ``The men that carried this position were soldiers indeed.'' No higher compliment could have been received.

Whiting soon received orders to take up the march in pursuit of the retreating Federals. Hood requested that his men be excused because of the severe losses they incurred at Gaines' Mill. Whiting denied the request, but said that he would favor the Texas Brigade as much as possible. On June 29, the Confederate column began its movement southward toward McClellan's base of supply at Harrison's Landing on the James River. Retreating before the advancing Confederates, the Federals fought two successful rear-guard actions at Savage's Station on June 29 and at White Oak Swamp on June 30. The Texas Brigade played no role in either engagement. Instead, it was allowed to rest until June 30 on the north side of the Chickahominy not far from Grapevine Bridge.

July 1862

On July 1, the Texas Brigade left its bivouac near White Oak Swamp and moved with Lee's army toward Malvern Hill, where McClellan had massed his artillery and infantry to protect the Union supply base at Harrison's Landing. Having lost their officers and NCO's at Gaines' Mill four days before, Companies I and K of the Fourth Texas took up the march led by privates. Along the way, Whiting's Division encountered light opposition from the Federal rear guard and occasionally came under fire from long-range Yankee artillery. By 11 am, the two brigades deployed on the extreme left of Lee's position to guard the Confederate artillery massed there. To their extreme right, Lee was sending his divisions piecemeal into suicidal attacks against the strongly entrenched Union infantry and artillery on Malvern Hill.

Hood's front, on the other hand, was relatively calm. Having learned from his scouts of an open avenue of attack to his left, Hood requested permission to assault the exposed Federal right flank. Whiting refused, so the Texas Brigade remained in place absorbing Federal artillery shells for the rest of the day. Capt. Ike Turner of Co. K, Fifth Texas, was allowed by Hood to lead a detail of sharpshooters to kill the men and horses manning the Federal batteries to their front. Hood's Brigade suffered 52 casualties on the day -- 6 killed, 45 wounded, and 1 missing.

The next day, McClellan was gone, having fallen back to the safety of his gunboats down the James River. Richmond was no longer threatened. The Texas Brigade remained in the vicinity of Malvern Hill and Harrison's Landing until July 8, when it took up the march for Richmond. The brigade arrived near the Confederate capital on July 10, and was ordered into camp between the Virginia Central Railroad and the Mechanicsville Pike, three miles northeast of the city. The Texans pitched their tents on exactly the spot from which they marched to Seven Pines on the morning of May 31. In forty days, Hood's men had traveled 500 miles and had taken part in several major engagements.

As was typical after most engagements, heavy rains drenched the Seven Days' battlefields and exposed many of the hastily buried dead along the Chickahominy. After passing through these battlefields a few days after McClellan's retreat, Capt. William P. Townsend of the Fourth Texas wrote home that ``the stench from men and horses was intolerable,'' and that he ``walked 12 miles without drawing a breath of fresh air.''

The hundreds of wounded from the Texas Brigade were scattered about Richmond. Many of the wounded were confined at Chimborazo Hospital on the city's east side. Rev. Nicholas Davis described the place as very unsanitary, and worked diligently that summer to establish a clean central facility for wounded Texans in Richmond. Such a place was established as an annex to the St. Frances de Salas hospital adminstered by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy, who had won the praise of the Texas soldiers for their good care of the wounded from the Seven Days Battles. By summer's end, most of the wounded from Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill would rejoin their regiments or be deemed unfit for service. The Fourth Texas would never again muster 500 guns, so great had been their casualties storming Turkey Hill.

The Texas Brigade remained in its camp near Richmond for the remainder of the month. On July 26, Gen. Whiting was given a thirty-day furlough for disability. Whiting's difficulty may have been mental rather than physical, as he was often reported to have been under the influence of whiskey or narcotics. Command of the division was assumed by Gen. Hood, the senior of the division officers. Not knowing when Whiting would return, Hood retained at least nominal command of the Texas Brigade. (There remains some debate about when William T. Wofford, commander of the Eighteenth Georgia and senior colonel within the brigade, assumed exclusive command of the Texas Brigade.)

August 1862

On August 8, the Texas Brigade was ordered to leave its camp near Richmond as part of a movement by Gen. James Longstreet's command to reinforce Gen. Stonewall Jackson's divisions north of the Rapidan. (Gen. Robert E. Lee had sent Jackson across the river to flank Union General John Pope's newly formed Army of Virginia before it could advance southward against Richmond.) Under light marching orders, the Texas Brigade moved out on Brook Pike and followed the line of the Virginia Central Railroad toward Louisa Court House. (On this march, a company of men from Trinity County, Texas, joined the brigade as Co. M of the First Texas. They would be the the 32nd and last new company to arrive east from Texas.) The march was leisurely until August 11, when word was received of Jackson's indecisive engagement with Union Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks' corps at Cedar Mountain two days before. Longstreet's command was ordered to march quickly from Gordonsville to the south bank of the Rapidan, where Jackson had fallen back. Longstreet reached the Rapidan on August 15, and took position to the right of Jackson. That night the Texas Brigade bivouacked near Raccoon Ford.

On August 20, Lee ordered Jackson and Longstreet across the Rapidan in pursuit of Pope, who was withdrawing northward to the Rappahannock in the face of Lee's combined force. The Texas Brigade crossed the river at Raccoon Ford and led Longstreet's advance. On August 21, the brigade skirmished lightly with Pope's rear guard at Kelly's Ford on the Rappahannock. The next day, Lt. Col. J. C. Upton of the Fifth Texas led a heavy line of skirmishers against the Federals at Freeman's Ford and cleared the way for the rest of the Texas Brigade to cross the Rappahannock. The river was crossed late that afternoon, and the brigade bivouacked for the night north of the river at the edge if a large cornfield. It rained so hard that evening that the brigade's commissary wagons were unable to ford the river, and the brigade went supperless.

On the morning of August 23, a number of the brigade entered the cornfield (against Lee's explicit order against foraging) to secure breakfast. Unknown to the Texans, a large Federal scouting party from Gen. Franz Sigel's Federal Division had camped on the northern edge of the same cornfield. The inevitable encounter between the opposing forces in the middle of the cornfield resulted in fist fighting, wrestling, and volleys of roasting ears. Outnumbered, the Federals soon withdrew, leaving the Texans in sole possession of the field. To appease the hunger of his troops in a manner suitable to Gen. Lee, Texas Brigade Quartermaster J. H. Littlefield purchased the entire 100-acre cornfield. Foraging thus became an authorized activity, and the each of Hood's men found himself well satisfied with the spoils of the ``Roasting Ears Fight.''

The Texas Brigade remained near Freeman's Ford until August 24, when it recrossed the Rappahannock and marched northward along the river's west bank, past Jefferson (or Jeffersonton) to Waterloo Bridge where Hedgeman's Creek and Carter's Run meet to form the Rappahannock. At 2 pm on August 26, Longstreet ordered the brigade from Waterloo Bridge toward Throughfare Gap in the Bull Run Mountains, where they were to once again support Jackson's command which had gained the rear of Pope's army near Manassas Junction and cut off the enemy's communication with Washington. The Texas Brigade went through Orlean, marched all night, and waded the headwaters of Carter's Run early on the morning of August 27. The brigade crossed the Manassas Gap Railroad at Salem that afternoon and bivouacked for the night at White Plains. After a scanty breakfast, the brigade resumed its march and reached Thoroughfare Gap by mid-afternoon of August 28. The march had been a punishing one: 30 miles with heavy packs on dusty roads under a cloudless sky in the August heat.

Longstreet's men found Thoroughfare Gap guarded by Gen. James B. Rickett's Division of Gen. Irvin McDowell's Corps. Longstreet ordered Hood's Division and two brigades of Gen. D. R. Jones' Division to clear the Gap, which they promptly did. By the evening of August 28, the Texas Brigade was leading Longstreet's command through Thoroughfare Gap to the east slopes of the Bull Run Mountains. From this vantage point, the Texans could see the flashes of Jackson's guns engaged at Groveton, ten miles east. As the bone-weary Texans bed down for the night, a group of officers accidentally kicked over an empty oat barrel and sent it hurtling down the slope toward the bivouac of the Texas Brigade. Frightened by the noise, a gray mare, used by a Texas Regiment as a kitchen pack horse, dashed up the hillside -- still laden with kitchen utensils. Aroused from their deep sleep, the veteran Texans panicked and scrambled several hundred yards downhill, tearing through a well-built fence in the process. Regaining their composure, the Texans laughed off their folly and quickly put the escapade to song. So was born the brigade's famous marching song, ``The Old Gray Mare (Came Tearing Out of the Wilderness).''

At dawn on August 29, Longstreet ordered Hood to lead the advance to the relief of Jackson, who was now heavily engaged by Pope's massed divisions. Hood again ordered Lt. Col. Upton to lead 150 select Texas riflemen ahead as an advanced guard. By 10 am, the Texas Brigade reached the beseiged Jackson, who personally greeted Hood on the Warrenton Pike. Hood's Division formed astride the pike -- the Texas Brigade on the right (south) and Law's Brigade on the left (north) -- and Longstreet's other divisions formed to the right of Hood's. (There is some controversy over who led the Texas Brigade at this time. Hood states that his Adjutant General, Capt. W. H. Sellers, led the Brigade. However, the brigade's senior colonel, William T. Wofford of the Eighteenth Georgia, and Lt. Col. M. W. Gary of Hampton's Legion claimed that it was Wofford who was in charge.) It took most of the day for the remainder of Longstreet's command to deploy, so Hood's men remained patiently in place watching Jackson's command absorb repeated assaults by several Federal divisions.

Just before sunset, Longstreet ordered Hood's Division and Nathan G. ``Shanks'' Evans' Brigade to attack the Federal left and relieve Jackson. Before this order could be carried out, Hood's Division was itself savagely attacked by the Federals. Hood counterattacked, and the Texas Brigade drove the Federals almost a mile into their own lines before darkness and thick woods stopped the progress. So rapid had been Hood's advance, that he found his division almost completely encircled within the Union lines. After consulting with Lee and Longstreet, Hood ordered his men back to its original position. Between 1 and 2 am, the Texas Brigade made it back to safely, bringing with them captured men, flags, and weapons. The day was not without casualties, however. The Fourth Texas, for example, reported 11 wounded, including two officers.

Hood's withdrawal under the cover of darkness had the unexpected benefit of being seen by Pope as a general Confederate retirement. Early on the morning of August 30, Pope telegraphed Washington that Lee's army was in full retreat and ordered the resumption of divisional assaults against Jackson's Wing still entrenched in an unfinished railroad cut north of and parallel to the Warrenton Pike. These Union divisions, ignorant of Longstreet's presence on the field, became exposed to deadly enfilade fire from Longstreet's batteries. The Texas Brigade, which formed the hinge connecting the perpendicularly aligned wings of Jackson and Longstreet, waited and watched most of the day at the furious battle being waged at the railroad cut.

At 4 pm, Longstreet finally sprung the long-awaited trap by unleashing his brigades en masse against the Federal corps now caught between the two Confederate wings. Hood's Division moved eastward along the Warrenton Pike, with Law's Brigade north of the pike and the Texas Brigade south of the pike. The line of battle of the Texas Brigade was, from left to right, the First Texas, Fourth Texas, Eighteenth Georgia, Hampton's Legion, and the Fifth Texas. The Texas Brigade quickly advanced across a wheatfield and engaged skirmishers from the Tenth New York Infantry of G. K. Warren's Brigade. The brigade quickly drove the skirmishers and the rest of the Tenth New York through heavy woods and across a field beyond the woods. Marching through the timber, the Texas Brigade soon lost its alignment. From then on, the First and Fourth Texas advanced and fought as isolated commands, but the remaining regiments on the right maintained cohesion. The First Texas, under Col. P. A. Work, continued to move up the pike and received fearsome fire from Federal artillery to its front and flank until reaching the safety of the valley of Young's Branch to its front.

The Fourth Texas, under Col. B. F. Carter (the former captain of Co. B), continued to pursue the Tenth New York to its front. After scattering the Tenth New York, the Fourth Texas focused its attention on a battery stationed on a hill beyond Young's Branch. The battery was supported by infantry which opened fire on the ``Hell-Roarin' Fourth.'' The Fourth advanced at the double-quick toward the Pennsylvania battery commanded by Capt. Mark Kerns. (Four of the guns in Kerns' Battery were the same four guns that had avoided capture by the Fourth at Gaines' Mill.) Though suffering grape and canister at close range, the Fourth advanced to the guns, scattering the gunners and supporting infantry. Kerns manned a gun alone until he was shot down and killed. Miles Smith of Co. D, Fourth Texas, later wrote that the last shot from the battery was fired by Kerns and that ``it cut down every man for four feet on each side of [me].'' Major William P. Townsend of the Fourth lost his left foot in the charge, and subsequently returned to his home in Robertson County, Texas.

After overrunning the guns, the Fourth Texas moved quickly to a valley beyond the hill, where they were again subject to directed musketry from the infantry formerly supporting Kerns' guns. Soon, this musketry was joined by enfilade fire from infantry forming on the flank and rear of the Fourth. Col. Carter ordered his men back to the shelter of a ravine and then to the safety of Young's Branch, suffering several casualties in the process. G. H. Crozier of Co. B was hit in the arm and took refuge among the captured guns of Kerns' Battery. While awaiting aid, Crozier saw the rapid withdrawal of the Fourth Texas and later wrote, ``Inasmuch as I had never seen Texans retreat before, I asked Lieutenant McLaurin [of Co. B] what was the matter.'' McLaurin assured Crozier that nothing was wrong, and that ``they had whipped the Yankees and had just come back to the shade to rest.''

While in the relative safety of Young's Branch, the Fourth Texas was joined by the First Texas. Both regiments remained there until later relieved by Gen. Evans' Brigade. Meanwhile, the other three regiments of the Texas Brigade had veered to the right and engaged Warren's second line of defense held by the Fifth New York Infantry (Duryee's Zouaves) west of Young's Branch. (During the winter of 1861-2, the Fifth New York and the Fifth Texas had traded taunts across the Potomac and vowed that, if they ever met on the battlefield, neither would grant quarter to the other.) As remnants of the Tenth New York fled past the Fifth New York, the Zouaves fired a high volley at the oncoming Texans, wounding but a few. Before the Zouaves could reload, the Texans, Georgians, and South Carolinians fired a return volley at close range. This volley was on the mark, and killed or wounded at least half of the Fifth New York. The remaining Zouaves turned and fled, only to be cut down as they struggled to cross Young's Branch in their baggy pantaloons.

After routing the New Yorkers, the Fifth Texas, Eighteenth Georgia, and Hampton's Legion overran a battery a few hundred yards beyond Young's Branch and proceeded to charge another posted on Chinn House Hill, a few hundred yards further east. Through punishing fire, the regiments advanced, scattered the supporting Federal infantry, and temporarily seized the guns. At this time Hood, ordered the Texas Brigade to halt its advance and await relief from Evans' Brigade. The Fifth Texas under Col. Jerome B. Robertson either ignored or was ignorant of Hood's order, and continued to advance with Evans' Brigade. After passing Chinn House Hill, the Fifth Texas, according to Hood, ``slipped the bridle'' and outdistanced Evans' Brigade in the pursuit of the routed Federals. By evening, the ``Bloody Fifth'' had reached Sudley's Ford and had assisted Micah Jenkins' Brigade in its successful repulse and counterattack of a superior Federal force.

By nightfall, the Confederate victory was total and complete. The casualties of the Texas Brigade were strewn over a two-mile area. The ragged survivors engaged themselves in the questionable practice of pillaging the Federal dead, especially those clad in fancy zouave uniforms. Even General Hood acquired some of the spoils of victory by ordering some reliable scouts to capture a number of new Federal ambulances, complete with teams of horses.

The next day, August 31, the Texas Brigade regrouped and moved its bivouac to near Henry House Hill. There it cooked its rations, buried its dead, and counted casualties. The Brigade's loss of 628 would be the greatest suffered during any battle of the war. The casualty list broke down as follows: First Texas -- 10 killed, 18 wounded; Fourth Texas -- 22 killed, 77 wounded; Fifth Texas -- 15 killed, 245 wounded, 1 missing; Eighteenth Georgia -- 19 killed, 114 wounded; and Hampton's Legion -- 11 killed, 63 wounded. Among the casualties of the Fifth Texas were Col. Robertson and Major King Bryan, who were wounded, and Lt. Col. J. C. Upton, who was killed.

At the end of August, Col. Robertson of the Fifth Texas wrote the following in his regimental report. It probably well described the Texas Brigade as a whole.

``The regiment was actively engaged on the field in burying the dead and caring for the wounded. The was no regular muster and inspection. The supply of clothing is not sufficient for either comfort or that degree of cleanliness necessary for health. Many of the men are barefooted.''

September 1862

Further inspired by his decisive victory at Second Manassas, Gen. Robert E. Lee decided to take the war northward onto Federal soil. Doing so would relieve northern Virginia of foraging soldiers and a ravaging enemy, and could lead to foreign recognition of the Confederacy if Washington were suitably threatened.

On September 1, the Texas Brigade was ordered to march with Longstreet's command northeast along the Warrenton Turnpike toward Centreville. Accompanying the brigade were the many ambulances captured by Hood's command at the close of the battle two days before. Believing that he had command of Hood's Division as well as his own brigade at Second Manassas, Gen. N. G. ``Shanks'' Evans ordered Hood to turn over the ambulances to his North Carolina troops. Hood did not recognize Evans' authority over his division and refused the order. Evans immediately placed Hood under arrest and reported the incident to Longstreet, who ordered Hood to Culpeper Court House to await trial. Lee countermanded Longstreet's order, but Hood remained under arrest and marched at the rear of his column in disgrace.

From Centreville, the column turned northward, skirted Germantown, passed through Dranesville, and arrived in Leesburg on the evening of September 4. The citizens of Leesburg gave the Texans a particularly warm welcome as they marched through the streets of the town. The following morning, the Texans arrived at White's Ford on the Potomac. On September 6, with the Fourth Texas band under Dan Collins blaring ``Maryland, My Maryland,'' the Texas Brigade waded from Virginia to Maryland and proceeded north. On the afternoon of September 7, the brigade reached Buckeystown, and camped three miles south of Frederick on the banks of the Monocacy River in the vicinity of the B & O Railroad bridge. Here they rested for two days, bathing in the river and assisting in the destruction of the bridge.

The brigade reached Frederick on September 10, where they were received coolly at best by the citizenry, including the legendary Barbara Fritchie. Leaving Frederick, the Texans marched northwest on the macadamized Washington (or Old National) Pike and passed through the Catoctin Mountains by September 11. During the next two days, the column marched through Turner's Gap in South Mountain to Boonsboro, and then through Funkstown to Hagerstown. Here, the Texas Brigade went into bivouac, about five miles below the Pennsylvania line. Lee's army was now scattered from Harper's Ferry to Boonsboro to Hagerstown in a bold effort to secure Federal strongholds now in his rear. None of the three main segments of Lee's army were in supporting distance of the other two.

On September 13, Lee received word that Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who had been reinstated as commander of the Federal army in the East, was marching rapidly from Frederick to the passes through South Mountain. Lee was perplexed by the sudden turn in McClellan's normally cautious character. On September 14, Lee learned that his Special Orders 191, outlining his entire campaign strategy, had been intercepted by the Federals. Lee immediately ordered Longstreet southward toward Boonsboro to assist D. H. Hill's infantry and Jeb Stuart's cavalry block the passes of South Mountain. Longstreet arrived in Boonsboro by mid-afternoon, found D. H. Hill heavily engaged, and ordered Hood's Division to take a position on the left of the Old National Pike at Turner's Gap on South Mountain.

On the march to South Mountain, Hood, still under arrest and marching to the rear of the column, heard the Texas Brigade chant ``Give us Hood!'' When Hood approached Lee, the latter told Hood that he did not wish to enter battle ``with one of [his] best officers under arrest'' and offered to revoke the arrest if Hood would express regret over the ambulance incident. Hood refused, and Lee suspended the arrest for the duration of the impending battle. (The issue was never again raised by Lee.) After taking their appointed position on the left of the pike, Hood's Division was ordered to the right of the road to reinforce Thomas F. Drayton's Brigade of D. R. Jones' Division. Drayton was slowly being driven back by superior numbers from Gen. Ambrose Burnside's IX Corps. Hood's men moved to the rear and right of Drayton, through rugged terrain and underbrush along what the men would later call a ``pig path.''

Hood ordered his two brigades, the Texas Brigade under William T. Wofford and Evander Law's Brigade, to deploy in line of battle on the west side of the mountain between Turner's and Fox's Gaps. Burnside's men had crested the mountain and were driving down the western face. Hood repeated his Gaines' Mill tactics by ordering the men to fix bayonets and charge when the enemy were 75 to 100 yards to their front. Just as at Gaines' Mill, the Federal skirmishes panicked at the sight and sound of the Hood's charging men, and were driven back over the crest faster than they had descended. By this time, darkness had ended the fighting on the sector of the mountain held by Hood's Division. Casualties had been light in the Texas Brigade. The Fourth Texas reported two wounded and six missing. Of these missing, most were probably killed and abandoned during the withdrawal, but one, George Creed of Co. E, was known to have deserted to the enemy.

After nightfall, Hood learned that McClellan had pushed through Turner's Gap in force, thereby flanking Hood on his left. Hood quickly withdrew his forces from their advanced position and retreated to the main Confederate line at Boonsboro. Later that night, Lee determined that the Boonsboro Line was untenable and ordered his consolidating forces to assemble on the hills across Antietam Creek near the town of Sharpsburg. The withdrawal to Sharpsburg begain late on the night of September 14 and continued through the next day. Once again, the Texas Brigade was given the position of honor and danger as the rear guard of Lee's army.

The Texas Brigade crossed Antietam Creek at Middle Bridge early in the afternoon of September 15 and took position in front of Sharpsburg along the Boonsboro Road. Hood received orders to move his division to the left of the Confederate line located at the Dunker Church on the Hagerstown Pike, which was done by the evening. Here the Texas Brigade remained under fire from Federal artillery until sunset of September 16. At this time, Wofford was ordered to deploy the Texas Brigade in line of battle along the Hagerstown Pike to support Law's Brigade which was being driven back by a strong force of Pennsylvania Reserves (``Bucktails'') from their advanced position near some woods (``The East Woods'') a few hundred yards east of the Hagerstown Pike. The Texas Brigade was deployed from left to right in the following order: Hampton's Legion, Eighteenth Georgia, First Texas, Fourth Texas, and Fifth Texas.

The brigade was ordered forward, preceded by a skirmish line of 100 men under the command of Capt. W. H. ``Howdy'' Martin of Co. K, Fourth Texas. Advancing across an open field south of Miller's Cornfield, the Fourth and Fifth Texas were ordered ahead of the main body to engage the Bucktails in the East Woods from the west and south. The remainder of the brigade halted and faced north toward Miller's Cornfield to protect against a threat from that direction. Pvt. William R. Hamby of Co.~B, Fourth Texas felt somewhat intimidated by the much larger Federal regiments which were converging in echelon on the East Woods. Catching the advancing Yankees by surprise, the Texans exchanged shots at point-blank range. Supported by a section of Stephen D. Lee's artillery firing northward from Mumma's Lane, the Fourth and Fifth Texans fought in the East Woods for two hours. Neither side gained an advantage, and about 8 pm the spent Texans were ordered to withdraw back to the West Woods around the Dunker Church to replenish their cartridge boxes and draw rations.

When the fighting ceased, Hood sought out Lee to request that his Division be relieved to rest and cook their first rations in three days. Lee referred Hood to Gen. Jackson, who had arrived on the field that afternoon. Jackson agreed to send Lawton's and Trimble's Brigades to Hood's relief if Hood would to do the same for those brigades when told to do so. Hood agreed. Nevertheless, the Texans remained hungry until just before daylight on September 17, when their supply wagons finally arrived. As the men was beginning to cook their long awaited rations, Federal artillery shells burst in their midst. Furious at this interruption, the Texans immediately rose to their feet and fell in for battle.

At dawn, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker ordered two Federal divisions under James Ricketts and George Meade to leave their positions in the woods north of Miller's Cornfield and roll up the Confederate left flank along the Hagerstown Pike. Jackson successively called upon his brigades to meet the threat coming down either side of the pike. The fighting in Miller's Cornfield raged back and forth as the Federal and Confederate brigades were committed. Hood was soon called upon to fulfill his agreement with Jackson.

Around 6:30 am, Hood moved his small division of about 2,000 men out of the West Woods and through a gap in the fence along the pike across from the Dunker Church. The Texas Brigade, aligned left to right in the same order as the previous days' action, followed Law's Brigade into the open field south of Miller's Cornfield. As Law halted to meet a Federal volley, the Fourth and Fifth Texas nearly collided with Law's rear rank. Lt. Col. B. F. Carter of the Fourth Texas immediately ordered his men prone and cautioned them not to fire until they were certain of their target. Hampton's Legion, now the division's left guide, wheeled left and advanced northward along the Hagerstown Pike. As the advance began, the Fifth Texas was ordered to the right of Law's Brigade, and the Fourth Texas remained to the rear of the remainder of the Texas Brigade.

With the Federals rapidly retreating before them, Hood's Division entered the Cornfield. Almost immediately, Hampton's Legion again wheeled left, facing west across the pike, to pick off some slow running Yankees. The Eighteenth Georgia followed suit, leaving the First Texas to advance deeper into the Cornfield with its left flank exposed. Almost immediately, the First Texas received a blast of double canister from Battery B, Fourth US artillery posted on the opposite side of the pike. The remaining Texans returned fire, picking off several of the Federal gunners. As the First Texas reached the northern edge of the Cornfield, it was greeted by a devastating volley from a brigade of Pennsylvania Reserves to its front. The color guard collapsed, shot down to the man. The Texans returned fire, but were hopelessly outgunned by the Pennsylvanians. Disorganized in the corn and shattered by canister from the left and musketry from the front, the First Texas began to stagger to the rear.

Meanwhile, four regiments of Federal infantry that had taken refuge behind a limestone ledge in the West Woods emerged from their protection and advanced on Hampton's Legion, the Eighteenth Georgia, and the Fourth Texas. Lt. Col. Carter had by this time positioned the Fourth Texas inside the fence along the Hagerstown Pike facing the oncoming Federals across the pike. The air was filled with lead, and the outflanked Hampton's Legion and Eighteenth Georgia quickly withdrew back down the pike to the safety of the West Woods. Meanwhile, the wounded of the Fourth Texas crawled among the boulders that lined the pike on both sides. Lt. Col. Carter could hear their cries as they were repeatedly hit by ricocheting bullets. Private J. M. Polk of Co. I recalled that after he fired his first shot, he merely picked up discarded muskets and continued fighting. He never reloaded. Within minutes, only two officers and eight enlisted men in Co. I remained unhurt. As the last of the Eighteenth Georgia filed back behind the Fourth Texas, it too retreated to the safety of the West Woods. It was approximately 8 am.

The Texas Brigade saw no more action for the remainder of the day. At noon, Lee ordered Hood to hold his position near the Dunker Church in case of another Federal attack. About 4 pm, Hood's Division moved to the center of the Confederate line just north of Sharpsburg. There it remained throughout the night of September 17. During the bloodiest day of the Civil War, the Texas Brigade lost 560 of 854 men in arms. When asked by Lee where his splendid division was, Hood replied ``They are lying on the field where you sent them, sir; but few have straggled. My division has almost been wiped out!''

By regiment, the brigade's casualties were: Fifth Texas -- 86 of 175 (49%); Fourth Texas -- 107 of 200 (54%); Eighteenth Georgia -- 101 of 176 (57%); Hampton's Legion -- 53 of 76 (70%); First Texas -- 186 of 226 (82%). The casualty rate of the First Texas was the greatest sustained by any regiment, Federal or Confederate, during a single day's fighting throughout the entire war. To add insult to injury, the First also lost its colors in the Cornfield. One of the greatest losses in the Fourth Texas was Candy, the white terrier mascot of Co. B, who became separated from the company and was captured by the Federals. As he lay wounded in a Federal field hospital, Cpl. George L. Robertson ``saw a band wagon parading the camp with the little Rebel a prisoner.'' Candy was never seen again.

On September 18, both armies rested while waiting for the other to renew battle. After counting his losses and examining his position, Lee ordered the Southern dead buried and commenced a retreat back across the Potomac to Virginia. The Texas Brigade brought up the rear of Longstreet's command, and waded across the waist-deep Potomac at Boteler's Ford near Williamsport. The next day, the brigade marched to a campsite on the Opequon near Martinsburg. The Texans remained there until September 27, when they moved to a location five miles northeast of Winchester. There the Texas Brigade rested, recuperated, and reorganized for the remainder of the month.

On September 25, Pvt. Henry Travis of Co. H, Fourth Texas wrote to his sister:

``There has been a heap of hard fighting down here. The Texas Brigade has been cut up pretty bad. The Texas Brigade has got a brave name here for fighting. It will not do it any good if it gets in another fight or two, for it will all be killed up. The Texas boys goes ahead in the fight.''

October 1862

The Texas Brigade's camp near Winchester was situated near Washington Springs, a large pool of cold water well suited for the rehabiliation of the brigade. Here the men were issued regular rations, performed minimal camp duties, and drew new uniforms for the first time since the close of the Peninsular Campaign in early July. Being the farthest Confederate troops from home, the Texans rarely received clothing and supplies by mail and were the worst clad troops in Lee's army. Chaplain Nicholas Davis, who had not accompanied the Fourth Texas into Maryland, rejoined the regiment at Winchester and described the men as ``worn and tired,'' and noted that ``Their clothes were ragged, and many of their feet were bare; and in their coats, pants and hats could be seen many marks of the bullet...The weather was warm and dry, and the dust had settled thick over clothes. But they were cheerful and lively...'' In his report of the Fourth's action at Sharpsburg, Col. B. F. Carter stated that his men were ``half clad, many of them barefooted and had been only half fed for days before.''

Although the Texas Brigade was no larger than a small regiment by the time it reached Winchester, it soon was augmented by the return of stragglers and wounded from Sharpsburg and convalescents from Gaines' Mill and Second Manassas. Chaplain Davis procured the basement of the ``M. E. Church, South'' in Winchester as hospital for the wounded Texans streaming back from Maryland. Within a week, the basement was filled with 194 recovering wounded of the brigade.

On October 1, a ``Broadside Testimonial'' to Hood's Texas Brigade appeared in Richmond. The poster featured lists of Civil War battles, military leaders, and politicians associated with Texas, as well as quotes from Robert E. Lee and G. W. Smith praising the troops. The broadside also contained a song entitled ``Hood's Texas Brigade'' and ended with a tribute to ``our young chieftain, `Hood' of the Texas Brigade.'' It was signed by Arthur H. Edey, Agent, Fifth Texas. That same day, Col. Jerome B. Robertson of the Fifth Texas wrote to Senator W. S. Oldham of Texas, urging that ``whatever political influence you have'' be expended ``in making General Hood a major general. He is one of the best officers we have...We need such officers badly, and I hope you will assist to promote him. You can show this to the President, if you think proper. I would rather do so, as I know I speak the universal sentiment of officers and men.'' Robertson was more correct than he perhaps knew. Four days before, Gen. Stonewall Jackson had written to Samuel Cooper, the adjutant and inspector general of the Confederacy, recommending the same promotion for Hood.

In the weeks after Sharpsburg, Lee began a reorganization of the Army of Northern Virginia into two corps, the first under Gen. James Longstreet and the second under Gen. Jackson. Hood's Division was formally assigned to Longstreet. On October 8, Longstreet deemed his command fit enough for a formal review. In full battle array, the men of the First Corps marched before a reviewing party that included Gen. Lee and many local dignitaries. The men proudly displayed their battle-torn colors in the parade. The Fourth Texas still carried the silk battle flag made for them by Miss Louise Wigfall during the winter of 1861. The flag now bore 65 bullet holes and three shell holes. (Nine flag bearers had fallen beneath its folds.) This was the last public appearance of the flag made by Miss Wigfall. On October 9, Capt. Stephen A. Darden of Co. A began a trip back to Texas where he later presented the flag to Governor Lubbock for placement in the state archives. E. D. Francis, the regular color bearer who had not yet recovered from his wounding at Second Manassas, limped along proudly displaying the colors. Engraved on the spearhead that topped the flagstaff was the Biblical phrase, ``Fear not, for I am with thee. Say to the North give up, and to the South, keep not back'' (Isaiah 43:6-7).

On October 27, Lee wrote the Secretary of War, echoing Jackson's recommendation that Hood be promoted to major general. Two days later, the Texas Brigade left its peaceful camp in the Shenandoah Valley and began to move with the rest of Longstreet's command to the vicinity of Culpeper Court House.

November 1862

On 1 November 1862, after a three-day march featuring excellent skies and roads, the Texas Brigade reached Culpeper Court House and bivouacked a mile south of town. On November 3, the brigade moved to a new camp in the vicinity of the Cedar Mountain battlefield, about six miles south of Culpeper.

At this time, the shortage of shoes in the Confederacy's quartermaster depots had become critical. Shoes smuggled through the Union blockade from England were shoddily made and soon wore out. General Longstreet attempted to remedy the situation by ordering that green hides be used, hairy side in, as for moccasin-type footwear. These ``Longstreet Moccasins'' were found to be impractical in the mud and slush of the Virginia roads. On November 6, Chaplain Nicholas Davis of the Fourth Texas wrote a letter to the Richmond Whig and titled it ``Texans Barefooted.'' The letter was designed to appeal to the pride of the Richmond citizenry by informing them that its stalwart defenders from Texas were not shod. ``We feel,'' Davis wrote, ``that Texans will come as nearing discharging their duty as any who meet the next struggle; but I ask the good people of Richmond and surrounding country, if they will stand by and see them go into the fight without shoes.'' The people of Richmond later exceeded Davis' appeal for 500 pairs of socks and shoes by also providing the Fourth Texas with 109 shirts, 146 pairs of drawers, 94 pairs of gloves, and $500 cash.

Also on November 6, Lee's army was formerly organized into two corps led by Longstreet and Jackson, who were both promoted to lieutenant general. John Bell Hood was promoted to major general, ranking from October 10, and his small division was increased by the two brigades of Henry L. Benning and George T. Anderson. Col. Jerome B. Robertson of the Fifth Texas was elevated to brigadier general commanding the Texas Brigade. Robertson's vacancy in the Fifth Texas was filled by Robert M. Powell. King Bryan and J. C. Rogers were promoted to lieutenant colonel and major of the Fifth Texas, respectively. The First and Fourth Texas continued under the commands of Lt. Cols. P. A. Work and B. F. Carter, respectively.

On November 7, the Inspector General of the Army of Northern Virginia, Col. Edwin J. Harvie, inspected the Texas Brigade and Maj. B. W. Frobel's three artillery batteries, including Capt. James Reilly's North Carolina Battery. Harvie noted that all five regiments of the Texas Brigade were badly clothed and shod, and 440 men (roughly one-third of the brigade at the time) were barefooted. The First Texas was the worst clothed, and only the Fifth Texas and Hampton's Legion presented their firearms in ``fine order.'' Reilly's Battery, on the other hand, impressed Harvie with the condition and appearance of its guns and men. Although Harvie blamed the regimental officers for the poor state of their men, Hood no doubt shared some of the blame for his lack of administrative attentiveness as division commander.

On November 19, the Texas Brigade left its Cedar Mountain camp and marched as the rear of Longstreet's force toward Fredericksburg. (Longstreet begain marching his corps in this direction on November 14, in response to a flanking maneuver by the Union Army of the Potomac, now under the command of Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside.) Following the Alexandria and Orange Railroad south, the Texas Brigade passed through Rapidan Station and Madison Court House to Orange Court House. From there, the brigade marched east along the Orange Turnpike and arrived at Fredericksburg on November 22. Despite a 60-mile march over muddy roads, the brigade completed the movement in four days.

Longstreet's command occupied the heights west of Frederickburg and south of the Rappahannock. Hood's Division was stationed on the Confederate right near Hamilton's Crossing on the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad, some four miles south of town. On November 26, the Eighteenth Georgia and Hampton's Legion were officially detached from the Texas Brigade and reassigned to the Georgia brigade of Gen. T. R. R. Cobb and the Palmetto brigade of Micah Jenkins, respectively. In their place were assigned the eleven companies of the Third Arkansas, formerly of John G. Walker's Division. The Third Arkansas, the only ``Razorback'' regiment in the Army of Northern Virginia, had now joined the only three Texas regiments in Lee's army. Like the Eighteenth Georgia before it, the Third Arkansas would later be affectionately called the ``Third Texas'' by the men of the Lone Star State.

Upon the arrival at Fredericksburg of Jackson's Second Corps from the Shenandoah Valley on November 30, Longstreet concentrated his command closer to Fredericksburg. Hood was ordered to move his division from from Hamilton's Crossing to a position within two miles of the town. Hood formed his men in the center of the Confederate line, between Jackson on his right and Gen. George E. Pickett's Division of Virginians on his left. The Texas Brigade occupied a good defensive position on the high ground south of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad and behind Deep Run, a small tributary that flowed south from the Rappahannock.

December 1862

The Texas Brigade spent the early part of December drilling, picketing the Rappahannock, and building breastworks along its position near Fredericksburg. The weather was cold, and picket duty -- without adequate clothing and footwear -- was miserable. To keep warm, the brigade's pickets commandeered as a headquarters the Bernard Mansion, located near the Rappahannock not far from the mouth of Deep Run. Constant vigilance was needed as Burnside's army was poised for attack at any time.

The much anticipated movement by Burnside began on the night of December 10. Pontoons were laid across the Rappahannock, and in two days the Union army was across the river and occupying Fredericksburg. The Federals commenced pillaging and destroying anything of value that could be found in the nearly vacant town. Aside from fierce but small-scale resistance in the streets of the town by Gen. William Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade, Lee's response to Burnside's crossing and occupation was patient vigilance.

The Battle of Fredericksburg began about 11 am on December 13 with the attack of Union General William B. Franklin's Grand Division against Gen. Stonewall Jackson's Second Corps on the Confederate right. After an initial success in breaching the position held by A. P. Hill, the Federals were quickly repulsed by Confederate infantry reserves and a murderous artillery barrage. In the afternoon, Burnside launched his main attack against Gen. James Longstreet's left, which was positioned behind a stone wall lining a sunken road at the base of Marye's Heights. Burnside's piecemeal attacks against Longstreet's impregnable position resulted in total failure with heavy casualties. It was pure slaughter. By afternoon, the fields in front of Marye's Heights were covered with frozen dead and dying Union troops. Burnside called off the attacks at sundown. The next morning, Burnside made a feeble renewal of the attack against Longstreet, but it was not pressed. Both sides held their lines until the night of December 15, when Burnside recrossed the Rappahannock and returned to the safety of his camps at Falmouth.

Although Hood's Division occupied the center of the Confederate line, its position was the only one not attacked by Burnside. The Texas Brigade remained under arms from December 11 to 16, during which time only a few long-range shells hit close by. The brigade's only actions were to supply scouts and long-range skirmishers on December 13. Third Sergeant Ed Worsham of Company E, Fourth Texas, was killed by a sharpshooter on December 15 when he followed Burnside's withdrawal across the Rappahannock too closely. His was the only fatality suffered by the Texas Brigade during the Fredericksburg Campaign.

Shortly after the Federal withdrawal from Fredericksburg, the Confederates reoccupied the pillaged and desolate town. The fields and streets were filled with dead and wounded Federals. Burial parties hastily interred the Federal dead after taking from them those items no longer needed. As the dead were being buried, the citizens of Fredericksburg slowly returned to their ruined town. Many were destitute, and the soldiers of Lee's army generously contributed what food, clothing, and money they could spare to alleviate the civilians' suffering. The Texas Brigade alone contributed $5945, of which $1032 came from the Fourth Texas, in return for the kindnesses the people of Virginia had bestowed upon them.

The coming of cold and inclement weather soon ended the possibility of continued hostilities. The Texas Brigade staked out a camp among hills and pines just north of the Massaponax River, about a mile in the rear of the line they occupied during the battle. On December 20, the brigade began to build winter quarters of varying types -- wood-framed huts packed with mud and topped with a canvas roofs were typical -- to stave off the inevitable attacks of Old Man Winter. A large, single-story log house was erected in the center of the brigade's campsite. This house served as a theater six days a week and as a church on Sundays. Dan Collins and his renowned Fourth Texas Brass Band were one of the favorite ``little theater'' entertainment groups. A black-face troupe from the Texas Brigade, ``Hood's Minstrels'', took top billing. The band and minstrels combined for a musical extravanganza before a packed house on Christmas Eve, 1862. Gen. Hood attended the theater often, Gen. Longstreet occasionally, and Gen. Lee was reported to be in the audience at least once.

January 1863

In spite of the dampness and chill, life in winter quarters during January 1863 was most pleasant for the Texans in Lee's Army. Except for an occasional scouting assignment, foraging for food, or picket duty along the Rappahannock, the men did little more than engage in routine camp duties. These duties included roll call, drill, dress parade, preparing meals, and policing the camp. The ease of army life at this time was reflected in the name given to the camp by the Texas Brigade -- ``Camp Hope.''

During their stay around Fredericksburg, the Texans added to their reputation as experts in the unauthorized procurement of life's ``necessities.'' Although a direct rail line existed between the Army of Northern Virginia and the commissaries in Richmond, the Texans craved a little variety in the daily issue of beef, bacon, and biscuits. Rabbits, guinea hens, chickens, and shoats were particularly popular among the foragers. Chickens and pigs, being domesticated, were relatively easy to procure, but appropriation of these palate pleasers had to be done stealthily. Generals Hood and Lee soon received complaints from the region's civilians about the depredations of the Texans. When hearing Gen. Hood's defense of the Texans, Lee responded, ``Oh, General Hood, when you Texans come about, the chickens have to roost mighty high.''

One irate farmer stamped into the tent of one of Hood's regimental commanders demanding that he discipline the men that had shot and taken one of his largest hogs. ``I heard a shot, followed by a loud squeal,'' related the farmer, ``and when I went out on the porch to investigate I noticed two soldiers carrying the hog away and they were headed for this area.'' When the colonel asked the man if he was sure that he heard a shot and then a squeal, the farmer responded affirmatively. The colonel then informed the farmer that he must be in the wrong camp, ``for when a Texan shoots a hog he don't squeal.''

Gambling was another favorite pasttime among the men in Lee's Army, and again the Texans developed a formidable reputation. The Fourth Texas was the spawning ground for the most successful poker player's in Hood's Division. One evening, a particularly successful Texan was leading a horse he had won from one of Gen. Stuart's cavalrymen down the line to his regiment. As he passed by Bill George of Company B, Fourth Texas, George offered him $1000 for the horse. The poker player responded, ``You are a fool. I've just paid $1800 to get him curried.''

Throughout the day and night of January 28, a heavy snow fell in the Rappahannock Valley and settled into drifts up to several feet deep. At mid-morning of January 29, a large group of First and Fourth Texans pelted the huts of their neighbors, the Fifth Texas with ice balls made from tightly packed wet snow. The outnumbered Fifth Texas managed to drive their assailants back into their camps. There the unified Texans planned a snowball attack on the unsuspecting Third Arkansas. The Arkansans were caught unaware and quickly surrendered their entire encampment to the Texans. Inspired by their success, the Arkansans joined the Texans and plotted to attack the camp of Gen. ``Tige'' Anderson's Georgia Brigade, situated on a hill three-quarters of a mile away across the Massaponax stream. With haversacks full of snowballs, officers in front, battleflags unfurled, and drums and bugles sounding, the 1500-man Texas Brigade moved against the Georgians.

The Georgians, forewarned of the impending attack, were ready for the fray. The battle up and down the hillside raged for over an hour. Groans were heard as rocks disguised as snowballs hit their marks. Finally, the Georgians, with both superior numbers and position, drove back the Texans and Arkansans. The Texas Brigade, boosted by reinforcements, rallied and drove the Georgians into their camps, where they gallantly surrendered their forces. The two brigades then combined forces to march against Gen. Lafayette McLaws' Division. Soon 9000 veterans of the Army of Northern Virginia were engaged in a snowball battle royal. Thousands of snowballs were tossed back and forth. At the close of the prolonged struggle, Hood's Division emerged victorious. Thus ended the ``Great Snowball Fight of 1863.''

The Confederate high command was not pleased with the outing. Although only two men were severely injured during the fracas (no doubt the victims of rock-centered snowballs), many soldiers were temporarily laid up with ``black eyes, bloody noses, ragged ears and sadly disfigured physiognomies.'' More important, the noise and mass movement during the fight had caused quite a commotion in the Federal camps across the Rappahannock. Union cavalry, fearing an attack, had become active along the river. Shortly after the fight, Gen. Longstreet issued an order ``prohibiting general snowballing'' in his corps.

February 1863

The Great Snowball Fight of 1863 was not the only activity that attracted the attention of the Federals during the winter of 1863. Being separated by a river only a few hundred feet wide, pickets from both armies routinely engaged in conversation and arranged ``no firing'' truces among themselves. These friendly arrangements soon led to the illicit trading of tobacco and coffee. Trading was primarily done through the use of small boats, but the men would occasionally ferry themselves across the river to barter in person. The regimental bands on one side of the Rappahannock would often serenade the troops posted on the other bank. Occasionally the musicians of both sides would combine their talents and give a joint rendition of ``Home, Sweet Home.''

The relatively tranquillity of army life along the Rappahannock was broken on February 15, when General Lee received orders from Secretary of War John Seddon to prepare troops for possible reinforcement of the Richmond defenses. This order was in response to the dispatch of the Federal Ninth Corps to Newport News on the Peninsula. To stave off the potential threat to the capital, Lee ordered Hood's and Pickett's Divisions to Hanover Junction, twenty miles north of Richmond. Pickett's Division was to move immediately, followed by Hood's command.

The Texas Brigade under Gen. Jerome B. Robertson left its winter quarters on February 17 and at 5 pm headed south in the midst of a raging blizzard. The roads were a quagmire of frozen mud and slush, and the streams were swollen to several times their normal size. On February 18, Lee received more alarming news about Federal movements and dispatched Gen. Longstreet himself to take command of the two marching divisions. Hood was ordered to march to Atlee's Station, eight miles north of Richmond, where he would await supplies and further orders. The march toward Richmond was one of the hardest yet endured by the Texas Brigade. Many men straggled; others fell by the roadside and slept in the mud. Pvt. J. M. Polk of the Fourth Texas later wrote, ``Snow fell during the entire march to Richmond,'' and ``some of the men were almost barefooted and as they traveled they left blood in their tracks.''

On February 21, the Texas Brigade entered the environs of Richmond after a total march of 69 miles through snow and rain. Being the first troops seen in Richmond since the battles of Second Manassas, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, Longstreet's men received a tumultuous welcome. The Texas Brigade put on quite a show for the citizens as they marched through the city. The bands of the Fourth Texas and Third Arkansas led Robertson's rowdy men down Broad Street to the tunes of ``Dixie'' and the ``Marseillaise Hymn.'' The Texans bantered with spectators as they passed and made sport of the ladies wearing large hats by requesting that they ``get down out of them hats.''

The Texas Brigade marched through the capital, crossed the lower (Mayo's) bridge over the James River, and continued south for three miles. Here Robertson's men bivouacked in snow 18 inches deep for several days. It was the first time the Texans had camped south of the James. On February 27, the brigade was ordered several miles farther south to Falling Creek. The men camped on the south bank of the creek about 100 yards from the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad. Every day, two officers and two men from Hood's regiments were permitted to visit Richmond. ``Hood's Division,'' wrote one citizen, ``vomiting forth a motley crew into the streets of what was once the pride and boast of Virginia.'' Men who remained in camp often robbed nearby civilians.

March 1863

Being camped 100 yards from the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, the Texas Brigade enjoyed easy access to both the streets of Richmond and the Confederate supply depots. Nevertheless, hats were always in short supply. Their bareheaded condition caused the men great consternation, as a good hat was almost as important to an infantryman as his rifle. Being creative foragers, the Texans devised a scheme to net them the necessary headgear. Those needing hats cut long pine switches and laid them alongside the tracks of the Richmond and Petersburg. The hatless Texans and Arkansans hid themselves amidst the brush and pines of the steep railroad embankment. As trains full of politicians and contractors slowly approached their position, the hidden men fired their muskets and sounded the Rebel Yell. The startled passengers raised the windows of the cars and stuck out their heads to see what all the commotion was about. When the greatest number of heads protruded from the windows, the soldiers sprang from their positions with switches in hand and began knocking off hats from the heads of the unsuspecting passengers. Seizing the grounded headgear, the men quickly dashed down the tracks toward their camps. This ambush was staged several times until much of the brigade was outfitted with fine civilian hats and until a guard detail was stationed at the site of the crimes.

As in the winter of 1861--1862, officers and men from the companies of the Texas Brigade were detached back to their home counties in search of men to fill the depleted ranks. As of March 9, 1863, the strength of the Texas Brigade was 3030 men, only half of which were fit and present for duty. Unlike the previous winter however, the recruiting drives were not successful. The number of available men back home had dwindled considerably, and those whose remained were not eager to participate in the bloodbaths that Civil War battles usually produced. When Lt. Tom Selman and Pvts. Sam Billingsley and Dave Deckard of Co. E, Fourth Texas returned from McLennan County, they brought with them just one new man, John C. West of Waco -- ``a Texan in search of a fight.'' Although manpower was not forthcoming, support for the men fighting in Virginia was still strong. On March 10, the Ladies Aid Society of Austin donated their $925.30 profit from a recent tableaux to the Texas Brigade. With the inflated prices of goods in the Richmond area, that sum would hardly buy a cup of coffee per man.

On March 16, Gen. Longstreet received word from Gen. Lee that Maj. Gen. Joe Hooker, who was now commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, appeared ready to move south across the Rappahannock. Lee wanted Hood's men alerted for a return to the Fredericksburg area. When Federal cavalry crossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford on March 17, Lee requested the return of Hood's Division. On March 18, the Texas Brigade struck their tents and forced marched northward along the Richmond and Petersburg. A mile below Richmond, Hood foolishly informed the men that they were to rejoin Lee, then cautioned them not to spread the word. Advancing quickly through Richmond, the brigade left the city on the Brook Turnpike and headed toward Ashland. As they marched through Richmond, diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut noted that the men had poor footwear and had ``tin pans and pots tied to their waists, bread and bacon stuck on the ends of their bayonets [and] anything that could be spiked was bayoneted and held aloft.''

The men marched all day on March 18 under threatening skies. When the van of the column was within a few miles of Ashland, the orders to join Lee were cancelled. That night, the troops bivouacked along the turnpike and suffered through a cold, driving blizzard. On March 19, the Texans shook the snow from their thin blankets and headed back toward Richmond. As they passed through the city, the men flocked to the bars that lined Broad Street. Gen. Jerome B. Robertson, commanding the Texas Brigade, reacted angrily to his ever-thinning column before being calmed by Gen. Hood himself. Hood reportedly said to Robertson, ``Let 'em go, General -- let 'em go; they deserve a little indulgence, and you'll get them back in time for the next battle.'' On March 20, a cold, wet, and bedaggled Texas Brigade arrived back at its recently abandoned camp along Falling Creek. Here it remained for the remainder of the month.

April 1863

When it became clear that a Federal advance on Richmond from the southeast was not planned, Gen. Lee changed the mission of Gen. Longstreet's two divisions posted south of the James. Hood's and Pickett's men were now to join Confederate forces in southern Virginia and pin down the Federal garrison at Suffolk, Virginia, near the Great Dismal Swamp. Afterwards, Longstreet's men were to relieve Lee's supply crisis on the Rappahannock by conducting a grand foraging expedition in the relatively untouched farm land west and south of Suffolk.

On April 2, the Texas Brigade abandoned its camp at Falling Creek and marched toward Petersburg. The men reached Petersburg on April 4, and bivouacked there for several days. On April 8, Gen. Robertson resumed the march southward. The brigade passed through Jerusalem and crossed the Blackwater River on a pontoon bridge at Franklin, 20 miles west of Suffolk. (A temporary depot was established at Franklin for storage of excessive personal equipment and supplies.) On the march, the men were harassed by Federal cavalry patrols and then by infantry skirmishers as they approached Suffolk. Hood's Division reached Suffolk on April 11, and immediately entrenched on the west bank of the Nansemond River, north of the town.

Suffolk was well fortified and occupied by 25,000 to 30,000 troops under Federal commander, Maj. Gen. John J. Peck. A flotilla of Union gunboats patrolled the Nansemond. Longstreet's 20,000 men entrenched along a 15-mile line around the town, from the Nansemond in the north to the Great Dismal Swamp in the south. Hood's Division occupied the left or northern wing. Law's Brigade and the Texas Brigade occupied the leftmost positions near the Nansemond. The commander of Co. G, Fourth Texas, reported that his unit was ``engaged in action with 3 gunboats on the Nansemond River on the 14th and 15th of April.'' With his left flank vulnerable to attack, Longstreet ordered Hood to ``burn and destroy all of the wharves and landings on the Nansemond and also on the James that [he could] reach.'' Given their proximity to these areas, the job probably was done by Law's and Robertson's Brigades.

To protect his vulnerable flank, Gen. Robertson formed a special battalion of Texas sharpshooters under the command of the popular and charismatic Captain Ike Turner of Co. K, Fifth Texas. At 22 years old, Turner was the youngest captain in the Texas Brigade, and one of the most promising. On April 14, Turner was hit by a Federal sharpshooter while standing atop the parapet of Fort Huger, a Confederate fortification on Hill's Point close to the confluence of the Western Branch and the Nansemond. He died the next morning. His death was lamented by the whole brigade, particularly by Gen. Hood.

In response to the Turner tragedy, an unknown member of the Fourth Texas swam the river toward the tall grass on the opposite bank that concealed the Yankee sharpshooters. After reaching the bank with a box of matches elevated over his head, the Texan ignited the bulrushes and drove out the sharpshooters. He then swam back to the Confederate bank completely unharmed. John W. Gordon of Co. C, Second North Carolina Cavalry wrote that the Yankees were driven away ``by the most daring deed [he had] ever witnessed.'' He also wrote, ``If ever a man deserved promotion for gallantry and a niche in the Temple of Fame, this Texan did.'' Unfortunately, this Fourth Texan's name is lost to history.

On April 19, a successful Federal assault was made against Fort Huger. The Texas Brigade was alerted for a night assault to recapture the fort and moved via Norfleet's House to the area. Reconnaissance by Gen. Hood and others soon showed that the undertaking was not worth the cost and confusion of a night assault. By the morning of April 20, the Federals had abandoned the fort, taking with them five guns, seven officers, and 130 men as prisoners.

The Confederate entrenchments around Suffolk were the most extensive and sophisticated yet seen in the Civil War. Three to five parallel lines of formidable works were formed. Rifle pits extended to within 200 yards of the Federal works. These advanced positions were manned by volunteers, since the no man's land between the lines was dominated by Federal sharpshooters. The primary purpose of these riflemen was to harass the enemy's artillery crews and force their sharpshooters under cover. J. M. Polk of Co. I, Fourth Texas, volunteered twice for duty in the rifle pits, but after losing part of his hat brim on one occasion and the top of his tight ear on another to Yankee sharpshooters, he decided to do only what he ``was ordered to do after that.''

Throughout the siege of Suffolk, Longstreet impressed the men of Hood's and Pickett's Divisions into the service of foraging. This operation, conducted in the Tidewater region along the Virginia and North Carolina border, was the largest embarked upon by the South during the entire war. Scouring the regions east of the Blackwater and Chowan Rivers, the Confederates not only gathered food and other items essential for the sustenance of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, but also denied the occupying Federals the fruits of the surrounding territory. To haul the supplies back to the Rappahannock, Longstreet's men were forced to confiscate both food, wagons, and horses from area farmers. The men had little sympathy for the locals, as many of them had hitherto been profitting handsomely by overcharging both Confederate and Federal troops for their produce.

The procurement program was called to an abrupt halt on April 30, when Adj. Gen. Samuel Cooper ordered Longstreet to move his command ``without delay'' and to ``effect a junction with General Lee.'' This terse order was prompted by a southward advance by the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers. Union General Joe Hooker's spring offensive was underway. With much of his force scattered throughout the Tidewater region, Longstreet had to inform Cooper of an inevitable delay in getting his command mobilized. It was necessary to withdraw the forage trains before the troops left the Suffolk area, lest the trains fall into Federal hands. Lee would have fight without Longstreet, Hood, and Pickett in the impending campaign.

May 1863

By May 2, all the Confederate forage wagons had been sent north of the Blackwater River. Gen. Longstreet issued orders to his commanders to leave the Suffolk area and proceed without delay to rejoin the main body of the army near Fredericksburg. Hood's Division -- the last to leave the Suffolk trenches -- was ordered to march west on the Blackwater road after dark on May 3. After crossing the Blackwater, Hood's men dismantled the pontoon bridge at Franklin to slow the advance of the pursuing Federals. The Texas Brigade assumed its usual position as the rear guard of Longstreet's command. During the morning of May 4, Gen. Robertson's men skirmished with the lead elements of the Federal troops in pursuit. On May 5, the brigade continued north to Ivor Station on the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, and boarded the cars for Petersburg and Richmond.

By the time Longstreet's command had left the Blackwater region, Gen. Lee had fought and won the Battle of Chancellorsville. As Longstreet's presence was no longer urgently needed, Lee ordered Longstreet on May 7 to proceed north at a normal marching pace. The Texas Brigade reached Richmond on May 8, and was given a handkerchief-waving welcome by the ladies of the capital city. From Richmond, the brigade headed northward through Frederick Hall and Louisa Court House, reaching Orange Court House on May 16. The brigade then marched to the vicinity of Somerville and Raccoon fords on the Rapidan River and went into camp. The campsite was about a mile west of the river in a large grove of chestnut trees on a range of low hills. Despite not having tents, the men were quite satisfied with their new camp. Here the Texans and the rest of the army reaped the rewards of their vast haul of food and supplies from the Suffolk campaign.

During the early weeks of May, the Confederate high command was urged by Gen. Longstreet to mount the Texas Brigade. The efficiency of Hood's men in procuring and impressing horses during the Suffolk campaign had convinced Longstreet that the continuation of such service would well benefit Lee's army. The Texas regiments buzzed with excitement over the prospect, especially after several companies of the Third Arkansas received mounts on May 6 or 7. This excitement, though, was tempered by the news on May 10 that Gen. ``Stonewall'' Jackson had succumbed to pneumonia contracted after his severe wounding by friendly fire near the end of battle at Chancellorsville. To fill the enormous void left in his high command, Lee again reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia by appointing Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell as commander of Jackson's Second Corps and by creating a Third Corps under the command of Lt. Gen. A. P. Hill. This reorganization did not affect the Texas Brigade, which remained in Longstreet's First Corps.

On May 26, Gen. Hood ordered a review of his division before the civilians of the surrounding countryside. The review was held in a clearing a mile from Hood's headquarters. Hood's seasoned brigades marched by a cheering public in the following order: Anderson's, Law's, Robertson's (Texas Brigade), and Benning's. Dan Collins' band from the Fourth Texas was part of the ensemble that played the marching tunes for the troops as they passed by Hood and his staff. Major M. W. Henry's artillery battery added realism to the spectacle by firing blank charges. After the formal review, Hood's brigades were ordered to fix bayonets, sound the rebel yell, and charge the cheering spectators. Pvt. John C. West, who had just joined Co. E of the Fourth Texas, wrote home, ``Sure enough I heard and joined in the regular Texas war hoop.'' He also wrote, ``One day's observation has led me to believe that no army on earth can whip these men. They may be cut to pieces and killed, but routed and whipped, never.''

The Texans spent the remainder of the month cleaning their rifles, foraging for chickens, and picketing along the Rapidan. On May 28, several men from Cos. E and F of the Fourth Texas cut willow branches and headed for Raccoon Ford to supplement their locally procured chickens with a fish or two. Squads of men spent their day on the river fishing, playing poker, swimming and bathing, and washing their ``rags.'' They took full advantage of this leisure time along the Rapidan; they knew that, as summer drew near, opportunities like this would soon be few.

The two weeks of relaxation ended on May 31, when Gen. Robertson received orders to move the Texas Brigade in the direction of Fredericksburg. That day, the brigade marched 14 miles though thick dust, went into bivouac, stacked arms, and remained on alert through the night.

June 1863

On June 1, Gen. Robertson received orders to return to return to the brigade's camp near Raccoon Ford. Whether this aborted movement was a response to a Federal feint at crossing the Rappahannock or merely a training maneuver is not clear. Whatever the reason, the 28-mile forced march with full packs though choking dust under the hot sun was trying on recruit John C. West of the Fourth Texas. West later complained that he was ``pretty tired and [his] feet [were] very much blistered.''

On June 3, Gen. Lee commenced his second great invasion of the North by withdrawing his army from the Rapidan-Rappahannock line and moving it toward the Shenandoah Valley. The Texas Brigade received orders to cook three days' rations and be prepared to move to Culpeper Court House by the next morning. Robertson's men waded across the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford early on June 4, marched 15 miles, and went into camp one mile south of Culpeper.

On June 5, Union cavalry commander Gen. John Buford reported to Maj. Gen. Joe Hooker that he had received reliable information that ``800 Texans from Hood's command have been recently mounted on horses from Richmond.'' By June 8, the growing rumor that ``Lee has mounted the whole of Hood's infantry division'' was sent to Washington by Gen. Robert H. Milroy, commander of the Federal forces at Winchester. Although the prospect struck fear in the hearts of their enemies, the Texas Brigade's hopes of being mounted never materialized. Their destiny as foot soldiers became plain on June 1, when the few mounted companies of the Third Arkansas had their cherished horses taken away and given to the artillery.

On June 6, the Texas Brigade received orders to pack up and march by noon. At 1 pm, the men left their camp near Culpeper and headed northeast in a driving rain toward Rappahannock Station. The Texans and Arkansans slogged through mud until 10 pm, when, exhausted and wet, they bivouacked by the side of the road. At dawn on June 7, the brigade ate a cold and soggy breakfast from their haversacks, formed ranks, and marched back over the muddy roads to their Culpeper campsite. Lee had used Longstreet's brigades to feign a movement east of the Blue Ridge Mountains toward Washington and screen the Second Corps' movement toward the Shenandoah Valley.

On June 8, cavalry brigade commander Gen. Fitzhugh Lee invited Gen. Hood ``to bring any of [his] people'' to attend a grand review of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry command at Brandy Station. Although Lee probably intended for Hood to bring only his staff, Hood went to the affair accompanied by his whole division. Fearful that Hood's Texans might use the occasion to mock the cavalrymen as they paraded by, Lee warned Hood not to allow his men to yell, ``Here's your mule!'' Gen. Wade Hampton also warned Hood that his command would charge any disrespectful Texans. Exercising unprecedented restraint, the Texans behaved like gentlemen throughout the dandy occasion.

The next day, June 9, Stuart's cavalry was surprised by a Federal reconnaissance in force under Union Gen. Alfred Pleasanton. The ensuing Battle of Brandy Station was the largest cavalry battle ever fought in North America. When it was learned that Union infantry were supporting the cavalry, the Texas Brigade was started toward the battlefront. By the time the Texans arrived, however, the Federals had withdrawn back across the Rappahannock. Although he left the field to Stuart, Pleasanton had accomplished his mission by discovering that the Army of Northern Virginia was heading north.

On June 13, the Texas Brigade received orders to move from Culpeper. This action began a general northward movement by Longstreet's Corps east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This movement was designed to protect the passes of the Blue Ridge as Richard Ewell's and A. P. Hill's Corps marched up the Shenandoah Valley and into Maryland. Longstreet's movement also served to confuse the Army of the Potomac (now concentrated at Centreville) as to Lee's true objective -- Washington or Pennsylvania. The Texas Brigade marched five miles west of Culpeper and bivouacked on the now familiar Cedar Mountain battlefield. Several men took to opportunity to walk over the battlefield. According to John C. West of Co. E, Fourth Texas,

There were a great many unburied skeletons, presenting a very ghastly appearance. There were 49 skulls in one little ditch the bodies were torn to pieces and scattered about, having been taken from their shallow graves by hogs and other animals. A hand or foot might be seen protruding from the earth here and there...

On June 15, the Texas Brigade marched north from its Cedar Mountain camp toward Ashby's Gap. It was a hot, sticky march conducted, as Pvt. West said, ``by that unmerciful driver, our beloved General Hood, who simply strikes up a trot and is satisfied that the Texas Brigade at least will camp with him at nightfall.'' Hood's Division marched 25 miles that day to Gaines' Cross Roads, but hundreds of men fell by the wayside as victims of exhaustion and sunstroke. A few died.

On June 16, the brigade marched another 20 miles to Markham Station on the Manassas Gap Railroad. The next day, the march continued for another 14 miles until the the men were ordered to stop for the night about a mile from Upperville. On June 18, the Texas Brigade passed through the Blue Ridge at Ashby's Gap, crossed to the west side of the Shenandoah, and bivouacked near Millwood. The Shenandoah was deep and cold, and the Texans had to carry their rifles and cartridge boxes above their heads during the precarious crossing. The next day, the brigade moved north along the river to Berryville, crossed to the east side of the Shenandoah, and occupied a position on a mountain near Snicker's Gap. Robertson's command quickly constructed stone breastworks and remained on the windy, cloud-enshrouded mountaintop for three days. On June 23, the brigade withdrew from the mountain, crossed the Shenandoah yet again, and returned to its camp near Millwood.

On June 24, The Texas Brigade marched north from Millwood, passing through Berryville and Martinsburg. Reaching Williamsport in the rain about noon on June 26, the brigade crossed the Potomac into Maryland. With the pontoon bridge clogged with artillery and wagons, most the the men removed their clothes, held their guns and accoutrements aloft, and invaded the north in a semi-naked state to the patriotic tunes of the brigade's regimental bands. After the whole brigade had crossed the river, Gen. Robertson marched the men a short distance into Maryland, had them stack rifles, and permitted them to cook their rations. The Texans were in high spirits, and were looking forward to sampling the bounty of Northern territory.

During this break for lunch, each Texan was rewarded by Gen. Hood with one gill of whiskey from several barrels recently confiscated near Hagerstown. (A gill is one-quarter of a pint.) Those men who did not drink passed their ration to a more thirsty messmate. The combination of whiskey, empty stomachs, and the excitement of being in Yankeedom proved disastrous. Hood's order of one gill per man was often ignored. Pvt. J. M. Polk of Co. I, Fourth Texas, saw several of the barrels rolled out on a hill, the heads knocked out, and the whiskey ``issued to the men by the cupful.'' Polk added, ``I don't suppose the oldest man living in America ever saw so many men drunk at any one time.'' J. B. Polley of the Fourth Texas wrote that the amount of whiskey ``was amply sufficient to put fully half the Brigade not only in a boisterously good humor, but in such physical condition that the breadth of the road over which they marched that evening was more of an obstacle to rapid progress than its length.'' John C. West recalled that one-third of the men ``got pretty tight and that many of them slipped down and rolled in the mud.''

When some semblance of order was restored, the Texas Brigade straggled across the narrow neck of Maryland to the vicinity of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. That day, June 26, 1863, Hood's men performed a feat never again matched by any division in the war. They had breakfast in Virginia, lunch in Maryland, supper in Pennsylvania, and slept in a state of intoxication -- four states in 24 hours. That evening the Hood's Division went into camp near Greencastle. Hood himself precipitated some of the most intense foraging yet done by the Texas Brigade when he reportedly said to his headquarter's guard, ``Boys, you are now on the enemy's soil; stack your arms and pretty much do as you please...stay close by and prevent any stranger from coming here to kill me, and establish your camp here by my tent.''

The next morning, June 27, the Texans resumed their march north, passing through Greencastle up the Cumberland Valley toward Chambersburg. The country was beautiful, the roads macadamized, and the buildings impressive. John C. West wrote home that he had ``not seen a barn in the last three days but what was more substantially and carefully built and fitted out than any house...in the country of Texas. The barns were positively more tastily bult than two-thirds of the houses in Waco.'' The brigade entered Chambersburg that afternoon. Lt. Col. James Freemantle, a British observer who accompanied Gen. Lee into Pennsylvania, commented in his diary that ``Hood's Ragged Jacks'' were a ``queer lot to look at. They carry less than other troops...many of them have only got an old piece of carpet or rug as baggage; many have discarded their shoes in the mud; all are ragged and dirty, but full of good humor and confidence in themselves...''

As the men passed through the streets of Chambersburg, many of the townsfolk wore patriotic banners and made derisive remarks about the ragged Confederates. One woman wore a large American flag draped across her ample bosom until a Texan hollered out, ``Take care, Madam, for Hood's boys are great at storming breastworks when the Yankee colors is on them!'' Lt. Col. Freemantle noted that the women beat a ``precipitate retreat.''

After passing through Chambersburg, the Texas Brigade camped in a grove of trees about a mile north of town. Here they rested and foraged until June 30. The foraging was largely in violation of Lee's General Order No. 73, dated June 27, which warned the men to abstain from wanton injury to private property and non-combatants. Lee also ordered that all confiscated goods were to be paid for in Confederate promissory notes or script. This order was also frequently ignored by the Texans, who took full advantage of the bountiful and prosperous area around Chambersburg to supplement their meager rations.

On June 29, the Fourth Texas superpassed the Fifth Texas' grand reputation for unauthorized procurement by executing one of the greatest foraging operations of the war. In one evening, the ``Hell Roaring Fourth'' had stripped a sizeable sector of the Cumberland Valley. When J. B. Polley awoke the next morning, he witnessed ``a wonderful and marvelous sight:''

Every square foot of an acre of ground not occupied by a sleeping or standing soldier was covered with choice food for the hungry. Chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese squawked, gobbled, cackled, quacked and hissed in harmonious unison as deft and energetic hands seized them for slaughter and, scarcely waiting for them to die, sent their feathers flying in all directions. Scattered around in bewildering confusion and gratifying profusion appeared immense loaves of bread and chunks of corned beef, hams, and sides of bacon, cheeses, crocks of applebutter, jelly, jams, pickles, and preserves, bowls of yellow butter, demijohns of buttermilk, and other eatables too numerous to mention.

Polley noted that the those whose were still sleeping were the foragers of the night before, while those standing were the men who had remained in camp as guards. Polley described the comic sight:

Jack Sutherland's head pillowed itself on a loaf of bread, and one arm was wound caressingly half-around a juicy-looking ham. Bob Murray, fearful that his captives would take to their wings or be purloined, had wound a string, which bound half a dozen frying chickens around his right big toe; one of Brahan's wide-spread legs was embraced by two over-lapping crocks of apple-butter and jam, while a tough old gander, gray with age, squawked noisily at his head without in the least disturbing his slumber, Dick Skinner lay flat on his back -- with his right hand holding to the legs of three fat chickens and a duck, and his left, to those of a large turkey -- fast asleep and snoring in a rasping bass that chimed in well with the music of the fowls.

According to Polley, ``The daylight hours of June 30 were devoted exclusively to gormandizing until at 3 p.m. marching orders came and leaving more provisions than carried, the Texans moved lazily...into line'' -- bound for Cashtown and Gettysburg. Hood's Division left the Chambersburg area in the wake of Gen. Lafayette McLaws' Division. The Texas Brigade reached Fayetteville that evening and there went into bivouac.

July 1863

Early in the morning of July 1, the Texas Brigade left its bivouac at Fayettesville and resumed its march along the Chambersburg Pike toward Cashtown, which lay 12 miles to the east. The movement of Longstreet's column was delayed several hours when Gen. Edward Johnson's Division of Ewell's Second Corps cut across its line of march. (Johnson's Division was ordered from Carlisle to Cashtown while Ewell's other divisions under Robert Rodes and Jubal Early advanced on Gettysburg directly.) J. B. Polley of the Fourth Texas wrote that the column would advance ``a hundred yards or so, and then stop and stand still, [the men] not daring to sit down, for five, ten, or twenty minutes at a time.''

The Texas Brigade finally reached Cashtown at 2 am on July 2. There the men were permitted to stack arms and rest. Word of the Confederate victory on July 1 in the fields north and west of Gettysburg must have reached them by this time. The men had rested but two hours when they received orders to resume their march toward Gettysburg, which was 8 miles further east along the pike. The Texas Brigade reached Gen. Lee's headquarters, just west of the town and south of the pike, an hour after sunrise of July 2. After a short delay, the Texans moved about a mile southwest to the valley of Willoughby Run behind Seminary Ridge. Here the brigade cooked breakfast and rested.

Those Texans who remained awake after their all-night march witnessed an historic gathering of Generals Lee, Longstreet, A. P. Hill, and Hood. During this meeting, Lee outlined his plan for attacking the Federal Army of the Potomac, which was now under the command of Maj. Gen. George Meade. The Federals had been beaten back in the previous day's fight, but had assumed a strong defensive position on Cemetery Ridge, Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill, south and east of Gettysburg. Lee wanted an echelon attack against the Federal left flank by Hood's and McLaws' Divisions of Longstreet's Corps and by Richard Anderson's Division of A. P. Hill's Corps. Longstreet opposed Lee's plan and advocated maneuvering around the Federal right flank, placing the Army of Northern Virginia between the Army of the Potomac and Baltimore, and receiving a Federal attack on ground of their own choosing. Lee viewed Longstreet's plan as impractical and risky, and ordered the attack against the Federal left to begin as soon as practicable. Lee then left Seminary Ridge to confer with Ewell, whom Lee wished to create a diversion against the Federal right on Cemetery and Culp's Hills. It was about 9 am.

Longstreet, reluctant to launch an attack without Pickett's Division (which had not yet arrived from Cashtown) or Law's Brigade (which was guarding the Confederate rear at New Guilford in the Cumberland Valley), delayed some three hours before beginning to deploy his corps on the Confederate right. When Law's Brigade rejoined the corps about noon, Longstreet started McLaws' and Hood's Divisions south toward their destinations near the Wheatfield and the Emmitsburg Road. McLaws' Division, which was positioned in the woods along Herr's Ridge, led the way. After marching a short distance along Black Horse Tavern Road, McLaws realized that his column was exposed to the view of a Federal signal station posted on the crest of Little Round Top, located about two miles to the east. After consulting Longstreet, McLaws ordered a countermarch back to Herr's Ridge, from which an alternate approach could be launched. By this time, Hood's van had overlapped McLaws' rear. Instead of allowing Hood to assume the lead, Longstreet gave in to McLaws' protests and allowed him to countermarch past Hood. This complication only served to delay further Lee's planned attack.

McLaws led his Division east to the Fairfield Road and then south along a road paralleling Willoughby Run. Angered by the slowness of the march, Longstreet ultimately ordered Hood to double the column alongside McLaws and go into position. Hood quickly responded and soon had his division on the Confederate right in search of the enemy's left flank. The Texas Brigade led the way, following their advance party of scouts and pioneers.

By 4 pm, McLaws and Hood finally had their divisions in place for the attack. Hood's Division deployed in two lines of two brigades astride the Emmitsburg Road about 2 3/4 miles south of the Lutheran Seminary. The Texas Brigade was on the left of the forward line and Law's Brigade was on its right. From left to right were deployed the Third Arkansas, First Texas, Fourth Texas, and Fifth Texas. Despite efforts to conceal their arrival, a hail of hot iron from Federal batteries in the Peach Orchard and Devil's Den made it plain that the Federal's knew their position.

Soon after reaching his assigned position, Hood received word from Law's scouts that the Federal left flank extended no further south than the Round Tops. Hood was convinced that turning the Round Tops would permit an easy attack of the enemy's rear. He petitioned Longstreet via courier to allow him to make the maneuver, but Longstreet denied the request by quoting Gen. Lee's orders to advance up the Emmitsburg Road. Hood petitioned twice more -- the last time in person -- further stating that the rocky terrain to his front precluded an unbroken advance on the enemy position. Hood's petitions were each denied by Longstreet, and Hood formally protested the attack.

By this time, the Federal artillery was taken its toll on Hood's idle brigades. Gen. Robertson had ordered the Texas Brigade to move to a less vulnerable position and lie down to minimize casualties. With deadly accuracy, a shell burst in the midst of the Fourth Texas, killing or wounding 15 men. John C. West of Co. E and several of his comrades were spattered with blood when a solid shot decapitated a soldier and cut another in two a few feet from them. West wrote, ``the infernal machines came tearing and whirring through the ranks with a most demoralizing tendency.''

Captain P. J. Barziza of Co. C, Fourth Texas wrote:

The enemy's shells screamed and bursted around us, inflicting considerable damage. It is very trying upon men to remain still and in ranks under a severe cannonading. One has time to reflect upon the danger, and there being no wild excitement as in a charge, he is more reminded of the utter helplessness of his present condition. The men are all flat on the ground, keeping their places in the ranks, and as a shell is heard, generally try to sink themselves into the earth. Nearly every face is overspread with a serious, thoughtful air; and what thoughts, vivid and burning, come trooping up from the inner chambers of memory, the soldier can only realize.

While they waited, Lt. Mat Beasley of Co. I, Fourth Texas learned that he was to command his company during the upcoming assault. This company had developed a reputation for losing officers in battle. His men consoled him over his unenviable position, but Beasley would later have the distinction of being the only commander of Co. I to survive a fight.

Having received his orders from Longstreet to execute Lee's plan, Hood ordered his brigades to attack. It was just after 4 pm. Hood, on horseback in front of the Texas Brigade, commanded, ``Forward-Steady-Forward!'' Hood ordered Robertson to keep his brigade in contact with the Emmitsburg Road on the left and Law's Brigade on its right. Law's Alabamians, who received a head start in the attack, soon outpaced the Texas Brigade, and Robertson's men had to break into a trot just to keep contact on their right. Robertson quickly realized that he would have to violate Hood's order by either losing contact with the Law or the road. Robertson and Col. Van Manning of the Third Arkansas opted to break from the road rather than split the division.

Because of the rapid advance and the heat of the day, many of the Texans discarded their knapsacks, blankets, and other cumbersome non-essential battle equipment during the charge. John C. West of the Fourth Texas threw away everything except his socks, a flannel shirt, his gun, and his cartridge box.

Soon after crossing the Emmitsburg Road, Hood left Robertson and rode to the center of the division. While there, a shell exploded above his head, and one of its fragments tore into his left arm. Hood reeled in the saddle from shock, and his staff and comrades lowered him to the ground. Stretcher bearers carried him from the fight that had barely begun. Col. Evander Law then assumed command of Hood's Division.

As the Texas Brigade continued its advance across open fields into woods and rocky terrain, a large gap developed between the First and Fourth Texas. As Robertson tried to close the gap, Federal fire from woods on the left forced the Third Arkansas and the First Texas to veer further left to answer the attack. Unable to close the gap from the left, Robertson sent a staff officer to order the Fourth and Fifth Texas to close from the right. The regiments could not be found. Fortunately, the breach in the brigade was not exploited by the Federals and was soon plugged by the Forty-fourth and Forty-eighth Alabama, which had been diverted from Law's right to silence Capt. James Smith's Fourth New York Battery firing from Devil's Den. Except for Co. I of the Fourth Texas (which had drifted left along with the First Texas), the Fourth and Fifth Texas now effectively fought as part of Law's Brigade.

The Fourth and Fifth Texas advanced by the Bushman and Slyder farmyards, splashed through Plum Run, and entered the woods on the western slope of Big Round Top. As the Fourth Texas advanced toward a stone wall, riflemen from the Second U.S. Sharpshooters posted behind it poured a detructive fire into the regiment's flank. Here, Lt. Joe C. Smith was killed, and Col. John C. G. Key and Lt. Col. Benjamin F. Carter (the former captain of Co. B) were wounded. Carter died a few days later in Federal hands. To the Fourth's right, the Fifth Texas and Fourth Alabama cleared the sharpshooters from the wall and drove them back. The three regiments then pressed on through thick woods and boulders to the saddle between the Big and Little Round Tops.

When the Fourth Texas passed to the east of Devil's Den, the men on its left could see the fight for Smith's Battery being waged. Cpl. Miles V. Smith of Co. D assembled several of his fellow Fourth Texans and sniped at the cannoneers from the boulders on Big Round Top. Smith was rewarded by the sight of the First Texas and the Twentieth Georgia of Benning's Brigade capturing the battery. When Federal troops attempted to recapture the guns, Smith's detail fired into the Federal flank. When the fight ended, he found the Fourth Texas halfway up the slope of Little Round Top.

When the Fourth Alabama and the Fourth and Fifth Texas emerged from the saddle between the Round Tops, they were staggered by the sight of Little Round Top's rocky slope directly to their front. The skirmishers and sharpshooters they had just expelled were scrambling up the rocky slope to join a well entrenched line of 1,000 men in Col. Strong Vincent's Brigade of the Union Fifth Corps. The three regiments dressed their line and advanced up the slope in pursuit. Col. Robert Powell of the Fifth Texas wrote that the ``ascent was so difficult as to forbid the use of arms.'' Large boulders forced the Texans to break ranks and file through them. On the left, the Fourth Texas went in yelling and whooping. John C. West wrote, ``Round the rude rock the ragged rascal ran.'' A ledge of large boulders and a hail of Federal lead stopped the advance. At this time, Col. Powell and Lt. Col. King Bryan of the Fifth Texas went down wounded.

The two Texas regiments retreated back down the slope of Little Round Top. Ordered forward, they advanced a second time. By this point, the Texas and Alabama regiments were attacking in only loose coordination at best. With most of their company officers dead or wounded, the men attacked through the boulders as squads instead of regiments. Men were everywhere trying to take cover behind the boulders. Inevitably, the second assault ended just as the first. Joined by the Fourty-eighth Alabama on their left, the Fourth and Fifth Texas attempted a third assault. With darkness falling over the field, it was now or never.

As the Texans and Alabamians advanced, the Sixteenth Michigan, on the right of Vincent's line, began to break. Vincent ordered the Forty-fourth New York to fire into the advancing Texans. Col. Stephen Weed also ordered the 140th New York to reinforce the wavering Michiganders. Bullets whizzed around so thickly that ``a man could hold out a hat and catch it full.'' Pvt. Val C. Giles of Co. B, Fourth Texas fired his rifle so many times that the ramrod became stuck in the barrel. He pounded the ramrod against a boulder and pulled the trigger, which sent the rifle flying from his hands, striking another Texan in the ear. The Federal fire ultimately was enough to stop the Confederate assault, but not before Co. K of the Fifth Texas came within 20 yards of the Union line. Finally, at someone's order the Texas regiments pulled back and reformed on the shoulder of Big Round Top southeast of Devil's Den.

As darkness descended, the noise of the battle faded into quiet. Night, however, brought little relief to the Texans wounded or stranded behind the boulders and in the crevices of Little Round Top. Scouting parties from both sides retrieved the wounded or captured prisoners. Federals and Confederates alike hastily built stone walls in anticipation of renewed battle in the morning.

At daylight on July 3, the scattered remnants of Robertson's Brigade were unified and occupied a sector along Plum Run between Devil's Den and Big Round Top. This would become part of the main Confederate defense line thoughout the day. While Lee was launching ``Pickett's Charge'' against the Union center, the Confederate right was relatively quiet. Sniper fire persisted throughout the day, and occasionally a shell would explode amidst the sparse ranks of the Texans. Federal cavalry twice appeared on the flank and rear of the Confederate right, but each time the horsemen were driven off by Law's artillery and infantry. The First Texas was the only regiment of the Texas Brigade engaged in these operations. Late in the afternoon, Hood's Division withdrew from its forward position to a line near the Emmitsburg Road. Here they remained through July 4, awaiting a Federal attack that never came. The Battle of Gettysburg was over.

The Texas Brigade suffered the second highest brigade loss in Hood's Division -- 84 killed, 393 wounded, and 120 missing. Heavy casualties were suffered in the top officer ranks: Gen. Robertson, Cols. Manning, Key, and Powell, and Lt. Cols. King Bryan and Benjamin Carter were all wounded, the last fatally.

The Texas Brigade moved from its position just west of the Emmitsburg Road during the night of July 4. The march was slowed by heavy rains, high winds, and rutted roads. The brigade continued its retreat southwestward through Maryland, reaching Hagerstown late on the afternoon of July 6. There the Texans camped southeast of town on the Sharpsburg Road. The Texas Brigade rested in camp until July 10. John C. West wrote that during the first six days in July, he ``never took off [his] accouterments, night or day'' and was ``without meat and had little bread.''

The heavy rains of the previous few days had partially detroyed the Confederate pontoon bridge left at Falling Waters and had rendered the Potomac at Williamsport unfordable. The Army of Northern Virginia formed a perimeter of defense around the crossing point, but the overcautious Meade left Lee's army unbothered while it rebuilt its pontoon bridge. Finally on the night of July 13 and the morning of July 14, Lee's army crossed safely into Virginia. Lee sat astride Traveller and watched the passage of his troops. As Hood's old brigade passed him at dawn on the 14th, ``each soldier bared his head. There was no salute, no cheer and no word was spoken as the men marched silently by.'' The Texas Brigade then marched eight miles to Martinsburg, where it bivouacked for the night.

On July 15, the Texas Brigade continued its march south through the Shenandoah Valley, tramping 12 miles to Darkesville. The next day the men reached Bunker Hill. Here they remained for four days. After finding several barrels of whiskey in a nearby haystack, the men of the Fifth Texas were heard singing a parody on ``Maryland, My Maryland:''

Old Bob Lee's heel is on thy shore,
Pennsylvane, My Pennsylvane;
His hand is at thy stable door,
Pennsylvane, My Pennsylvane.
You won't see you old hoss no more,
We'll ride him till his back is sore,
An' then come back and git some more,
Pennsylvane, My Pennsylvane.

Robertson's command left Bunker Hill on July 20 and marched down the western bank of the Shenandoah, passing through Millwood on July 21. The brigade continued south through Stone Bridge and Cedarville, and, after a difficult crossing of both forks of the Shenandoah at Front Royal, bivouacked that evening near Chester Gap. On July 22, Texan scouts had a brush with Federal cavalry as they passed though the gap to the east side of the Blue Ridge. While crossing the gap, Capt. J. R. Woodward of the First Texas suddenly collapsed from a small bullet wound in his upper thigh. No one heard a shot or saw smoke. Woodward died a few days later, an apparent victim of a long-range sharpshooter. From Chester Gap the Texans marched directly south to Washington, Virginia, where they camped for the night. The Texas Brigade reached Culpeper Court House late on July 24, after a forced march of 27 miles.

The Texas brigade remained at Culpeper until July 31. Here they drew rations, supplies, and equipment, and wrote home of their great adventure into Pennsylvania. John C. West of the Fourth Texas wrote that he had not changed his clothes since the Battle of Gettysburg and that he had to throw away his undershirt as it ``had become a harbor of innumerable body lice.'' While at Culpeper, another member of the Fourth Texas was convicted of an offense for which he had to wear a ball and chain under guard. Some 25 members of the Fourth considered the punishment ``a disgrace to [the] regiment and the State of Texas'' and rushed the guard in an attempt to free the felon. Charges of mutiny were proferred against the 25 men, but later the charges were dropped ``through the influence of General Lee.'' Afterward no member of the Texas Brigade was ever recorded to have been punished with the ball and chain.

On July 31, Longstreet's Corps left Culpeper bound for Fredericksburg to counter a Federal move in that direction.

August 1863

On August 4, the Texas Brigade reached Rapidan Station after a leisurely march of 21 miles in four days. Word was then received that Gen. Meade was approaching the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, so the pace of Longstreet's march eastward quickened. Hood's Division marched from Rapidan Station to Fredericksburg, a distance of 32 miles, in 36 hours. The Texans arrived in Fredericksburg on August 6 only an hour before the advanced units of the Federal army appeared on the opposite bank of the Rappahannock.

The Texas Brigade remained in the vicinity of Fredericksburg for nearly a month, relaxing, drawing supplies, and guarding the fords of the Rappahannock. Hood's Division picketed a twelve mile stretch of the river between the United States Ford above Fredericksburg to a point a mile below the town. Expecting a lengthy stay, Gen. Robertson's command established a semi-permanent camp just below the town. The men ate well, were in fine spirits, and received new uniforms from the Richmond Depot and new shoes from England that had been run through the Union blockade.

While in camp at Fredericksburg, many wild rumors circulated regarding the conditions in the army and back in Texas. Pvt. John C. West of the Fourth Texas wrote home that Gen. Hood had been promoted to lieutenant general of cavalry. This caused great excitement among the rank and file, as West said that ``Hood would endeavor to mount our brigade.'' Zack Landrum of the Fourth Texas wrote to his mother that ``a report was in circulation [in the army] that Texas and La. and Ark. had seceded from the Southern Confederacy and placed themselves under the protection from France.'' Landrum ``was in hopes that it was so, [for] when a nation can't protect the states that form it they [the states] ought to protect themselves in the best way they can. If it comes to the worst, I would rather the French should rule us than any nation on the globe.''

While Hood's Division enjoyed relative peace on the right of Lee's line, Jeb Stuart's, A. P. Hill's and Ewell's commands up river were subjected to frequent attacks by Union cavalry and occasional sorties by infantry. One Texan, disgruntled by the lack of support given Longstreet's Corps at Gettysburg said ``Let em fight, let em fight. It's high time they were doin' it, durn 'em. If the cavalry had kept its place on our right and Hill's and Ewell's men had come halfway up to scratch over yonder at Gettysburg, we'd be feasting today on brotherly love at Philadelphia, or on terrapins and canvasback ducks in Baltimore instead of here in Old Virginia nibbling carefully at our rations lest they run short. Let 'em fight, it is not our funeral.''

September 1863

On September 2, Gen. Evander Law, commanding the division for the injured Gen. Hood, ordered Gen. Robertson to move the Texas Brigade about 20 miles below Fredericksburg to Rappahannock Academy near Port Royal. Robertson was instructed to post pickets at all river crossings and report any attempted crossing by the Federals, a sizeable number of whom had recently been spotted in the area.

The Texas Brigade remained near Port Royal until September 7, when it received orders to break camp and march to Milford Station. Once there, the brigade (minus Reilly's North Carolina Battery) was to board the cars of the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad bound for the Confederate capital. This order was part of a grand movement to send Hood's and McLaws' Divisions west to Tennessee to join Gen. Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee, which opposed a Federal army under Gen. William S. Rosecrans near Chattanooga. The goal of this movement, inspired by Gen. Longstreet, was to launch a counteroffensive in Tennessee, threaten Ohio, and relieve pressure on Gen. Lee in Virginia and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston in Mississippi.

The Texas Brigade arrived in Richmond on September 9, the same day that the top-secret movement was leaked and printed with great detail in the New York Herald. Many of the men took their time journeying south through the city to the depot of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad. On the way, many visited the now familiar taverns and became quite drunk. Fortunately, enough men remained sober enough to heard the drunkards onto the railroad cars headed south. While in Richmond, the Texans implored Gen. Hood (who had been in Richmond recuperating from his Gettysburg wound and wooing the Richmond socialite Sally ``Buck'' Preston) to accompany them to Georgia. Although he had the use of only one arm, Hood agreed and boarded the train with his favorite horse, a roan named ``Jeff Davis.''

Because part of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad -- the direct route from the Richmond area to Chattanooga -- had recently been seized by Federal forces under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, Longstreet's divisions were forced to take a much longer and more circuitous route through the Carolinas and Georgia to reach Bragg's army. Adding to the hardship was the fact that the railroads along the way were of different gauges, which required much unloading and reloading of troops onto rickety rolling stock.

Over the next eight days, the Texas Brigade was transported by rail through Weldon, Wilmington, and Florence, North Carolina, to Kingsville, South Carolina, and then through Augusta, Atlanta, and Dalton, Georgia to Catoosa Station, the railway stop for Ringgold, Georgia. The route was 775 miles in length, some 235 longer than the direct route lost to Burnside just days before the start of Longstreet's movement. At every stop, the men were greated with cheers, kisses, food, and clothing. The more ragged the soldier, the greater the benefits bestowed upon him, for, according to Pvt. John C. West of the Fourth Texas, ``rags and dirt seemed to be a recommendation [for favors] where gilt and brass failed to excite attention.''

While in Wilmington, North Carolina, the Texas Brigade made its presence known in the unsavory waterfront section known as ``Paddy's Hollow.'' Having had several rounds of John Barleycorn, Robertson's men soon became boisterous and obnoxious. When a local police force was summoned to expel the revellers, the Texans mistook the officers in their blue uniforms for Yankees, formed a battle line, and staggered to a charge. One constable in his late fifties was badly beaten about the face, another was knocked down by a shillelagh blow to the ear, and a third officer suffered two knife wounds in his side. The policemen withdrew, leaving the waterfront to the mercy of the rowdy Texans.

At Sumter, South Carolina, a spread of food was prepared expressly for Hood's Texas Brigade. The train stopped just 15 minutes to allow Robertson's men to feast, according to Val Giles of Co. B, Fourth Texas, ``at long tables spread with goodies.'' J. M. Polk of the Fourth Texas remarked, ``All were happy lords, yet knowing at the same time that we were going into another big killing and that many of us would go to our long homes.''

The Texas Brigade reached Catoosa Station, Georgia, on September 17. The men unloaded their equipment, prepared supper, and bivouacked for the night at nearby Ringgold. The brigade was the first of Hood's men to reach Ringgold, the rendezvous point in northwestern Georgia for the reinforcements coming from Lee and Johnston. At 5 am on September 18, the Texas Brigade was incorporated into Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson's Provisional Division, left Ringgold, and started northwest to a large stream called the Chickamauga, an Indian name meaning ``River of Death.''

Screened by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry, Johnson's Provisional Division proceeded along the Ringgold Road toward Reed's Bridge across the Chickamauga. Along the way, Johnson's men met Federal resistance in the form of Robert Minty's cavalry brigade and several regiments of John T. Wilder's mounted infantry. The Texas Brigade served as the reserve force as the Confederates slowly drove the Federals successively back across Pea Vine Creek, Pea Vine Ridge, and the Chickamauga.

While advancing down the Ringgold Road, the Texas Brigade was passed by a column of the Eighth Texas Cavalry (``Terry's Texas Rangers'') and warm greetings were exchanged between the two already famous groups. For the first time in the war, the Texas Brigade would fight alongside other cavalry and infantry units from the Lone Star State. The Seventh Texas Infantry, commanded by Hiram D. Granbury was in John Gregg's Brigade, also assigned to Bushrod Johnson's Provisional Division.

About 3 pm on September 18, Johnson's Division was preparing to cross the Chickamauga when Gen. Hood, who had arrive at Catoosa Station a few hours after the Texas Brigade, arrived and assumed command of the Provisional Division. Hood sent skirmishers forward to support Forrest and ordered Maj. Felix H. Robertson's Artillery Battalion forward and to unlimber. (Robertson was the son of Gen. Jerome B. Robertson, commander of the Texas Brigade.) Hood's Division then crossed the Chickamauga at Reed's Bridge, advanced a quarter of a mile to Jay's Stream Saw Mill, turned south at the mill, and advanced down the west side of the Chickamauga. After a march of two miles, the column halted at dusk. Hood's men were opposite Dalton's Ford and about 800 yards east of the Viniard House on the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road, where a corps of 14,000 Federals under Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden were deployed.

Hood's Division was the only Confederate force west of the river. He deployed his brigades in a defensive position facing three sides. The Texas Brigade faced northwest toward the Viniard House and the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road. One-third of the men were required to remain on duty through the night, while the remaining two-thirds were ordered to sleep on their arms. Throughout the night, Hood's command could hear the ring of axes and rumbling of artillery as the Federals constructed breastworks and moved their guns into position. John C. West of the Fourth Texas heard the activity and ``felt pretty sure that the wool tearing would come off in the morning.''

As September 19 dawned, two powerful armies opposed each other along a six-mile front generally divided by the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road. The battleground was a mix of thick woods, dense undergrowth, and marshy ground, all of which made maneuvering difficult. A few hills and clearings with cabins dotted the landscape. Robertson's Brigade was joined early in the morning by Law's and Benning's Brigades. As Longstreet was still en route from Virginia, Bragg assigned Hood temporary command of Longstreet's Corps. Hood's command also included Bushrod Johnson's Division and Kershaw's Brigade of McLaw's Division. Evander Law was given temporary command of Hood's Division.

The Confederate left consisted of the divisions of -- from left to right -- William Preston, Bushrod Johnson, and Evander Law. Law's Division was deployed with the Texas Brigade on the left, Law's Alabama Brigade (now under James Sheffield) in the center, and Benning's Brigade on the right. Robertson's Texas Brigade -- still posted in its position of the previous night -- was formed from left to right in the same order as at Gettysburg: Third Arkansas (under Col. Van Manning), First Texas (under Capt. R. J. Harding), Fourth Texas (under Lt. Col. John Bane), and Fifth Texas (under Maj. J. C. Rogers).

The Battle of Chickamauga began at dawn far on the Confederate right. (Bragg's order was to engage the enemy progressively from right to left.) By mid-morning the battle had developed in earnest on the right. John C. West later wrote, ``about half past ten or eleven o'clock a most tremendous fire of musketry was opened on our right, which continued for two hours without two minutes intermission.'' By mid-afternoon, the Confederate left was engaged. From the vicinity of the Viniard House, the Federals crossed the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road and drove back Bushrod Johnson's skirmishers. At 2:30 pm, Hood ordered Johnson's Division forward against Gen. Jefferson C. Davis' Division of Alexander McCook's Twentieth Corps. While the Texas Brigade waited to be ordered in forward in support of Johnson, it was subjected to heavy but inaccurate shelling and long-range small arms fire.

Between 3 and 3:30 pm, the Texas Brigade was ordered forward to assist the hard-pressed Johnson. As the Texans moved forward, they encountered many stragglers from Johnson's Division streaming to the rear. With Sheffield's (Law's) Brigade to their right, the Texas Brigade emerged from the heavy underbrush and woods and marched into a clearing. During this advance, the Texans saw Gen. John Gregg of Johnson's Division, who had been shot through the neck and dragged by his horse's reins toward the Texas Brigade, lying in no-man's land between the enemy lines. Gregg's spurs and sword were being pilfered by some adventurous Federals when the Texas Brigade charged forward, drove off the Yankee scavengers, and rescued Gregg and his horse. Little did the Texans know that within a few months Gregg would be commanding their own brigade.

As the Texas Brigade advanced some 200--300 yards into the clearing, it was viciously attacked from the left by Federals posted in a ravine covered by thick underbrush. Changing their front and leaving Sheffield's supporting brigade, the Texas Brigade attacked and drove the Federals from the ravine and onto the high ground beyond. Here Robertson's men came under frontal fire from barricaded infantry on the crest and assailed from the right by two Federal batteries firing grape and cannister at 200 yards. Val Giles of Co. B, Fourth Texas recalled that a group of Federal prisoners being herded to the rear was hit by the artillery, and stated that he ``distinctly saw the dust rise from [one Federal prisoner's] shoulders where the grapeshot struck him.'' The Texas Brigade rushed forward across the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road and closed with the enemy. Though some of the Federals fled their barricaded position, many remained behind the rail fences and engaged the Texans and Arkansans in fierce hand-to-hand combat before abandoning the hill.

The bitter fighting shifted toward the Viniard House and Farm, where Federals had tenaciously beaten back Johnson's previous assaults. The Texas Brigade recklessly charged the fortress-like log house, eventually forcing the enemy from the ``hornet's nest'' but with great loss. The Fourth Texas suffered the most casualties in the attack, including Lt. Col. Bane, Lts. J. M. Bookman and A. G. Killingsworth, and Color Sergeant Ed Francis. The regiment would eventually bury 22 of its men on the grounds of the Viniard Farm.

The driven Federals deserted several pieces of artillery and fell back to a skirt of timber a quarter of a mile west of the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road. Unable to cope with the superior Federal numbers and firepower, the Texas Brigade was forced to withdraw from its salient back toward the main Confederate line. As they fell back through the farm and the beyond the hill from which they had previously driven the Federals, the Texans again came under heavy and accurate artillery fire. Federal infantry pursued the Texas Brigade during its retreat and reoccupied the hill. In a desperate charge, the Texas Brigade drove the Yankees from their barricaded position for the second time. Robertson, anxious to hold onto the only high ground in the area, ordered artillery and infantry support. To this request, he received only Benning's infantry. The two brigades managed to repel repeated assaults and hold the hill until sunset. After three requests for artillery support went unanswered, Robertson and Benning were ordered by Gen. Law to withdraw their commands under cover of darkness 150 yards back across the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road.

The first day of the Battle of Chickamauga ended with severe casualties suffered by both sides, but with few gains for either army. With the exception of the small section occupied temporarily by the Texas Brigade, Bragg had failed to obtain possession of the Lafayette-Chattanooga road and to isolate Rosecrans from Chattanooga. Similarly, Rosecrans had failed to drive Bragg back across the Chickamauga.

During the night of September 19, the Federals built breastworks to protect the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road and shorted their defensive line to a breadth of three miles. Meanwhile, Longstreet and two more brigades of McLaws' Division arrived from Virginia to augment the Confederate forces. Bragg now divided his army into two wings, with Longstreet in command of the left wing and Gen. Leonidas Polk in command of the right wing. When dawn broke on the 20th, Bragg expected the attack to be renewed under the same right-to-left echelon strategy.

At daylight on September 20, the Texas Brigade was drawn up in line of battle about 200 yards east of the Viniard House and the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road. Shortly afterwards, the brigade was ordered to march by the right and head north about one-half mile to a new attack position. Hood's temporary corps now contained five divisions, with T. C. Hindman's, Law's, Johnson's, and A. P. Stewart's Divisions arranged left to right and McLaw's Division of two brigades under Kershaw posted in the rear as a reserve. Law had arranged his division in a triangular formation, with Sheffield in front, and Robertson and Benning to the left and right, respectively. Two support brigades lay 300-400 yards behind Sheffield.

About 11 am, Hood ordered all his divisions forward simulatneously toward the Lafayette-Chattanooga Road. The Texas Brigade crossed the road just south of the Brotherton House and advanced quite a distance through broken, wooded country. After advancing about a mile, much of it under artillery fire, Robertson's men were fired upon by a strong Union force of infantry and artillery posted on a wooded hill to their right front. The Texas Brigade immediately wheeled to the right and moved against the hill. The men pushed forward through the underbrush at the quick step, firing as they went. With accurate and heavy fire, the Texas Brigade drove the Federals from the hill, and caused them to retreat in disorder to a second ridge a short distance away. From this position, the Federals maintained as steady fire against Robertson's command.

The Texas Brigade had advanced so rapidly to its front and right that it was well ahead of the Confederate army in that section of the field. This rapid advancement was due to a Federal blunder in which Rosecrans had ordered Gen. T. J. Wood's Division to move from the right to the center of the Federal line about the same time that Longstreet and Hood launched their attack. Eight Confederate brigades, including the Texas Brigade, poured through the resulting half-mile gap in the Federal line.

From his besieged position, Robertson requested support for both his exposed flanks. Unlike the previous day, no infantry support was available. Robertson soon deemed his position untenable when both his flanks were fired upon. Facing fire from three directions, Robertson had no choice but to withdraw quickly from the cross-fire and take cover in a nearby patch of timber. Several members of the brigade, including Gen. Robertson, were convinced the flanking fire had come from Confederate units. If so, this was understandable given Robertson's advanced position and the blue-grey kersey uniforms his men had been wearing since August while camped near Fredericksburg. Miles Smith of Co. D, Fourth Texas, later wrote that ``Chickamauga was the most demoralizing fight to me of the war. Just as we were fighting the Yanks with all our might, we were fired into from the rear by some of the Tennessee Army.''

As the Texas Brigade withdrew from its position in some confusion, Gen. Hood happened to be riding by as he was directing the advance of his very extended command. He saw his old brigade retiring, and, seeking to rally them, galloped over to the timber where they were reforming. As Hood and Robertson were conversing in front of the woods, a minie ball struck Hood in the upper part of his right thigh, splintering the bone. Hood fell from his horse into the arms of his old brigade. Several Texans who witnessed the shooting thought that the shot came from the same friendly troops, perhaps from Florida, that had been firing upon them before. Hood was carried from the field after ordering Bushrod Johnson to press the attack. His leg was amputated shortly after. This day would be the last the Texas Brigade would ever serve under the command of Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood.

By mid-afternoon the Texas Brigade was ordered by Gen. Law to move from its position in the timber to the left of Hood's old division and to erect a barricade of logs and rails in its immediate front. Robertson's command remained here under desultory fire until 5 pm, when it was ordered to the vicinity of Horseshoe or Snodgrass Hill. (This was hill where earlier that afternoon Maj. Gen. George Thomas, commanding five Union divisions, successfully held off several Confederate assaults and saved Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland from complete destruction during its chaotic retreat.) At dark, the Texas Brigade relieved Archibald Gracie's Brigade in the front lines and remained on alert until the last of the Federal forces had retreated to Chattanooga.

In the two days of fighting at Chickamauga, the Texas Brigade lost 570 of about 1300 men. The Fourth and Fifth Texas lost both of their commanders and their second in command. John C. West of the Fourth Texas wrote home, ``The Old Texas Brigade is fearfully cut up. There are not more than 150 in our regiment. The Fifth numbers about 100 and the First about the same.'' One of the major losses suffered by the Fourth Texas was that of Color Sergeant Ed Francis. Francis was killed advancing the regimental colors toward the Viniard House when he was struck down. Captain J. T. Hunter, temporarily in command of the Fourth, retrieved the flag from under Francis' body and carried it back to the safety of the Confederate lines.

The Texas Brigade spent September 21 and 22 on the battlefield burying its dead and gathering supplies discarded by the fleeing Yankees. John C. West picked up ``a new blue-backed Webster spelling book (which he sent home to his children)... a splendid gun and accoutrements, plenty of paper and a nice pair of woolen gloves.'' During this time, Gen. Micah Jenkins' South Carolina Brigade was assigned to Hood's Division. As he was senior in rank to Evander Law, Jenkins assumed command of the division, much to the consternation of the Texans and Arkansans who regarded Law to be Hood's rightful and deserving successor.

Gen. Bragg's failure to actively pursue the retreating Federals allowed the Yankees to become safely entrenched around Chattanooga by September 22. Thus, the strategic advantage won by the tactical victory at Chickamauga was lost and Bragg was forced to lay siege to Chattanooga to keep the pressure on Rosecrans.

Early on September 23, the Texas Brigade marched north to Rossville, crossed Chattanooga Creek, and bivouacked for the night in a skirt of woods east of Lookout Mountain. The next morning, the Brigade reached the Confederate siege line south of Chattanooga and moved to its assigned position on the left of the line. J. B. Polley of the Fourth Texas reported that the Texas Brigade was stationed ``about a mile and a half east of the northern foot of Lookout Mountain.'' This location was near where Chattanooga Creek empties in the Tennessee River. Here, Robertson's command constructed some of the most extensive trenches and breastworks they were to build during the war.

October 1863

By early October, Hood's Division, now under the command of Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins of South Carolina, had firmly entrenched itself as the left flank of Bragg's siege line around Chattanooga. In many spots along the Tennessee River, the opposing picket lines were less than 100 yards apart. Choosing to ignore the high command's edicts against fraternization between pickets, the Texas Brigade arranged a truce with their Federal counterparts across the Tennessee. Both sides agreed that shooting each other was a waste of powder and made life uncomfortable. No such truce was arranged by Jenkins' old South Carolina Brigade, which was posted to the left of the Texas Brigade. It became an odd sight to see the Texans openly relaxing, playing cards, and exchanging commodities with the Yankees, while the Carolina men to their immediate left hid in their rifle pits or behind trees.

By mid-October, Bragg's Army of Tennessee was almost as short of food as the besieged Federal army in Chattanooga. Bragg's supply system had fallen victim to inadequate transportation and nearly continuous rainfall. Little forage was to be found in this mountainous area with few farms, so the Army of Tennessee was almost totally dependent on its failing commissary system. According to J. B. Polley of the Fourth Texas, the men received an unvarying diet of musty corn, blue beef, and contaminated water which left many of the men sick with diarrhea. Major C. M. Winkler of the Fourth Texas wrote home on October 20 that

During the time of high waters, last week, we were almost without food for four days. The rains, however, have ceased, and we have our usual supply. Our principle article of breadstuff is the coarsest kind of cornmeal. Stuff it is, and make no mistake. Occasionally we get flour, some rice, and, once in a while can purchase Irish potatoes; but this is an exhausted, mountaineous [sic], poor country.

When they travelled west to join Bragg's army, most of the Texans thought they would be returning to Virginia before the onset of winter. Consequently, they deposited their winter clothing at the Texas regimental storage depots in Richmond. Pvt. John C. West of the Fourth Texas was critical of the Army of Tennessee's clothing shortage when he wrote, ``I suppose after a good many die of cold and pmeumonia, the authorities will take some steps to have the winter clothing brought to this place.'' The shortage of blankets was so accute that West was offered $75 for his well-worn, wool blanket. In the mountains of Tennessee, frost was not unusual in early October.

The beautiful scenery around Chattanooga offered some consolation to the starved and poorly clothed Texans. As he stood on the crest of Lookout Mountain and looked toward Chattanooga and the Tennessee River, Major Winkler wrote, ``I gazed in amazement at the scene. I thought of the exclamation of Bascomb at the Falls of Niagara: `God what a grandeur, what a sight!' -- almost bewildered by the beauty spread out before me.''

As the Texans were renowned scouts and sharpshooters, several of them were assigned the task of preventing boats loaded with provisions from landing above Chattanooga and reaching the Federal garrison stationed there. J. H. Deering of Co. B, Fourth Texas was one of the most successful of these scouts. Twice Dearing led a band of men downriver, surprised a ferry boat laden with goods, and killed or captured several officers and men. Major Winkler later declared that Dearing was ``without a doubt, the best scout in the army.''

On October 27, two Federal corps under the command of Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker landed on the south bank of the Tennessee at Brown's Ferry on the extreme left of the Confederate siege line. The ferry had previously been guarded by Brig. Gen. Evander Law's Alabama Brigade, but Jenkins inexplicably withdrew the Alabamians during Law's absence on furlough two days before. Law returned from furlough on the 27th, and was placed in temporary command of the division during Jenkins' absence that day. Law promptly recalled the Alabamians to the west side of Lookout Mountain, but this small force was insufficient to stop the occupation of Hooker's divisions at Brown's Ferry.

Incensed at the loss of Brown's Ferry, Bragg ordered Longstreet to launch an assault against Hooker on the night of October 28. Although given permission to use Jenkins', McLaws', and W. H. T. Walker's Divisions in the assault, Longstreet chose only Jenkins' four brigades. Misunderstanding Bragg's intent, Longstreet ordered Jenkins to attack only the Federal Division under Gen. John Geary, which was camped as a rear guard near the railroad crossroads at Wauhatchie, one mile west of Lookout Mountain. While Col. John Bratton's Brigade was ordered to attack Geary from the rear, Law's Brigade and the Texas Brigade were posted along the Wauhatchie-Brown's Ferry Road to prevent reinforcements from reaching Geary. Benning's Brigade was ordered to support Bratton.

The Texas Brigade left its position in the siege line after supper on October 28. It marched west around the northern base of Lookout Mountain, crossed the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and formed a battle line along the eastern side of Lookout Creek. Law continued west across Raccoon Mountain and posted his men on its eastern slope near the road to Brown's Ferry. Gen. Robertson was then instructed to send three of his regiments to support Law. The First and Fourth Texas and the Third Arkansas were ordered across Lookout Creek. The First Texas and Third Arkansas formed on the left of Law's Brigade, while the Fourth Texas formed on the right of Law's men. During this deployment, Robertson's men crossed several ridges or ``hogbacks'' along the eastern face of Raccoon Mountain. The Fourth Texas, under Lt. Col. John P. Bane, halted and deployed atop one of the hogbacks, which was thickly timbered along its sides and clear at the top.

From their exposed position atop the hogback, The Fourth Texas could hear the guns of the Bratton-Geary battle at Wauhatchie two miles to their left. After a long, eerie silence, a short burst of gunfire erupted on the Texans immediate left, followed by other bursts on all sides. After hearing a rumour that the Alabamians to their left had withdrawn, Lt. Col. Bane ordered scouts to the right and front to inspect their position. The scouts on the right returned explaining that their right flank was exposed to the Tennessee River, and skirmishers to the front returned with the word that Yankees were approaching in strong force. As a cry of ``we are flanked!'' rose from the ranks, Lt. Col. Bane and Maj. Winkler gave conflicting orders for a withdrawal. This confusion precipitated a wild flight by the Fourth Texas from its position. The pursuing Yankees outflanked Law's position, and fired ineffectual volleys into the ranks of the fleeing Texans. This incident, known hereafter as ``The Raccoon Races'', was the only time during the war that a regiment from the Texas Brigade was routed in the face of the enemy.

Several humorous stories emerged from the rout of the Fourth Texas during the early morning hours of October 29. One man slipped on a large round stone and continued to slide down the hill in spread-eagle fashion until he involuntarily tried to pass on both sides of a tree concurrently. J. B. Polley reported that the man came to a screeching halt or ``sit-still.'' Another man, the portly Dutchman Pvt. J. C. Brieger of Co. F, rushed down the hillside and struck a fair-sized sapling with such force that it bent under him and then launched him -- knapsack and all -- through the air. Brieger landed on all fours and proceeded that way down the rest of the hillside. As the sapling snapped back, it caught Polley's hat and sent it back somewhere toward the ranks of the advancing Federals. Pvt. A. R. Rice of Co. B, one of the oldest and largest men in the Fourth Texas, was rapidly approaching a small gully at the bottom of the slope when he lost his footing and tumbled into the gully. Momentarily stunned, Rice was used by his comrades as a bridge across the stream as they ran up the next slope. Thereafter, Rice was affectionately known as ``Old Pontoon.''

As the sun rose on October 29, the Federals ended their pursuit and Jenkins' men were posted on the west side of Lookout Mountain along Lookout Creek. Immediately, finger-pointing over the previous night's fiasco began. History would show that the Wauhatchie disaster was the result of mistrust and confusion among the commanders from the brigade to the army levels. Both Law and Jenkins thought they commanded the division and thus issued conflicting orders. Jenkins complained bitterly to Longstreet about the performances of both Law and Robertson during the engagement. Bragg's promise to Longstreet that McLaw's Division would be sent in support of Jenkins went unfulfilled.

Jenkins' Division remained in its position along Lookout Creek until October 30. According to Polley, the Texas Brigade occupied such steep ground covered by loose rock that ``only by bracing [their] feet against trees could [the men] avoid rolling downhill.'' That evening, Jenkins' men marched eastward around the northern face of Lookout Mountain and, by dawn of October 31, had established a camp on the mountain's eastern slope.

During a lull in activity on October 31, Pvt. John C. West wrote to his sister, ``We have been in the mud for over a month in almost continuous rain.'' He had to read his letters from home ``in mud to his ankles on an empty stomach...Some sagacious surgeon, who has been in a comfortable tent, with plenty of blankets, will suddenly discover that a barefooted man cannot well keep warm under one blanket, which has not been thoroughly dry for three weeks...I was barefooted about a week ago, but then the water was too deep for shoes, so it made little difference.'' Closing on a happier note, West wrote that he had recently read The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, Les Miserables, Aurora Leigh, and Davenport Dunn, and that he had on hand Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, and always carried in his knapsack Milton's Paradise Lost and the Bible.

November 1863

On November 1, Gen. Longstreet wrote to Col. William Brent, Chief of Staff of the Army of Tennessee, requesting that Gen. Jerome B. Robertson be relieved of command of the Texas Brigade. This request almost certainly came at the urging of Gen. Micah Jenkins, whose feuds with Robertson and Evander Law had been greatly aggravated by the debacle at Wauhatchie. Longstreet charged that ``this officer has been complained of so frequently for want of conduct in time of battle that I apprehend that the abandonment by his brigade of its position on the night of the 28th [October] may have been due to his want of hearty co-operation.'' On Gen. Bragg's order, Brent relieved Robertson on November 2 and ordered a board of inquiry to examine the case.

The board began hearing testimony on November 4, but the proceedings were soon disrupted by the detachment of Longstreet's divisions from the siege of Chattanooga. To relieve the mounting pressure on the Army of Tennessee by Federal forces under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Chattanooga (who had assumed command from William Rosecrans on October 19) and Gen. Ambrose Burnside at Knoxville, Bragg ordered Longstreet to move into East Tennessee and destroy Burnside's force. A quick victory over Burnside, Bragg reasoned, would enable Longstreet to rejoin the Army of Tennessee at Chattanooga for a decisive action against Grant.

On November 4, Jenkins was ordered to march his division to the tunnel through Missionary Ridge, where it would board the trains of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad the next day. Each man of the Texas Brigade received ten days' rations of fresh beef and corn meal, which were to be cooked immediately. The cooking utensils departed camp early, however, so the men had to bake their bread ``in the ashes.'' As the men moved out on November 5, many discarded greasy decks of cards from their pockets or haversacks. The men did not wish to be found killed in their next engagement with such items in their possession. Upon arriving at the tunnel, the Texans and Arkansans found no train awaiting them, so they continued marching to Tyner's Station about 10 miles further east.

The Texas Brigade reached Tyner's Station early in the morning of November 6, after an all-night march along a half-frozen road in a sleet storm. The cold and unhappy Texans remained at the station for three days waiting for the railroad cars that would take them to Knoxville. On November 8, with no prospects for transportation in sight, Gen. Robertson (who had just been restored to command pending resumption of his board of inquiry) marched his command 20 miles to Cleveland. The Texas Brigade arrived at Cleveland the next afternoon. There the trains finally caught up with Robertson's command. The men gladly left the frozen roads for the rail cars, but soon found that progress aboard the train was little faster than that which they had already made on foot. The dilapidated rolling stock provided by Bragg's quartermaster was built of heavy material, while the engines were of lightweight construction. Every time the train reached a hill, the passengers had to debark, march alongside the rails, and reboard the train on the downgrade. Occasionally, the men had to bail water from streams and cut up rail fences in order to keep the engines going.

On November 10, the Texas Brigade left the cars of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad at Sweetwater, Tennessee -- the rendezvous point for Longstreet's infantry and artillery and the cavalry division of Gen. ``Fighting Joe'' Wheeler. The Texans camped at Sweetwater until November 12, when the rendezvous was finally completed four days behind schedule. That day the brigade was ordered to march cautiously along the tracks toward Loudon, which lay on the south bank of the Tennessee River some 20 miles southwest of Knoxville. On November 13, Longstreet sent three brigades of cavalry under Wheeler east toward Maryville and then north to threaten Knoxville and distract Burnside. That night, a pontoon bridge was laid across the Tennessee River at Loudon. On November 14, most of Jenkins' Division (including the Texas Brigade) braved a march across the pontoon bridge, which had been made unstable by a swift current and poor anchorage, and constructed breastworks on the north side of the river.

Once across the Tennessee, Longstreet ordered a vigorous pursuit of Burnside's army as it slowly withdrew toward Knoxville. Sharp skirmishes were fought at Lenoir's Station on November 15 and at Campbell's Station on November 16. Fearing a Federal cavalry attack on his lines of communications, Longstreet ordered the Texas Brigade back to Loudon on November 16 to ``keep things in order there and take charge of the bridges.'' On November 19, Robertson received orders to rejoin Jenkins' Division ``at the front'', which was a seige line drawn around Knoxville north of the Holston River. Along the way, Co. E of the Fourth Texas was detached at Lenoir's Station on the Holston and ordered to sort through and forward to Longstreet the vast amount of supplies left there by Burnside's army.

The Texas Brigade remained in its position along the seige line west of Knoxville until November 21, when it and Law's Brigade were ordered by Longstreet back to the south bank of the Holston River. The two brigades were instructed to engage the Federal forces there and drive them from their formidable forts positioned along the heights on the south side of the Holston. The Confederates crossed the Holston about a mile and a half west of Fort Higley, the westernmost of the three Federal forts on the south bank. The Texas Brigade, with the Fifth Texas on the extreme left next to the river, moved slowly eastward along the south bank, driving the Federal pickets and skirmishers before it.

On November 23, the Texas Brigade, after much long-range skirmishing and under artillery fire, opened the attack on the main Federal line. The Yankees resisted stubbornly at first, but they eventually gave way in disorder and retreated to a prepared defensive position on the crest of a high ridge. For the next two days, the Texas Brigade kept up a steady fire against the strong Federal position, but failed to drive the enemy from it. Gen. Robertson then withdrew his command to Cherokee Heights, a series of high hills about 1000 yards west of Fort Higley, and set up a defense line. From this position, the Texas Brigade exchanged sniper fire with the Federals at Fort Higley and across the river. J. B. Polley of the Fourth Texas wrote that at Knoxville the Texans were ``under a more constant and vigorous [sniper] fire than any other command.''

While in their defensive position on Cherokee Heights, the Texans at last had an opportunity to rectify by their own efforts the inadequate food and supplies provided by the commissary of the Army of Tennessee. Several members of the Fourth Texas engaged in bartering and foraging in the depleted and desolate area south of the Holston. Pvt. John C. West of the Fourth Texas reported that the ``Yanks [had] taken everything from the citizens of the neighborhood, chickens, ducks, turkeys, hogs, etc.'', but in one foray he succeeded ``in getting two or three canteens of buttermilk for which he had given an ``old lady three or four pounds of wool which [he] had taken from the hides of slaughtered sheep.'' By late 1863, Confederate scrip was not popular as currency among the citizenry, especially the one in Unionist East Tennessee. On November 24, Pvt. West and a fellow Wacoan were forced to walk six miles to find a taker for their Confederate tender. After a hard day of tramping through the rain, they had exchanged one month's pay ($11 each) for two chickens, two dozen apples, and four canteens of molasses.

On November 29, Longstreet made his one and only serious attempt to break the Federal defenses around Knoxville. He ordered McLaws' Division to spearhead a major assault against Fort Sanders, the key bastion on the western perimeter of the Federal line. The remainder of Jenkins' brigades north of the Holston were to act in support of McLaws or in reserve. Robertson's and Law's Brigades south of the Holston were ordered to demonstrate against the Federal forces south of the Holston and prevent the transfer of Federal reinforcements north of the river. The Eighth and Eleventh Texas Cavalry under Col. Thomas Harrison were ordered south of the river to support Robertson and Law.

Longstreet's assault against Fort Sanders was a dismal failure. McLaws' men charged across frozen, snowy ground only to reach the defensive ditch before Fort Sanders with no scaling ladders and no means of crawling up the slippery frozen walls of the fort. One assault wave after another poured into the ditch and, unable to move or escape, the penned Confederates were unmercifully raked with musketry and cannister from the Federals atop the walls of the fort. Longstreet stopped the assault and carnage after only half an hour, but not before suffering over 800 casualties. The Texas Brigade, which launched a diversionary attack on Fort Higley south of the Holston, lost but one man killed and one wounded on November 29.

December 1863

On December 2, Gen. Longstreet issued orders to withdraw from the vicinity of Knoxville. The order was in response to a telegram from President Davis received four days earlier informing Longstreet of the Federal victories against Gen. Bragg at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Bragg had retreated into northwestern Georgia, and Longstreet was to make an attempt to rejoin him. Logistics, however, precluded a march across the mountains to Georgia, so Longstreet instead ordered a retreat to Bristol, Virginia, where he planned to encamp for the winter. The route of retreat was north around Knoxville and then northeast along the north bank of the Holston River. The Texas Brigade and Law's Brigade, accompanied by a battery of E. Porter Alexander's artillery, were to guard the trains.

On December 3, Law's and Robertson's Brigades vigorously attacked the Federals to their front in an attempt to conceal the withdrawal. After withstanding the Confederate attacks until noon, the Federals retreated to a second line of entrenchments nearer the Holston. The two Confederate brigades then quietly withdrew westward, crossed to the north bank of the river by ferry in the early evening, and marched north around Knoxville.

On the morning of December 4, the Texas Brigade led the advance of Longstreet's command eastward from Knoxville. Convinced that they were about to return to Lee's army, the men of the Fourth Texas sang repeated choruses of ``Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny.'' The brigade followed the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad along the north bank of the Holston for about ten miles, and then crossed to the south bank by means of the railroad bridge at Strawberry Plains. Here, about a mile from the river, the brigade camped for the night.

Over the next four days, the Texas Brigade -- still guarding Longstreet's baggage and ordnance trains -- followed the track of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad along the western slope of the Bays Mountains. The brigade passed through New Market, Mossy Creek, Morristown, and Russellville, where they then followed the Rogersville and Jefferson Railroad toward Rogersville. The Texans and Arkansans reached Rogersville on December 8, and waited there until joined by Longstreet's main column the next day.

On December 10, Longstreet received another telegram from Davis informing him that he had been given sole authority over the troops in his Department of East Tennessee. That same day, Gen. Robertson wrote to Gen. Hood that his brigade carried on its rolls only 784 men ``present for duty,'' of which ``many'' were ``not fit to march.'' Thus, the Texas Brigade now had the effective strength of an undersized regiment. Of the ``present for duty'', the Fourth Texas counted 20 officers and 193 men -- the most of the four regiments in the brigade. Robertson proposed to Hood that the Texas Brigade be sent back to Texas for the winter to recuperate and recruit, and then rejoin Longstreet west of the Mississippi on or about April 1, 1864. Robertson's proposal was ultimately refused by the War Department.

On December 13 (or 14), pursuing elements of the Federal Ninth and Twenty-third Corps under Maj. Gen. John G. Parke met Confederate cavalry under W. T. Martin and infantry under Bushrod Johnson at Bean's Station, about 17 miles southwest of Rogersville. Longstreet had dispatched Martin and Johnson to bag the Federal cavalry and an infantry brigade stationed there. The Texas Brigade was ordered to the vicinity of Bean's Station to support the cavalry action. Although they were under occasional artillery fire, the Texans did not see action in what turned out to be a minor engagement in which the Federal forces escaped westward.

On December 18, Gen. Micah Jenkins preferred charges of ``conduct highly prejudicial to good order and military discipline'' against Robertson. These charges stemmed from detrimental remarks that Robertson had supposedly made about Jenkins' generalship and judgment following a recent order to pursue marauding Federal cavalry. According to Miles V. Smith of the Fourth Texas, the ``Brigade was called on often during the winter to race out after Federal cavalry over ice and snow with no shoes.'' When ordered to repel a cavalry raid under bad weather conditions, Robertson protested and remarked that ``he didn't see any reason to have his men run after every cavalryman that came by.'' A ``junior officer'' reported this remark to Jenkins.

The Texas Brigade remained in the vicinity of Bean's Station until December 19. That day, Pvt. John C. West of Co. E, Fourth Texas wrote home that ``half our brigade [is] barefooted. I was without shoes for two weeks, but have a good pair now...some others...have been barefooted for three or four weeks.'' When Parke showed no further inclination to advance, the Texas Brigade crossed the Holston River with the rest of Longstreet's infantry and went into winter quarters at Morristown on December 22.

Morristown was located on the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad in the fertile valley between the Holston and French Broad Rivers about 40 miles northeast of Knoxville. The Texas Brigade camped on top of a wooded hill one mile north of town. Here the water supply was ample and the foraging opportunities good. Not realizing that the site would be their established winter camp, the brigade spent the next five nights camped under canvas. By December 27, it had become clear to the men that Morristown was to be a fairly permanent camp site, so construction was started on more substantial winter quarters.

On December 23, Longstreet relieved Robertson of command of the Texas Brigade and ordered him to Bristol, Tennessee, to ``await the assembling of a court for the trial of his case.'' Lt. Col. King Bryan of the Fifth Texas assumed temporary command of the brigade. (Bryan would later be replaced by Captain A. C. Jones of the Third Arkansas.)

Pvt. John C. West spent Christmas Day, 1863 as a ``camp walker,'' wandering from camp to camp visiting old friends and sharing whatever food and provisions he encountered along the way. Most of the men prepared their last items captured from the Yankees around Knoxville. After eating heartily and passing along rumors of the brigade's imminent movement westward across the Mississippi (no doubt a reference to Robertson's proposal to Hood), West moved on to seek out a former college classmate in Jenkins' South Carolina Brigade. The chum was found in possession of a couple of eggs and a flask of brandy, from which a ``Tom and Jerry'' was soon concocted. At his friend's request, West returned the next day for a dinner of a ``first rate chicken pie...backed by genuine coffee sent from home.''

January 1864

Camped in winter quarters in Eastern Tennessee, Longstreet's men soon suffered multiple hardships that few had endured during the previous two winters of the war. Because the Confederate commissary had little means of supplying such a large body of troops in a remote area of operations, food had to be procured locally. The difficulty of supplying two divisions of infantry from local resources in winter was compounded by the unsympathetic nature of the pro-Union population of the region. The country around Longstreet's command abounded with bushwackers, guerrillas, and deserters from both armies.

By early January, food and fodder in the immediate vicinity of Morristown became critically short. Consequently, large foraging parties supported by equally large guard details were dispatched far and wide from the camps in a continuous effort to sustain Longstreet's hungry army. Pvt. Joseph Polley of the Fourth Texas was a member of one guard detail on New Year's Day, 1864. Before leaving camp, Polley reported that he had a scanty breakfast of ``blue beef and flour [biscuits] made of sick wheat just issued us.'' Polley belonged to a 40-man detail commanded by Capt. Thrasher of the Third Arkansas, whose mission it was ``to wander broadcast over the country as a protection to foraging parties or quartermasters and commissaries.'' Few duties seemed so undesirable.

Clashes between Confederate foraging parties and bands of renegades and bushwackers continued throughout the army's stay in East Tennessee. Even with the organized mass foraging, the troops were often on short and unpalatable rations. Pvt. John C. West of the Fourth Texas recalled that part of the time the Brigade ``lived on corn issued to us in the ear from the wagons -- three or four ears for a man per day; that we shelled, parched, and ate and received nothing else. Parched corn, a pipe of good tobacco, [and] clear water, was the menu for several days.'' Illicit foraging by smaller groups occurred as it had in so many other places, but in East Tennessee even the master foragers from Hood's old brigade often returned empty handed.

Although the poor food situation was rough on the soldiers, the total lack of shoes, clothing, and blankets was worse. By early January, the temperatures had dropped below zero and the muddy ground had become solidly frozen. At least 2,000 of Longstreet's men were without shoes, and bloody footprints stained the frozen ground. A resident of Skoggston, 14 miles east of Knoxville, wrote after the war that ``she never forgot those barefoot, ragged Texas boys, who left bloody footprints in the snow as they marched past her home one their retreat [from Knoxville].'' John C. West of the Fourth Texas remarked that although he had seen ``barefooted men making bloody tracks in the snow,'' he heard ``but little murmuring and saw no signs of revolt.'' A shoeless man's only solace was being exempt from picket or forage duty.

Gen. Longstreet tried to combat the crippling shoe shortage by ordering the emergency construction of moccasins from green rawhide. To fit properly, these ``Longstreet Moccasins'' had to dry slowly while on the foot. Although this effort somewhat eased the awful shoe situation, the clothing situation remained critical. Many men were reduced to campaigning half-naked, or, at best, in ragged and threadbare uniforms. Miles V. Smith of the Fourth Texas complained,

``We felt like orphans, and had been treated like orphans. Not one stitch of clothing had we received ... and now in snow-clad East Tennessee [we fought] thinly clad, with a large bay window at the seat of each man's pants, some entirely without shoes and many others with shoes from which the sole had departed.''

By mid-January, a few new uniforms had been shipped to Longstreet's command when the railroad from the Richmond Quartermaster depots was re-opened. Replacements for worn out underdrawers and undershirts were not received, however.

The hardships experienced by the Texas Brigade at this time were exacerbated by their concern over the fate of Gen. Robertson, who was currently under arrest at Bristol and awaiting trial by court martial. On January 6, all officers present for duty in the Fourth and Fifth Texas signed a petition to the Secretary of War asking that Gen. Robertson be restored to the command of the brigade. About the same time, the Third Arkansas forwarded to Richmond a similar petition. No such petition was sent by the First Texas, which was without a field grade officer at the time.

On January 10, the Texas Brigade was ordered to pack up and prepare to move west toward Knoxville. This movement was part of a general order by Longstreet to counter a new Federal sally from Knoxville, led by Gen. Gordon Granger, against the Confederate forces in East Tennessee. Leaving their warm winter huts, the Texans and Arkansans marched to Russellville on January 11, and then to Panther Springs. They remained at Panther Springs several days, and on January 15 moved southward toward Dandridge on the French Broad River. Longstreet ordered his cavalry to attack Granger's force just east of Dandridge. While the horsemen slowed the Federal advance, Longstreet deployed his two infantry divisions toward Knoxville in a flanking maneuver designed to cut off Granger's communications. Granger soon detected this maneuver, withdrew his forces from Dandridge, and started back toward Knoxville. Longstreet's cavalry pursued the Federals closely, but muddy roads and inclement weather allowed Granger to reach Knoxville without serious loss. The cavalry did manage to capture from the Federals 800 beef cattle and 31 wagons, thereby alleviating somewhat the hunger of Longstreet's army.

By the time the Texas Brigade reached Dandridge, the Federals had evacuated the town. The brigade was then ordered to return to their winter quarters at Morristown, which they reached by January 19. Shortly afterwards, the men of the Texas Brigade were given an opportunity to reenlist for the duration of the war. As an inducement, a furlough home was offered to every tenth man that signed up. As miserable as they were over their condition in East Tennessee, the entire Brigade reenlisted with but few exceptions.

By late January, the railroads connecting East Tennessee with Richmond had been fully reopened, and limited supplies of food, forage, and clothing were sent to Longstreet's Army from Virginia. Pontoons and flatboats for bridging the Holston also arrived, enabling Longstreet to embark on a long-awaited second Confederate effort to take Knoxville. Longstreet's reason for this mid-winter counteroffensive ``was to show the strategic strength of the field, and persuade the authorities that an army of twenty thousand in that zone [East Tennessee] could be of greater service than double that force on the enemy's front or elsewhere.''

February 1864

On February 3, a court martial was at last convened at Russellville, Tennessee, to review the charges against Gen. Robertson that were preferred by Gen. Jenkins on December 18, 1863. Maj. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner presided over the court, which included Brig. Gen. John Gregg, who had been rescued by the Texas Brigade after his severe wounding at the Battle of Chickamauga.

On February 10, Jenkins' Division was ordered to Strawberry Plains to lay the recently received pontoon bridge across the Holston River. This order would be the last given to the division while under Jenkins' command. On February 12, President Davis finally settled the dispute between Jenkins and Brig. Gen. Evander Law over the command of Hood's old division by assigning the command to Maj. Gen. Charles W. Field. (Field was a jovial Virginian who was seriously wounded at the Second Battle of Manassas and had recently returned to the army as an amputee.) Both Law, who had resigned over the dispute in December, and Jenkins were reassigned to the commands of their old brigades in Hood's, now Field's, Division.

The Texas Brigade left its camp at Morristown on February 10, helped bridge the Holston River, and then crossed to the north bank of the river on February 14. With McLaw's Division following, Field led his brigades westward along the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad toward Knoxville. By February 15, the Texas Brigade was bivouacked 17 miles east of Knoxville and posted a picket line at Flat Creek some four miles to the front. The brigade maintained the advance infantry picket line for Longstreet's Army until February 20. Texas scouts operated beyond this line and skirmished daily with Federal pickets posted three miles from the city.

On February 19, Longstreet received a dispatch from Richmond cancelling a previously ordered movement of Pickett's Division from Virginia to East Tennessee. President Davis also ordered Longstreet to return William T. Martin's Cavalry Division to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee, now in winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia. Deprived of his cavalry and infantry reinforcements, Longstreet had no choice but to cancel the attack on Knoxville and withdraw his force eastward. On February 22, the retreat was begun, with Field's Division and the remaining cavalry covering the withdrawal.

The Confederates withdrew unharrassed by Federal troops back to the safety of the Bays Mountains. The Texas Brigade went into position at Bull's Gap between the Holston and Nolachucky rivers on February 26. They remained in this barren, mountainous country for the remainder of the month.

The miseries of wintering in East Tennessee continued. By this time, Longstreet's hungry and scantily clad men were further victimized by a severe infestation of lice. Not since their first winter at Dumfries, Virginia had the lice been so bad. From the various personal accounts describing the parasites, they were a larger species than those the men remembered back in Virginia.

Meanwhile, the court martial of Gen. Robertson had reached a decision in Russellville. On February 25, the court acquitted Robertson of ``improper motives'' but disapproved ``his conduct.'' The court reprimanded Robertson and permanently relieved him of command of the Texas Brigade. He had commanded the Texas Brigade longer than any other officer. Robertson was replaced by his judge and fellow Texan, Brig. Gen. John Gregg. (Gregg's old brigade was eliminated in the reorganization of the Army of Tennessee in late September 1863.) After his trial, Robertson went to Richmond to await a new assignment. While there, he received much support from his fellow division officers and men of the brigade. Miles V. Smith of Co. D, Fourth Texas, reported

This action [court martial] came very near destroying the efficiency of Hood's Texas Brigade....The Texans were about to revolt en masse, and had not General Robertson intervened, with all the persuasion he could command, a meeting would have certainly resulted....The boys love Aunt Polly and would have fought for him to the last extremity.

By the end of February, a shipment of 3,000 pairs of shoes was finally received from Gen. A. R. Lawton, the Confederate Quartermaster General. At last, one of the many deficiencies of supply in Longstreet's Army had been resolved. It was not enough, however, to impress Lt. John Shotwell, Assistant Adjutant General of the Fourth Texas. On the February 29, the regular Bi-Monthly Muster and Inspection of Longstreet's Army was held at Bull's Gap. Company E of the Fourth Texas, typical of all the companies in the regiment, received the following ratings: ``Instruction'', ``Arms'', and ``Accoutrements'' -- GOOD; ``Discipline'' -- NOT GOOD; ``Military Appearance'' -- SHABBY; and ``Clothing'' -- VERY INFERIOR. Of the 47 men remaining in Co. E that day, only 22 were present for duty. This low percentage of ``assigned versus present for duty'' (47%) was average for the rest of the Texas Brigade and Longstreet's Army in general.

March 1864

For most of March 1864, the Texas Brigade remained in winter camp at Bull's Gap enduring the lingering harsh winter, chronic shortages of food and clothing, and an infestation of lice. After inspecting the Texans in early March, Maj. C. M. Winkler of the Fourth Texas noted that the greatest need of the men was underwear. This dire need was made known to the public by means of letters sent to various relief agencies and newspapers throughout the South. Moved by the plight of the Texas boys so far from home, the ladies of Virginia and Georgia in particular shipped in boxes of underclothing, which Winkler reported as being ``very acceptable.''

Pvt. Joseph B. Polley of the Fourth Texas later provided a detailed description of the typical Texas infantryman in East Tennessee in March 1864:

This representative soldier carried an Enfield rifle with forty rounds of ammunition. He had, rolled up in a threadbare blanket that was looped over one shoulder and tied at the ends, a scrap of tent cloth and a leaky poncho. His ``uniform'' was well worn with one trouser leg torn off at the knee, and he had on a pair of homemade shoes that were worn out at the toes exposing his sockless feet. On his head was perched a ragged, greasy hat of nondescript appearance. This was the man who was carrying on his shoulders the hopes and prayers of the Confederacy for ultimate victory. He was hungry, he was dirty, he was in rags and often times he was barefooted but in spite of all these handicaps he was one of the best fighting men to charge through the pages of American history.

By mid-March, there was so little food for men and animals that Gen. Longstreet requested immediate aid from Richmond. On March 19, he wrote to Adjutant General Samuel Cooper:

We shall not be able to keep our animals alive more than a week or two [without corn] ... our rations, too, are getting short, so that we will hardly be able to march ... I beg that you will send us supplies at once, in sufficient quantity at least to enable us to march ... These are perhaps the best troops in the Confederate armies and should not be left where they must starve.

The authorities in Richmond answered Longstreet's plea with orders to break up winter quarters and move toward Virginia. The news was received with cheers from the Texas Brigade and morale in the ranks improved greatly. On March 28, Field's Division left the Bays Mountains via Howard's Gap and marched northeast along the tracks of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad to the vicinity of Greeneville, where it bivouacked for the night. The Texas Brigade continued to trudge northeastward through mud, rain, and snow until the end of the month.

So ended the East Tennessee Campaign. It had been one of disappointment, hardship, and frustration. Major Winkler of the Fourth Texas would afterwards write that the campaign was a period ``of greater suffering and privation than anything experienced by the Texas Brigade during the whole struggle. Not only was food scarce and innutritious, but [the men] suffered for want of clothing during the cold weather, many of them [were] barefooted.'' The postwar recollections of other officers, NCOs, and privates in the Texas regiments echoed Winkler's assessments completely.

April 1864

On April 1, the Texas Brigade reached Zollicoffer, Tennessee, about 10 miles south of Bristol. Here, within one day's march of Virginia, the men went into camp. One of the highlights of the brigade's stay near Zollicoffer was a music and dance program performed on April 5 by Mollie Bailey, her husband, her brother-in-law, and Hood's Minstrels.

On April 9, just before leaving Richmond for Texas, Gen. Robertson wrote a poignant farewell to his old brigade. The last sentence was, ``With a mind saddened by the remembrances of ties broken, and with the prayer that God, in his mercy, will guard, protect and bless you, I bid you farewell.'' With this, Robertson left the Army of Northern Virginia and his beloved troops. On April 10, Gen. Evander Law wrote to Robertson, ``I feel that I can ask nothing better for you in the future, than that your happiness and prosperity may be commensurate with the gallantry, ability, and patriotism that you have displayed in the service.'' On April 11, Gen. Hood wrote of Robertson, ``I know him to be an officer of great energy and faithful in the discharge of his duties. He has great experience as an officer and has taken part in many battles. His troops are very much attached to him.''

On April 11, Gen. Longstreet received orders from Richmond to report with the ``original portion of the First Corps to General R. E. Lee.'' Longstreet immediately set his corps in motion. John B. Kershaw, now in command of McLaws' Division (McLaws' also fell victim to Longstreet's ire in East Tennessee), led the way, and Field's Division brought up the rear. The Texas Brigade was the last of Longstreet's brigades to leave Tennessee. The Texans and Arkansans boarded the train at Zollicoffer on April 20. They arrived in Lynchburg, Virginia, on April 22 and then continued on to Charlottesville the same day.

On April 26, the Texas Brigade marched north 16 miles to Cobham Station (Depot) on the Virginia Central Railroad. Here, about 8 miles below Gordonsville, the brigade went into camp and remained for the remainder of the month. Shortly after arriving at Gordonsville, the men drew new uniforms and shoes, and received ample rations of food. Their spirits soared. On April 28, Gen. Field held an inspection and review of his five brigades. The following day, Gen. Lee and his staff arrived to welcome Longstreet's Corps back to Virginia. A second review took place in a broad-pastured valley near Mechanicsburg. As Lee on Traveller rode down the lines of Field's Brigades to the sound of booming artillery and lusty cheers, ``he paid the Texas Brigade a high compliment, speaking of it as the best fighting brigade in the corps.''

On April 30, a third and final inspection of Longstreet's Corps was held. The last day of April was the Confederate army's regular Bi-Monthly Muster and Inspection of individual companies. The occasion did have its compensation, as the men signed the payroll and collected their Confederate currency. For many in the Texas Brigade, it would be the last pay they would ever receive.

May 1864

On May 1, the Army of Northern Virginia was deployed on a wide front, with the First Corps (Longstreet's) near Gordonsville on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, the Second Corps (Ewell's) along the Rapidan River near Mine Run, and the Third Corps (A. P. Hill's) posted on Ewell's left further up river. On May 4, the 120,000 man Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George Meade, but closely supervised by Commander-in-Chief Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, crossed the Rapidan at Germanna and Ely's fords and commenced its long awaited spring offensive against Lee and Richmond. Lee, who had anticipated the crossing since May 2, did not dispute Grant's and Meade's movement. Instead, he let the Army of the Potomac march into the thick, tangled forest known as ``the Wilderness,'' where the Federals' advantages in artillery and manpower would be greatly diminished.

Midmorning on May 4, Lee ordered Ewell to move his corps east along the Orange Turnpike, which ran straight from Orange Court House through Verdiersville to Wilderness Tavern, where it intersected the Germanna Ford Road. At the same time, Lee ordered A. P. Hill's Corps to march south to Orange Court House and then east on the Orange Plank Road, which closely paralleled the Orange Turnpike, toward the Wilderness. At 11 am, Longstreet ordered Field and Kershaw to prepare to move at once from the Gordonsville area. Longstreet optimistically told Lee that he hoped to reach Richard's Shop, on the Cartharpin Road some 32 miles northeast of his current position at Mechanicsburg, by noon the following day.

After cooking three days' rations, the Texas Brigade left Mechanicsburg late in the afternoon of May 4. Field's Division, which trailed Kershaw's, consumed what was left of the day marching 16 miles along winding country roads to Brock's Bridge over the North Anna River. Here Longstreet's men rested while their commander sought a guide for a cross-country march to Richard's Shop. Having found one in the form of a local sheriff, Longstreet ordered his corps to prepare for the remainder of the march before dawn the next morning. With a ``swinging step'' and ``occasional rests'', Longstreet's Corps marched hard for sixteen miles and reached Richard's Shop by 5 pm on May 5. Exhausted from their 32 mile march in 24 hours, the men collapsed in their tracks. Few bothered to pitch tents.

During this time, Ewell's and Hill's corps had been engaged in desperate fighting with the Federals along the Orange Turnpike and Orange Plank Road, respectively. After the fighting halted at dark, Ewell's men strengthened their position by entrenching. Hill's men, exhausted from the fight and expecting to be relieved by Longstreet's Corps by the morning of May 6, did not entrench and instead went into bivouac. They did not know that Longstreet was still 10 miles short of the battlefield at Richard's Shop.

Late in the afternoon of May 5, Lee dispatched his aide Maj. Charles Venable to locate Longstreet and inform him of a revised plan to use the First Corps in a flank assault against the Federal left. When Venable found Longstreet, he instructed him to change his direction of march northeastward, through the woods, to Parker's Store. At that place, Longstreet was to turn east on the Orange Plank Road and and then hook up with Hill's Corps. Although Venable later recalled that the order was to be executed by daylight of May 6, Longstreet perceived no such urgency. Consequently, Longstreet decided to wait at Richard's Shop for stragglers and allow his men to rest for the next days' fight. He issued orders to march at 1 am.

When Venable returned to Lee, the latter had grown increasingly anxious about his army's situation. Lee dispatched his chief of staff, Maj. Henry B. McClellan to Richard's Shop and told him to instruct Gen. Field to move immediately to reinforce A. P. Hill's divisions under Heth and Wilcox. Field, who was resting his men and who had just received Longstreet's 1 am marching order, received McClellan coolly. Before McClellan returned to Lee, Field received a second order from Longstreet to march at 1 am. Field told McClellan that he preferred to obey Longstreet's order. Instead of seeking Longstreet, McClellan rode back to Lee and angrily reported of Field's insubordination.

At 1 am, Longstreet started his corps through the thick underbrush toward Parker's Store. Kershaw's Division led the march, followed by Field's Division and Alexander's artillery. The march was slow, treacherous, and frustrating. Guides lost their way in the thick brush and inky darkness. Consequently, the lead elements of the First Corps did not reach Parker's Store until nearly dawn. They were still an hour's march from Hill's precarious position.

At 5 am, Grant and Meade opened an assault all along the Confederate lines. For six hours, assaults by two Federal corps under Maj. Gens. John Sedgwick and G. K. Warren were repulsed by Ewell's well fortified Second Corps deployed across the Orange Turnpike. The situation with A. P. Hill's Third Corps positioned across the Orange Plank Road, however, was completely different. Hill's men were strongly attacked by converging Federal brigades from Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's Second Corps and Brig. Gen. James Wadsworth's Division of Warren's Fifth Corps. With no entrenchments and inadequate pickets, Hill's surprised men were quickly routed by attacks to their front and both flanks. Some of Hill's brigades retreated in order, but most ran in disorder westward along the Orange Plank Road and beyond a cleared farm belonging to the Widow Tapp.

When Longstreet's column reached the Orange Plank Road and turned east they heard the sounds of the furious battle coming from the east. ``Thinking the emergency might be great,'' Field drew the head of his division along side and 100 yards to rear of Kershaw's lead brigade. From then on, the two divisions marched in parallel columns of four along each side of the road, with Field's on the left and Kershaw's on the right. Instinctively, the leading brigades -- the Gregg's Texas Brigade of Field's Division and Humphreys' Brigade of Kershaw's Division -- increased their pace until a race toward the battle had begun between them.

After an hour of continuous onslaught, Federals from the 4th and 17th Maine of Hay's Brigade appeared at the eastern edge of the Widow Tapp's farm. On a rise across the clearing stood Gen. Lee, A. P. Hill, and an artillery battalion under Lt. Col. William Poague, which served as the last line of Confederate defense. Poague's gunners fired their pieces furiously and frequently enough to slow the Federal advance. A desperate Gen. Lee sent Maj. Venable to the rear to locate Longstreet. A critical moment in the existence of the Southern Confederacy had arrived.

Venable met Longstreet, who had ridden ahead of his corps, about a half mile to the rear. Longstreet immediately gave the order for his men to advance the last mile and a half at the double quick. Longstreet's coolness and the First Corps' discipline deeply impressed Venable. Fifteen years later he wrote, ``It was superb, and my heart beats quicker to think about it even at this distance of time.'' Before long, Longstreet's men began to encounter the shattered ranks of Hill's Corps trickling, then streaming, by as they fled to the rear. Longstreet's men never slowed their pace. On onlooker later wrote,

``In perfect order, ranks well closed, and no stragglers, those splendid troops came on, regardless of the confusion on every side, pushing their steady movement onward like a river in the sea of confused and troubled human waves around them.''

Reaching the Widow Tapp's farm, Kershaw's Division began forming for battle south of the Orange Plank Road. Before Field could follow suit, Longstreet ordered Field to deploy his front north of the road. Field acted with dispatch and ordered Gregg's 800-man Texas Brigade to execute a right wheel into line perpendicular to the road and behind Poague's guns. The Texas Brigade was arranged in its usual battle order -- from left to right, Third Arkansas, First Texas, Fourth Texas, and Fifth Texas. These regiments were commanded by Col. Van Manning, Lt. Col. Frederick Bass, Col. John P. Bane, and Lt. Col. King Bryan, respectively. Behind the Texas Brigade were stacked, in order, Benning's, Perry's (Law's), and Jenkins' Brigades.

As Gregg ordered the Texas Brigade forward through Poague's guns, a much relieved and excited Gen. Lee rode toward him and asked, ``General, what brigade is this?'' ``The Texas Brigade,'' Gregg proudly answered. Lee replied, ``I'm glad to see it! When you go in there, I wish you to give those men the cold steel. They will stand and fight all day, and never move unless you charge them.'' When Gregg received Longstreet's order to advance, Gregg saluted Lee, rode to the center of his command, and boomed for all to hear, ``Attention, Texas Brigade! The eyes of General Lee are upon you! Forward...march.'' Lee could not contain his excitement. Rising high in his stirrups, and waving his hat, he shouted, ``Texans always move them!''

After Lee's exhortation, ``a yell rent the air that must have been heard for miles around, and but few eyes in that old brigade of veterans and heroes of many a bloody field was undimmed by honest, heartfelt tears.'' Lee, moved greatly by this response, moved through an opening in the brigade and attempted to lead the Texans in their charge. When the Texans realized this meant almost certain death for Lee, a cry of ``Go back, General Lee. Go back!'' spread across the entire line. As Lee urged his horse Traveller on, several men nearest him sprang from the ranks and grabbed at the reins and saddle. Hearing calls of ``General Lee to the rear'' and ``We won't move until you go back'', Lee finally acquiesced, but not before Maj. Venable and Gen. Gregg ``forcibly'' persuaded their leader to leave the field and join Longstreet on a knoll near Poague's artillery.

The Texas Brigade received the command to ``load and cap your pieces'' and ``hold them well up.'' One Texan recalled, ``The jingle of hundreds of iron ramrods up and down the line denoted that something horrible was soon to take place.'' Moving almost as one body, Field's and Kershaw's divisions advanced in columns of brigades toward the approaching Federals. With no brush to impede its progress, the Texas Brigade quickly advanced well ahead of Kershaw's men. Federal skirmishers and sharpshooters took a deadly toll on the exposed ranks of the brigade, but onward the Texans and Arkansans charged, at the double quick, into the first line of Federals. That blue line broke, and the Texas Brigade streamed forward -- unsupported -- into the main Federal line in the woods beyond the Widow Tapp's farm. There came a terrible crash of musketry, as Gregg's severely outnumbered troops exchanged a brutal, stand-up fire with the enemy no more than 20 yards away. ``Death seemed to be our portion,'' one Texan later wrote.

The Texas Brigade charged again, and the main Federal line bowed back to a second line of breastworks. Face-to-face fighting ensued. During the charge, a strong enemy force posted south of the Orange Plank Road opened heavy enfilade fire on the Fourth and Fifth Texas. Gregg ordered the two regiments to swing right across the road to attack their assailants. Union artillery posted in the road raked the regiments with double-shotted canister as the line of Texans moved diagonally across their front. The Fourth and Fifth Texas moved steadily forward until coming within 100 yards of entrenched Federal infantry south of the Orange Plank Road. Learning that a large Federal force was advancing down the road and fearing the regiments would be cut off, Gregg led the Fourth and the Fifth back north of the road.

``For 25 minutes we held them steady,'' boasted a Texan who lived through the carnage, ``and at the expiration of that time more than half our brave fellows lay around us dead, dying, and wounded, and the few survivors could stand it no longer.'' Gregg was nearly killed as his horse was shot beneath him. At his command, the brigade grudgingly gave ground. Only 250 men were able to follow Gregg's order and return to the Widow Tapp's farm. These remaining men reformed about 300 yards in front of Poague's artillery and replenished their ammunition.

Despite its already devastating losses, the Texas Brigade was again called upon to enter the battle. Gregg was ordered to attack along the Orange Plank Road to stop a new thrust by Hancock's Corps. The brigade, now reduced to little more than a skirmish line, advanced at a right angle to the general line of battle. Moving down a slight elevation, Gregg's men crossed a swamp to the summit of another rise where they engaged and dispersed a heavy line of Federal skirmishers. At this point, the Texas Brigade was relieved by other elements of Field's Division and saw no more action except for a brief encounter with Federal skirmishers toward evening.

Although the performances of Longstreet's other brigades had too been admirable, the bold and unsupported attack of Texas Brigade can be credited for halting the momentum of Hancock's advance along the Orange Plank Road. What the Texas Brigade began north of the road, the remainder of Field's Division was able to complete. Kershaw's Division accomplished similar results, though less efficiently, as the brush on the south side of the road was much more tangled and dense. Together, Longstreet's Divisions reversed the Federal onslaught against Lee's right on May 6, and probabley saved the Army of Northern Virginia from destruction.

Although no official casualty reports for the Texas Brigade survive, the Galveston News reported on May 7, 1874 that Gregg's command lost 565 of 811 men that went into action on May 6, 1864. If correct, this 70% casualty rate would be the highest incurred by the Texas Brigade during the war. According to Miles V. Smith of Company D, the Fourth Texas had 207 men present for duty at the battle and lost 130, including four color bearers. All the officers of the Fifth Texas were lost. Col. Manning of the Third Arkansas was badly wounded and later captured. Afterwards, Gregg confided to Postmaster General John Reagan that if Longstreet had not recalled his men ``he believed the old brigade would have been annihilated, for in his opinion the Texans had not intended to go back alive.''

Perhaps the most significant of Lee's losses during the Battle of the Wilderness was that of Longstreet, who, during a flanking maneuver later in the day, was shot along with several of his staff and brigadiers by unwitting Confederate troops. Longstreet was seriously wounded in the neck, and Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins was killed outright. The incident of friendly fire was eerily reminscent of the fatal wounding of Stonewall Jackson almost exactly a year before on the other side of the Wilderness at Chancellorsville.

On May 7, both armies lay behind their breastworks, too exhausted for further offensive moves. Special details prowled the ``no man's land'' between the lines bringing off the dead and wounded. The Texas regiments brought their dead to a central location adjacent to a large oak tree north of the Orange Plank Road, near where they had stopped Hancock's advance the previous morning. The bodies were buried in a long and shallow trench with headboards displaying each man's name and unit. On the oak tree above the trench was nailed a board inscribed with the simple words, ``Texas Dead, May 6, 1864.''

By mid-afternoon of May 7, cavalry intelligence confirmed Lee's suspicions that Grant intended not to withdraw across the Rapidan but to place the Army of the Potomac between Lee and Richmond by sidling 12 miles south to Spotsylvania Court House. Lee promptly ordered his army south toward the same objective. With a head start, Lee hoped to be in position by the time the Federals reached their destination. Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson, now in command of the First Corps, was ordered to march first, as his new command was positioned farthest to Lee's right.

After supper on May 7, the Texas Brigade was issued an extra day's ration of one pound of corn meal and one half-pound of bacon before commencing their night march. Around 10 pm, Field's Division followed Kershaw's southward along a freshly cut trail from the Orange Plank Road. Anderson's orders from Lee were to march his men a little way and then let them sleep until 3 am, at which time they would continue the march along Catharpin Road and Shady Grove Church road to Spotsylvania Court House. The march along the swampy and stump-choked trail was miserable, and the stench from the battlefield was overpowering. Unwilling to rest his corps in this environment, Anderson chose to press on out of the Wilderness to a more suitable campsite.

Anderson's veterans continued to march all night and, at dawn on May~8, stopped to bivouac along the Shady Grove Church Road at the Block House Bridge over the Po River. Spotsylvania Court House lay 2 miles to the east. No sooner had they arrived than a courier from Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart arrived with orders for Anderson to reinforce Confederate cavalry posted along Laurel Hill, about one mile northwest of the courthouse. The cavalry had successfully delayed Warren's Fifth Corps for hours as it advanced down the Brock Road to Spotsylvania Court House, and was about to be assaulted by Warren at Laurel Hill. Kershaw's Division was sent to assist Stuart, while Field's Division was ordered to Spotsylvania to drive off Federal cavalry which had been spotted there.

Warren's piecemeal assault against Stuart and Kershaw was repulsed with great Union losses, and the Federal Cavalry withdrew from Spotsylvania Court House without incident. Field's Division was ordered to take position on Kershaw's left along Laurel Hill. The Texas Brigade, posted on Field's extreme left along the Po River, used boards, tin cups, plates, and knives to hastily dig entrenchments. The race to Spotsylvania Court House was won by the Confederates, but only barely.

By early afternoon of May 9, all three Confederate corps had reached the vicinity of Spotsylvania Court House. Ewell's Second Corps took position on Kershaw's right. The Third Corps, now commanded by Maj. Gen. Jubal Early instead of the very ill A. P. Hill, was posted to the right and behind Ewell's men. Anticipating an attack on Anderson's left by Hancock, Lee sent Brig. Gen. William Mahone's (formerly Anderson's) Division of the Third Corps into position to the left of the Texas Brigade to bolster Lee's anchorage along the Po. Heth's Division was sent far around the Confederate left flank and across the Po to lay in wait for Hancock's attack. Meanwhile, Anderson's and Ewell's Corps strengthened their fortifications along Laurel Hill and north of the courthouse.

At 8:30 am on May 10, while Hancock continued to probe the Confederate flank across the Po, Warren began an assault against the Confederate left wing on Laurel Hill. Positioned on Warren's right, Brig. Gen. Samuel Crawford's Division advanced toward Field's entrenched division, which was backed by Col. E. Porter Alexander's artillery. The Confederate gunners and riflemen quickly routed Warren's men all along their line of attack. By mid-morning, Warren called off the attack. Finding the Confederates in strength across the Po, Hancock's divisions were slowly recalled back across the river.

While Hancock withdrew his men, Warren appealed to Meade and Grant to let him resume his assault on Laurel Hill. Despite Warren's earlier failures, Meade agreed. At 2 pm, augmented by Brig. Gen. John Gibbon's Division from Hancock's Corps, Warren commenced his second attack of the day. Gibbon's First Brigade, under Brig. Gen. Alexander Webb, assaulted the formidable abatis and breastworks constructed by the Texas Brigade. Supported by the Richmond Howitzers, the Texans and Arkansans tore bloody gaps into Webb's line, and forced the Federals to lie on the ground. Pine needles around them ignited, and Webb's men beat out flames with their caps as they crawled on their bellies to escape Gregg's bullets. The story was the same all along the Federal line, and after an hour, Warren called an end to this latest disastrous attack.

Anticipating another attack, some men of the Texas Brigade climbed over their barricades and took rifles and ammunition from the dead and wounded Federals to their front. The extra rifles were sorely needed, as the brigade's losses in the Wilderness forced the men to stand five feet apart just to cover their sector of the line. According to Miles V. Smith of the Fourth Texas, ``each man gathered to himself two Enfield rifles for long range and a musket loaded with buckshot for close range.''

At 5 pm on May 10, Grant ordered a full-scale attack against the now well-fortified Confederates. The attack against Field's sector was begun at 7 pm by Hancock's Corps. The Texas Brigade was busy preparing its supper when it caught sight of the brigade of Brig. Gen. Hobart Ward marching at the double quick toward their works. Jumping for their guns and smashing open fresh boxes of ammunition, Gregg's men waited for the Yankees to reach their position. Once reached, the Texans and Manly's North Carolina Battery soon began raking the Yankees with bullets and canister. Despite the shock, Ward's three lead regiments -- 86th New York, 3rd Maine, and 124th New York -- plunged through the abatis and toward the Gregg's ramparts. The Fourth and Fifth Texas and the Third Arkansas managed to hold the Federals in check, but the First Texas could not prevent the bayonet-wielding Yankees from breaching their works via a 40-foot wide gap over a gully. Bloody hand-to-hand fighting ensued. The Texans, lacking the bayonets they discarded in Tennessee, wielded their rifles as clubs.

As the Federals poured through the breach, they were met with enfilade fire from the Third Arkansas on the left and the Fourth and Fifth Texas and ``Tige'' Anderson's Brigade on the right. Two Napoleons from the First Richmond Howitzers swung around and fired down the trench with double canister. Unable to stand the flanking fire, the Yankees withdrew in confusion through the breastworks. As they fled in disorder back to their lines, the Federals suffered severely from artillery and small arms fire. The breach was sealed. A similar breach in Ewell's front was also repaired, and elsewhere along Lee's line the Federal attack was a complete and costly failure. After watching the performance of the Texas Brigade, Field commended his troops. ``Men, it was perfectly magnificent. If the line had been broken here I don't know what we should have done.'' Indeed, the Texas Brigade had no reserve.

The Federals attacked Lee's lines several times after May 10, mostly notably against the ``mule shoe'' salient held by Ewell's Corps on May 12, but none of these engagements directly concerned the Texas Brigade. Throughout the campaign, however, active snipers forced the Texans to stay under cover and behind their breastworks during daylight hours. Under such conditions, the dead had to be buried immediately behind the entrenchments, and their shallow graves scooped out by comrades lying flat on the ground or kneeling.

Anticipating another sidling maneuver by Grant around his right flank, Lee prepared his troops for a move southward. Stationed on Lee's left, Field's Division would be the first to move. On the night of May 14, the Texas Brigade received its movement orders. At noon on May 15, Gregg's men marched southeast across the rear of Lee's army to a position south of A. P. Hill's Corps along the Brock Road. Here they remained until May 20, when Grant began withdrawing his Fifth and Sixth Corps from the Spotsylvania lines. The Texas Brigade was ordered to go south of the Po River ``in support of the guns there,'' and to connect with Ewell's Corps moving down from Spotsylvania Court House.

On the afternoon of May 21, the Texas Brigade continued its movement south on the Telegraph Road with Field's Division. Except for a two-hour rest in the early morning hours of May 22, Gregg's men marched continuously for the next 20 hours, covering 25 miles. The brigade crossed to the south side of the North Anna River and, after marching a mile, halted near Hanover Junction on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. By the night of May 22, Lee's entire army was below the North Anna. As expected, Grant appeared on the north side of the river the next morning. Both armies hastily dug in and prepared for battle. Once again, Lee had correctly interpreted Grant's movements and, taking advantage of interior lines, blocked the southward movement of the Army of the Potomac.

Between May 23 and 26, Grant launched a series of simultaneous probing attacks against the flanks of Lee's strongly entrenched army. The uncoordinated attacks were easily driven off, but Lee, who had become seriously ill, was unable to exploit Grant's tactical blunder of dividing and isolating segments of his army across the North Anna. The Texas Brigade held a sector of the Confederate line near the railroad. Except for some skirmishing along the picket line, Gregg's men saw little action during the North Anna Campaign.

On the night of May 26, Grant again abandoned hope of defeating the entrenched Confederates and ordered a southeastern movement around Lee's right flank. When Grant's disappearance was discovered on the morning of May 27, Lee ordered a similar movement southward to keep his army between Grant and Richmond. Field's Division lead the march of the First Corps along the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac railroad from Hanover Junction to Ashland Station. The division then turned southeast and marched to Atlee's Station on the Virginia Central Railroad. On May 28, the Texas Brigade, after crossing the railroad, moved east to the vicinity of Hundley's Corner and Walnut Grove Church near Totopotomoy Creek. Here, the brigade bivouacked.

Believing the Confederate position at Totopotomoy Creek too strong to attack, Grant continued to move southeast toward the Chickahominy River. Lee followed on a parallel route. By May 31, both armies were approaching Cold Harbor, near the old battlefield of Gaines' Mill -- where Hood's Texas Brigade had first gained fame two years before.

June 1864

By June 1, the Union and Confederate armies confronted each other at Cold Harbor in positions opposite to those they assumed two years before. Instead of facing southeast as they had during the Battle of Gaines' Mill, the Confederates now faced northeast. Lee's line extended from Totopotomoy Creek on the north to the Chickahominy River on the south -- a distance of eight miles. Ewell's Corps occupied the left wing of army, Anderson's Corps the center, and A. P. Hill's corps (commanded by Jubal Early) the right. By remarkable coincidence, the Texas Brigade took up a position on the same ridge from which it had helped drive Fitz John Porter's Corps on June 27, 1862.

For the fifth time in a month, Lee had blocked Grant's attempt to outflank the Army of Northern Virginia. However, Lee had given up valuable ground in the process. Richmond was only 12 miles to his rear. Lee's thin ranks were bolstered by the arrival of Robert F. Hoke's Division of 6,000 men from Drewry's Bluff. Unfortunately for the Confederates, Grant had also been reinforced. The Federal's strength rose to 108,000 men, or almost twice Lee's strength of 59,000 men.

Late on June 1, six Federal divisions under Gen. W. F. ``Baldy'' Smith attacked the Confederate line held by Kershaw's and Hoke's Divisions. Taking advantage of a wooded ravine where the Confederate divisions joined, the Federals broke through the Confederate line. The Texas Brigade and Eppa Hunton's Brigade of Pickett's Division were rushed to the area of the breakthrough and helped seal the breach, but not before several hundred prisoners were taken from Kershaw's and Hoke's commands.

By morning of June 2, both armies had erected strong breastworks. The opposing lines were so close in the sector held by the Texas Brigade that Gen. Gregg did not advance his pickets. As a precautionary measure against surprised attack, Gregg had his men construct an abatis in front of their works. Miles V. Smith of Co. D, Fourth Texas, said that each company had to provide a detail of two men to top the trees behind their works for the purpose of building the abatis. No general attack occurred on June 2, but the Texans and Arkansans were exposed to long-range rifle fire and an unusually heavy artillery barrage.

Gregg's men were up early on June 3, many of them breakfasting on ``clammy corn-bread and raw bacon'', when Grant struck in force at 4:30 a.m. Some 40,000 Federals from the corps of W. S. Hancock, Horatio Wright, and ``Baldy'' Smith advanced first against A. P. Hill and then Anderson. The men of Smith's Eighteenth Corps assaulted the position held by Gen. Evander Law's Brigade of Alabamians. The Texas Brigade, posted to Law's right, poured a destructive enfilading fire into the ranks of Smith's advancing men. According to J. B. Polley of the Fourth Texas,

[The enemy] came forward in four lines, about fifty yards apart, and thus presented the fairest of targets for Texas and Arkansas marksmanship. But they essayed the impossible; men could not live in the fire poured on them from front and flanks, and although in the first rush a few came within seventy yards of our lines, they halted, about faced, and fled as fast as legs could carry them. The slaughter was terrible!

All along Lee's line, the Federal assault whithered under deadly Confederate fire. Double-shotted canister swept away entire Federal companies with each barrage. In a little over it eight minutes, Grant lost over 7,000 men. The grand assault was a dismal failure and won for Grant the sobriquet, ``The Butcher.'' After the war, Gen. Law would remark, ``It was not war, it was murder.'' Law counted over 1,000 dead and wounded in front of his works at a loss of not more than 20 in his command.

After the attack, the Federals established a line that in places came within 100 yards of Confederate entrenchments. On June 6, after three days of watching the wounded bake and smelling the corpses rot between the lines, Grant finally asked for and received a truce to retrieve the Federal casualties. A Federal deserter quipped to a group of Confederates that Grant intended ``to stink Lee out of position if nothing else will suffice.'' During the brief truce, soldiers from both sides fraternized and traded between the lines, and opposing bands vied for attention by playing patriotic tunes. After two hours, the men scrambled back to their works, took down their white flags, and commenced shooting again. From June 1 to 9, Maj. C. M. Winkler of the Fourth Texas reported eight casualties in his regiment.

For the next six days, the opposing armies sniped at each other without a general battle. On June 12, Grant decided that it was impossible to take Richmond by going over or around Lee's army. Changing his objective, Grant withdrew the Army of the Potomac from its position and set it in motion southward across the Chickahominy and James Rivers toward Petersburg. That city, a rail hub located on the Appomattox River 23 miles south of Richmond, controlled a vital supply line to the capital and to Lee.

On June 13, the Texas Brigade and the rest of Anderson's Corps left its position at Cold Harbor, crossed the Chickahominy on McClellan's Bridge, and bivouacked that night just north of the old Glendale (Frayser's Farm) battlefield. Being near the main Confederate supply depots in Richmond had its privileges. According to Lt. W. D. Williams of the Fifth Texas, the Texas Brigade was getting better rations in mid-June 1864, ``than anytime since the beginning of 1862. They drew half a pound of bacon, a pound and quarter of bread besides coffee, sugar and peas and a variety of vegetables.''

The Texans remained camped near Glendale until 5 a.m. on June 16. The brigade then marched to the James River, crossed it at Drewry's Bluff, and moved south with Field's and Pickett's Divisions down the Petersburg Turnpike. Their objective was to occupy the trenches in the vicinity of Bermuda Hundred that had just been abandoned by Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard's Confederates as they rushed to meet the leading elements of Grant's army before the Federals entered Petersburg.

Reaching Beauregard's trenches on June 17, Field's Division occupied the right wing of Anderson's Corps and Pickett's Division occupied the left wing. Anderson's men were exposed to constant sharpshooting and shelling from Union forces entrenched to their front. Annoyed by the Federal fire, the Texas Brigade and several of Pickett's bigades spontaneously charged from their earthworks ``with one of the grandest rebel yells heard in a long time'' and drove the enemy from its position. The Fourth Texas lost two men in this ``Battle of Howlett's Farm,'' including its adjutant, Lt. W. H. Brown, who was mortally wounded.

On the morning of June 18, the Texas Brigade left Bermuda Hundred and marched west to the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, where the boarded the cars bound for Petersburg. Field's and Pickett's men were ordered to assist Beauregard, who was single-handedly staving off assaults by four Federal corps outside Petersburg. The Texas Brigade halted in Petersburg long enough to avail itself of hogsheads of coffee that had been hauled on wagons to its line of march by grateful citizens. Late in the day, Gregg's command moved into the trenches east of the city and south of the Appomattox River. The Texas Brigade, on the left of Field's Division, was positioned to the right of Kershaw's Division. The brigade was located mid-way between the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad and the Jerusalem Plank Road about 1.5 miles east of Blandford Cemetery. The right of the brigade rested on Taylor's Branch. Here Gregg's men would begin a weary month of duty in the trenches.

Miles Smith of the Fourth Texas reported that Yankee sharpshooters were deadly, killing at least a man a day in the brigade. Smith also reported that the lines were so close that at least one-third of the men were on watch night and day. J. B. Polley wrote, ``To stay in the trenches alive, was to suffer with heat, smother with dust [and] keep the heads below the top of the breastworks...'' Maj. Winkler reported that, during the first two days in the Petersburg trenches, the Fourth Texas alone lost ``four killed and three wounded'' and added that ``when a shot takes effect, it is generally fatal.''

According to Winkler, not only were their fortifications well constructed, but the Confederates had placed ``obstructions of different kinds beyond [the works] calculated to tangle the enemy's feet and retard progress... The Federals [had] as many chances in favor to getting into heaven as to Petersburg.'' Although their duties were primarily defensive, the Texas Brigade did at least once leave their entrenchments and take the offensive. In his diary entry for June 24, Robert Lowry of Co. G, Third Arkansas, wrote that the brigade engaged in ``some fighting, charged a battery.''

July 1864

Two Fourth Texans described what it was like to man the defenses at Petersburg. Major C. M. Winkler wrote,

This thing of duty in the trenches is anything but pleasant...During the day the heat is oppressive, and not infrequently the Texan sighs for the refreshing breezes of his own prairie home. At night one-third of the officers and men are on the alert, at a time, each usually taking one-third of the night, and at the first indication of the approach of morning, all hands are up and in readiness to meet any attempt at a surprise - everybody literally living beneath the surface of the ground, and constantly on the qui vive. Here we eat, drink and sleep as best we can...

Private Joseph B. Polley also wrote,

Here for thirty long, weary days the Texas Brigade stayed on guard, under a hot, almost blistering sun, and with only the shade made by blankets and tent-cloths, stretched across such rails and planks as could be brought long distances on the shoulders of its men through an incessant storm of bullets, to protect them from its heat and glare. There was little breeze, scant rain, and much dust. The opposing lines too close together to permit either side to send pickets to the front, the watching of each other and the guarding against surprise was done in and from the main lines, and lest the vigilance exercised there prove insufficient, each side maintained a rifle fire, which, although in the daytime somewhat scattering and perfunctory, was at night an unceasing volley.

Although the conditions in the trenches were hot and dry, the Texas Brigade received adequate food - certainly much better than the fare they had received the previous winter in East Tennessee. The meals consisted mainly of corn meal, bacon or lean beef, beans with cow peas, and, from time to time, rice. Occasionally, an issue of coffee and sugar was received. The coffee was especially welcomed and was ``parched in a frying pan, beat in a cloth and then boiled in a tin cup.'' One pound of corn meal was issued per man per day and was baked into bread by a special cooking detail. The meat ration was 1/4 pound per man per day. Both bread and beef were carried to the front lines on the shoulders of the commissary sergeants. It was almost impossible to forage while confined to the trenches, so the Texans had to be content with the government issue.

A religious revival that swept through Lee's army in the summer of 1864 had mixed effect on the Texans. O. T. Hanks of the First Texas wrote of ``a good sermon'' given by the brigade chaplain, the Rev. Sam Davis, but doubted the value of the revival, stating that ``we are all pretty good Christians by this time and will be until the quiet future...[After the war,] some of us will return to `wallow in the mire'.'' Maj. Winkler of the Fourth Texas reported that a popular pastime in his regiment was singing religious songs. Winkler also noted with pleasure that chess was ``fast superceding'' cards as a recreational pursuit and that gambling was becoming most ``unfashionable.''

While in the trenches at Petersburg, the Texas Brigade heard a rumor that the Federals were tunneling and constructing a mine under the Confederate lines. This rumor prompted some ingenious methods of detecting the subterranean diggers. Behind the Confederate entrenchments, pegs were driven deep in the ground. By biting and holding these pegs in his teeth, a Confederate could detect the slightest vibration in the ground. O. T. Hanks reported that he detected no tunneling or mining in the sector of the defenses manned by the Texas Brigade.

The Texas Brigade remained in or just behind the front lines east of Petersburg without relief until July 20 - longer than any other brigade. On this date, they were relieved of trench duty and transferred to a quiet sector a mile southeast of town near Old Town Run. Here the brigade remained until July 28, when Gen. Gregg received orders to move to the trenches on the extreme left of the Confederate line. The brigade was to participate in a proposed assault against one of the Federal forts there. The attack never took place, but the brigade was exposed to heavy fire most of the afternoon.

Soon after dark on July 28, the Texas Brigade and the rest of Field's Division left the Petersburg trenches and began an all-night movement to join the rest of Anderson's First Corps, two divisions of A. P. Hill's Third Corps, and Fitzhugh Lee's Cavalry Division near Richmond. (Two days before, Gen. Lee had ordered the other divisions north across the James River to counter a threat by Union Gen. W. S. Hancock's Second Corps and Gen. Philip Sheridan's Federal Cavalry.) The Texas Brigade passed through Petersburg at midnight, crossed to the northside of the Appomattox River, and then marched along the tracks of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad.

The next morning, the Texans and Arkansans boarded the train and rode to Rice's Turnout opposite Drewry's Bluff. From there, Gregg's men marched toward the James and crossed the river on the same pontoon bridge they had used on June 16 while travelling south. By sundown of July 29, the brigade was in position at Fussell's Mill near Deep Bottom.

At 4:30 am on July 30, the rumors of a mine were validated as the Federals exploded 8,000 pounds of black powder under a part of the Confederate's Petersburg line known as ``Elliot's Salient.'' The explosion, which created a crater 170 feet long, 60-80 feet wide, and 30 feet deep, was followed by a uncoordinated and unsuccessful Federal assault on the breached Confederate works. Although the Confederates successfully sealed the breach, the Battle of the Crater had been costly. In the explosion alone, some 300 Confederates from Bushrod Johnson's Division and Pegram's Battery were killed, wounded, or otherwise lost.

The explosion occurred in the immediate vicinity of the position held by the Texas Brigade at Petersburg until July 28. Had they not been ordered northward across the James, Gregg's men would surely have shared the fate of Johnson's and Pegram's men. In fact, some of the Federal prisoners were reported to have been disappointed because the Texas Brigade was not ``extinguished'' in the ``grand upheaval and collapse.''

When the members of the Texas Brigade heard the explosion, they mulled over their good fortune. Bill Calhoun of the Fourth Texas spoke for all the men of the brigade when he said,

Well, boys, hit's a d---d sight more comfortabler ter be stannin' here on good old Virginny terror firmer than ter be danglin', heels up an' heads down, over that cussed mine, not knowin' whether you'd strike soft or hard groun' when you lit.

August 1864

During the night of August 13-14, the Union Second Corps, Tenth Corps, and Gen. David McM. Gregg's Cavalry Division, all under the command of Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, crossed the James River at Deep Bottom to threaten Richmond. This movement was coordinated with another movement against the Weldon Railroad at Petersburg. On August 14, the Tenth Corps closed on New Market Heights while the Second Corps extended the Federal line to the right along Bailey's Creek. During the night, the Tenth Corps was moved to the far right flank of the Union line near Fussell's Mill.

On August 16, the Federals assaulted the Confederate line held by Field's Division near Fussell's Mill. The assaults were initially successful, but Field's men successfully counterattacked and drove the Federals out of a line of captured works. Heavy fighting continued throughout the remainder of the day. The fierce action of this day was later known by several names, including the Battle of White Oak Swamp, White's Tavern, Charles City Road, and (Second) Deep Bottom.

Joe Joskins of the Fourth Texas remarked that at the engagement of White Oak Swamp ``[Wade] Hampton's and Hood's Texas Brigade had whipped a Federal cavalry division and nearly every man the The Texas Brigade got a horse, a six-shooter and a saber.''

After continual skirmishing, the Federals returned to the southside of the James River on August 20, maintaining their bridgehead at Deep Bottom. Field's Division returned to their defenses and remained there for the rest of the month.

September 1864

Nearly a month after the unsuccessful attacks against the Richmond-Petersburg defenses at the Weldon Railroad and Fussell's Mill, Gen. Grant again attempted a two-pronged attack against the ends of the Confederate defenses. The primary purpose of this attack was to prevent Gen. Lee from reinforcing Maj. Gen. Jubal Early's army operating in the Shenandoah Valley. Instead of employing the Army of the Potomac's Second Corps under Winfield Scott Hancock for the attack, Grant assigned the responsibility to the Army of the James, which was under the command of Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler.

By late September, the Confederate defenses around Richmond were thinly manned by two brigades (Benning's Georgians and Gregg's Texas Brigade) of Field's Division, one brigade (Fulton's) of Edward Johnson's Division, one Virginia militia battalion, and Gary's South Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Southeast of the capital, the outer defenses were buttressed by Fort Harrison on the Varina Road and the inner defenses were anchored by Fort Gilmer on the New Market Road. The Texas Brigade was posted near a strong line of breastworks about 1.5 miles north of Fort Harrison and 1.5 miles east of Fort Gilmer. The brigade and regimental headquarters were housed in the spacious Phillips House, located near the outer defense line.

On September 28, Butler's Tenth and Eighteenth Corps (commanded by Maj. Gens. David Birney and Edward Ord, respectively) quietly withdrew from Petersburg and crossed the James River under the cover of darkness. That same evening, the Texas Brigade entertained twelve Richmond belles to a dinner-dance affair at their campsite near the Phillips House. Mrs. A. V. Winkler, wife of the commander of the Fourth Texas, chaperoned the fine affair. Mrs. Winkler would later write that the outer defenses of Richmond manned by the Texans consisted of ``earth works about five feet high, [a] ten foot, ditch beyond, [and an] intricate abatis some fifty feet in front...''

Protected by an early morning fog and heavy woods, the two Federal corps struck the Richmond defenses near Forts Harrison and Gilmer at daylight on September 29. As the assault opened, the Texas Brigade was called upon to defend the outer works near Fort Harrison. The brigade was aligned from left to right by the First Texas, Fourth Texas, Fifth Texas, and Third Arkansas. The Texans and Arkansans were attacked by a brigade of Negro troops from Birney's Tenth Corps that charged through an apple orchard near and up a narrow valley near the Phillips House.

The encounter between the Texas Brigade and the Negro brigade was a massacre. The black troops found themselves hemmed in by the banks of a dry creek bed and thus easy targets for the sharp shooting Texans. According to Joseph B. Polley of the Fourth Texas, ``Not a dozen shots in all were fired'' by the Federals, and ``not a man in the Texas Brigade received a wound.'' In just five minutes, 194 Negro soldiers and 23 of their white officers were killed and several times that number wounded. In places, the dead were stacked five deep. Two Federal regimental flags were captured in the debacle, one by the Fourth Texas and the other by the Third Arkansas. The Texas Brigade took 43 of the Negro soldiers captive. According to Polley, most of the prisoners preferred to serve their captors as orderlies rather than risk confinement in a Southern prison.

Although the Texas Brigade had successfully held their sector of the outer defenses near Fort Harrison, the lightly defended fort itself fell into the hands of the Eighteenth Corps. Meanwhile, Benning's and Gary's brigades to the left of the Texas Brigade were beaten back to the inner line of defenses near Fort Gilmer. Unhappy with his advanced and exposed position, Gen. Gregg ordered the Texas Brigade to the rear at the double quick. The Texans and Arkansans reached Fort Gilmer just before the Federal advance units arrived there.

Along with fragments of other Confederate brigades in the area, the Texas Brigade successfully repulsed piece-meal attacks against Fort Gilmer by the Tenth Corps. J. B. Polley wrote that the Texas Brigade ``occupied a line of breastworks a mile and a half long, and to do that, each of its men had to be practically ubiquitous.'' Gregg's Texans and Benning's Georgians together repulsed one direct assault by a Negro brigade and their supporting white troops that reached the parapet of Fort Gilmer. The advancing Federals had approached within 100 yards of the fort before the directed fire of the Confederate defenders took its toll. Although the bulk of the advance retired in the face of the fire, several hundred Negro troops instead rushed forward and tumbled into the ditch at the base of the fort. As the brave Federals tried to lift each other over the parapet, the Texans and Georgians either shot or hurled lighted shells at their attackers. The carnage was great, and only a few of the Negro soldiers remained to surrender.

Birney's uncoordinated attacks continued unsuccessfully until the evening of September 29, when substantial Confederate reinforcements arrived from Petersburg. The Federals had squandered a golden opportunity to capture Richmond that day. If Birney would have better coordinated his attacks, thought Polley, ``Appomattox would have been anticipated by six months.'' All that had been gained by the Federals was the capture of Fort Harrison, and that came at great cost. When viewing the battlefield of New Market Heights the following day, Lt. Col. C. M. Winkler, then commanding the Fourth Texas, wrote, ``The enemy suffered severely yesterday: our losses trifling. The sight I witnessed of dead Negroes and white Federal officers was sickening in the extreme.''

October 1864

Disturbed by the loss of the outer Richmond defenses near Fort Harrison, Gen. Lee immediately began plans to drive the Union forces from their newly won, but strongly fortified, position. Lee planned a frontal attack by the divisions of Charles Field and Robert Hoke against the Federal lines between the Darbytown Road and New Market Road. Meanwhile, the brigades of Martin Gary and Evander Law (commanded by E. A. Perry) were to outflank the Federal position and assault it from the rear. Lee's objective was a formidable line of Federal entrenchments and barricades lying across the Darbytown Road about six miles southeast of Richmond. Lee would command the operation in person.

The Texas Brigade marched most of the late afternoon and night of October 6. Gregg's men reached their position on the Darbytown Road shortly after daylight on October 7. At this time, Lee ordered Field's Division and several brigades of Hoke's Division down the pike toward the Union position. After a short time of watching the preparations for battle, Lee asked an approaching aide if all the commands were formed for the advance. The staff officer replied, ``None but the Texas Brigade, General.'' Lee's comment to this reply was, ``The Texas Brigade is always ready.'' Although spoken softly, Lee's words were carried by the clear frosty air to the ears of the Fifth Texas, which was formed nearby in a fringe of woods close to the road.

Lee assigned Field's Division and Hoke's brigades to positions north and south of the Darbytown Road, respectively. Field deployed his division with Gregg's Texas Brigade on the right near the road, and G. T. Anderson's brigade to Gregg's left. With a strong skirmish line in front, the Confederates pressed forward against a strongly entrenched composite corps of 10,000 Federals under the command of Brig. Gen. August V. Kautz. The Confederates quickly overran an incomplete Federal fortification a half-mile in front of Kautz's main line, and captured eight rifled cannon, a few colors, and about 300 men. Lee halted the attack for a short time to realign his troops and to prepare for the assault against the main Federal line.

The main Federal defenses featured formidable log breastworks atop a hill, a thick abatis 500 yards in front of the breastworks, and a large swamp in front of the abatis. Gregg was ordered to spearhead the assault straight down the Darbytown Road -- precisely where the Federal entrenchments were strongest. Not since Gaines' Mill had the Texas Brigade been asked to storm such a strongly prepared position. The Texans and Arkansans were to be supported by the rest of Field's Division on the left and Hoke's command on the right.

As the Texas Brigade approached within a quarter mile of the Federal position, it came under heavy artillery fire which forced them to take cover and regroup. After a short pause, the brigade advanced forward and waded through the swamp, but had their mass formation fragmented by the thick abatis beyond. Neither Anderson on the left nor Hoke on the right advanced in support of the Texas Brigade, so Gregg's flanks were left exposed to the enemy's enfilading fire. Kautz's cavalry, armed with new Spencer repeating carbines, poured a destructive fire down upon the Texans. A handful of Gregg's men advanced within 30 paces of the blazing barricade where they were pinned down and either captured or shot. A large group found protection in a depression 300 yards short of the breastworks, but others remained tangled in the abatis and became prime targets for Federal sharpshooters and artillery.

About this time, Gen. Gregg received a ball through the neck and was instantly killed. Col. Frederick Bass of the First Texas assumed command of the Texas Brigade until he himself was wounded. Command of the brigade then devolved upon Lt. Col. C. M. Winkler, the commander of the Fourth Texas. Finding the brigade unsupported, Winkler led the remains of the command away from the murderous fire to the cover of woods and hollows in their rear. After the Texans fell back, they noticed that Gregg's body lay sprawled in a pool of blood about 100 yards ``in front of their somewhat disorganized line.'' Lt. John Shotwell of Gregg's staff led a small group of enlisted men forward to recover the body. Crawling on their hands and knees through the heavy fire, the rescue party wrapped the dead General in a blanket and pulled him back to their lines.

At noon, the Confederates finally broke off the engagement and retired to the west bank of Cornelius Creek, about five miles southeast of Richmond. The disastrous Battle of Darbytown Road cost the Texas Brigade 119 casualties (11 killed, 90 wounded, and 18 missing) out of the approximately 450 men engaged. The Fifth Texas appears to have fared the worst, as only a handful of officers and 61 men were afterwards present for duty. Company F of the Fifth Texas lost 10 of the 14 men who went into the battle. After the debacle, the remnant of the Texas Brigade took position on the Richmond defense line about four miles southeast of the city between the Williamsburg and Charles City Roads.

Brig. Gen. John Gregg's body was placed in a casket and conveyed to Richmond, where it lay in state in the House of Representatives amid floral offerings and massed Confederate and Texas flags. Hundreds of citizens paid silent tribute. Gen. Lee wrote to Secretary of War James Seddon, ``The brave General Gregg of the Texas Brigade fell dead at the head of his men.'' Lee had regarded Gregg ``as the best brigadier in the army.'' Gregg would be the last general officer to command the Texas Brigade and its only commander to be killed in action. The Texas Brigade was permitted to attend the funeral en masse and, on October 9, marched in the funeral cortege to Hollywood Cemetery for the burial service. (Gregg's body would later be removed and permanently interred in Aberdeen, Mississippi.)

On October 19, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet returned to active duty after being severely wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in May. Lee assigned to Longstreet the command of all Confederate troops north of the James River. Longstreet's command thus consisted of the commands of Maj. Gens. Richard Ewell and George Pickett, Hoke's and Field's Divisions, and Gary's Cavalry Brigade.

During October 25 and 26, Gen. Grant moved a sizeable Federal force north across the James to attempt another penetration of the inner defense line around Richmond. Early on October 27, the Federals made a diversionary attack on the Confederate entrenchments between the New Market and Charles City Roads, while the main Union force struck around Longstreet's left along the Williamsburg Road. Sensing the Federal plan, Longstreet moved Field's and Hoke's Divisions by the left flank along the defense works to the suspected area of enemy attack.

The Texas Brigade led the Confederate advance and arrived at the threatened point just as a heavy Federal force ``advanced over the open ground on each side of the Williamsburg Road.'' The Confederate position had been defended only by a lieutenant and 20 men of the Virginia Home Guard. At the sight of the Texas Brigade marching at the double-quick to their relief, the lieutenant exclaimed, ``Glory to God, we are saved!''

The Texas Brigade, supported by Benning's and Anderson's Brigades, easily repulsed the initial Federal attack led by two Federal regiments -- one Negro and one white -- advancing in double column. The Federal infantry did not press its attack, but the Yankee artillery, firing from north of the road, did effective work against the Confederate defenders. Col. Winkler ordered two men from each company of the Texas Brigade ``to concentrate their fire on the battery, and, if possible, to kill all its horses.'' The Texans' fire was so effective that the Federals hitched up their teams and removed the artillery, leaving their infantry prone in a depression only 200 yards from the Confederate lines.

Afraid to retreat or advance, the Union infantry exchanged fire with the Confederates for about an hour. Ultimately a spontaneous charge by the Texas Brigade, supported by the two Georgia brigades, overran the Federal position and took several hundred prisoners and at least five stands of colors. Although the engagement along the Williamsburg Road did not develop into a major battle, skirmishing and artillery fire lasted several hours. The Texas Brigade suffered the greatest number of casualties in Field's Division, numbering 4 killed and 15 wounded.

After the engagement, the Texas Brigade returned to its position in the trenches between the Williamsburg and Charles City Roads. Here the brigade remained for the rest of the month.

November 1864

After the engagements of October, the remnants of the Texas Brigade began settling into winter quarters along the Richmond defenses between the Williamsburg and Charles City Roads. As they had done in previous winters, the Texans built a shantytown of huts, tents, and log cabins. The only building material available was that derived from deserted homes in the area. The Texans did the best they could to construct living quarters from salvaged wood and nails with a minimum of available tools. (Generally only one axe was issued to each company.) The abodes built by the brigade ranged from a ``tent of two covering a hole in the Virginia clay,'' to a spacious log cabin of three rooms. Typically, the structures featured a wooden framework, fireplaces and chimneys made of mud, and roofs of thatched branches, canvas, or blankets. The Texans erected two structures for general brigade use -- a huge log theater and a chapel that measured 60 x 25 feet.

By the late fall, the Texas Brigade had received visits from several distingushed Texans, including John Reagan (Confederate Postmaster General), W. S. Oldham (Texas Senator), Francis Lubbock (former Governor of Texas and now a member of President Davis' staff), Stephen F. Darden (Texas Congressman), and Col. John R. Baylor (frontiersman and Indian fighter). These visitors were well received by the men, but another, Sen. Louis T. Wigfall -- the first brigadier of the Texas Brigade -- was met with coolness and even hostility. Wigfall had publicly opposed Davis' decision to replace Joseph E. Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee with John Bell Hood. His subsequent criticism of Hood's failures in that position further lowered the Texans' opinion of Wigfall. The brigade would not tolerate criticism of their patron saint, especially when it came from a politician.

During November 1864, two subjects heavily influenced the morale of the Texas Brigade. The reelection of Abraham Lincoln on November 8 cast a pall over the entire Army of Northern Virginia, as dreams of a imminent peace with the United States were dashed. Nevertheless, rumour of a possible brigade-wide furlough to Texas for the purpose of recruiting and rehabilitating was cause for optimism within the Texas Brigade. This latest rumour about a temporary return to Texas stemmed from attempts by Texas Governor Pendleton Murrah in May, Brig. Gen. John Gregg in June, and former Texas Brigade commander Jerome B. Robertson in October to persuade the President and Secretary of War to return the three Texas Regiments home for the ``purpose of recruiting their decimated ranks.''

Indeed, many of the companies in the Texas Brigade had been reduced to skeleton strength. On November 27, Co. C of the First Texas had 29 men assigned, but only five privates and no officers and non-commissioned officers present for duty. On the same date, Co. F of the same regiment had nine present for duty of 27 men assigned.

December 1864

Although the establishment of winter quarters brought relief from the cold weather, another woe of winter was beginning to affect the Texas Brigade. The first heavy frost brought the end of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, and Lee's men soon became entirely dependent upon the Confederate commissary system under the direction of the inefficient Col. Lucius B. Northrop. As early as December 19, The Texas Brigade Quartermaster, Maj. J. H. Littlefield, reported that molasses and sugar were being used as substitutes for meat. Robert Lowry of Co. G, Third Arkansas, reported that he received no meat from December 17 to 24. Capt. W. D. Williams of the Fifth Texas wrote home that he planned to eat his 1864 Christmas dinner out of his tin cup -- a little bread and bacon mixed together.

Hopes of a furlough continued to pervade the ranks of the Texas Brigade in December 1864. Colonel F. S. Bass, commanding the brigade, revived Gen. Robertson's recruiting plan of the previous October. Bass wrote to Secretary of War James Seddon and once again requested that the entire brigade be furloughed home, recruit while there, and then return for the spring campaign. An endorsement of this letter was signed by all non-commissioned officers and privates present for duty in the brigade.

By December 18, Maj. Littlefield expressed fear that the Texas Brigade would be consolidated with one or more other small brigades. If that happened, wrote Littlefield, ``I am fearful that ... many will attempt to escape the army.'' In late December, Gen. Lee appointed ``Consolidation Committees'' in each of the smaller brigades in the Army of Northern Virginia for the purposes of determining the feasibility of consolidation and assessing the fitness of the junior officers in those brigades for further command. Lt. Col. C. M. Winkler, commander of the Fourth Texas, was selected as chairman of the Consolidation Committee in the Texas Brigade.

While Winkler's committee was at work, the officers and men of the brigade held a mass meeting to protest the proposed consolidation. Private B. S. Fitzgerald of Co. I, Fifth Texas, and Lt. Haywood Brahan of Co. F, Fourth Texas, were selected as chairman and secretary of the group, respectively. A series of resolutions were passed reaffirming the Texas Brigade's faith in the Confederacy. Major William H. ``Howdy'' Martin of the Fourth Texas was appointed to present the Brigade's case against consolidation to President Davis.

January 1865

On New Year's Day, 1865, the Texas Brigade and the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia anxiously anticipated the results of a plan initiated by the Richmond Examiner in mid-December 1864. The newspaper had called upon the citizens of Richmond to provide Lee's deprived and hungry men with a sumptuous New Year's dinner in appreciation for their valor in defending the cities of Richmond and Petersburg. Although rumors of fresh meat, turkey, and vegetables had raised the men's hopes and morale very high, most of the army received far too little to satisfy their expectations. Seeing that their longed-for dinner was hardly a change from their meager daily rations, the Texas Brigade chose to donate their share of the ``feast'' to the orphaned and poor of Richmond. The Texans and Arkansans were praised by the newspapers for their ``spirit of self-denial,'' but, as Thomas McCarty of the First Texas later wrote, ``I hardly think they would have done so if there had been sufficient [food] for the men to eat.'' Adding to the disappointment of the New Year's dinner, the Texas Brigade faced another month of poor and scant rations. Robert Lowry of the Third Arkansas reported that on January 16 and 17 he was issued only corn.

Although the hardships in the trenches around Richmond were severe during the war's final winter, the Texas Brigade found opportunity for distraction and pleasure. ``The Field Varieties'' and ``Hood's Minstrels'' played nightly in the brigade theater. The ``Varieties'', named for division commander Charles Field, featured Mollie Bailey and her sister Pauline Kirkland. Mollie was the wife of Gus Bailey of the Third Arkansas, the leader of Hood's Minstrels. Other distractions were provided by the ``great revival of religion'' that swept through the Army of Northern Virginia during the winter. Many Texans and Arkansans dated ``their eternal salvation'' from the meetings they attended in the brigade chapel. Still others in the brigade found pleasure in more earthy pursuits. Mark Smithers of the Fifth Texas wrote home that the Texas Brigade was camped near a small settlement (probably Rockett's) that was ``swarming with pretty girls, so you see we do not lack for amusement.'' O. T. Hanks of the First Texas wrote of running the provost blockade, going ``on a big whoopee,'' and ``painting [the town] red.''

On January 2, Secretary of War James Seddon referred to General Lee the December 1864 correspondence from Col. Frederick S. Bass that requested a furlough home for the entire Texas Brigade for the purpose of replenishing its depleted ranks. On January 15, Lee indorsed the letter back to Seddon remarking that the opening of the spring campaign was ``near at hand'' and that although ``no brigade [had] done nobler service or gained more credit for its State [and] though I should be much gratified at every indulgence shown to this brigade I cannot recommend this.'' Seddon wrote back to Bass, ``in view of General Lee's indorsement, the application is reluctantly denied.''

In early January, Major William H. ``Howdy'' Martin of the Fourth Texas sought and gained an appointment with President Davis to present the Texas Brigade's case against consolidation. General Lee was also present at the meeting. Martin made his ``no merger'' appeal to Davis and Lee while flaunting the battle-scarred flag of one of the Texas regiments. Afterwards, Lee remarked to Davis, ``Mr. President, before you pass upon that request, I want to say I never ordered that Brigade to hold a place, that they did not hold it.'' Impressed by both Martin's appeal and Lee's endorsement, Davis said, ``Major Martin, as long as there is a man to carry that battle flag, you shall remain a brigade.'' Thus the Texas Brigade remained a separate entity by executive order.

On January 21, Gen. Lee presented to Col. Bass several gold stars that he had received from a young lady in Texas. The lady had made the stars from a precious gold keepsake, and she wished that they be bestowed as testimonials to the bravest men of the Texas Brigade. In his letter to Bass, Lee requested that the brigade commander present the stars for he could ``with more certainty than any other, bestow them in accordance with the wishes of the donor.'' It was decided that the recipients of the gold star awards would be selected by their fellow soldiers. Each regiment received two stars, except for the Fourth Texas, which received three.

By the end of January, the Confederate cause appeared hopelessly lost. The Shenandoah Valley had been laid waste, Atlanta and Fort Fisher had fallen, and the Union blockade was strangling the South. The Army of Northern Virginia was losing hundreds of men to desertion each month. The Confederate government was in turmoil. In spite of all these ominous signs, the Texas Brigade held a mass meeting on January 24 to proclaim their resolve and loyalty to the Confederate cause. A prologue and eight resolutions were drafted by a committees of five men from each of the four regiments of the brigade. Copies of the ``Resolutions of the Texas Brigade'' were distributed to the Confederate civil and military high commands, the state officials of Texas and Arkansas, and all interested Southern newspapers.

The Resolutions expressed the desire of the Texas Brigade to continue the war ``to the last extremity'' and to rid the country ``of the hated and despised foe'' or ``die in the attempt.'' ``Let us go on,'' the committees wrote, ``Peace must come sooner or later, and with it our independence. Our final triumph is certain and inevitable, and our subjugation is an impossibility.'' The Resolutions proclaimed confidence in both Davis and Lee, ``the great soldier, father, and friend of his army.'' The Texas Brigade invited ``all organizations in the Armies of the Confederate States to come forward,'' as they had done to express their ``sentiments,'' ``unalterable purpose,'' and ``their determination to conquer an honorable peace.''

February 1865

In early February, Col. Frederick Bass of the Texas Brigade presided over a ceremony in which gold stars for bravery were awarded to nine outstanding members of the brigade. Those stars were awarded to the following men: Pvt. William Durham (Co. D, First Texas), Pvt. James Knight (Co. H, First Texas), Cpl. James Burke (Co. B, Fourth Texas), Sgt. James Patterson (Co. D, Fourth Texas), Cpl. W. C. May (Co. H, Fourth Texas), Sgt. C. Welborn (Co. F, Fifth Texas), Sgt. Jacob Hemphill (Co. H, Fifth Texas), Pvt. J. D. Staples (Co. E, Third Arkansas), and Pvt. J. W. Cook (Co. H, Third Arkansas).

Years after the war, Hemphill and O. T. Hanks of the First reported that only five stars were presented -- three gold and two silver. Hemphill said he received a silver one. An attempt to learn the name of the lady donor was made at a meeting of the Hood's Texas Brigade Association in 1908. Although Hemphill suggested they came from a ``Miss Fuller of Houston,'' no final decision was reached.

March- April 1865

Early March found the Texas Brigade manning the same Richmond defenses they had occupied all winter. By mid-March, Lee with less than 50,000 men, many of them not fit for duty, faced an ever-increasing Federal army that now numbered close to 112,000. A desperate final Confederate offensive was launched on March 25, against Federal-held Fort Stedman directly east of Petersburg.  The Confederates succeeded in capturing the fort but were forced to retire before a vigorous Federal counter-attack. Lee could ill afford to lose the 4,000 men sacrificed in the battle.

The Confederate position at Petersburg completely collapsed on April 1, when General Phil Sheridan, the hard-driving Federal cavalry commander, routed George Pickett at Five Forks, eighteen miles southwest of the beleaguered city. The way to the Southside Railroad, the last iron artery connecting Petersburg with the South, now lay open to direct Federal attack. Longstreet, at about 7:00 o’clock on Saturday night April 1, received word from Lee to send a division of infantry from the Richmond defenses to Petersburg as soon as possible. Field’s Division received the assignment and was ordered to march to Richmond and board the train for the trip south. The brigades of John Bratton and Henry L. Benning were to leave first, then after a five-hour interval, the Texas Brigade and Law’s Brigade were to follow with G. T. Anderson’s Brigade bringing up the rear a few hours later. General Richard Ewell was ordered to occupy the lines vacated by Field’s Division with local troops. The Texas Brigade received orders late on the night of the 1st to be ready to march early next morning.

Grant, noting the seriousness of Lee’s position, ordered a grand offensive all along his line at 7:00 o’clock on Sunday morning, April 2. Lee, at 10:00 o’clock on the same morning telegraphed President Davis, who was attending church in Richmond, “I advise that all preparations be made for leaving Richmond tonight.” The exodus of the Confederate government and army from the capital began promptly.

That same morning, Colonel R. M. Powell led the Texans and Arkansans out of the trenches at daylight. The Brigade, following Law’s Alabamans marched past the suburb of Rocketts and through Richmond to the corner of Byrd and Eighth Streets, where they boarded the cars of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad. Arriving at Petersburg about noon on April 2, the Brigade took position along the north side of the Appomattox.

On the night of April 2, General Lee, with his right flank crushed and pressure all along his front, ordered the weary veterans to evacuate the Richmond and Petersburg lines. The Southern army, wider Federal fire and in the midst of burning cities and countryside, hurried westward through the valley of the Appomattox. Lee’s immediate goal was Amelia Court House, about forty miles west of Petersburg. Here, he hoped to unite his scattered forces and find ample rations for his famished army. Lee’s ultimate destination was Danville, Virginia, 125 miles southwest & Petersburg. Once he reached this city he would be in position to join forces with Joseph E. Johnston’s Army retreating north before Sherman through the Carolinas.

Orders were for Powell’s command to guard the fords and crossings of the river to prevent the Federals from crossing to the north bank. The Texans remained here on evening of the 2nd guarding the river crossings. Grant made no effort to cross the stream as the Confederate army filed out of town and started its retreat west along the north side of the Appomattox toward Amelia Court House. Just before mid-night on April 2, the Texas Brigade commenced its march westward, bringing up the rear of Lee’s Army. Thus, the Brigade occupied, for the last of many times, the post of honor during the retreat—the rear guard.

As the Texans left Petersburg, the city was in flames; fires and exploding ammunition lit up the sky for miles around. Although the Brigade was without food, the men were not allowed to take bacon from a Confederate storehouse that was set afire near their position. The Brigade plodded on through the night of the 2nd and continued westward during April 3rd unmolested by the enemy. The men were tired and hungry; members of Company M of the First Texas had only a cup of flour per man and no meat. The other companies had little more. On April 4, the Brigade followed the main Confederate army south across the Appomattox to Amelia Court House, a small station on the Richmond and Danville Railroad. Carloads of food were supposed to have been on a siding here, but, by some mistake or Yankee chicanery, the cars had passed on through to Richmond. Lee’s army was forced to remain a day at Amelia Court House while his men foraged for food. At Amelia Court House the Texas Brigade managed to secure a little corn meal from the small stock of food found there. The men made this into a gruel which they ate without salt. The army resumed the march south again on the 5th along the railroad toward Danville. Meanwhile the Federal army had taken up a vigorous pursuit of the harried Southerners

Lee’s advance on April 5, reached only as far as Jetersville, seven miles south of Amelia Court House. Here, the Confederates found their way blocked by Phil Sheridan’s cavalry and Charles Griffin’s Infantry Corps. Cut off from Danville, Lee had no recourse but to turn west. His immediate objective now was Farmville, twenty-three miles distant on the Southside Railroad, where Southern scouts had reported a small stockpile of food and grain. The Texas Brigade maintained its position as the rear guard for Lee’s Army as it moved westward. The Texans and Arkansans constantly had to halt, form a defense line, and parry the probing attacks of A. A. Humphreys’ and H. G. Wright’s Federal skirmishers as they dogged Lee’s retreat. On the night of April 5, the weary Texans were attacked by so strong a force of Federals at Rice’s Station that they needed reinforcements to drive the enemy back. On April 6, at Sayler’s Creek, the commands of Richard Ewell, John B. Gordon, and Richard Anderson with Lee’s wagon train were cut off from the rest of the Confederate army and forced to surrender. The Confederate loss was between 7,000 and 8,000 and amounted to almost one third of Lee’s strength. The Confederate army moved at night toward Farmville by way of Rice Station with the Federals following close behind. The Southerners reached Farmville and the food supply on the morning of April 7, but, as the rations were being distributed, the Federal army came up in strength and forced Lee to hastily evacuate the town.

On April 7th, the Texas Brigade had another brush with the Federals. The Brigade was almost cut off from the rest of the army near Farmville but managed to elude the enemy and cross the Appomattox River on the wagon bridge north of town. As the Brigade retreated west along the hills north of the Appomattox, the long lines of Federal infantry and cavalry were clearly visible following and paralleling Lee’s line of retreat. O. T. Hanks of the First Texas reported that the Brigade was so reduced in strength during this time that the men had to do double duty. In one instance Hanks himself had just finished twenty four hours of duty on the skirmish line and “had not been in the ranks five minutes when f he was called on for another tour.”

All throughout the days of April 7th and 8th the Confederate army, starved and straggling continued to retreat in a westerly direction. After crossing to the north side of the Appomattox and burning the bridges behind him, Lee marched north until he struck the Lynchburg Road and then turned west toward Appomattox Station. As the Texas Brigade plodded westward on April 8, it stopped only a few minutes at a time to rest. There was, according to Hanks, “very little food, no time to forage and no wagons up.” About the only food that the men had to eat was hastily prepared bread that was made by kneading the dough “on a piece of oil cloth or on a piece of bark peeled from a tree.” and then baked “on an iron ramrod or a green stick or a spade.” It was almost midnight on the 8th, when Colonel Robert M. Powell led the Texas Brigade into bivouac two miles east of Appomattox Court House. Colonel Charles Marshall, Lee’s military secretary, unable to sleep because of the noise and the tension, heard the rear guard Texans chant a little Lone Star doggerel as they moved into the Confederate lines:

The race is not to them that’s got

The longest legs to run,

Nor the battle to that people

That shoots the biggest gun.

Early -the next morning, Powell’s Command, after its entry into the lines the night of the 8th, marched to within one mile of Appomattox Court House to make its final stand at the rear of Lee’s Army. This was the last operational march for Hood’s Texas Brigade—the last mile of hundreds of miles that the Brigade had marched over the ravaged land from the forests of Chickamauga to the hills of Gettysburg. The Texans and Arkansans, assuming a defensive position east of the village and north of the stream, built breastworks of rail fences across the old stage road leading in from the northeast.  The men were “ragged, starved, and exhausted.” They had not eaten for three days except for a few scraps of hurriedly prepared bread and biscuits. Fortunately for the Texans they found in the dirt, while gathering branches and breaking down fences to construct their breastworks, scattered kernels of corn that had been spilled where officers had fed their horses. These kernels were eagerly gathered up, brushed off, and eaten. The Texans, regardless of the hopelessness of their situation, like most of Lee’s veterans, prepared their defenses and determined to sell their lives dearly.

By mid-day on April 9, the ominous silence of an informal truce had settled over the valley of the Appomattox. The word spread rapidly that Lee had asked for and had been granted an interview with the Federal commander. As unbelievable as this seemed to the men, it could mean only one thing—General Lee was contemplating surrender. The first news of the surrender was brought to the Brigade by teamsters who had come from the front. The Texans refused to believe their stories and threatened the lives of the teamsters for spreading false news. Finally convinced that the inevitable had taken place, one member of the Brigade dropped his hands despondently and exclaimed, “I’d rather have died than surrendered, but if ‘Marse Bob’ thinks that is best, then all that I have got to say is that Marse Bob is bound to be right as usual.” Other members of the Brigade did not take the news of the surrender so philosophically. Several veterans of the Fifth Texas, when they heard the news bent the barrels of their guns in the fork of a nearby red oak. Others smashed their Enfields against rocks and trees determined that the Federals would not receive usable weapons. Captain W. T. Hill, commander of the Fifth Texas, counseled the men against such senseless action, stating that unless they surrendered their guns in good order they would not receive paroles. His words had the desired effect on several members who tried in vain to straighten their gun barrels in the same fork of the red oak. As it turned out the guns were not inspected when they were surrendered.

On the morning of April 10, the Brigade was formed on the color line to hear their officers read Lee’s Farewell Address and explain the surrender terms. The Texans and Arkansans listened to Lee’s words in silence, many with tears in their eyes. After the formation, Colonel Powell’s men returned to their respective campsites to draw Federal rations and await the summons to surrender their arms and flags. On April 9, Grant had ordered the Federal quartermaster to issue 25,000 rations to the starving Confederates. It was their first substantial meal in weeks.

The formal surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia took place on Wednesday morning, April 12, 1865. The day of the surrender was chilly, and the skies were overcast. The roads were still muddy from the rain that had fallen almost continuously since the 9th. At sunrise on the 12th, there was a stir in the Confederate bivouacs as the soldiers made ready for their last march. Early in the morning the column began to form on the high ground north of the shallow river. No bands were present, and without a beat of a drum the ragged column started through the mud and across the Appomattox toward the Federal lines. Lee’s ragged and gaunt soldiers had stoically maintained their composure until the time came to stack their arms and furl their battle stained banners. At this moment they finally realized that all they had been fighting for through the struggle—the hope for an independent nation—and the comradeship forged on the anvils of bivouac and battle had suddenly came to an end. Many of the veterans dropped to their knees and cried when they placed the ragged battle flags on the stacked arms along the line of surrender. After the sorrowful ceremony the Texans and Arkansans passed by the provost marshal tables, picked up their paroles, and returned to their bivouac area north of the Appomattox. By noon, the formal surrender and the issuance of paroles to Hood’s Texas Brigade had been completed

It is estimated that about 5,300 men had enlisted during the war in the three Texas regiments and the one Arkansas regiment that comprised Hood’s Texas Brigade at Appomattox. Of this number only 617 were left to be paroled on April 12, 1863. Thus, some 4,700 members of the Brigade had been killed in battle, had died of disease, had been invalided home due to sickness and crippling wounds, or had been discharged for being either over or under age — only a few had deserted.

W. H. Hamby, a member of Company B of the Fourth Texas, and after the war a prominent banker at Austin, in the early 1900’s made a detailed study of the strength and the casualties of the three Texas Regiments of Hood’s Brigade. According to Hamby’s findings the First Fourth, and Fifth Texas Infantry regiments enlisted a total of 3.884 men (First Texas, 1,302; Fourth Texas, 1,251; and the Fifth Texas, 1,311). The First Texas lost 332 killed in battle, 476 wounded once, 119 wounded twice, 25 wounded three or more times, and 159 died of disease giving a total of 1,111 casualties and a rate of 85.3 percent. The Fourth Texas lost 316 killed in battle, 431 wounded once, 98 wounded twice, 19 wounded three or more times, and 143 died of disease giving a total of 1,007 casualties and a rate of 80.4 percent. The Fifth Texas lost 303 killed in battle, 506 wounded once, 138 wounded twice, 19 wounded three or more times, and 140 died of disease giving a total of 1,106 casualties and a rate of 83.1 percent.

Although the sun of the Confederacy had set and the bloody experiment in states rights’ government had come to an end, the world would long remember the soldiers of Hood’s Texas Brigade. Few men in the history of modern warfare had fought so long and so well, with so little, and had suffered so many casualties. They were a credit to their American heritage, a credit to the famous army in which they fought and a credit to the states which they represented.

Not for fame or reward, not for place or rank,

Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity,

But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it,

These men suffered all, sacrificed all, endured all . . and died.”

– from the inscription on the Confederate Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, DC

 

Their Journey Home - April to June 1865

Last month’s History of the 4th Texas concluded with their retreat and surrender at Appomattox . But their hardships didn’t end there. After stacking arms the men of the Lone Star State had over 1000 miles of war-torn country to traverse before they could stand on their beloved Texas . The following excerpt from Simpson’s History of the Texas Brigade tells the story.

On the afternoon of April 12, a mass meeting of the Texas companies was held in “the pen,” as the men termed their campsite surrounded by Grant’s soldiers. The purpose of the conclave was to discuss the best way to proceed on the journey home. General Grant had generously ordered that “all officers and men of the Confederate service paroled at Appomattox Court House. . . . [would] be allowed … to pass free on all Government transportation and military railroads.” As the men had little or no negotiable money this was a most welcome order. Several routes of travel were discussed at the meeting. Some members wanted to walk or ride to Yorktown, a hundred and fifty miles east, and take water transportation there for the voyage to New Orleans or Galveston.67 A few wished to remain in Virginia to rest and recuperate before attempting the long journey back to Texas, and others desired to visit relatives in the Southern states before going home.68 The greatest number, however, desired to go overland direct to Texas by the shortest route and fastest way possible.

 

The men of the Third Arkansas had little trouble in deciding on what route to take. Most of them returned to their state by way of Chattanooga and Memphis.GS However, a few elected to g a far as New Orleans with the Texas soldiers, hoping to find transportation up the Mississippi to Arkansas from there. One of these was Robert J. Lowry, a member of Company G of the Third Arkansas, who fortunately kept a diary during the homeward journey.

 

Major William H. “Howdy” Martin, second in command of the Fourth Texas, and Captain W. T. Hill, commander of the Fifth Texas, assumed leadership of the large group that planned to go overland to the Lone Star state. Both of these officers were well-liked men; they had been original members of the Brigade and they had impressive combat records. Martin and Hill decided to lead the men home through Danville , Greensboro , Charlotte , Atlanta , Montgomery , Mobile , New Orleans , and Galveston . By going this route, the footsore veterans could take maximum advantage of the free rail and water transportation that Grant had offered.

 

The great majority of the surviving members of the Brigade, packing up what little personal equipment they had, moved out of “the pen” and toward Danville on the morning of the 13th — by evening, they had walked almost twenty miles. At noon on the following day the group bivouacked near Nowlin’s Mill on Falling Creek. The presence of fresh water and the opportunity to obtain corn meal induced “Lee’s Miserables” to camp here for the remainder of the 14th. The meal was made into bread, and, according to A. B. Green of the Fifth Texas, it was the first bread the Texans had tasted since April 7. The evening of April 14, was the last time that the Brigade bivouacked together. The men soon found that traveling in such a large group had its disadvantages; food in quantity and suitable campsites were difficult to find for so large a number. Hence, small parties splintered off and went their own way along the general route of march as the main body traveled southwest through the Carolinas .

 

The trip back to Texas proved to be tedious and trying. After leaving Nowlin’s Mill the main group of Texans reached the vicinity of Danville on the 15th, where they rested for several days as the stragglers caught up. The hope of riding the railroad from Danville to Montgomery by the way of Atlanta did not materialize because much of the track had been destroyed by the Federal army. The band of ragged Texans with the able bodied helping the lame and sick, walked much of the way through the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama.

When the survivors of Hood’s Texas Brigade passed through North Carolina , they were joined by many Texans who were veterans of the Army of Tennessee that had surrendered to W. T. Sherman on April 26, at Durham Station. Among the parolees from Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee was Major George, who had been Hood’s Quartermaster in Virginia and had followed the General to Georgia in 1864. George still had with him the same Durham cow that he had brought from Texas in 1861, and that had followed his wagon train through the four years of war. As the cow was still giving milk, Major George was a welcome addition to the hungry party heading for home.

 

While John H. Reagan, President Davis and other members of the Confederate Cabinet and Congress were at Charlotte , North Carolina , during the flight from Richmond , the Texas Brigade passed through that city on their way home. According to ex-Postmaster General Reagan, Major Howdy Martin commanding the contingent of veterans from Virginia gave the presidential party the first details of Lee’s surrender and informed Reagan that a number of blank Federal parole forms had “fallen” into his hands. “At my request,” wrote Reagan,” he [Martin] gave me some of them [parole forms], and later both Senator Wigfall and Secretary [of the Navy] Mallory used them in passing through the Federal lines.

 

The advance party of Martin’s and Hill’s “command” reached Montgomery on May 7. Here the Texans were assigned temporary quarters in a large two-story building near the center of town. After five days, 400 Texas veterans (and a few Arkansans) had assembled at the first capital of the Confederacy awaiting water transportation to Mobile . Finally on May 11, Major Martin was notified that the steamer scheduled to transport his men down the Alabama River to Mobile had arrived. However, the ship designated for their use was loaded with supplies and equipment for the Union garrison at Montgomery . The Texans were told that if they wanted the transport they would have to unload it. The veterans, stripped to the waist and working in shifts, accomplished the job in six hours, a job that normally took the regular fifty man Negro dock crew twenty-four hours to do. Upon viewing the huge stack of Federal supplies and equipment that had just been unloaded, one of the Texans blurted out, “Boys, we could have never whipped the Yankees”. Late on the afternoon of the 11th, the tired Texans boarded the steamer Groesbeck for Mobile.

At Selma , fifty miles down the muddy, meandering Alabama , Martin’s men were put ashore to make way for a Federal Corps D’Afrique regiment that had a higher priority. After a day’s layover in the Alabama river town, the Texans boarded the steamer Lockwood for Mobile . The Texans spent five enjoyable days at the Alabama gulf port — May 14 to the l8th. Here they were assigned good quarters and were issued ample rations.

 

On the morning of the 18th, Major Martin and Captain Hill marshaled their men aboard the gulf steamer Iberville for New Orleans . Hood’s veterans, after a rough voyage across Lake Pontchartrain, during which time their ship almost capsized in a squall, reached the Crescent City on May 19th. Immediately upon landing, their paroles were endorsed by the local provost marshal, after which they were assigned uncomfortable quarters in a large cotton shed. No mattresses, cots or blankets were issued to the men and only their threadbare army blankets “cushioned” them from the rough floors. Here, unlike the free rein and genial treatment that they had enjoyed in Mobile , a Negro company was assigned to guard them. 0ie of the first acts of their guards was to cut the brass CSA buttons off the gray jackets the Confederates wore. Rather than give members of the corps D’Afrique the satisfaction of sniping buttons, most of the Texans cut off their own buttons and pocketed them.

 

The parolees were detained at New Orleans for nine days awaiting free water transportation to Galveston . Except for the uncomfortable living accommodations, occasional heckling by their Negro guards, and their anxiety to get home, it was an enjoyable interlude. The Irish women in town were particularly hospitable to the Texans and, in certain instances brought baskets of food to the cotton shed where the men were quartered or they invited the veterans into their homes. These kindhearted women also saw to it that each Texan was supplied with a suit of civilian clothes before he left New Orleans .

 

Transportation for Galveston had been arranged for May 29th. Early that morning, the veterans of Lee’s Army, wearing a mixture of civilian clothes and Confederate grays, filed down to the clock area and boarded the Hendrick Hudson, ready to start the last leg of their long trek home. However, before the steamer could pull away from the pier, the clanging of fire bells and a column of smoke near the residence of one of their benefactors induced the impulsive Texans to desert the ship and help fight the fire. After six hours the men straggled back to the ship and an angry ship captain. By half past four in the afternoon, the small steamer was on its way down the Mississippi .

 

Transportation delays and hard luck still dogged the homeward bound soldiers. As the Hendrick Hudson approached the mouth of the Mississippi at daybreak on the 30th, it ran aground on a mud flat and remained there despite the efforts of two tugs to move it off. Finally, a boat was sent to Fort Jackson and a telegram sent to New Orleans for another ship. For almost two days the men remained in their cramped quarters, their clothes wringing wet from the heat and humidity of the Mississippi Delta. On May 31, the Exact, a freighter bound for Galveston , picked up the marooned Texans. Unfortunately, the good Samaritan turned out to be a filthy, ill-kept vessel. The odor of body heat and bilge water, coupled with poor ventilation, finally drove the Texans from the hold onto the deck and under the broiling sun. The mass movement from the hold to the deck almost capsized the poorly constructed freighter.

 

On June 2, the Exact reached Texas and steamed slowly through the Federal blockading fleet anchored off of Galveston . On the same day that the Texans reached Galveston , General E. Kirby Smith surrendered the last important Confederate army, the Army of the Trans-Mississippi, to General Edward Canby in the port city. General E. J. Davis, commander of the Federal troops at the port and later to be the last Reconstruction governor of Texas , refused to let Martin’s men land and ordered the vessel to remain at anchor in the bay for several hours. At noon on the 2nd the steamer finally tied up at the wharf — the first civilian ship to enter the port after the war.’° The veterans of Hood’s Brigade “with a yell” swarmed ashore, many of the men touching Texas soil for the first time in almost four years.

 

A delegation of prominent Galvestonians was on hand to welcome the returning veterans. Their spokesman informed Major Martin and Captain Hill that the citizens of Houston were expecting the men to attend a series of welcome home dinners and bails in the Bayou City that same evening. However, Galveston was in a state of turmoil, primarily due to the Smith-Canby capitulation negotiations taking place there, and Post Commander Davis denied the returning soldiers the use of the Buffalo Bayou steamer for the trip to Houston .

 

The people of Galveston , who had furnished Company L of the First Texas Regiment to the Brigade, not to be denied by Davis ’ decision, came forward with a transportation scheme that made the trip to Houston possible. The townspeople quickly located an old rusty railroad engine and several dilapidated flat cars at the roundhouse of the Galveston , Houston , and Henderson Railroad. The townspeople, assisted by the soldiers, soon had the engine in working order and, by sunset, the “Homecoming Special” was ready for departure. Just before the veterans boarded the train a group of Irish women came out from town and swept the cars. The exploits of Hood’s Texas Brigade in the East were well known to all Texans, and the people at home vied with each other to pay homage to veterans of the Army of Northern Virginia.

 

The special train left Galveston at dusk for the fifty-mile run to Houston . After a hectic night trip on an uneven roadbed under the unsteady hand of an amateur engineer, the wheezing locomotive with its string of crowded cars finally reached its destination. Although it was near midnight, a large crowd was on hand to greet the soldiers and to escort them to the round of parties and pleasures planned for them.

 

On the following day, June 3, after a gala dinner for the Brigade, and the farewells and handclasps that followed, those survivors of Hood’s Texas Brigade that had journeyed home with Major Martin and Captain Hill, disbanded. They left Houston singly, in pairs or in small groups bound for their home communities — they were now shadows of history and legend. “There let us drop the curtain,” wrote Captain W. T. Hill, the last commander of the Fifth Texas, for the great drama was over.



Last update: 23 April 2012