January 1862 - December 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.
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.
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.
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.''
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.
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.
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.)
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'snewly 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."
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.'
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.
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. Benningand 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.
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.