At Ease: Forward with the Texas Brigade
"The Texas Brigade has always driven the enemy"
Initially organized in October 1861 in Richmond, Virginia, and commanded by General Louis T. Wigfall, the Texas Brigade was comprised of the 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas Infantry Regiments, the only Texas units to fight in the Eastern Theater. Other regiments moved in and out of the brigade during the war, including the 18th Georgia, part of Hampton's Legion, and the 3rd Arkansas. John Bell Hood was promoted to brigadier general on March 2, 1862, and took command of the brigade, giving them their name even though he directly commanded the brigade for just six months. Organized as part of the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, the brigade fought in at least 24 battles in 1862, including Gaines Mill, Second Manassas, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. They missed the Battle of Chancellorsville, attacked ferociously at Gettysburg, and battled in the Overland Campaign. The brigade's fierce reputation came at a high cost: a 61% casualty rate. Only about 600 members stood to surrender at Appomattox at the end of the war. In this week's email, you'll find some primary sources focused on the Texas Brigade and a new battle highlighting the unit during the Battle of the Wilderness.
Details from "Hood's Texas Brigade" by Don Troiani.
The question was not limited to Central Virginia, and we collected quite a few responses, answering: "What's your favorite battlefield account or other historical moment for the Texas Brigade?" Once again, Antietam took first place while The Wilderness followed as a close second. Gaines Mill and Gettysburg tied for third.
The Snowball Fight at Fredericksburg
During the winter of 1862-1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia encamped near Fredericksburg. On January 29, 1863, Sergeant William Mosely wrote a letter describing the Texans in a unique battle: “The Snow is about a foot deep, and we have had a fine time today. We had Several Battles today, though we fought with Snow balls. first a Texas Brigade attacked ours, and we got the best of the fight, and then a South Carolina Brigade attacked us and then our Brigade and the Texas Combined and faned them out, drove them through their Camps… . I tell you it is Amusing to See two or three thousand men get to throwing Snow balls at each other.”
Texas Brigade Soldiers, Winter of 1861-1862
What About Chancellorsville?
Since the Texas Brigade was assigned to Longstreet's Corps, they did not participate in the Battle of Chancellorsville. Instead, with the rest of the corps, they marched into southern Virginia, where Longstreet sieged Suffolk and collected food supplies and forage outside of Central Virginia.
New Video: The Brigade at The Wilderness
Joseph B. Polley wrote a collection of letters, including this excerpt about the Texas Brigade's famous moment during the Battle of Wilderness in May 1864.
Spotsylvania: "When they came over our works"
D.H. Hamilton wrote a History of Company M: First Texas Volunteer Infantry after the war, and here's how he remembered the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House" "A few days later we fought the battle of Spotsylvania Court House where the Federals charged over the works of our regiment and we had a hand to hand fight with them. We killed nine of the Federals in front of our company, inside of the works. They killed one man and frightened a good many very badly, myself among the number. The command that charged us was drunk. When they came over our works the situation looked ugly but there was no time or inclination to pass the compliments of the day with them. There was nothing to do but fight and we soon cleaned them up. They did not have the nerve to stand the cold steel. They bolted back over the works and took to their heels across the field. This was our opportunity and we mowed them down in piles as they attempted to escape. In a few moments it was over and the field in front of us was strewn with dead and wounded Federals. This was the end of that fight. We remained there a day or two waiting for the Federals to either move or fight; they finally started in the direction of the James River and General Lee moved his army accordingly, keeping between the Federal Army and Richmond. "
Central Virginia Battlefields Trust's mission is to preserve, protect, and educate about Civil War hallowed ground at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.