‘The rollicking, rascally and brave boys from the Lone Star state’
The American Civil War brought forth several notable soldiers and commanders on both the Union and Confederate sides of the conflict. Sometimes the man and the men they led became both exceptional and inextricably linked. The principal character of this book, Confederate general Lawrence Sullivan (Sul) Ross and his Texas Cavalry Brigade were one such outstanding pairing. Ross was a professional soldier who had seen action in the south-west against native American tribes before the war. He was, in fact, during the campaigns against the Comanches, one of those responsible for liberating Cynthia Parker, mother of Quanah Parker. Ross’s Brigade, C. S. A., were not always under the command of Ross, but their success and prowess under his command has linked them forever. Indeed, these cavalry regiments were not always mounted, and served with distinction for a period as infantry. Ross’s brigade consisted of the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 27th (sometimes known as the ‘Legion’) Texas cavalry regiments. This famous unit saw hard service in many engagements of the conflict including the Atlanta Campaign. All are graphically described in this special two-in-one Leonaur volume, which, recounted by those who witnessed these events, details the incredible history of not only one of the most famous active units of the American Civil War, but also the career of their fine leader.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
The next day early we were on the march northward. That morning when I awoke I felt a presentiment that if we had to fight during that day I would be wounded, and no effort of mine was sufficient to remove the impression, even for a moment. As the weather was quite cold, visions of the horrors of going to prison in midwinter troubled me, since a wound that would put me past riding my horse would mean that I would be left to fall into the enemy’s hands.
Near noon we came to Davis’ Mill, near the Tennessee line, not far from Lagrange, Tenn., where we made an effort to destroy a railroad bridge and trestle on Wolfe River. It was guarded by 250 troops, commanded by Colonel William H. Morgan of the Twenty-Fifth Indiana Infantry. We were fooling about this place three hours perhaps, and it was late before I understood the meaning of our manoeuvres. Our brigade was dismounted, double-quicked here and double-quicked there, double-quicked back to our horses, remounted, galloped off to another place, double-quicked again somewhere else and back to our horses. Then, remounting, we took another gallop and double-quicked again to the only tangible thing I saw during the day, and that was to charge a blockhouse or stockade.
The enemy was in what they called a blockhouse, constructed by taking an old sawmill as a foundation and piling up cotton bales and cross-ties, and throwing up some earthworks. Approaching this by a wagon road we came to a bridge across a slough perhaps two hundred yards from their fort. We met their first bullets here, as part of their fire could be concentrated on this bridge. Crossing a little river bottom, entirely open except for a few large white oak trees, we came to a bridge across Wolfe River about seventy yards from their works. To charge in column across this bridge under their concentrated fire was the only chance to get to them, but coming to this bridge we found that the floor was all gone, leaving only three stringers about ten inches square, more or less, on which we could cross. Running along the bank up the river to the right was a levee some three feet high.
The men in front, five or six impetuous fellows, running on to the stringers, one of them fell as he started across, and the others crossed the river. When I reached the bridge the command was deploying behind the levee without attempting to cross. I remained near the bridge. By this time, I was more fatigued, I thought, than I had ever been, with the perspiration streaming off my face, cold as the day was. Here we kept up a fire at the smoke of the enemy’s guns, as we could not see anything else, until a courier could find General Van Dorn, inform him of the situation and ascertain his wishes as to the advisability of our attempting to cross the river. Anxious to know what had become of the men that went onto the bridge, I rose up and looked over the levee. One of them had been killed and was lying in the edge of the water, and the others were crouched under the opposite bank of the river out of immediate danger.
While this observation only required a moment of time and a moment’s exposure above the levee, I distinctly felt a minie ball fan my right cheek. While I had not doubted for a moment that I was going to be shot somewhere sometime during the day, this narrow escape of having a minie ball plough through my cheek was very unpleasant. The thought of the ugly scar such a wound would leave flashed into my mind, and wondering where I was to be wounded I settled down behind the levee and continued firing my Sharps’ rifle without exposing myself. Finally, we were ordered to fall back.
As soon as we were on our feet, and while crossing the little bottom, we would again be exposed to the enemy’s fire, so the command fell back at double-quick. I rose and started, and, looking around, I saw Lieutenant Germany fall, and turned back to assist him, supposing he was shot; but as I approached him he jumped up and passed me, laughing, having merely stumbled and fallen. This threw me behind everybody. I soon found I was so fatigued that I could not double-quick at all, so I slowed up into an ordinary walk. The command, in the meantime, to avoid the fire that could be concentrated on the slough bridge, had flanked off to the left some distance above, and crossed on chunks and logs that had fallen in the slough.
Very soon I was the only target for the men in the blockhouse, and they shot at me for sheer amusement. At last a ball struck me on the right thigh. Thinking it was broken, I stopped, bearing all my weight on my left foot, and, selecting a large white oak nearby, intending, if I could not walk to manage somehow to pull myself behind this to shield myself, I waited for “something to turn up.” Soon learning, however, that my thigh was not broken, I moved on. Rather than lose time in going up to where the command had crossed and run the risk of being left behind, supposing that on reaching the horses they would mount and move off, I determined to cross on the bridge, which I did in a slow walk, and am sure there was no less than a hundred shots fired at me.