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Spartan Band

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In Spartan Band (coined from a chaplain's eulogistic poem) author Thomas Reid traces the Civil War history of the 13th Texas Cavalry, a unit drawn from eleven counties in East Texas. The cavalry regiment organized in the spring of 1862 but was ordered to dismount once in Arkansas. The regiment gradually evolved into a tough, well-trained unit during action at Lake Providence, Fort De Russy, Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, and Jenkins' Ferry, as part of Maj. Gen. John G. Walker's Texas division in the Trans-Mississippi Department. Reid researched letters, documents, and diaries gleaned from more than one hundred descendants of the soldiers, answering many questions relating to their experiences and final resting places. He also includes detailed information on battle casualty figures, equipment issued to each company, slave ownership, wealth of officers, deaths due to disease, and the effects of conscription on the regiment's composition. "The hard-marching, hard-fighting soldiers of the 13th Texas Cavalry helped make Walker's Greyhound Division famous, and their story comes to life through Thomas Reid's exhaustive research and entertaining writing style. This book should serve as a model for Civil War regimental histories."—Terry L. Jones, author of Lee's Tigers

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Chapter 1 Burnett’s Texas Mounted Volunteers

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Chapter 1

Burnett’s Texas Mounted Volunteers

★★★

“Nine out of every ten men I see are going to the army.”

—First Sgt. John T. Stark1

The year 1861 had been one of crucial decisions and actions for

Texans. In January a state convention was called to consider relations with the federal government. Results of the 1860 presidential election gave the Republican opponents of slavery and compromise a victory that threatened the fundamental basis of the Southern society and economy.

The convention’s representatives voted on February 1 to sever their ties with Abraham Lincoln’s incoming administration and the Union. On

February 23, Texas voters approved the measure by a large majority. The ordinance of secession, made effective March 2, 1861, reversed the 1845 annexation of Texas as a state. Gov. Sam Houston, an ardent opponent of the measures, refused to affiliate himself with the Confederacy and was forced out of office, leading to the confirmation of Lieutenant Governor

Edward Clark to the governorship. In a series of quick actions, taken before the popular votes were cast, the state organized volunteers and seized federal military installations and supply depots in San Antonio.

 

Chapter 2 The Regiment is Reorganized

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Chapter 2

The Regiment is Reorganized

★★★

“Most of the boys seem to enjoy them selves fine.”

—Lt. Andrew Smyth1

Early in May 1862, the soldiers of the 13th Texas Cavalry learned that the Confederate Congress had passed the Conscription Act on

April 16, 1862. The timing of the Act, one week after the huge losses at Shiloh, also followed declining enlistments. This law made all white males between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five subject to military conscription. Those under eighteen or over thirty-five were exempt from service but could voluntarily become substitutes for someone of eligible age. Existing units were required to discharge exempted soldiers and then “reorganize” with new elections being held for company and regimental officers. Discharged soldiers could not participate in the elections, but they could be kept on active duty for ninety days if the unit was at less than full strength.2

The Act had a number of very negative consequences for the

13th Cavalry. Virtually all the enlisted soldiers with combat experience in the Mexican War were lost because of their age. Many family units, which had a stabilizing influence on the organization, were separated. The Confederacy sent an unfortunate and inaccurate

 

Chapter 3 From Red River to White River

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Chapter 3

From Red River to White River

★★★

“We was compelled to take it afoot.”

— Pvt. Thomas Rounsaville1

Leaving Camp McCulloch on July 2, the 13th Cavalry traveled through Gilmer in Upshur County and spent the Fourth of July in camp four miles north of Coffeeville on Cypress Bayou. By July 8, the regiment had passed Hickory Hill and Linden in Cass County on the way to the Texas state line. The weather was hot, but not excessively so. In the afternoons, breaks were called every hour or so, to take advantage of roadside shade. Capt. William Blewett of Company

H wrote,

Several of the boys are complaining but all of them are able to ride . . . we are traveling from fifteen to twenty miles a day which will reduce our horses but very little. So far we have found plenty of corn but the probability is that in some places between this and Little Rock we will be scarce. Our stock are generally in fine order at this time and the only difficulty now is to get them shod, a great many of them being tender footed and the roads are rocky and very rough.2

 

Chapter 4 The Trials of a Bitter Winter

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Chapter 4

The Trials of a Bitter Winter

★★★

“We have had a cold time lying on the ground and eating pore beef.”—Pvt. Sherwood F. Spivey1

The 13th Texas Cavalry was ordered back to Camp Hope on October

10. Joined by the other regiments of their brigade, they marched about seventeen miles that day. The night of the tenth was marked by hail, and in the morning the sleepless men were greeted by cold rain that turned to sleet. The north wind gained force, the temperature dropped below freezing, and the rain still fell. Numbed by cold, marching across a partially flooded prairie, many of the sick were unwilling or unable to go on. The healthy soldiers had to help them on foot because the supply wagons were already finding it nearly impossible to get through the mud and could carry no more weight. After fourteen miles, some higher ground was located, and large fires were built. The sick huddled around them listlessly, more dead than alive. It was impossible to prepare any food as the rain continued and the freezing wind blew.2

 

Chapter 5 The Vicksburg Campaign

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Chapter 5

The Vicksburg Campaign

★★★

“The damned old Arkansas never did have anything in it.”

—Col. John H. Burnett1

Once settled at Camp Mills, General Walker ordered that each company in the division could grant leave to two soldiers. Captains were authorized to grant the fortunate soldiers leave for forty-five days on Wednesday, February 4. Many others were granted sixty days sick leave by medical authorities in January and February 1863.

Some improvements were noted, the first being the weather, which became clear and warmer. Newer tents, blankets, and shoes were issued from the depot at Little Rock. The roads passing through

Camp Mills became so muddy and degraded by heavy traffic that they were a constant problem for teamsters bringing supplies to the regiments. A better site for the camp was identified four miles northwest of Pine Bluff and the division relocated from Camp Mills to Camp Wright on February 9, 1863. Many of the extreme physical adversities they had experienced over the past four months seemed to be behind them. The camp’s fields were described by Blessington as, “covered over with white tents, arranged with street-like precision, with regiments or battalions on parade or review, with martial music echoing along the riverbank, from splendid bands . . .

 

Chapter 6 Texans in the Bayou Country

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Chapter 6

Texans in the Bayou Country

★★★

“I do long to be at home. My very soul is sick of all this noise and turmoil.”

—Capt. John T. Stark, Company H, 13th Texas Cavalry1

A week after the 13th Texas arrived at Delhi, the rest of the division joined the East Texans. They soon learned that General McCulloch’s brigade had enjoyed momentary success in battle at Milliken’s Bend, nearly destroying a major Federal supply storage depot. Finally, though, they had been repulsed by a Union counterattack. Their own brigade had fared no better in its Young’s Point mission than had the 13th Texas at Lake Providence. With Burnett’s regiment detached, General Hawes was at a numerical disadvantage from the beginning. The twenty-eighthour operation began with a long night march and continued with difficulties finding the bridges on the route and intense heat. The soldiers, weakened by disease and bad water, were in no condition to attack when they reached their objective. Cpl. Bluford A. Cameron of Company B, 18th Texas Infantry, described the battle. “We marched on the

 

photo section

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Chapter 7 Long Road to Mansfield

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Chapter 7

Long Road to Mansfield

★★★

“Aim low boys, and trust in God.”

—Maj. Gen. John G. Walker1

The stillness of Camp Rogers, and indeed of all of Avoyelles Parish, was shattered on Sunday, March 13, 1864. The enemy had landed, and was on the march from Simmesport. As the division wagon trains were loaded and moved toward Cheneyville, the 13th Texas and Waul’s first brigade quickly marched to reinforce the bridges on the primary avenue of approach.2 General Scurry’s third brigade was stationed the farthest forward, near Yellow Bayou, four miles west of Simmesport. After determining the overwhelming strength of the invasion force, Scurry withdrew to the long bridge on Bout de Bayou, ten miles east of Marksville on the Simmesport road. The 13th Texas and the other regiments of Waul’s first brigade marched as far as Scurry’s position, but were ordered four miles back and placed in reserve between Scurry’s brigade and Randal’s second brigade, which was guarding the bridge on Bayou de Lac, eight miles from Bout de Bayou. An unusually dry winter had turned the swamps, normally a natural barrier to Union movements, into solid ground, converting a maze of natural defensive wetlands into a broad field of battle, surrounded by major watercourses; the only exit for Walker’s Division was the bridge on Bayou de Lac.3

 

Chapter 8 The Battle of Pleasant Hill

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Chapter 8

The Battle of Pleasant Hill

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“His loss is lamented by the Regiment more than any man that has fallen.”

—Capt. James B. Rounsaville, Company E,

13th Texas Cavalry.1

The losses to the 13th Texas had been significant at Mansfield. If the experiences of the other regiments in Walker’s Division were any indication, the 13th lost at least three killed, ten wounded, and two missing.2

Of those killed, it was known that Pvt. James B. Carleton of Company

H and Lieutenant Runnels, whose company was not reported, died in battle at Mansfield on April 8.3 Initial reports listed as many as forty-six men missing, since most of the wounded were evacuated away from the regiment to field hospitals in Mansfield.4 Few soldiers of the 13th

Texas would have had more than a fitful nap on their weapons that night, knowing they were guarding the Shreveport road from thirsty

Yankees soldiers just a few yards away from the position on Chapman’s

Bayou. First light at Pleasant Grove revealed a more hopeful reality.

Union troops had not altogether lost their enthusiasm for flight the previous evening, and had silently slipped away from their defensive positions in the darkness, after capturing a few Confederates who made it clear that they intended to continue the battle. There was little time for

 

Chapter 9 A Battle at Jenkins’ Ferry

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Chapter 9

A Battle at Jenkins’ Ferry

★★★

“Now what few citizens are left sit and look on coldly while our army march through and not a single smile to cheer us, or a single kerchief waving good will to us and our cause.” —Capt. John T. Stark, Company H1

After a few hours’ sleep, on the night of April 10, 1864, the Texans moved four miles farther north and camped near a creek. One of the six soldiers listed as missing in action, Pvt. Thomas Cliburne of Company

K, rejoined them.2 That evening word came that Union gunboats and troop transports were steaming up the Red River toward Shreveport.

To counter this threat, the division began moving north in the morning. A series of short marches brought it to Shreveport on April 15.

The gunboats were having a very difficult time with constant Rebel harassment and low water and had reversed course. A new challenge to

Walker’s Division appeared: a Union force under Maj. Gen. Frederick

Steele forced its way south to occupy Camden, Arkansas.3 The Federals’ original intention had been to join General Banks in Shreveport but this plan had clearly failed. Confederate cavalry commanded by General Sterling Price harassed Steele, but without infantry, Price could not compel Steele to withdraw.4

 

Chapter 10 Home With Their Shields

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Chapter 10

Home With Their Shields

★★★

“I would like . . . to see if you have improved much on

Master Jeff’s diet or not. As for myself I fatten every day.

If the war lasts much longer I shall apply to Mas’ Jeff for transportation as I am getting almost too corpulent to march afoot.”1

—Sgt. Maj. Henry Ralph, 13th Texas Cavalry

Camden’s fortifications were completed toward the end of the week of November 7, 1864. The weather was beginning to turn cool and wet, and moving to winter quarters was on everyone’s mind. After brigade chapel services on Sunday, November 13, the division began to pack up. The initial goal was Camp Sumter, near Lewisville, Arkansas. On Monday, they marched south to camp near Mount Holly, as heavy rains began to turn the usually poor roads to ankle deep mud.

For the next four days, rain and mud slowed the column to a crawl. The supply wagons fell farther and farther behind. Pvt. Milton Gaines recorded, “We waded in water from shoe mouth to waist deep [until we] got three miles west of Lewisville.” When the division reached Camp

 

Chapter 11 Epilogue

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Chapter 11

Epilogue

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“I want to be at home where I can get a good water to drink and milk and butter to eat and clean clothes to

[wear] and where I can go to church on Sunday.”1

—Pvt. Lorenzo Dow Fulton, Company D, 13th Texas

Unlike their friends and brothers who served east of the Mississippi, the soldiers of the 13th Texas Cavalry suffered no serious defeat in battle and were never disarmed. Most were paroled only as Union occupation forces moved through their home counties. Some, like Capt.

Charles H. Jones of Tyler County, probably delayed their personal surrender until it was discovered that he could not vote or run for office without it.2 Capt. William D. Wood of Gould’s 6th Cavalry Battalion related that rather than returning to the Yankees the famous guns of the

“Val Verde” Battery, captured in New Mexico, they were dismounted and buried by Captain Nettles and his men near Fairfield in Freestone

County, Texas.3 The average enlisted soldiers, like Privates Milton P.

Gaines or Lorenzo D. Fulton of Anderson County, had little interest in anything beyond their families, homes, and farms. The coming of peace and their return to Texas answered nearly every prayer they had written during the three years of war.4

 

Appendix A: Roster of Soldiers Who Died on Active Duty

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Appendix A

13th Texas Cavalry Regiment (dismounted)

Roster of soldiers who died on active duty

March 1862–May 1865

★★★

NAME

Addison, B. M.

Alford, Noah S.

Baker, Richard

Bearden, Seaborn

Berry, Martin W.

Bishop, M. B.

Blackwell, Jerimiah

Blewett, William

Blount, Calvin C.

Bowen, Whitfield

Bowen, William S.

Brack, Burrell

Brasher, James L.

Brown, William H.

Burk, Andrew J.

Burk, John D.

Butler, Thomas D.

Caldwell, Cyrus W.

Carleton, James B.

Clark, James

Clark, Jesse W.

Clark, Oliver P.

Clark, William W.

Cochran, Calvin J.

Cole, Clark

LOCATION

Near Pine Bluff, Ark.

Camp Burnett, Tex.

Camp Nelson, Ark.

Camp Nelson, Ark.

Arkansas

Shreveport, La.

Little Rock, Ark.

Little Rock, Ark.

Jasper, Tex.

Camp English, Ark.

Camp English, Ark.

Little Rock, Ark.

Camp English, Ark.

Camp Rogers, La.

8 mi from Des Arc, Ark.

Little Rock, Ark.

Little Rock, Ark.

Camp English, Ark.

Pleasant Hill, La.

Camp Beaty, Ark.

Camp Nelson, Ark.

Camp Burnett, Tex.

Pleasant Hill, La.

Pleasant Hill, La.

Camp English, Ark.

193

DATE

2.24.63

4.10.62

11.11.62

10.24.62

9.8.62

3.26.63

1.14.63

 

Appendix B: Organization of Walker’s Division, April 1864

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Appendix C: Field and Staff Officers and Company Commanders

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Appendix C

Commissioned Officers of the Thirteenth

Texas Cavalry Regiment (dismounted)

★★★

Regimental Field, Staff, & Band

Commander

Colonel John H. Burnett, March 1, 1862–November 15, 1863 (Cheneyville, LA).

Transferred to post duty at Crockett, Texas, Nov. 15, 1863, resigned Apr. 22, 1864.

Colonel Anderson Floyd Crawford, April 23, 1864–June 2, 1865.

Aide-de-Camp

Lieutenant James Russell Burnett, March 1, 1862–July 27, 1862 (Camp English, AR).

Deputy Commander / Executive Officer

Lieutenant Colonel A. F. Crawford, March 1, 1862–April 22, 1864.

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Roambrose Beaty, April 23, 1864–November 1864.

Major Elias T. Seale (from Company G) ca. November 1864–June 2, 1865.

Sergeant Major

Riley J. Blair (Co C) May 24, 1862–Feb. 7, 1863.

James B. Rounsaville (Co C) Feb. 8, 1863–Dec. 2, 1863 (?)

B. C. Crawford (Co G) Feb. 12, 1864–April 9, 1864 (Killed in Action at Pleasant Hill).

Henry Ralph (Co G) Apr. (?) 1864–May 20, 1865.

Chaplain

Chaplain John B. Renfro, March 1, 1862–October 21, 1862 (Camp Nelson, AR).

 

Appendix D: Rosters of Soldiers by Company

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Appendix D

Roster of Soldiers by Company

★★★

Roster of Company A, Leon County,

first commanded by Captain Jerome N. Black

Autry. William C.

Ayres. Joseph F.

Bain, W.H.

Baldwin. Hart M.

Baldwin, James A.

Barnes, William P.

Bennick, Jacob J., Sgt.

Black, Jerome N. Capt.

Black, William F., Cpl.

Blackledge, Alexander C.

Blassingame, George W.

Better, Andrew Winston

Brown, John, Cpl.

Brown, John P.

Brown, William H.

Brubaker, J. Curry, Asst. Surg.

Bryan,Thomas L.

Cessna, John D., Cpl.

Clark, Jesse W.

Clark, Oliver P.

Coleman, William Wallace, 1st Sgt.

Davis, George W.

Davis, James I.

Davis, John

Davis, Nathan L.

Dickey, John R.

Dickey, William

Driscol, David A.

Driscol, Ephraim C.

Driskett, David A.

Durst, Bruno, 2nd Lt.

Durst, Horatio W., Jr. 2nd Lt.

Durst, William E., Sgt.

Evans, Isaac G.

Fosket, William H.

Frost, Chafin

Gilchrist, Zedrick

Gillespie, Joseph

Glover, William Y., Sgt.

Greene, James G.

Hall, James

Herring, Thomas W.

Inman, Rufus

Jettund, William, 1st Sgt.

Johnson, Lovet B.

Kidd, Albert A.

Kidd, James E.

Long, James

Long, Levi G.

Long, William

 

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