Saturday, August 29, 2009


“The only Confederate division comprised entirely of units from one state was Walker’s Texas Division.” That’s what I wrote in my last posting. Dr. Richard Lowe wrote along similar lines in Walker’s Texas Division, C. S. A. :Greyhounds of the Trans-Mississippi by stating “Walker’s Texas Division, the only one on either side to consist during its entire existence of regiments from a single state, was the largest single body of Texans to fight in the Civil War” (p. xi). The Handbook of Texas Online says of Walker’s Texas Division that it was “The only division in Confederate service composed, throughout its existence, of troops from a single state….”

But are these statements correct? An alert reader, Jim McGhee, noted that Brigadier General Mosby M. Parsons commanded an all Missouri division. After receiving his comment I started looking through my home library and found that Brigadier General Francis A. Shoup commanded an Arkansas division at the battle of Prairie Grove, and Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke commanded a Missouri cavalry division at the battle of Helena. These are all examples from the Trans-Mississippi department, but there is also the example of Major General George E. Pickett’s Virginia division at the battle of Gettysburg.

Well, it’s pretty obvious that my comment on the last posting is inaccurate as there were other Confederate single-State divisions. But was Walker’s Texas Division “the only one on either side to consist during its entire existence [emphasis added] of regiments from a single state” as Dr. Lowe contends? My suspicion (unproven at this point) is that the real distinction for Walker’s Texas division is that it was a single-State division for the longest period of time; the division was created in November 1862 and remained an all Texas division until it disbanded in April and May of 1865.

My challenge to you is to find examples of Confederate divisions made up entirely of units from a single State for their entire existence. Also, determine how long they endured as single-State divisions. Send me your comments about your discoveries, and I’ll compile the findings for a future posting. To the books!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Walker's Greyhounds

The only Confederate division comprised entirely of units from one state was Walker’s Texas Division. Nicknamed the “greyhounds” by their Union opponents for their ability to march long distances quickly, these proud Texans campaigned in Arkansas and Louisiana. The battles they fought in are not well known to those who focus on the eastern campaigns, but the Texans made their most significant mark during the Red River campaign in the spring of 1864 at the battles of Mansfield (Louisiana), Pleasant Hill (Louisiana), and Jenkins’ Ferry (Arkansas). Some parts of the division also fought at Milliken’s Bend and Bayou Bourbeau in Louisiana earlier in the war. These Texans could boast that they helped preserve their state from Union invasion as Texas was the only Confederate State that Federal troops never successfully invaded. Readers wanting to know about the division from the perspective of a soldier who served in it should consult Private Joseph P. Blessington’s, The Campaigns of Walker’s Texas Division. First published in 1875, the book has been reprinted at least twice in recent decades. Blessington’s book is somewhat lacking when it comes to detailed descriptions of battles but makes up for that by solid accounts of marching and camp life. An excellent modern study of the division is Richard Lowe’s Walker’s Texas Division, C. S. A. : Greyhounds of the Trans-Mississippi published by Louisiana State University Press in 2004. Defending Texas, by the way, required much traveling; Dr. Lowe estimates that the Greyhounds marched 3,500 miles during the war and traveled by water another 600 miles.

Here is the organization of Walker’s Texas Division (commanded by Major General John G. Walker) during the Red River campaign:

Brigadier General Thomas N. Waul’s brigade:
12th Texas Infantry [sometimes referred to as the 8th Texas Infantry]
18th Texas Infantry
22nd Texas Infantry
13th Texas Cavalry [dismounted]
Captain Horace Halderman’s Texas Battery

Colonel Horace Randal’s brigade:
11th Texas Infantry
14th Texas Infantry
6th Texas Cavalry Battalion [dismounted] (Gould’s Battalion)
28th Texas Cavalry [dismounted]
Captain J. M. Daniel’s Texas Battery

Brigadier General William R. Scurry’s brigade:
3rd Texas Infantry [joined the brigade in mid April 1864]
16th Texas Infantry
17th Texas Infantry
19th Texas Infantry
16th Texas Cavalry [dismounted]
Captain William Edgar’s Texas Battery

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Down Memory Lane

Classes started at Rogers State University on 13 August, and I’ve had a busy time since then. Our enrollment has increased significantly, and this is quite evident in three of my four classes. Perhaps the start of school has caused me to take a trip down memory lane and recall some of the first Civil War books that I read. The very first Civil War book that I remember reading with any seriousness was The How and Why Wonder Book of The Civil War. It is a slender volume with few references to the Trans-Mississippi; among those is mention of the German population in St. Louis, “bloody Kansas,” gold mining in Colorado and Nevada, and the uprising by the Sioux Indians in Minnesota. I suppose that is not too bad for a 48 page book!

After reading The How and Why Book of the Civil War, I recall reading some books about the eastern theater aimed at young adults. After a heavy dose of reading books about Gettysburg and Robert E. Lee, imagine my surprise when I found a historical novel about the war in the Trans-Mississippi sitting on the bookshelves at home. Acquired by my older brothers, Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith was a revelation to me. Winner of the 1958 Newbery Award for children’s literature, Keith’s book traces the adventures of Jeff Bussey, a teenage soldier from Kansas. Private Bussey is involved in the Wilson’s Creek campaign and the battle of Prairie Grove. He travels through the Indian Territory and as a spy rides with Stand Watie’s men for a time. Not only was the plot exciting to me as a child, but I also learned that significant Civil War actions occurred in the Trans-Mississippi.

Born in Oklahoma Territory in 1903, Harold Verne Keith earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. To research the background for this book he read standards accounts about the war in the Trans-Mississippi; he also used interviews from an earlier research project of 22 Confederate veterans who lived in Arkansas and Oklahoma. In addition to writing a number of books mostly for young adults, Mr. Keith also worked as the Sports Publicity Director for the University of Oklahoma from 1930-1969. He died in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1998. Was there a particular book that triggered your interest in the Trans-Mississippi?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thank you Census Bureau!

As a historian of nineteenth century America I have often used census records. Yes, there are problems with these records. Not everyone was enumerated, some of the census enumerators had terrible handwriting, some documents were damaged or destroyed, and so on. For the most part, though, census records provide a fabulous “snapshot” of the United States at ten year intervals. Although many people are quite familiar with census records, many researchers do not seem to know about the summary volumes that the Census Bureau created. In these volumes employees tabulated and summarized the information collected by the enumerators. A great deal of valuable demographic data is contained in these volumes; I shudder to think what it was like to summarize this information without the benefit of computers. The Census Bureau has scanned many of these volumes and placed them online for your free perusal. Recently I looked at one of these volumes, Population of the United States in 1860: Compiled from the Original Returns of the Eighth Census, and pulled out some population information relating to Trans-Mississippi states and territories on the eve of the Civil War. The first set of statistics is data relating to the states, and the second set of statistics is data relating to the territories. I had technical difficulties in posting tables so have included the data in non-tabular form. The abbreviations have the following meanings:

W=White population

FB= Free Black population

S= Slave population

CI = “Civilized Indian” population

INE= Indian population not enumerated. This consists of estimates by the Census Bureau of Indians that “retain[ed] their tribal character.” I have not included these estimates in the total population counts since they are only approximations.

T=total population

For those who are curious the information found in the data sets is from pages xv, 598-599, and 605 of the volume listed above.

By the way, thanks to all of you who have contributed their comments to this blog so far!!

Arkansas, 324,143 (W), 144 (FB), 111,115 (S), 48 (CI), 435,450 (T)

California, 358,110 (W), 4,086 (FB), 17,798 (CI), (13,540-INE), 379,994 (T)

Iowa, 673,779 (W), 1,069 (FB), 65 (CI), 674,913 (T)

Kansas, 106,390 (W), 625 (FB), 2 (S), 189 (CI), (8,189-INE), 107,206 (T)

Louisiana, 357,456 (W), 18,647 (FB), 331,726 (S), 173 (CI), 708,002 (T)

Minnesota, 169,395 (W), 259 (FB), 2,369 (CI), (17,900-INE), 172,023 (T)

Missouri, 1,063,489 (W), 3,572 (FB), 114,931 (S), 20 (CI), 1,182,012 (T)

Oregon, 52, 160 (W), 128 (FB), 177 (CI), (7,000-INE), 52,465 (T)

Texas, 420,891 (W), 355 (FB), 182,566 (S), 403 (CI), 604,215 (T)

Grand Total for states, 3,525,813 (W), 28,885 (FB), 740,340 (S), 21, 242 (CI),

(46,629-INE), 4,316,280 (T)

Colorado, 34,231 (W), 46 (FB), (6,000-INE), 34,277 (T)

Dakota, 2,576 (W), 2,261 (CI), (39,664-INE), 4,837 (T)

“West of Arkansas” [Indian], 7,369 (S), (65,680-INE), 7,369 (T)

Nebraska, 28,696 (W), 67 (FB), 15 (S), 63 (CI), (5072-INE), 28,841 (T)

Nevada, 6,812 (W), 45 (FB), (7,550-INE), 6,857 (T)

New Mexico, 82,924 (W), 85 (FB), 10,507 (CI), (55,100-INE), 93,516 (T)

Utah, 40,125 (W), 30 (FB), 29 (S), 89 (CI), (20,000-INE), 40,273 (T)

Washington, 11,138 (W), 30 (FB), 426 (CI), (31,000-INE), 11,594 (T)

Grand Total for territories, 206,502 (W), 303 (FB), 7,413 (S), 13,346 (CI), (295,746-INE), 227,564 (T)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Confederate Veterans in Pryor

Union veterans had the option to have a government issued headstone. Confederate veterans or their survivors had to purchase their own headstone. In Pryor, seven gravesites were marked with United Confederate Veteran markers; unfortunately two of the headstones were illegible. The legible ones included ones for J. H. Hendrex

James W. Hyde

J. T. Mefford

Further research is needed to determine the military units that they served in. James H. Hendrex, a native of Tennessee, was located in the 1880 census; at that time he was farming in St. Clair County, Missouri. Intriguingly he had a son named Sterling Price Hendrex. J. T. Mefford, a native of Kentucky, resided in Pryor in 1910 and worked as a butcher. By far the most distinguished of the Civil War veterans buried in Fairview Cemetery is Samuel Houston Mayes, a mixed blood Cherokee, who enlisted as a teenager in the 2nd Cherokee Regiment.

The details of his wartime service appear unknown but one source stated that Mayes “served intermittently.” The 2nd Cherokee fought at the battle of Pea Ridge (Arkansas) and Honey Springs (Indian Territory) plus in a number of other skirmishes mostly in the Indian Territory. Mayes became a successful businessman and even became principal chief of the Cherokees. Mayes County, where Pryor is located, was named in honor of Samuel H. Mayes. Further details and a picture of Mayes can be found by reading an entry about him in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture; this short biography also includes links to articles in The Chronicles of Oklahoma about the Mayes family. Samuel’s older brother William Henry Harrison Mayes also is buried in Pryor; he served in the 1st Cherokee Regiment.

At least eleven Civil War veterans are buried in Fairview Cemetery. They originated from several different states as well as the Indian Territory and yet all had a common denominator—all migrated to the Pryor area. The twin territories, the Indian Territory and the Oklahoma Territory, were attractive to many in the late nineteenth century as the federal government opened this “last frontier” to white settlement.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Do You Have Any Civil War Veterans in Your Town?

In the cemetery that is…

I grew up in Shawnee, Oklahoma, a town in the central part of the state. There were a number of Civil War veterans (mostly Union) whose final resting place was in the city cemetery in Shawnee. While growing up, I liked to ride my bicycle to the cemetery and look at the headstones. At one point I even wrote down the names of all of the Civil War veterans buried in the cemetery and did some research on the military units listed on their markers.

Yesterday, I drove into Pryor’s Fairview Cemetery to take photographs of the grave sites of Civil War veterans. It didn’t me long to notice that I was the only visitor at the cemetery. Perhaps this was due to the strong south wind and the nearly 100 degree temperature? The grass is starting to look scorched in the cemetery due to our recent hot temperatures. In a highly unscientific and incomplete survey, the eleven graves that I located in Pryor were divided between four Union and seven Confederate soldiers. The Union veterans were:

Private Andrew B. Collins, Company I, 3rd Missouri Cavalry [This unit campaigned mostly in Arkansas and Missouri.]. According to cemetery records available through the Thomas J. Harrison Public Library website, Private Collins died on 9 June 1904.

Private William B. Collins, Company D, 10th Tennessee Infantry [Organized in 1862, this regiment spent the war on guard duty in Tennessee.] He died on 9 December 1905.

Private Joseph Lewis, Company L, 8th Iowa Cavalry [Organized in 1863, the 8th Iowa campaigned in Georgia and Tennessee primarily.] According to cemetery records, Private Lewis died on 23 January 1903.

Private John D. Wilkins, Company F, 29th Iowa Infantry [This regiment saw quite a bit of service including the battles of Helena, Jenkins Ferry, and actions around Mobile, Alabama.] There is no record of Wilkins' date of death in the cemetery records.

Three of these veterans died before statehood. I wonder what brought them to the Indian Territory? Next time…Confederate Veterans in Pryor

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Outstanding book about the battle of Pea Ridge

Shea, William L. and Earl J. Hess. Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

If you haven’t read this yet, then you are in for a reading treat! Over the years I have read many, many campaign histories and this is a top-tier book. In many ways, this is the best campaign history that I have ever read. Every time I visit the Pea Ridge National Military Park, I take this book with me with all the maps marked with post-it notes. Did I mention maps? So often you read a campaign history and wish for more maps. This is one of the few campaign histories that I have read that helpfully includes all of the maps that you will need.

Dr. Shea and Dr. Hess walked the battlefield many times; this familiarity with the battlefield’s terrain adds much to their analysis. They focus on Earl Van Dorn, a flamboyant soldier with few organizational skills; he led his Confederate army to disaster. By sharp contrast, his opponent was Samuel Ryan Curtis, a reserved, older gentleman who had all the organizational skills that Van Dorn lacked. Although the book’s treatment of the events leading up to the battle and the battle itself are extremely well done, my attention was most caught by the section that details what happened after the battle. Curtis’s army battled the elements and the terrain to march 500 miles to Helena, Arkansas, in a little more than three months. Much of Van Dorn’s army crossed the Mississippi and went on to fight in campaigns in the western theater.

The Pea Ridge campaign is quite a story, and this book does full justice to its importance. Check it out.

NOTE: William L. Shea’s book Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign will be published by the University of North Carolina Press this fall. The release date, according to the University of North Carolina Press’ website, is November 2009. I am counting down the days to publication!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Coloradans "Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation"

I have a particular interest in units that served in the Indian Territory during the war. As I bicycle or drive in the Pryor area, it’s interesting to imagine Civil War soldiers riding or marching along the Texas Road that traversed the broad plains and rolling hills of this vicinity.

For some reason, I’ve always been intrigued by the 2nd Colorado Infantry. I have no desire to “reinvent” the wheel on this blog so I’ll say upfront that the Colorado State Archives has a good summary written by M. S. Elswick of the services of the Colorado regiments during the Civil War. All of the Colorado units, by the way, served in the Trans-Mississippi. Here is a quick look at the service of the 2nd Colorado during the war summarized mostly from the Colorado State Archives write-up:

The first two companies to see action were Company A (Dodd’s Independent Company) and Company B (Ford’s Independent Company). Company A, commanded by Captain Theodore H. Dodd, served at the battle of Val Verde and the skirmish at Peralta. Captain James H. Ford’s Company B fought at the battle of Glorieta and the skirmish at Peralta.

Additional companies were raised with some being stationed in Kansas along the Santa Fe Trail. Several companies of the regiment fought at 1st Cabin Creek, Honey Springs, Perryville, and Webber’s Falls in the Indian Territory. In November 1863, the regiment was merged with the 3rd Colorado Infantry whose organization was incomplete to form the 2nd Colorado Cavalry.

The 2nd Colorado Cavalry participated in fighting along the Missouri border and then were actively involved in the repulse of Major General Sterling Price’s invasion in the fall of 1864. During this campaign, the regiment was involved in actions at Lexington, Little Blue, Westport, Marias des Cygnes, and Newtonia. Following this campaign, the regiment moved to Fort Leavenworth with some companies being mustered out there. The rest of the regiment transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, where they escorted wagon trains and battled Native Americans until their mustering out.

Good coverage of Company A and Company B’s activities during the New Mexico campaign may be found in:

Whitlock, Flint. Distant Bugles, Distant Drums: The Union Response to the Confederate Invasion of New Mexico. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2006.

Several years ago I heard that a scholar was planning to write a history of the 2nd Colorado, but I have heard no news of this project recently. If anyone has heard anything regarding the status of this project, please contact me.

I also learned by searching on the web that there is a 2nd Colorado Infantry reenacting group; they are based in Oklahoma, and their website also includes information about the activities of the 2nd Colorado during the conflict.