Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Trans-Mississippian Classic

Harold B. Simpson’s Hood’s Texas Brigade: Lee’s Grenadier Guard (1970) is a classic of its genre. Colonel Simpson, a veteran of the United States Air Force, also earned a doctoral degree from Texas Christian University. Hood’s Texas Brigade: Lee’s Grenadier Guard is actually volume two of a four-volume set with the other volumes being Hood’s Texas Brigade in Poetry and Song, Hood’s Texas Brigade in Reunion and Memory, and Hood’s Texas Brigade: A Compendium.

Hood’s Texas Brigade: Lee’s Grenadier Guard is 512 pages long and is the most complete history to date about the brigade. In spite of the name of the brigade, there were some non-Texan units that served in it as well. Most notably the 3rd Arkansas Infantry served from late 1862 to the end of the war with the 1st Texas Infantry, the 4th Texas Infantry, and the 5th Texas Infantry. Earlier in the war, the 18th Georgia Infantry and Hampton’s South Carolina Legion served with the Texans, and in the middle part of the war the Rowan Artillery from North Carolina served in the brigade. The core part of the brigade, though, was comprised of trans-Mississippians.

Hood’s Texas Brigade assembled an outstanding combat record that really is unnecessary to detail. The three Texas regiments and the one Arkansas regiment that served in the brigade were the only units from those States that served in the Army of Northern Virginia. Their casualties were tremendous and most certainly rank as among the highest in any brigade of the war. Simpson estimated that about 5,300 men served in the three Texas regiments and the one Arkansas regiment during the conflict; of that number about 4,700 soldiers were either killed, invalided, discharged, died of disease, or deserted. W. H Hamby, a veteran of the 4th Texas, studied surviving records of the Texas regiments and concluded that the 1st Texas suffered 332 killed or mortally wounded; the 4th Texas lost 316 killed or mortally wounded, and the 5th Texas had 303 killed or mortally wounded. Regrettably, I could not locate casualty figures for the 3rd Arkansas, but I suspect that they were also quite high.

Hood’s Texas Brigade: Lee’s Grenadier Guard is a good read and a worthy history of one of the best fighting units of the war.

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