Introduction of us
Different standards
Rules of Engagement for Mounted Troops
The Challenge

Standing Orders

Continued...Part 8

Off to Vicksburg...

Earl Van Dorn achieved the rank of Major General. He was the nephew of President Andrew Jackson and was noted for his ego and an adequate field commander. Van Dorn was a "ladies man" and this fault was to be his undoing. He was stalked a jealous husband who Van Dorn had angered by having an affair with his wife. The husband sought him out and shot him dead on the afternoon of May 7, 1863. General Van Dorn was 42 years old. The 3rd Texas Cavalry was among those that attended the funeral.

With Van Dorn dead, Bragg divided up his command and the Texas Brigade was now under the command of Brigadier General John W. Whitfield and consisted of 1,815 troops of the 3rd Texas, 9th Texas and 27th Texas Cavalry Regiments. The other brigade of the division consisted of about a thousand Mississippians and was commanded by Brigadier General George B. Cosby. These two brigades formed a cavalry division that was commanded by General "Red" Jackson. On May 19th 1863, General Bragg ordered the cavalry division, consisting of 3,019 horsemen to proceed to Vicksburg to help defend the city. The troops rode more than 375 miles in two weeks. This was, at times, more than 35 miles a day. The main body arrived at Canton Mississippi on June 3rd. Vicksburg was under siege by General Grant and there were some 71,000 Federal troops taking part.

John Wilkins Whitfield was born in Franklin Tennessee on March 11, 1818. He fought as a Captain in the Mexican War of 1847 with the Tennessee Infantry Regiment. Whitfield came to Texas in 1861 and entered the Confederate army as a Major and commander of the 4th Texas Cavalry, which later merged with the 27th Texas Cavalry. This consolidation became known as Whitfield’s Legion. He was promoted to Brigadier General on May 9th 1963. After the war he was a delegate to the constitutional conventions of 1866 and 1875. He died in Hallettsville on October 27, 1879.

By the time Jackson’s Cavalry Division arrived, General Joseph Johnston has decided that the forces around Vicksburg were to large to attack head on. Johnston, instead planned diversionary attacks in the rear with the hope of weakening certain points of Grants line and allowing for a possible break out of Confederate forces in Vicksburg. The first action was to attempt to chase some of Grants Cavalry after they had plundered Mechanicsburg. The Texas Brigade was unsuccessful but did pursue as close and as long as they could have.

As the Confederate Forces probed the rear of the Yankee lines for a soft spot in which to attack, there was time to reflect. Religion took the forefront in most of the camps. Leisure time was spent listen to religious leaders and reading the bible. There was a surge of evangelism among the men and Sunday congregations grew. This refection of the spirit soon grew and helped the spirit of the men as the war went on.

Vicksburg exhausted

On June 29, 1863 General Johnston moved some 31,000 men into place as the Confederate forces in Vicksburg were starving. It was communicated to General Johnston that the forces were asking to be freed or surrendered. Johnston was going to order an attack. As the looming battle crept forward, elements of the 3rd Texas Cavalry trapped a Federal patrol but after a sharp skirmish the Yankees withdrew. The efforts were too late and on July 4, 1864 General Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg.

No sooner had the surrendered taken place, did General Sherman begin his attack of Johnston. Johnston, overwhelmed by sheer numbers, pulled his troops back. Jackson’s cavalry division’s Texas Brigade was used as the rear guard to protect the retreating army. The 3rd Texas, 6th Texas 9th Texas and 27th Texas Cavalry Regiments fought for four days and nights disputing the ground with the foe. They covered twenty-five miles a day in the summer heat in a running fight. Until dispersed by artillery fire, the brigade held up the Union forces for a full day outside Clinton. In an effort to slow the Yankee advance, the Texans slaughter cattle and live stock and through them into the cisterns and water supply. Undeterred the Union soldiers pulled livestock from the fetid water and drank it anyway. On July 9th, Johnston ordered cavalry to defend Jackson, the Capital of Mississippi. Sherman ordered his artillery assembled and proceeded to pulverize and in one hour alone some three thousand cannon rounds were fired at them. The Texas Brigade was deployed at the extreme northern end of the defensive line. Dismounted, the 3rd Texas Cavalry engaged advancing enemy sharpshooters and artillery in the thick brush and wooded ravines adjacent to the Pearl River.

On July 14, General Johnston gave the entire cavalry an assignment that proved beyond their capacity to carry out. Johnston ordered the Cavalry to intercept a huge ammunition train caring the massive shipment of cannon shells that all Sherman to continue his fire. The entire division of some three thousand riders then bore down on the main road to Vicksburg where the ammunition train rumbled along between Bolton and Clinton. Sherman had all ready learned of the plans from a prisoner and was waiting. When they got close Sherman opened fired and this overwhelming fire from greater numbers proved too much and forced a withdrawal. Later the 3rd and 9th Cavalry were ordered to attack a Federal Pioneer train, including eight wagons were a fight ensued but neither side was able to claim a victory and withdrew..

Since the ammunition source of Sherman’s cannonade was not cut off this forced General Johnston to order a withdrawal of his forces. There was a series of fierce skirmishes were the 3rd Texas and the Texas Brigade engaged the enemy as the withdrawal took place. The hoses were famished and there was no forage. To add more hardship, heavy rains fell making the area a vast marsh and mud hole. Despite all of this, the cavalry continued to hold the pursuing Federal forces as Johnston was able to put thirty miles between him and the Federals. Finally on July 20th there was time for a rest. The 3rd Texas Cavalry came through this ordeal with only lost 6 men to being captured.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Part 6| Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9| Part 10
Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13