Joseph Palmer Blessington.

The campaigns of Walker's Texas division : containing a complete record of the campaigns in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas ... online

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THE



CAMPAIGNS



OF



Walker's Texas Division.



BY A PRIVATE SOLDIER

( CONT



)NTAINIJ?G



/ j 1 £ L(TU->



COMPLETE RECORD OP THE CAMPAIGNS IN TEXAS, LOUISIANA AND ARKANSAS;

THE SKIRMISH AT PERKINS 1 LANDING AND THE BATTLES OP MILLIKEN'S

BEND, BAYOU BOURBEUX, MANSFIELD, PLEASANT HILL, JENKINS'

FERRY, &c, &c, INCLUDING THE FEDERAL'S REPORT OF THE

BATTLES, NAMES OF THE OFFICERS OF THE DIVISION,

DIARY OF MARCHES, CAMP SCENERY, ANECDOTES,

DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY THROUGH

WHICH THE DWISION MARCHED, &c, &C.



" When on the field of freedom bled,

I press the ashes of the brave ;
Marveling that man, should ever dread.

Thus to wipe out the name of slave ;
No deep-drawn sigh escapes my breast —

No woman drops my eyes distain ;
I weep no.;, guilant beans, at rest —

I bui/ <'bp.ore the\ rtied in vain/'



NEW YOI?K •

PUBLISHED FOR THE AUTHOR

ByLANGE, LITTLE & CO., PRINTERS,

108 to 114 Wooster Street.
1875.



-d

.v 1013



THE NEW YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY

633630

ASTOR, LENOX AND

TlLDiN FOUNDATIONS

R 10!3 L



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875, by

J. P. BLESSINGTON,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



La.ge, Li-tile & Co.s
PUXJHSBG, Ele-tl:otyfzi~ ->.m> Ftereotypers,
103 to 114 Wooster St., N. Y.



DEDICATION.



This volume, with its many imperfections, is, with feelings of pro-
found respect and admiration for officers and soldiers, and the cause
for which they fought, dedicated to Major-General John G. Walker,
and the dead and living of the gallant soldiers of his Division of the
Confederate States Army, by one who has had the honor to fight under
and with them, but whose rank never exceeded that of a

PRIVATE SOLDIER.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.
The Texas Soldier 13

CHAPTER II.
The Private Soldier 16

CHAPTER III.

The Organization of the 16th Texas V. Infantry at Camp Groce. — De-
scription of Camp Groce and Camp Hebert. — Camp-Life. — Presen-
tation of Colors. — The Departure. — Reception at Houston. — Camp
at Virginia Point. — Camp Scenes and Camp Amusements. — Night
Alarm. — Scenes on Picket 19

CHAPTER IV.

Marching Orders. — Return to Camp Groce. — Storm in Camp. — Parting
Scenes. — En route for Little Rock. — On the March. — A Review. —
Special Order. — Camp Texas. — March through Little Rock. —De-
scription of Little Rock 29

CHAPTER V.

March from Little Rock to Clarendon Heights. — Crossing Grand Prairie.
— Camp at Clarendon Heights. — En route for Camp Nelson. — Re-
crossing Grand Prairie. — Suffering of the Troops. — Arrival at
Camp Nelson. — Organization of the Division. — Names of Officers. —
Departure of Deshler's Brigade. — Sickness in Camp. — General Re-
view. — Night Alarm 40

CHAPTER VI.

Leave Camp Nelson. — Arrival at Bayou Metor.— Grand Review of the
Division. — The Division ordered to Vicksburg. — En route for Van
Buren. — Camp near Little Rock. — Spending Christmas in Camp. —
Special Order 61

CHAPTER VII.

March from Little Rock to Pine Bluff. — Counter-marching. — General
Walker assumes command of the Division. — Hog Stealing. — De-
scription of Pine Bluff. — En route for Arkansas Post. — Dispatches
from General Churchill to General Walker. — Surrender of the Ar-
kansas Post. — Camp Freeze-Out. — Picket Duty. — Arrival of General
Holmes. — Fortifying at Camp Freeze-Out 66

CHAPTER VIII.
Biographical Sketch of Major-General John G. Walker 72

CHAPTER IX.
Return to Pine Bluff. — Camp Mills and Camp Wright. — Description of
Camp Wright. — Card -playing. — General Haws assumes command
of the 1st Brigade.— Marching Orders. — General Holmes' Farewell
Address to the Division 75



6 CONTENTS.

CHAPTER X. page

The Division moves to Louisiana. — Arrival at Ouachita City. — A New
mode of Traveling. — Excursion-trip on the Washita River. — Over-
land Route to Alexandria. — A Free Ride. — Description of Alexan-
dria 79

CHAPTER XL
Expedition up the Tensas River. — A Night-march to Perkins' Landing. 85

CHAPTER XII.

Skirmish at Perkins' Landing. — A Negro Description of the Cannonad-
ing. — Official Report of the Skirmish 87

CHAPTER XIII.

The Division crosses the Tensas River. — March to Milliken's Bend and

Young's Point. — Scenes before the Battle 93

CHAPTER XIV*

The Battle of Milliken's Bend. — Operations of Haws' Brigade at Young's
Point. — General McCulloch's Report of the Battle. — General Walk-
er's Report of his Division at Milliken's Bend and Young's Point.. —
Federal Report of the Battle 95

CHAPTER XV.

Retreat from Richmond. — Gallant Conduct of the 18th Regiment and
Edgar's Battery. — Heroism of a Private Soldier. — Tappan's Brigade
to the Rescue. —Arrival at Delhi 110

CHAPTER XVI.

March from Delhi in the direction of Goodrich's Landing. — Texas Cav-
alry. — Capture of Fort Mound. — Return to Delhi. — The Appearance
of the Troops. — Fall of Vicksburg. — Surmises about the Surrender
of Vicksburg. — On the Cars. — Arrival at Monroe 113

CHAPTER XVII.

General Walker's Official Reports of the Operations of his Division in

Madison and Carroll Parishes. — After the Battle of Milliken's Bend. 119

CHAPTER XVIII.

March from Monroe to Alexandria. — General McCulloch leaves the
Division. — Amusing Anecdotes of an Ordnance Sergeant en route
for Berwick Bay. — Operations of General Dick Taylor. — The
"Greyhounds" resting. — Capture of Fort Beauregard. — The Grey-
hounds on the Enemy's Trail. — Preparing for Battle. — Arrival of
General Scurry - 127

CHAPTER XIX.

The Battle of Bayou Bourbeaux.— Official Report of the Battle. — Gen-
eral Taylor's Congratulatory Address to the Troops of Walker's
Division. — Federal Report of the Battle 138

CHAPTER XX.
On the March. — Expedition across the Atchafalaya Bayou 150



CONTENTS. 7

CHAPTER XXI. page

General "Walker's Report, giving his Reasons for failing to attack Pla-



quemine



155



CHAPTER XXII.



Re-crossing the Atchafalaya Bayou. — March to Bayou De Glaize and
Marksville. — Fortifying at Yellow Bayou. — Spending Christmas in
Camp. — Preaching in Camp. — Opening of the New Year. — Match
Drill. — General Haws leaves the Division. — Arrival of General
Waul. — Cotton Selling. — Operations of Scurry's Brigade. — Landing
of the Enemy at Simmsport 157

CHAPTER XXIII.

The Retreat from Yellow Bayou to Mansfield. — General Scurry's Report.
— Line of Battle. — Capture of Fort DeRussy. — "Bull Battery." — A
Stampede. — Arrival of the Enemy at Alexandria.— Forced Marches.
— Capture of Edgar's Battery and the 2d Louisiana Cavalry. — Pre-
paring for Battle. — Double-quicking. — Arrival of Green's Cavalry. . 169

CHAPTER XXIV.
The Battle of Mansfield.— Official Report of the Battle 182

CHAPTER XXV.
The Battle of Pleasant Hill 193

CHAPTER XXVI.

Scenes after the Battle 201

CHAPTER XXVII.

General Taylor's and Governor Allen's Addresses to the Army of Western

Louisiana 203

CHAPTER XXVIII.

The Federal Report of the Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, and

the Retreat of the Federal Army , 207

CHAPTER XXIX.

Marching Orders. — En route for Camden. — Death of General Tom Green.
— Arrival of the 3d Texas Infantry. —Names of the Officers. —
March through Shreveport and Minden. — General Kirby Smith's
Address. — Operations of the Arkansas and Missouri Cavalry. —
Evacuation of Camden. — In pursuit of the Enemy. — Desolation of
the Country.— Breakers ahead 241

CHAPTER XXX.
The Battle of Jenkins's Ferry.— The Federal Report of the Battle 249

CHAPTER XXXI.
The Burial of Generals Scurry and Randall 256

CHAPTER XXXII.

Return to Camden. — General Kirby Smith's Address to the Soldiers of
the Trans-Mississippi Department. — En route for Alexandria. —
Promotions. — General Taylor's Address to the Cavalry and Po-
lignac's Division. — Camps near Alexandria 259



8 CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XXXIII. PAGE

The Enemy's Retreat from Pleasant Hill. — Fortifying at Grand-Ecore.
Vindication of General Kirby Smith. — Destruction of the Country.
— Critical Position of the Enemy at Alexandria. — Burning of Alex-
andria. — Fighting at Yellow Bayou 265

CHAPTER XXXrV.

March from Pineville to Snaggy Point. — Storm in Camp. — General
Walker leaves the Division. — Organization of the Artillery. —
March to the Mississippi River. — General Walker's Orders to Gen-
eral King. — Preparations to cross the Mississippi River. — General
Taylor's Plan thwarted. — Failure to cross the Mississippi River. . . . 269

CHAPTER XXXV.

On the March. — General Forney takes command of the Division. — Ar-
rival at Monticello. — Grand Review. — March from Monticello to
Camden. — Fortifying Camden. — March from Camden to Camp
Sumter. — March from Camp Sumter to Camp Magruder. — Win-
ter Quarters. — Description of Camp Magruder. — Amusements in
Camp. — Anecdotes, etc. — Sham-Battle. — General Review 275

CHAPTER XXXVI.

En route for Shreveport. — Grand Review of the Division. — Grand Bar-
becue given by the Ladies of Louisiana to the Division 286

CHAPTER XXXVII.

General Buckner's Address. — On the March. — Dismounting the Caval-
ry. — Reinforcements. — Organization of the 4th Brigade. — Searching
for Honey 291

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

Homeward Bound. — Retrograde Movement. — Line of March. — Generals
Smith, Magruder, and Forney's Addresses to the Soldiers. — Negotia-
tions for the Surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department. — Ar-
rival at Hempstead. — Disbanding of the Troops. — Farewell Parting. 298

CHAPTER XXXIX.

The " Personnel " of the Division, and How they accept the Situation. . 308

CHAPTER XL.

Surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department 310

Appendix 312

Conclusion 313



PREFACE.




iN presenting the following pages to the public, I trust
I am not ignorant of my presumption ; and can only
offer, as an apology, the neglect heretofore, of abler
pens than mine, to rescue from probable oblivion the deeds
and prowess of " "Walker's Division " of Texas troops of the
Confederate States Army.

To me the task has been a labor of love — still, one I would
have preferred had been undertaken by some one more com-
petent, who could in a measure do justice to the noble sub-
ject ; for surely it would require the pen of a Thucy elides, to
give a full and graphic account of the battles, advances, and
retreats, in which " Walker's Division " participated during
the late civil war.

To the student of military science, the following pages
will not be likely to afford much matter of interest, in a
scientific point of view, as they are written by one whose
position as a 'private soldier precluded a knowledge of the
strategic reasons for the marches and battles which he merely
chronicles.

That " truth is stranger than fiction " is an axiom as correct
as it is right. Thus I claim for these pages of history a strict
adherence to truthfulness in recording actual occurrences —
facts gathered from the great and bloody drama of the late
war, around which lingers the halo of imperishable glory,
possessing all the fascination and interest of romance. This
record has been jotted down on the long and weary march,
in the quiet camp, before and after the fierce conflict of



10 PREFACE.

deadly strife. A correct record of events as they actually
occurred, it is presented to the public. I have indulged
in few fancies of the imagination, nor do I claim for this work
any peculiar literary excellence. Simple in construction of
sentences, unpretending in style of composition, it is given to
the public for perusal, as one of the many bloody chapters in
the history of the late revolution, when Southerners endeav-
ored, by force of arms, to establish their independence, and
preserve untarnished the principle of constitutional liberty
bequeathed to them by their ancestors, and baptized and con-
secrated with their best blood, from the despotic domination
of Radicalism.

Let the thousands of the loyal and true hearts that sleep
beneath the blood-enriched soil of Louisiana and Arkansas
answer. Let the glorious muster-roll of heroes and martyrs
in our cause reply whether they were right or wrong in striking
a blow for their freedom. The attempt has failed ; and while
the Southern people accept the issue of the struggle as the
unalterable decree of a mysterious Providence, records of
the past, as contained in this volume, will be regarded as
priceless mementoes of heroic deeds and an imperishable
epitome of gallant achievements, fierce conflicts, determined
valor, and patient and long-enduring sufferings of those brave
men who sacrificed their lives, and devoted their energies
and efforts towards the establishment of long-cherished prin-
ciples and institutions.

Mere history can furnish only a tittle of the vivid reality of
warlike scenes. Perusing its pages, the reader gleans only the
record of gallant achievements — lives in the midst of scenes
befitting a romance, and not stern realities. Thus there is a
strange fascination in such compilations. War has existed
almost since the creation of the universe, and its records,
from ancient days down to modern times, when Napoleon
electrified the world with his brilliant victories, possess pecu-
liar attractions and deep interest. Yet the reader gathers not
from the pages of history, with its glowing descriptions, and all
the attendant pomp and glory of the struggle, its attendant



PEEFACE. 11

horrors, the deadly suffering, and unbearable anguish which
accompany the dark side of the brilliant, fascinating picture.

'Tis well that it should be so. There are few, however,
especially in this suffering, ruined Southern land, who do not
understand, aye, know, from experience dearly purchased,
what war means, in the fullest signification of the term.

This book is a chapter from its bloodiest record. The
author has labored under peculiar disadvantages, being*
deprived of official records and documents, and has been
compelled to rely on his present experience and information,
and such notes and papers as could be obtained from the
surviving members. In order to make my work acceptable to
the general reader, I give a sketch of the battles in which the
division participated, but making a diary of our marches the
leading feature.

If I have failed in presenting as complete and interesting a
work as the subject demands, it is a fault, not of the head or
heart, but simply because my sources for obtaining necessary
information have been, not only limited, but very meager.

I do not write this work from any mercenary motives, but
with the sole desire of helping to rescue from obscurity the
glorious military record " Walker's Division " earned during
the late war.

I hope the history of every Texas regiment and brigade in
the Confederate States army will be written, and thus pre-
serve the material for some future Bancroft of Texas history.
We have given too many Texas regiments and brigades to the
late Confederate States service, to let their history sink into
obscurity ; besides, their bravery and services are of such a
nature as to cause a glow of pride to tingle through every
Texan heart. As I have said, I hope other pens will write
the histories of other organizations. If I have but contributed
a correct record of Walker's Division to the general fund, I
am satisfied. Imperfect as this record may be, it is given to
the public, not for criticism, but as a compilation of facts,
exhibiting some of the innumerable thrilling scenes through
which they participated as votive actors.



12 PKEFACE.

Though vanquished in the final result, though the princi-
ple for which we fought and for which our comrades died
seems to be forgotten in the blind passions of the hour, jet we
have the proud satisfaction to know that our defeat was
accomplished by an overwhelming foe, and they must and
ever will do us the justice to say that they " met afoeman wor-
thy of their steel."

I shall endeavor to give a graphic account of the organiza-
tion of the 16th Texas Volunteer Infantry (Flournoy's), the
regiment to which I had the honor of belonging until it was
attached to a brigade, and this brigade with three others
were formed into a division, the history of which division,
from camp to field, I have endeavored to give as fully as
possible, in the following chronicle



THE CAMPAIGNS



OF



"WALKER'S TEXAS DIVISION.



CHAPTER I.

THE TEXAS SOLDIEK.

" Rebellion ! foul, dishonoring word,
Whose wrongful blight so oft has stained
The holiest cause that tongue or sword —
That mortal ever lost or won.
How many a spirit, born to bless,
Has sunk beneath that withering name,
Whom but a day's, an hour's success
Had wafted to eternal fame ! "

the first day of February, 1861, Texas took sides
with her sister States. The time had come when all
the Southern States must " hang together " in one
common cause, or else "hang separately." They hung to-
gether, cemented by the great principle that, " whenever any
form of government becomes destructive of its ends, it is the
right of the people to alter or abolish it."

As the news of the capture of Fort Sumter spread with
the velocity of the hurricane, it roused the energies of the
Southern people to the highest tone of patriotism, and to
deeds of the most lofty action. The lawgiver left the senate-
house, the lawyer the court, the judge the bench, the mechanic
his shop, the husbandman his plough, and rushed forward to




14 WALKER'S TEXAS DIVISION.

the seat of danger, to join their Southern brethren on the
" tented field."

The bright star of victory led them onward through the
dark shades of war, casting light and hope athwart the path
of the war-worn Texas soldier.

Texas should be proud of the noble men who went forth for
her, to battle for right and liberty. They have taken a name
already famous, and made it the most glorious of the age.
They have borne aloft her banner — through toilsome marches,
through times of starvation, in rags, often shoeless and coat-
less — into the heart of danger, and planted it on the topmost
pinnacle of fame. The sons of the " Lone Star State " dis-
tinguished themselves on every battle-field, from the first bat-
tle of Manassas to the last one at Palmetto Ranch, on the
Rio Grande. And here I wish to note, that it is a singular fact
that the last battle of the war was, though the contending
parties did not number over fifteen hundred men, as decisive
a victory for the Confederates, in comparison with the num-
bers engaged, as the first battle of Manassas ; but, alas ! both
were unavailing offerings to the god of war.

The proud achievements of the troops of Texas are above
all praise. History furnishes us no nobler example of heroism
and constancy. I know of no battle where they have been
engaged, that they have not been chosen to bring on the fight.
What battery has stood the force of their resistless charge ?
What retreat have they failed to cover ? The flower of the foe
has been cut down by their determined valor. Patient and
enduring on the toilsome march, swift and certain in the sur-
prise, and terrible as the tempest-blast in the charge, they
have proven themselves worthy of the name of Soldiers of
Liberty. If the world has ever known their superiors in valor,
history gives not the example.

Texans are born soldiers ; from early boyhood they are
taught the use of the rifle and six-shooter. They know that
much depends on their skill in the use of arms — the safety
of themselves and their families from the murdering Lipau,
or the ruthless Comanche. They learn in early childhood



WALKER'S TEXAS DIVISION. 15

what has contributed so largely to the fame of the French
soldier — perfect self-reliance at all times and under all cir-
cumstances. This, perhaps, is the most valuable quality a
soldier can possess. Without it the most thorough bull-dog
courage often ends in a worse than useless sacrifice of life.
The Texan possesses another high quality of a soldier — power
of endurance, and ability to march when suffering for food and
water, that would prostrate men not trained to travel the im-
mense prairies of Texas, where they are often for days without
either.

********* *

The gallant dead — how fell they ? Heroes ! thousands of
whom have no monuments save the memory of their ever-
lasting valor. At the cannon's mouth, where the foe stood
thickest, in the deadliest charge, with the forlorn hope, on the
perilous scout, or at the first breach — there lay the Texan.

" The soldier of liberty, who died for her sake,
Leaving in battle not a blot on his name,
He looked proudly to heaven, from the death-bed of fame."

May we not feel confident that the rising and coming gen-
erations of Texans will not attaint the holy halo that sur-
rounds the name of the Texan soldier, but, on the contrary,
try to emulate the deeds he has done and accomplished,
not only on the tented field, but in the council chamber;
and that, whether republican institutions on this American
continent survive the present ordeal or not, the " Lone Star " of
Texas shall ever remain the emblem of those who, like the
immortal Bayard, are sansjyeur et sans reproche?



16 WALKER'S TEXAS DIVISION.



CHAPTEE n.

THE PRIVATE SOLDIER.

"And while adversity's chill blast
Sweeps like a besom o'er our land,
And round her bleeding forms are cast
The hated tyrant's chains at last,
We still possess the glorious past —
The victories of our patriot band —
The memories of the fields of glory,
Which aye shall live, in soug and story,
To cheer the brave and shame the coward.
By that blue heaven bending o'er us,
By that green earth spread out before us,
By that dear fame of those who bore us,
We are not whipped, but overpowered."

'HE fortune of a private soldier is indeed an humble
and, I might almost say, a penal one. Having to en-
dure the sun-rays on the march, the blinding snows
and chilling winds of winter, to plunge into the swollen torrent,
or traverse the arid plains, nothing can possibly sustain him,
unless it be a high and holy cause, or a sense of the rectitude of
the purpose for which he has taken up arms, and for which he
strikes. No glowing vision of a monument erected by a
nation, or even by his comrades in arms, can allure him to the
dangerous path. Of the private soldier of any army, but, above
all, the private soldier of the army whose banners are
consecrated to the laws which are the expression to us of
the safeguard of popular rights, and the cause, in an eminent
degree, of civilization and liberty pervading the soldiers of
the armies everywhere, but especially the armies called to-
gether by such a cause — it may indeed be said of them,
as an eloquent European said of those who fell before the




WALKER S TEXAS DIVISION. 17

walls of Buda, the consciousness of doing right impressed on
their features, that "they were the nameless demigods of
liberty." No monument rises up in his anticipations of the
future ; he cannot expect that, when he returns from the war,
either brave hands or fair hands can wreathe the bays upon
his bent or aching brow, or even anticipate that he will be
remembered by those who most heartily bade him leave the
threshold of his home, and go forth and do his duty like a
man. Nevertheless, there is a fame milder, and perhaps
more sacred than that which descends in bounteoiis pleni-
tude upon the head of the conspicuous officer, or upon those
who have signally distinguished themselves in battle.

Among the private soldiers of the late Confederate army
were men of culture, men of gentle training, men of intellect,
men of several positions, men of character at home, men
endeared to a domestic circle of refinement and eloquence,
men of wealth, men who gave tone and character to the
society in which they moved, and men who, for conscience'
sake, made a living sacrifice of property, home, comforts, and
who were ready to add crimson life to the holy offering. Many
of these, if they would .have surrendered honor, and their inde-
pendence, could have remained in possession of all these
elegances and comforts. But they felt like the Roman who
said : "Put honor in one hand and death in the other, and I
will look on death indifferently." Without rank, without title,