J. B. (Joseph Benjamin) Polley.

Hood's Texas brigade, its marches, its battles, its achievements online

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Online LibraryJ. B. (Joseph Benjamin) PolleyHood's Texas brigade, its marches, its battles, its achievements → online text (page 19 of 32)
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home coni ^idge about three hundred yards distant,

anJ'^alloped down'^ in the midst of the men who speed-

flv c?r eS their alignment. At this moment, Kershaw s splen-
i'dTi^ot led by Its gallant commander, ^^^^J^^ll^^^^,
Hindman advanced to the attack a httle further to tj- eft^ Kjr
Shaw's line formed, as it were, an angle with that of ti.e 1^ ederai

Lne?r.ted into L wood, over and beyond the enemy s breast-
Trks, and^thus achieved another glorious victory for our arms^
ILit this time I was pierced with a minie-ball in the upper
fvv^ of theXht leg; I turned from my horse upon the side of
fhf crlhe^^ liS:, aSd fell-strange to say, jince J - com-
mandinff five divisions— into tlie arms of some of tlie troops ol my
dd br?fJe,%vl,iA I l>ad directed so long a penod. and upon so

"™Lf'!fndtnsttt service with tl,is noble brigade most prove
snificTent apology for a brief reference, at this juncture, to its
Sfraordina'ry mflitary record from the hour of '*J «- ;-™"' ^
with the enemy at Eltham's Landing on York «■;"'■" '86., to
the surrender at Appomattox Court House In almost e^ery
battle in Virginia it bore a conspicuous part. I* »eted as the aa
van 5 guard *of Jackson when he moved upon MeClellan, arovmd
Eicbmo^nd; and almost, without - , '^-^P' - ' "f .^"^^' „'' 7,!
amongst the foremost of Longstreet's corps m an attack or pur
s,^t of the enemy. It was also, as a rule, with the rear guard of
th corps whenever falling back before the adversary^ If a
di h Ts'to be leaped, or fSrtif.ed position to b^-ned Genera
Lee knew no better troops upon which to rely. In tiuth, its si nai ;
acWevenTents in the war of secession have never been surpassed I

'"xt meS°s' of t^'- heroic baud were possessed of a streak
of super"« on, as in fact I believe all men to be; and it may here
proveTf ntJrest to cite an instant thereof. I had a favorite roan
hor e named by them, "Jeff Davis"; whenever he was in eon-
dmon iTode him in battle, and, remarkable as it may seem he
re^erallv received the bullets and bore me unscathed. In this
Ettle le was severely wounded on Saturday; the followmg day,
I was forced to resort to a valuable mare in my possession, and


late in the afternoon was shot from the saddle. At Gettysburg
I had been unable to mount him on the field, in consequence of
lameness; in this engagement I had also been shot from the sad-
dle. Thus the belief among the men became nigh general that,
when mounted on old Jeff, the bullets could not find me. This
spirited and fearless animal performed his duty throughout the
war, after which he received tender care from General Jefferson
and family, of Seguin, Texas, until death, when he was buried
with appropriate honors.

General Hood parted from his old brigade and division on
that second day of battle at Chickamauga. Never again did
he command the division, or come in touch with the brigade.
For " distinguished conduct and ability in the battle of the
29thj" he was recommended for promotion by General Long-
street, and on the 1st of February, 1864, was commissioned
as a lieutenant-general, and assigned to the command of a
corps in the Army of the Tennessee, then under the leadership
of General Joseph E. Johnston.

A mutual confidence and trust, a mutual admiration and
love existed between John B. Hood and the Texas Brigade.
Each felt it was indebted, and each was grateful to the other.
If to Hood's training, teaching and example, was largely due
the victories won by the brigade, it was none the less its cour-
age, endurance and unconquerable spirit that uplifted and
gave him distinction and promotion. Each trusted the other
— Hood, that the brigade would accomplish all he asked of
it— the Texas Brigade, that he would make no demand on it
beyond its power.

It was this feeling between them that prompted the brigade
to adopt and cling to the distinctive title of " Hood's " Texas
Brigade — it was this feeling that was uppermost in the mind
of Hood, when at Chickamauga, believing himself, perhaps,
mortally wounded, he fell from his horse into the waiting arms
of members of his old brigade, and as he fell, gave his last
order on that field, " Go ahead, and keep ahead of every-
thing," in the words of the command they had so often heard
him shout to them in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The insistence of the sur\nvors of the command to which that
order was addressed on being known as members of Hood's
Texas Brigade, is not intended as a disparagement of the

Captain J. T. Huntkr
Company H, Fourth Texas Regiment


military ability of their subsequent brigade commanders, Gen-
erals Jerome B. Robertson and John Gregg. Each of these
was brave and capable and his memory is yet cherished in the
hearts of the soldiers he commanded; but neither had the per-
sonal magnetism of Hood, nor the swinging dash and reck-
less yet cool disregard of danger, which, from the outset, won
the love and admiration of a brigade largely composed of boys
just flowering into manhood. And, although both Robertson
and Gregg had lived many years in Texas, neither made as
just an estimate as Hood, of Texas character, nor felt and
acted in such accord with it.

The larger part of the fighting done at Chickamauga was
in the somber shadows of thick growths of large pine timber.
The soil sterile, it was only now and then that a clearing gave
the combatants access to uninterrupted sunlight. Under the
trees there was much undergrowth of various kinds. It was
difficult for an officer on horseback to get an extended view
in any direction, and to footmen it was simply impossible.
Short as was the line occupied by the Texas Brigade, neither
flank of it could be seen from the other. Therefore, when
it is told that the First, Fourth and Fifth Texas and the
Third Arkansas went into action side by side, were met by a
murderous fire of artillery and musketry, and, by resolute and
steady advance and more than one seemingly desperate charge,
drove the men from the Western States who so largely com-
posed Rosecrans' army, a distance of fully one mile, about
all is said that can be, in description of the fight made by the
Texas Brigade on the 19th of September.

As a rule, the Western men of Rosecrans' army were as
plucky as the Southerners in the " stand-up-and-fire " or the
" lie-down-and-shoot " fights that were so much in vogue in
both Rosecrans' and Bragg's armies. As said by Bill Cal-
houn, " at them ar games, they was powerful hard to handle."

Unaccustomed, though, to have their antagonists rush
against their hues in the wild charges so common in Virginia,
the Western men were about as easily forced out of the way
of the Texas Brigade as had been the foes of that command
in the State mentioned. It was a Spanish officer who, as he
tendered his sword to his captor at San Juan, Cuba, said in
indiOTiant tone: "You Americans do not fight like gentle-


men — you rush right up to us and make a personal affair of
a battle that should be strictly impersonal." Just so may
have thought the Western men we encountered at Chicka-
mauga. Whether they did or not, it is but justice to say that
when driven from a position by a charge, they hung together
well, and soon recovering from their consternation, formed in
battle array at the next good position, ready for the next
charge, and that while such charges were being made and until
we were quite near them, they fired with an accuracy that in-
flicted great loss on their assailants.

Referring to official reports and histories for positions of
the opposing forces and general description of the battles of
the 19th and 20th, place will now be given to an account writ-
ten by a participant from the view-point accessible to soldiers
who moved in line with, or, as officers, close in rear of their

" Notwithstanding its long and weary tramp of the day
before, the Texas Brigade was early astir on the morning of
September 19. While munching hard-tack and nibbling at the
rancid bacon issued to us at Atlanta, the one absorbing ques-
tion of the hour was ' What next.'' ' Not a soul of us dreamed
that we were then within two miles of fully 45,000 Yankees,
and that before the day ended we would be wresting with them
in deadly battle. The firing we had heard the day before
came, we supposed, from opposing bodies of cavalry, and as
the cavalry we were accustomed to in Virginia had never been
in sight when we got within ten miles of any considerable body
of armed Federal infantry, we took it for granted that ' hoofing
it ' would be the program of the day. It was, therefore, with
astonishment we listened, when Captain Howdy Martin came
down from ' Aunt Pollie's ' headquarters and announced, not
only the near proximity of the Federal arm}^ but the prob-
ability that before noon we would be engaged.

"We had barely regained the composure old Howdy's an-
nouncement robbed us of, when there broke upon our ears a
tcrrif3^ing roar, the like of which we had never heard in our
lives. It came from the direction of Chattanooga, from some
place quite a distance from us, and it appeared to be station-
ary. The earth beneath us seemed to tremble with its con-
cussions, the trees above us to rock back and forth.


" ' It's a tornado,' ventured one fellow ; ' I was right in the
middle of one, up about Dallas, Texas, four years ago, and it
roared just like this does. It's time we were hunting for
holes, I reckon,' and he began looking around in search of

" ' It's a stampede of bee-^es,' volunteered a Texas cow-boy,
- as he measured with his eyes the girth and height of the tall
pine trees beneath which we s^ood; ' and by the Lord Harry,
boys, there must be a million of 'em or they wouldn't make
such a racket. If there was a tree in sight that I thought
I could climb, you wouldn't catch me standing here — I'd be
up on its topmost limb.'

" ' You are all mistaken, gentlemen,' interposed the wise
man, a school teacher, who, like the jester, Wamba, in the
story of Ivanhoe, believed in the doctrine held by Oldhelm of
Malmsbury, ' Better a fool at a feast, than a wise man at a
fray.' ' It is an earthquake — an upheaval of the crust of the
earth, that is tumbling Lookout, and half a dozen other moun-
tains into the Tennessee River. Do you not feel the trembling
of the ground under us, and see the swaying of the tree-

" For two seconds the earthquake theory held our minds
fast-bound by its appalling terrors ; then the irreverent dare-
devil of the regiment came to the rescue. Addressing the wise
man, he said : ' It's your cowardly legs, Mr. School Master,
that are doing all the trembling and making you imagine the
tree-tops are swaying. That isn't an earthquake, a stampede,
or a tomedo — it's music. All the bands in the Yankee army
are playing, " Hell Broke Loose in Georgia." I've danced all
night, many a time, to the tune, but d — d if I ever heard it
played quite so loud.'

" The laugh that all joined in, dissipated the solemnity that
was fast stealing upon our minds, and just then a comrade who
a little while ago had visited friends in Bragg's army, re-
marked : ' You are all mistaken, boys, and you will find out
you are, sooner than you care for. That is the noise of a
battle between large forces of Yankees and Confederates.'

" 'You are joking, Patterson — you are surely joking,' said
an officer; 'that noise is stationary. It neither approaches
nor recedes, as it would were troops engaged in battle, and


advancing and retreating, as one or the other side gained or

'" I thought just that way, Captain, the first time I heard
such a noise,' rejoined Patterson. ' But I soon learned bet-
ter. These Yankees and Confederates here in Tennessee and
Georgia don't fight like we do in Virginia — they just get
within fairly close range of each other, and then coming to
a halt, indulge in a stand-up-and-fight, or a lie-down-and-shoot
game; there is no charging and counter-charging. When one
side gets all the punishment it can stand, it quits, and the
victory is awarded to the other side.'

" As usual. Bill Calhoun claimed the last word. * Well,
boys,' he said, ' if we have to stand up or lie down in a straight
line, and let the Yankees shoot at us as long as they want to,
this old Texas Brigade is going to run like h — 11.'

" An hour passed. Then the brigade was called to atten-
tion, and moving forward a mile or more, it halted a half a
mile in rear of the troops then holding our front. There we
remained fully three hours, at first giving undivided atten-
tion to the desultory firing in progress, and then relaxing from
strain, falling into an exchange of gossip and pleasantries —
the latter, aimed as a rule, at Confederates who expected to
win battles without charges. Habe Brahan and myself, I
recollect, had a long conversation over long-past college hap-
penings, with Captain Jemmison of the First Texas, who had
been one of our class-mates.

" Toward the close of the long wait. Jack Sutherland and I
indulged in a friendly smoke and chat. We were both puffing
at our pipes when the command, ' Attention ! ' was given.
Jack at once removed his pipe from his lips, and surmising his
purpose I said, * Go on with your smoking, man — it'll be an
hour befoi'e we get under fire.' ' No, I'll not smoke any more,
just now,' he replied, and knocking the ashes and embers from
the pipe, he stuck it in his pocket. I held on to mine ; it was ray
last pipeful of the Zarvona tobacco I had brought Avith me from
Virginia, and I felt bound to realize the full benefit of it. But
I did not.

" Within three minutes a fierce battle began at the front,
and the brigade moved into line of battle — the movement has-
tened by the divers and sundry bullets, round shot and shells


that came flying in our direction. Jack and I stood side by
side, and I was still smoking. General Hood rode back from
the front, and as he passed through our line on his way to its
rear, was greeted by a shout of welcome. He had not gone
twenty yards to the rear, though, when a solid shot or shell
struck the ground about thirty feet in front of Jack and my-
self, and ricochetting, passed over, but so close to our heads
that I felt the wind of it. It scared me, and, I am confident,
my face turned white as a sheet. I pulled my hat down over
my pallid countenance, and, fear loving company as well as
misery does, stole a glance at Jack's face, and to my relief,
it was as white as I believed my own to be. It is hardly neces-
sary to add that I ceased to smoke, and so lost the benefit of
half a pipeful of precious Zarvona.

" In another minute the order was given to forward. We
had not gone far when we met the troops we were going to rein-
force. Of what command they were, I have never learned.
They came toward us in squads, and, though not running,
were not idling by the wayside. ' You fellers'll catch h — 11 in
thar,' one of them shouted as he came near us ; ' them fellers
out thar you ar goin' up agin, ain't none of the blue-bellied,
white-livered Yanks an' sassidge-eatin' forrin hirelin's you have
in Virginny that'll run at the snap of a cap — they are Western
fellers, an' they'll mighty quick give you a bellyful o' fightin'.'

" A hundred yards further the Federals caught sight of us,
and their bullets as well as the shot and shell from their well-
served artillery came fast and furiously at us, many of our
bravest and best falling, dead or wounded, before they pulled
a trigger. For almost a minute we failed to locate their line.
Then we discovered they were lying down, and shooting from
behind trees, fallen logs and other cover, and we commenced
firing as we advanced rapidly toward them. Their main body
gave way before our impetuous rush, but with a reluctance that
was not encouraging, and formed another line a hundred yards
in rear of the first. Such of them, though, as had shelter,
stood their ground behind it and fought gamely until disabled,
or surrounded and forced to surrender. The need to capture
such squads compelled our folks to make the battle somewhat
personal and individual, and while as a command the brigade
moved steadily on, its units fought on their own hook.


" In timber as thick as that in which the battle raged that
afternoon, it was impossible for one in the ranks to see what
was happening to right or left. To do his share of the work
on hand, he could only look straight before him, and tackle
the foe immediately facing him. Doing that with all my
might and will, incidents occurred within twenty yards of me,
to the right or left, that were wholly unwitnessed by me. The
truth is, that along about then, the only incidents in which
I was particularly interested, were those in which I was myself
figuring. All too soon for my comfort, one of these happened,
and called a peremptory halt on the assistance I was then
giving the Confederacy. Placed hors-de-combat, I hastened
from the firing line, and hence have no personal knowledge of
what transpired that day, or the next. But I heard a great
deal, and part of that hearsay will now be related.

" At home, Jack Sutherland was known as an ardent and
indefatigable, if not mighty, Nimrod. His acquaintance with
the habits and haunts of deer, turkeys and smaller game, his'
unerring aim, and his trusty rifle, kept his father's table well
supplied with fresh meat. The same qualities that made him
a successful hunter in the wilds of Texas, stood him in good
stead when, as a soldier in battle, or as a scout or skirmisher,
his marksmanship was employed against human beings. Dur-
ing the second day's battle at Chickamauga, Jack pressed far
to the front in search of the human game then being hunted.
Catching sight of a rock from behind which a lone INIississip-
pian, obviously an estray from his own command, was firing
at the enemy, he made for it. ' Glad to see you, comrade —
glad to have you with me,' said the Mississippian as Jack
found a place beside him ; ' I've been having a little picnic here
all by myself, and have got lonesome. Help me send some of
those Yankees over yonder to kingdom come, will you?' 'Of
course I will,' said Jack, as he took aim at one of the blue-
coated gentry; ' that's just what I came for.'

" Loading and firing as rapidly as they could, the two had
laid more than one enemy low, when, close on their right, a
hundred or so Georgians appeared, and each from behind his
own tree or rock, commenced firing. They were all that was
left of Benning's Georgia Brigade of Hood's division, but the
fight was not yet knocked out of them. They were busy load-


ing and firing, when ' Old Rock,'— that was the pet name for
General Benning— rode up behind them and shouted, G— d
d_n you, men, get from behind those trees and rocks, and
give 'em hell ! ' The words were hardly uttered before a shell
came along, killed ' Old Rock's ' horse, and tumbhng the lion-
hearted rider sprawhng on the ground, gave him an instant
change of view. Springing to his feet unhurt, he shouted,
* G— d d— n you, men, stay behind those trees and give em

hell ' '

"Five minutes passed. Then, as Jack stood on his feet to
take aim, a low-flying fragment of a bursted shell cut m two
the straps of both his canteen and haversack, and plowed
a fun-ow across his right shoulder. The blood spurted from
the wound, and realizing the need of surgical ^^d. Jack decided
to quit the picnic ground, and make his way back to the held
hospital. As he turned to go, the MIssIssippian cried. Leave
me your cartridge box, Texas— mine is empty, and I want to
stay here as long as there is light enough to get a bead on a
Yankee.' ' Cut it off me, then,' said Jack, and that done, he
left the gallant MIssIssippian to continue the fight alone

« In Company D, of the Fourth Texas, was a German, Juhus
Glazer On the afternoon of the 19th— Jack Sutherland says
it was the 20th, but he is mistaken— twenty odd of the bravest
of the many brave men in the army commanded by General
Rosecrans, gathered together In and behind a dilapidated og
house built for a blacksmith's shop, and resolved from that
point of vantage to contest the advance of the Texas Brigade
as iono- as possible. The house stood at the far edge of the
wood through which the brigade was making its way, and on
account of Intervening timber and undergro^v^h, ^^^^Id be
seen from only a few points along our hne. The fire from
it was rapid and damaging, but for quite a while our folks
failed to discover whence it came. Glazer was the first to
locate the spot, and springing forward with a shout, he made
for the house, followed, as soon as they saw his Purpose, by
ten to fifteen First, Fourth and Fifth Texans and Third Ar-
kansans. Their attention directed to Texans on heir left
who iust then came within their view, the Federals at the
house had no warning of Glazer's approach until, when withm
twenty feet of it, he called on them to surrender.


" To this demand the Federals replied by firing half a dozen
times at Glazer, and inflicting upon him a couple of flesh-
wounds. He acknowledged the courtesy shown him by a more
eff'ective shot from his own gun, wounding one of the Federals
mortally. But before he could lower his gun, and with the
bayonet it carried, guard against attack, two men ran from
behind the house and plunged their bayonets into his body. In
all reason, Glazer should have fallen to the ground, and laid
there content. But he did not; he simply sprang back, and
reached for a cartridge. Unwilling to risk a loaded gun in
his hands, the two men again rushed at him with levelled
bayonets, and in the desperate fight that followed, he placed
one of these hors-de-combat. His remaining antagonist was
instantly reinforced by another couple of Federals, and Glazer
fought the three, and held them at bay, until the comrades who
had followed his lead came up and shot down two of the as-
sailants, and the other escaped into the house.

" ' Surrender,' was the cry of the Confederates — ' Take us
if you can,' the answer of the still defiant Federals. And with
a pluck useless to themselves, and to the assaulting party, dan-
gerous, the Federals held the house until half of them dead
or wounded, the remainder acknowledged themselves prisoners.
Then and then only, did Julius Glazer remember his hurts and
quit fighting.

" To the question why they did not shoot Glazer instead of
attacking him with the bayonet, the lieutenant In command of
the squad of Federals replied: ' Because he was a mere boy,
and after he fired his one shot we thought it would be cowardly
to shoot him. But If the fighting he did against two of our
best men at first, and then against three, and that too, after
he was four times wounded. Is a sample of what you Texans are
in the habit of doing, I am going to throw up my commission
and return to peaceful pursuits.' "


Chattanooga and Knoxville

The Confederates victorious, the Union army in swift de-
moralized flight, now was the time, it would seem, for instant
vigorous pursuit, or for well-planned flank movement — the one
promising its measure of advantage — the other, insuring the
expulsion of the Federal forces from Tennessee and Kentucky
and access to large fields of supply for the now half-starving
Southern armies east of the Mississippi. But General Bragg
neither pursed nor flanked; instead, he held his troops inactive
until, recovering breath and wits, the Federals fortified and
intrenched themselves at Chattanooga, and then moved his
army within artillery range of their lines and proceeded to in-
vest the city on the east, the only side of it from which his
opponent could have no hope of drawing supphes — a course
that rendered fruitless a victory gained at such cost of blood
and life. It was what General Rosecrans, the Federal com-
mander, most preferred that Bragg should do; Chattanooga
was impregnable by direct assault, and with his hnes of com-
munication with Nashville unbroken, Rosecrans had well-
founded hope of maintaining his army and holding his posi-
tion until reinforcements arrived.

The Texas Brigade devoted the 21st of September to rest
and recuperation. A thousand miles of rough travel, the long
and rapid march of the 18th, and the two days of strain and
hard fighting its men had undergone, had well-nigh exhausted
their energies. That day, Jenkins' South Carolina brigade

Online LibraryJ. B. (Joseph Benjamin) PolleyHood's Texas brigade, its marches, its battles, its achievements → online text (page 19 of 32)