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 To resume our narrative, the regiment reaching Pleasant Hill by dark, rode, band playing, to report to General Taylor, and was formed into line in front of his headquarters. The Colonel approached the General, who, with stern countenance, told him that the good conduct of his men saved him from arrest and a court-martial. Upon the Colonel expressing his surprise at having unknowingly incurred the General's displeasure, he was reproached with having lost time on the road, while, with ordinary diligence, he should have reported at least ten days before. When the General understood that the regiment, stationed at eighty miles beyond Houston, received the order of march on the 14th of March, and, impeded by a long train of wagons, had ridden over two hundred and fifty miles in less than fourteen days, he extended his hand to the Colonel, whose nativity was disclosed by his accent, and said to him in French, ‘I see that you are not a politician.’ Indeed, politicians were no pets at General Taylor's headquarters. The regiment was ordered to the front on outpost duty. The enemy's approach being considered as imminent, the night was passed in line, with pickets in front, the horses remaining saddled and bridled. On the next day (3d of April) General Taylor's infantry fell back on Mansfield, leaving Debray's and Bagby's Texas regiments, and Vincent's regiment of Louisiana cavalry, to observe the enemy, with instructions to retire as slowly as possible if hard pressed. The 4th was a day of quiet and rest, cheered by the arrival of General Tom Green with some Texas cavalry regiments. Early on the 5th the Federal cavalry corps made its appearance, when business began in earnest, and retreat became necessary before a largely superior force. But General Green made such happy dispositions, taking advantage of the timbered and hilly formation of the country, that the enemy could not advance one mile without being resisted stubbornly enough to hold him three days on the march in moving over the twenty-five miles intervening between Pleasant Hill and Mansfield. Meanwhile, General Taylor daily receiving reinforcements at Mansfield delayed the execution of superior orders to fall back on Keachi, twenty miles farther up Red River, where the General commanding the Trans Mississippi Department intended to offer battle. General Taylor had ascertained that the Federal army was marching in a very unmilitary order, viz: on one road, while two parallel roads were at a convenient distance for prompt concentration, and the  army corps, each followed by its own transportation, forming a column about twenty miles long, which precluded rapid mutual support. On the 8th of April, the gallant and skilful General, deeming him self sufficiently reinforced, and perceiving that an occasion was offered to strike a telling blow, made his dispositions to fight in disobedience of orders, and as he said to Colonel Debray, during the action, ‘with a rope around his neck.’ General Green's cavalry, recalled from the front, was ordered to dismount and to act as infantry, Debray's regiment being kept mounted and held in reserve. The Federal cavalry corps was promptly dispersed in great confusion; the Thirteenth army corps, after a short contest, was utterly routed; but the Nineteenth corps, fresh in the fight, while our troops were getting exhausted, offered a stubborn resistance. Then, Debray's regiment was deployed, and took part in a bloody engagement, protracted till dark, which resulted in driving the enemy in disorder. Our losses were heavy in killed and wounded. In the regiment, Lieutenant Willis, of Company F, was among the dead. Twenty-five hundred prisoners, twenty pieces of artillery, several stands of colors, many thousands of small arms, and two hundred and fifty wagons loaded with supplies of all kinds, were the trophies of this handsome victory. The pursuit was immediately assumed by General Green's cavalry corps, which picked up many stragglers. But our progress was checked, at the crossing of a creek, by a brisk musketry fire directed against us from the darkness of night. A halt was ordered till daybreak, which delay was gladly availed of to obtain much needed food and feed. The march was resumed without opposition, and early in the morning of the 9th, our cavalry was crowning the heights which overlook Pleasant Hill, where the enemy was descried in order of battle. Our infantry, some of whom—the Missouri and Arkansas divisions—were exhausted by a forced march of forty-five miles from Keachi, was far behind, and nothing could be done until it had come up. At about 4 o'clock P. M., the action began. Our right, which was to flank the enemy's left, misled by its guide, struck the enemy's front, and was repulsed with severe loss. Meanwhile, our left was driving the Federals from their advanced positions. General Green, believing that they were routed, ordered Debray's and Bushel's regiments, heretofore kept in reserve, to charge to Pleasant Hill. The charge started in splendid style, was broken with heavy loss of men  and horses, by the fire of a division of infantry hidden among a thick growth of young pines, and protected by a deep gully. In the words of General Taylor: ‘That gallant charge was premature, and cost valuable lives, but was of use in moral effect.’ Captain Peck, of Company F, was killed; Major Menard and Captain Hare, of Company K, were wounded, both severely. Captain Fulton, of Company G, was also wounded, his horse being killed under him. Colonel Debray's right leg was caught under his horse killed in the charge close to the enemy's line. In his efforts to release himself, his foot slipped out of his boot which remained under the horse. When enabled to stand up, he felt that his ankle was sprained, and, leaning on his sabre, was limping to reach a ravine where he might find shelter from the enemy's fire, when comrades came to assist him and helped him along until they reached our line, just where General Taylor sat on his horse. ‘Why! Colonel.’ the General enquired, ‘are you wounded?’ ‘No, General,’ was the answer, ‘I am slightly hurt; but, as you may see, I was sent on a bootless errand.’ ‘Never mind your boot,’ said the General, ‘you have won your spurs.’ Upon returning within our lines, Debray's regiment was ordered to dismount and support Walker's divison of Texas infantry, hotly engaged in the woods in our left front. There a severe conflict was kept up, without advantage on either side, but with considerable mutual loss, until night brought it to a close. This was, at best, a drawn battle. Both armies held the ground which they occupied in the morning, but General Taylor, apprehending a renewal of the contest on the next day, knowing that water was not accessible where his troops stood, determined to fall back to a creek five miles distant, there to select a position. Debray's and Bushel's regiments were left on the battle-field, with instructions to observe the enemy, and, if necessary, to retire slowly before his advance. Pickets exchanged shots till nearly daybreak, when a reconnoisance was pushed up, without opposition, to the town of Pleasant Hill, which was found evacuated by the enemy, who, behind a thin curtain of outposts, had decamped, early at night, in the direction of Natchitoches, leaving in our hands his wounded and unburied dead. A part of the cavalry started in pursuit, while another part proceeded, with artillery, to Blair's Landing, on Red River, to attack gunboats. There the gallant Major-General Tom Green fell—an irreparable loss to our army. General Taylor, relying on his troops,  flushed with success, confidently expected to capture or destroy Bank's demoralized army, when, to his great mortification, he saw himself stripped of all his infantry but one division, and the greater part of his artillery, ordered to Arkansas, to oppose the Federal General Steele, who, as above stated, was to join General Banks at Shreveport. With his reduced forces, General Taylor had to give up operations on a large scale, and to turn his attention to an endeavor to render a sojourn in Western Louisiana so unpleasant for Banks, as to induce him to seek comfort beyond the Mississippi. The good behavior of Debray's regiment was acknowledged by the promotion of its Colonel to the rank of Brigadier-General; in consequence of which, Lieutenant-Colonel Myers, who had not yet rejoined, became Colonel, Major Menard, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Captain Owens, of company E, Major. Lieutenant Hearn, of company E, became Captain vice Owens, promoted, and Lieutenant Woodyard, of company F, Captain vice Peck, killed. Mention may also be made here of the promotion, some months afterwards, of Lieutentant Trezevant, of company 1, to be Captain vice Whitehead, dropped from the rolls for absence without leave. The new Brigadier-General was assigned to the command of a brigade composed of his own regiment and Gould's and Wood's regiments, both fine bodies, raised, the former, on Red River, and the latter, West of the Colorado. To compose his military family, he selected from Debray's regiment the steady and intelligent Sergeant-Major Harry Blagge, to be aid-de-camp; the chivalric young Adjutant, R. M. Franklin, to be Assistant Adjutant-General; regimental Quartermaster Thomas R. Franklin, the ‘Fighting Quartermaster,’ as he was called, ever slipping to the front when ‘powder spoke,’ ever active and untiring in the discharge of his duties, to be Brigade Quartermaster; Lieutenant Fayette Black, who had performed with efficiency the duties of regimental Commissary, to be Brigade Commissary. Nor should mention be omitted of faithful William Vowinkle, of company C, who continued in the discharge of his duties as Orderly. Subsequently, Lieutenant W. Johnson, of company D, Debray's regiment, became Brigade Ordnance Officer; Captain Lewis Maverick and Lieutenant G. I. Sherwood, both of Wood's regiment, were selected, the former to be Brigade Inspector, and the latter to be Second Assistant Adjutant-General, and Surgeon Corley, of Gould's regiment, became Brigade Surgeon. The Federal army, falling back on Grand Ecore, on Red River, at  a short distance from Natchitoches, entrenched itself under the protection of its gunboats. Our cavalry following close on its heels, established itself on the surrounding pine hills, and by frequent patrols, in and about Natchitoches, prevented depredations, and, probably saved that old town from the devastation which signalized every step of the retreating Federals. Soon it became apparent that Banks was preparing to move farther down the Red River. The greater part of our cavalry was ordered to proceed to a position on Cane River, a tributary of the Red, where it was believed that the crossing of that stream by a superior force could be prevented. General William Steele's division of cavalry, and Polignac's division of infantry, were directed to follow and harass the enemy. Monnette's Bluff is an elevated ground on the eastern bank of Cane River, which was supposed to be fordable only at that point. The front and right of the position selected for us is protected by a high and abrupt bank, and its left, extending over timbered hills, represented to us as inaccessible for the enemy, owing to intervening swamps, overlooks the western side of the stream. General Bee, who was in command, assigned the right of our line to General Bagby; the center to General Major, and the left to General Debray. Early in the afternoon the enemy appeared and opened against our front the fire of his batteries, which was answered, by our artillery. Soon after our left was suddenly attacked by a detachment which had crossed the Cane River above our position and, well guided, had succeeded in clearing the swamps represented to us as impassable. Two successive attacks had been repelled, when the left received the order to join the right and center, which, for causes as yet unaccounted for by the writer, had abandoned their position, and were in full retreat. It is true, that the enemy having crossed the river, our smaller force was powerless to materially impede his march. A hard and tedious night's march followed till daybreak, when we arrived at Beasley's Station, thirty miles off the road to Alexandria. On the morning of the next day McNutt's Hill was reached, where the rear of the enemy's column was seen defiling in the valley of Red River, supported by gunboats, out of harm's way, on its retreat to Alexandria. At McNutt's Hill Major-General Wharton assumed command of the cavalry corps. General Bee was ordered to proceed with his division—Bagby's and Debray's brigades—to Polk's plantation, about seven miles west of Alexandria, while General Steele with his division was to take position on Bayou Rapid, north of that city, and  General Major with his division and some artillery was to establish himself on Red River below Alexandria, and attack the gunboats and transports moving up and down the river. The standing order was to attack every day, and annoy the enemy by every possible means. Then a series of desultory engagements followed, in which in the morning, we drove back the enemy's pickets and outposts, to be driven in our turn by their supports of infantry and artillery, while the plantations around were set ablaze by the Federals. These skirmishes, producing no apparent advantages, cost us many lives. In Debray's regiment, Lieutenant Kerr, of Company C, was killed, and Lieutenants King, of Company E. and Burts, of Company B, were wounded; the former mortally, and the latter severely. At Polk's plantation Colonel Myers rejoined the regiment with the men whom he had been detached to bring from Texas, and resumed command. Meanwhile, Banks felt uncomfortable at Alexandria. The low stage of the water in Red River prevented his gunboats and heavier transports from passing down the rapids immediately above that city, and below his communications and line of supplies were intercepted by General Major, who captured and sunk several of his transports. But for the remonstrances of Admiral Porter, Banks would have hastened to the Mississippi with his land forces, abandoning to their fate his boats detained above Alexandria. However, by dint of engineering skill and almost superhuman exertion, a dam was constructed, which so raised the water in the river as to allow the gunboats to come down after having been stripped of their armorplates. The Federals, setting Alexandria on fire, started on the river road, escorted by their gunboats. Our cavalry and Polignac's division, by a night march on a parallel road, reached Marksville in advance, and caused the enemy to move through that town speedily enough, to prevent them from destroying it. On the next day, in Mansura Prairie, General Wharton formed his small force into line, so as to bar the road, and compel the enemy to deploy, and show his strength. Banks' whole army was at hand. Then, an artillery duel began, in which over fifty guns took part. The witnesses of that engagement have, probably, not forgotten the protracted rumbling noise produced by the echoing of the reports of artillery along the skirt of timber extending in our rear. As the enemy was seen endeavoring to turn our left, we gave way, and hastened to the heights that overlook the town of Moreauville, on Yellow Bayou. On the next morning, the enemy appeared, but was not suffered to tarry in the town and indulge in his wonted acts of incendiarism.  Following on General Bank's steps, on the 17th of May, we reached Norwood's plantation, about three miles distant from Atchafalaya, and deployed into line to attack his rear. But the enemy, turning against us, and massing his forces against our left, on the road, to allow his long train of wagons to defile on the pontoon bridge thrown over the stream, held us at bay with rapid volleys of musketry and artillery. This unfortunate and unnecessary affair, the only result of which was to delay the enemy in reaching the eastern side of the Atchafalaya, where we wanted him to go, cost us over two hundred men killed and wounded. Having no means to cross the Atchafalaya, we parted with General Banks's army. This was the closing scene of a brisk and brilliant six weeks campaign, in which 15,000 men indifferently armed and supplied, soon reduced to 6,000 men, hurled back an army of 40,000 men, splendidly appointed, and confident of sweeping aside, with ease, any obstacle thrown in its way to Shreveport, and thence, to Texas. Thus, our State was spared a formidable invasion and its inevitable consequences-ruin and devastation. Then, quiet and dull times prevailed. The cavalry corps, except one brigade kept, by turns, in observation on the Atchafalaya, spread over Western Louisiana, halting wherever supplies and grass could be found. Debray's brigade visited alternately Opelousas, Alexandria and Natchitoches, until October, when its turn came to do duty in the Atchafalaya swamps. There, bad rations, scanty forage, malarial fevers and camp diseases, the absence of medical stores, and worn out clothing and blankets caused much suffering and misery, nearly destroying the efficiency of the brigade. At last, by the close of November, the welcome order was received to return to Texas, by slow marches, consuming such commissary's and quartermaster's stores as had not decayed in the depots, where they had been accumulated by the operation of the ‘Impressment Act.’ The brigade halted at Sabine Town, San Augustine, Carthage, Henderson and Crockett; and by the close of March it reached the lower Brazos, at Pittsville, near Richmond. Men and horses had recovered strength and spirits, and brigade manoeuvering was actively entered upon, when, to our mutual sorrow, Gould's regiment was ordered off, to be attached to another brigade. Gould's was replaced by McNeal's regiment, which being ordered on detached service on the Trinity River, never coalesced with the brigade. From Pittsville, the brigade moved to the vicinity of Hempstead, where it camped at a short distance from the infantry division of  Major-General J. C. Walker who, after General Wharton's death, had also been assigned to the command of the cavalry corps. There, days of gloom and despondency came on us. The news of General Lee's surrender was received; and soldiers considering the war at an end, chafing under military restrictions, anxious to be with their families, left of their own accord, and soon, the army of Texas disintegrated. To the honor of Debray's and Wood's regiments be it said, that they sternly rejected all enticements to join in the ‘break up,’ and remained faithful to their colors. Upon General Debray's affirmative answer to General Magruder's enquiry whether his brigade could still be trusted, Debray's and Wood's regiments were ordered to march to Houston. That city, which, during the war, was the center of trade in Texas, supposed to contain an accumulation of goods and money, both public and private, was threatened by armed lawless men intent on plunder, who went so far as to capture railroad trains, the more promptly to reach the ‘Mecca’ of their greed. It became the stern duty of the brigade, by frequent and strong patrols, to disperse those people, and to cause them to leave the city. But supplies were failing; there was no money to procure them, and the credit of the Confederate States had ceased to exist; as a necessary consequence, the brigade had to be formally discharged by its commanding general. The companies returned in good order to their respective homes, there to dissolve, every man quietly resuming his avocation in civil life. Those who participated in the parting scenes in Debray's regiment will ever remember them. Grief over our lost cause, over the severance of an association of four years duration, grown into brotherly love, drew tears from the eyes of many a brave soldier. It was the tearing asunder of the members of a loving family. This closes the brief review of the career of Debray's regiment. A true and loyal regiment it was! Steady under fire, impetuous in attack, cool and defiant in retreat; in camp and garrison it was remarked for its good discipline and instruction, and its readiness and alacrity in the execution of orders. If it cannot pride itself in as many campaigns as other regiments, it was owing to the fortune of war, not to the choice of its members. This imperfect sketch, written from memory after the lapse of twenty years, fails to do full justice to its subject. It remains with the several companies to restore their muster rolls, to commemorate deeds of individual gallantry, and to pay a deserved tribute to the memory of their dead.  The old Colonel, in his declining years, and apprehending that his failing health—death, perhaps—may deprive him of the pleasure of participating in the contemplated reunion of his surviving comrades, wishes to leave to them this testimonial to their worth, with his heartfelt thanks for the deference and affection with which they have invariably honored him, in and out of the service, and to give them the assurance of his earnest wishes for their happiness. September, 1884. X. B. Debray.
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