Brave Texans left their native State and achieved Undying fame in Virginia
Address of Don. E. Henderson
at Galveston Reunion in 1901.
On the occasion of the thirty-first annual reunion of Hood
's Texas Brigade at Galveston
, Judge Don E. Henderson
, of Bryan
, a former member of Company E, 5th Texas, Hood
's Brigade, made the response to the address of welcome of Major Hume
He spoke as follows:
, Gentlemen, and comrades,—The survivors of Hood
's Texas Brigade at the behests of the citizens of Galveston
have met in annual reunion to do honor to their dead comrades and to the memory of the Lost Cause
A year ago your city was selected for this reunion.
Your condition at that time was far different from the present.
Then you numbered a population of more than 40,000 souls.
This was the beautiful ‘Oleander City’; the commercial emporium of Texas
; industry stimulated trade and enterprises; faith in the future girdled your loins, and hope smiled and waved her golden wand.
Since that time your Island City
has been devastated by the most disastrous storm in the annals of time.
Your homes have been swept away, and nearly one-fourth of your population has been destroyed.
It does not need to say that on receipt of the sad intelligence of your condition, we hesitated to accept your courtesy—not that we believed it would not be graciously extended, but the fear was less we should become a burden and trespass on your hospitality.
But I beg to state that this hesitation was only momentary, for we reflected that this had been the home of many of our dead comrades, who had gone forth with us to battle; that here lived, before and after the war, the gallant Sellers
, of whom General Hood
said, ‘He was the bravest of the brave,’ and who, though only a lieutenant-colonel and a
staff officer, led the brigade to one of the most brilliant victories of the war; and when we remembered that this was still the residence of Rogers
, the Settles, Goree
, and others of our surviving comrades, we knew that you would take it ill should we change our resolution; and we are here to-day to accept of your hospitality and to mingle together in social reunion.
We are glad to find your city not prostrate and despairing, but still strong and self-reliant.
, you have taken your bath in the sea; and though your locks may be dishevelled, you are full of hope and faith in the future; and with such determination as is yours, you will yet scale the walls of adversity, and, like the Venice of old, the city of the Adriatic
, the metropolis of the new Mediterranean
, will receive into her lap the riches of the Orient and rival in wealth and splendor the most renowned cities of ancient or modern times.
Four decades ago.
Forty years have passed since the three regiments of Texans, who subsequently became known as ‘Hood
's Brigade,’ left their native State and went forth to meet the invader and to do battle for the cause they believed to be just on the historic fields of the Old Dominion—years full of events; some of sorrow, some of joy, but all filled with hope as our country forged forward in the race of progress.
So rapid has been the advance of the achievements of civilization, such the rush and hurry incident to a money-making age, while the old generation has been passing away, and new men, who knew not our fathers of 1861, have taken their places, it is to be feared that we are unmindful of much that added glory to our Commonwealth; we are forgetting much that contributed luster to the name and fame of the Texas
But amid all this change, to us, the survivors of the Lost Cause
, nothing has occurred to diminish our pride or dim our eyes to the prowess and splendor of the noble heroes who offered their lives a willing sacrifice upon the altar of their country.
I trust I shall be pardoned if I recall on this occasion, at the risk of being considered prosaic and perhaps boastful, some of the events which made the name of the Texas
soldier the synonym of heroism throughout the world.
And to-day my
theme shall be, How Hood
's Brigade Won Its Spurs in Virginia
To tell all of its achievements would make a book, and would worry your patience.
I shall, therefore, undertake a glimpse of the campaign of 1862—the first real campaign of the war, and one in which that band of heroes carved for themselves and their State immortal fame.
Had I the gift of genius or the skill of the literary artist, I might weave a romance that would set at nought the march of Xenophon
and his Grecian band into the heart of Asia
, or that would pale into insignificance the deeds of chivalry and valor which characterized the days of knight errantry, when Richard the Lion Hearted
led the chivalry of Europe
against Salladin and his hordes of Moslems in the Holy Land
But, as it is, I must content myself with cold facts, and let history speak for itself.
Some of you here remember the Texas
The Lone Star State was then a marvel of beauty, interspersed here and there with farms and hamlets, and towns and villages, the cheerful homes of men. The hand of civilization had as yet scarcely marred the fair face of this Empire State.
Only one or two short lines of railway were then in existence.
Beyond these the stage coach was the public conveyance between places, while in all our borders we only had 600,000 or 700,000 people, one-fourth of whom were negroes.
But our white population constituted a robust and vigorous race—an honest yeomanry, the sons of pioneers, the progeny of the early settlers of this vast domain.
But to-day how changed!
The beauty of the wilderness has given place to the wonders of civilization.
The whole country is dotted with farms and ranches, towns and cities have sprung up on every hand, and more than 10,000 miles of railway form a network of travel and communication between our most distant points, while an enterprising population of three and a half million souls indicate the material progress we have accomplished.
When the call to arms was sounded the authorities at Richmond
were appealed to, and Texas
was grudgingly allowed to send three regiments to Virginia
, the anticipated arena of the contending armies.
These were raised in an incredibly short space of time, the counties vieing with each other in an effort to get into the regiments.
As fast as they were ready they were
sent forward to the front.
In the early fall of 1861 all three of the regiments, comprising about 3,000 troops, had arrived at Richmond
, were organized and armed, and afterwards went into winter quarters along the Potomac
in the neighborhood of Dumfries
, some thirty miles below Washington
Shall I pause to describe to you this splendid body of men, as they stood for the first time on dress parade on the banks of the Potomac
, of the 1st; Hood
, of the 4th, and Archer
, of the 5th, composed the field officers of the regiments, and thirty as gallant captains as ere commissions bore commanded the thirty companies.
As far as the eye could reach was a long line of gray.
Three thousand bright Texas
boys, mostly from eighteen to twenty-five years of age, with Enfield rifles and bayonets glittering in the sun, they presented a spectacle for the admiration of all beholders.
The farm, the ranch, the storehouse, the schoolroom, and the cottage, throughout the length and breadth of our Empire State, had all contributed their quota to swell the ranks of this remarkable body of men. Do you doubt for a moment that as they stood there, a solid phalanx, a thousand miles from home, surrounded by the troops from every State of the Confederacy
, as the sole representatives of the Lone Star State
, they realized Texas
had committed—to their care and keeping her fair fame, and they were determined to bear aloft the sacred honor of their State upon the points of their bayonets to victory or to death?
Their lips were yet warm with mother's, or wife's, or sweetheart's kiss, and with the parting benedictions to come home with their shields on them, they were inspired by the deeds of the illustrious heroes of the Alamo
, and San Jacinto
, and they pledged their faith to carve a name for themselves and for Texas
equal to the Tenth Legion of Caesar
or the Old Guard of Napoleon
How the fearful drama began.
But enough of this.
The fearful drama of 1862 is about to begin.
In the early spring the Federal Army
, some 200,000 men, under McClellan
, changed its base from the Potomac
to the Peninsula
of historic memory.
confronted by Magruder
with some 10,000 or 15,000 troops, who held the vast horde of Federal troops at bay until the arrival of General Johnston
, who rapidly marched from the line of the Rappahannock
to reinforce Magruder
After confronting him for several days, our army began its retreat toward Richmond
's Brigade, then belonging to Whiting
's Division, covering the retreat to Williamsburg
, passing through that town, while the battle of Williamsburg
was in progress.
The division was moved rapidly to Eltham's Landing, on York River
, in order to cover an anticipated movement calculated to intercept the retreat of the army.
Here, for the first time in the campaign, the Texas
troops engaged the enemy, in a densely wooded country along the York River
The 4th and 5th did but little fighting, but the 1st Texas encountered the enemy in strong force and a severe engagement ensued, in which that regiment drove at least double their number of Federal troops under cover of their gunboats.
The entire brigade lost some forty or fifty killed and wounded, while the enemy's loss was at least twice that number.
Here it was that Captain Denny
, of the 5th, and Lieutenant-Colonel Black
, of the 1st, were killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel Rainey
, of the 1st, was severely wounded.
I mention this battle, not so much on account of its importance as compared with others which ensued, but because it was the first contact the Texas
troops as a brigade had with the enemy, and in that engagement it performed its part so well as to receive the encomium of General Gustavus W. Smith
, the commanding officer
Hear what he says in his official report: ‘The brunt of the contest was borne by the Texans
, and to them is due the largest share of the honors of the day at Eltham
And again he says: ‘Had I 40,000 such troops I would undertake a successful invasion of the North
An aggressive campaign.
I pass by the battle of Seven Pines
, as the Texas Brigades were merely passive spectators in that engagement.
Shortly thereafter General Robert E. Lee
took command of the Confederate forces in Virginia
, and thenceforward that army ceased to retreat from the foe, and began an aggressive campaign which
crowned our cause with victory after victory until the name of the Confederate
soldier became illustrious wherever heroism is admired.
As soon as General Lee
assumed command of the army he undertook a campaign for the relief of Richmond
and for the purpose of driving the Federal
invaders from the soil of Virginia
I shall not stop here to relate the splendid strategy which re-enforced Jackson
, who was operating in the Valley
, with the division of Whiting
, to which the Texas Brigade then belonged, and how all these troops were immediately transferred from the Valley
to the rear of McClellan
's right flank at Mechanicsville
Suffice it, the battle of the 26th of June at Mechanicsville
ensued, in which the Federals
were driven from their works, and the two wings of our army, that on the north bank of the Chickahominy
and that on the south bank under Lee
, were reunited.
On the morning of the 27th of June, to-day thirty-nine years ago, at early dawn, the Confederates
began seeking the enemy; Longstreet
and A. P. Hill
pursued the routes on our right nearest the Chickahominy
, and came soonest on their lines, while the troops under Jackson
, composed of the divisions of Whiting
and D. H. Hill
, having to make a detour further to our left, came later upon the field, approaching the enemy in the neighborhood of Cold Harbor.
Our lines on the right were formed about 12 o'clock, and later on the left, and conformed to the enemy's in shape, but our position, aside from their fortifications, was far inferior to theirs.
Our line of battle, as formed, extending from right to left, was as follows: Longstreet
on the right, A. P. Hill
to his left, then the divisions of Ewell
and D. H. Hill
to his left in the order stated.
's Division, composed of Hood
's and Law
's Brigades, did not form in line, but were held in reserve near Cold Harbor.
The battle began in earnest a little past 12 o'clock, and soon raged with fury on our right where Longstreet
About 3 o'clock our left became engaged, and in the still, hot evening air the rattle of musketry and the roar of artillery was fearful all along our lines.
We knew, from our position of safety, that a terrible conflict was going on, in which the blood of the best and bravest on both sides was being poured out like water.
Still we were being held in leash, and the Texas Brigade, like the bedridden knight in
‘Ivanhoe,’ felt that they were destined to stay where they were while the game was being played which should bring us victory or defeat.
At this juncture the Texas Brigade was ordered to the front, and neyer did men obey such order with more alacrity.
A hot June afternoon.
At about 4:30 o'clock on that hot June afternoon the Texas Brigade, under the eye of Lee
, led by the gallant Hood
, swept forward to storm the centre of the enemy's position.
The 4th Texas on the right, to its left the 18th Georgia (then forming a part of the brigade), then the 1st and 5th Texas, and on the extreme left of the brigade Hampton
's Legion, then also a part of the command.
From the nature of the ground the 4th Texas had far the more difficult task of any regiment in the brigade, for in addition to the fortified position of the forces across the branch, which they were to storm, they were to make the attack across an open field in front of the Federal
position, while the balance of the command moved to the assault under cover of the thick woods in their front.
As we moved into the fight each soldier of the brigade felt that the crisis of the battle had come; that the hour of destiny had struck.
We knew that assault after assault had been made all along our lines from 2 to 4 o'clock, only to be repulsed with terrible loss, and around and before us were evidences of a fearful struggle, for the dead and dying of the commands which had preceded us lay thick upon the ground, while the remnant of that column, demoralized and beaten, was retiring through our ranks in disorder and confusion, telling the soldiers of the brigade, as we neared the enemy, ‘not to go in there; that it was death; that the enemy's position could not be taken.’
But this only added to our determination to break the lines of the enemy or perish in the attempt.
And undismayed, the citizen soldiery of Texas
moved steadily forward with the majestic tread of trained veterans.
The 1st and 5th Regiments, with the 18th Georgia and Hampton
's Legion, as stated before, charged the enemy through the woods, and their task was not as severe as that of the 4th, which charged across an open field under a murderous fire of the enemy's infantry and artillery for near
half a mile.
But led, as they were, by the immortal Hood
, they did it beautifully, grandly.
A shower of shot and shell.
In the language of General Hood
himself: ‘Onward we marched under a constantly increasing shower of shot and shell, whilst to our right could be seen some of our troops making their way to the rear, and others laying down beneath a galling fire.
Our ranks were thinned at almost every step forward, and proportionately to the growing fury of the storm of projectiles.
Soon we attained the crest of the bald ridge, within about 150 yards of the breastworks.
Here was concentrated upon us from batteries in front and flank a fire of shell and canister, which ploughed through our ranks with deadly effect.
Already the gallant Colonel Marshall
, together with many other brave men, had fallen victims in this bloody onset.
At a quickened pace we continued to advance without firing a shot, down the slope over a body of our soldiers lying on the ground, and across Powhite Creek
, when amid the fearful roar of musketry and artillery, I gave the order to fix bayonets and charge.
With a ringing shout we dashed up the steep hill, through the abattis and over the breastworks upon the very heads of the enemy.
The Federals, panic-stricken, rushed precipitately to the rear upon the infantry in support of the artillery.
Suddenly the whole joined in flight toward the valley beyond.’
While the 4th was making this glorious charge, equal to any in the annals of war, the 1st and 5th, with the 18th Georgia and Hampton
's Legion, were nobly fighting and charging in their front, and simultaneously with the breach made by the 4th, they swept the Federals
from their front, and the enemy's centre once pierced, they soon gave way all along their line, and as our victorious forces emerged upon the high plateau lately held by the enemy, as the shades of evening were gathering fast, we beheld the Federal Army
, broken in every part, in full retreat towards its bridges on the Chickahominy
The coming night alone saved that wing of McClellan
's Army from utter ruin.
As it was, our victory was complete, and although our own losses were heavy, they were not heavier than the enemy's.
As stated before, night put an end to the battle and to our pursuit, and the remnant of Fitz John Porter
's Corps, under cover of darkness, escaped across the bridges of the Chickahominy
and joined McClellan
's forces south of that stream.
calls this a meditated change of base.
Be that as it may, the truth remains that if such was his previous intention, the result of the battle of Gaines' Mill
greatly expedited that change.
Battle of Gaines' Mill.
The battle of Gaines' Mill
was the battle of all others which inspired our troops with confidence in themselves and their great commander, General Lee
It was the battle which taught the Confederate
troops in Virginia
how to win victory, and the forerunner of the series of splendid achievements which henceforth attended Lee
Others have claimed the credit of being the first to break the Federal
lines at Gaines' Mill
, notably General D. H. Hill
, who commanded the extreme left of the Confederate Army.
Fortunately, the claim of the Texas Brigade to this honor does not depend solely on the testimony of themselves, for in addition we have as witnesses General Lee
, who commanded the Confederate Army, and General Jackson
, who commanded on our part of the field; and, besides, we have the evidence of the Federal
commander, General Porter
Here is what General Lee
says: About 4:30, when General Hood
was preparing to lead the 4th Texas to storm the enemy's works, he met General Lee
, who announced to him that our troops had been fighting gallantly, but had not succeeded in dislodging the enemy.
He added this must be done, and asked General Hood
if he could do it. To which General Hood
replied he would try. General Jackson
, with reference to this charge of the 4th Texas, says officially: ‘In this charge, in which upward of 1,000 men fell, killed and wounded before the fire of the enemy, in which ten pieces of artillery and nearly a regiment was captured, the 4th Texas, under the command of General Hood
, was the first to pierce their strongholds and seize the guns.
Although swept from their defences by this rapid and almost matchless display of daring and desperate valor, the well-disciplined Federals continued
in retreat to fight with stubborn resistance.’
And he further remarked ‘that the men who carried this position were soldiers indeed.’
General Fitz John Porter
, the Federal
commander, says: ‘As if for a final effort, as the shades of evening were coming upon us and the woods were filled with smoke limiting the view therein to a few yards, the enemy again massed his fresher and reformed regiments and turned them in rapid succession against our thinned and wearied battalions, now almost without ammunition, and with guns so foul that they could not be loaded rapidly.
The attacks, though coming like a series of irresistible avalanches, had thus far made no inroads upon our firm and disciplined ranks.
Even in this last attack we successfully resisted, driving back our assailants with immense loss, or holding them beyond our lines, except in one instance near the centre of Morrell
's line where, by force of numbers and under cover of the smoke of battle, our line was penetrated and broken.’
's line of battle was opposite the position carried by the Texas Brigade.
At Second Manassas.
I pass hurriedly to the second battle of Manassas
, where the Texas Brigade was again destined to turn the tide of war. It is not necessary to recount how we arrived upon that field, further than to state that the seven-days' battles around Richmond
had driven McClellan
to seek a new base, and he had taken a boat and gone to the neighborhood of Washington
, and Lee
was merely seeking him out. Meantime, McClellan
had been superseded, and Pope
was in command of the army.
On the same battlefield which had witnessed the first great shock of arms between the Federal
and Confederate forces in 1861 on the 29th of August, 1862, General Pope
, with about 50,000 Federal troops, confronted General Lee
, in command of about 75,000 Confederates.
During the greater part of the 29th a fierce conflict raged between the forces of Jackson
, on the Confederate
left, and the Federal
troops opposite him, but nothing appears to have been gained on either side, except the loss of many lives.
The morning of the 30th dawned bright and clear, the atmosphere was heavy, and every man felt that to-day the decisive
battle would be fought, but somehow the morning passed and the real struggle had not begun.
In the evening the fighting again began on the left of our line.
At about 4 o'clock the battle was taken up along our centre and right, and at 4:30 the Texas Brigade was ordered to charge.
The troops moved at a rapid pace some 300 or 400 yards before the enemy was encountered, and here a strange scene occurred.
The 5th and 10th New York Zouaves, clad in their splendid red uniforms, opposed the advance of the 5th Texas Regiment.
They were posted in the edge of a wood, with an open country sloping to a creek some 200 yards in their rear.
As the regiment neared the enemy in a rapid charge, they delivered one deadly volley, and then, before they could reload, the Texans
were upon them, and the Federals
turned and fled, and it is no exaggeration to say that hillside was strewn thick with the flower of those two regiments.
An observer said that it was possible to walk on corpses from the edge of the wood to the creek, so thickly were they strewn.
Our troops did not pause, but swept forward like a cyclone.
They passed the creek pursuing the Federals
up the hillside beyond, and when they neared the crest, they found themselves confronted by a line of blue, standing in a declivity, and beyond them and over their heads played upon the Confederates
shot and shell from a battery.
There was no time to pause in such a crisis, he who hesitates is lost, and the regiment pressed boldly forward.
Time after time the flag of the regiment went down, but as fast as one standard-bearer fell another seized the colors, and the regiment pressed bravely on until this line of battle was broken and fled incontinently from the field, and the battle was ours.
And still another line of battle of the enemy was broken, until this regiment, which, as General Hood
says, ‘Slipped the bridle and pierced to the very heart of the enemy,’ found itself almost surrounded, when it had to make a flank movement in order to shelter itself in the timber.
To show how severe and deadly was this conflict, the regiment lost seven standard-bearers killed; the flag-staff was shot in two, and the flag itself was pierced with twenty-seven bullets, and had three bomb scorches on it.
It is not claimed here that the 5th Texas was the first to breach the enemy's lines, as is claimed for the 4th at Gaines
Mill, as the movement on our part of the field seemed to have been general, and the enemy gave way all along the line, though if any other regiment accomplished any greater results than the 5th at the Second Manassas
, the annals of the war fail to show it.
, or Sharpsburg
, seventeen days later, the Texas Brigade materiallly aided Lee
to repulse and hold the enemy at bay, thus winning another victory.
At this time, by the long marches of the campaign, and by the casualties of battle, the effective force of the three regiments, all told, was about 850.
On our part of the field, which was the left, we constituted both support and reserve.
On this battle-ground about 35,000 Confederate troops confronted about 140,000 Federals, under General McClellan
, who had again resumed command of the Army of the Potomac.
The conflict on our part of the field began about sunrise, and soon raged fiercely in our immediate front.
The word came that the brigades of Lawton
, and Hays
were being hard pressed, and Hood
's Division, composed of an Alabama Brigade, under Law, and the Texas Brigade, under Colonel Wofford
, of the 18th Georgia, were ordered forward.
When the troops emerged from the timber and passed the old church and into the open corn field, a herculean task lay before them.
Down the slant of the hill stood the remnant of the division before mentioned.
They still held their position, but were unable to advance.
Beyond them in the open and in the timber stood a solid field of blue, at least three columns deep.
To an observer it looked as if the whole of Hooker
's Corps was there.
As we occupied a position on the hill, and above the Confederate
line in front, the fire of the enemy played havoc in the ranks of the supporting column.
In vain did the officers in charge of Hays
' and Trimble
's Brigades urge them to charge, and in vain did the Texas Brigade add its entreaties to theirs.
The line would neither advance nor retreat; its ranks were decimated, and its fire was ineffective.
Suddenly, as if moved by a single impulse, the Texans
, unable to be restrained longer by their commanding officers, charged over the line of our own
troops and swept upon the advancing foe like an irresistible avalanche.
In the twinkling of an eye the enemy wavered, turned, and fled—still the brigade pressed forward until two other lines of the enemy were broken and driven from the field and through the wood, and were routed from behind a stone wall, where they sought shelter.
Not receiving an expected support, it was beyond human endurance to advance further; but here the line rested, and was held through that bloody day, resisting assault after assault of the enemy.
But for this terrific and successful assault on the part of Hood
's Division, our left centre would have been broken, the left wing of the army turned, and the fords on the Potomac
captured by the enemy, and Lee
's army shut in between the Antietam
and the Potomac
By members of the brigade who were engaged in nearly every battle in Virginia
, on account of its sanguinary and protracted character, has been characterized as the hardest-fought battle of the war.
Two little giant Brigades.
, who won his rank of major-general for gallantry on that day, speaks of this charge in the following language: ‘Here I witnessed the most terrible clash of arms by far that has occurred during the war. Two little giant brigades of my command wrestled with the mighty force, and although they lost hundreds of their officers and men, they drove them from their position and forced them to abandon their guns on our left.’
This battle completed the campaign of 1862, and established for the Texas Brigade a reputation for bravery and courage which was not excelled by that of any troops in General Lee
's Army, and their noble example was an inspiration, not only in Virginia
, but throughout the West
, and caused emotions of joy and pride to thrill the hearts of our countrymen throughout the entire South
The brigade had thus won its spurs, but at the cost of the best and bravest in its ranks; and the task henceforth devolved on the survivors to sustain the reputation which they had so heroically won. Though the task was difficult I am proud to say, they sustained the glory of their achievements on almost every battle-field in which the Army of Northern Virginia
, at Chickamauga
, and in the Wilderness
they added new lustre to their name, and they kept their fame untarnished until the end of the struggle at Appomattox
Hitherto I have told of their deeds; but I will here quote what some of the illustrious soldiers, under whose eye they fought, said of them, so that it may be seen in what estimation they were held in that army.
Bravest of the brave.
Here is what General Hood
, who, if he does not stand so high as some others as a tactician or strategist, takes rank with the bravest of the brave as a soldier and a fighter.
He says: ‘So highly wrought were the pride and self-reliance of these troops that they believed they could carve their way through almost any number of the enemy's lines formed in an open field in their front.’
And again he says: ‘Long and constant service with this noble brigade must prove a sufficient apology for a brief reference at this juncture to its extraordinary military record.
From the hour of its first encounter with the enemy at Eltham's Landing, on York River
, in 1862, to the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, in almost every battle in Virginia
, it bore a conspicuous part.
It acted as the advance guard of Jackson
when he moved upon McClellan
, and almost without an exceptional instance it was among the foremost of Longstreet
's Corps in an attack or pursuit of the enemy.
It was also, as a rule, with the rear guard of this corps, whenever falling back before the adversary.
If a ditch was to be leaped, or fortified position to be carried, General Lee
knew no better troops upon which to rely.
In truth, its signal achievements in the war of secession have never been surpassed in the history of nations.’
And hear what the greatest military chieftain of modern times, General Robert E. Lee
, addressing General Wigfall
, on the 21st of September, 1862, just after Sharpsburg
, writes: ‘General, I have not heard from you with regard to the new Texas
regiments, which you promised to raise for the army.
I need them very much.
I rely upon those we have in all our tight places, and fear I have to call upon them too often.
They have fought grandly and nobly, and we must have more of them.
Please make every
possible exertion to get them on for me. You must help us in this matter.
With a few more regiments such as Hood
now has, as an example of daring and bravery, I could feel more confident of the campaign.’
Only did their duty.
I have thus dwelt on some of the events of the campaign of 1862, in which the Texas Brigade participated, not for the purpose of unduly boasting nor of drawing a comparison between the achievements of these troops and those of other Confederate troops, or of other Texas
troops who may have fought in Johnston
's Army or on this side of the Mississippi
They only did their duty as soldiers; and if this little band of Texans was more conspicuous or accomplished greater results than their brothers on other fields, it was doubtless because they were better disciplined and better led. In other words, they were afforded a better opportunity to display their courage, and simply demonstrated what, under the same conditions, other Texans would have done.
All no doubt did their best in the great struggle which taxed the courage and energies of the people of the South
And how near we came to achieving success in the mighty struggle, none but the God of Battles, who shapes the destinies of nations, can ever know.
No doubt it was He who, on Shiloh
's bloody field, directed the unconscious aim of the Federal
soldier who fired the shot which struck down the great commander of the Western Army, Albert Sidney Johnston
, and thus turned victory for our arms into defeat.
Evidently it was the guiding hand of the great unseen Architect of Nations who brought the Monitor
into the waters of the Chesapeake
to grapple in deadly conflict with the Merrimac
for the supremacy of the seas.
And we concede that it was He who delayed Ewell
's coming until the heights of Gettysburg
were crowned with the Federal Army
under General Meade
, and thus pitted the impregnable mountains against the fierce assaults of the cohorts of Lee
under the gallant and daring Pickett
It was never intended by the Divine Hand
that this nation as a nation should perish from the earth.
On the contrary, cemented by the blood of its bravest and best, it was foreordained that it should continue
to live, to bless and guide the nations of the earth.
And I have no doubt that the time will come when this great republic as a nation will feel proud of the courage and achievements of the Southern
soldier, and will revere the names of Lee
as it now reveres the names of Grant
I am not unmindful that there be those who would rob us of our title to courage and honor—all that remains to us as a result of the war. But of this rest assured, they are not of the soldiers who fought in that struggle.
These, if they would, could not afford to disparage our courage or bravery, for on this pedestal rests their own powers and fame.
For, take notice of this fact, no nation will discredit its own deeds of heroism.
All men love glory, and all men admire courage, and without courage and love of glory a nation is doomed.
While the harvest of death throughout four long years of terrible war enriched our soil with the blood of our purest and noblest, it was not shed in vain, for in that martyrdom which tired men's souls our people coined a reputation for courage and duty, for patriotism and love of country, which glorified them, and of which nothing can ever rob or despoil us. That honor and courage henceforth is consecrated to the preservation of the nation, and we will transmit it as a precious legacy to our children.
May they not forget the immortal dead; may they emulate their example.