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Chapter 15:

The Texas troops that were in the battle of Jenkins' Ferry were ordered southward, and about the middle of May, 1864, Col. W. H. King was promoted to brigadier-general and assigned to the Second brigade, General Waul having resigned on account of wounds. Maj. R. P. McCay was promoted to brigadier general commanding the First brigade, and Col. Richard Waterhouse was promoted and put in command of the Third brigade, Walker's division.

About the middle of June, 1864, Maj.-Gen. John G. Walker was relieved from his division and assigned to the command of the district of Southwest Louisiana in place of Gen. Richard Taylor, who was transferred east of the Mississippi river. Brigadier-General King for a time was in command of Walker's division, until Maj.-Gen. John H, Forney arrived and took charge. General King was then assigned to the brigade of General Polignac, who left the country and returned to France. In the meantime General Magruder had been assigned to duty in southern Arkansas, with the view of keeping the Federals pressed back to the Arkansas river, which was held by General Steele. About the 18th of January, 1865, Lieutenant-General Buckner arrived to take command [138] of the district of Louisiana, and issued an encouraging address to the troops.

The Texas troops generally in Louisiana commenced a movement to Texas, and by March 15th a large number of them had reached Camp Grice, 2 1/2 miles east of Hempstead. Not long afterward a rumor reached them of the surrender of Generals Lee, Johnston and Taylor. Some doubted, but soon the news came as upon the wings of the wind, confirming it as a certainty. Their spirits sank in sadness and regret. Generals Kirby Smith, Magruder and Forney were there, and made addresses to the assembled soldiers, appealing to them to stand to their colors as good soldiers, and even holding out as encouragement the promise of aid from the East, so that a firm stand by them might be the means of gaining sufficient strength to retrieve misfortune and still maintain the cause for which they had so nobly fought. They were advised in any event to hold to their organizations, and on going home to carry with them their honorable discharges. These in substance were the views presented to them.

The officers and soldiers of the line listened respectfully to the addresses of their generals; but the Texas soldiers were not mere men-machines, to be manipulated by high officers upon a great emergency. They were more than Texas soldiers; they were Texas citizens, and did not submerge their citizenship entirely in becoming soldiers. They had protected Texas from the invasion of the enemy, and when they went to Arkansas, Louisiana and other States in the Confederate service, they were still protecting Texas. There were no lonely chimneys standing in Texas amidst the ashes of houses burned in the vandal-like marches of the enemy, as they had seen in Louisiana There were no farms, homes and towns made desolate by the ravages of a cruel warfare. It was easy for even soldiers of the line to understand that if General Grant should thrust his armed host upon Texas, its broad [139] domain would be laid in ruins, and they would be powerless to prevent it even by the sacrifice of their lives in defense of their homes and country.

Already the private intelligence had reached their ears that Gen. Kirby Smith thought it useless to make another fight. That was enough to determine them in the exercise of their own judgment. They commenced leaving their camps, not furtively in the night, but openly in the daytime. It was not with a disaffected spirit in mutiny against their superior officers; but it was as in the case of the wrecked vessel slowly sinking; when the captain's power of control had ceased by common consent, the manning of the boat any longer was seen to be hopeless, and the personal safety of each one on board was the common concern, to be secured if practicable each in his own way. In the meantime, on May 1st, General Sprague, a Federal officer, arrived at the mouth of Red river with dispatches from General Canby, demanding the surrender of the Trans-Mississippi department by Gen. Kirby Smith. Thereupon steps were taken for negotiations looking to that result. The Confederate troops continued to leave their camps, so that by the 19th of May a majority of them had gone or were preparing to leave, when the balance of them being discharged started for their homes, taking with them one wagon and team to the company, with their baggage, provisions, and arms.

The scenes at their parting are described by an intelligent young soldier, J. P. Blessington, of Walker's division, who kept a daily journal and published it after the war, as follows: ‘The parting among the troops was most affecting. Many put their arms around each other's necks and sobbed like children; others gave the strong grasp of the hand and silently went away, with a huskily-spoken “Good-bye” or deep oath. Such were some of the farewell scenes. Together in battle or camp, in sunshine and in storm, in suffering and pleasure, in sorrow and in [140] joy, on the weary and toiling march, no wonder that their hearts were linked together in bands of steel with ties unspeakable, inexpressible. No wonder the parting wrung their souls with torturing agony.’

The soldiers in other localities disbanded in the same manner. Then the roads all over the State were filled with soldiers marching to their homes, and the doors of every house in their passing were opened to supply their wants. This vast confused movement passing in review brought to the mind of the beholder feelings of sorrow for the lost cause, and produced a sad despondency regarding the present and a dire dread of the future. Still, not an instance of violence or of wrong done by a returning soldier was heard of in all this homeward movement.

Governor Murrah, learning that the camps were broken up, dispatched Col. Ashbel Smith and W. P. Ballinger to New Orleans to inform General Canby that the Texas troops were discharged and that no further resistance was intended. The terms of surrender signed by S. B. Buckner, lieutenant-general, and chief of staff for Gen. Kirby Smith, and by P. J. Osterhaus, major-general, and chief of staff for Major-General Canby, on the 26th of May, 1865, provided for acts of war on the part of the troops to cease, the officers and men to be paroled, and ‘allowed to return to their homes with the assurance that they will not be disturbed, so long as they obey the conditions of their parole and the laws in force where they reside.’ Other stipulations about the property and arms need not be recounted, for the arms, except cannon, were carried off by the men. As all who had been in the Confederate army had not been present to be paroled, a short time afterward places were appointed at which this could be done, superintended by Federal officers. Then the roads were again filled with travel to and from those places for several weeks, while the same peaceful good order prevailed throughout the State.

For more than three months there was an interregnum [141] throughout the land. The State officers claimed no authority and exercised none, and there were no Federal officers to enforce the observance of the law. Still peace and good order prevailed, exhibiting the moral standard of the people of Texas in a more conspicuous light than could perhaps be done in any other way. All were as one family in sore misfortune. The war was over, as to the fighting of the Confederates. They had made a grand struggle in defense, but were overpowered by force of numbers against them, entailing upon them no loss of honor or manhood. Though they bowed with submission to the sad fate of defeat, their heads were still erect with the self-esteem inspired by the consciousness of duty well done, and with a conviction of the justice and of the right for which they fought still unshaken.

There is no information accessible that affords an accurate statement of the number of soldiers that were furnished by Texas. Governor Lubbock, in his last message, November, 1863, stated the number as then estimated to be 90,000. There may have been more before the close of the war. Nor can the number of deaths by sickness and in battle be given.

It may not be out of place here to show how greatly our soldiers suffered by changes of localities in their service, a valuable lesson learned in climatology. Those soldiers who served in Texas and in the Indian Territory lost few of their numbers from deaths or from discharges on account of sickness. Those who were in service in the far moister climate of Arkansas, east and northeast of Little Rock, in less than a year lost by death and by discharges from sickness more than one-tenth of the number, upon an average, in all of the many commands that went there from Texas. Other instances might be referred to, but this will suffice to illustrate the importance of every particular section in an extensive country, with conditions of climate varying from each other, furnishing if practicable a force sufficient for its own protection. [142]

In taking a survey of the operations of the Texas troops in the numerous battles in which they were engaged in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, the large number of promotions for meritorious conduct in them will attract attention as a remarkable result. Maj. John Henry Brown, who was an officer in the army from nearly the first to the last, in his valuable history of Texas reported that of Texans in the army, ‘one became a general, Albert Sidney Johnston, the highest rank; one lieutenant-general, John B. Hood; three major-generals, Samuel B. Maxey, John A. Wharton and Thomas Green; 32 brigadier-generals, 97 colonels, and 15 commanders of battalions.’ Nearly all of those officers attained the ranks mentioned from lower ranks, by their valor in battles. It would occupy too much space to mention each one of them and describe the conduct which caused his promotion, if such a thing were practicable, which it is not now. It may not be improper to speak of five of them who were educated at West Point, as follows:

Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston was a native of Kentucky, and after graduating at West Point in 1826 entered the army. He resigned his position and came to Texas in 1836, and in 1837 was placed at the head of the Texas army, and afterward was adjutant-general under President Lamar. His headright of land, located in eastern Texas, is evidence of his permanent citizenship in Texas. In 1846 he became a colonel in the Mexican war, and afterward commanded a Federal regiment in service in California, from which he resigned, went overland through Texas to Richmond, and was appointed general and assigned to command in Kentucky. He was wounded, and died in April, 1862. This meager statement of the splendid career of this great general is sufficient to bring to view the question why it is claimed that he was a Texas officer in the Confederate army. While in command of his regiment in different States, he was in them as a [143] mere sojourner, liable to be assigned any day to any other State. His citizenship remained in Texas, and he, it was said, claimed to be a Texan in entering the Confederate service. Under the Constitution of the United States, before the adoption of the Fourteenth amendment in 1868, a person was a citizen of the United States only relatively, by being a citizen of a State, to which his allegiance was due. Hence it was that Robert E. Lee, Sidney Johnston and a number of other officers of the United States army, when the war broke out, resigned and went to the States that claimed their allegiance and took service in the Confederate army. One of the leading objects of the Congress after the war, which caused the Southern senators and representatives to be excluded from their seats in it, was to transfer the allegiance of every person to the United States, which was done by the Fourteenth amendment, thereby attempting to change the Federal government (instituted originally by the constitution) to a National government, with the absolute right to construe and exercise its own powers, with no capacity left the States to protect their previously conceded reserved rights.

Gen. John B. Hood, as it was reported, claimed Texas as his State, perhaps from his having served on our frontier as an officer. Gen. Horace Randal was born in Texas, and so was Colonel McNeill, both of whom, and General Maxey, were educated at West Point. A peculiar case was that of Adam R. Johnson. He was a citizen of Texas and a surveyor. He went back to his native State, Kentucky, became a scout for General Morgan, got a separate command, operated with it in the Federal lines, mostly in Kentucky, and rose to the rank of brigadier-general. He was wounded, causing the loss of his eyesight. He came back to Texas a blind man. He has raised a family and is the founder of Marble Falls, destined to be a great manufacturing city. [144]

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