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Ector's Brigade
Confederate Army
by Ralph Clark


Operations from Richmond KY to Chickamauga
Matthew D. Ector was appointed Brigadier General 23 Aug 1862, and led his brigade in McCown's division at Richmond KY and Stones River. In the latter battle at the end of 1862, Ector's brigade, serving as infantry, included the 10th, 11th, 14th, and 15th Texas Cavalry Regiments. His brigade was subsequently assigned to Maj. Gen. W.H.T. Walker's division. Aug 24, 1863 the 29th NC Infy joined the brigade. Gen. Walker having been named commander of the Reserve Corps, Brig. Gen. States Rights Gist was in command of the still named Walker's division when that corps was sent to reinforce Gen. Bragg's Army of Tennessee. Walker's corps crossed to the west bank of Chickamauga Creek, and the two brigades of Gist's division were heavily engaged in the first clash on the morning of Sept. 19, 1863 at the battle of Chickamauga.

After Chickamauga - to Atlanta and Beyond
Sept 22 the brigade was transferred back to Gen. Johnston's army in Mississippi and assigned to the division commanded by Maj. Gen. Samuel G. French(1) in Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk's Corps of the Army of Mississippi.

From Sept. 1863 they remained in Mississippi until May 1864, when Polk's Corps joined Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's defense of Atlanta. At that time, Gen. Ector's brigade included the 29th and 39th NC Infantry Regts, and 4 Texas regimets, the 9th, 10th, 14th, and 32nd, of which the last 3 were discribed as dismounted cavalry. A recent book(2) describes the action around Kennesaw Mountain in June 1864. On June 14, Lt. Gen. Polk was killed by a cannon ball, and Maj. Gen. William W. Loring took temporary command of the Corps. On July 4, Loring's Corps, on the right of the Confederate line near Smyrna, bore the brunt of an attack by the Federals. The 29th was actively engaged and lost 2 men killed, 8 wounded, and 27 missing.(3) On July 7th, command of Loring's Corps was assumed by Lt. Gen Alexander Stewart.

On July 17, Gen Johnston was replaced in command of the Army of Tennessee by Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood, who launched a costly and unsuccessful counterattack. During the Battle of Peachtree Creek on July 20 the 29th Regiment lost 28 men missing(3) and the 39th lost 15 men killed, wounded, and missing.(4) On July 27 the brigade was detached to reinforce Walthall's division at Ezra Church, 2 miles west of Atlanta. Gen. Ector was wounded, and replaced as brigade commander by Col. Willim H. Young of the 9th Texas Infy, who was appointed Brig. Gen.

On Aug 26, Stewart's Corps was left to hold Atlanta, while Gen. Hood took the other two corps 15 miles southwest to Jonesboro, to unsuccessfully try to prevent encirclement by Sherman's forces. After a 2 day battle, they retreated to Lovejoy's Station, where they were joined by Stewart's corps and Gen. Hood, who evacuated Atlanta Sept 1, 1864. French's division acted as the rear guard. During the defense of Atlanta, the 29th NC lost 1 man killed, 20 wounded, and 4 missing.(3)

After a standoff, Gen. Hood maneuvered his army to strike Federal supply lines. On Oct 5, French's division attacked Allatoona. Gen. Young was wounded and captured, and replaced as brigade commander by Col. Coleman of the 39th NC. Maj. E. H. Hampton reported the 29th NC's part in the battle in the Official Records.(5)

During the following months Gen. Hood's army advanced into Tennessee. At some time Gen. Ector, recovered, resumed command of the brigade. The 29th and 39th Regiments, assigned to guard the pontoon train, missed the bloody Battle of Franklin. Gen. Hood moved his army into a defensive position outside of Nashville. Gen. French having taken a leave of absence, his depleted division was merged into that of Maj. Gen. Walthall, remaining in Stewart's corps. On Dec 15, Gen. Thomas launched an attack by his Federal army upon Stewart's position. Ector's brigade first assisted in the defense of Hillsboro Pike, but withdrew after the Federals broke through Walthall's fortifications. Hood's beaten army retreated toward Franklin. Gen. Stewart wrote that the brigade's conduct during the battle was "characterized by the usual intrepidity of this small but firm and reliable body of men."(6)

After the retreat fron Tennessee, they participated in the defense of Mobile, Alabama, under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Dabney H. Maury. Stationed in Spanish Fort, backed against the Apalachee River at the head of Mobile Bay, they endured its siege April 2-8, 1865. Ector's brigade, one of three, held the left of the line.(7) Federal troops, led by the 8th Iowa, gained a lodgment on the right, and during the night of April 8-9, the defenders withdrew over a treadway bridge to Battery Tracy, with a reported loss of about 500 prisoners. The Confederate commander of the garrison, Brig. Gen. R. L. Gibson, reported 93 men killed, 395 wounded, and 250 missing.(8) Gen. Maury withdrew his men from Mobile before the 12th to Meridian, Mississippi, where the department commander, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, on hearing of the surrender by Gen. Johnston of the last army on the east coast, surrendered his forces May 4, 1865.


Notes and References

1. French, Samuel G., Two Wars (Nashville, 1901).
2. Baumgartner, Richard A., Kennesaw Mountain June 1864 (Huntington, WV: Blue Acorn Press, 1998).

3. Jordan, Weymouth T. Jr., comp., unit histories by Louis H. Manarin, North Carolina Troops 1861-1865 A Roster, Vol.VIII Infantry 27th - 31st Regiments (Raleigh, NC: Division of Archives and History, 1981), p. 233-234.

4. Jordan, Weymouth T. Jr., comp., unit histories by Louis H. Manarin, North Carolina Troops 1861-1865 A Roster, Vol. X Infantry 38th - 39th and 42nd - 44th Regiments (Raleigh, NC: Division of Archives and History, 1985), p. 107-108.

5. Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. XXXIX, pt. 1, pp. 820-821.

6. Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. XLV, pt. 1, p. 710.

7. Irwin, Richard B., "Land Operations Against Mobile," in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (1883, reprinted Secaucus, NJ: Castle, n.d.), Vol. IV, p. 411.

8. Boatner, Mark M. III, The Civil War Dictionary, (New York: Vintage Books, 1991), p. 781.

This is from the Handbook of Texas online.

ECTOR'S BRIGADE. Ector's Brigade was formed during the reorganization of Gen. Braxton Bragg's command in November 1862, which resulted in the Army of Tennessee. Gen. Mathew D. Ectorqv was the original commander of this Civil Warqv brigade and served until he was wounded in July 1864. Other commanders were Gen. William H. Young,qv Col. C. R. Earp, Col. David Coleman, and Col. Julius Andrews. The original units of the brigade were the Tenth, Eleventh, and Fourteenth Texas Dismounted Cavalry, and the Douglas Battery (see DOUGLAS, JAMES P.). The Fifteenth Texas Dismounted Cavalry (the Thirty-second Texas Cavalry) joined the brigade soon after it was formed. The Eleventh Texas Cavalry, commanded by Col. William C. Young,qv was remounted after the battle of Murfreesboro, and its place in line was taken by the Ninth Texas Infantry. The Douglas Battery also left the brigade in early 1863. The Twenty-ninth and Thirty-ninth North Carolina Infantry regiments were transferred to the brigade in August 1863 and May 1864 respectively and remained with it until the end of the war. Units that served briefly in the brigade were the Fortieth Alabama Sharpshooters, the Forty-third Mississippi Sharpshooters, and McNally's Arkansas Battery.

Ector's Brigade participated in the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and took part in the initial assault on the Union right on the morning of December 31, 1862. In one day of fighting the brigade suffered thirty-eight killed and 308 wounded. They did not take part in the fighting on January 2, 1863. The brigade marched to Mississippi and joined Gen. Joseph E. Johnston'sqv forces in an attempt to relieve the besieged Confederates at Vicksburg. After the surrender of that city they participated in the siege of Jackson (July 10-17), before returning to the Army of Tennessee and fighting in the battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, on September 19-20, 1863. At this battle the brigade had fifty-nine killed, 239 wounded, and 138 missing.

In September 1863 Ector was again ordered to march his brigade to Mississippi, and after reaching General Johnston's army it joined Gen. Samuel French's division in the Army of Mississippi. After Johnston assumed command of the Army of Tennessee, Gen. Leonidas Polk took command of the Mississippi army and assembled his forces at Meridian to contest Gen. William T. Sherman's.qv When the federals moved, Polk transferred his troops to Demopolis, Alabama, where they remained until they joined the Army of Tennessee in Georgia in May 1864.

Ector's brigade reached Rome, Georgia, in time to defend the town from Union troops on May 16 before joining Johnston's army at Kingston, Georgia. It participated in the long retreat toward Atlanta, taking part in numerous skirmishes and being lightly engaged at Dallas (May 25-June 4) before seeing action at the Lattermoure House and then at Kennesaw Mountain on June 25 and Smyrna on July 2-5. After Gen. John Bell Hoodqv took command of the Army of Tennessee on July 17, Ector's troops remained in their trenches at Atlanta until they were lightly engaged in the battle of Peach Tree Creek on July 20.

Once Hood had abandoned Atlanta, French's division was ordered to attack the federals at Allatoona, Georgia, where Ector's brigade saw heavy fighting. As a result of this action the brigade had forty-three killed, 147 wounded, and eleven missing out of about 400 troops and did not reach Hood's army until after the battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864.

Ector's brigade marched north with the Army of Tennessee and participated in the battle of Nashville (December 15-16) before retreating to Mississippi. During the retreat the brigade formed part of the rear guard that ambushed a federal force at Sugar Creek on Christmas Day.

After General Johnston resumed command of the Army of Tennessee, Ector's Brigade was detached and ordered to Mobile, Alabama, where it joined other Confederate soldiers defending Spanish Fort (March 27-April 8, 1865). It was forced to evacuate the city and finally surrendered at Meridian, Mississippi, on May 4, 1865.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

David V. Stroud

Gary D. Bray

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