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Re: Col J.W. Speight's Brigade

http://www.rootsweb.com/~txfannin/mcfarlandcsa.html

A Short History of the 22nd, 31st and 34th Texas Cavalries of North Texas

On Dec. 31, the 22nd and 34th were at Camp Roan, 4 miles southeast of Ft. Smith, Arkansas. However, the McFarlands were not present at the muster. According to records for the 22nd, J.R. McFarland had been absent without leave since Dec. 28, 1862. In the 31st Dismounted Cavalry, J.M. and J.H. (?) were also shown as absent without leave since Nov. 28, 1862 when the Jan. & Feb. muster occurs. J. McFarland shown as absent since Dec. 31, 1862, when the March and April muster occurs. Newton is absent since Dec. 28, 1862 in the Jan. & Feb. muster (National Archives).

1863
It seems that the problems with these regiments were felt by many, and our McFarland family members decided to go home, whether temporarily or permanently, only they knew. On January 7, 1863 the three dismounted cavalries, the 22nd, 31st, and 34th, along with the 15th Texas Infantry and the 20th Dismounted Cavalry, were put under the command of Col. Joseph Warren Speight, the commander of the 15th Infantry from Waco, Texas. The brigade spent January and February wintering in Indian Territory under terrible conditions (although is looks like our McFarlands had wisely gone home for the winter.) A letter home from Alfred T. Howell of the 34th described what they were missing:

…lived for three weeks on cold flour (parched corn, ground to meal) and water. No tents, no blankets, hardly anything to leek life and soul together….Men died every day. They laid themselves down. They would not move and they died. …From Ft. Smith to the Mouth of the Kiamichi (River) where we camped, our trail was a long graveyard. (Barr 15-16)

Considering home was only 50 plus miles away, one can see why they came home. As spring arrived, however, new marching orders began. Alexander and Speight were faced with trying to round up their missing troops, and judging from the McFarland archival records, everyone began showing back up. Newton and Arthur in the 31st were present for the muster roll for March and April, 1863, although Jasper was still absent. J. R., (James) of the 22nd is also back for that muster roll. Many were hoping to be sent East to the center of the major battles and were not looking forward to continued service in Indian Territory. Their luck changed with a change in command at the top.

In late April, Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, the new commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, ordered the Texas brigade to join the army of Major General Richard Taylor in Louisiana. Union forces under Gen. Nathaniel Banks were advancing and possibly threatening Shreveport, the location of department headquarters on the Red River (Barr 18).

Col. Guess and Col. Alexander had to advertise and send officers to Texas counties to forward the missing soldiers to Alexandria in Louisiana. Col. Alexander resigned this month due to poor health. The men began arriving by foot or even steamers from East Texas. The brigade numbered around 1600 men, one-third of them unarmed.When Kirby Smith inspected his reinforcements, he decided that the 15th and the 31st were acceptable, but the 22ndand the 34th needed to remain in camp and be disciplined and drilled as infantry (Barr 18-19). George W. Merrick, who began his career as a fellow private of Co. C of the 22nd Texas Cavalry had risen up the ranks and was promoted to Major by Lt. Gen. Kirby Smith at Camp Allston in June. He probably was the officer responsible for returning to Fannin County and rounding up the missing men (National Archives).

It seems that accepting their new role as foot soldiers was hard to bear for many of the proud cavalrymen. The next few months seem devoted to marching all over Louisiana, getting sick in camp, an occasional skirmish here and there, and brigade reorganizations.
Newton was one of the many who fell sick. His records show him as being “sick at Kiametia, May 2, 1863. This continued into the last muster roll for him in February, 1864, where he was still listed as sick at Kiametia (National Archives). Kiametia was near the Red River close to Ft. Towson, Indian Territory (today this is just north of Paris, Texas). Newton never did fully recover his health, and died in 1872 at the age of 33. Sometime during this period he must have gone home to wife Sarah because she gave birth to a son, James Robert, in March, 1864. L. T. Cunningham was listed as AWOL since April 5 (National Archives).

On July 4, 1863, after a 48 day siege, Vicksburg, on the Mississippi River, surrendered to the inevitable, and five days later, the Confederates at Port Hudson, above Baton Rouge also surrendered after a six week siege. The Mississippi was now in Union hands and the Western Confederate states were cut off. The Red River Campaign could begin in earnest.

The next battle of any note for our brigade was at Stirling’s Plantation near the Mississippi River, which had become a Federal Command Post. On September 29, a surprise attack was launched by the 15th Texas Infantry, the 11th Texas Battalion and the 31st Dismounted Cavalry, led by Major Frederick Malone. It was a huge success, the Union men had 453 captured of the total 854 men present. Of the total of 121 Confederate casualties, the brigade under Speight had 104 (Barr 27).

A new brigade had been formed and put under the command of Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac, son of the last prime minister of Charles X of France. In fact the father, Prince de Polignac was known for his arch-conservative views in support of nobility and authoritarian monarchy. Polignac’s views were so conservative that it prompted the revolution of 1830 that led to King Charles X’s resignation and exile. Camille was a professional soldier who had fought in the Crimean War, was in Central America when the Civil War began, and offered his services to the Confederacy.In his new post, Polignac was faced with the task of raising morale and discipline in the 22nd and the 34th Dismounted Cavalries. John H. Caudle was now in command of the 34th and Robert D. Stone replaced Stevens who had resigned because of his inept handling of the regiment. In October, Polignac’s command was merged with Speight’s command, joining Taylor’s army. Speight went home due to ill health, so now Polignac was commanding the 15th Texas Infantry, the 22nd, 31st, and 34th Texas Dismounted Cavalries, and the 11thTexas Battalion, and the 17th Texas Consolidated Dismounted Cavalry. The next several months were relatively quite, filled mostly with moving from camp to camp, and little or no fighting (Barr 28-29).

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