Company K, 32nd Texas Calvary
Andrews, J. A., Col.
Barrett, William, Sgt.
Bateman, W. Q.
Bearden, G. M.
Caldwell, Thomas J.
Clark, Jim Capt.
Crain, J.R., Capt.
Crump, R.P., Maj.
De Morse, L.C.
Gray, S. B.
Hay, A. L.
Holloway, J.G. Cpl.
Jackson, W.G. Sgt
*Lewallen, John, Cpl
Powell, J. M.
Rainey, B.F., Sgt.
*Reeves, William, Cpl.
Sewell, B. B. 2nd Lt.
Shepherd, George, Wag.
Small, A. J.
Smith, Samuel, 1st Lt.
Spence, Robert W.
Total - 132
Music - 3
*Remaining Members at War's end
This could have been the scene in John Henry's family in early February of 1862: Redmond;
"Dad...I have heard that Major Crump is recruiting men for a Confederate Calvary Battalion from
Red River County.. and.. John Henry and I,.. think we should join up. Every able bodied man
is joining and they say it will be a short war. We have all the crops in, and there is little work for us here on the farm this winter, and besides, we will be back in time to help you plant the spring crops". Their Mother and Dad may have looked at each other and someone nodded.
......The young men were off to join the calvary! Mom may have made their uniforms and dad
may have helped in oiling up an old gun or two to shoot the Yankees........and little did they
John Henry was 22 years old when he went to war, and probably, had not set foot out of Red River County. For three and a half long years, John Henry rode on trains and steam boats and marched back and forth through six southern States. John Henry fought in some of the bloodiest battles in the history of the United States. The first year he survived sickness and disease that claimed half of his Regiment in Corinth, Mississippi. John Henry fought in over 17 Civil War battles and survived them all without major injury, only to be hit with a bullet in the very last battle his Regiment fought. With a bullet lodged in his back for almost 50 years, John Henry was unable to do hard physical work the rest of his life. This is John Henry's "War" story.
I hope you enjoy it.
Dennis W. Brigance
The cover of this report lists the names of the 132 original members of John Henry's Company K.
When the war ended, only John Henry and 3 other privates were present to sign parol papers. All
of the other members of his Company were either killed, died of sickness, wounded, missing,
captured, or for other reasons, failed to make it to the war's end. Not all of these members died, some survived, like Captain William Somerville, who you will read about in the Regimental
The battle painting on the Preface page illustrates what battle conditions looked like in the last
days of the Confederacy. Note the Confederate soldier at the bottom of the painting that has rags
on for cloths, his shoes are worn out and he wears nothing in the way of a uniform. The wounded
Union calvary soldier on the ground, in contrast, has a complete uniform on, new boots as well as
complete equipments. Compassion is represented by the Confederate soldier giving the wounded
Union soldier at drink of water from his canteen.
The first part of this report deals with John Henry's wound and how he was evacuated from the
battlefield. The history of his Regiment is supported by an itinerary and card records from the
National Archives. The battle where John Henry was wounded is told very well by P.D.
Stephenson of the 5th Company of the Washington Artillery of New Orleans, Louisiana.
There is also a page or so about John Henry's genealogy to help refresh your memory about his
decedents and a page where you can record your relation to John Henry.
At the end of this report, I have included a section called "John Henry's War Stories" that can be
added to as more information becomes available in the future from the Internet or other sources.
I have started it off with a few stories and information. If any of John Henry's decedents locates
stories, accounts or letters connected with his war service, they can E-Mail me and I will add it to
Details about John Henry's evacuation was provided by Donnie Barrett, who was President of the
Spanish Fort Historical Society for four years. I have also tried to cross check the facts in this
report from more than one source, however, certain events can only be speculated. Your
speculation on some of these events are just as valid as mine, it makes for enjoyable conversation
for his descendants. If anyone has corrections or any information to add to this report, please let
Please..if you have Internet and equipment, make copies for those who do not have the means to
obtain a copy. See you in Waldron at the reunion in 2001. Dennis Brigance, email:
Table of Contents
I JOHN HENRYS' WOUND
II HOW JOHN HENRY WAS EVACUATED
III MAP OF THE SPANISH FORT
IV JOHN HENRY'S MILITARY RECORDS FROM THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES IN
V 32nd TEXAS CALVARY WAR ITINERARY
VI HISTORY OF THE 32nd TEXAS CALVARY REGIMENT
VII P.D. STEPHENSON, DEFENSE OF SPANISH FORT
VIII JOHN HENRY'S GENEALOGY and FAMILY INFORMATION
IX HOW ARE YOU RELATED TO JOHN HENRY BRIGANCE
X JOHN HENRY'S CIVIL WAR PENSION APPLICATIONS
XI CIVIL WAR STORIES PASSED DOWN TO HIS GRANDCHILDREN
XII REDMOND BRIGANCE - WAR SERVICE
XIII JOHN HENRY'S WAR STORIES
The wound that John Henry received at the Spanish Fort battle is some what confusing. On his
first pension application, 1894, he stated: "received a wound in the left hip from a gun the ball
striking the left hip near the loin passing and fracturing the back bone and lodging the right hip".
On his second pension application, 1919, he stated: "...I was hit just at the top of my hip left bone
and bac came out at my rite hip". According to his first statement, he was hit with ball from a gun
and the bullet then lodged in his back after fracturing his back bone. On his second application he
states that the "bullet" exited out his right hip. The following may help clear up the "lodged bullet
theory" as told by Benjamin (Benny) Minor Brigance, a grandson of John Henry, born August 16,
"Sometime between 1904 and John Henry's death in 1920, a lump came up in John Henry's back
which caused him a great deal of discomfort. The women decided that it would be worth a try to
open the flesh at the site and remove 'whatever' was causing the lump. This was on the opposite
side of his body from the entry site of the bullet, so they did not know they would be removing a
bullet. One held a metal basin while the other pinched up the flesh behind the lump, cut across it,
and mashed it out. Benny was in the house at the time and remembered hearing the sound of the
bullet as it hit the metal basin with a metal/metal clang. He held it in his hand: his description is of
a Minie-ball. The Minie-ball had traversed John's body in a left/right or right/left passage over a
long period of time. We have reason to believe that this 'surgery' was performed by his second
wife Sarah (Tucker) Brigance sometime between 1912 and 1920."
The bullet as describe was a Minie
bullet and was the basic ammunition
issued to all Union infantry. The
bullet that hit John Henry must have
been a "stray bullet". The energy of
a normal Minie round would go
through 11 inches of pine at 100
yards! The energy of the bullet that
hit John Henry only had about
one-fifth the energy of a normal
round. Descriptions of the bullet
also indicate that it was not
distorted, concluding that it had not
struck something else before hitting John Henry. Information that I have found indicate several
possibilities could have happened to produce this low energy round: (1) The rifleman firing the
round spilled half the powder when loading his rifle and then fired high. (2) The rifleman firing
the round was over a half-mile away and fired high, (3) The rifleman used a round containing
damp powder and fired high, or (4) The rifleman firing the round may have "doubled" loaded the
gun with two rounds. All of these conditions were very common when troops were in the heat of
From medical data on the Civil War, bullet wounds to the hip joint were 85% fatal and bullets
striking any part of the back/torso were also considered just as fatal. The surgery alone just to
remove a bullet from any part of the torso would produce a 60% chance of death not counting the
damage caused by the bullet. This is why the doctors at the field hospital in Mobile must have
placed John Henry in a Class 3 of the wounded. The wounded admitted to field hospitals were
divided into three Classes: (1) Minor cuts and bruises, (2) Bullet or shell wounds to arms and
legs, and (3) Bullet or shell wounds to the head or torso. Class 2 received immediate attention
where amputation was required quickly. Class 1 received attention next and were often sent back
into battle after a short rest. Class 3 was made as comfortable as possible, given morphine
injections and set aside to quietly die. There was really nothing the doctors could do for John
Henry other than give him morphine injections for the pain. God must have been with John Henry
during this time period and the nursing provided by the Negro women may have saved his life.
My dad, Omer Brigance, related this story to me several times: "John Henry used a white silk
handkerchief that he passed through the wound to clean it out". The women of Mobile would
gather needed supplies when the wounded flooded the hospitals. Reports show that silver
tableware and expensive clothing for bandages were at times donated to hospitals. This could
have been where the Negro women obtained the silk handkerchief used to clean John Henry's
wound. John Henry was in a cotton warehouse that was being used as a field hospital. He may
have stayed there 3 or 4 days before being evacuated by rail to a hospital in Demopolis, Alabama.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the Confederate army had adequate supplies of chloroform, morphine
and quinine through out the war. It's my opinion that John Henry received many injections of
morphine, because the bullet wound in his back would have be extremely painful.
The Minie bullet caused infections in almost 90% of the cases. The bullet had bore cleaning rings
which accumulated dirt and burned powder residue when the bullet was fired that caused major
infections. It was considered by most doctors, after the war was over, to be the dirtiest and most
deadly type of wound a soldier could experience. A full power round, unlike John Henry's
wound, damaged and destroyed flesh in an area about 5 inches in diameter. Most bullets went
completely through the limbs/body shattering bones on the way through. The Minie bullets were
the primary cause of gangrene, which resulted in death if the wounded arm or leg were not
quickly amputated. There were no antibiotics at this time and the doctors had no knowledge of
what caused infections or how to treat it.
If the bullet was removed from John Henry's back by Sarah after 1912, during John Henry's
second marriage, this would mean that the bullet would have been lodged in his back for about 47
years. I am sure John Henry had lead poisoning due to the long lodgement of the bullet. Some of
the symptoms of lead poisoning include joint aches/pains, tremors and high blood pressure. Joint
pain would be similar to severe arthritis. Reports from many family members indicate he could
not do any physical work. John Henry died from heart failure which could have been produced
by high blood pressure caused by the lead poisoning. I am sure the lodged bullet and possible
lead poisoning caused him a great deal of discomfort and pain all of his life.
On April 3, the day John Henry was wounded, Ectors' troops were located on the left side of the
Spanish Fort defenses near the swamps of Minette Bay. See the Map of the Spanish Fort
drawing. Prior to April 3, no location was given for Ectors' men. On April 3, the Alabama Boy
Reserves were pulled out of this position and replaced by Ectors' men. The Alabama Boy
Reserves were sent by steam boat to Fort Blakely several miles north of the Spanish Fort.
John Henry most likely was in a rifle pit near call out (1). He would have entered the rifle pit on
the night of April 2. Soldiers could only come and go from the rifle pits at night due to the risk of
being shot during daylight hours. The rifle pit was a scooped out area in the ground about 5 by
10 feet and about 4 feet deep with sand bags in front for protection. Each rifle pit contained 4 or
5 troops. The area behind the rifle pits was cleared of trees and brush for about 100 yards and the
ground sloped up to the main trenches of the Fort defenses. In front of the rifle pit the ground
sloped sharply down for about 150 yards to a stream at the bottom. The ravine was a "no
mans-land" filled with fell trees and burned brush.
After John Henry was wounded, he made his way down into the ravine that night to the stream,
call out (2). Packets (medical personnel) with stretchers were sent out from the Fort later that
night to search for the dead and wounded. When he was found, they took him back to the main
Fort defenses, then to the boat dock, call out (3). He was placed on a steam boat that went West
across Mobile Bay to the city of Mobile, about 8 miles. On arriving at Mobile, John Henry was
taken to a field hospital located in a cotton warehouse. He may have stayed there for 3 or 4 days.
At this time, the city of Mobile was the only untouched southern city and was being overrun by
local citizens looking for refuge. It would be here that John Henry was found by a Negro women
that could have been a refugee, or a slave that was placed on loan to the hospital. The Negro
women may have devoted herself to him, and nursed him for those very critical 3 or 4 days and
He was then placed aboard a train to a hospital in Demopolis, Alabama. Soon after his
evacuation, the "well to do" citizens of Mobile were then evacuated by train to Demopolis, while
many other residents fled north on a road out of Mobile. The area north and east of Mobile was
being overrun by tens of thousands of fleeing Confederate solders and the Confederate Congress
from Richmond looking for refuge. When John Henry arrived in Demopolis, he was sent to the
C.S.A. Hinkley Hospital and was there for less than one month. The hospital surrendered to the
Union army on May 4. Ten days later he traveled to Meridian, Mississippi and signed parol
papers on May 14. 1865.
1865 Drawn During Siege by Assistant Surgeon Bull C.S. Army
(Atlas of the Civil War, Series 1 Vol XLIX)
1 Approximate location where John Henry was wounded.
2 The stream where John Henry may have crawled after being wounded.
3 Boat dock where John Henry was loaded on a steam boat to Mobile.
4 Mobile Bay.
5 Minette Bay.
6 Confederate line of trenches about 1.5 miles in length.
7 Confederate line of rifle pits.
8 Union line of rifle pits.
9 Union line of trenches.
10 Location of the 5th Company of the Washington Artillery. (Article by P.D. Stephenson)
11 Location of the only drinking water spring.(Article by P.D. Stephenson)
John Henry had 11 cards on file at the National Archives. There were no medical cards indicating
he was admitted to a hospital other than the Hinkley Hospital, Demopolis, Alabama, where he
was admitted after he was wounded. There were no cards showing furloughs to go home or any
personal papers. Nine of the cards show that he was "Present" at Muster or Roll Call with dates
corresponding to dates where the 32nd was stationed at camp or during winter quarters. One card
was for his hospital duty in Atlanta, Georgia, and the final card where he became a P.O.W. in
Demopolis, Alabama. John Henry, with his "perfect attendance record," supports a good reason
to believe that he participated in all of the battles fought by the 32nd Texas Calvary. Some of the
dates in his cards overlap for some unknown reason.
The Confederate army kept meticulous records on each soldier indicating almost every major
event of the soldiers' service. Record keeping and the filling out of forms (red tape) required by
the Confederate Government were often more complicated than the requirements of the United
States Government. John Henry's cards with Company Muster Roll information are listed as
1. January 1 to August 31, 1862. Present. Last paid (blank). Enlisted period 12 months.
2. September and October, 1862. Present. Last paid September 1, 1862. Enlisted period 3 years.
3. August 31 to December 31, 1862. Present. Last paid September 1, 1862. Enlisted period 3 yrs.
4. January and February, 1863. Present. Last paid January 1, 1863. Enlisted period 3 years.
5. March and April, 1863. Present. Last paid March 1, 1863. Enlisted period 3 years.
6. May and June, 1863. Present. Last paid May 1, 1863. Enlisted period 3 years.
7. July and August, 1863. Present. Last paid July 1, 1863. Enlisted period 3 years.
8. September and October, 1863. Present. Last paid September 1, 1863. Enlisted period 3 years.
9. April 5, 1864. Present. Last paid (blank). Enlisted (blank). Remarks Reenlisted.
10. "J.H. Brigance, Detailed for hospital duty. Special Field Order #78, Headquarters Army of Tennessee, In the field, August 15, 1864".
11. "J. H. Brigance, private, Co K , 32 Rgt Tex. Cavy Residence Clarksville Red River Co. Tex,
Appears on a Roll of Prisoners of War of Hospital Attendants and Patients at Hinkley Hospital,
Demopolis, Ala.,of the Confederate States Army, commanded by Surg. H. Hinkley, surrendered
at (blank) by Lieut. Gen. R. Taylor, C.S.A., to Maj. Gen. E.R.S. Canby, U.S.A., May 4, 1865,
and paroled at Meridian, Miss., May 14, 1865".
This information provides dates, battles, and places for the 32nd Texas Calvary in the War
Between the States. John Henry's attendance is also shown derived from his cards.
1. March 6&7, 1862, Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas (aided in the retreat only). (Present)
2. June & July, 1862, Stationed at Corinth, Mississippi.(Present)
3. August 30, 1862, Battle of Richmond, Kentucky.(Present)
4. August 31 to Dec 31, 1862, Stationed at Shelbyville, Tennessee. (Present)
5. December 31,1862, Battle of Mufreesboro, Tennessee. (Present)
6. January to April, 1863, Stationed at Shelbyville, Tennessee.(Present)
7. May & June, 1863, Stationed at Mound Church near Vernon, Mississippi.(Present)
8. July 10-17, 1863, Battle of Jackson, Mississippi. (Present)
9. September 19&20, 1863, Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia.(Present)
10. September & October, 1863, Stationed at Camp Jim Dixon, Georgia. (Present)
11.October, 1863-March, 1864, traveled to Jackson, Meridian, and Brandon, Mississippi.
12. April 5, 1864, Stationed at Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi.(Present-Reenlisted)
13. May 19 & 20, 1864, Battle at Cassville, Georgia, (Atlanta Campaign Battles).
14. May 27, 1864, Battle at New Hope Church, Dallas, Georgia..
15. June 18, 1864, Battle at Latimermoure House, Georgia.
16. June 27, 1864, Battle of Kennesaw, Georgia.
17. July 3, 1864, Battle of Chattchooie River, Georgia.
18. July 4&5, 1864, Battle at Smyrna, Georgia.
19. July 20, 1864, Battle at Peach Tree Creek, Georgia.
20. July 22, 1864, Battle of Atlanta, Georgia. (Present - Hospital Duty 8/15/64)
21. September 3&4, 1864 Battle at Lovejoy Station, Georiga.
22. October 5, 1864, Battle of Allatoona, Georgia.
22. December 15 & 16, 1864, Battle of Nashville, Tennessee.
23. December 25, 1864, Battle of Sugar Creek, Mississippi.
24. March 27 to April 8, 1865, Battle of Spanish Fort, Alabama (Wounded, 4/3/65)
25. May 9, 1865, Regiment Paroled, Meridian, Mississippi.(Signed parol papers 5/14/65)
SUMMARY: Refer to the 32nd Texas Cavalry War Itinerary for a summary of John Henry's
battles, dates and places camped.
Source information and wording for this report derived in part from Tim Bell, Waco, Texas and
Ron Brothers in "Confederate Soldiers of Northeast Texas" web site.
Please read the "Confederate Military Organization" at the end of this history before continuing.
The 32nd Texas Cavalry Regiment is one of the more confusing units to research among all the
Confederate units raised in Texas. Initially named the 15th Texas Cavalry Regiment, there was
already a unit called the 15th Texas Cavalry, which was captured at Arkansas Post and later
served in Granbury's Brigade, Cleburne's Division, the Army of Tennessee. To make matters even
more confusing, the 36th Texas Cavalry Regiment (Woods'), was also referred to as the 32nd
Texas Cavalry Regiment. Regardless, the 32nd Texas Cavalry was a fine regiment. Initially
recruited as cavalry, they were dismounted early and served to the end of the war in Ector's Texas
Brigade, Army of Tennessee. See Note 1 at the end of this history.
To discover the history of the 32nd Texas Cavalry, one must first examine the 1st Texas Cavalry
Battalion. Raised from soldiers recruited in east Texas counties by Major R.P. Crump, the 1st
Texas Cavalry Battalion was mustered into Confederate service on November 4, 1861, at Camp
Crump, near Jefferson, Texas. The battalion encamped around Douglasville, and broke from
winter quarters about February 15, 1862. Numbering 4 companies, the battalion arrived in time to
be part of the rear guard of the Confederate army after the battle of Pea Ridge, fought in
Arkansas on March 6 and 7, 1862. Companies were led by Captains James A. Weaver, W.G.W.
Jowers, John C. White, & Jim Clark.
On May 8, 1862, the Confederate Conscription Act was passed. See Note 2. Many of the men
who initially formed these companies were discharged from the service, and many of the officers
either resigned their commissions or were not reelected. Six new companies were added to the
four already existing, to form the 32nd Texas Cavalry Regiment. The ten companies were A, B,
C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and K. There were no companies designated with the letter J. Colonel Julius
Andrews was in command of the 32nd. The 32nd numbered about 1,107 members with about
100 in each company at the start of the war.
The 32nd was dismounted and encamped near Corinth, Mississippi, sometime in June, 1862.
Here, the regiment suffered severely from sickness, as did the rest of the Confederate army, losing
about 50 % of its' strength. Of those who did not die outright, many were discharged from the
service. Practically every man in the regiment spent at least some time in the hospital during the
spring, summer, and fall of 1862.
The Battle of Richmond, Kentucky:
The 32nd was placed in the brigade of Brigadier General Joseph Hogg, which also contained the
10th, 11th, 14th Texas Cavalry Regiments, dismounted, Douglas' Texas Battery, and McCray's
Arkansas regiment. General Hogg soon died of dysentery, and was replaced as brigade
commander by Colonel McCray. After losing the vital railroad center of Corinth, the Confederate
army, under General Braxton Bragg, marched northward into Kentucky. On August 30, 1862, the
Battle of Richmond was fought. Termed by some historians as the most complete Confederate
victory of the war, Richmond was fought mainly by McCray's Brigade and Cleburne's Division.
Overall, the Confederates suffered a little over 500 casualties, while the Union army lost over
4,000 in captured alone. The 32nd had several casualties in this battle, notably Captains Bostick
and Ponder, and Lutient Ranes of Company I, all of whom were killed. But the Confederate
success was short-lived, as Bragg fought Rosecrans to at draw at the battle of Perryville on
October 8, and then retreated through Cumberland Gap back into Tennessee.
After Richmond, Matthew Duncan Ector assumed command of the brigade. A man well-liked and
respected, Ector would command the brigade for the next two years. The organization of the
brigade, as of December 31, 1862:
10th Texas Cavalry, Col. Matt. F. Locke
11th Texas Cavalry, Col. John C. Burks
14th Texas Cavalry, Col. John L. Camp
15th (32nd) Texas Cavalry, Col. Julius A. Andrews
Texas Battery, Capt. James P. Douglas
The Battle of Mufreesboro (also called Stones River):
On December 31, 1862, William S. Rosecrans Union Army of the Cumberland awoke to a strange sight. No more than 250 yards in their immediate front were two divisions of Confederate Infantry! The attack commenced at about 6:30 A.M. After only one or two vollies, the Unionists broke and fled, leaving behind much artillery, equipage, and prisoners. See Note 3. The battle of Mufreesboro started as a huge Southern victory, as McCown's Confederates, including Ector's Brigade, opened the fight. The sight of charging Texans, screaming the Rebel Yell, was too much for the Northerners, who retreated almost three miles. Finally, the Rebels were halted, and the battle ended with Bragg wiring Richmond that "God has granted us a happy new year. Ector's men entrenched, and tried to keep warm throughout the cold night.
Both armies stayed on the field all New Year's Day, caring for the wounded, and occasionally taking a pot shot at a careless Johnny Reb or Billy Yank. Bragg was disturbed when Rosecrans did not retreat, and assaulted his right with Breckinridge's Division on January 2. The attack was a failure, and Bragg was forced to retreat to Shelbyville.
Ector's Brigade was the initial attacking unit in the battle, and held on despite running out of
ammunition and in the face of Union reinforcements. The Official Records show that Ector lost 28
killed, 276 wounded, and 48 missing, for a total of 352 casualties. But this figure does not reflect
the many wounded and sick left behind to the enemy. Many later returned to their respective
regiments, but several died in field hospitals at Mufreesboro or later in Northern prisons. The
32nd Texas Cavalry, numbered 313 at the battle. Casualties, as reported in the Official Records.
were 5 killed, 36 wounded, and 3 missing, mostly due to artillery fire. Even the general officers
noted the good service of Andrews' regiment. In General Ector's official report, he commended
the field officers of the 32nd Texas Cavalry: "Colonel Andrews and Major William Estes of the
Fifteenth (32nd) Texas Regiment... acted most gallantly. " Colonel Andrews, in his official report,
reported his regiment's participation in the battle thusly: "My regiment charged about 100 yards,
which brought them in range of the enemy. We then opened fire on them, still continuing the
charge, routing and driving the enemy before us for about 3 miles, killing and wounding and
capturing numbers of them...". He continued in his praise: "With due deference to the Fifteenth
(32nd) Texas Regiment, I will take the liberty of stating that every officer, non-commissioned
officer, and private behaved himself while in the recent engagement with honor to himself and his
country, as I never saw one of them falter". He also praised several members of the regiment
individually. In particular, "I will here take pleasure in stating that Major William Estes, of my
regiment, was always at his post in the discharge of the duties of his position with honor and
credit to himself and regiment, at the same time winning for himself the name of a true and brave
soldier". Regarding his adjutant, Andrews stated, "George M. Lindsay conducted himself during
the engagement with much calmness, which has accomplished (commanded) the admiration of his
brother officers and soldiers". The regimental Sergeant-Major, Luther A. Williams, was also
singled out for his conduct, as "always in the front rank sharing the fate of a battle". Williams
was promoted to lieutenant for his action at Mufreesboro. He would later be killed at
Ector's Brigade would remain in camp at Shelbyville for the next few months. In early January,
the 11th Texas Cavalry was taken from the brigade and remounted, being replaced by William
Hugh Young's 9th Texas Infantry. No doubt the remounting of the 11th caused some grumbling
in the ranks of the 32nd, many of whom probably wished it was their regiment that was being
The Battle of Jackson, Mississippi:
In June, 1863, the Texans were dispatched to General Joseph Johnston, who was trying to build
an army to help lift the siege that Grant had on Vicksburg. After the surrender of Vicksburg to
the Union, the brigade then participated in the siege of Jackson, Mississippi. The brigade suffered
The Battle of Chickamauga:
On September 19-20, 1863, the great battle of Chickamauga was fought, near the
Tennessee-Georgia border. Ector's Brigade once again opened a major battle, their third in 13
months. Fighting in States Rights Gist's small two-brigade division with Claudius Wilson's
Georgians, they captured a battery of artillery and were driving the enemy until they ran up
against two fresh Union divisions. Heavily outnumbered and with casualties approaching 40%,
Ector's men fell back, minus some of the wounded lost in the initial assault.
Although no official report was found, the brigade's casualties are given in the Official Records.
Ector's Brigade was cited in the division commander's report as performing with great valor. The
32nd Texas Cavalry suffered losses of 13 killed, 65 wounded and 40 captured or missing, out of
217 engaged-a loss of over 50%! Colonel Andrews suffered a severe wound to the thigh on the
first day's battle, and would be out of action for several months. Sixteen other officers were
numbered among the casualties, including Captain Dixon of Company E, who was killed. Those
captured would never return to the regiment, as Union General Grant had stopped the exchange
of prisoners just before the battle of Gettysburg, fought over two months before. The 32nd
proved their devotion to The Cause at Chickamauga.
After the battle, Ector's Brigade was assigned to Samuel G. French's division, also containing
Claudius Sears Mississippi brigade, and Francis Marion Cockrell's Missouri Brigade. The 39th
North Carolina, under the command of Colonel David Coleman was placed in Ector's brigade.
The brigade would winter in Mississippi, and rest and refit for the upcoming spring campaign.
Most of the companies received clothing requisitions from the Quartermaster, John S. Fowlkes,
on November 20 and December 11. Many soldiers who had been absent due to their wounds or
sickness would return, and from December 1863, to April, 1864, General Johnston granted
furloughs to many of the officers and men of the Army of Tennessee to raise morale. See Note 4.
He would also issue an amnesty to induce deserters to return to their commands.
The Battle of Atlanta,(Atlanta Campaign):
Ector's Brigade was dispatched from Demopolis, Alabama, to Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi,
and arrived at that place by April 5, 1864. Shortly thereafter, they were sent by rail to north
Georgia to join the Army of Tennessee.
The brigade, still under the command of General Ector, would fight Sherman's men almost daily
during the campaign. Most of the battles in the Atlanta Campaign involved Sherman's army
maneuvering here and there with the Confederate army trying to stop him. For over 100 straight
days, the Confederates were under fire and had the following battles:
The Battle of Cassville:
From May 16 to September 4, 1864 Ector's Brigade participated in French's Division, Polk's
Corps. The 32nd had one man wounded at the Battle of Cassville, May 19&20, 1864.
Skirmishes occurred during the Confederate retreat to Atlanta.
The Battle at New Hope Church (also called Dallas, Ga):
Sherman attempted an envelopment of Atlanta moving west of Atlanta. The 32nd, with other
units, were ordered to block this move at Dallas, Georgia. Reports show the 32nd had 2 wounded
at New Hope Church on May 27, 1864.
The Battle at Latimermoure House:
Reports show the 32nd had 5 killed and 7 wounded at the Battle of Latimermoure House, June
The Battle at Kennesaw:
Reports show the 32nd had 3 wounded at the Battle of Kennesaw, June 27, 1864.
The Battle at Chattchooie:
Reports show the 32nd had 1 killed at the Battle of Chattchooie, July 3,1864.
The Battle at Smyrna:
Reports show the 32nd had 2 killed and 13 wounded at the Battle of Smyrna, July 4 and 5, 1864.
The Battle at Peach Tree Creek:
Reports show the 32nd had 1 killed at the Battle of Peach Tree Creek, July 20, 1864.
The Regiment was first to engage in skirmishing on Peach Tree Creek.
The Battle of Atlanta:
Reports show the 32nd had 2 killed and 8 wounded at the Battle of Atlanta. General Ector
received a wound from a exploded shell to his left leg above his knee and later had the leg
amputated. He was sighting in artillery on July 27. Later the next month on August 15, John
Henry was detailed for hospital duty, in the field following the bloody Battle of Atlanta. See Note
The Battle at Lovejoy Station:
Report show the 32 had one wounded at the Battle at Lovejoy Station, September 3&4, 1864.
During the Atlanta campaign the 32nd Texas Cavalry suffered losses of 11 killed, including Lt. L.
DeBoard of Company F, and 35 wounded, the lowest casualties of any regiment in French's
division. There were several wounded in the trenches not reflected here. Also, reports show
several men captured during the campaign. Still, the 32nd was one of the smaller regiments in the
command, and their small casualties in no way reflect on the conduct of Colonel Andrews or his
regiment. Colonel William Hugh Young of the 9th Texas was promoted to the command of the
brigade after Gen. Ector's wounding on July 27. In his official report of the Atlanta campaign,
Young sums up the conduct of the brigade: "...the officers and men of this brigade have evinced
the highest qualities of the soldier...their courage, patience, and endurance have been frequently
severely tested. They have never been found wanting in either." After losing Atlanta, French's
division was ordered to take the Federal garrison at Allatoona.
The Battle of Allatoona:
On October 5, French assaulted the well-fortified works there, and almost succeeded in capturing
the fort. This was an important Federal supply depot, containing among other things, a million
rations of bread for Sherman's army in Atlanta. He had detailed the 39th North Carolina and the
32nd Texas Cavalry on the hills south and east of the fort, as a supporting force for Major
Myrick's artillery battalion. Andrews' regiment were among the last of French's men to withdraw,
covering the artillery. An interesting side note to the battle is the "death" of Captain William
Somerville of Company K. French noted in his report that "Captain Somerville, Thirty-second
Texas, was killed after vainly endeavoring to enter the last work, where his conspicuous gallantry
had carried him and his little band. " Somerville had not been killed, but severely wounded in the
abdomen. He was saved by Federal surgeons who amazed even themselves by the surgery they
performed at what was thought of as a fatal wound. Captain Somerville was soon up and about,
and lived to tell of his 'death' at Allatoona. See Note 6. No casualties are given for the 32nd Texas
Cavalry in the Official Records, but they were probably very few. Somerville may have been the
only casualty of his regiment. General Young was wounded and captured at Allatoona, and
Colonel Andrews, being the senior colonel, was promoted to the command of the brigade. He
must have possessed the confidence of the brigade, as on November 5 a letter was sent by the
officers commanding several regiments of the brigade and recommended for promotion to
Brigadier General. Andrews, however, never received his general's star.
The Battle of Nashville:
The brigade missed the battle of Franklin, as they were detailed to guard the pontoon bridges at
the Tennessee River, but were present at the battle of Nashville. Colonel Andrews was wounded
on December 4, and sent to West Point, Mississippi, to recover. Command of the brigade fell
upon Colonel Coleman of the 39th North Carolina. The brigade lost severely at the battle of
Nashville on December 15-16, but were hand-picked as part of the rear guard of the army during
its' retreat. The 32nd suffered losses of at least 5 wounded and 10 captured. Among those
captured was Captain Travis C. Henderson, who was shot from his horse on December 15 and
left at a private residence in Franklin, where he was captured on December 17. Before being left to the discretion
of the enemy, Henderson had a visit from Lt. General A.P. Stewart, his corps commander.
Ector's Brigade had God with them at Nashville. Ector's Brigade was ordered to take a position
on Compton's Hill and dig rifle pits for defensive action very late at night. In the darkness and
confusion of the evening they place their rifle pits on top of the hill not knowing the next day that
they would be unable to see the base of the hill. Later that night Ector received orders to
evacuate the position and move to another location. Smith's Brigade was ordered to take Ector's
position on Compton's Hill. The next morning Smith's Brigade could not defend the position and
was taking fire from three sides. The entire command of Smith's Brigade was practically
annihilated. See Note 7.
On Christmas Day the brigade ambushed a federal force at Sugar Creek, Mississippi. The brigade
then fell back to Tupelo, Mississippi, where in January, 1865, General Richard Taylor commenced
furloughing the officers and men who had remained with their commands. Among those in the
32nd to receive a furlough were three officers who had been with the regiment since its' inception:
Surgeon Hugh G. McClarty, Quartermaster John S. Fowlkes, and Major William Estes. The
remainder of the regiment were dispatched with Ector's brigade to Spanish Fort, near Mobile,
The Battle of Spanish Fort, Alabama:
The Spanish Fort battle was one of the most uneven, lop-sided, battles of the war. See the
account of the battle by P.D. Stephenson. The Union attacked the Spanish Fort with 30,000 well
equipped men and were held in check for 14 days and nights by 1,800 Confederates. John Henry
was wounded on April 3 midway through the Spanish Fort siege. See Note 8. On the night of
April 8 the Confederates evacuated the Spanish Fort and the Union entered the fortification the
next day. Exact figures are not known, but the 32nd Texas Cavalry had at least 8 wounded and
34 captured in the desperate fighting. Among those captured were Captains H.H. Garrison, John
C. Burdett, and Benjamin T. Estes. What remained of the regiment surrendered at Meridian,
Mississippi, on May 9, 1865. They were commanded by Captain Nathan Anderson of Company
A, and the brigade by Colonel Andrews of the 32nd Texas Calvary. Only 10 officers and 48
enlisted men signed paroles, only about 5% of the 1,107 men known to serve in the regiment at
one time or another during the war. Company E had only one man at the surrender; company D
had ten privates, but no officers or commissioned officers! Company K had three privates and no
End of Report
Confederate Military Organizations
In order to better understand the Regiment report, it will be necessary to understand how the Confederate Armies were organized. John Henry was in Company K as shown on the cover of this report that contained 132 members at the start of the war. Most Companies had about 100 members. There were 10 Companies that made up a Regiment. John Henry's Regiment was the 32nd Texas Cavalry. Two or more Regiments made up a Brigade. John Henry's served most of his time in Ector's Brigade. Confederate Brigades were named for the men who originally were assigned to their command. Northern Armies used numbers and did not name brigades by their commanders. Brigades were assigned to a Division. Two or more Brigades made up a Division. Confederate Divisions were also called by their commanders names. Two or more Divisions made up an Army. So the Confederate Military organization looks like this:
The Confederate armies did not replenish men that were wounded or killed. If new men joined the Confederate army, a new company was formed and assigned to a new Regiment. This is why John Henry's Regiment went from 1,107 members at the start of the war, and after the sickness at Corinth, Mississippi, the Regiment was down to 500 or so and kept going down as the war progressed.
NOTE 1- Wrong 32nd Texas Calvary Regiment:
If you are doing research on John Henry's war history and come across the 32nd Texas Calvary
mentioning "Wood's Regiment", you have the wrong 32nd Texas Calvary unit. Internet key word
search: add (15th) to the search string or just use Ector's Brigade.
NOTE 2-Enlistments and Conscriptions:
John Henry enlisted voluntarily in the Confederate army February 4, 1862, for a period of 12
months. It was generally accepted that the war would end within one year and a
compromise/truce would be adopted to allow the existence of the Confederate States of America.
On May 8, 1862, the Confederate Conscription Act was passed. The act required all southern
white males between 18 and 35, who were not legally exempt, to serve 3 years in Confederate
military service. In April, 1864, many members of the Confederate armies who joined in 1861
had completed their 3 years of service and many lay down their rifles and went home. John Henry
on April 5, 1864, reenlisted in the Confederate army for "the duration of the war". At this time
his original regiment of over 1,000 members was down to less than 200 men. I am sure he knew
at this time that the south was going to lose the war but he reenlisted anyway. Also, the desertion
rates in the Confederate armies was very high at this time.
NOTE 3 -Trading up Equipments:
At this time, John Henry would have had to opportunity to "trade up" his rifle and any other
required equipments. He would have picked up a Springfield or Enfield rifle and dropped his
heavy, inaccurate smooth bore rifle. Confederate canteens were made of wood and often leaked,
I am sure he grabbed an all metal U.S. canteen when he had the chance. Equipment was taken
from the POWs as well as the dead on the battlefield.
NOTE 4-No Furloughs:
John Henry's military record cards indicate that he did not receive a furlough to go home at
anytime during the war. Most privates were not given permission to go home, only the officers
NOTE 5-Sherman's Burning of Atlanta:
After the Battle of Atlanta, there were many thousands of Confederate wounded. It was a massive
job treating and take care of the wounded. Remember the railroad scene in "Gone with the
NOTE 6-Captain Somerville:
Captain Somerville of Company K was undoubtable a close friend of John Henry. They had been
through 3 years of war together in the same company and had participated in many battles. His
reported death, I am sure, caused a lot of sadness to John Henry and in the ranks of company K.
NOTE 7-Battle of Nashville:
If you wish more information and stories on the Battle of Nashville, please read the article on
Colonel William M. Shy. Operations of Ector's Brigade in the battle are well documented.
Internet key word search: Colonel William M. Shy, Civil War Hero.
NOTE 8-Importance of the Spanish Fort Battle:
See the John Henry's Wound and How John Henry Was Evacuated from the Spanish Fort Battle.
At this time the Vice President of the Confederacy was to meet with Abraham Lincoln to
negotiate a possible compromise to end the war. The Spanish Fort battle would benefit the
south's position if the Fort garrison could hold the Union armies during the negotiations. Lincoln
turned down the compromise.
Southern Historical Society Papers
On Mobile Bay - Last Great Battle of the War
By P.D. Stephenson, Fifth Company, Washington Artillery,
New Orleans, La.
Who knows of "Spanish Fort"? Not many readers of the Herald I suspect, yet it was the scene of
one of the most thrilling episodes of the war. It was one of the very last incidents, too, for we
evacuated the place on the night of April 9, 1865, the day of Lee's surrender. Spanish Fort was
one of the outer defenses of Mobile. It was situated about twelve miles below the city and across
the bay, on the eastern shore. Look on the map of Alabama and turn to Mobile Bay. At the
mouth you notice two islands almost closing the bay, having but a narrow passage. Guarding the
passage and facing each other are Forts Gains and Morgan. Further up the bay, on the eastern
side, on a tongue of land not represented on the map, was Spanish Fort, and still further up nearer
the city, was Blakely, another fortified place. The sole approach to the city through the bay was a
tortuous and narrow channel, marked out by stakes, which ran zig-zag across to Blakley, then
down to Spanish Fort and then on out to the Gulf; all the rest of the bay was filled with torpedoes
and a variety of other obstructions. Early in March, 1865, the fifth company of Washington
Artillery was having a "good time" in the city of Mobile. They had been detached from the
veteran Army of Tennessee, and with it had just passed through the almost unparalleled hardship
of Hood's disastrous Nashville campaign. Mobile was one of the protected cities of the South,
one of the latest places, if not the very last, to feel the hand of war. Consequently a semblance of
the ways of peace still existed there. Coffee houses were in full blast where "coffee" could be
bought for a dollar a cup, with an "ironclad" pie thrown in. Some of us had been paid and we
indulged in reckless joy in boots at a cost of $100 or so, or in "boiled" linen shirts at a like
fabulous sum. The band played in the city park and strenuous was the effort to get off from duty
for a promenade there, or on "Government street", and truly inventive was the genius developed
in the way of arranging or "getting up" toilets for the occasion.
DEFENDERS OF MOBILE
One day orders came, to be ready to move at a moment's notice, and not long after we found
ourselves on the bay, threading the channel for the Eastern Shore. The enemy were approaching
Mobile by land and water. That was the occasion of our move. I remember we had a grand
review in the streets of Mobile. Every one who could carry a gun was in the ranks. The
artillerists were armed as infantry. I suppose there were 10,000 men under arms. The great
majority of these were "odds and ends," fragments of other commands, boy militia, etc., a few
were veteran troops. Our commander was Dabney H. Maury, "every inch a soldier," but then
there were not many inches of him. The soldiers called him "puss in boots," because half of his
diminutive person seemed lost in a pair of the immense cavalry boots of the day. He was a wise
and gallant officer. Other reinforcements accompanied us to Spanish Fort. I suppose the
garrison, when attacked a few days after, amounted to 2,100 men of all arms. General Randall
Gibson, since then United States Senator from Louisiana, was in command. The force at Blakley
was about 2,500 men under Gen. St. John Littell.
AT SPANISH FORT
We found ourselves in a curious little tongue of high land jetting out into the bay in a
southwesterly direction. This high land broke off abruptly in bluffs on the western or water side,
leaving but a narrow margin of beach, while, on the eastern or inland side, it sloped off into a
marsh, which ran around us and Blakley. Our works were arranged to resist an attack from the
interior, and, beginning at the southern and lip end of the "tongue," ran in a semi-circle around the
inside rim of the high land, resting at each end on the bay. Or rather, they would have done so on
the north as well as south, only the marsh interfered, and we had no time to complete them. This
was our weak point, and yet in a sense our strong point. We had no defenses in that marsh, yet a
dense jungle supplied the defense so dense that our leaders confided in it greatly and placed only
"forts" (of earth), one end and one in the center, connected by rifle-pits. The one in the center
was assigned to our battery. The whole extent of our line from end to end was about a mile and a
WHAT SEEMED TO BE A TRAP
We felt ourselves to be in a trap as soon as we took in the situation. If Farragut's fleet should
pass Forts Gaines and Morgan at the mouth of the bay, all he would have to do would be to sail
serenely up in our rear and shell us at his leisure and cut us off from Mobile, while a land force
could invest us and starve us into surrender. So prominent was the thought in our minds that I
remember my messmate "Tony B- and I (Tony is now a staid merchant and a man of family in
Louisiana), sat on the parapet one afternoon soon after getting there and planned a way of escape
for ourselves. Casting our eye towards the bay we noticed a chain of little, low, marshy islands,
hardly above the water, which fringed our shore at a distance of six to eight hundred yards from
the land, and stretched northward up towards Blakley. "If the place be taken by assault" we
thought, "we might make for one of these and by swimming from one to the other, finally get to
Blakely." Little did we dream that the whole command was eventually to escape from under the
very clutches of the enemy by means of one of those very islands.
ADDING STRENGTH TO THE PLACE
Several days elapsed before the enemy made his appearance. The time was spent in "planting"
torpedoes all through the woody marsh in front of us, in strengthening our works and in making
great "bomb-proofs" right behind our works for our wounded, our ammunition and so on. These
bomb-proofs were made, some of them, on a vast scale. One I worked upon was about 16x20
feet in dimensions and 10 to 12 feet deep. We cut down great trees, rolled the trucks over the
mouth, then put a layer of brush and dirt; then came another layer of heavy logs crosswise, then a
layer of brush and dirt, until the roof was six to eight feet thick.
At last the enemy were in sight. Farragut's fleet appeared first. How gallantly ship after ship
came up the bay and how we watched them! But suddenly the foremost was hid in a dense cloud
of smoke and water. When she came to view again her bow was up in the air and she was
evidently sinking. From where we were we could hear no report, but we knew that she had
struck one of our torpedoes. The channel was full of them. This is why our leaders left us so
exposed, apparently, in our rear. This stopped the advance for the time on the water side. But
soon the pop, pop of our pickets' guns drew out attention to our immediate front; the firing grew
into volleys, our men came into view through the woods, slowly falling back and finally retiring to
the line already marked for them as their permanent fighting posts, the blue waves of the Federal
forces circled around us and by nightfall we were invested.
I think it was about the 22nd or the 23rd of March, '65. I know we were invested seventeen days
and made our escape about the 9th of April. Those seventeen days were sufficiently thrilling and
eventful. Imagine our position and you can readily believe me. A force reported to be 30,000
strong, under General Steele in front, massed and crowded around our little semi-circle line, their
artillery packed thick along the works they were already throwing up and the ships now drawn
within easy range in our rear. The shells from one end of their line could reach the other end of
ours, and "raked us fore and aft," while the guns of the fleet could send their shells plump into our
backs. Every day was full of incident, and it soon got so that we had no rest day nor night. The
picket fights waxed hotter and hotter. Each side had little detached pits, facing each other, with
squads of four or five men in each, and constant was the effort of the one side to surprise and
capture the other. We had two little "coehorn mortars" in our battery (about fifteen inches long),
and Corporal Charlie Fox, especially became so expert with them that he emptied the pits of the
enemy repeatedly with his shell.
SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENT
The "boy militia" referred to, mere lads many of them, from thirteen to seventeen or eighteen
years of age, excited the mingled grief and admiration of us veterans. In vain did we tell them
when going to the skirmish line to shelter themselves as much as possible. They thought it was
"not soldierly," and they stood up and were shot down like sheep. A spring just inside of our
works became a point of thrilling interest. It soon became so that we could not leave our works
and run back to the rear to the usual place for water, and it was either use that spring or famish.
Yet it was in full sight of the enemy. It occupied a depression in the hillside and was commanded
by sharpshooters. There was but one recourse- we must go there by night. Men, strung around
with canteens of their comrades, would steal down to the ravine in the darkness. Sometimes
numbers would be gathered there waiting hours for their turn to fill and leave. Alas, that spring
became baptized in blood. The enemy had the range and kept up a fire, through they could not
see, and many a poor fellow fell at that spring.
DEEDS OF DARING
Artillery duels became of daily occurrence, our "head logs"constantly knocked down upon us,
bruising and crippling us; squads of sharpshooters devoted their especial attention to our port
holes or embrasures and poured a steady stream of bullets through them from early morn till dewy
eve; mining and counter-mining began, and I remember one gallant fellow along the line to the
right of us crept one night with a detail of men down the ravine where the spring was, out beyond
out skirmish pits, into the lines of the enemy's pickets, and finding the mouth of their mine, which
occupied a rather advanced position, he captured the whole batch of miners and got back to our
works without a shot or losing a man.
SOME FEDERAL COMPLIMENTS
But the end came at last. We knew it was coming. We could feel it in the air. And then, too,
certain ominous indications came from the enemy. For several days we could see that they were
preparing for something unusual. Suddenly one afternoon a most extraordinary fire opened upon
us from three points, from the ends of their line and from their center. It seemed to concentrate
upon our battery. No doubt, we had done them mischief, and perhaps more mischief than the
other forts, for our gunners had gained experience in a score of battles; but we were not prepared
for such an especial compliment as this. They were shelling us with mortar shells, huge fifteen
inch bombs, so large that we could see them with the naked eye shortly after leaving the mortar's
mouth; see them as they arose up into the air, describe a graceful curve and then begin hurrying
with vicious impetus down full upon our helpless heads.
They had six of those mortars, two at each point, moved. I suppose, from their ships, and from
that time on, both day and night, those fearful things came down upon our heads. There was no
shelter from these bombs - no defense from that fire. We had to stand and take it. Their force
was terrible. They would go six feet in the solid earth and exploding tear up a space fifteen or
twenty feet square. They went through that tremendous bomb-proof, of which I have spoken, as
though it was paper, and we were in constant expectation of losing all of our ammunition and
provisions. Those abominable mortars were the last item in their preparations. They practiced on
us to get the range, and then we "got it".
TEMPEST OF SHOT
The last day, the day of assault, came. What a day that was! And yet the enemy's tactics were
peculiar. The assault did not come until about 3 P.M. But from dawn until that time, and indeed
until night they rained upon us from front and flank and rear and top, from field guns, siege guns,
ship guns and mortars; such a tempest of shot and shell as defies description. Think of seventy
five or a hundred guns massed in a semi-circle thick around us; think of those huge mortars
belching forth their monstrous contents down upon us; think of the fleet in our rear pouring its
fire into our back? Suddenly that storm burst forth, but it ceased not for a moment through all
that interminable day. The very air was hot. The din was so great it distracted our senses. We
could hardly hear each other speak and could hardly tell what we were doing. The cracking of
musketry, the unbroken roaring of artillery, the yelling and shrieking of the shells, the bellowing
boom of the mortars, the dense shroud of sulphurous smoke thickening around us - it was thought
the mouth of the pit had yawned and the uproar of the damned was about us. And it was not
taking away from this infernal picture to see men, as I did, hopping about, "raving, distracted
mad", the blood bursting from eyes and ears and mouth, driven stark crazy by concussion or some
DODGING THE MORTAR SHELLS
It was utterly idle to try to return that fire. After a few rounds we did not attempt to do so. We
stood around sheltering ourselves as best we could. Our works were no longer a protection to us,
except against the fire in front. But that we did not mind. Our thoughts were of the fire from the
rear, and above all, of those huge descending bombs. And now occurred a strange scene. We
deserted the cover of our works and went out in the space behind them. And there, exposed to
the full range of all the rest of that fearful fire, we devoted ourselves entirely to the work of
dodging those mortar shells. And they were dodgeable.
CAPTAIN OF THE DODGERS
There was a certain man in the battery gifted with a peculiar, accurate and rapid power of
measuring distances with the naked eye. He had found out that by watching the bomb as it left
the mortar and after describing the curve began to descend, he could tell pretty near where and
when it would strike. His comrades found out this talent, and rallying around him, would run at
his signal out of harm's way. And it was funny to see our officers (and a braver set never lived)
edging near and in a nonchalant manner, say: "Sing out, S-, and tell us which way to run!" One of
those bombs toward the close entered the big bomb-proof of which I have spoken, and exploded.
The place was crowded with men who, in spite of warning, sought shelter there. The havoc made
I know not, for it was just awhile before we left, but I shudder to think of it.
Night came at last. Oh, how delicious, how inexpressibly comforting is the coming of night
oftentime to the soldier in war. But it gave respite only by bestowing the sweet gift of balmy
sleep. The most striking and romantic of all the acts of this drama was now upon us, viz: our
escape. The assault, as I have said, came about 3 P.M. But it was a very feeble affair where we
were, and was evidently a feint. The main attack was on our left. They penetrated through that
dense marshy jungle, which we looked upon as almost impenetrable, and pushing back the feeble
picket line we had there, got to the bay between us and Blakely, thus cutting us off. There, as we
afterwards found out, they planted a battery. From that point they came on down our line driving
our slender force before them until they got to the fort on our left, which they captured. It was
only a few hundred yards from us and we could see them there moving about in the moonlight.
Why they did not come right on and take us, too, we could never understand. It was one of those
curious blunders which happened so often on both sides during the war.
It was with their dusky outlines in full view, on the fort above us, that we made our preparations
to leave and did leave. And now, as to the leaving: Not one of the readers of this article has less
notion of what we were going to do, or where we were going than did we, the rank and file, as
we received the whispered orders to prepare silently for departure. We were completely
bewildered. "Escape" "How Escape"? We were completely cut off, surrounded; nay, the
enemy were in our works, in sight of us. Yet we did escape, and that too, with scarcely the loss
of a man. It was a brilliant moonlight night. About 10 o'clock, after spiking our guns, we left our
works and made directly for the beach. Did the enemy see us? They ought to have seen us. Why
they did not I cannot tell. We got to the bluff overlooking the bay.
IN A MYSTERIOUS RAVINE
What next? Behold, the head of the column seemed to melt gradually into the earth, and as we
moved up to supply their place we understood their disappearance. The face of the bluff was
precipitous, and creased with great fissures or ravines opening out upon the water. The head of
our column had disappeared down one of these! Down we followed, pell mell, right down the
almost perpendicular sides of the gorge, clinging to vines, saplings, the sides of the rocks: any
way to keep our hold, until we reached the bottom, fifty feet or so below. And there, to our
amazement, we found the beginning of a treadway one or two planks wide. At the word, all
shoes and boots were off and we stood in our stocking or naked feet in single line upon that
narrow treadway. And then, after orders to keep our guns on the off-side from the enemy, to
prevent their glistening being noticed (for artillerists though we were, we still had our infantry
accouterments), and after orders not to whisper a word on pain of being shot, we went forth,
literally not knowing whither we were going.
IN THE TREADWAY
The treadway first debouched upon the beach, then turning to the right it went up the shore for
quite a distance; just how far I cannot say, but I know we passed so close to the enemy's pickets
stationed in the marsh that we could hear them talking and right under the nose of their battery.
Finally the treadway turned and struck out into the bay. The water was shallow and we walked
just above the water's surface. Suddenly a shot came, it was from that battery. Imagine our
consternation, but it was not repeated for some time. It was evident they did not see us, but were
merely firing "periodically" across what they supposed to be the channel, in order to prevent any
succor reaching us. The very last thing they were thinking of was our attempting to escape.
FLOUNDERING IN THE MUD
We came to the end of that treadway at last. It ended on one of those very marshes by which my
comrade "Tony" and I had planned to escape. A chain of them, as I had said, ran up the bay some
six or eight hundred yards from the shore. The channel was outside of them, and when we
jumped off the treadway on to the island where it terminated, there, out in the water were dusky
forms of several gunboats waiting to carry us away. But would I ever forget those few minutes on
that island? When I jumped from the treadway I sank to my waist in mud. It was a bog. Every
one sank more or less deep. But our situation gave us frantic energy. There we were right under
the guns of that battery, helplessly floundering up to our middle in mud. Suppose they discovered
us, and there! Forth from the shore came a confused uproar of noise - the shouts of baffled men,
volleys musketry, the deep boom of cannon. They have discovered our flight, back in our works;
they have found us out. But not that battery. Periodically its shot goes down the bay, but not
toward us. It is still in blissful ignorance and we are still safe.
SAFE AT LAST
But we must be quick. Our first aim is to struggle up the island, as must out of the range of those
guns as possible. All order vanishes; it is no wonder, situated as we were. Tony B- and I had
struck together throughout. Looking out on the water we saw a yawl pull cautiously to the shore.
We looked around - no one was nigh, as we thought, no fear of swamping her. In we plunged,
rushing up to our necks in water, and throwing our guns in first, pitched into the boat, head over
heels, laughing, spluttering, struggling. When we had got upright the boat was full to sinking and
we thought we were the only ones near it. We were soon on board of one of the gunboats, and in
so incredibly short time that the whole command was off that island and sailing jubilantly up the
bay. Then that battery found us out, and before we left, sent some right well aimed shots through
our rigging. I remember I had curled down on deck near the boiler, for I was wringing wet, and
as those shots came viciously near, the thought came, "what a shame to be sunk in this boat after
what we have gone through this day". But we were not sunk. We steamed up the bay, touched at
Blakely for a while (it was stormed an hour or so after we left), went across to Mobile and in a
few days evacuated the place with the rest of the troops there and surrendered shortly after at
Secretary Staunton states that there were actually mustered into service of United States, from
15th of April, 61 to the 14th of April, '65, 2,656,553 men. Mr. Staunton, who had free access to
the Confederate archives several years ago, states that 600,000 men in all, were put into
Confederate service during the same time period, and this estimate very nearly correct. So that
the official figures show that the United States had in service more than four times as many men
as the Confederacy had.
The disparity in numbers was well illustrated in the last battle of the war, 4,600 of us at the
Spanish Fort and Blakley fought and kept back 38,000 of the enemy 17 days, with Farragut's fleet
in our rear.
The following information and wording taken from Brigance Genealogy, Volume 2, (Green cover) by Albert H. Brigance.
Soldier's Father: John M. Brigance
Soldier's Mother: Eliza Sesum
Soldier's Name: John Henry Brigance
Regiment: 32nd Texas Calvary
Wounded: April 3, 1865 at Spanish Fort, Alabama
POW: May 4, 1865, Demopolis, Alabama
Paroled: May 14, 1865, Meridian, Mississippi
Born In County: Carroll
Born In State: Tennessee
Date of Death: 1/7/1920
Died of: Heart attack
Buried in the Cemetery Named: Taylor Cemetery
Cemetery in the City of: Tate
Cemetery in County of: Scott
Cemetery in State of: Arkansas
Married to: Mary A. (Tipton) Musgrove
Wife born on: 3/23/1836
Wife born in the City of: Clarksville
Wife born in the County of: Red River
Wife born in the State of: Texas
Wife died on: 4/19/1911
Wife died in the City of: Tate
Wife died in the County of: Scott
Wife died in the State of: Arkansas
Wife buried in Cemetery Named: Taylor Cemetery
Wife buried in: Tate, Scott County, Arkansas
Marriage Date: 8/10/1865
Married in City of: Clarksville
Married in County of: Red River
Married in State of: Texas
Second Marriage: Sarah (Tucker), dom:7/8/1912, no children by John Henry
Received Confederate Pension Number: 1625 on 8/28/1894, revised 6/24/1919
Registered in the County of: Scott
In the State of: Arkansas
JOHN HENRY'S GENEALOGY and FAMILY INFORMATION (Continued)
John Henry's Children:
James Miner Brigance, dob 11/23/1866
Fred Riley Brigance, (twin) dob 1/24/1869
Nancy Louada Brigance, (twin) dob 1/24/1869
John W. Brigance, dob 3/31/1873
William Andy Brigance, dob 12/6/1875
Redmon Marion Brigance, (twin) dob 9/27/1878
Ella Brigance, (twin) dob 9/27/1878
John Henry Brigance and Mary A. (Tipton) Musgrove were married on 8/13/1865 about 3
months after his return from the Civil War. After the death of his parents and the birth of their
first child, James Miner in 1866, the young couple moved from Red River County, Texas to Tate,
Arkansas, (Scott County). They settled in the White Oak Mountain area where they reared their
children. Reportedly, while John Henry and one of his brothers, probably Redmond, were serving
in the Civil War they became friends with three boys by the name of Hurt from Tate, Arkansas.
The Hurt boys told the Brigance boys how good the fishing and hunting was in their home area.
After the war, when times were bad because of the bands of outlaws (Renegades?) roaming, John
Henry remembered the fishing and hunting tales and peacefulness of the valley which the Hurt
boys had told.
After moving to Scott County, John Henry had the first Post Office in Tate which was an 8 x 10
foot room made by boxing in part of a back porch of his home. In addition to operating the Post
Office, John Henry owned a general store, saw mill, grist mill, a cotton gin, and a threshing
machine and did some farming.
Please write in the names of your relatives for each generation, starting with John Henry as the 1st
generation. It's not fair to look in Albert's book! This is for your own information and also
provides a record for future descendants.
Example: Mine would be:
2nd James Miner Brigance
3rd Andrew Jackson (Jack) Brigance
4th Omer Julius Brigance
5th Dennis Wayne Brigance (Me)
6th Matthew Arron Brigance, Keith Jason Brigance
7th Matthew's Children: Cameron Matthew Brigance, Austin Francis Brigance, Katelynn Ann
JOHN HENRY BRIGANCE (as 1st Generation)
Which one of John Henry's children are you related?
The pension application number is 1625, from Scott County, Arkansas. Note: There was a fine to
the applicant if any information on the application was falsified.
Application Filed on August 28, 1894:
"Received a wound in the left hip from a gun the ball striking the left hip near the loin passing and
fracturing the back bone and lodging the right hip from the effects of which he at times becomes
helpless and unable to his hack and hip".
Revised Application Filed on June 24, 1919:
"On the 3rd day of Aprle, 1865 on the east side of the Mobeal Bay I was hit just at the top of my
hip left bone and bac came out at my rite hip it give me pane in the Back at times yet. I am 79
The following Civil War stories were told to Albert Brigance by John Henry's grandchildren and
include my comments.
John H. had told them that he was shot in his back while fighting a battle in Tennessee.
(*Incorrect, John Henry spend a lot of time camped in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and he fought in
the bloody Battle of Mufreesboro (Stones River) which may have been what he was referring?)
He explained how he had lay as if dead as the Union troops "Marched" over him checking to see
that all the bodies lying on the ground were dead. (I cannot verify this at the Spanish Fort battle.
It could have been in another battle).
After the Union troops departed from the area, John Henry "dragged" himself to a stream of
water. (I think the stream of water was located in front of his rifle pit at the Spanish Fort where
he crawled after he was wounded, see the Spanish Fort Map). There he was found by a Negro
woman who "nursed" him back to health. (This is one story that I think most correct). The
Negro women, possibly a refuge or a slave on loan to the hospital, found him at the cotton
warehouse and nursed him for 3 or 4 day and nights. The Negro women could have befriended
him and may very well could have saved his life. See John Henry's Wound and Evacuation.
My dad, Omer Brigance related the story of John Henry passing a white silk handkerchief through
the wound to clean it out. (incorrect, the bullet did not go completely through, and it would
have almost impossible for him to do it himself). The silk handkerchief was a possible donation to
Redmond Brigance and John Henry joined the Confederate Army at the same time but were
placed in different Calvary Regiments. Redmond was about 8 years older than John Henry.
Redmond was assigned to the 29th Texas Calvary Regiment under the command of Colonel
Charles DeMorse. The 29th Texas Calvary saw all of their service fighting battles in the Indian
Territory and Arkansas. It bore the brunt of the fight at Elk Creek or Honey Springs in 1863.
Colonel DeMorse was the commanding officer of the force at Poison Springs, near Camden,
Arkansas, where an attempted federal advance into Texas from Little Rock was stopped.
Redmonds' calvary unit, unlike John Henrys' unit, was mounted through out the war. Redmond
apparently survived the war with out major injury and went to Arkansas with John Henry's family
The double barrel muzzle loading 12 gage shotgun, from Bennie's family, could have been
brought back from the war by John Henry, but most likely the gun was brought back from the war
by his brother Redmond, or the gun belonged to John Henry's dad. After John Henry was
wounded, It is my guess that he would have had only his haversack (personal belongings) with
him at the hospital in Demopolis. The double barrel shotgun was the weapon of choice for Texas
Calvary soldiers. In addition to the shotgun, Texas Calvary soldiers had as many revolvers as they
could carry. Many carried 4 revolvers, two in their belts and two on the saddle.
The 32nd Texas Calvary regiment was stationed in the fall and winter of 1863-64 in Mississippi &
Georgia. After the bloody battle of Chickamauga, they were out of Mississippi/Georgia and a
more congenial climate on the Tombigbee River in Alabama. The men were catching fish there, in
traps, about 200 pounds per day, according to a letter from one Texan in the 9th Texas Calvary.
My guess is that traps were woven from tree limbs and placed at the end of one hole of water.
Then as many as 25 men or so, would start down from the opposite end of the hole of water
beating the water with sticks driving the fish into the traps. Confederate soldiers always had three
things on their minds, 1 food, 2 food, and 3 don't get killed. Soldiers that knew how to fish and
catch game fared much better than most, because the food in Confederate Armies was always in
very short supply.
At the Spanish Fort Battle, one Union troop wrote a letter home and said that the Rebs were hard
to hit, they had placed large logs on the top of their trenches, dug holes under the logs just big
enough to stick their rifles through and the only thing to shoot at, was the end of their rifles.
The mortar shells used by both sides in the Spanish Fort Battle had time delay fuses.
Confederates used wood fuses that were very inaccurate. Only one shell in 20 exploded where it
was supposed to. The Union used powder impregnated paper fuzes and were much more
accurate. These are the shells that John Henry was trying to dodge. The idea was to lob the shell
over the top of the soldiers and then it would explode. Most Confederate rounds would go past
the target and explode in a useless place.
This is how the U.S. Government made John Henry's cards that are on file at the National
Archives. When the war was over, the federal government confiscated all Confederate war
records and took them to Washington. Because each of the Confederate units kept records of
their men in different ways and used different forms, the federal government standardized this
information into a card system. Each event of the soldiers service was then condensed and
placed on a card.
If you have the chance to visit a battlefield where John Henry fought, ask the historian on duty
where Ector's Brigade was located and what part they played in the battle. The historian should
be able to tell you many details about how the Texans fought the battle. The federal government
has recently suggested that the battlefield historians tell you that slavery was primary cause for the
Civil War. This is not true, in our case, John Henry did not own slaves, his dad did not own
slaves, and I doubt he knew anyone in Red River County who did. The Texans were not fighting
to keep slavery, they wanted State Rights for Texas and felt the northern U.S. government was
out of control, too large, and was forcing too many regulations on the citizens of Texas.
Comments from General Dabney H. Maury (Commander of all troops around Mobil) about
wasting ammunition at the Spanish Fort Battle: "The garrison at first fired 36,000 rounds per day,
the young reserves spent it freely. The old Texans and veterans from North Carolina and
Alabama, who replaced the brigade of boys, were more deliberate and careful of their
ammunition, and we reduced its expenditure to 12,000 rounds per day".
Union Ships sunk during the Spanish Fort Battle: (John Henry may have well seen the ironclads
sink in Mobil bay) General Dabney H. Maury: "Two of his ironclads were sunk on Apalachie bar
by torpedoes, four other armed vessels and five transports were sunk during and after the siege.
Making, with the Tecumseh, twelve hostile vessels destroyed in Mobile bay by torpedoes".
Torpedos were under water mines. It was here that Farragut said "damn the torpedoes, full speed
ahead". How the Tecumseh was sunk: General Dabney H. Maury: "The Tecumseh was probably
sunk on her own torpedo. While steaming in lead of Farragut's fleet she carried a torpedo affixed
to a spar which projected some twenty feet from her bow, she proposed to use this torpedo
against the Tennessee, our only formidable ship, but while passing Fort Morgan a shot from that
fort cut away the stays by which the Tecumseh's torpedo was secured, it then doubled under her
and exploding fairly under the bottom of the ill-fated ship, she careened and sunk instantly in ten
fathoms of water. Only 6 or 8 of her crew out of one hundred and fifty officers and men were
saved, the others still lie in their iron coffin at the bottom of the bay".
A letter from a Union troop at the Spanish Fort siege said that it took 100 men to drag one of the
large 15 inch ship mortar into position on the Union lines. These mortars are huge and have very
short barrels. These are the "bombs" that P.D. Stephenson was referring.
The Confederate submarine Hunley was built and tested in Mobile and later shipped by rail to
Charleston to help relieve the Union blockade. It was recovered this spring, 2000. I am sure
John Henry was told stories about the South's secret weapon that went under water while he was
in the city of Mobile. As more details are uncovered about the Hunley it will be on T.V. and in
newspapers in the near future.
If you are a male descendent of John Henry and interested in the Civil War, please consider joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They provide a nice magazine every two months which contain stories similar John Henrys' experience. You can find them by key word search: SCV and your State or call 1 800 MY DIXIE.
NOTES AND COMMENTS:
©Ron Brothers and Dennis W. Brigance, All Rights Reserved, 2000.
December 15, 2000
Return to Biographies Return to Confederate Soldiers of Northeast Texas
Return to Biographies
Return to Confederate Soldiers of Northeast Texas