4th Texas Infantry during the Maryland Campaign, September 1862
By the Liberty Rifles Research Committee
The following article contains a small compilation of accounts, records, and photographs to lend a hand in fine tuning your 4th Texas, Maryland Campaign impression. As some information has already been collected regarding the 4th Texas during the Peninsula Campaign, one might gain some context and insight on why and how the 4th TX ends up in the condition we find them in during the MD Campaign. What information we have been able to find, while vague on details such as jackets vs. coats, or hats vs. caps, tends to be universally descriptive of the poor condition in which the 4th TX, the Texas Brigade, and for the most part, the Army of Northern Virginia as a whole is in. Often, there is the tendency to dismiss the “Ragged Rebel” as a lost cause excuse, however the sheer volume of such accounts during the MD Campaign lends credence to the strong likelihood that the ANV was in fact poorly equipped, clothed, and shod during the late summer/early fall of 1862. As always, our information and suggestions are meant to act as a guide to assist you in your own endeavor as a historian to portray a soldier in the 4th Texas Infantry as best as you are able and as you see fit. Our basic recommendation and findings are as follows:
Jackets – Type I’s and variations of such, Jackets purchased under the Commutation System resembling Type I’s, Non-descript Jackets, Frocks, and Civilian garments.
Trousers – Military and Civilian
Footwear – CS, Civilian, Federal
Leathers – CS and Federal
Headwear – Hats, a few caps
Weapon – 1853 Enfield is primary choice, others acceptable
Haversack – CS and Federal
Canteen – CS and Federal
Baggage – Coverlets, Carpet, Civilian, Federal – Knapsacks (Early patterns) or Blanket Rolls. Oilcloths and Federal Rubber Blankets as well as Federal Shelter Halves. However you choose to carry your baggage…MARCH LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT!
Make note of the condition of the Texas Brigade and the ANV in the following accounts. Don’t just think about what you’ll wear, think of how you should wear it. Most accounts of the 4th Texas, the Texas Brigade and the ANV describe an army outfitted in dirty, filthy uniforms, worn and ragged, etc. The dirt and grime of two months of campaigning and hard fighting should show on your duds.
Following the Peninsula Campaign, the Texas Brigade was afforded an opportunity to rest, re-outfit and reequip for the upcoming campaign. While nothing is shown in the Quartermaster records of any such issue, many veterans made note of such.
On the 10th of July, J.B. Polley writes:
"...[the Texas Brigade set up camp] three miles from Richmond. Here the Texas Brigade remained idle and at rest until the 8th of August…It was grateful indeed for the lengthy exemption from hard service. To the Texans at this place came long-delayed letters, and our captures from the Federal army large, a great deal of much-needed clothing, and with the latter, that pest of the soldier, the body louse.”
It is reasonable to assume that this clothing was either of Richmond manufacture, or sent from Texas and held at the Texas Depot (mentioned in the Gaines Mill information) until the Texas Brigade could access it, or possibly more likely, a combination of both.
Reflecting on the MD Campaign during October of 1862, John Stevens of the 5th Texas makes reference to the last time the Texas Brigade received any clothing being two months prior (the camp in Richmond referred to above), when he remarked:
“August the 7th - we l[eft] Richmond on this campaign. In all these days we have never changed our clothes, for the reason that we have had no chance to do so-no chance to draw new clothing and clothing as all old soldiers will tell you, we could not carry any extra with us. One blanket, gun and accoutrements, haversack and canteen was all that any soldier could afford to carry. Now for nearly two months we have worn the same shirt, pants and jacket-sleeping on the ground, anywhere we could find a place, and the opportunity to lie down. Dust, mud, hot weather, rain and sunshine, we take it as it comes. Also the wading of creeks and rivers—the water often waist deep—no chance to clense ourselves from the unavoidable accumulation of filth.”
In a similar vain to Stevens’ comments about the light marching style of the Texas Brigade, J.B. Polley again, wrote a quite descriptive account of the average soldier’s baggage as well as once again making reference to receiving clothes in Richmond prior to the campaign –
“August of 1862..."It [Hood's Division] marched light, each man having by this time learned what weight he could comfortably carry, and therefore, dispensing with all superfluities. Still, we could not reduce the weight to be carried less than about thirty-six pounds. A gun weighed about ten pounds, the cartridge box, cap-box, bayonet and the belts and straps to which these hung, another ten, and the roll of the blanket and tent, or oil-cloth, still another ten. Add to these the weight of the haversack, in which not only provisions but under-clothing and many other necessities were carried, and the total, on a fair estimate, was never less than thirty-six pounds, and often went a little beyond forty. A canteen full of water weighed at least three pounds…The three days' rations issued to the division on the 13th [September] included no meat, and were therefore the sooner exhausted. No clothing or shoes had been furnished it since it left Richmond, and in a month and a half of hard marching and harder fighting hundreds of the men had become ragged and barefooted, while lack of provisions forced them to subsist on green corn and green apples."
The Texas Brigade faced off again against the 5th New York at the Battle of Second Manassas, only a few weeks before the battle of Sharpsburg. Once again the Texans got the best of the “Red Legs.” The following account from Alfred Davenport's "Camp and Field Life of the Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry" is from that battle.
"And the men were receiving deadly volleys from an unseen enemy on their left and rear, at close quarters, as well as on their front, into their faces, by Hood's brave but ragged barefooted, half-starved Texans..."
Chaplain Davis of the 4th Texas synopsizes the action leading up to and through the 2nd Manassas campaign, making note of the vast amount of Federal supplies potentially available to the Texas Brigade.
"Here Gen. A.P. Hill, on Monday, completed the work of a battle which I may say begun at a distance of fifty miles from this place and lasted for twenty days - for from August 9th to September 1st, the work went on. Here we remained until next evening - the object being to cut off the enemy's trains and harass his rear; but their good speed enabled them to save the greater portion. Yet the whole line was strewed with abandoned guns, caissons, wagons, ambulances, commissary and quartermaster's stores, ordinance of every kind, and small arms of every pattern - knapsacks, cartridge-boxes, canteens, haversacks, blankets, overcoats, camp-kettles, tin cups, and frying pans at almost every step in their splendid race from Groveton to the Stone Bridge, and for miles beyond."
THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN BEGINS
John Stevens of the 5th Texas:
"Now, remember this is about the 6th or 7th of September, and we have been out of Richmond a full month and we have on the same clothes: pants, jacket and shirt, nothing more…We also have some kind of head cover, either an old piece of a hat or an old cap and if we have not worn them out, we have some sort of footwear, in the shape of old army shoes, butt many of us are bare- footed."
A Frederick, MD citizen wrote her friend:
"Frederick City, Maryland, September 13th, 1862.
I wish, my dearest Minnie, you could have witnessed the transit of the Rebel army through our streets a day or two ago. Their coming was unheralded by any pomp and pageant whatever. No bursts of martial music greeted your ear, no thundering sound of canon, no brilliant staff, no glittering cortege dashed through the streets, instead came three long dirty columns, that kept on in an unceasing flow. I could scarcely believe my eyes; was this body of men moving so smoothly along, with no order, their guns carried in every fashion, no two dressed alike, their officers hardly distinguishable from the privates -- were these, I asked myself in amazement, were these dirty, lank, ugly specimens of humanity, with shocks of hair sticking through the holes in their hats, and the dust thick on their dirty faces, the men that had coped and encountered successfully, and driven back again and again our splendid legions with their fine discipline, their martial show and colour, their solid battalions keeping such perfect time to the inspiring bands of music? I must confess, Minnie, that I felt humiliated at the thought that this horde of ragamuffins could set our grand army of the Union at defiance. Why it seems as if a single regiment of our gallant boys in blue could drive that dirty crew in the river without any trouble. And then, too, I wish you could see how they behaved -- a crowd of boys on a holiday don't seem happier. They are on the broad grin all the time. Oh! they are so dirty! I don't think the Potomac river could wash them clean; and ragged! -- there is not a scarecrow in the cornfields that would not scorn to exchange clothes with them; and so tattered! -- there isn't a decently dressed soldier in their whole army. I saw some strikingly handsome faces though; or, rather, they would have been so if they could have had a good scrubbing. They were very polite, I must confess, and always asked for a drink of water, or anything else, and never think of coming inside of a door without an invitation. many of them were bare footed. Indeed I felt sorry for the poor, misguided wretches, for some were limping along so painfully, trying hard to keep with their comrades. But I most stop. I send this by Robert, and hope it will reach you safely. Write to me as soon as the route is open.
Pvt. George Washington Beidelman, Co. C, 71st Pennsylvania Infantry:
“The rebels destroyed a fine railroad bridge a couple of miles below Frederick and cut the telegraph wires. They left so quick, however, that they had no time to destroy the turnpike bridge. WE ALSO SAW FRESH BEEF WHICH THEY HAD JUST KILLED AND SKINNED, BUT HAD TO LEAVE BEHIND.”
Chaplain Davis of the 4th Texas:
"On our way from the Monocacy river to Hagerstown, many of our men gave way under the hard marches which they had to perform, destitute as many of them were of shoes and blankets, and frequently without rations."
A correspondent for Harpers Weekly commented on the appearance of the ANV:
“With the exception of their officers, there was little but homespun among them, light drab gray or butternut color, the gray predominating, although there were so many varieties of dress, half citizen, half military, that they could scarcely be said to have a uniform”
J.B. Polley of the 4th Texas:
"...on the morning of the 15th, and Hood's division, assisted by artillery and cavalry, forming the rear guard, and holding the Federals in check until the other troops of Longstreet's command marched quietly to their destination west of Antietam Creek. This was no easy task. The three days' rations issued to the division on the 13th included no meat, and were therefore the sooner exhausted. No clothing or shoes had been furnished it since it left Richmond, and in a month and a half of hard marching and harder fighting hundreds of the men had become ragged and barefooted, while lack of provisions forced them to subsist on green corn and green apples."
Pvt. George Washington Beidelman, Co. C, 71st Pennsylvania Infantry, on the march near Boonsboro, MD, Monday September 15, 1862:
“The dead secesh are lying around everywhere, some places in piles. Guns, knapsacks, old clothing, etc are strewed thickly all over.”
Private L.A. Daffan, Company G, 4th Texas:
"I had a haversack full of fine rations, not altogether furnished by the Confederate Government."
Sergeant Miles Vance Smith, Company D, 4th Texas:
"The dawn of the morning of the 17th is now at hand. Eighty thousand well-armed, well-fed, well-clad Yankees were approaching...to engage in battle array, 38,000 hungry, ragged and some of them barefooted Confederates. We were not yet prepared to receive them. We had just drawn some flour, made it into dough and was in the act of cooking it on ramrods and bark for our breakfast..."
He goes on to write in this entry about the action of the 4th, about being shot and eventually making it about a mile to the rear of the lines where he continues:
"It was now about 12 o'clock, noon. I had lost my hat and canteen; had left my enfield where I was wounded. Had my blanket and haversack, but the haversack was still empty."
Col. Harold Simpson, 4th Texas recounted the following:
"Sgt. Paul Ripley and four privates were also cut down by the converging fire as they sighted their Enfields through the smoke and chaos of battle."
And later continued:
"During this early morning fight on the Hagerstown Pike near the Dunkard Church a rather amusing incident took place. Although the culprit concerned in this escapade cannot be positively identified as a member of the Texas Brigade, his prowess as a forager, his apparent hunger and the time and place of the event lends credence to this assumption. While the critical struggle over Millers' corn field and the Hagerstown Pike was at its height, Lee and Jackson chanced to be conferring in the vicinity of the Dunkard Church. In the course of their conversation, Lee, in scanning the firing lines, spotted a lean battle forager heading back toward camp in the West Woods lugging a pig over his shoulder. With the battle hanging in the balance and straggling and foraging being a couple of the causes for the current predicament of the Confederate Army, Lee momentarily lost his composure and ordered Jackson to have the man shot. However, Jackson, being a bit more practical in this instance, gave the roguish rascal a rifle and ordered him back into the battle where the action was the hottest. The culprit survived the ordeal and was afterwards referred to as 'the man who lost his pig but saved his bacon.'"
Lt. Col. B.F. Carter, Commanding 4th Texas, Official Report of Sharpsburg - In referring to the men under his command:
"These men, too, were half-clad, many of them barefooted, and had only been half-fed for days before. The courage, constancy and patience of our men is beyond all praise."
W. R. Hamby, of the 4th Texas, writes of his observations and experiences at Sharpsburg:
"For the past several days, we had subsisted chiefly on apples and green corn. Many of us were barefooted and ragged, and all of us were foot sore, weary, and hungry."
Pvt. George Washington Beidelman, Co. C, 71st Pennsylvania Infantry, records his experience of touring the battlefield at Sharpsburg on September 21, 1862:
“Having lost my spoon a day or two ago, I succeeded in finding a secesh article, which is a heavy iron one. I “nailed on to it” and it proved to be a rebel. I tried to procure some appropriate little relic which I could send in a letter but everything had been collected but old mole buttons, tin box lids, old cups, fragments of old and awful dirty cloths, etc.”
Beidelman describes the scene around the Dunker Church on the 21st of September as well:
“In places where the rebel dead were most thickly strewn I noticed many woolen gloves and mits, which provision I consider an evidence that they expected to spend their winter campaign in the Northern states.”
Chaplain Davis of the 4th Texas:
"On the 26th inst. (September) learning that the army had moved back to within six miles of town (Winchester, VA), I went out and had the pleasure of of seeing those of my old regiment, that were left, after marching several hundred miles, and passing through the fire of six days, in battle. The men looked worn and tired. Their clothes were ragged, and many of their feet were bare; and in their coats, pants and hats, could be seen many marks of the bullet. They had many times performed long marches, and fought hard battles, without rations. The weather was warm and dry, and the dust had settled thick over their clothes."
Arliskas, Thomas M., Cadet Grey and Butternut Brown
Beidelman, George Washington, The Civil War Letters of George Washington Beidelman
Davenport, Alfred, Camp and Field Life of the Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry
Davis, N., Chaplain Davis and Hood’s Texas Brigade
Frassanito, William A., Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of america’s Bloodiest Day
Giles, V., Rags and Hope: The Recollections of Val. C. Giles Four Years with Hood’s Brigade, Fourth Texas Infantry, 1861-1865
Hood, J.B., Advance and Retreat: General John B. Hood
Polley, J. B., Hood's Texas Brigade: It's Marches, It's Battles, It's Achievements
Pvt. L.A. Daffan and Sgt. Miles Vance Smith’s primary accounts were pulled from the US Army Heritage Center’s Archives in Carlisle, PA.
Check out these websites for further information:
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/cwp/ - use the Search function to look at pictures of CS Dead at Antietam. Zoom in for as much detail as you like.