4th Texas Infantry during the Peninsula Campaign, May-June 1862
By the Liberty Rifles Research Committee
The 4th Texas is somewhat difficult to pin down from a uniform standpoint during the spring and early summer of 1862. Many descriptions of Johnston’s Army during this period describe a lack of uniformity and a surplus of dirt, grime, and busted out clothing. Many of the descriptions refer to a lot of civilian garments as well. Some of the following are given as general descriptions of Confederate soldiers on the Peninsula during the first half of 1862:
Perry Mayo, in a May 1862 letter to his father read, "a great many deserters come into our lines every day. They are a hard looking set. They are not dressed in any particular uniform and most of them are dressed in citizen's clothes."
New York Private Simon Hulbert said on May 11th, "we couldn’t tell a rebel when we came across them for they have no uniforms, only citizens clothing."
A Boston Journal Correspondent on seeing the recently evacuated Yorktown wrote, “The equipment and clothing of the rebel dead were of the most miserable kind. No attempt at uniformity of dress could be seen. Here and there some officer had a flannel stripe sewn to his trousers…the men were dressed in common linsey and cotton suits of the commonest and coarsest materials.”
Specifically regarding Company H of the 4th Texas, it seems likely that they would have been suffering a similar fate as described in the accounts above. Quartermaster records of the 4th Texas show uniforms and equipment being issued on two occasions applicable to this studyl: December 31, 1861 and June 30, 1862. The December 31, 1861 record is as follows:
(Co. H) List of Ord. Stores turned over to Capt. Proctor P. Porter, Co. H, by Jos. D. Wade, Capt. & AQM, December 31, 1861 [Roll 290]:
Minnie Muskets – 73
Tubes – 72
Cart. Boxes – 93
Wipers – 33
Belts – 86
Wrenches – 8
Cap Boxes – 93
Ball cartridges – 4,000
Scabbards – 86
Straps – 86
Canteens – 6
(Co. H) Received by Capt. Proctor P. Porter, Co. H, December 31, 1861 [Roll 290]:
Blankets – 99
Overcoats – 95
Pr. Shoes – 40
Pants – 99
Socks – 99
Sibley Tent – 1
Pr. Drawers – 98
Wool Shirts – 99
Coats – 90
No additional uniforms or equipment are shown as being issued to Co. H until six months later on June 30, 1862, which was three days after the Battle of Gaines Mill. The June 30th return is as follows:
(Co. H) Received 30 June 1862 by Capt. Charles E. Jones, cmd Co. H [Roll 288]:
Pr. Pants @ 3.50 – 33
Pr. Pants @ 5.50 – 22
Pr. Pants @ 4.87 – 2
Coats @ 5.75 – 2
Coat @ 5.00 – 1
Shoes @ 3.50 – 103
Pr. Shoes @ 2.50 – 6
Pr. Socks @ 50 cents – 24
Pr. Drawers @ 50 cents – 20
Axe – 1
Helve – 1
Based on these two returns, a few assertions may be made. While certainly open to interpretation, we feel that some reasonable conclusions may be drawn from this information. It appears that Co. H received 90 “Coats” on Dec. 31, 1861 and only 3 on June 30, of 1862. Given the notorious conditions of the Peninsula and the amount of marching and maneuvering that the 4th Texas did leading up to Gaines Mill, it is reasonable to assume that a good number of the 90 coats received in December did not make it to the latter part of June ’62. It is also reasonable to assume those coats that did last, were likely in rough shape. As to just what the “coats” are, is just about anybody’s guess. The Quartermaster reports do distinguish between “jackets” and “coats,” so it seems likely that the December issue was possibly frock coats, possibly from Richmond? For a while, at least until the Mississippi was lost, Texas Aid Societies were sending clothing and the like to the 4th Texas, as evidenced in this letter from a member of Company B, 4th Texas, which was found in the Richmond Daily Dispatch In January of 1862:
“The "Tom Green Rifles,"4th Texas regiment, were the happy recipients to-day of over four thousand dollars worth of clothing, blankets, &c., obtained and prepared by the citizens and ladies of Travis County, Texas. This is not the only company which has been similarly provided for since the beginning of the present troubles.”
This account seems to indicate that there were shortages of clothing, blankets and the like during the winter of 1862 and it seems likely that these troubles would have continued to plague the 4th Texas and Johnston’s Army as the Peninsula Campaign revved up.
Based on these accounts and returns, we feel that it is likely the 4th Texas would have been clad in a variety of jackets and coats, to include some remnants of the December 1861 issue, items sent from home as evidenced in the letter in the Richmond Daily Dispatch, jackets from Richmond purchased under the Commutation System, and Civilian clothing. None of these sources would have appeared in the Quartermaster records and help possibly account for the lack of jackets or coats reported on said records, after December of 1861.
It is also interesting to note that Co. H received 57 pairs of pants 3 days after the battle, leading to the conclusion that their trousers were in rough shape at Gaines Mill. Again, the same sources that likely filled the gap from Dec. '61 to June ’62 for jackets, likely provided the men with trousers, but the large amount issued on June 30 lead to the conclusion that their was a need for trousers at Gaines Mill. Additionally, just about any account of the climate, roads, mud, rain, and general conditions of campaigning on the Peninsula lead one to the conclusion that trousers did not last long and were generally muddy and worn.
Also, notice…“no caps” issued.
On the general condition of the 4th, Chaplain Davis remarks that after the Battle at Eltham’s Landing, a paragraph from the New York Herald caused “good sport” among the men. In describing the Texas Brigade, the Herald’s correspondent remarked that they “were charged furiously by four regiments of negroes!” The men of the 4th Texas, according to Davis, felt that this was a “direct reflection upon the state of the brigade toilet.”
In May ‘62, Miles Smith of the 4th Texas reported that the mud along the retreat was so deep that the "boys would be sounding the mud and water like sailors sound the sea. All up and down the line they would be halooing ankle deep, knee deep, thigh deep, etc.''
There is also good evidence that Federal clothing and equipment was being commandeered by the 4th Texas prior to Gaines Mill as evidenced in the following accounts:
In May ‘62 at Eltham's Landing, Pvt. Val Giles of Co. B, 4th Texas, reported that Etanial Jones of his company pulled the boots off a dead Yankee officer "so that he could rest easier.''
During the Battle of Seven Pines, the 4th Texas came across recently abandoned Federal Camps, during which Miles Smith of the 4th Texas appropriated a valise containing a Yankee officer's uniform, shirts, and socks. He “shucked [himself] of his old dirty fellows [socks] and slipped into 2 of them and gave the others to one of the boys.”
Reference is made by Val Giles to a Texas Depot in Richmond. "I went to the Texas depot, where the brigade stores it's surplus plunder." The word “plunder” seemingly indicating that the “Texas Depot” was storing captured Federal supplies, but is certainly open to interpretation.
On the march they were "ordered to deposit blankets and knapsacks and other impediment to to rapid motion" they were left under guard to be transports for them, but were never seen again. "We never secured an outfit of clothes and blankets to compare with those abandoned. The Fifth Texas supplied itself liberally from the stores left in the Federal camps, but along with what they took they got army lice enough for a large division of troops."
Lastly, it appears that the 4th Texas was equipped with Enfields. The December ’61 ordinance return makes note of “minie rifles” as well as a quote from Chaplain Davis of the 4th Texas who remarked during the fighting at Yorktown, that the Texans were “supplied with Minnie and Enfield rifles, and what was still more to the purpose, new how to use them.”SOURCES
Arliskas, Thomas M., Cadet Grey and Butternut Brown
Davis, N., Chaplain Davis and Hood’s Texas Brigade
Giles, V., Rags and Hope: The Recollections of Val. C. Giles Four Years with Hood’s Brigade, Fourth Texas Infantry, 1861-1865
Polley, J. B., Hood's Texas Brigade: It's Marches, It's Battles, It's Achievements