Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Confederate Cavalry West of the River. By Stephen B. Oates.
Austin (University of Texas Press), 1961. Pp. xviii+234.
Illustrations, maps, bibliography, index. $4.50.
How could an author more readily interest his reader than,
on an opening page, to gather a thousand Texas volunteers com-
manded by heroic Ben McCulloch on a cold, drizzly night to
plan an attack on the Alamo? On the morrow, February 16, 1861,
they celebrated as federal forces lowered the United States flag
from the Alamo. No shot had been fired, but enthusiasm inspired
by this episode, nearly two months before Fort Sumter, encour-
aged immediate enlistment in the Austin-San Antonio area in
the volunteer cavalry for the Army of Texas.
Texans, unaccustomed to walking and often peerless in horse-
manship, found the cavalry particularly appealing. Volunteers in
1861 from the Lone Star State (17,338) accounted for more
enlistments than Arkansas (5,145), the Indian Territory (5,460) ,
and Louisiana (750) combined for service in the Trans-Mississippi
cavalry. In contract, infantry recruiters met with slight success
in Texas prior to conscription.
While the Civil War specialist will read carefully the organ-
izational and recruiting chapters, the social historian and general
reader will be attracted by the resourcefulness demonstrated by
these troops in their acquisition of food and clothing. Contribu-
tions from friends and families, foraging, wild game, begging, and
looting supplemented insufficient or non-existent commissary
supplies. Inadequate clothing disadvantaged the men throughout
the war. Volunteers often furnished their own uniforms and
citizens of Arkansas and Texas answered appeals for additional
clothing and blankets. Shortages of arms discouraged many men,
but not the Texan who could "lick 'em with cornstalks (p. 62) ."
Captured federal arsenals, a few factories, the folks back home,
and prisoners provided a miscellaneous assortment of arms for
the cavalryman who preferred "a good steed with a pair of Colt's
six-shooter's in his hands (p. 7o) ." Horses proved plentiful as
the man usually brought their own and received compensation.
As discipline declined in 1864, and illegal impressments occurred
when horses died of disease or exhaustion, Texas farmers and
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/. Accessed December 19, 2013.