"Rarin' for a Fight":
Texans in the Confederate Army
RALPH A. WOOSTER and ROBERT WOOSTER*t
THE FIRING ON FT. SUMTER IN APRIL, 1861, RELEASED STRONG EMO-
tional feeling throughout the South. From the Potomac to the
Rio Grande, thousands of young men volunteered for military service.
In his study of the Confederate soldier in the Civil War, Bell I. Wiley
notes that the man who was to become Johnny Reb was "rarin' for a
fight." He cites a young volunteer from Arkansas who, feeling "like
ten thousand pins were pricking me in every part of the body," left his
community for the war front "a week in advance of his brothers."
Many young Texans were also "rarin' for a fight" in the spring of
1861. William A. Fletcher, of Beaumont, was working on the roof of
a two-story house when informed of the firing on Ft. Sumter. The
news made Fletcher "very nervous thinking the delay of completing
the roof might cause me to miss a chance to enlist...." Finding no
local military units being formed, he boarded a flatcar heading toward
Houston to find a way of enlisting. Once in Houston he again found
no companies being organized. So impatient was he to enlist he went
to Galveston the following day, but found conditions there similar to
Houston. He took a steamboat to Liberty, and finally persuaded the
commander of a company being formed there to allow him to enlist.2
Most Texans experienced less difficulty than Fletcher in joining
military units. By late spring companies were being formed in almost
every community. Often these units were organized by local political
leaders or by professional men with little military knowledge or back-
ground. The lack of weapons, ammunition, and other equipment
often bewildered even those with previous military experience.3
*Ralph A. Wooster is professor of history and dean of faculties at Lamar University.
Robert Wooster is a graduate student in history at the University of Texas, Austin.
tThe Quarterly gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Larry T. Jones, author of the
Confederate Calendar, in procuring copies of the photographs accompanying this article.
113Bell Irvin Wiley, The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy
(1943; reprint ed., New York, 1962), 15.
2William A. Fletcher, Rebel Prvate, Front and Rear (19o8; reprint ed., Austin, 1954),
6 (quotation), 7.
3Allen C. Ashcraft, "Texas, 186o-1866: The Lone Star State in the Civil War" (Ph.D.
diss., Columbia University, 196o), 74-77-
It should be noted that most Texans were initially recruited or enrolled in a company
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/. Accessed May 31, 2016.