Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 2, May, 1999 Page: 71
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Reminiscences of the Old Brigade
us down to a slow walk, and in this way we
were marched under fire to our extreme left,
when we were dismounted and put into action.
We had two men killed, however, before we
And now, reader, you've been wanting to
see some fighting so long, in our next chapter
you shall have nine hours of it, for we will give
you the battle of Val Verde in every detail.
The Battle of Val Verde
In order to understand the movements and
progress of a battle, we must understand the
bearings and situations of the battle field. The
Rio Grande has a valley averaging about three
miles in width and bordered on each side by
steep and rugged mountains, the river some-
times running close to the foot of the moun-
tains on one side or the other leaving no valley
at all on that side. At the upper end of Val
Verde, the river skirts at the foot of the moun-
tains on the east side, then takes a course di-
agonally across and down the valley until it
strikes the base of the mountains on the west
side, then curves gradually back to the east until
it passes the "Mesa" (a flat top mountain) at
the lower end of the valley. From the upper
end of the valley there is a wide dry ravine, I
think, the old bed of the river, running direct
through the valley along the foot of the "Mesa"
into the river below. The space between this
ravine and the river, or, as I think, the old bed
of the river, is some 200 yards at the upper
end, then gradually widening until where the
river reaches the hills on the west side it is about
1000 yards, then gradually gets more narrow
until opposite the "Mesa" it is about 300 yards.
Our line, on the 21st of February, 1862, was
formed along this ravine from the upper end,
about 200 yards from the river, our left resting
against the foot of this "Mesa," which from
the valley side, is almost perpendicular but is
easily climbed from the mountain side. The
enemy, when the battle began, had possession
of the top of this "Mesa," (the real meaning of
Mesa is table,) upon the top of which two or
three regiments could be comfortably posted,
on the east of the river, while their army lined
the west bank of the river from a point oppo-
site this "Mesa" to the upper end of the valley,
just where our right rested; hence their line rep-
resented an Indian's bow, while ours repre-
sented the string connecting the two ends of the
bow. There was an open space of about 200
yards in width between this "Mesa" and the
river on the lower side. Along this ravine, or
old bed of the river, from the "Mesa" to the
river above is a thick growth of cottonwood
trees, at least, I took them to be such, at any
rate they were large trees. The space between
this ravine, which is now our line, and the river
is an open prairie, except up in the bend of the
river is another old bed or ravine running
straight across from the bank of the river above
to the river below, along this ravine are also
some large trees and one or two clusters of
The force of the enemy has been variously
estimated from five to nine thousand men, they
certainly issued 7,200 rations on the Sunday
before the battle, and they would hardly have
issued more rations then they had men, at any
rate, their line of battle was more than double
as long as the Confederate and they were dou-
bly as thick along their line, for the Confeder-
ates had to spread their men out in order to
make them reach the entire length of their line.
* * My old mess-mate, Suff Clapp, who was
shot through both thighs and left at Socora, and
who was one of the bravest and truest men that
ever breathed the breath of life, tells me that
the Federal officers and citizens there admitted
that they had 7,000 men in the battle, while
Noel's history puts them at 7,680 men.
Exactly how many men the Confederates
had in the battle will never be known, but there
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 2, May, 1999, periodical, May 1999; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151406/m1/23/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.