Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 2, May, 1999 Page: 113
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Reminiscences of the Old Brigade
best; but if he did it was a terrible thought for
No, when looking for mistakes, and rea-
sons for the failure of the southern arms, don't
go to the private soldier and the junior officers
for they did their duty nobly and well, and never
failed to do what they were called upon to do.
Don't go to "Waller and his Texans," or any-
body else and their Texans, for the Texans,
whether in the bleak mountains of New Mexico;
whether in the valley of the Potomac, or whether
in the swamps of Louisiana, always did what
they were called upon to do. You must go higher
than they to look for the mistakes.
I impugn the motives of none of our com-
manders; on the contrary am perfectly willing
to admit that they acted honestly as theirjudge-
ment deemed was for the best interest of the
south; but some of the mistakes of both Gen.
Smith and Magruder were so glaring, that a
ten-year-old child ought to have seen and
guarded against them.
But then again, the war on our side was
conducted on mistaken principle and our com-
manding generals committed one common er-
ror, and that was that we could wear the north
out. The idea seemed imbibed in our minds that
cotton was king, and that the whole world would
starve without it, and hence our generals all
seemed to want to avoid decisive battles, as
much as possible and by a long protracted war,
compel the other side to give up the struggle.
The truth was that our only chance of success
lay in a quick, short and bloody struggle.
We had no money, supplies or anything else
to enable us to carry on a protracted war. Our
men were brave hardy, in unused to hardships,
and skilled in the use of fire-arms. The north-
ern soldier was brave, but not skilled in the use
of fire arms, and the consequence was that, in
the beginning of the war, we could load and
fire about three times to their once and with a
great deal more accuracy. But as the war pro-
gressed they learned to load and fire as fast as
we could; hence every day's delay decreased
our chances of success, and increased theirs.
Every day's delay simple reduced our limited
supply of provisions, increased the hunger, and
enfebled the bodies of the weary soldiers who
were to bear aloft the southern cross. All our
masterly retreats were but that many nails,
driven in the coffin of southern hopes and south-
But we were not consistent even in our as-
sertion that cotton was king, and that the world
could not do without it. The idea being that
foreign nations would not permit the Federal
government to blockade our ports and cut off
the supply of cotton, for any great length of
time, but would interfere in our behalf and force
peace, in order to procure our cotton; but we
did not carry out this idea we gave it no trial,
and hence it remains an unsolved problem. We
ourselves prevented its solution by organizing
cotton bureaus, putting ships afloat, loaded with
cotton instead of cannons, and sending a per-
fect stream of cotton across our borders to for-
My own belief is that foreign nations would
have interfered when the supply of cotton on
hand gave out, but the interference would have
been on the side of Federal government in the
shape of men and material to aid on crushing
us, still this is merely on opinion, for we gave
cotton no chance to assert itself and show
whether it was really king or not. The desire
for speculation, greed and gain was two too
great with some of us to let millions lie idle.
This much have I thought proper to say in
reply to Gen. Taylor's fling at the Texans, be-
cause I am one of them, and he who hits one of
them, hits me; in fact, I would much rather he
would hit me, than one of them. And right here
I say, save and except the mistakes of Gen.
Sibley, if anything went wrong; if any mistakes
were made by the old brigade, I alone am to
blame for it; for I alone, of all the brigade,
ever failed to do my duty. And now back to
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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/m1/65/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.