Heritage, 2009, Volume 2 Page: 23
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Lacking an organized central government, each state of
the Confederacy took on the task of raising these volunteer
units. Texas militia units, home guards, and committees
of public safety were called upon by the enrolling captains
not only for volunteers, but also to assist in provisioning,
equipping, and arming such volunteers. The State of Texas
had little, if any, available arms and equipment for issuance
to the troops. Therefore, a grass-roots approach was taken.
Unlike the Federal troops who could rely upon the supply
and procurement system of the United States for the is-
suance of arms and equipment, the Texas volunteers were
requested to bring with them a horse, saddle, equipment,
and their personal firearms.
In June of 1861, the volunteers from East Texas headed
for the great "rendezvous" at Dallas, a motley sort, dressed
in homespun clothes or military jackets made by wives,
mothers, or sweethearts, with little or no semblance to a
traditional organized military unit of the time. As the com-
panies arrived in Dallas, they were assigned various camp
sites throughout the county. Now began the routine "school
of the soldier" drills and exercises in the art of warfare by
these irregularly armed troops.
The bulk of the volunteers had brought from home
their personal rifles and shotguns that were so familiar.
Most of these were of percussion ignition, while some,
but not many, were of the old flintlock pattern. No two
gauges or calibers were alike, and each volunteer who was
so armed brought along his own shot, powder, lead balls
and percussion caps. An official ordnance supply officer
didn't exist, and thus supply and maintenance had become
an individual responsibility. Training in target practice, the
manual of arms, and firearms familiarization was haphaz-
ard to say the least. However, Colonel Greer knew he had
to make a military organization out of this polyglot group
of volunteers, and therefore he requested additional arms
and equipment from the recently captured stores at the San
On February 16, 1861, U.S. Brigadier General David
Twiggs had surrendered more than a million dollars worth
of military goods to the representatives of the Convention
of Secession of the State of Texas, which in turn came un-
der the command of General Earl Van Doren on behalf of
the Southern Confederacy. No current state or Confeder-
ate documents exist as to an inventory or listing of arms
at the San Antonio arsenal in 1861, but no doubt those
on hand were available for procurement by Confederate or
state officials for arming troops. Colonel Greer requested
some of these arms and military equipment for issuance
to his newly formed regiment. In fact on May 14, 1861,
the Confederate authorities ordered shipment to Dallas of
"two thousand stands of arms, including Sharps carbines
and rifles, United States rifles, Colt pistols, with ammuni-
tion for the same..."
What type of arms actually came to Dallas is unknown,
but known personal accounts from soldiers give some de-
scription of the weapons issued. In a letter to his father,
Americus P. Cartwright, a private in Company E wrote, "I
have not seen any of the arms except the two brass cannons,
but I understand from one of the teamsters, there were hol-
ster pistols and army guns or muskets." Likewise, Sam Bar-
ron from Cherokee County, in Company C, recalled "At
last the long looked for train came...a pair of holster pistols
apiece...these very large, brass mounted, single-barreled pis-
tols with barrels about a foot long, carried a musket ball and
was suspended in holsters that fitted over the horn of the
saddle, thus placing them in a convenient position for use."
Victor Rose, in his history of Ross' Texas Brigade, recol-
lected, "... the arms received by the regiment were of a very
inferior quality-old United States carbines, shotguns, squir-
rel rifles, etc. Company A was partially armed with Colt's
revolving rifles and six-shooters..."
The holster pistols as described in these accounts were
the model 1842 percussion single-shot pistol of .54 caliber.
Even in 1861, it was an archaic, obsolete handgun of lim-
ited firepower and accuracy, but much better than noth-
ing, which was what many of the boys had. While this type
of pistol had been the standard arm of the cavalry, by the
early 1850s it had been replaced by the more efficient and
1816 Springfield musket in original flint
HERITAGE Volume 2 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 2, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254213/m1/23/: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.