Heritage, Volume 14, Number 3, Summer 1996 Page: 11
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and forced to leave the field from loss of
blood. Although the other units of the
Brigade were engaged, they suffered less
heavily.The major portion of the glory won
at Gaines Mill belongs to the "Hell-Roaring"
4th Texas, a sobriquet they won that
day, and to the 18th Georgia.
Even in the midst of all the carnage and
suffering in which they were involved, there
were lighter - at least less lethal - moments.
In August 1862, on the march to what is
now called Second Manassas (Bull Run),
the Brigade was involved in the so-called
"Roasting Ears" fight. While bivouaced
adjacent to a large cornfield, the alwayshungry
Texans (a condition held in common
with all other Confederate soldiers),
although forbidden by Army orders to forage,
could not resist the lure of food so
readily available. However, unknown at
the time, the other side of the cornfield was
occupied by a large Federal scouting force.
Both wandered into the cornfield at the
same time. Inevitably, they met near
midfield and, ". . . exchanging derisive
remarks, the foragers, either unencumbered
by firearms or not wishing to use them,
engaged in a real Donnybrook Fair, tossing
ears of corn at each other, fist fighting and
wrestling for possession of the field. The
cries and shouts of the participants along
with the violent swaying of the corn tassels
soon brought comrades from both sides
into the fray. By preponderance of numbers
the Texans finally drove [the Federal] scouts
from the coveted crops."8 Later, in keeping
with the law, the Brigade commissary officer
purchased the entire crop, all of which
the Brigade put to good use.
At Second Manassas, South Mountain,
Sharpsburg (Antietam) - in a portion of
that terrible field at Sharpsburg known
during more peaceful times as Miller's cornfield,
it was the 1st Texas that won immortality.
According to the official Brigade
historian, Joseph Polley, "[t]he First Texas
went into battle with 226 men, and lost, in
killed and wounded, 186, a loss of eightytwo
percent. As one flagbearer would fall,
another would seize the flag, until nine
men had fallen beneath their colors. Official
records show that the First Texas lost
more men, killed and wounded, in the
battle of Sharpsburg, in proportion to numbers
engaged, than any other regiment engaged,
either Federal or Confederate, in
any other battle of the war. ... In the
aggregate the Texas Brigade went into the
fight with 854, rank and file, and lost 519,
Captain Isaac N.M. Turner, C.S.A., served with Hood's Brigade, and was killed in Virginia in 1863. His body
was returned to Texas for reinterment last year.
killed and wounded, including sixteen
flagbearers, a loss of over sixty percent."9
Fredericksburg, Suffolk, Gettysburg - the
march to Pennsylvania was long and difficult.
John C. West, Co. "E", 4th Texas,
remembered the march on June 15th from
Culpepper toward Winchester as, "... one
of the hottest days and one of the hottest
marches I have yet experienced. Over 500
men fell out by the roadside from fatigue
and exhaustion, and several died where
they fell; this was occasioned by being
overheated and drinking cold water in immoderate
quantities ... ."10
Crossing into Maryland, another of those
fleetingly humorous episodes occurred. It
was at Hood's personal behest that the
Brigade was rewarded for their hard-marching
to that point. The reward was a young,
exuberant but fatigued infantryman's dream
- whiskey -in this instance, whiskey captured
from Federal stores near Hagerstown,
Maryland. It turned into quite an event but
with unanticipated consequences. According
to Joe Polley, the, ".. . [n]on-imbibing
members of the command gave their doles
to comrades that liked the stuff, and as a
result, it was of the breadth, more than of
the length of the road, that many soldiers
that afternoon found cause ofcomplaint."''
The ragged Texans were always objects
of curiosity and awe to the citizens of the
towns and villages through which they
marched. In Chamberburg, Pennsylvania,
John C. West overheard a woman remark
as he passed, "Thank God, you will never
come back alive." To which West jauntily
replied in the typically confident spirit of
the Texas Brigade, "No, as we intend to go
to Cincinnati by way of New York."12 As
things turned out this was not to be the
case but it was not the result of a lack of
At Gettysburg, the Texas Brigade was
not called into action until the second day
of the great three-day battle - on July 2,
HERITAGE * SUMMER 1996 11
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 14, Number 3, Summer 1996, periodical, Summer 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45405/m1/11/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.