Heritage, Volume 14, Number 3, Summer 1996 Page: 9
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s the echoes of the Confederate-clad
honor guard's final
volley faded across the East
Texas countryside, the latest footnote to
the history of the state's famous Hood's
Texas Brigade had been completed. Capt.
Isaac N.M. Turner, Company "K", 5th
Texas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, was
"home at last." The date, April 15, 1995,
was, to the day, 132 years since his death in
Virginia during the American Civil War.
Capt. Ike Turner was only 24 years of age
when he fell victim to a Federal
sharpshooter's bullet on the banks of the
Nansemond River near the southeastern
Virginia community of Suffolk. He and his
comrades were members of Hood's Texas
Brigade, Gen. Jerome B. Robertson, commanding,
Hood's Division, Longstreet's
Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, temporarily
detached, and operating in that area
in the early spring, 1863. Capt. Turner's
dying wish was that, "his body be returned
home to Texas and buried beside his
mother."2 However, due to the exingencies
of war, his body had been interred at a
former family homeplace in Georgia and
there it remained for the intervening years.
It was only through the efforts ofLivingston's
Capt.Ike Turner Chapter, Sons of Confederate
Veterans, that the young captain's
dying wish was realized finally. There were
many other members of that valiant band of
Texans that never made it back to their
homes at all, their bones left to bleach on
battlefields extending from Eltham's Landing
to Appomattox Court House.
Although during the course of the war
there were a number of men who commanded
the brigade - Louis T. Wigfall,
John B. Hood, William T. Wofford, Jerome
B. Robertson, John Gregg, C.M. Winkler,
Frederick S. Bass, Robert H. Powell - it was
Hood's name with which the Brigade was
inextricably linked and that the men of the
Brigade revered most.3 Hood was a Kentuckian
by birth but a Texan by choice. A
West Point graduate of 1853, he was serving
in the elite 2nd U.S. Cavalry on the
Texas frontier when the war broke out in
1861. Resigning his commission, he offered
his services to the Confederate States
Beginning as colonel of the 4th Texas,
Hood moved quickly up the chain of command,
first to brigade and then division
levels in the Army of Northern Virginia.
However, it was under Hood's aggressive
command in the earlier phases of the war,
particularly at Gaines Mill on June 27,
"I would rather have been
able to say that I had been a
worthy member of Hood's
Texas Brigade than to have
enjoyed al the honors which
have been conferred upon me.
I doubt if there has ever been
a brigade, or other military
organization in the history of
the world, that equalledit in
the heroic valor andselfsacrificing
conduct of its
members, and in the briffiancy
of its services. "
1862, that the Brigade did some of its best
fighting. All of the men of the Texas Brigade
were volunteers, and John Bell Hood
understood volunteer troops. Hood's Texas
Brigade it was in those formative, defining
times and Hood's Texas Brigade it has
remained to this day.
Of the military units furnished by the
Lone Star State to the Confederate States
of America, only three regiments, the First,
Fourth, and Fifth Texas Volunteer Infantry
regiments served in Virginia with Gen.
Robert E. Lee's fabled Army of Northern
Virginia. In the 32 infantry companies that
ultimately comprised the three Texas infantry
regiments, an estimated 4,000 men
served during the course of the war.4 The
first of these companies, as would be the
case with those that followed, were recruited
mostly in East and Central Texas
and simply straggled to Virginia in the
early summer of 1861. They were disappointed
not to reach there in time to participate
in the first big battle of the war at
Manassas (Bull Run), fought on July 21,
1861. They were to find during the next
four years that there was violence enough
to go around - and then some.
By fall, after experiencing varying degrees
of difficulty in reaching the Virginia
front, the other companies, save one, finally
arrived in Richmond. The last company
to be recruited, Company "M", Fifth
Texas, did not reach Virginia until August
1862, just in time to be thrown into the
bloody fray that was the second battle of
During the first winter of the war, while
occupying a forward section of the Potomac
line around Dumfries, Virginia, the Texas
Brigade was organized formally and placed
under the command of Brig. Gen. Louis T.
Wigfall. Wigfall, a volatile native of South
Carolina, proved to be a trying commander,
taking alarm at every enemy movement,
both real and imagined (Texas Governor
Sam Houston called him "Wiggletail").
Few, if any, were grieved when, his having
been elected to the Confederate Senate,
Wigfall resigned and was soon thereafter
replaced by John Bell Hood.
In the inevitable confusion created by
the flood of volunteer companies arriving
in Richmond in the first months of the
war, not much thought was given to
organizational matters beyond getting
them to the front. Military convention
was to have a volunteer infantry brigade
comprised of four regiments, preferably
from the same state, neighbors fighting
shoulder-to-shoulder, so to speak. However,
in this situation requiring undue
haste, this convention was frequently ignored.
In the case of the Texas Brigade,
during the first year of its service there
were included within its ranks units representing
states far removed from the state
of Texas - the 18th Georgia Infantry and
the infantry companies of Hampton's
South Carolina Legion.
However, in the aftermath of the great
battle at Sharpsburg, Maryland, (Antietam)
on September 17, 1862, there was a general
reorganization of the Army of Northern
Virginia. When possible, brigades were organized
to include regiments representing
the same state, or failing that, nearby states.
As a result, the Georgia and South Carolina
regiments, having served with distinction
(the 18th Georgia was fondly referred
to as the 3rd Texas), were transferred to
other brigades. There being no other Texas
regiments in the Virginia army, the Third
Arkansas Volunteer Infantry was joined
with the Texas Brigade. Similarly, the Third
Arkansas was the only unit from that great
state to serve in Virginia and to serve with
their Texas neighbors. The addition of this
valiant regiment finalized the composition
of the Brigade from that time until they
reluctantly stacked their arms for the final
time and cased their colors at Appomattox
Court House in April 1865.
HERITAGE * SUMMER 1996 9
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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/m1/9/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.