Thompson Station

General Van Dorn soon organized his newly formed cavalry corps into two divisions of two brigades each. The Texas Brigade, which included the 3rd Texas Cavalry was part of the 2nd Division under the commanded of Colonel John W. Whitfield. Van Dorn’s Cavalry Corps was to fight as a wing of cavalry and be under the direct command of General Braxton Bragg and the Army of Tennessee. Under this command, General Van Dorn issued his famous order number 5. It stated in part, " Cavalry knows no danger-knows no failure; what it is ordered to do it must do." The newly formed Cavalry Corps traveled several days in the dead of winter and soon met up with the Army of Tennessee.

Two Generals now commanded the two wings of cavalry under General Bragg. They were Generals Van Dorn and Joseph Wheeler. The two Generals had identical missions and were on both wings, (sides) of the army and in front, when it moved forward. Van Dorn on the left wing near Duck River and Wheeler on the right. This formed a total front of about eighty miles long. Texas Cavalry was well represented in this combined cavalry, as under Wheeler’s Command was the 8th Texas Cavalry and the 11th Texas Cavalry. Van Dorn had the 3rd Texas Cavalry, 6th Texas Cavalry, 9th Texas Cavalry and the 27th Texas Cavalry.

The various cavalry commands were engaged in skirmishes through out this period and are too numerous to mention. These were a result of patrol and recons coming up on enemy cavalry and vice versa. It should be also noted that Nathan Bedford Forrest was also, at first, part of Van Dorn’s command and the cavalry at Van Dorn’s disposal was 6,300.

Thompson’s station was actually a series of battles. One of these battles occurred at Thompson Station on March 4, 1863 and it was making point that the other battles and skirmishes were so called. At Thomson’s station, a railroad junction, a Yankee force of 2,837 men and some one hundred wagons entered the north side of the village and a contingent of Van Dorn’s cavalry was already in position as the open shots took place. As battle progressed the Rebel contingent of Cavalry was dismounted and formed a battle line supported by artillery. The Yankee cavalry charged and was halted by the Rebels. General Van Dorn arrived on the scene with the rest of his cavalry and the Rebel cavalry out numbered the Yankees. The Yankees attempted to extricate its wagons and send them toward the rear and on to Franklin when the rebel cannons opened up. Only thirty-nine escaped their cannonade. On the morning of the 5th of March, Van Dorn ordered Forrest and his command to a hill on the extreme right. Colonel Whitfield then ordered the Texas Brigade to the extreme right. At 10 am the Yankee commander ordered a charge against superior numbers. As the Federal troops drew within two hundred yards the 3rd Texas Cavalry was ordered to fire and charge. "Unleashing a shattering volley upon the ranks of Indiana infantrymen, the Texans checked and repulsed the attack." The Federals fell back to dug in positions and were charged three times by the Texans.


Looking on and cheering the battle was a group of women at a house over looking the battle. As one of the charges went forward, an Arkansas regiment lost its colors to a Yankee volley. One of the young women, Alice Thompson, rushed from the house where she had taken shelter, raised the flag and rallied the wavering unit. She was only 17 at the time. The 3rd Texas Cavalry Flag met a similar fate as it too was blasted from its staff. The bearer retrieved the flag and escaped through a plum thicket. The flag was torn to ribbons. Choctaw maidens in Indian Territory had given the flag to the 3rd a year and a half before.

Finally, a combined charge of Forrest’s Cavalry and the Texas Brigade from two separate directions overwhelmed the enemy and caused them to surrender. Van Dorn’s command captured 1, 151 prisoners including 75 officers. There were 377 men killed or wounded of the enemy. Van Dorn’s forces lost 357 men killed or wounded and the 3rd Texas Cavalry accounted for twenty-four wounded and ten killed.

During this period there were several skirmishes involving the 3rd Texas and many raids. The Federal Cavalry, under the command of General Granger was constantly pressing forward. The Cavalry corps under Van Dorn was caught between the Duck River and rains were causing it to be flooded. On March 11th, the Cavalry Corps was able to dash across the river, as the 3rd Texas was the vanguard of the rear covering Forrest’s cavalry as it crossed. On March 20th, Van Dorn’s cavalry put up a pontoon bridge and re-crossed the river and traveled to back to Spring Hill.

A Grand Parade

As the cavalry rested they had a chance for a Grand Review of the Cavalry Corps. This took place on April 8th at Spring Hill. Some six-thousand cavalry troops paraded for the edification of the visiting officers, admiring ladies and members of the press. The Mobil Register and Advisor said, "thousands of horses formed a line…the high spirited boys…the gleaming guns and glistening sabers. The Texas Cavalry was rollicking, rascally, brave, singular looking customers with large brimmed hats, dark features, shaggy Mexican mustangs, and a lariat around the pummel of their saddles."

Two days later the Cavalry found itself back in the war again. General Bragg ordered Van Dorn to take some 3,700 cavalry on the Morning of April 10th and reconnoiter the town of Franklin. The almost battle resulted in large skirmishes where both forces parlayed to surround the other. The engagement was discontinued and the cavalry withdrew. This was the last time Van Dorn would have Forrest under his command as they had grown to quarrel and each detested the other. Forrest, who also hated Bragg, was ordered by Bragg to take his cavalry and go to Northern Alabama.

Thus the series of battle at and around Thompson Station came to a close and the 3rd Texas moved on to another venture in its history.