On June 29, 1863 General Johnston moved some 31,000 men into place as the Confederate forces in Vicksburg were starving. It was communicated to General Johnston that the forces were asking to be freed or surrendered. Johnston was going to order an attack. As the looming battle crept forward, elements of the 3rd Texas Cavalry trapped a Federal patrol but after a sharp skirmish the Yankees withdrew. The efforts were too late and on July 4, 1864 General Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg.
No sooner had the surrendered taken place, did General Sherman begin his attack of Johnston. Johnston, overwhelmed by sheer numbers, pulled his troops back. Jackson’s cavalry division’s Texas Brigade was used as the rear guard to protect the retreating army. The 3rd Texas, 6th Texas 9th Texas and 27th Texas Cavalry Regiments fought for four days and nights disputing the ground with the foe. They covered twenty-five miles a day in the summer heat in a running fight. Until dispersed by artillery fire, the brigade held up the Union forces for a full day outside Clinton. In an effort to slow the Yankee advance, the Texans slaughter cattle and live stock and through them into the cisterns and water supply. Undeterred the Union soldiers pulled livestock from the fetid water and drank it anyway. On July 9th, Johnston ordered cavalry to defend Jackson, the Capital of Mississippi. Sherman ordered his artillery assembled and proceeded to pulverize and in one hour alone some three thousand cannon rounds were fired at them. The Texas Brigade was deployed at the extreme northern end of the defensive line. Dismounted, the 3rd Texas Cavalry engaged advancing enemy sharpshooters and artillery in the thick brush and wooded ravines adjacent to the Pearl River.
On July 14, General Johnston gave the entire cavalry an assignment that proved beyond their capacity to carry out. Johnston ordered the Cavalry to intercept a huge ammunition train caring the massive shipment of cannon shells that all Sherman to continue his fire. The entire division of some three thousand riders then bore down on the main road to Vicksburg where the ammunition train rumbled along between Bolton and Clinton. Sherman had all ready learned of the plans from a prisoner and was waiting. When they got close Sherman opened fired and this overwhelming fire from greater numbers proved too much and forced a withdrawal. Later the 3rd and 9th Cavalry were ordered to attack a Federal Pioneer train, including eight wagons were a fight ensued but neither side was able to claim a victory and withdrew..
Since the ammunition source of Sherman’s cannonade was not cut off this forced General Johnston to order a withdrawal of his forces. There was a series of fierce skirmishes were the 3rd Texas and the Texas Brigade engaged the enemy as the withdrawal took place. The hoses were famished and there was no forage. To add more hardship, heavy rains fell making the area a vast marsh and mud hole. Despite all of this, the cavalry continued to hold the pursuing Federal forces as Johnston was able to put thirty miles between him and the Federals. Finally on July 20th there was time for a rest. The 3rd Texas Cavalry came through this ordeal with only lost 6 men to being captured.
After six arduous weeks of skirmishing, the troopers of the 3rd Texas Cavalry went into camp on the 20th of July at Pelahatchie, twenty-two miles from Jackson. Colonel Mabry, now recovered from his wounds joined them. With time for rest, the 3rd Texas Cavalry and the Texas Brigade received much needed supplies. They found time to participate in a parade and there was a formal ball held that they attended. Even though a rest was ordered there was still duties of the cavalry that knew no rest. During the "rest" the 3rd Texas was but on picket duty, scouting and guard duty in addition to participation to raids and skirmishes as each regiment was rotated to these duties.
The 3rd Texas Cavalry was a very diverse cross section of Texas Culture. Among the Officers of the 3rd Texas Cavalry were from left to right, Refugio Benavides, Atanacio Vidaurri, Cristobal Benavidez and John Z. Leyendecker. The cavalrymen are dressed in the officer’s frock coat and are curiously absent of their cavalry boots. By 1864 many Confederate cavalry lacked boots and even shoes.It is suspected that this image was taken late in the war.
On August 15th, the Texas Brigade engaged elements of the Federal forces sent out to destroy the remnants of the Rebel railroad. The skirmishes were hot and heavy but the Texas Brigade found itself terribly out numbered. It resolved itself to hit and run tactics to delay the enemy. On September 28th, they again hit the Federal Cavalry but with better results chasing them, the pursued them back into the safety of their more larger army. This occurred about five miles from the Yazoo River.
Another engagement occurred on the Morning of October 15th when some 9000 Yankee troops headed toward the Big Black River in an effort to relieve forces near Canton, Mississippi. The battle was fought near Canton where some 4000 of the mounted Texas Brigade hit General McPherson’s advance. The battle developed with General Whitfield’s Texas Brigade holding the high ground in the wooded ravine overlooking the east bank of Bogue Chitto Creek. Though out numbered, they pinned the Yankees at the bottom of the creek with their artillery and small arms. At dawn on the 16th, the Yankee infantry swarmed up the hill. A second defensive position was set up and the defenders fell back some five miles up the road. The rain began to fall and the battle continued till nightfall. On October 18th the Federals began to withdrawal as they were peppered by the 3rd Texas Cavalry and the Texas Brigade.