The Army of Mississippi combined with The Army of Tennessee

Joseph Johnston now commanded the Army of Tennessee and it was heavily engaged and out numbered as it pulled back. General Johnston knew that if he stood to fight without being able to pick both the time and spot that he would sacrifice too many lives needlessly. He waited for that time to present itself. Richmond was highly critical of him and President Jefferson Davis was never a supporter of him. The army in the field, however, loved him and supported him.

The battles and skirmishes are too numerous to go into much detail on this short essay. Instead the places were the 3rd Texas fought will be only listed. Ross’s Texas Brigade was adjacent to Wheelers Cavalry Corps during this period and participated very near the same engagements during this period. It is interesting to note that Texas was well represented in the cavalry. The Texas Brigade had the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 27th Cavalry Regiments. One of Wheelers Brigades had the 8th Texas Cavalry and the 11th Texas Cavalry Regiments. Mention is made by one of the 8th Texas Cavalry of the other Texas Cavalry in a letter home. From May 19 though July 3rd the 3rd Texas fought at Adarisville, Rome, the Etowah River, Cassville, Cass Station, Kingston, Cartersville, Allatoona, Ackworth, New Hope Church, Dallas, Marietta, Kennesaw Mountain, Powder Springs, Sandtown and Nickajack Creek.

On July 17th, 1864 General Joseph Johnston was replaced by General John Bell Hood as the commander of the Army of Tennessee. This marked the beginning of the end for the Army of Tennessee. Lon Cartwright of the 3rd Texas Cavalry wrote home and said that this, "was one of the worst blunders of our President and greatest misfortunes of the Confederacy."

From July 18 though the 24th Ross’s Texas Brigade engaged in sporadic skirmishes while on picket duty along the Chattahoochee to prevent a flanking envelopment as Hood’s Army of Tennessee was engaged at Peachtree Creek and Atlanta. The 3rd Texas regiment could only muster some 323 effectives. The roll showed some 596 but that was paper strength. Many were in hospitals, were with out horses and some were unaccounted for. On July 28th and 29th General McCook’s Federal Forces pushed toward the Chattahoochee River, over running the cavalry camp and pushing forward. General Jackson ordered Ross’s Texas Brigade to countermarch back in haste. Additionally, part Wheeler Cavalry corps was sent to check the Federal advance.

On the 29th, at LoveJoy Station both Ross’s Texas Brigade and Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps engaged the Federal Cavalry troops head on. This marked the first time that the Texans from these two Cavalry commands had fought side by side. A member of the 8th Texas Cavalry, Terry’s Texas Rangers wrote home, " At this battle the Rangers met the only other Texas Cavalry they had ever seen outside of the 11th Texas...some excellent Texas regiments."

On the 30th of July some of the heaviest, hand to hand fighting took place. The 3rd Texas Cavalry was charged three times by the Federal’s First Tennessee Regiment, known as the "White Horse Cavalry." The fighting was firce and was hand to hand. The engagement now evolved Union Major General McCook’s cavalry command and on the Confederate side, Lt. General Joe Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps, Jackson’s Cavalry, Ross’s Texas Brigade and Roddy’s Cavalry. General McCook, realizing the severity of it, stated "We must get out of this!," McCook became encircled and proceeded to try and fight his way out. The Eighth Iowa briefly captured General Ross but soon found themselves swarmed upon. The 3rd Texas cavalry cut the Iowa Cavalry Regiment to pieces. Of the 316 Iowans who started out on McCook’s raid, only 20 returned safely to Union lines. McCook was finally able to extricate his command at dusk, having suffered heavy casualties. McCook had captured artillery, ambulances, hundred of horses, and much equipment. This became the spoils of war and was then used by the Confederate to supplement their loses. Ross Texas Brigade only suffered 5 killed and twenty-seven wounded.


A near disaster

On August 10th, General Wheeler was ordered to leave Hood’s Army of Tennessee on orders from Hood and to raid the Yankee supply trains. This left the remainder of Hood’s Cavalry forces to be the eyes and ears of the army and supplement his fighting forces in a kind of double duty. While on picket duty of August 10, 1864. Union Cavalry General Kilpatrick hit Ross’s Texas Brigade in force. They crashed through the pickets of the 6th Texas Cavalry near Camp creek. The 3rd was hit further down by early morning as they crossed the tracks at Fairborn. Here Ferguson’s brigade near the Flint River joined the Texans. The brigade was beaten back and by days end was only 18 miles south of the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

On the morning of the 20th, Union General Kilpatrick’s cavalry was now facing an Arkansas infantry brigade that had dug itself in to defend the railroad at Love Joy station. Pursuing them and now behind them were the four hundred horsemen of Ross’s Cavalry Brigade. Caught between the Arkansas and the Texans, three regiments of Kilpatricks Cavalry drew sabers and charged the cavalry hitting the 3rd Texas Cavalry Regiment. The 3rd Texas quickly dismounted and formed a firing line. They fired volley’s hoping to halt them and then with drew to their horses. The failed to make to their horses before the Union Cavalry rode over Ross’s brigade and scattered men and horses. Thought to have decimated Ross’s brigade Kilpatrick soon learned that though it appeared to be a rout, which it was not. The Union troops following up on the charge were to be hampered by a huge deluge of rain. The skies opened up and visibility was reduced to almost zero. This caused a total victory for the Federal Cavalry to be lost. Unfortunately the 3rd Texas was hit the hardest and lost three company commanders, four lieutenants, two sergeants, three corporals and eleven privates killed or captured.The captured officers were sent to Johnson’s Island on Lake Erie and the enlisted men were sent to Camp Chase near Columbus Ohio. A number of the 3rd Texas Cavalry failed to survive the Camp Chase interment. Several died from chronic diarrhea and bronchitis. The remainder of the captured officers and men of the 3rd Texas were furrowed and allowed to go home in May and June of 1865.

Atlanta Falls

On the night of September 1st the 3rd Texas Cavalry watched from east of Jonesbourogh as Atlanta was put to flames and Hood’s Army of Tennessee burned all they could to keep it from falling to the Yankees and then withdrew from the city. As the Yankee army occupied the city of Atlanta on September 2nd, the 3rd Texas Cavalry was ordered to assemble at Lovejoy’s station with the remainder of the Army of Tennessee. The 3rd Texas as well as the whole of Ross’s brigade was now down sufficiently enough to have to be reorganized and adjusted according to their numbers. The four regiments of Cavalry that were once organized with ten companies each were now to see their companies consolidated to five companies per a regiment. This left a surplus of a dozen or so officers who were assigned as scouts until their duties were needed again within the structure of the regiments. This seems to please all concerned.

From October through November the Ross’s brigade was at first in front of the Army of Tennessee and then as the rear guard. They had several skirmishes with the enemy and remain part of the eyes and ears of the army. Hood army march slowly toward Nashville. He had some 37,000 men and was soon to face well over 62,000 plus estimated to be before him. Ross’s brigade was down to 686 men and the 3rd Texas composed 218 of them. General Nathan Bedford Forrest was now assigned as Cavalry commander and had brought with him some 3,500 cavalrymen out of western Tennessee. The weather was cold and sleet was falling. Clothing was short and even some of the officers were without boots or shoes.


General Nathan Bedford Forrest
 was born on July 13, 1821 in Duck River County in Middle Tennessee. He joined the Tennessee Mounted Rifles as a private. He soon decided to equipped his own cavalry force and paid for it out of his own pocket. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1862. He was arguably the finest cavalry tactician of either side during Civil War though he had no formal military training.




He rose through the ranks to Major General and then Lieutenant General. He has great loyalty to the South but little to Generals he considered incompetent of whom he found several. He threatened to kill General Braxton Bragg as he thought him incompetent. Bragg believed him and kept him at a safe distance. He had 26 horses shot from under him and was absolutely fearless. His men either loved him or hated him. He rose in popularity in the South as one of their greatest Generals. He was referred to by the Union Generals as "That Devil Forrest" He was well respected as a General on both sides. After the war he was unsuccessful in business. He fell ill and very sick in 1877. Former President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis went visit him and is said to have been visible shaken at his death on October 29, 1877. Much has been written of this man and he remains as controversial a figure today as he was during his lifetime.

 A skirmished ensued on November 24 where the 3rd Texas Cavalry attacked an enemy column that was on foot. Ross’s then took a portion of the Texas brigade and flanked the column and ordered the 3rd Texas hit in the rear. The Union commander was caught in a classic cavalry pincer movement and was forced to withdraw leaving 80 previously captured confederate prisoners and many supplies such as overcoats, blankets and beef. The Texas Brigade lost five men in the skirmish.


The Battle of Franklin

The battle of Franklin took place beginning on November 30th and was to be a sound defeat for Hood’s Army of Tennessee. It would see no less than 6 generals killed on the battlefield and would result in some 6000 rebel troops killed or wounded. Fortunately for General Forrest’s cavalry forces which, at this point, included Ross’s Brigade as part of Jackson’s division, the bloodbath was to be spared.

A separate engagement took place involving Ross’s cavalry brigade. This battle took place near Fort Granger. Some four thousand Federal Cavalrymen under the command of General Wilson were drawn up to attack. The engagement stated a 300 p.m. The Texas old adversaries, Brownlow’s White Horse Regiment was soon to begin the fight. As they began their attack General Ross stood up in his saddle and said to his men, " Boys, if you don’t run, they will!" He then set the 3rd Texas in a charge toward the enemy. The fighting was close quarters hand to hand, saber to saber, pistol to pistol at point blank range. By nightfall, Forrest, seeing the ammunition running low ordered the engagement to cease for the evening and they withdrew back.

On December 2, 1864 General Hood was positioned his battered army in front of Nashville, Tennessee. He was facing a far superior force and his supply lines were stretched all the way back to Alabama. Hood had trapped himself. He could not go forward and could not go backward. In the midst of this, General Hood dispatched is cavalry command, under Forrest, to harass Mufreesboro so 35 miles to the Southeast. In the annals of warfare no one will argue the folly of this but as strange as it was for Hood to do it, he let some 6, 500 of his force go with Forrest. In shire folly and stupidity Hood split his out-numbered forces, in the dead of winter, to attack another superior force.

General Forrest proceed as ordered and finding the Union forces at Mufreesboro too strong to attack he proceeded to only harass them on the 6th and 7th of December. There was a brief engagement involving Ross’s brigade and the 3rd Texas near a fortress were an enemy advance was checked as it left one of the fortresses. Unfortunately, the Yankee General in charge was able to take some 197 Rebels prisoner.

Four the next five days operations around Murfreesboro were frost bound by a blizzard and left middle Tennessee covered with ice. On December 14, Forrest Cavalry, including Ross’s brigade hit a train and was successful. They were able to plunder the supplies 60 thousand rations that included bushels of sugar, coffee, slabs of bacon, and hundreds of much needed overcoats.

Unfortunately, the end of the Army of Tennessee was soon at hand. On December 15th,Union General Thomas attacked Hood and within twenty-four hours had routed the Army and sent them in defeat toward Franklin, totally disorganized. General Forrest was summoned back but too late to do any good.

Forrest united with Hood on December 18, 1864. He had only 1,850 men left. Of these were Ross’s Texas Brigade and the 3rd Texas Cavalry. Many of Forrest command were without shoes. Forrest’s cavalry was to be the rear guard as Hood’s army retreated. Ross’s Texas Brigade was part of this rear guard and found itself in three bloody engagements as they covered the retreat over some 80 miles. The retreat continued and finally on the 28th of December the tattered remains of the Army of Tennessee reach some safety as they got into Tennessee. The Union army thought it could cut Hood’s army off but later admitted that Forrest’s undaunted and firm defense of the retreat did its work and saves the last of the retreating forces of General Hood.

1865 and in Mississippi again

Soon Ross’s Texas Brigade was to be dispatched to Mississippi and would remain as some of the last Confederate Cavalry to operate in Mississippi. As February came, many of Ross’s men were given furloughs to go home on leave. This was the first time in over three years that leave was granted. Some just left without furloughs. Those that were left were mostly out of the war but did keep some semblance of order about them. They were consolidated around Yazoo City. Ross’s Texas Brigade was down to 550 on paper but scattered about. Realistically, he could muster no more than about 220 men.

The war officially ended for the Texas Brigade and the 3rd Texas Cavalry on May 8th 1865. General Canby issued blanket paroles for the men in Taylor’s district and that included Ross’s Texas Brigade. There were 206 men left of the 3rd Texas cavalry when they were surrendered or paroled as it was put at the time. They then began their march home. The Texans had crossed the Union lines and at the Big Black River. The remnant of Ross’s brigade boarded the USS. E H Fairchild’s and their horses were put on a barge beside the vessel. They made it to Natchitoches in Louisiana. From there they disembarked the Fairchild and made their own way home.


Finally, included in the images of the 3rd Texas Cavalry is undoubtedly the strangest of the images ever to be taken of a soldier. Dressed in a "uniform" of his own construction is Captain Samuel J. Richardson of the 3rd Texas Cavalry. His riding breeches are made from Leopard skin as well as the cover for his holsters. His image is included here as a reminder that the civil war was fought by individuals as diverse and the nation that was divided. There is little mention of him in the 3rd Texas Cavalry and none of his attire. It is left a mystery what happened to him and certainly left to one’s imagination as to his character.