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Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph
Dispatches from the front
“They always take the Texans to the hottest part of the field.”
H. Watters Berryman of Co I, 1st Tex in a letter to his mother*
The fierce reputation of the 1st Texas Infantry, is judgement passed by actions upon the field and familiar to the reader. I aim to provide multifold illumination of this ragged assembly of warriors. Hailing from East Texas, these men survive on the edge of civilization. Good on horse, familiar with the gun and relatively malevolent. Beyond their homesteads the Comanche and other india tribes still roam free, warlike tribes who live by raiding and existing no concept of mercy for man woman or child, whether fighting each other or the white man. It is altogether the environment one expects to create the fearless, rugged, men of the 1st Texas. Used as spies, scouts and commonly sharpshooters, these Texans do things their way, and in recent ation "operated beyond and independently of the regular pickets, and soon became a terror to the enemy." (Rev. Davis, discussing actions before Seven Pines)**
“I never saw such pretty country or an old one in my life,…splendid crops have been raised in this part of Maryland and everything good to eat.” H. Watters Berryman of Co I 1st Texas describes Maryland*
A ragged, underfed, poorly supplied bunch, they are habitually cited for lack of shoes during formal reviews by commanding officers. Along with it's fellow Texas Brigade regiments, it suffers noteriety for it's discipline off the battlefield. This lack of discipline vex the generals and blunders them into trouble, but even then they often came out ahead, such as the rout of Union occupiers in the "Roasting Ears Fight" of August 23, 1862, during the lead up to 2nd Manassas. All starting when "a number of the brigade entered the cornfield (against Lee's explicit order against foraging) to secure breakfast. Unknown to the Texans, a large Federal scouting party from Gen. Franz Sigel's Federal Division had camped on the northern edge of the same cornfield. The inevitable encounter between the opposing forces in the middle of the cornfield resulted in fist fighting, wrestling, and volleys of roasting ears. Outnumbered, the Federals soon withdrew, leaving the Texans in sole possession of the field. To appease the hunger of his troops in a manner suitable to Gen. Lee, Texas Brigade Quartermaster J. H. Littlefield purchased the entire 100-acre cornfield. Foraging thus became an authorized activity, and the each of Hood's men found himself well satisfied with the spoils"**.
At Culpeper Virgina on June 8, 1863 Jeb Stuart put on a show for the army in the form of a giant review of his cavlary. General Lee was present by invention and so was General Sam Hood. Not only was Hood present but he brought his famous Texas Brigade with him, thereby precipitating a mild crisis. Fitzhugh Lee invited Hood. To "come and see the review, and bring any of his people." Obviously "any of his people" was meant to cover his staff, but on the second day of the review the gray masses of Hood’s men emerged with glittering bayonets from the woods in the direction of the Rapidan.
"You invited me and my people. " Hood said as he shook hands with Fitz lee, "and you see I have brought them." This was indeed a crisis. If any of the members of the Texas Brigade should holler out "Here’s your mule!" at the cavalry the grand review would certainly turn into a free for all of fisticuffs. Don’t let them yell "Here’s your mule!", Fitz Lee warned. "If they do, we’ll charge you." Wade Hampton laughed. But Hood took it more seriously and bade his men not to.
Most of the members of the Texas Brigade behaved themselves that day but one of the men could not restrain himself. Turning to a comrade he said loud enough for others to hear: "Wouldn’t we clean them out, if old Hood would only let us loose on them".**
Even on well deserved furlough these Texans are prone to stirring the pot, such as the conflict at Paddy`s Hollow on September 10, 1863 in Wilmington, when "the brigade made its presence known in the unsavory waterfront section known as 'Paddy's Hollow.' Having had several rounds of John Barleycorn, the men became boisterous and obnoxious. When a local police force was summoned to expel the revellers, the men mistook the officers in their blue uniforms for Yankees, formed a battle line, and staggered to a charge. One constable in his late fifties was badly beaten about the face, another was knocked down by a shillelagh blow to the ear, and a third officer suffered two knife wounds in his side. The policemen withdrew, leaving the waterfront to the mercy of the rowdy men"**. The regiment you wish is out of sight, hopefully not out foraging in cornfields causing ruckus, but perhaps bivouaced in an unseen gully, when the politicians from Richmond want to be impressed by a kept, orderly show of arms. Nevertheless, when the generals plan assault upon the enemy, these 1st Texans are a most welcome sight to eyes, and thus their rambuctious natures are suffered.
In my next correspondence the reader is treated with witness accounts of the ragged 1st Texas Infantry in recent field actions.
"What would your Texans have done, sir, if I had ordered them to charge and drive back the enemy?" Uncle Joe asked after Eltham's Landing, and Hood replied, "I suppose, General, they would have driven them into the river, and tried to swim out and capture the gunboats."***
* “First Texas in the Cornfield.” by George E. Otott
*** Sears, Stephen W. "To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign"