Introduction of us
Different standards
Rules of Engagement for Mounted Troops
The Challenge

Standing Orders

Continued...Part 10

The Great Escort...

One of the bravest and coldest ventures of winter war fare when Ross’s Texas Brigade was assigned a most important duty. Its job was to escort some 23 supply wagons into the hands of General Edmund Kirby Smith. He desperately needed the supplies, which were mostly weapons, and it was now in the dead of winter. On December 22nd, they plodded north and eventually toward Arkansas. The rain began to pour and by the 1st of January 1864 the Texas Brigade found themselves bogged down deep in the mud. The mud was so deep that it was up to the horse’s chest. The rain turned to snow and ice formed an inch and a half. The men of the Texas Brigade had to physically extract the cargo of weapons from the wagons and carry them by hand. The ice bound supply line was now strung out for miles. The men now carried four extra rifles a piece on their horses as they rode west through sleet and rain toward Gaines’s Ferry on the Mississippi. At the end of a forty-mile trek in the blinding snow they reach the river on the evening of January 5th. The Texas brigade found flat boats and pulled it into place with oxen. Freezing cold, several men volunteered to help fairy the boat across. Of the volunteers were three stepped forward for the 3rd Texas Cavalry. They were Sergeant Major Nathen Gregg, Sergeant John Long and Private Cyrus James, a Choctaw and part of the 3rd Texas. They manage to navigate the craft, some of them wading in the icy water some five miles. There on the other side of the bank, they delivered the weapons into the hands of the Arkansas Confederates. When the men returned their clothes were frozen so hard that they could not sit down. No fires were to be allowed for fear of alerting the Federal forces in the area. They weather grew colder and though frozen, even more weapons were ferried across using various small boots found in the area. As the mission was accomplished, the cold became even greater. The horse’s hooves began to split from it and the Texas Brigade moved away from the river and bivouac. They killed wild hogs and warmed themselves. On January 10, they started their journey back.

Battling Federal Gun boats on the Yazoo River

The 3rd Texas Cavalry now had a chance to rest and though it was bitterly cold, they did have a chance to renew their spirit. On February 1st, in response to a call from General Ross, they volunteered to a man to reenlist for the duration of the war.

Ross’s Texas Brigade was to be heavily engaged by the morning of the 3rd of February when they set up an ambush for Federal Troops steaming up the Yazoo River. The Federals had wanted to attack and hold Yazoo city as it was located in an area that was strategically located on the river. General Ross meant to keep the Federals from having it. He order the Texas Brigade to assault the Federal Gun and Troop boats as they travel up the river.

The 3rd Texas was concealed beneath some rugged bluffs over looking the Yazoo. Ross open up with his artillery and the battle was on. The battle continued till dusk and resumed the next day. The battle still continued as the brigade shifted down stream and attacked as the river bends. The advance was effectively delayed and the Texas Brigade was herald as heroes from the nearby town.

Mission to Mission

Ross’s Texas brigade was heavily engaged throughout the war and was never able to rest long. They were sent back toward their previous campground to reconnoiter which was in an area overlooking the Yazoo River. There on the 28th of February they engaged a Federal Cavalry force of about forty men who had stumbled up on a whole Confederate brigade. They opened fired and then withdrew. They were mounted on mules and no match for the Rebel Cavalry and were outflanked and destroyed.

On March 5th, having been joined by some 550 Tennessee Cavalrymen the Texas Brigade attacked the Federal Forces under the Command of Major George McKee. The overwhelmed them and the battle lasted for a day until nightfall. Yankee re-enforcement’s arrived the next morning fortifying the resistance to odds in favor of the Yankees.

The 3rd Texas Cavalry was to be a part of one more mission before leaving the area. The were part of a raid on Syder’s Bluff where they were to destroy a plantation to keep it’s cotton from falling into enemy hands. The raid was conducted with the 9th Texas Cavalry and was highly successful. They hit a squadron of Black cavalry, dispersed them, killing some 30 of them, destroyed all of the equipment, burned the gin, captured about a hundred mules and rode back unscathed.

General Red Jackson’s Division, of whom the Texas Brigade was part, was ordered by General Polk to proceed to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They arrived on took up the line on April 4th 1864.

Seeing duty as pickets and reconnaissance, Ross’s Texas Brigade was sent with the Army of Mississippi to Rome Georgia. On May 4th, the Texans proceeded and rode 150 miles arriving on May 14th. The next day they went into battle. They were to be engaged continuously for the next 112 days.

Private Lon Cartwright served in Company E of the 3rd Texas and rose in the ranks. He is seated here in a poised image taken in mid-war. He wears an officer’s frock coat and knee high cavalry boots. He is wearing the regulation 1851 officer’s belt and buckle and is armed with a revolver. Though hard to make out, he also has a sheaf knife in his belt as well.

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