Van Dorn achieved the rank of
Major General. He was the nephew of President Andrew Jackson
and was noted for his ego and an adequate field commander.
Van Dorn was a "ladies man" and this fault was
to be his undoing. He was stalked a jealous husband who
Van Dorn had angered by having an affair with his wife.
The husband sought him out and shot him dead on the afternoon
of May 7, 1863. General Van Dorn was 42 years old. The
3rd Texas Cavalry was among those that attended the funeral.
Van Dorn dead, Bragg divided up his command and the Texas
Brigade was now under the command of Brigadier General John
W. Whitfield and consisted of 1,815 troops of the 3rd Texas,
9th Texas and 27th Texas Cavalry Regiments. The other brigade
of the division consisted of about a thousand Mississippians
and was commanded by Brigadier General George B. Cosby. These
two brigades formed a cavalry division that was commanded
by General "Red" Jackson. On May 19th 1863, General
Bragg ordered the cavalry division, consisting of 3,019 horsemen
to proceed to Vicksburg to help defend the city. The troops
rode more than 375 miles in two weeks. This was, at times,
more than 35 miles a day. The main body arrived at Canton
Mississippi on June 3rd. Vicksburg was under siege by General
Grant and there were some 71,000 Federal troops taking part.
Wilkins Whitfield was born in Franklin Tennessee on March
11, 1818. He fought as a Captain in the Mexican War of 1847
with the Tennessee Infantry Regiment. Whitfield came to Texas
in 1861 and entered the Confederate army as a Major and commander
of the 4th Texas Cavalry, which later merged with the 27th
Texas Cavalry. This consolidation became known as Whitfields
Legion. He was promoted to Brigadier General on May 9th 1963.
After the war he was a delegate to the constitutional conventions
of 1866 and 1875. He died in Hallettsville on October 27,
the time Jacksons Cavalry Division arrived, General
Joseph Johnston has decided that the forces around Vicksburg
were to large to attack head on. Johnston, instead planned
diversionary attacks in the rear with the hope of weakening
certain points of Grants line and allowing for a possible
break out of Confederate forces in Vicksburg. The first action
was to attempt to chase some of Grants Cavalry after they
had plundered Mechanicsburg. The Texas Brigade was unsuccessful
but did pursue as close and as long as they could have.
the Confederate Forces probed the rear of the Yankee lines
for a soft spot in which to attack, there was time to reflect.
Religion took the forefront in most of the camps. Leisure
time was spent listen to religious leaders and reading the
bible. There was a surge of evangelism among the men and Sunday
congregations grew. This refection of the spirit soon grew
and helped the spirit of the men as the war went 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.
sooner had the surrendered taken place, did General Sherman
begin his attack of Johnston. Johnston, overwhelmed by sheer
numbers, pulled his troops back. Jacksons cavalry divisions
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.
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..
the ammunition source of Shermans 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
1 | Part
2 | Part
3 | Part
Part 8 | Part
Part 12 | Part