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Deshler's/Granbury's Texas Brigade


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Deshler's/Granbury's Texas Brigade

Luke Freet

First Sergeant

I've been doing research on Cleburne and his men for several years now. I am by no means an expert in the field by now, and I imagine the coming thread will have some errors. However, I seek to post what I have gleaned from the several books on Cleburne, the brigade, and the campaigns they took part in, to paint a picture of the unit, the men who commanded them, and the men who served in the brigade.

The origins of the brigade are quite complicated, though one could begin with the garrison of Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post in late 1862. Here the 5000 Texans were organized into two brigades, one consisting of the 6th Infantry and the 24th and 25th Dismounted Cavalry under the command of the 6th's Colonel Robert R. Garland, and the other consisting of the 10th Infantry, and the 15th, 17th and 18th Dismounted Cavalry under the command of Col. James Deshler. These men fought at Fort Hindman in the engagement of January 11th, 1863, where the garrison under Brigadier Thomas Churchill surrendered after three and a half hours of combat. Around 1030 Texans escaped captured, while 3912 would join in the surrender and be marched off to Federal prison camps.

Eventually, in May of 1863, the brigade was exchanged at City Point, Virginia, and joined the Army of Tennessee near Wartrace. Here, they joined the division of Patrick Cleburne, whom they would have a connection with for most of the rest of the conflict. It was also here that the command was consolidated into a single brigade under Churchill, who later left for the Transmississippi theater once again, leaving command to now Brigadier Deshler. In addition, the 7 Texas regiments were consolidated into just two; 6th, 10th, and 15th Texas Consolidated under Colonel Roger Q. Mills of the 10th Texas; and 17th, 18th, 24th, and 25th Texas Consolidated under Colonel Clayton Gillespie of the 25th, later by Francis Wilkes of the 24th. Counting the 19th/24th Arkansas of the Fort Hindman Garrison, still assigned to the brigade, they numbered around 1700 men.   
:snip:  

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/deshlers-granburys-texas-brigade.186459/

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James Deshler, Brigadier, First real commander of the brigade (1833-1863)

James Deshler was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on February 18, 1833. He went to West Point, graduating in 1854 and ranking above future generals William Dorsey Pender, Stephen D. Lee, and J.E.B. Stuart. He served in the US Army, in garrison duty in California and the Utah War, achieving the rank of 1st Lieutenant by the time of his resignation in 1861. He joined the Confederate Army as an artillery captain, being sent to West Virginia in September 1861 to the staff of Henry R. Jackson. He received a wound through the thighs at the Battle of Allegheny Mountain. He was promoted to Colonel and assigned as chief of artillery on the staff of Theophilus Holmes, serving in that capacity during the Seven Days Campaign. He went with Holmes to Arkansas, where he was assigned a brigade consisting of the 10th Texas Infantry, and the 15th, 17th, and 18th Texas Dismounted Cavalry. In November '62, these men were assigned to Churchill's garrison at Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, alongside Robert Garland's Brigade; this would be the first time the regiments of what would become Deshler's and later Granbury's Brigade would serve alongside one another. According to Lundberg, "As a professional soldier, Deshler did not at first have the affection of the Texans under his command, but at length they reached an understanding and even formed a strong bond of friendship with the young, charismatic colonel" (Lundberg, "Granbury's Texas Brigade: Diehard Western Confederates", 85).

Deshler and his men surrendered with the rest of the garrison at Arkansas Post in on January 11th, 1863. When exchanged, the two brigade were merged into one under General Churchill, serving in Cleburne's Division. However, following the Tullahoma Campaign, Churchill was transferred back across the Mississippi. Thus, Deshler was elevated to brigade command, being promoted to Brigadier General July 28th.

Deshler would lead his men at the Battle of Chickamauga, where he took part in Cleburne's night assault of the 19th at Winfrey Field, helping overrun and capture 100 men and several officers from the 77th Pennsylvania and 79th Illinois. The next day, he took part in Cleburne's assault against Thomas. According to Lt. Robert Collins, sent by Colonel Roger Mills to report the situation on his front, Deshler was "on his hands and knees, as if trying to peer under the smoke"(Lundberg, 154). As Collins approached the Brigadier, Deshler was struck in the chest by a shell, killed instantly; allegedly, the blast tore his heart from his chest. He was 30 years old .

After the battle, Deshler's body was buried by a family friend on the battlefield. Later, his father, David Deshler (1798-1872) disinterred his son's body reburied him in Oakwood Cemetery back in his home town of Tuscumbia. His father would found Deshler Female Institute in his son's honor; Deshler High School, Tuscumbia's sole secondary education institution, is named for him as well.

by Luke Freet https://civilwartalk.com/threads/deshlers-granburys-texas-brigade.186459/

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James Argyle Smith, the brigade's second commander (1831-1901)

He may be the most forgotten of Cleburne's commanders, mostly due to how brief his stint in command was; his longest posting with the command seems to be as commander of the remnant of the division following Cleburne's death. That said, he is not an officer to be forgotten.

Smith was born in Maury County in 1831, and graduated from West Point in 1853 (he, Deshler, and Bushrod Johnson were the only West Pointers to achieve brigade command in Cleburne's Division), serving as a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry. He would be posted to Jefferson Barracks before going West, taking part in the Battle of Ash Hollow (aka Harney's Massacre) and the Utah War, the latter in which he earned a promotion to 1st Lieutenant for. He resigned his commission in May of 1861 to go south.

He started as a 1st Lieutenant before being promoted to Major in March of 1862, being assigned to the staff of Leonidas Polk at Shiloh. After the battle, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and assigned command of J. K. Walker's 2nd Tennessee Irish Regiment, much reduced in numbers to 4 companies. Later, it would merge with the 21st Tennessee to create the 9th (more commonly 5th) Confederate Regiment, with Smith being made Colonel. He was commended for bravery at Perryville and Murfreesboro, at the latter by Cleburne himself. His actions at Chickamauga seemed to have impressed Cleburne enough to have Smith promoted to command Deshler's Old Brigade after Deshler's death. Smith would lead the brigade through the Chattanooga Campaign, but wouldn't see action until Missionary Ridge. Here, his bad luck with bullets began, as he was wounded leading a counterattack against Sherman, leading to the elevation of Hiram Granbury to brigade command.

Smith would return to the brigade in June, taking over from the sick Granbury. He led the brigade in their secondary role at Kennesaw Mountain. At Atlanta, his men held the right flank of Cleburne's line near Bald Hill on July 21st, when they were attacked by troops of the Army of the Tennessee. Exposed to artillery fire, Smith and Cleburne fell back to the main line, surrendering control of Bald Hill to the Union.

The next day saw the high point of Smith's career, the Battle of Bald Hill. Here, he and his men turned the flank of the Union line, pushing through a gap, overrunning two regiments, killing General McPherson, and capturing many prisoners and much equipment. In their third charge, they attempted to strike at Bald Hill itself from the rear, only for Leggett's men to hop over to the opposite side of their breastworks (the ones formerly held by Smith's men the day prior), and firing down on the assaulting Confederates. Smith was wounded here, and a federal counterattack overran his old 5th Confederate Regiment as well as most of the 17th&18th Texas. Lt. Colonel Robert Young ordered his men to fall back. Smith's Brigade had performed well that day, possibly the most achieve by any unit on the field that day.

Smith would eventually recover, being assigned to command Olmstead's Georgia Brigade, as Cleburne desired a more competent officer to command the brigade. Smith's new brigade would see little action, being detached during the Franklin-Nashville campaign. However, after Cleburne's death at Franklin, Smith, the ranking officer of the division, was assigned to command of the 1500 remaining veterans. At Nashville, his men performed spectacularly the first day, only to collapse and join the retreat of the army the next day. At Bentonville, he led his Georgians and Govan's Arkansans in Stewart's assault on the first day, being repulsed by the Union troops. His men played little further role in the battle. Afterwards, with the consolidation of the army, Smith commanded a consolidated brigade of Georgians and Floridians, numbering some 1241 men under his command at the surrender of Johnston's force.

After the war, he moved to Mississippi, starting a farm and getting elected State Superintendent of Public Education from 1878 to 1886. He served as an agent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and later Marshall of the Mississippi Supreme Court. He died in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1901, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Smith has a rather mixed reputation. He only led the brigade in a few battles, though they performed well under his command. It seems his ignominy in the historiography of the brigade is due to his lack of popularity. One telling account comes from Private F. E. Blossom, writing July 8th, '64, during a visit by the still ailing Granbury to the brigade, then under Smith's command; he wrote, "None of us like Gen. Smith... he is brave as a lion but mean as a hyena... We will be glad to be rid of him" (Lundberg 237). His "meanness" may have been due to his status as a West Pointer among citizen soldiers, who preferred their own local commanders like Granbury over a Tennessee army man like Smith.  by Luke Freet

 https://civilwartalk.com/threads/deshlers-granburys-texas-brigade.186459/

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1625231884979.png

James Argyle Smith, the brigade's second commander (1831-1901)

He may be the most forgotten of Cleburne's commanders, mostly due to how brief his stint in command was; his longest posting with the command seems to be as commander of the remnant of the division following Cleburne's death. That said, he is not an officer to be forgotten.

Smith was born in Maury County in 1831, and graduated from West Point in 1853 (he, Deshler, and Bushrod Johnson were the only West Pointers to achieve brigade command in Cleburne's Division), serving as a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry. He would be posted to Jefferson Barracks before going West, taking part in the Battle of Ash Hollow (aka Harney's Massacre) and the Utah War, the latter in which he earned a promotion to 1st Lieutenant for. He resigned his commission in May of 1861 to go south.

He started as a 1st Lieutenant before being promoted to Major in March of 1862, being assigned to the staff of Leonidas Polk at Shiloh. After the battle, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and assigned command of J. K. Walker's 2nd Tennessee Irish Regiment, much reduced in numbers to 4 companies. Later, it would merge with the 21st Tennessee to create the 9th (more commonly 5th) Confederate Regiment, with Smith being made Colonel. He was commended for bravery at Perryville and Murfreesboro, at the latter by Cleburne himself. His actions at Chickamauga seemed to have impressed Cleburne enough to have Smith promoted to command Deshler's Old Brigade after Deshler's death. Smith would lead the brigade through the Chattanooga Campaign, but wouldn't see action until Missionary Ridge. Here, his bad luck with bullets began, as he was wounded leading a counterattack against Sherman, leading to the elevation of Hiram Granbury to brigade command.

Smith would return to the brigade in June, taking over from the sick Granbury. He led the brigade in their secondary role at Kennesaw Mountain. At Atlanta, his men held the right flank of Cleburne's line near Bald Hill on July 21st, when they were attacked by troops of the Army of the Tennessee. Exposed to artillery fire, Smith and Cleburne fell back to the main line, surrendering control of Bald Hill to the Union.

The next day saw the high point of Smith's career, the Battle of Bald Hill. Here, he and his men turned the flank of the Union line, pushing through a gap, overrunning two regiments, killing General McPherson, and capturing many prisoners and much equipment. In their third charge, they attempted to strike at Bald Hill itself from the rear, only for Leggett's men to hop over to the opposite side of their breastworks (the ones formerly held by Smith's men the day prior), and firing down on the assaulting Confederates. Smith was wounded here, and a federal counterattack overran his old 5th Confederate Regiment as well as most of the 17th&18th Texas. Lt. Colonel Robert Young ordered his men to fall back. Smith's Brigade had performed well that day, possibly the most achieve by any unit on the field that day.

Smith would eventually recover, being assigned to command Olmstead's Georgia Brigade, as Cleburne desired a more competent officer to command the brigade. Smith's new brigade would see little action, being detached during the Franklin-Nashville campaign. However, after Cleburne's death at Franklin, Smith, the ranking officer of the division, was assigned to command of the 1500 remaining veterans. At Nashville, his men performed spectacularly the first day, only to collapse and join the retreat of the army the next day. At Bentonville, he led his Georgians and Govan's Arkansans in Stewart's assault on the first day, being repulsed by the Union troops. His men played little further role in the battle. Afterwards, with the consolidation of the army, Smith commanded a consolidated brigade of Georgians and Floridians, numbering some 1241 men under his command at the surrender of Johnston's force.

After the war, he moved to Mississippi, starting a farm and getting elected State Superintendent of Public Education from 1878 to 1886. He served as an agent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and later Marshall of the Mississippi Supreme Court. He died in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1901, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Smith has a rather mixed reputation. He only led the brigade in a few battles, though they performed well under his command. It seems his ignominy in the historiography of the brigade is due to his lack of popularity. One telling account comes from Private F. E. Blossom, writing July 8th, '64, during a visit by the still ailing Granbury to the brigade, then under Smith's command; he wrote, "None of us like Gen. Smith... he is brave as a lion but mean as a hyena... We will be glad to be rid of him" (Lundberg 237). His "meanness" may have been due to his status as a West Pointer among citizen soldiers, who preferred their own local commanders like Granbury over a Tennessee army man like Smith.    by Luke Freet  https://civilwartalk.com/threads/deshlers-granburys-texas-brigade.186459/
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