Bookmark and Share
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

NINETEENTH TEXAS INFANTRY

NINETEENTH TEXAS INFANTRY. The Nineteenth Texas Infantry Regiment, organized in the spring of 1862 under the Confederate States of America's Trans-Mississippi Department, consisted of men from the counties of Northeast Texas, including Davis (now Cass County), Franklin, Harrison, Hopkins, Marion, present-day Morris (was Titus during the war), Panola, Rusk, San Augustine, Titus, and Upshur. Richard Waterhouse, a prominent merchant from Jefferson in Marion County, held the commission from the state of Texas for the contingent's creation and oversaw the establishment of the original ten companies (A through K) between February and May. When the mustering was complete, elections were held among the 886 men that made up the Nineteenth on May 13, 1862. The field officers selected were Col. Richard Waterhouse, Lt. Col. Robert H. Graham, and Maj. Ennis Ward Taylor. With elections complete, the men assembled at Camp Waterhouse and formed into two battalions. The first was composed of companies A through D (the first four mustered) and F (mustered in Jefferson), and the second consisted of E and G through K.

In June 1862 Colonel Waterhouse received orders to march to Little Rock, Arkansas, from Brig. Gen. Henry E. McCulloch, commander of all units in Northeast Texas. Both battalions, marching at separate times, reached Camp Josephine McDermott near Rondo, Arkansas, by August 29. The Nineteenth remained at Rondo for more than a month, during which time an outbreak of measles, dysentery, and diarrhea killed twenty-four men and necessitated leaving between thirty and forty sick behind. After arriving at their destination, Camp Nelson in Little Rock, Arkansas, on October 24, the Nineteenth Texas Infantry remained in the region for more than two months. During this time, more men died from inclement weather, lack of equipment and food, and disease, bringing the total losses from their beginnings at Jefferson to the end of the year to 119.

Toward the end of 1862, McCulloch's eleven regiments and one battalion from Texas, including the Nineteenth, were divided into three brigades and placed under the command of Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, where they remained for the duration of the war. What came to be known as Walker's Texas Division was the largest individual unit of Texans and the only one from either the North or the South consisting of regiments from a single state in the Civil War. The Nineteenth Texas Infantry was assigned to the Third Brigade, which was put under the command of McCulloch upon Walker's arrival in Arkansas in early January 1863.

Due to indecisiveness by the Confederate commanders of the Trans-Mississippi Department, in the first few months of 1863, Walker's Texas Division was sent from Vicksburg to northwest Arkansas and back again five times before being ordered to central Louisiana on April 23. There, the artillery of the Third Brigade exchanged volleys with a gunboat at Perkins' Landing on May 31, which marked the first military engagement witnessed by the Nineteenth—more than a year after mustering. Two days later, Walker's Texas Division boarded transports once again heading for Vicksburg. Because of all the marching and countermarching during the first six months of 1863, which totaled nearly a thousand miles, Walker's Texans acquired the fitting nickname, the "Greyhound Division."

At Vicksburg on the morning of June 7, the soldiers of the Nineteenth and the rest of Walker's Division participated in their first major engagement of the Civil War. The Third Brigade, attacking a Federal camp at Milliken's Bend on the west side of the Mississippi, drove the Union forces to the river before heavy naval shelling compelled General McCulloch to withdraw his troops. When both sides counted their killed, wounded, and captured/missing, the Federals lost 652, or half their garrison, compared to the Confederates 185, or 12 percent of the soldiers involved. The Nineteenth Texas reported 2 killed, 11 wounded, and 6 missing after the battle. In his official report of the battle, General McCulloch noted that "Colonel Waterhouse with his [19th Texas] regiment distinguished themselves particularly."

After Vicksburg, Walker's Texas Division spent the next four months in northeast Louisiana and endured the most miserable conditions encountered during the entire war. This was due to the humid and disease-infested lowlands of the state, indecision by the Trans-Mississippi command, the falling of Vicksburg and Port Hudson to the Federals, very low rations, and lack of pay for more than a year. In the Nineteenth, at least fifty men deserted that summer; one was executed, and two took the oath of allegiance to the United States. There was also an issue with changes in the division's hierarchy. On July 22, General McCulloch was transferred from Walker's Division, and Col. George M. Flournoy, the senior regimental commander, was temporarily put in charge of the Third Brigade. In October of that year, Flournoy was replaced by Brig. Gen. William R. Scurry of Texas. In the Nineteenth Texas Infantry, the regiment's Lt. Col. Robert H. Graham resigned as did three company commanders. Maj. Ennis Ward Taylor was promoted to lieutenant colonel when Graham's resignation became effective on July 2.

In the spring of 1864 Walker's Division, including the Nineteenth Texas Infantry, participated in the Red River campaign—their most significant contribution to the Southern cause in the Civil War. Between March and May the Texans engaged in three pitched battles against Union forces, which equated to more fighting in two months than the rest of the war combined for the contingent.

Union Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, intent on occupying Texas and breaking up the Confederacy's Trans-Mississippi headquarters, marched a force of nearly 30,000 men, supported by the largest naval fleet ever assembled on inland waters, up the Red River toward Shreveport. The Confederate forces, including cavalry and artillery, stood at fewer than 9,000. As the Federals made their way north, the Texans under Gen. Richard Taylor retreated for three weeks until making their stand three miles south of Mansfield on April 8. Taylor chose the location because the narrow road leading to the field was surrounded by heavy woods on either side, meaning all the Union forces could not be utilized. Because General Scurry's contingent was stationed on the far right of the Confederates line and the Nineteenth Texas Infantry was positioned on the far right within the Third Brigade, Colonel Waterhouse's unit was fundamental in breaking the enemy's left, which resulted in a rout of the Federals. After the battle, the rebels counted 1,000 men killed, wounded, or missing, while the Union lost 3,500 men, 20 artillery pieces, 250 wagons, and thousands of small arms.

The very next day, April 9, once the Confederates were reinforced with two regiments from Missouri and Arkansas, Taylor moved his forces to Pleasant Hill, where General Banks was stationed. The battle of Pleasant Hill was far less successful for the rebels, as it ended in a tactical draw and the Union army withdrew during the night back to Grand Ecore. Also, both Scurry and Walker were wounded, although not mortally. In the two battles, Taylor estimated that he lost more than 2,600 men out of his 12,000 total, compared to the Union's 3,600 casualties out of 28,000. In the Nineteenth, there were 2 killed, 5 wounded, and 21 captured.

Not long after Pleasant Hill, Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, took control of most of Taylor's army, including Walker's Division. Because Smith was worried about Union Gen. Frederick Steele and his 10,000 troops coming from Little Rock toward Shreveport, the Nineteenth Texas Infantry was once again on the march by April 14, this time to Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas. Steele, running low on supplies and nervous about Confederate forces moving in his direction, ordered a fast withdrawal back to Little Rock. In turn, Smith saw this as an opportunity to crush Steele's army and so marched his men to fatigue in pursuit. The battle at Jenkins' Ferry on April 30, 1864, was the Nineteenth's final major engagement of the Civil War. Although the Union force lost between 600 to 800 men and the Confederates lost at least 800, Walker's Texas Division endured the heaviest losses. All three brigade commanders received serious wounds; two, including Scurry, were mortally wounded. The Texans, numbering around 2,000 men, lost nearly 450 of them or almost 25 percent.

Although only the battle of Mansfield was a distinct victory, the Confederacy was successful in the overall Red River campaign in that Union forces were repelled from taking Shreveport and therefore from destroying the Trans-Mississippi headquarters and invading Texas. In the seventy days of the campaign, Walker's Texas Division, including the Nineteenth Texas Infantry, marched some 900 miles, fought and contributed substantially to three major battles, suffered heavy losses (1,450 men, or 36 percent of their original 4,000), but ultimately prevented an invasion of their home state.

Due to the death of Scurry, the Nineteenth's commander, Col. Richard Waterhouse, Jr., was appointed brigadier-general of Walker's Third Brigade by Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in May 1864. In turn, Lt. Col. Ennis Ward Taylor became commander of the Nineteenth Texas Infantry and was promoted to colonel. Unfortunately for the Texas Division, differences between generals Kirby Smith and Richard Taylor resulted in the latter's transfer in June and, consequently, General. Walker's reassignment to command of the District of West Louisiana. Maj. Gen. John H. Forney was chosen to replace Walker, a decision which proved unpopular with the Texans due to his strict disciplinarian style and questionable character. The Texas Division also underwent substantial reorganization in early 1865. When the regiments were shuffled to create a fourth brigade, the Nineteenth became a part of the Second Brigade, still under the command of Gen. Richard Waterhouse.

All of the bureaucratic reorganization proved futile when, on April 22, 1865, word came that Richmond had fallen and Lee's army had surrendered. After this news, many of the citizen-soldiers from the Nineteenth and the rest of the Texas Division left the Confederate Army for home. Even the return of General Walker on May 12 did not cease the tide of departure, and by May 20, the division had effectively disintegrated. Six days later, Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith officially surrendered the remaining Trans-Mississippi Army. The men of Walker's Texas Division and the Nineteenth as part of it had remained together with few exceptions from the contingent's inception in the fall of 1862 until the war's finale. In the end, the unit disbanded before the final surrender of Confederate forces in June 1865.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, Virginia: Derwent, 1987). Richard G. Lowe, Walker's Texas Division, C.S.A.: Greyhounds of the Trans-Mississippi (Baton Rogue: Louisiana State University Press, 2004). Garland E. Robbins, A History of the 19th Texas Volunteer Infantry, CSA (MA thesis, Lamar University, 2006). Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Texas (New York: Facts on File, 1995). John F. Walter, "Histories of Texas Units in the Civil War," Ms., Historical Research Center, Texas Heritage Museum, Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas, 1981.

David Park

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

David Park, "NINETEENTH TEXAS INFANTRY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qkn20), accessed August 20, 2014. Uploaded on April 11, 2011. Modified on June 8, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.