SEVENTEENTH TEXAS INFANTRY
SEVENTEENTH TEXAS INFANTRY. The Seventeenth Texas Infantry, a Confederate regiment, was organized at Camp Terry, Austin, Texas, during March 1862. The regiment had ten companies composed of men from Angelina, Bastrop, Bell, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Colorado, Falls, Fayette, Lampasas, Lavaca, Smith, Trinity, Travis, and Williamson counties. The original commander of the Seventeenth Infantry was Col. Robert T. P. Allen, a West Point graduate who had served in the Seminole War and founded Bastrop Military Academy in Bastrop. He was a stern disciplinarian who stressed the need for training of the troops before going into battle.
The Seventeenth Infantry spent its entire career in the Trans-Mississippi Department and fought and served in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Following its organization and initial training, it was ordered to Little Rock, Arkansas, in August 1862. There it was assigned to the Second Division, Second Corps, Army of the West. It wintered at Camp Nelson in Little Rock and suffered heavy casualties from disease. Benajah Harvey Carroll, a private in the regiment and later a well-known Baptist minister and prohibitionist, stated that the unit lost more men from measles and pneumonia in the winter of 1862–63 than it did from all the battles it fought.
In January 1863 the Seventeenth narrowly missed capture at the battle of Arkansas Post, where some 4,800 Confederate soldiers were taken prisoner. The Seventeenth Infantry, marching from near Pine Bluff, was unable to reach the battle site before the surrender of the Confederate troops.
The battle of Milliken's Bend in June 1863 was the first significant engagement for the Seventeenth Infantry. Milliken's Bend was a victory for the Union, because the Federals stopped Confederate efforts to lift the siege of Vicksburg. In the battle the Seventeenth Infantry regiment suffered the following casualties: one officer and twenty enlisted men killed, four officers and sixty-one enlisted men wounded, and three enlisted men captured or missing.
The Seventeenth spent the balance of 1863 engaged in various actions in Louisiana. Included in these were fights at Richmond, LaFourche Crossing, Brashear City, Donaldsville, Harrisonburg, Fort Beauregard, Morgan's Ferry, Sterling's Plantation, Opelousas, Barre Landing, Washington, Grand Coteau, and Camp Pratt. Colonel Allen was relieved of command of the Seventeenth in November 1863. He was succeeded as commander by George Washington Jones.
In the spring of 1864 the Seventeenth Texas Infantry took part in the Red River campaign against the advance of Union troops led by Gen. Nathaniel Banks into Louisiana. It fought in or near Franklin and at Fort DeRussy. Fort DeRussy was manned by 350 Confederates, including members of the Seventeenth Texas Infantry, when it was attacked by members of the Union Army's Sixteenth Corps. The fort fell to the Union troops. Among those captured when it fell were one officer and thirty-nine enlisted men of the Seventeenth Texas Infantry. The Seventeenth also fought at Natchitoches and Campti before being involved in the major battles of the Red River campaign at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill on April 7–9, 1864.
Shortly after the battles at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, the Seventeenth was ordered to Arkansas. It marched to the Little Rock area and took part in operations against Union Gen. Frederick Steele. The Seventeenth fought at Poison Springs, Arkansas, on April 18, 1864, at Mark's Mills in Arkansas on April 25, 1864, and at Jenkins' Ferry on the Saline River in Arkansas on April 30, 1864.The unit was ordered to Shreveport, Louisiana, in the middle of 1864. It stayed there until ordered to Hempstead, Texas. It was surrendered to Union forces at Galveston, Texas, on June 2, 1865.
Richard G. Lowe, Walker's Texas Division, C.S.A: Greyhounds of the Trans-Mississippi (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004). L. David Norris, ed., The Autobiography of Wilburn Hill King: With the 18th Texas Infantry (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill College Press, 1996). Vertical File, Historical Research Center, Texas Heritage Museum, Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas).