Morgan's Texas Cavalry served in the Trans-Mississippi Department as part of Parson's Brigade for much of the Civil War, although the companies generally operated independently. Charles Leroy Morgan, who commanded the unit, enlisted in the Eighth Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers, when the war began and accompanied the regiment to Kentucky. Citing a disability, he returned to Texas in December 1861. In March 1862 he joined the Eighteenth Texas Cavalry, a regiment in which his older brother commanded a company. Known for his daring exploits with Terry's Texas Rangers, Morgan was quickly elected major. As early as September 1862 he commanded a squadron of approximately 150 men operating independently around Little Rock. When the Eighteenth Texas was dismounted and sent to Arkansas Post (where it was captured), Morgan was absent.
The formation of Morgan's command is difficult to chronicle; it was a hodgepodge of independent companies thrown together to form a battalion. Most of the companies had been attached to another unit. Surviving muster rolls indicate that in November 1863 Morgan headed a battalion consisting of seven companies from his own squadron, Capt. Benjamin D. McKie's squadron, and Capt. William B. Denson's squadron of Louisiana and Texas cavalry. Three other companies, added at various times, increased the unit from battalion to regimental size, but the war ended before that became official. The companies seldom fought together; each came from a separate region in Texas, often incorporating men from different counties, and each had its own unique history. Troopers seldom used their company letter designation; they preferred to go by their captains' names or chosen title.
The companies originated primarily in the following locations: Company A, under Edward H. Vontress, came from Williamson County; Company B, under Milton M. Boggess, came from Rusk County; Company C, under D. A. Nunn, came from Houston County; Company D, under Franklin L. Farrar and Wilson Ivy Coggins, came from Ellis County; Company E, under Alf Johnson, came from Collin and Hopkins counties; Company F, under B. D. McKie, came from Navarro County; Company G, under F. G. Lemmon and James N. Scott, came from Cass and Marion counties; Company H, under Drury Field, came from Panola County; Company I, under Samuel J. Richardson, came from Harrison County; and Company K, under W. Herbert Beazley, came from Harris County. This last company was attached to Morgan in order to give it enough companies to reach regimental strength. Members included pardoned deserters and Indians from the Alabama and Coushatta tribes living in Polk County as well as one or two from the Muskogee tribe (sixty-four Indians and sixty-four White men appear on the muster roll.)
Two of Morgan's officers deserve special attention. B. D. McKie of Company F organized the Navarro Spies in 1861; they became the Independent Mounted Rangers in August 1862. By 1863 he was a major commanding his own squadron under Morgan. Alf Johnson of Company E led Johnson's Spy Company from Collin County. He had fought under Ben McCulloch and remained in Arkansas when the Confederate Army crossed the Mississippi River. He died en route to prison after being captured at Arkansas Post in January 1863 but not before he had earned a reputation for fearless fighting. Morgan's men generally served as scouts and raiders in Arkansas and northern Louisiana. Since they did not operate as a unit, they fought where needed. Company G was even assigned to the Tenth Texas Field Artillery for temporary duty.
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John Q. Anderson, ed., Campaigning with Parsons’ Texas Cavalry Brigade, CSA: The War Journals and Letters of the Four Orr Brothers, 12th Texas Cavalry Regiment(Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1967). Anne J. Bailey, Between the Enemy and Texas: Parsons's Texas Cavalry in the Civil War (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1989). Anne. J. Bailey, ed., In the Saddle with the Texans: Day-by-Day with Parsons's Cavalry Brigade, 1862–1865 (Abilene: McWhiney Foundation Press, 2004). Condensed History of Parsons's Texas Cavalry Brigade, 1861–1865 (Corsicana, Texas: Sun-Light Publishing Company, 1903). Parsons' Texas Cavalry Brigade Association, A Brief and Condensed History of Parsons' Texas Cavalry Brigade (Waxahachie, Texas: Flemister, 1892; rpt., Waco: Morrison, 1962). William Heartsill, Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days in the Confederate Army (Marshall, Texas, 1876; rpt., Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot, 1987).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Anne J. Bailey,
“Morgan’s Texas Cavalry Battalion,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 06, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
March 9, 2011
Most Recent Revision Date:
April 7, 2021
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: