The Thirty-second Texas Cavalry Regiment (Andrews's), also incorrectly called the Fifteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment, was organized in May 1862 at Corinth, Mississippi, from several companies of Crump's Texas Cavalry Battalion. Company G of the unit had fought at Chustenahlah in the Indian Nations on December 26, 1861, and later at Elk Horn, or Pea Ridge, Arkansas, on March 6–7, 1862. The Thirty-second Texas Cavalry compiled an extensive combat record while fighting in the Army of Tennessee.
The regiment elected Julius A. Andrews as colonel. Andrews, a native of Georgia, was only twenty-one years old when the war began. He originally enlisted as sergeant major in the First Louisiana Battalion. Having secured his discharge, he went to Texas where he enlisted as adjutant of Crump's Battalion and, at the organization of the Thirty-second, was elected colonel. The unit's lieutenant colonel was James A. Weaver of Hopkins County, and the major was William E. Estes of Bowie County. Strangely enough, each of these men occupied the same position at the time of the surrender in May 1865 as they did in May 1862.
After its organization, the regiment suffered severely from a host of ailments in the filthy camps around Corinth, including pneumonia, measles, and chronic diarrhea. More than 150 men died, and many others had to be discharged. In July 1862 the Thirty-second was dismounted and placed in the brigade of Brig. Gen. Joseph Hogg who died soon after and was replaced by Col. T. H. McCray. Other regiments in the brigade were the Tenth, Eleventh, and Fourteenth Texas Cavalry, all dismounted. They were assigned to the command of Gen. E. Kirby Smith and soon went into Kentucky.
On August 29–30, 1862, at the battle of Richmond, Kentucky, Confederate forces, including the Thirty-second, achieved a decisive victory. Richmond was fought mainly by McCray's brigade against a much larger Federal force. In the Thirty-second at least five were killed, including Captain W. C. Bostick of Company C and Capt. W. W. Ponder of Company E. At least six were wounded and thirteen captured.
Following the battle of Richmond, the Thirty-second was assigned to Col. Matthew D. Ector's Brigade. For the remainder of the war, the unit would be referred to as Ector's Texas Brigade. In the early morning of December 31, 1862, John McCown's Confederate division, containing Ector's Brigade and the Thirty-second Texas, advanced on Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecran' s Union Army at Murfreesboro. After exchanging a few volleys, the Confederates changed and broke the Union lines. For more than three miles, Ector's Texans chased the fleeing Union soldiers and killed and captured hundreds. Colonel Andrews officially reported his losses as five killed, thirty-six wounded, and three missing.
After Murfreesboro, the Thirty-second camped at Shelbyville for the next four months and remained largely inactive but prepared for the upcoming campaign. In May 1863 the brigade was sent with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to the relief of Vicksburg. However, the unit never made it to the besieged city. The brigade participated in sharp fighting at Jackson, Mississippi, before the city fell to Union forces.
On September 19–20, 1863, the battle of Chickamauga was fought. Once again, the Thirty-second Texas was called upon to be in the initial assaulting force. In about thirty minutes, the regiment lost more than half of its strength. Every single mounted officer's horse was shot from underneath him, and Colonel Andrews suffered a severe wound to his thigh. The battle of Chickamauga was the worst fight of the whole war for the officers and men of the Thirty-second Texas Cavalry. The unit's losses were reported as 13 killed, 65 wounded, and 40 missing—a total of 118 out of the 217 officers and men engaged.
In May 1864 Andrews's Thirty-second Texas Cavalry was the smallest regiment in the smallest brigade in the second smallest division of the Army of Tennessee. Over the next few months, they fought almost daily in a series of skirmishes referred to by old veterans as "the one hundred days fight." Beginning on May 14, 1864, the Thirty-second was engaged at Cassville, New Hope Church, Latimer House, Smyrna, the Chattahoochie crossing, Peachtree Creek, the battle of Atlanta, and Lovejoy's Station, including the tedium and almost daily losses during the time of the siege. The Thirty-second lost eleven killed and thirty-five wounded during these battles.
On October 5, 1864, the Thirty-second Texas Cavalry was at Allatoona, Georgia. The unit was assigned to guard the artillery and not directly involved in the fight, but Capt. William Somerville led a detachment upon a raid of a Federal warehouse. He was shot in the stomach, believed fatally, and listed as killed by General French in his official report. However, Somerville survived his wound, thanks to the care he received from Federal surgeons. Following the war, Somerville was able to return to Red River County where he died in 1917, having survived his Allatoona "death" wound by fifty-three years.
After Allatoona, Colonel Andrews of the Thirty-second was placed in command of the brigade. The regiment missed the bloody battle of Franklin, fought on November 30, 1864, as they were guarding the army's pontoon bridges. They proceeded on to Nashville, where on December 4, 1864, Col. Andrews was severely wounded—his second serious wound of the war—and sent to West Point, Mississippi, to recover.
The Thirty-second fought at the battle of Nashville on December 15–16, 1864. Afterward, they retreated with the rest of the Army of Tennessee back through Franklin. Complete losses are unknown, but the Thirty-second Texas had at least four wounded and thirteen captured.
Ector's Brigade, including the Thirty-second Texas, now numbered only about 500 men but were part of a handpicked force to serve as the rear guard of the Army of Tennessee, which was considered the post of honor. In January 1865 several officers from the Thirty-second Texas were furloughed: Maj. William E. Estes; Quartermaster John S. Fowlkes; and Surgeon Hugh G. McClarty. They had all been with the regiment since its inception.
In the reorganization that followed, Ector's Brigade was assigned to the defense of Mobile, Alabama. On April 8, 1865, the last major battle of the war was fought at Spanish Fort. The Confederates were hopelessly outnumbered. Many of the men fired one volley before being forced to either surrender or flee for their lives. Some that refused to surrender fought in the trenches and were clubbed, shot, and bayoneted. The Thirty-second Texas, fighting with an unknown number of men, had at least seven wounded and twenty-eight captured, which was probably more than one-third of those present.
What was left of the regiment, under the command of Bvt. Maj. Nathan Anderson, marched to Meridian, Mississippi, where they were surrendered on May 9, 1865. Altogether, the Thirty-second Texas surrendered 9 officers and 49 enlisted men—a fraction of the 1,000 or so men who served in the regiment at one time or another.
In the years following the war, most of the old veterans lived quiet lives as good citizens. However, some did not. One of them was Cullen Montgomery Baker, who had served in Company I. Immortalized in Louis L'Amour's The First Fast Draw, Baker was a notorious post-war obstructionist who was a violent opponent of Reconstruction. He was eventually shot and killed (but not according to L'Amour!).
Most of the veterans returned to their homes in Huntsville, Sulphur Springs, Henderson, New Boston, Palestine, Paris, Douglassville, and Clarksville. Some entered politics, such as Capt. Travis C. Henderson of Company G, who served for many years in the state legislature. Some were even instrumental in starting new towns, such as the Estes brothers and the city of Texarkana. Francis A. Taulman of Company G served as the first mayor of Hubbard, Texas.
A curious footnote to the Thirty-second Texas Cavalry Regiment is its colonel, Julius A. Andrews. Twice wounded during the war, Andrews married in Enterprise, Mississippi, and was living there in 1870. By 1880 he had moved to Tarrant County where he was peddling merchandise. He later moved to Belton in Bell County before relocating to Mountain View, Kiowa County, in the Indian Territory in the 1890s. As he lived into his eighties, he continued to work, weighing cotton, but by that time he had outlived most of his old comrades. By the time he applied for a pension in the state of Oklahoma, he could not find even one of his old comrades to witness his application. Andrews passed away in 1930 at the age of ninety. He was one of the last surviving members of the regiment.