Whitfield's Legion

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: October 1, 1995

Whitfield's Legion, also known as the First Texas Legion and as the Twenty-seventh Texas Cavalry, was one of the two legions that Texas provided to the Confederate States Army. The other was Waul's Legion. Though a legion was properly a regiment of mixed arms, generally composed of infantry, cavalry, and artillery battalions, Whitfield's was purely a cavalry unit. Its nucleus was a company recruited in Lavaca County in 1861 by Capt. John Wilkins Whitfield and assigned to Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch's Army of the West at Fort Smith, Arkansas. There it was combined with three other independent cavalry companies from Texas-Capt. E. R. Hawkins's from Hunt County, Capt. John H. Broocks's from Saint Augustine County, and Capt. B. H. Norsworth's from Jasper County-and with one company from Arkansas to form Whitfield's Battalion, sometimes called the Fourth Texas Cavalry Battalion. Whitfield was promoted to major and assigned as the battalion's commander. After its participation in the battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn Tavern, Arkansas, on March 7–8, 1862, the battalion was dismounted and transferred east of the Mississippi River. There it was assigned to the Army of West Tennessee and fought as infantry in the battles of Iuka (September 19, 1862) and Corinth (October 3–4, 1862). Later that year the battalion was augmented by the recruiting of eight new companies from Texas. The Arkansas company was transferred to an Arkansas regiment, and the battalion was redesignated as Whitfield's Legion or the Twenty-seventh Texas Cavalry. Its first field-grade officers were Whitfield as colonel, Hawkins as lieutenant colonel, and Broocks, Cyrus K. Holman, and John T. Whitfield as majors. The regiment was then remounted and assigned to Brig. Gen. Lawrence Sullivan Ross's brigade, the famed Ross's Texas Cavalry Brigade (see ROSS'S BRIGADE, C.S.A.) of the Army of Tennessee. There it fought in all of the principal battles in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia during 1863 and 1864. When Whitfield was promoted to brigadier general on May 9, 1863, and assigned to command of a brigade, Hawkins was promoted to colonel and elevated to command of the regiment.

Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).

Time Periods:

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Whitfield's Legion,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/whitfields-legion.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: