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War between the States
18th Texas Infantry, Summarized Historical Chronology, 1862-1865

The 18th Texas Infantry in service to the Confederate States of America (CSA) was formed on May 13, 1862 in Jefferson (Marion County), TX and spent its entire career within the Trans-Mississippi Department (Confederate operations west of the Mississippi River). The regiment consisted of 10 companies (11 Companies for some months) and participated in more than twenty military engagements. Five of these engagements were significant and are summarized below.

Initial regimental field operations were in Arkansas from late summer (1862) into the spring (1863) with no military action. In October a new Division was formed and 18th Texas Infantry was incorporated into the 1st Brigade. In December General John G. Walker assumed command of the Division. This Division was later known as “Walker’s Greyhounds” denoting its reputation for its many long, forced marches back and forth across Louisiana and Arkansas. In January of 1863 the Division was sent to the Arkansas Post (military outpost) located on the Arkansas River near the Mississippi River to assist in its defense. They arrived too late to be of any help. In May the Division was sent on a long march and via the Red River to Alexandria, LA to help defend against a threatened Union advance commanded by General Nathaniel Banks. Banks, however, chose to turn back east and attack Port Hudson on the Mississippi River. By early June 1863 the 18th Texas Infantry was sent on a long march through snake invested bayous, a march that “tired men’s souls” to Perkins Landing – 15 miles from Vicksburg to try to prevent some of Grant’s forces from crossing the Mississippi River from Louisiana into Mississippi. Again, they arrive after most of the Yankees had crossed the River skirmishing only with several Union gunboats. After establishing camp they were then ordered to move to the North of Vicksburg to Milliken’s Bend at Young Point, LA to engage the enemy. The Brigade commander fearing the exhausted 18th – on the move for 28 sleepless hours – would be too tired to be effective ordered a retreat. Once again the Texans were denied a fight. Soon, however the 18th with all of their pent-up frustration would finally get their chance to fight the enemy.

June 15, 1863 - Battle - Roundaway Bayou, north of Richmond, Louisiana, (20 miles west of Vicksburg) --The 18th Texas Infantry crossed the bayou and charged the much superior enemy force at the point of the bayonet. One account summed up this engagement this way:

“The ground was covered with their dead and wounded…The 18th Texas Infantry…crossed the bayou and charged the enemy at the point of the bayonet, driving them pell-mell into the timber. They were panic-stricken, as they never stopped to resist the charge of the brave 500. Although their numbers exceeded 18,000, under command of one of their ablest generals, General Davis, they anticipated that they were ambushed…. This charge made by the 18th will compare favorably with any regimental charge that has ever been recorded.” Blessington, Joseph P. The Campaigns of Walker’s Texas Division…. …New York: Lange, Little & Co., 1875.

November 3, 1863 - Battle - Bayou Bourbeau near Grand Coteau, Louisiana (10 miles south of Opelousas). The Infantry Brigade was formed in battle line in the following manner. - The 15th Texas Infantry, commanded by Colonel Joseph W. Speight took their position on the right of the brigade; the 18th Texas Infantry, commanded by Col. Wilburn H. King, was assigned the center, and the 11th Texas Infantry, commanded by Col. Oran Milo Roberts, took their position on the left of the brigade. The fierce battle lasted 3 hours. According to the memoirs of Wilburn King here is his account.

“The fight was a desperate one for several hours, {with} my own regiment losing nearly 40% of its strength in killed and wounded – but {it} ended in defeat of the immediate Federal force, the capture of their camp and many guns, and nearly 1000 prisoners.I had five color bearers shot dead in the battle, and the eyes of the sixth one shot out, but my colors never struck the ground.” The Autobiography of Wilburn Hill King Edited by: L. David Norris 1996, Hill College Press , Hillsboro, Texas Page 74

April 8, 1864 - Battle - Sabine Cross Roads (5 miles southeast of Mansfield, Louisiana). Approximately 8,800 Confederate troops facing about 12,000 Union troops in the immediate area. The total Union forces including the naval force on the Red River (13 ironclads, 4 tinclads and 5 other armed vessels) and support personnel numbered approximately 30,000. A stunning victory for the Confederates under the command of General Richard Taylor (the son of former President Zachary Taylor) ultimately caused Union Army commander General N. Banks to abandon his march toward Shreveport and to turn back to New Orleans. The Confederates lost about 1000 in killed, wounded and missing. The loss of the enemy amounted to 2235 in killed, wounded and missing, 20 pieces of artillery, including Nim's battery, Chicago Mercantile battery and the First Indiana battery, 200 wagons, 1000 horses and mules and thousands of small-arms. The 18th Texas, part of Waul’s Brigade and Walker’s Division, attacked in fury. Following is a description of the Texans’ attack.

“The Texans swept down on the Federals with a rush – ‘like a cyclone,’ said one Northern soldier. ‘Yelling like infuriated demons’they came, brushing aside the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry and closing up the swaths cut in their ranks by the accurate fire of Ormand Nim’s fine battery. They charged up the hill, flanking and driving back the 23rd Wisconsin and 67th Indiana, capturing three of Nim’s guns and turning them on the Yankees.” Johnson, Ludwell H. Red River Campaign: Politics & Cotton in the Civil War, pg. 135 1958, John Hopkins Press –1993, Kent State Press

April 9, 1864 - Battle - Pleasant Hill, Louisiana (17 miles southeast of Mansfield). After the Southerner’s victorious rout of the Yankees on the 8th at Mansfield General Taylor pressed on hoping to cut the Union forces in half and separate General Banks from his gunboat armada on the Red River 16 miles to the east. General Banks with 12,193 men engaged suffered 1369 causalities. General Taylor with 12,500 men engaged lost 1,200 killed and wounded. Walker’s Texans, including the 18th regiment, are described going into battle from this account and a scene after the battle:

“Walker’s Texans were advancing across the open ground against the left of Gen. Shaws brigade, their muskets at right shoulder shift. The Federals, hidden in a skirt of woods and protected by light rail breastworks, could hear the gray officers calling out commands. ‘Dress up on the right! Steady on the center! Steady! Steady, boys! Keep cool! Keep cool! When the Texans neared the enemy line, they opened fire” ……………....…(after the battle description)…. “A fresh battlefield was always a frightful and sickening place, but the one at Pleasant Hill seems to have impressed the soldiers as one of particular horror. ‘The air was filled,” said one, “with groans and shrieks, and delirious yells.’ As the night turned cold there came calls from the wounded for fire, and repeated wails such as‘Oh, I’m freezing,’ and of course the ever present cry, ‘For God’s sake bring us some water.’ Men in agony called to their comrades for help. ‘Send someone to get me,’ they would say. ‘Where is the 24th Iowa?’ ‘4th Texas, come here.’ ‘My God, I am dying…..’” Johnson, Ludwell H. Red River Campaign: Politics & Cotton in the Civil War, pg 157 1958, John Hopkins Press –1993, Kent State Press

A major strategic error on the part of the Confederates took place after the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill. The commanding general of the Trans Mississippi Army – General Kirby Smith – made a bad decision, against the strong opposition of General Taylor, Walker and others, to send most of Taylor’s forces, including Walker’s Division, north into Arkansas to fight Union General Steele’s force of 6000 that had been heading from Little Rock to Shreveport. Taylor was convinced that Steele would not be a threat to Smith and Shreveport. Indeed Steele, upon hearing of Bank’s defeat at Mansfield, turned back toward Little Rock. Taylor insisted that if Kirby Smith had concentrated forces against Banks, the Union army and its valuable fleet would have been bagged, the Mississippi River opened by the captured vessels, and the outnumbered Confederates facing Sherman in Georgia reinforced with up to 30,000 troops from the Trans-Mississippi Department. The War’s outcome might have been different. Taylor’s strong feelings about this issue was revealed in his book.

“The Southern people might have been spared the humiliation of defeat, and the countless woes and wrongs inflicted on them by their conquerors.” Taylor, Richard, Destruction and Reconstruction: Personal Experiences of the Late War, New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1890April 30, 1864 - Battle - Jenkin's Ferry on Saline River (45 miles south of Little Rock) Arkansas. The 6000 Confederates under the over-all command of Kirby Smith were pursuing the retreating Union troops (approx. 6000) under the command of General Steele. The Federals had lost to the Confederates a few days earlier a wagon train of valuable supplies and materials. Steele needed to cross the Saline River to continue his withdrawal to Little Rock. The terrain was not favorable for the attacking Confederates, the ground was very muddy and the attack tactics poor. Waul’s Brigade was an integral part of the action that day. The battle ended in a stalemate, allowing the Union forces to successfully ford the river and escape the Confederates. Union causalities were 2750 compared to 2300 for the Confederates. The Union lost over 635 wagons and 2500 mules during the campaign.

During mid 1864 the 18 Texas Infantry was returned to Louisiana. There it served at Shreveport. In early 1865 the unit was moved to Hempstead, Texas where it disbanded in May 1865 having never surrendered.

Source: J.E. Adams, Oklahoma City, OK - February 1999
Note: Samuel G. Adams (1842 – 1906), my great grand father, served in Co. I of the 18th Texas Infantry from May 1862 until April 1865.

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