...Forward, men, forward! Let it never be said that Texans lag in a fight!  














Assorted facts about
the 7th Texas Infantry Regiment




Bloodiest battles.

In terms of numbers, the 7th Texas' costliest battle was Raymond, Mississippi, 12 May 1863. The regiment counted 306 officers and men present for duty that morning, and lost 43 killed in action and 71 wounded, as well as 44 captured (a 51 % loss). However, the 7th Texas suffered a considerably higher percentage of losses at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, 30 November 1864. Among some 95 men in the ranks, a staggering 65% were either killed (18), wounded (25), or captured (19). Nearly 1 in 5 were killed in action in five hours of combat, an extraordinary high rate even by Civil War standards.

Deadly disease.

Disease claimed the lives of more Civil War soldiers than combat, particularly in the early stages of the war. This was also true in the 7th Texas, which suffered severely from illness during the first winter. From November 1861 to February 1862, no less than 172 men died from measles, typhoid fever, dysentery, pneumonia, and diarrhoea - nearly 1 out of every 4 men. An additional 25 were discharged for medical reasons. Many others were sick for weeks before eventually regaining their health. To make matters worse, an additional 64 men died of illness during the regiment's confinement as prisoners of war in the North (February to September 1862). The lousy prison conditions also led to a significant number being discharged as unfit for duty upon exchange. Thus, no less than 236 men died of disease during the 7th Texas' first year of service, or nearly 1/3 of the original personnel strength. Scores of others were permanently disabled. It was indeed a most miserable beginning of an outstanding military career.

The Generals.

Two original members of the 7th Texas became Brigadier Generals in the Confederate army, John Gregg and Hiram Bronson Granbury.

John Gregg was the founder and first Colonel of the 7th Texas, and was promoted to Brigadier General on 29 August 1862. He commanded a brigade (which included the 7th Texas) in the west until severely wounded at the battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, 20 September 1863. Following his recovery, Gregg was assigned to command (January 1864) of the renowned Hood's Texas Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia, which he led with distinction until killed in action near Richmond, Virginia, 7 October 1864.

Hiram Granbury was the founder and first Captain of Company A, 7th Texas, thereafter regimental Major 1861-62, and succeeded Gregg as Colonel. He was promoted to Brigadier General on 29 February 1864, and led his Texas brigade with great skill until killed in action at Franklin, Tennessee, 30 November 1864.

Both Gregg and Granbury were regarded by their superiors as being among the very best brigade commanders in the army. After the war, Texas would honor them by naming a county for Gregg (1873) and a town for Granbury (1893).

 

Blacks in the 7th Texas.

A number of blacks served with the 7th Texas, as personal (officer) servants, cooks and teamsters. Only in Company H were they recorded on the regular company muster roll, however, so only a few are known by name.

Of the blacks who are registered in official documents, five were in Company H. They were Lafayette Hearne, Samuel Hill, Jesse Powell, Nathan, and Sam. All were slaves who accompanied their owners to war, and all were captured at Fort Donelson (February 1862) and sent to Camp Douglas as prisoners of war. Hearne died in prison of typhoid fever, while Hill was exchanged with the other members of the 7th Texas in September 1862. Jesse Powell and Nathan enlisted in the Union army, while the fate of Sam is unknown. Another recorded black man was Peter Callaway of Company D, also a slave. He was eventually released unconditionally from Camp Douglas and apparently stayed in the North.

In April 1862, the Confederate Congress authorized the enlistment of blacks as cooks and teamsters in army regiments. Each company was allowed four cooks, "white or black, free or slave", who would be paid and uniformed like ordinary soldiers. In combat situations, they were often employed to evacuate the wounded (as stretcher bearers). While in principle unarmed, blacks serving with combat units such as the 7th Texas faced many of the same hardships and dangers as white men shouldering a musket.

The October 11, 1862, issue of the (Marshall) Texas Republican contained a notice by regimental quartermaster Quentin D. Horr seeking 50 Negroes for service as cooks and teamsters in the 7th Texas Infantry. It is not known to what degree Horr's appeal succeeded, but quite a few blacks were presumably enlisted as a result of his efforts.

Thus, it is fair to say that the Confederate army contained a significant number of black support personnel, but due to the prevailing practice of recording only combatants on unit muster rolls, their names have largely been lost to posterity (with some exceptions, such as in Company H of the 7th Texas).

Brigade affiliations.

Throughout its career, the 7th Texas and 3-6 other infantry regiments made up a brigade. The two principal brigades to which it belonged, and whose history is inextricably linked to that of the 7th Texas, were John Gregg's and Hiram Granbury's.

John Gregg's brigade was formed about November 1862, and composed of the 3rd, 10th & 30th (consolidated), 41st, and 50th Tennessee Infantry Regiments, the 1st Tennessee Infantry Battalion, plus Hiram Bledsoe's Missouri Battery of field artillery. The 7th Texas was added upon completing its reorganization in January/ February 1863. Gregg's brigade fought at Raymond, Jackson, and Chickamauga, before being broken up in November 1863. At that time the 7th Texas was transferred to the brigade of James Smith, consisting of the 10th Texas Infantry, 6th Texas Infantry & 15th Texas Dismounted Cavalry (consolidated), 17th & 18th Texas Dismounted Cavalry (consolidated), and the 24th & 25th Texas Dismounted Cavalry (consolidated).

Only two weeks later Smith was wounded and Hiram Granbury advanced to command, and the brigade was thereafter always known as 'Granbury's brigade'. Granbury led the brigade until killed at Franklin, Tennessee, 30 November 1864. Although the Texas regiments remained the core of the brigade until war's end, two other regiments were later incorporated, namely the 5th Confederate Infantry (24 July 1864) and the 35th Tennessee Infantry (August 1864).

Age.

The men of the 7th Texas were predominantly in their early 20s, but quite a few were considerably younger and older than the average. The regiment's youngest was drummer boy Thomas Shook who enlisted in Company A at the age of 12 (1861). Shook served for two years, being discharged for disability (dysentery) in August 1863. The youngest combat soldier was also from Company A, private Terry Willie, aged 14. He joined the cavalry to escape capture at Fort Donelson in February 1862, and never returned to the 7th Texas.

Incomplete records indicate that no less than 35% of the regiment's original members (1861) were under 21 years of age, whereas over 10% were 40 or older, or reached that age during their period of service. Among the latter group, 9 were aged 50 or more.

Slaveowners.

Relatively few of the men in the 7th Texas owned any slaves. A census survey of 534 of the regiment's original 746 members (1861) shows that on average only 9 % were slaveowners, or 1 in 11. The portion was highest in Company D, where 15 of 91 men (16%) owned slaves, whereas Company I counted only 3 slaveowners among 75 men (4%). In Company A, 6 of 71 men (8 %) were registered as slaveholders.

Considering the officers as a separate group, the statistics are somewhat different. At the time of regimental organization (1861), 28% of the officer corps owned slaves. Of course, the officers tended to be men of social prominence, older and wealthier than the average soldier. Among the officers was Khleber Miller Van Zandt, Captain of Company D and later regimental Major. His company contained the largest number of slaveholders (16%), and Van Zandt himself owned 16 slaves - more than any of the other officers. He wrote after the war:
"I was never an advocate of slavery, and slavery was not the direct cause of the War…[I]n my company of 100 young men that I carried into the War, not more than 25 per cent were interested in the question. At least 75 per cent had no interest in the question and didn't own any slaves."
The statistics, at least, gives no reason to doubt Van Zandt's words.

Foreigners
.

Only 11 of the 7th Texas' soldiers are recorded as foreign born, which is a rather low number in view of the fact that Texas had a sizable European and Mexican population in 1860 (7 %). The regiment counted 5 Germans, 2 Irish, 2 Norwegians, 1 Englishman, plus one simply recorded as born in "Europe". However, enlistment data on many of the soldiers are incomplete, especially for those who joined after 1861, so the actual number of foreigners may well have been higher.

Birthplace.

On the eve of the Civil War, Texas was a typical frontier state, populated largely by immigrants from other parts of the United States (53 %), particularly the South. The men of the 7th Texas were typical of the diverse origins of antebellum Texas society. A survey of 545 of the regiment's original 746 members (1861), reveals that 96% hailed from various Southern states, the largest number (25%) from Alabama. Only 8 % had been born and raised in Texas, whereas 2 % had been born in the North and another 2 % were first generation immigrants from Europe.

Proposal to abolish slavery.

Irish-born Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was an outstanding divison commander, a bold fighter, and an outspoken visionary. His combat performance and tactical prowess were unrivalled in the army. To the soldiers of his eminent division, including the 7th Texas, 'Old Pat' was a hero, always leading by example and ever alert to the men's needs. In January 1864, Cleburne submitted a radical proposal to his superiors, which stipulated that the South ought to free all slaves and enlist Negro soldiers. He was backed by most of his brigade and regimental commanders. Among the signers was Captain James H. Collett on behalf of the 7th Texas Infantry. However, the issue proved too controversial to win approval, and Confederate authorities ordered it suppressed. Not until the situation became truly desperate one year later would Southern politicians consider similar measures. But by then their bid for independence was already doomed to failure.

The end.

For the 7th Texas, the war officially ended on 26 April 1865, when General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Union General William T. Sherman. Johnston's ragtag army was then based near Greensboro, North Carolina, and the remnants of the 7th Texas made up only two small companies of that army - numbering 67 officers and men.

On May 2, 1865, the men of Granbury's Texas brigade were assembled for the last time and received their paroles. More than three and a half years of arduous military service had come to an inglorious end. All told, some 1005 men served in the 7th Texas Infantry regiment throughout its existence, and only 67 were present for duty in the end. What had become of all the others? Many had been killed in combat, an even greater number had succumbed to disease, still more had been incapacitated by wounds or illness, others were held as prisoners of war, a few were away on leave, and some had deserted.

"We, the undersigned, in behalf of the officers and men of Granbury's (Texas) brigade, respectfully desire to assure General Johnston of our undiminished confidence and esteem; and fully symphatizing with him in the present issue of our affairs, do most cordially tender him the hospitality of our State and our homes (such as the future may provide for us.)"

- Farewell note to General Joseph E. Johnston signed by 18 officers of Granbury's former brigade, dated April 28, 1865. Lieutenants Ben D. Foscue and Leroy F. Moody signed on behalf of the 7th Texas.


back to index in English


 


Visit 15th Wisconsin on the Net !