JUST BEFORE THE START OF THE BLOODY PENINSULA CAMPAIGN OF JUNE 1862, the soldiers of the Fourth Texas Infantry Regiment purchased a horse for General John Bell Hood, commander of what came to be known as Hood's Texas Brigade. Later, as the regiment assembled at dress parade, First Sergeant J. M. Bookman presented the horse to General Hood. "Sir: In behalf of the non-commissioned officers and privates ..., I present you this war-horse. He was selected and purchased by us for this purpose, not that we hoped by so doing to court your favor, but simply because we, as freemen and Texans, claim the ability to discern, and the right to reward, merit wherever it may be found. In you, sir, we recognize the soldier and the gentleman. In you we have found a leader whom we are proud to follow--a commander whom it is a pleasure to obey; and this horse we tender as a slight testimonial of our admiration." Moved by this gesture of deference and respect from his men, General Hood sprang into the saddle and promised to act as their "rallying point when the struggle came."(1)
These Texas soldiers--who soon earned a reputation as the toughest combat troops in Robert E. Lee's fabled Army of Northern Virginia--did not always behave so deferentially toward officers. In fact, when the Texas regiments came to Virginia, they clashed frequently with the Confederate government over the authority to select their own regimental and staff officers. The men of the Texas regiments claimed the right to veto any appointment that proved unacceptable to them. The Fourth Texas Regiment, for instance, refused to accept the assignment of Colonel R. T. P. Allen to lead their unit. He had been in camp for only a short while when several soldiers hoisted Allen onto his horse, and using switches, drove him "out of the regimental grounds amid the hoots and jeers of the boys"; and he "was never seen again."(2)
This study examines the social and cultural dynamics of leadership, command, and soldiering in Hood's Texas Brigade for clues to unravel the broader enigma of the antebellum southern social structure, particularly with regard to the place and status of plain folk, yeoman farmers, and other non-elite whites. Much of the literature about the antebellum South hinges on the long-standing debate over whether the Old South was an elitist slaveholding aristocracy or an agrarian plain-folk democracy.(3) The drift of many recent studies has been toward synthesis, arguing that antebellum society represented a hybrid of hierarchy and equality.(4) However, even studies that recognize the complexity and paradoxes of this society fall short as social history, because the class dynamic that they advance to link elite and commoner, rich and poor, is too one-sided. The planters' hegemony is a given. "The nonslaveholder," according to one historian, "was in a very passive, dependent position vis-a-vis the planter."(5) Studies based on the so-called republican synthesis also tend to infer yeoman values and ideas from the language and behavior of political elites; consequently, the social relation is seen from the top down, the capacity of plain folk to form their own lives is shortchanged, and thus the truly dynamic, interactive, and relational nature of power in the antebellum South has not been fully understood.(6)
The common soldiers of Hood's Texas Brigade fought the Civil War mainly on their own terms, defending and justifying their right to do so by drawing on a unique mix of ideological and cultural resources. Their conduct as soldiers combined beliefs about popular sovereignty and natural liberty with backcountry shaming rituals of social control, like the charivari, that were used to hold privates and officers alike to particular standards of conduct defined by the volunteer soldiers themselves. This essay examines how popular constitutional ideas and traditional forms of community action affected the performance of one of the elite fighting units in the Army of Northern Virginia. It is based on a rich body of wartime letters and reminiscences that offers the historian the rare opportunity to encounter young men speaking and acting for themselves during a time of great personal and social crisis.(7)
The only Texas troops to serve in Virginia, Hood's Brigade earned a reputation for fierce fighting that won them the acclaim of every general officer who commanded them. General Robert E. Lee considered the Texans his premier shock troops when on the attack and his most dependable rear guard when in retreat. Major General Dorsey Pender proclaimed his own superb North Carolina troops second only to the "Texas boys." Hood had, according to Pender, "the best material on the continent without a doubt."(8) Historian Douglas Southall Freeman ranked the Texas Brigade the best fighting unit in the Army of Northern Virginia.(9)
Throughout the war about 4,000 men served in the three regiments that made up the Texas contingent of Hood's Brigade.(10) During three years of bloody combat the Texans in Virginia suffered dreadful casualties. Losses for a single engagement often exceeded 50 percent. In October 1864 Brigadier General Jerome B. Robertson estimated that of the 4,000 Texans who had served, 1,000 had been killed in combat, 1,200 had died from disease, 1,500 had been disabled by wounds or sickness, "leaving less than 300 able for service." When the Texas Brigade surrendered with the rest of Lee's forces at Appomattox, only 476 men were left.(11)
Drawn from counties across east and central Texas, the volunteers of Hood's famous unit were typical of the Anglo population that had helped to settle the region. The distribution of wealth and power in antebellum Texas was sharply unequal (Table 1-A). Randolph Campbell and Richard Lowe have shown that 25.1 percent of Texans in 1860 fell into the poorest class (real and personal property valued at less than $500); 67.8 percent were middle class (wealthholding of $500 to $19,999); and 7.1 percent were wealthy (combined real and personal property holdings worth $20,000 or more). Their findings demonstrate that there was "a large and growing middle class" of plain folk in Texas when the war began.(12)
TABLE 1 A. DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IN TEXAS, 1860 $ Value of 1- 250- 500- 1,000- Wealth 0 299 499 999 4,999 % of Total Population 8.0 8.5 8.6 13.7 35.1 $ Value of 5,000- 10,000- 20,000- Wealth 9,999 19,999 49,000 50,000+ Totals % of Total Population 11.2 7.8 4.9 2.2 100.0 SOURCE: Randolph B. Campbell and Richard G.Lowe, Wealth and Power in Antebellum Texas (College Station, 1977), 46 B. DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH AMONG ORGINAL PRVATES IN THE FIRST TEXAS REGIMENT $ Value of 1- 250- 500- 1,000- Wealth 0 299 499 999 4,999 % of Regiment 15.0 3.3 8.3 20.0 26.8 $ Value of 5,000- 10,000- 20,000- Wealth 9,999 19,999 49,000 50,000+ Totals % of Regiment 10.0 10.0 3.3 3.3 100.0 C. DISTRIBUTION WEALTH AMONG ORGINAL PRIVATES IN THE FOURTH TEXAS REGIMENT $ Value of 1- 250- 500- 1,000- Wealth 0 299 499 999 4,999 % of Regiment 17.2 5.2 6.9 10.3 29.4 $ Value of 5,000- 10,000- 20,000- Wealth 9,999 19,999 49,000 50,000+ Totals % of Regiment 13.8 10.3 10.3 6.9 100.0 D. DISTRIBUTION WEALTH AMONG ORGINAL PRIVATES IN THE FIFTH TEXAS REGIMENT $ Value of 1- 250- 500- 1,000- Wealth 0 299 499 999 4,999 % of Regiment 24.2 6.1 7.6 7.6 21.2 $ Value of 5,000- 10,000- 20,000- Wealth 9,999 19,999 49,000 50,000+ Totals % of Regiment 9.0 6.1 12.1 6.1 100.0 SOURCE: Federal manuscript Census, Texas, Shedule of Population, 1860
Wealthholding in Hood's Texas Brigade mirrored the inequality found in the general population. Analysis of a sample population of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Texas Regiments (Tables 1-B, 1-C, 1-D) establishes that these units were composed of a representative cross section of Anglo Texas society in 1860.(13) Among original privates in the First Texas, 26.6 percent were poor; 66.8 percent came from the middle class; and 6.6 percent were wealthy. Likewise, in the Fourth Texas Regiment, 29.3 percent of the men were poor; 63.8 percent represented the middle group; and 6.9 percent were members of the wealthiest class. Of the Fifth Texas Regiment, 37.9 percent came from a poor background; 43.9 percent had middle-class roots; and wealthy privates worth $20,000 or more constituted 18.2 percent of the sample soldier population.
The ownership of slave property in Texas was also unequally distributed. In 1860, 72.7 percent of families were nonslaveholders (Table 2-A). Families of small slaveholders who owned fewer than ten slaves made up 19.5 percent of the Texas population in 1860 and 71.4 percent of the slaveholding group. The majority of slaveholders, therefore, were what Stephanie McCurry called "self-working" farmers; they still had to labor alongside family members and the few slaves they owned to make a living.(14)
TABLE 2 A. DISTRIBUTION SLAVE PROPERTY IN TEXAS, 1860 Number of Slaves 0 1-4 5-9 10-19 20-49 % of Population 72.7 13.0 6.5 4.8 2.5 Number of Slaves 50-99 100+ Totals % of Population 0.4 0.1 100.0 SOURCE: Campbell and Lowe, Wealth and Power in Antebellum Texas, 44. B. DISTRIBUTION OF SLAVE PROPERTY AMONG ORIGINAL PRIVATES IN THE FIRST TEXAS REGIMENT Number of Slaves 0 1-4 5-9 10-19 20-49 % of Regiment 66.7 13.3 6.6 10.0 0.0 Number of Slaves 50-99 100+ Totals % of Regiment 1.7 1.7 100.0 C. DISTRIBUTION OF SLAVE PROPERTY AMONG ORIGINAL PRIVATES IN THE FOURTH TREGIMENT Number of Slaves 0 1-4 5-9 10-19 20-49 % of Regiment 72.4 3.5 12.0 8.6 3.5 Number of Slaves 50-99 100+ Totals % of Regiment 0.0 0.0 100.0 D. DISTRUBUTION OF SLAVE PROPERTY AMONG ORIGINAL PRIVATES IN THE FIFTH TEXAS REGIMENT Number of Slaves 0 1-4 5-9 10-19 20-49 % of Regiment 66.7 7.6 9.0 7.6 7.6 Number of Slaves 50-99 100+ Totals % of Regiment 1.5 1.5 100.0 SOURCE: Federal manuscript Census, Texas, Slaves, Schedule of Slaves, 1860
The proportion of nonslaveholders and slave owners in Hood's Brigade paralleled the ratio in the state at large. Table 2 shows that over two-thirds of the original privates in the three Texas regiments of the brigade were nonslaveholders or came from nonslaveholding families; privates who either had or represented families with small slaveholdings (less than ten slaves) represented less than a fifth of the total. Of the enlisted men who owned slaves, a majority in two of the regiments and half of the third were plain-folk owners or came from families having fewer than ten slaves (60 percent in the First Texas, 56 percent in the Fourth Texas, and 50 percent in the Fifth Texas).
If most of the rank and file were common men of moderate means, a majority of the original captains, on the other hand, were professional men of somewhat greater wealth. Of the original twelve captains in the First Texas, background information on ten of them was found. There were three lawyers, three physicians, one merchant, one university president, one stockraiser, and one planter's son. Eight of these ten captains were slaveholders. In the Fourth Texas, nine of the original ten captains could be identified. Six of them were lawyers, and the other three included a planter, a merchant, and a stockraiser. Five were slave owners. The roll call of initial captains in the Fifth Texas included two lawyers, two planters, and two physicians, and seven of the eight who could be identified held slaves in 1860.(15)
The Texas Brigade, like other Confederate units, underwent a significant shake-up in the spring of 1862. Worried about losing thousands of soldiers whose twelve-month terms of service were about to expire, the Confederate Congress gave all troops who reenlisted the authority to reorganize their companies and regiments.(16) As a result, an outpouring of electioneering took place in the Texas Brigade on May 16, 1862. Those captains who had proven themselves were reelected, while others who had come up short in the eyes of the men were not. The reorganization also offered an opportunity to replace officers who had died, resigned, or been promoted. Impromptu elections were also required during the summer campaigning of 1862 to replace officers killed or maimed in battle.(17) Analysis of the 1860 manuscript census returns reveals that the new officers, like the original captains, were often professional men, and a majority of them (54 percent) were well-to-do themselves or represented the sons of wealthy families. Of nine replacement captains elected in the First Texas Regiment during the reorganization of May 1862 or in the bloody days that followed, for instance, information available on eight of them indicates that three were lawyers, two were planters, two others were the sons of planters, and one was the son of a very wealthy Houston merchant. Five were slaveholders, and two were the sons of wealthy slaveholding planters.
Although going to war clearly brought together men of varied class and economic interests, Texans, like white males throughout the South, also had a lot in common. They rubbed elbows at the country store, drank and drilled at militia musters, ate barbecue and cheered patriotic speeches on the Fourth of July, and, in some cases, gathered on Sunday morning to attend church. On these and other ritual occasions they publicly acknowledged the shared ground of propertied independence and patriarchal authority that made them all free men with an abiding interest in upholding southern values and institutions.(18) Service in the Confederate Army, however, produced an encounter of a different magnitude. Planters and plain folk, rich and poor men, and many in between, were joined together in a real hierarchical and class system under the most extraordinary of circumstances; as a result, the experience of war tested the vitality of political and class dynamics in the Old South, particularly the fragile balancing act that pivoted on protecting slaveholding interests while securing the consent and shielding the liberty of non-elite white men. Building such an accommodation in the companies and regiments of Hood's Texas Brigade depended, just as it did in antebellum southern politics generally, on leaders who could win the loyalty and support of common white men by looking out for their interests and knowing when to stand back and let them have their own way.(19)
A closer look at the Fourth Texas Regiment's rejection of Colonel Robert Thomas Pritchard Allen reveals much about the dynamics of leadership and soldiering in the companies and regiments of the Texas Brigade. Colonel Allen was a native Marylander and a graduate of West Point, Class of 1834. He resigned his U.S. Army commission two years later and entered the ministry, but the new vocation was short-lived. Drawing again upon his martial training, he became superintendent of the Kentucky Military Institute, and, after migrating to Texas during the mid-1850's, assumed a similar position with a military institute at Bastrop, Texas. As it turned out, Allen was ill-equipped to lead volunteer soldiers because of his stiff and overbearing manner. At the time he was appointed colonel of the regiment, many of the volunteers already knew and disliked him.(20) Allen had served as drill instructor at Camp Clark, a training site on the San Marcos River where four of the companies that made up the Fourth Texas had mustered. The officers of the newly organized regiment protested to President Jefferson Davis that Allen's appointment was unacceptable, but the initiative to get rid of Allen came from the soldiers themselves.(21) The men resented Allen because he was a strict disciplinarian and required them to perform menial tasks. In Virginia the Texas "boys" took matters into their own hands. They not only rejected Allen and the Confederate government's authority to appoint him; they publicly humiliated him. In a society where honor operated as a fundamental organizing principle, shaming a person, particularly someone in authority, represented a powerful rebuke.(22)
The treatment of Colonel Allen was neither unique in its occurrence nor exceptional in its outcome. The Fifth Texas Regiment also stubbornly resisted the Richmond government's appointment of regimental and staff officers. According to Private Val Giles, the Fifth Texas "fired colonels, lieutenant colonels and majors faster than Mr. Davis and the Secretary of War could send them out. The troops," Giles explained, "were in open rebellion against all comers."(23) For instance, when Confederate authorities appointed one Colonel Shaller to command the regiment in the fall of 1861, he lasted about twenty-four hours. Nicholas Davis, one of the brigade's chaplains, left an account of Shaller's short tenure. "He came out to the camp in all the pomp and circumstances befitting his high position, splendidly mounted on a steed ... glittering with the tinsel of gold, and bearing about him all the symbols of his rank...." The Texans gathered around Shaller and "manifested their wonder at the liberality of the [government's] appointing power." One of the Texas soldiers questioned whether Colonel Shaller was "a man, a fish, or a bird?" Another Texan conceded "that thing may be a man, but we don't call them men in Texas." At dawn the next day, as the colonel prepared for his morning horseback ride, he found that his "proud charger" had been defaced. During the night some of the Texas soldiers had shaved the horse's tail "sleek as an opossum's" and vandalized his saddle by cutting the girth. Shaller realized his predicament and left camp that morning, never to return.(24)
Other regimental appointments made by the Richmond government met a similar fate, although sometimes it took a few weeks before the soldiers accomplished their objective. Paul J. Quattlebaum, a West Point graduate of 1857 from South Carolina, was selected to serve as major of the Fifth Texas. The men gave him such a hard time that he resigned within a month. "Old Quattlebaum didn't stay ... long," one Texas soldier explained. The men "played on his name with verse and song. He said when he left them that if he had to associate with devils he would wait till he went to hell, where he could select his own company."(25)
John Marshall, the editor of the Texas State Gazette, also faced strong resistance when he was named lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Texas. Marshall's appointment was viewed with disdain by many as having been made in "the spirit of political favoritism." Upon his arrival in camp, chaplain Nicholas Davis observed that "Lt. Col. John Marshall brought out his camp chattles [sic] & left again in a few minutes. This is his debu[t]. And I suppose he is aware of the fact that the men received him in the same manner he has put himself off on the reg[iment]--By force."(26) Another soldier reported that Marshall was "too selfishly ambitious and ... conceited" to ever appreciate just how ill-suited for command he was.(27) In October 1861 Private Thomas J. Selman reported in his diary that Marshall drilled the troops and "made a perfect fool of himself' by giving the wrong orders. "When the parade was dismissed," Selman noted, "every company left the ground whooping & yelling & repeating Marshall's commands & crying aloud Marshall's tactics." By the following spring many in the regiment had had enough of Marshall's arrogance and incompetence, and over four hundred men signed a petition "asking him to resign." When Sergeant J. C. Roberts of Company C presented the petition, Marshall said "such a thing was very mortifying to him," but as the Richmond authorities "were satisfied with him ... he wanted to hear nothing more of it." Marshall was soon promoted to the rank of colonel but was killed in battle before the Fourth Texas could register further dissent.(28)
The stubborn refusal of the Texas volunteers to defer automatically to the officers appointed to command them underscores the lasting transformation brought about by the American Revolution. What the Texans expected and required of officers was leadership. As historian Edmund Morgan has explained, the word leader is very old, but the idea of leadership developed only with the rise of popular sovereignty in England and America. The emergence of the idea of leadership marked the decline of deference and the rise of a new pattern of social relations based on the presumed equality of all white men. During the Revolutionary era, internal conflicts to determine who should rule at home had hinged on just how far this idea of equality should be pushed.(29) Old colonial elites and newly emergent entrepreneurs who sought to claim gentleman status for themselves struggled to re-establish a hierarchical and ordered society, but populist leaders and movements generated by the radical ferment of the Revolution rejected the prerogatives of social superiority. They protected the interests of the people, standing against the pretensions of elite authority and defying the claims of esoteric know-how in politics, law, communications, medicine, and religion. In the South, the Revolution became a civil war--or to use one characterization, "an uncivil war"--as many common southerners, white and black, resisted the control of the Tidewater and Lowcountry slaveholding elites.(30) Everywhere throughout wartime America, any exercise of authority that was not sanctioned by what has been called "volitional allegiance" became suspect.(31) As all authority now derived from the people, it could be exercised only by winning and securing popular consent, and this involved submitting the covenant that bound leaders and followers to endless rounds of negotiation and accommodation.(32) The most successful officers of the Texas Brigade never forgot that their leadership of free men depended on a style of command that blended elements of both authoritarianism and popular sovereignty.
On May 21, 1863, General Robert E. Lee wrote to John Bell Hood, who then commanded a full division that included the Texas Brigade. Just a few weeks after the battle of Chancellorsville and the death of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Lee wrote, "I agree with you also in believing that our Army would be invincible if it could be properly organized and officered. There never were such men in an Army before. They will go anywhere and do anything if properly led. But there is the difficulty--proper commanders--where can they be obtained?"(33) Lee understood his soldiers better than most officers, but just what were the attributes of "proper commanders," and how were these qualities shaped by the expectations of ordinary soldiers? The Texas Brigade, like other units in the southern armies, was organized around the principle that soldiers were still citizens; consequently, they had a right to choose their leaders. By the time of the Civil War the practice of electing company and regimental commanders was well established.(34)
The regiments of the Texas Brigade had evolved from the old militia system. An important institution in early American life, militia service was universally compulsory, although in practice its terms reflected the perquisites of class privilege. Militia service gave non-elite men a claim to republican citizenship, even as it inculcated habits of deference and willingness to submit to constituted authority.(35) Meanwhile, wealthy men used militia service to augment the honor and status associated with their class. During the early years of the republic, however, the militia system was transformed, as common white men increasingly enjoyed the fruits of the democratization of American life.(36) Antebellum southern politics, for instance, became organized around the conflict between the privileged few and the producing many, and candidates and incumbents alike manipulated the popular dread that free men were being assailed by selfish, power-hungry, and meddlesome tyrants bent on telling others how they should think and behave. Getting elected and staying in office required politicians to stand guard, ready to challenge and repel any threat to personal liberty and local community control.(37) The terms and conditions of military service became voluntaristic, which meant that officers could no longer count on the residual effects of deference to secure obedience to orders.(38) Instead, officers had to persuade and cajole their men, explaining that what they were being asked to do was reasonable and necessary. In short, as the ideal of popular sovereignty became social fact, the dynamics of power in almost every component of American life were reversed.
The Texas soldiers' behavior was rooted in a culture of white male independence, self-mastery, and a free man's dominion over himself, his capacities, and his dependents, an ethos that persisted in the slave-holding South long after it had weakened elsewhere in the country. Yet this antebellum culture of personal autonomy was also linked to a collective tradition of liberty popular during the American Revolution, one that was at the heart of the older idea of states' rights advanced by Jefferson and Madison in 1798.(39) Much of the obstreperous and boastful individualism for which Texans and other Confederate soldiers became notorious was therefore rooted in corporate values that upheld the liberty of a group of free men to defend themselves against outside tyranny and oppression. When the Texas soldiers grumbled or protested against some abuse, real or imagined, they often did so as a group, acting in a collective capacity. For instance, the Fourth Texas acted as a group when ridding itself of Colonel Allen. The officers of the regiment lodged a formal protest, while the enlisted men ran him out of camp "amid the hoots and jeers of the boys." The common soldiers of the Fifth Texas had utilized similar tactics when they subjected Colonel Shaller to a shaming ritual that effectively ended his brief command of that regiment.
As the citizen-soldiers of Hood's Brigade defended their group rights, sometimes they borrowed time-honored methods of popular social control, especially the charivari. The charivari was a traditional way of upholding and defending a local community's rights and standards. Sometimes dubbed "rough music," a charivari featured a spontaneous outburst of shrieks and loud cries, with the clanging of pots and pans, the blowing of whistles and horns, and the ringing of bells adding to the cacophony. The hooting, jeering, whooping, and yelling were important elements of a popular ritual whose purpose was to subject a person or agent of authority to public shame and disapproval. The humiliating circumstances of Colonel Allen's abrupt departure from camp were capped off with heckling that signified his egregious failure to win the loyalty and support of those he was trying to lead. The Fourth Texas's treatment of Colonel Marshall was also redolent of the methods of the charivari. Every time Marshall tried to drill the regiment, the exercises ended with the men running from the field "whooping & yelling & repeating [his] commands & crying aloud [his] tactics." In addition to using shaming rituals to rebuke unpopular ofricers, the Texas soldiers also used these methods to chastise greedy merchants and civilians guilty of selfish and unpatriotic behavior.(40)
The Texas soldiers' use of the charivari to uphold the right to humiliate officers and other persons who offended them blended easily with their plebeian constitutional ideas. In fact, their participation in the formation of volunteer companies and regiments at the beginning of the Civil War was patterned after a fundamental premise of their concept of popular sovereignty--the practice of constitution-making by special conventions of the people. This idea emphasized the people's direct participation in the creation of constitutions, but, once ratified, citizens were obligated to obey the decisions of their elected representative bodies. (Of course, an appeal to the reserved natural right of rebellion as a last stand against tyranny always remained.) In the organization of local volunteer military units, white southern men adhered to this popular constitutional prototype by demanding the right to approve officers and to help shape how these units operated both in camp and in the field. After the election or approval of officers was completed and the beginning round of organizing was finished, however, volunteers were expected to obey orders and surrender a measure of their liberty to become effective soldiers. But just as a sovereign people would never submit to tyranny, a distinction was maintained between the duties expected of volunteers and the obligations demanded of professional soldiers. According to Sam Houston, the most widely acclaimed and highly honored citizen-soldier of Texas, volunteers possessed
one feeling common to all, which would lead every man to yield to his own promptings, rather than to the dictates of others, and to choose under whom they would be disposed to serve. It was a proper, a natural, a becoming pride, a high-toned patriotic feeling, which made our citizens willing to come forward in the hour of danger, to serve their country, and, if needful, to die in defence of their liberties; but it was a pride which ought not to be curbed and kept down by hard and unnecessary restrictions.(41)
Professional military service was viewed as a kind of bondage suitable only for "drudges" and "slaves"; such regular soldiering cut men off from the activities and experiences that nurtured and sustained the independence of republican producers and citizens.(42) Consequently, when volunteers joined a military unit they expected to have a say in how it was run, and this naturally meant choosing the company's captains, lieutenants, and noncommissioned officers from among their favorite neighbors and kinsmen. In the Texas Brigade, captains and lieutenants were elected by the troops; and although sergeants and corporals could be selected by the captain, in practice, even non-commissioned officers were usually elected rather than appointed.(43)
Usually the man who had done the most to organize and equip the company became its captain. For example, William H. Martin, a lawyer, farmer, stockman, and state senator, organized an infantry group from Henderson County that became Company K in the Fourth Texas Regiment. Not a wealthy man himself, Martin used his political connections to help outfit his men. In May 1861 Martin urged the State Adjutant General to hurry up and furnish his troops with arms. "Let me have arms," Martin swore, "and then I will go on the field with great pleasure." Martin was elected captain and led his "boys" throughout the war. Similarly, Edward D. Ryan, an Alabamian by birth and one of the most successful merchants in Waco, Texas, organized an infantry company from McLennan County. In May 1861, after county commissioners set aside $10,000 to buy firearms, they asked Ryan to do the purchasing. A month later he served on a committee authorized to buy uniforms and equipment for the county's volunteers. He was elected captain of the "Lone Star Guards" in the summer of 1861 and led the unit to Virginia, where it became Company E of the Fourth Texas Infantry. William P. Townsend, a planter from Mississippi, was authorized by officials in Robertson County "to purchase $2,500 worth of arms," and he was later chosen captain of what would become Company C of the Fourth Texas Regiment by a group of recruits from the western part of the county.(44)
Over 40 percent of the original captains in the Texas Brigade were lawyers. As we have already seen, six of the original ten captains in the Fourth Texas were lawyers. The number of lawyers who were elected captain is significant because it underscores the most essential ingredient of leadership in antebellum America: Whether in peace or war, leaders had to master republican language and behavior in order to win followers with both words and deeds. White southerners loved public speaking and storytelling, and lawyers were often the most gifted practitioners of these arts. A lawyer's skill in the courtroom, however, depended on more than eloquent and effective appeals to the emotions of jurors; it required them "to convince and instruct" members of a jury without appearing to patronize or coerce them. The business and economic collapse attendant to the Panic of 1837 sparked a rash of lawsuits, especially in the Old Southwest, and southerners hired lawyers as never before, making folk heroes out of some of those who, like Sargeant S. Prentiss of Mississippi, demonstrated a particular ability "to show to others what was the law." To coax and persuade fellow citizens using words "adapted ... to all grades and sorts of people"--this was the indispensable attribute of effective leadership in the Texas Brigade and throughout antebellum America.(45) Plain-folk soldier Val Giles noted (with just a tinge of anti-elitist resentment) that lawyers "held the best places in the army and ... the best places in civil life." But Giles did not blame lawyers as a group for getting all they could. "What's the use of being smart," he quipped, "if you can't make it pay?" The young Texas private explained that any class resentment felt by him and others was assuaged by the fact that military service tended to act as a social equalizer. "Lawyers who had commissions" in the Texas Brigade enjoyed little if any preferential treatment; in order to live up to the men's expectations, such officers had "to walk and rough it," and to fight and die, just like any of the enlisted men.(46)
Whether lawyer, doctor, merchant, or planter, a local leader without military experience and training could become an effective commander by winning a personal following. To gain the acceptance and loyalty of his men a company officer had to cultivate a style of command that was suited to the prickly independence of volunteer soldiers. This was achieved by demonstrating bold and decisive leadership, especially on the battlefield; fostered by approaching the problem of discipline and subordination in a spirit of negotiation and agreement; and perfected by being both patron and "father," as well as comrade and "friend," to the enlisted men. Leadership and command of Hood's Texas Brigade fell to tough charismatic leaders who could win and secure a personal following through repeated displays of bold decisive action. Based on traditional ideals of honor, personified by Andrew Jackson, and rooted in southern backcountry culture and tradition, this style of leadership figured prominently in the history of the American South and the American West. Finding and keeping such leaders during wartime, however, was particularly difficult, not least because both victory and defeat regularly cut down the best of these officers.(47)
Local leaders who became effective commanders in Hood's Texas Brigade first won a personal following by figuring prominently in the raising and equipping of enthusiastic volunteer units, but their continued success ultimately depended on their ability to take strong and forceful actions in camp and on the battlefield. No one exemplified such leadership better than John Bell Hood. Hood, a Kentuckian by birth, had graduated from West Point and was serving with a U.S. cavalry outfit on the Texas frontier just before the war broke out. He resigned his commission in April 1861 and offered his service to the Confederacy. He was eventually appointed colonel of the Fourth Texas and quickly rose in rank to become a brigade and divisional commander. Although Hood's direct command of the Texans lasted only six months (from March through October 1862), his men fought as Hood's Texas Brigade for the remainder of the war.(48)
The Texas volunteers approved of Hood's appointment because of his reputation as an Indian fighter on the Texas frontier, which accounts for his initial acceptance without much opposition. However, his continued success as a regimental, brigade, and division commander resulted from his frequent demonstrations of the qualities of bold and decisive leadership. Hood was an imposing man, standing six feet, two inches tall, with broad powerful shoulders and narrow athletic hips. Physically he was more than a match for any unruly young volunteer who might push for a fistfight. As colonel of the Fourth Texas and brigade commander of the unit composed of the only Texans to fight in Virginia, Hood's elan gained the respect and devotion of his men.(49) Robert Gaston, a volunteer in the First Texas Infantry, described a seemingly insignificant incident that nonetheless underscores the strong personal leadership that volunteers expected and demanded of their commanders. "At one time, as they were marching, the Brigade came to a creek about waist deep and very wide. They halted for Gen. Hood to come up to see what he would do. When he came up he dismounted & gave his horse to some of his attendants & plunged into it, telling the boys to follow him. They all went through without hesitation." The Texans followed Hood because he won their trust and respect through such confident actions.(50) A few weeks later the Texas soldiers of his new command purchased and presented General Hood a horse "as a slight testimonial" of their admiration. As Sergeant J. M. Bookman explained, this was not an act of servile flattery. "[A]s freemen and Texans," these soldiers claimed "the ability to discern, and the right to reward" outstanding leaders like Hood.(51)
The Texans' belief in Hood grew over time, cementing his ability to command them. The Texas soldiers demanded unhesitating, unflinching physical courage from all their officers, and the men were effusive in their praise of Hood's fearless demeanor. Speaking for many others, Private Val Giles described Hood as "the coolest man I ever knew." He explained what was expected of all officers on the battlefield. "An officer must exert himself to master his feelings and keep cool, for the eye of every man in the ranks is upon him.... Hood seemed made of steel." Another soldier confessed he "got mighty nervous and shaky" when the Texans prepared to make a desperate charge against a heavily fortified position at the battle of Gaines' Mill in June 1862. "But when I looked behind me," he later remembered, "and saw old Hood resting on one foot, his arm raised above his head, his hand grasping the limb of a tree, looking as unconcerned as if we were on dress parade, I just determined that if he could stand it, I would."(52)
Throughout the summer of 1862 (during which time the Texas Brigade fought in three major battles--Gaines' Mill, Second Bull Run, and Antietam), the unit suffered terrible losses: 1,780 casualties in just eighty-three days.(53) The crucible of the battlefield solidified the trust Hood had won among his men. In fact, by September 1862 the prospect of being led by anyone else during the Maryland campaign drove the Texans into open rebellion against the Confederate high command. Shortly before the campaign began, Hood had been placed under arrest after quarreling with his senior commander, Brigadier General Nathan G. Evans. As cannon bellowed in the distance, the Texas soldiers, on the march, found General Robert E. Lee, mounted on horseback drawn up on the side of the road. The lead troops recognized Lee and began to shout, "Give us Hood!" and "If there's any fighting to be done by the Texas Brigade, Hood must command it!" Meanwhile, Captain Edward Cunningham from the Fourth Texas rode up to Lee and asked that Hood be immediately restored to command. Cunningham explained that "the men were not willing to go into an engagement without him, and many had positively declared that they would stack arms on Gen. E[vans] before he should lead them." Raising his hat, Lee turned to the Texas soldiers and promised: "You shall have him, gentlemen." Lee sent for Hood and offered to restore him to command if he would merely express regret about the rift with Evans. Hood refused--but Lee gave him back his command just the same. The Texans welcomed Hood with a cheer and moved off down the road. Three days later, in some of the most savage fighting of the entire war, Hood and his Texas Brigade saved the Army of Northern Virginia's left flank at the battle of Antietam.(54)
Winning a following among volunteer soldiers also required officers who did not push or drive the men too hard regarding matters of military discipline. The Texans of Hood's Brigade found the transition from civilian to volunteer soldier a difficult one for two fundamental reasons. First, they complained bitterly about all impositions that constrained their physical freedom, especially the liberty to come and go as they pleased. Second, attempts to regulate closely the volunteers' personal habits and private behavior could generate an explosive response when they smacked too much of the master's power to control the most intimate details of a slave's life. The typical volunteer was a product of a rural environment and agrarian culture that placed a great deal of emphasis on the right of a free man to be the boss of his own affairs. Even young men not yet economically independent shared in this culture. But recruits quickly discovered that the army represented a system of hierarchy and discipline that often struck them as demeaning and oppressive. As Robert Gaston, a private in the First Texas regiment, wrote home in July 1861, "It goes very hard with our boys to be kept under military rule." A week later he grumbled about having to drill "6 hours every day." The discipline, regularity, and subordination of military life were suffocating, and he longed for the freedom of the wide open spaces back home. "You cannot imagine how anxious I am to see Texas," he wrote to his sister. "I am getting so tired of being penned up in cities and camps. I want to get to Texas once more, where I can ramble about in green woods."(55) Private James Hendrick made a similar complaint that same summer. "A good many of the company are dissatisfied with Colonel [Louis T.] Wigfall already because he keeps them too close. He won't allow any of us to go to town without first getting a permit from Captain Bass ... and getting him [Wigfall] to sign it. He has sentinals [sic] stationed all around the camp night and day."(56) Chaplain Nicholas Davis spoke for many of the Texas volunteers when he concluded that becoming a soldier required the forbearance of "bad treatment." Aggrieved volunteers discovered "that a soldier must be patient under wrong, and that he is remediless under injustice--that he, although the self-constituted and acknowledged champion of liberty, has, nevertheless, for the time being, parted with that boon, and, that he is but the victim of all official miscreants who choose to subject him to imposition."(57)
The citizen-soldiers of Hood's Brigade actively resisted being confined to camp, and their officers often relaxed the rules and overlooked violations. On the way to Virginia, Company E of the Fourth Texas Regiment spent an evening in New Orleans. According to one soldier, Captain Edward Ryan "issued orders ... not to leave the camp during the night, which disappointed the boys considerably." The boys grumbled loudly enough, and Ryan "soon countermanded his order" and "all went up in the city and got supper." It was not uncommon for the Texans to sneak away from camp and stay in town without permission. Some soldiers even wrote their own furloughs, forging the signatures of company and regimental officers.(58) On one occasion in February 1863 the Texas Brigade, marching through Richmond, suddenly broke ranks en masse, "going in search of ... liquid refreshments." General Hood watched as the Texans took their unauthorized leave, virtually tantamount to desertion, and told his brigade commander, "Never mind, General--never mind, you'll get them all back in the morning, or at any rate in time to lead them into the next fight."(59)
As Drew Gilpin Faust has contended, becoming a soldier was not unlike becoming an industrial worker. Both experiences required that persons unaccustomed to being watched and regulated become habituated to a new set of values and expectations oriented around self-control, personal discipline, and steady work habits.(60) In fact, the habits that good soldiering required clashed sharply with the southern backcountry tradition of natural liberty, or "elbow room." According to David Hackett Fischer, the idea of "natural freedom" was endemic to the southern backcountry settlements. A product of the borderlands culture carded from North Britain, Scotland, and northern Ireland to the Appalachian backcountry, it "was an idea at once more radically libertarian, more strenuously hostile to ordering institutions than were the other cultures of British America."(61) In frontier Texas, this idea of natural liberty had nurtured what Frederick Law Olmsted called a "system of `get along'" that put great emphasis on being free of any outside constraints, including burdensome physical labor. In his book about his 1854 trip through Texas, Olmsted had stigmatized this idea as the consequence of growing up "Southern fashion--with no training to regular industry."(62) The volunteer soldiers of Hood' s Brigade, themselves the products of such "Southern fashion," were keen to avoid tedious and repetitive acts of physical labor whenever possible. After the Texas regiments helped to dig fortifications in preparation for the Peninsula Campaign, one private opined that the Texans deserved their "reputation of being a lazy people." Shoveling alongside soldiers of the Eighteenth Georgia Regiment, the Texas private conceded that the Georgians "accomplished twice the amount of work in one day than we Texans did."(63) Another soldier observed that "Texans did not like digging, or any work of a menial sort."(64) One of the reasons the Fourth Texas rejected the appointment of Colonel R. T. P. Allen stemmed from the reports of recruits who had been at Camp Clark in Texas that he had required the men to perform menial tasks.(65)
The second major source of conflict concerning military discipline and subordination was a consequence of how slavery had shaped notions of freedom among the yeoman classes of the antebellum South.(66) The plain-folk volunteers of Hood's Texas Brigade were apt to rebel against any treatment that seemed redolent of a master' s power over his slaves; officers had to tread especially lightly in matters of discipline and punishment.(67) Within the Texas Brigade, delinquent soldiers were usually punished by being restricted to camp or forced to do extra duty, including clearing timber and removing debris from the campground. Thieves were humiliated, shamed, and drummed out of camp as their fellow soldiers watched--the kinds of ritual enforcement of community norms and traditional values that rural folk understood very well. Cases of insubordination could result in a court-martial and painful corporal punishment that brought disgrace to the guilty soldier. However, the enforcement of discipline and punishment of transgressions often threatened the fragile accommodation that mediated relations between officers and soldiers. Such a disruption occurred in the Fourth Texas Regiment in July 1863, just a week after the battle of Gettysburg. Eighteen-year-old private L. A. Daffan explained what happened. "While at Culpepper [Virginia] we had something of a riot in our regiment, caused by one of the regiment being ordered to wear a ball and chain, which we thought was a disgrace to our regiment and to the State of Texas. A number of us boys who did not know any better attempted to take him from the guard. Charges of mutiny were made against twenty-five of us, and we were put under arrest."(68)
Written years later after the cult of the Lost Cause had romanticized the war and magnified the heroic deeds of Confederate soldiers, Daffan's account only noted parenthetically that neither he nor the others "knew any better" at the time. But his amplifying comment was characteristic of many wartime reminiscences, which often glossed over the continuous conflicts that had taken place between officers and men concerning matters of discipline and subordination. Young Private Daffan and the others knew exactly what they were doing when they tried to rescue their fellow soldier. Athough enlisting as a soldier of the Confederate Army required soldiers to occupy a new social status somewhere between freedom and slavery, the ball-and-chain punishment had blurred the distinction beyond what they were willing to accept. General Lee agreed with the Texans, and through his intercession, the men were cleared of all charges.(69)
Conflicts also arose when officers tried to order and regulate the most mundane details of camp life. Officers were responsible, of course, for taking care that the men had adequate food, shelter, and clothing, but some officers went further and tried to improve the "efficiency" of soldiers by dictating what constituted acceptable personal habits and hygiene. In October 1861, for example, Private Thomas Selman complained about the demeaning experience of being physically inspected by officers of his regiment. "The Col. made all the soldiers stand out in front of their tents & unbutton their jackets to see if they had on clean shirts. It reminded me," he grumbled, "of an officer buying horses for the government as he passed [along] and viewed the men from head to foot." On another occasion Selman took offense when Colonel Hood had to decide whether he was fit to march. He looked at me, Selman bristled, "as if I had been a negro."(70) Texas soldiers chafed at such treatment and rebelled against intrusive efforts to supervise matters that free men considered private business. In October 1862, for example, Colonel J. C. Key ordered the soldiers of the Fourth Texas to wash their clothes in a nearby stream. The men considered the order foolish because they had no extra clothes to put on and there was no soap for washing. "Besides," as one soldier observed, "quite a stiff breeze blowing from the north the order was contemtably [sic] violated. Not a soldier pretended to wash a garment."(71) Body lice had become a widespread personal hygiene problem by the fall of 1862, and Colonel Key's order to bathe and wash clothing presumably was aimed at doing something about the filthy, disease-infested places that many encampments had become. Yet the Texas soldiers had found their own way of controlling the problem of body lice--they got rid of the pests by holding their clothes over an open fire.(72) In general, the yeoman volunteers making up the companies and regiments of the Texas Brigade resisted attempts to regulate their habits and behavior because an officer's power to inspect a soldier for personal cleanliness or to determine his fitness for active duty came perilously close to duplicating the power a master exercised over his slaves. And these yeoman volunteers understood that the master's power to regulate the most intimate details of a slave' s life was a hallmark of the great divide that separated bondage from freedom. The Texans bristled over any treatment, especially when it came from their "superior" officers, that cast the slightest doubt on their standing as free men.(73)
Despite efforts to maintain the tenuous balance between the authority necessary for effective fighting units and the submission that citizen-soldiers resisted as an assault on their republican manhood, problems of discipline continued to plague the Confederate armies. In September 1864 the Inspector General of the Army of Northern Virginia announced that "[t]here is not that spirit of respect for and obedience to general orders which should pervade a military organization." The Inspector General attributed much of the problem to the negligence of officers, but in fact he was conceding that the Confederate military system had failed to effectively transform volunteer citizens into regular soldiers. Just a few months later General Lee, a regular officer for thirty-one years, lamented the same "want of a strict observance of discipline" among the troops.(74) For the most part, however, the officers of the Texas Brigade had never really aimed for such a "strict observance of discipline." Commenting on General Hood's success as a commander and leader, one of his soldiers wrote in a wartime diary: "Though an old regular he had been in Texas long enough to learn Texas character. Therefore he did not draw the reins of true military discipline very tight ... issuing few orders and those quite lenient for sometime but gradually increasing." General Hood himself acknowledged that volunteer soldiers considered most orders "unnecessary, and even arbitrary, unless the officer in command illustrated to them the necessity thereof."(75)
An incident related by Miles Smith of Company D, Fourth Texas Infantry, shows just how well Hood understood his men:
The boys got in the habit of hallowing "Here's your Mule." This got to be offensive to Colonel Hood. One morning he had us formed on the parade ground and the adjutant read orders to us that "here's your mule," had to be stopped, As soon as ranks were broken it was worse than ever. Immediately thereupon the colonel had each sergeant of the companies to detail a man to catch these fellows. The detail didn't succeed. He (the colonel) undertook the job himself. He went to promenading the parade grounds, but hadn't gone far before some fellow away down behind would yell out, "Here's your mule." He would whirl around and start that way, when some fellow from behind again would hallow "Here's your mule." Next morning we were formed on parade again. The boys would say to one another "What do you reckon is up now." The adjutant walked out in front of us again and read the following: "Gentlemen, you will do me a very great favor to stop that hallowing, `here's your mule.' It doesn't sound at all gentlemanly, and I don't believe you would indulge in anything that would even appear ungentlemanly to a Confederate soldier. (Signed) J. B. Hood, Col. Com'd'g."
Miles Smith said he never heard "Here's your mule" again.(76)
The Texas troops gave the greatest loyalty and respect to those officers who could be readily approached by men in the ranks to hear complaints, consider requests, or help solve problems. These encounters regularly produced compromises and settlements, big and small, that shaped the behavior and performance of the Texas Brigade, both in camp and on the march. For example, Private Thomas Selman was standing guard one Sunday morning in December 1861 when Colonel Hood came up unexpectedly. Selman saluted and then asked the colonel for permission to sit by the fire to relieve the pain in his shoulder. "His reply," according to Selman, "was that he could not give me such permission. He said if my shoulder pained me, I had better call the Capt[ain] of the guard & be relieved so that I might sit by the fire." Although Selman had not gotten precisely what he wanted from the colonel, the young private was unperturbed by the outcome, since Hood had at least listened to his request and "talked very kindly."(77)
Another common example of the give-and-take between officers and men involved foraging. While the Army of Northern Virginia's executive command frequently discouraged and sometimes prohibited any unauthorized appropriation of civilian property, regimental and company officers often gave their soldiers permission to go into the countryside in search of food and other provisions. Early in the war soldiers either purchased these items or enjoyed the hospitality of patriotic civilians, but as the war dragged on they increasingly filched whatever they needed. For ordinary soldiers, foraging became a survival prerogative, albeit a right that was constantly being contested and readjusted. On a November morning in 1861, for example, a soldier from the Fourth Texas went to Colonel Hood's tent to report "he had found a pig & put it in a pen, asked if it was any harm." Hood had warned the men not to molest livestock, so, under the circumstances, Hood asked the soldier if he had bought the pig. Did the animal have an earmark? The private answered "no" to both queries, adding that he intended to fatten it up for slaughter. Hood then nodded his assent--provided the rightful owner did not come forward in the meantime. "This pleased the poor private and he turned off with a smile to dream of the dinner he would have when the pig got fat."(78)
Mediation and consent became especially critical during active campaigning, when discipline was more harshly enforced. At those times, the fine line between giving orders and negotiating for the men's approval was tested like at no other. Throughout the spring and fall of 1862 short rations, badly blistered feet, and chronic illness eroded the morale and sapped the vigor of the Texas troops in Virginia.(79) The physical hardship of long marches and desperate fighting also kindled a growing discontent with military authority. To forestall and check the resentment before it became explosive, the most effective officers did not threaten or coerce the men; instead, they listened politely and did what they could to provide some relief. In March 1862, for example, Private Selman told his captain he did not feel up to marching and asked if he could ride the railroad to Fredericksburg where the regiment was bound. The soldier was directed to present his request to Colonel Hood. At first Private Selman was angered by the way the colonel looked at him, apparently to determine his fitness, but then a compromise was struck. Could he march, Hood asked, if he was relieved of the burden of carrying a knapsack? Selman said yes and brought the knapsack to Hood, who put it in his personal wagon.(80) Just a month later this same soldier went to his captain, complaining that he "felt so unwell" he could not march. "Capt. Ryan told me," Selman said, "there was no possible chance for me to ride but that I need not try to keep up with the Regt., but march along with the wagons. He told me that I could remain at camp & come up with the balance of the sick...." Selman stayed behind with ninety-four other members of the regiment.(81)
Private Selman's status during these periods when he could not march or campaign was officially classified by the army as absent with leave or on detached service.(82) Both of these latter designations were used to describe the status of soldiers who were neither present for duty nor absent without leave. The number of Texans absent with leave or on detached service throughout the campaigning of 1862 was very high. In early October, less than a month after the carnage at Antietam, Colonel Jerome B. Robertson, commander of the Fifth Texas Regiment, reported that the unit's total strength was 853, with 272 men present for duty, another 69 sick, and 512 absent with leave or on detached service. The latter number represented 60 percent of the regiment.(83) While this classification included men detailed for purposes of scouting and foraging, it also seems to have included soldiers who, like Private Selman, dropped out of the ranks for a spell when the marching, fighting, and discipline became too severe. Military historians, echoing the complaints of Robert E. Lee during his Maryland campaign, have blamed such straggling--which at times reduced the Army of Northern Virginia by 25 percent---on physical exhaustion and logistical failures, such as a lack of sufficient food and shoes.(84) But a close accounting of troop strength in the Texas Brigade throughout the summer and fall campaigns of 1862 reveals that many soldiers who missed the Battles of Second Bull Run and Antietam were, like Thomas Selman and his messmates, absent by official leave. They had not deserted; rather, after negotiating with company and regimental officers for some rest or lighter duty, they had, in effect, quietly rebelled against being pushed too hard for too long.(85)
The respect and consideration that both Colonel Hood and Captain Ryan showed Private Selman, and others like him under their commands, were essential to morale and company cohesion, particularly given the circumstances that surrounded Hood's promotion to command of the brigade and John Marshall's promotion to colonel of the Fourth Texas Regiment in March 1862. Marshall's aristocratic bearing, his former political association with a group of militant Texas newspaper editors who had denounced and ridiculed the dignity of free white labor and the plain folk who lived by it, and his comic, awkward efforts to drill the troops sparked a near-rebellion within the Fourth Texas.(86) In the midst of the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, and just weeks before the bloody "Seven Days" during which the Texas Brigade would see its first heavy action of the war, the troops' resentment of Marshall became unbearable. One private wrote, "The discontent against Marshall is fast reaching a climax. Our Captains and Lieutenants have determined as soon as this battle flurry is over to hand in their petition for his removal. If he is not removed they will offer to resign. If their resignations are accepted the men will stack arms and rebel sooner than serve under Marshall with new officers and if they do not accept the resignations we can stack arms all the same. We would do it now but our Country's need demands that we be a unit and no dissentions [sic] among ourselves." General Hood prevented the rebellion within his old regiment by promising to personally lead the men into battle when the time came, a promise that he made good at Gaines' Mill, where he led the Fourth Texas in a desperate and successful frontal assault on the Federal line.(87)
Like all American soldiers, the Texas volunteers of Hood's Brigade grumbled about their officers, scorning those who comported themselves with pomp or social superiority. The Texans especially disliked any officer guilty of "putting on airs." The Fifth Texas rejected the appointment of Colonel Shaller, in part, because of his stiff aristocratic bearing.(88) First impressions of a leader, good or bad, were often determined by whether he seemed overly pretentious. In August 1861, for instance, Private Robert Gaston wrote home about his first impression of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. "He dresses as plain as a farmer," Gaston explained, "& (as the saying goes) never `puts on' on any occasion."(89) Reactions were also shaped by how the common soldier judged a particular officer's aspirations and motivations. When Jerome B. Robertson was promoted to colonel of the Fifth Texas Regiment, some members of his old company were happy to see him go. "Some of the boys condemn Capt. R for leaving the company," Private R. K. Felder told his mother, "but most of them are very willing to get rid of him as he thought more of enjoyment & promotion than he did of his company." Expressing his disgust, Felder added, "Our government certainly must be scarce of military men to appoint him Col. when he cannot drill a Company much less take care of it. We are very much disappointed in him."(90)
The Texas volunteers expected plain-dealing and respect from all company, regimental, and brigade commanders, but sometimes even this was not enough to satisfy the volunteers. In October 1862 Private Thomas Selman was assigned to Colonel Benjamin F. Carter's staff as an orderly. In his diary Selman complained that "I do not like the position I've had [today]. To set around as a waiting boy for officers is a business that don't suit me, though Col. Carter has treated me very politely all day." As several officers had brought personal slave attendants with them, common soldiers like Selman were all the more sensitive about acting "as a waiting boy for officers."(91)
The Texas volunteers resented officers who interfered with the traditional rights and prerogatives of citizen-soldiers or behaved in ways that impugned the honor and dignity of a free man. A soldier in the Fourth Texas, for example, accused Captain E. D. Ryan of "treachery" for trying to rig a company election. Private Selman and his fellow soldiers made a special point of thwarting what they considered to be Captain Ryan's ploy to get one of his favorites elected fifth sergeant. "Suffice to say," Selman concluded, "Capt. R. acted the dog." The next day, according to Selman, Captain Ryan "showed another evidence of his treachery" when he broke a promise that if any soldier were sent back to Texas to sign up new recruits, Selman would get the nod. When Ryan chose two other privates, neither of whom were good soldiers, Selman felt "imposed upon," exclaiming that "Capt. Ryan treated me like no gentleman would treat another and I can never forget him."(92)
The men elected captain by the Texas soldiers quickly discovered just how difficult a task it was to command subordinates and still remain an equal among equals at the same time. Tacitus Clay was elected captain of Company I, Fifth Texas Infantry, when his unit reached Virginia. Clay, the son of a planter, was the mayor of Independence, Texas, when the war began. After James J. Archer was appointed colonel of the Fifth Texas, Clay wrote a revealing letter to his wife concerning what it took to become an officer in the Texas Brigade. Describing Colonel Archer, Clay observed, "He is a little fellow about the size of George [his wife's brother], and may possibly be a very efficient man if in the Command of Regulars, but I fear he is not of the right type to control or give satisfaction to Texas volunteers and the dissatisfaction in and out of the ranks is very general and I think there is a movement on foot with our Captains to have him supplanted...." Notwithstanding his own credentials as a gentlemen and local leader in the rural community of Independence, Clay was unsure about how he would do if elected captain. It was "a position I have never sought," he confessed, "one that I fear I could not do much credit in--either to myself or [the] Company."(93)
Likewise, Captain William Townsend of Company C, Fourth Texas Infantry, had trouble winning the acceptance of the volunteers of his unit. In a letter to his wife in October 1861, he wrote: "Our Company is in the main doing well. Some discontent but nothing of moment. The discontented are the worthless ones--that would be dissatisfied anywhere."(94) In January 1862 these "discontented" troops generated a petition signed by forty-four men--a majority of the company--asking Captain Townsend and Lieutenant Decimus Barziza to resign. The petition came in the wake of a half-dozen men transferring out of the company "on account of not being pleased with Capt. Townsend." As Private Robert Foster explained the situation, Townsend's unpopularity was due to the perception that he was partial to the recruits from his home community and indifferent to the rest of the men. According to Foster, Townsend "burnt the petition, without even looking at it." Soon after, another petition was "gotten up."(95) Captain Townsend went home to Texas on furlough shortly thereafter, and when he returned to his command in April 1862, he found that his problems with the volunteers were still not entirely over. "The Company seemed real glad to meet me and I think we will all get along for the rest of the war excellently well," he wrote in a letter to his wife. However, he continued, "There were a few that were unfriendly and through their influence a number of others were made dissatisfied."(96) Townsend was eventually accepted by a majority of his men, largely because of his conspicuous bravery on the battlefield. One soldier said of him, "If there was a man in the regiment that was entirely devoid of fear it was Captain Townsend." Before he really had an opportunity to cement his leadership, however, he suffered a grievous wound, losing a leg at Second Bull Run in August 1862. He was discharged and sent home that fall.(97)
The most successful officers could both command and lead, knowing when to exercise a firm hand and when to submit to the popular will of the common soldiers. But having a sense of when to be tough and when to accommodate the men's pride was a ticklish matter that could be readily misinterpreted. One Texas soldier complained that "our officers as a body ... are nothing but a set of [upstarts]. They are very tyrannical for a day or two, then they are entirely too lenient." Timing as well as tact were critical elements of leadership and command.(98)
The fact that the volunteers were young men only complicated matters. Because of their experiences as teenage boys or partially emancipated adult men in their father's households, they already knew firsthand just how dependency felt. The majority of young recruits in Hood's Brigade were in their early twenties, which generally meant that, although they were no longer adolescents, they were not yet fully independent either.(99) The rhythm of rural existence in the newly settled Texas countryside dictated that young men like themselves would struggle for ten years or more to establish the managerial control over labor and land that came with setting up their own separate households. The "typical" nonslaveholder in Texas became a landowner in his late thirties. The "typical" slaveholder established an independent operation in his early forties.(100) The young adult men of Hood's Brigade were quite conscious of their predicament. Being caught up in the extended transition from dependency to independence, as they were, rendered the task of making them into soldiers who accepted the imperatives of "military rule" even more problematic.
In the words of the soldiers themselves, the officers who won the greatest loyalty and respect somehow fulfilled the implicit demand to serve as both friend and surrogate father to the men in their charge. Captain William H. Martin, Company K, Fourth Texas Infantry, embodied the admixture of authority, egalitarianism, and paternalism that the Texas volunteers expected of their officers. Martin was a lawyer, politician, and stockman from Henderson County. Before the war he had divided his time between serving in the Texas Senate, practicing law, and raising "hundreds of heads of cattle and hogs" in the woodlands of northeastern Texas. As previously described, Martin had organized a company of infantry comprised mainly of small farmers and herdsmen from his region. Martin became an exemplary officer because he knew how to be firm with subordinates but also when to treat his men with an egalitarian conviviality. His trademark manner of greeting superiors and inferiors alike was an outward sign of the easygoing informality that characterized his style of command; he acquired the nickname "Howdy" because of the casual wave he commonly substituted for the more formal military-style salute.(101)
Martin possessed all the attributes Texas volunteer soldiers expected and demanded of their officers. Bold and courageous in battle, informal and flexible in matters of discipline and subordination, Martin acted as both friend and father figure to his men. He interceded on their behalf when they ended up in the guardhouse; on one occasion, Martin even saved a soldier from the firing squad by personally carrying an appeal to the Confederate Cabinet. Naturally, he also took time to write letters home to grieving parents and wives when a soldier died from sickness or was killed in action. His devotion to his men continued even after the war, when he always proved willing to use his legal skills to help a former soldier who had gotten into a scrape with the law.(102)
In December 1864, when the Texas Brigade faced reorganization and consolidation with other equally decimated units, the men in the ranks expressed their strong disapproval by holding a meeting and asking Major Martin to go in person to President Jefferson Davis with "their protest against consolidation." The brigade's faith and trust in Martin was not misplaced. His eloquent and dramatic appeal won the support of Robert E. Lee, saved the proud unit from reorganization, and probably kept many of the soldiers from making an "attempt to escape the army."(103)
Years after the war, Val Giles recalled an incident involving Martin that captured the essence of what made him such a successful leader. In late June 1863, during the Gettysburg Campaign, Giles's company had crossed into Pennsylvania when he stepped out of the ranks to welcome Captain Martin, who was at the head of his "boys," coming along with a big cavalry saber slung over his shoulder like a squirrel rifle. "Captain," Giles shouted, "I have fallen back for reinforcements. I want you to help me capture the State of Pennsylvania." Martin laughed and grasped Giles affectionately by the arm and shoulder. Looking back on the incident, Giles noted, "So, arm in arm, a Captain and a Fourth Sergeant invaded the United States." "In this day and time," he added, "such familiarity as that between a captain and a noncommissioned officer would appear ridiculous in the eyes of strict disciplinarians, but Captain Martin was a man we all loved and could approach." Giles stressed that Martin "was the friend of the private soldier under any and all conditions."(104)
Were the attitudes and patterns of behavior exhibited by Hood's men peculiar to the Texas volunteers, or were they shared by other Confederate soldiers (and perhaps northern ones too)? The search for meaningful answers must begin by posing the right questions. Most historians who have studied common soldiers of the Civil War have emphasized the shared values and experiences of these men. James M. McPherson, for instance, has argued that men on both sides fought for values of liberty and republicanism. Similarly, Gerald Linderman has examined the critical role that notions of courage (defined as a "constellation of values" involving masculinity, godliness, duty, and honor) played among both Union and Confederate soldiers. These studies are part of a larger recent effort to understand the consciousness and worldview of the generation that went to war in 1861.(105) These works also stress what the experience of war did to the combatants. Linderman believes that by the end of the war, courage no longer mattered as it once had; it was a moot point once the soldiers had become bitter and defeatist, and many of them felt alienated for the rest of their lives. Some historians have challenged Linderman's thesis, but they have not rejected his focus on what the war did to the men who fought it. The issue of how soldiers reacted to the war, whether they became victims or victors "over the horrors of combat," continues to dominate the study of common soldiers.(106) This essay has explored a very different perspective, asking not so much what the war did to common soldiers, but rather what common soldiers did to the conduct of the war. By looking at a specific group of Confederate soldiers, Hood's Texas Brigade, one of the most famous combat units in the military history of the Civil War, it has sought to describe how and why the values and understandings of the men in the ranks shaped their soldiering in camp and on the battlefield.
This analysis of the social and cultural dynamics of leadership, command, and soldiering in the companies and regiments of Hood's Texas Brigade has focused on the perspective of the common soldiers. Drawn from twenty-four counties across east and central Texas, these soldiers represented a cross section of the Anglo population of Texas in 1860, and a majority were men of moderate means. They were led and commanded by an officer corps that was wealthier on average than they were, both in terms of real property and slaveholding. Class differences alone, however, cannot explain the conflicts that occurred between the officers and enlisted men. At least two other factors helped make their relationship a volatile one. First, the citizen-soldiers of the plain folk were products of a political culture that feared privilege, monopoly, and what was called "aristocracy"--any concentration of power, public or private, that put some adult white men under the control and domination of others. This political culture also nurtured a spirit of radical popular sovereignty. When young men volunteered, they demanded an ongoing say in shaping the terms and conditions of their service. In part, this meant not allowing any officer to treat them like professional soldiers, because subjecting a volunteer to the discipline and subordination of regular army life was equivalent to subjecting a free man in civilian life to the tyranny of a despotic ruler. For the young men of the Texas Brigade, either situation was equally repulsive. The second factor that sparked friction between the two groups involved the nature and organization of the army itself. The Confederate Army in fact represented a real class system, as rank, power, and privilege went to the few, while submission and subordination were the fate of the many. The whole system struck the typical volunteer as the very antithesis of republican liberty and equality.
In choosing company officers and accepting regimental officers appointed by Richmond, these young men proved to be enormously fussy about their commanders. Officers had to win the respect and trust of volunteer soldiers by meeting standards of leadership that were mostly set by the volunteers themselves. These Texas soldiers were far from being passive and powerless in their relationship with officers. To protect and defend their interests as citizen-soldiers, they appealed, both individually and collectively, to a vibrant Revolutionary-era tradition, one that had taken the "political fiction" of popular sovereignty, turned it into something tangible, and blended it with southern back-country modes of social control like the charivari. The result was a powerful form of popular tribunal, a mechanism that gave Texas soldiers the confidence and authority to resist any form of what they considered imposition or tyranny. Consequently, those who successfully commanded the Texas volunteers displayed a sophisticated understanding of the men they sought to lead. Recognizing the need for a negotiated process that could minimize confrontations and instead effect accommodations between them, the best officers simply accepted the relational and interactive nature of power and authority within the Texas Brigade and the Confederate Army in general.
It is this recognition of the common soldiers' power to shape military organization and command that has important implications for understanding the riddle of the antebellum southern social structure. Even within the framework of professional military organization and discipline, the common soldiers had a direct hand in shaping how the Confederate Army operated and fought. And if common soldiers could produce such results in the face of the centralized control established by the Confederate government and its War Department, it seems probable that, despite the unequal distribution of power in the antebellum South, the class dynamic joining and separating planters and yeoman farmers, slaveholders and nonslaveholders, urban professionals and plain folk, was more fluid, contingent, interactive, and multi-directional than the long-standing debate concerning wealth and power in the Old South has allowed. Plain folk such as those in Hood's Texas Brigade must be restored to the narrative of the antebellum South on their own terms, and this means recognizing that in all likelihood they had always drawn on their own understandings and experiences to frame their relationship with southern elites. As provocative and important as the republican synthesis has been for understanding the southern yeomanry, it has yet to really allow common whites to speak and act for themselves--and they, no less than any group of ordinary men and women from the past, deserve to be heard and understood as the people they really were.
(1) Donald E. Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis and Hood's Texas Brigade; Being an expanded edition of the Reverend Nicholas A. Davis's "The Campaign from Texas to Maryland, with the Battle of Sharpsburg" (orig. pub., Richmond, 1863; repr. ed., San Antonio, 1962), 57. The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers for the Journal of Southern History and his colleagues, R. J. Q. Adams, James Bradford, Joseph Dawson, Walter Kamphoefner, and William Page, for their thoughtful comments and suggestions. A shorter version of this article was presented at a meeting of the Southwestern Social Science Association, and the author thanks all of those who participated in that session. Finally, the author is grateful to Peggy Fox and the late Olene Powell for making his many visits to the Harold B. Simpson Confederate Research Center both pleasant and fruitful.
(2) Harold B. Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade: Lee's Grenadier Guard (Waco, Tex., 1970), 61-62 n. 14. The original source is Foster B. Womack, An Account of the Womack Family (privately printed; Waco, Tex., 1937), 11.
(3) For a succinct introduction to this debate see Randolph B. Campbell and Richard G. Lowe, Wealth and Power in Antebellum Texas (College Station and London, 1977), 3-12. See also Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese, "Yeoman Farmers in a Slaveholders' Democracy," in Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism (New York and Oxford, 1983), 249-64; and George M. Fredrickson, "Aristocracy and Democracy in the Southern Tradition: A Perennial Debate among Historians," in The Arrogance of Race: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality (Middletown, Conn., 1988), 134-41.
(4) See, for example, William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Vol. I, Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854 (New York and Oxford, 1990), 37.
(5) William L. Barney, The Secessionist Impulse: Alabama and Mississippi in 1860 (Princeton, 1974), 43. Many historians argue that racism, exploited through the mass appeal of herrenvolk democracy, was the principal device used by slaveholders to keep nonslaveholders subordinate. See George M. Fredrickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914 (New York and other cities, 1971), 61-70; Pierre L. van den Berghe, Race and Racism: A Comparative Perspective (New York, 1967), 17-18, 29; James Oakes, Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South (New York, 1990), 129-34; and Michael Wayne, "An Old South Morality Play: Reconsidering the Social Underpinnings of the Proslavery Ideology," Journal of American History, LXXVII (December 1990), 838-43.
(6) The republican synthesis has generated some very important studies of the southern yeomanry. See Steven Hahn, The Roots of Southern Populism: Yeoman Farmers and the Transformation of the Georgia Upcountry, 1850-1890 (New York and Oxford, 1983); Lacy K. Ford Jr., Origins of Southern Radicalism: The South Carolina Upcountry, 1800-1860 (New York and Oxford, 1988); and Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country (New York and Oxford, 1995). J. Mills Thornton III, Politics and Power in a Slave Society: Alabama, 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge and London, 1978), deserves special mention here. Thornton's is a brilliant and provocative book, yet his interpretation of Alabama's small farmers rests on an analysis of antebellum political culture that is construed essentially from the top down. None of the works cited above intentionally marginalizes the capacity of the yeoman classes to shape their own lives. Quite to the contrary, all of them take the yeomanry very seriously. Yet marginalization of the plain folk is sometimes the consequence of not letting ordinary rural people speak and act on their own behalf. For instance, when Stephanie McCurry argues that planters and yeomen stood together as freemen and masters, a shared status that derived from their control of property and dependents, she has to concede that this logic left small farmers with "no firm ground on which to protect their particular interests" as small independent producers (Masters of Small Worlds, 92). I strongly disagree with this conclusion, believing instead that southern yeoman farmers, like all groups of ordinary men and women, had their own cultural resources to draw upon to protect their unique interests. For a penetrating critique of republicanism see Daniel T. Rodgers, "Republicanism: The Career of a Concept," Journal of American History, LXXIX (June 1992), 11-38.
(7) For an assessment of the historical value of these letters and diaries as documents of social history, see Reid Mitchell, "The Northern Soldier and His Community," in Maris A. Vinovskis, ed., Toward a Social History of the American Civil War: Exploratory Essays (Cambridge, Eng., and other cities, 1990), 79.
(8) Just a few days after the Battle of Antietam, Lee wrote to General Lewis T. Wigfall concerning the possibility of raising some "new Texas Regiments" for the Army of Northern Virginia: "I rely upon those we have in all tight places, and fear I have to call upon them too often....with a few more such regiments as Hood now has, as an example of daring and bravery, I could feel more confident of the campaign." Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis, 153. See also Douglas Southall Freeman, R. E. Lee: A Biography (4 vols.; New York and London, 1934), II, 418. General Pender quoted in William W. Hassler, "Dorsey Pender, C.S.A., A Profile," Civil War Times Illustrated, I (October 1962), 19.
(9) Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command (3 vols.; New York, 1942-44), III, 751.
(10) When the Texas Brigade was organized, it included the First, Fourth, and Fifth Texas Regiments and the Eighteenth Georgia Infantry. Hampton's South Carolina Legion, comprised of eight companies of infantry, joined the brigade after the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862. The Third Arkansas Infantry replaced the Eighteenth Georgia and Hampton's Legion in November 1862 and fought with the Texans until the end of the war. Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 9, 107-8, 194-95.
(11) Jerome B. Robertson to Pendleton Murrah, October 25, 1864, in Harold B. Simpson, ed., Touched With Valor: Civil War Papers and Casualty Reports of Hood's Texas Brigade (Hillsboro, Tex., 1964), 65; Harold B. Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade: A Compendium (Hillsboro, Tex., 1977), 532-35; Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 468; Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants, III, 751.
(12) Campbell and Lowe, Wealth and Power, 46, 88-89 (quotation on p. 88).
(13) The data on Hood's Texas Brigade is based on a random sample of 10 percent of the original privates in the First, Fourth, and Fifth Texas Infantry Regiments. I compiled a list of original privates organized company by company using bimonthly muster rolls and service records for the Texas regiments. These documents are available in the National Archives, but I used microfilm copies kept at the Harold B. Simpson Confederate Research Center at Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas (hereinafter cited as SCRC). I also consulted the records compiled in Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade: A Compendium, 1-250. There were 2,552 original privates in thirty-two companies. My sample comprised 259 privates. Searching Schedule I of the U.S. Census of 1860 for Texas, I was able to collect data on 184 soldiers from this sample. I recorded information concerning age, occupation, and the amount of real and personal wealth. (If the sample soldier was not the head of the household and was propertyless, I recorded the father's wealth.) Schedule II provided data on slaveholding status and the number of slaves owned. If the sample soldier was a member of a slaveholding family, I recorded the number of slaves owned by the head of the household.
(14) We know very little about yeoman slaveholders and need a sophisticated analysis of how yeoman slaveholding status affected attitudes toward a whole range of economic and racial issues. In Texas they represented a majority of all slaveholders throughout the period 1840 to 1860. In the South Carolina Lowcountry, Stephanie McCurry has found that yeoman slaveholdings featured an "overrepresentation" of women and children. This pattern ensured that yeoman owners could not assume a purely managerial role in production. McCurry concludes that ownership of slaves "was not the fundamental dividing line between yeoman and planter." McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds, 48-52 (quotations on pp. 48-49).
(15) The names of original and substitute captains were taken from Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade: A Compendium. Data concerning occupations, wealthholding status, and ownership of slaves came from Schedules I and II of the U.S. Census of 1860 for Texas. If original and substitute captains had no slaves but were part of a slaveholding family, I recorded the status of their fathers or mothers.
(16) David Donald, "The Confederate as a Fighting Man," Journal of Southern History, XXV (May 1959), 183-86.
(17) Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade: A Compendium, 1-250.
(18) Fred Arthur Bailey, Class and Tennessee's Confederate Generation (Chapel Hill and London, 1987), 78, 86; John B. Boles, The South Through Time: The History of an American Region, 2d ed. (2 vols.; Upper Saddle River, N.J., 1999), I, 210-11; McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds, 104-5.
(19) For this view of antebellum southern politics see J. Mills Thornton III, "The Ethic of Subsistence and the Origins of Southern Secession," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, XLVIII (Summer 1989), 67-85; and Thornton, Politics and Power.
(20) Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 61-62.
(21) Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis, 44.
(22) For the role of honor in southern culture and society see Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (New York and Oxford, 1982); Elliott J. Gorn, "`Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch': The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry," American Historical Review, XC (February 1985), 18-43, esp. 39-41; Edward L. Ayers, Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the 19th-Century American South (New York and Oxford, 1984), chap. 1; Dickson D. Bruce Jr., Violence and Culture in the Antebellum South (Austin and London, 1979), chaps. 1-4; and Richard White, "Outlaw Gangs of the Middle Border: American Social Bandits," Western Historical Quarterly, XII (October 1981), 387-408. Elliott Gorn has pointed out that Wyatt-Brown's analysis of honor is rooted in a "static and superorganic concept of culture" that de-emphasizes the variables of social and cultural diversity and minimizes the impact of historical change. As Gore suggests, we need to refine Wyatt-Brown's all-encompassing concept by examining how the practice of honor varied across the social and class differences that separated planters and yeomen. See Gore, "Gouge and Bite," 40 n. 73.
(23) Mary Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope: The Recollections of Val C. Giles, Four Years with Hood's Brigade, Fourth Texas Infantry (New York, 1961), 47.
(24) Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis, 45-46 (first through fourth quotations); Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 63-64 (fifth quotation on p. 64 n. 22). It should also be noted that the Texas soldiers' reaction to Colonel Shaller was also based in part on the fact that he was Jewish; Chaplain Davis's description of the incident includes several anti-Semitic remarks.
(25) Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 47-48 (quotations); Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 64, 93; Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army ... (2 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1903), I, 810.
(26) Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 43; Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 62--63. Nicholas A. Davis diary, October 8, 1861 (Special Archives & Collections, Coates Library, Trinity University, San Antonio, Tex.) (both quotations). Much of this diary is also interpolated in the edited version of Davis's reminiscences; see Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis.
(27) Joseph B. Polley diary, 51, SCRC.
(28) Thomas J. Selman diary, October 21, 1861 (first and second quotations), and March 30, 1862 (third and fourth quotations), typescript, SCRC. See also the entry for March 25, 1862; Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 44; and Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 122-23.
(29) Edmund S. Morgan, Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America (New York and London, 1988), 288-306; Morgan, "The Great Political Fiction," New York Review of Books, March 9, 1978, 13-18.
(30) For the radicalism of the American Revolution see Alfred F. Young, "How Radical Was the American Revolution?" in Young, ed., Beyond the American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism (DeKalb, Ill., 1993), 317-64; Gordon S. Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York, 1992); Edward Countryman, The American Revolution (New York, 1985); Alan Taylor, Liberty Men and Great Proprietors: The Revolutionary Settlement on the Maine Frontier, 1760-1820 (Chapel Hill and London, 1990); Michael Merrill and Sean Wilentz, eds., The Key of Liberty: The Life and Democratic Writings of William Manning, "A Laborer," 1747-1814 (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1993); Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven and London, 1989), 22-46; Alan Taylor, William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic (New York, 1995); and Charles E. Brooks, Frontier Settlement and Market Revolution: The Holland Land Purchase (Ithaca and London, 1996). For the Revolution in the South see Ronald Hoffman, Thad W. Tate, and Peter J. Albert, eds., An Uncivil War: The Southern Backcountry during the American Revolution (Charlottesville, Va., 1985); Jeffrey J. Crow and Larry E. Tise, eds., The Southern Experience in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, 1978); Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension: Economics, Politics and the Revolution in Maryland (Baltimore and London, 1973); Richard R. Beeman, Patrick Henry: A Biography (New York and other cities, 1974); Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790 (Chapel Hill, 1982); and Sylvia R. Frey, Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age (Princeton, 1991).
(31) For the importance of volitional allegiance as a consequence of the transformation resulting from the American Revolution, see James H. Kettner, The Development of American Citizenship, 1608-1870 (Chapel Hill, 1978), 173-209. See also Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (Chapel Hill, 1969), 483-99; and Edmund S. Morgan, The Challenge of the American Revolution (New York, 1976), 211-18.
(32) The concept of negotiation and accommodation is now a commonplace for social histori ans, but, as James Oakes has recently pointed out, "`negotiation' has become a mantra more than an insight." Historians who employ this important idea must demonstrate how the encounter between high and low, elite and non-elite, master and slave, officer and enlisted man fundamentally shaped and reshaped the historical process. In the context of this article the challenge is to show how the give and take, mediation and agreement between officers and common soldiers structured how one famous combat unit in the Army of Northern Virginia operated and fought. See James Oakes, "Slaves Without Contexts," Journal of the Early Republic, XIX (Spring 1999), 103-9 (quotation on p. 106). For a different evaluation of the concept of negotiation see Philip D. Morgan, Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry (Chapel Hill and London, 1998), xxii.
(33) The text of this letter is found in John B. Hood, Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate Armies (New Orleans, 1880; repr., New York, 1993), 52-53.
(34) Donald, "Confederate as a Fighting Man," 178-93; Gerald F. Linderman, Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War (New York and other cities, 1987), 40, 169-70, 229.
(35) For the role of the militia in eighteenth-century America see Morgan, Inventing the People, 153-73; and David Waldstreicher, In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (Chapel Hill and London, 1997), 156-60.
(36) See Hatch, Democratization of American Christianity, 3-46.
(37) Thornton, Politics and Power.
(38) Marcus Cunliffe, Soldiers and Civilians: The Martial Spirit in America, 1775-1865 (Boston, 1968), 223-30; Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War (Chicago, 1996), 156-58, 172.
(39) Ford, Origins of Southern Radicalism, 52-53, 351-52, 360-62, 372-73; Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (New York, 1997), 206-52; McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds, 37-91,239-76. For the connection between collective liberty and old states' fights see Ethelbert Dudley Warfield, The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798: An Historical Study (New York and London, 1894), 181, 184, 187-89; Gaillard Hunt, ed., The Writings of James Madison, Vol. IX, 1819-1836 (New York, 1910), 383-403; and Richard E. Ellis, The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy, States' Rights and the Nullification Crisis (New York and Oxford, 1987). See also Joyce Appleby, Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790's (New York and London, 1984), 16. For an interesting discussion of rights in a social rather than individual context, see William J. Novak, The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill and London, 1996), 32-35, 244-45.
(40) Bryan D. Palmer, "Discordant Music: Charivaris and Whitecapping in Nineteenth-Century North America," Labour/Le Travailler 3 (1978), 5-62. In a southern context see Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor, 435-61; and Charles L. Flynn Jr., White Land, Black Labor: Caste and Class in Late Nineteenth-Century Georgia (Baton Rouge and London, 1983), 44 49. For use of the charivari to express popular political and constitutional grievances, see Saul Cornell, The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828 (Chapel Hill and London, 1999), 111. For an example of the Texas troops using a charivari against greedy camp suffers, see Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 54-57.
(41) My analysis of how the Texas soldiers' popular constitutional ideas influenced their soldiering is based on several of Sam Houston's speeches in the U.S. Senate. See Sam Houston, "Speech in the United States Senate, January 22, and February 1, 1847, in favor of Volunteer Forces," in Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1821-1847, Vol. IV (Austin, 1941), 504-22 (quotation on p. 521); see also Houston, "Against Increasing the Regular Army," in Williams and Barker, eds., Writings, Vol. VI, 466-86, esp. 473-74.
(42) Concerning the principles of American constitutionalism see Alfred H. Kelly, Winfred A. Harbison, and Herman Belz, The American Constitution, Its Origins and Development, 6th ed. (New York and London, 1983), 64-73; Morgan, Inventing the People, 263-87; Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (New York, 1996), 18, 101, 105-7, 112, 116, 130, 155; and Cornell, Other Founders, 81-120. For an incisive account of the place of popular sovereignty in American constitutional thought in James Madison's own words, see his "Notes on Nullification," in Hunt, ed., Writings of James Madison, IX, 573-607.
(43) Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 60 n. 9.
(44) Ibid., 19-20; J. J. Faulk, History of Henderson County, Texas (Athens, Tex., 1929), 54-55, 129, 118-19; Harold B. Simpson, Gaines' Mill to Appomattox: Waco & McLennan County in Hood's Texas Brigade (Waco, Tex., 1963), 31; Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 14; Riely Leon Townsend, comp., Genealogy of the Townshend-Townsend Family (Oklahoma City, 1973), 256-58; Richard Denny Parker, Historical Recollections of Robertson County, Texas (Salado, Tex., 1955), 38.
(45) Joseph G. Baldwin, The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi: A Series of Sketches (New York, 1853; repr., Baton Rouge and London, 1987) (first and second quotations on p. 202; third quotation on p. 200). On the Panic of 1837 in the South see Charles S. Sydnor, The Development of Southern Sectionalism, 1819-1848 (Baton Rouge, 1948), 262-64; and Baldwin, Flush Times, 239-46. For more on the rhetorical culture of the antebellum South in which attorneys flourished, see W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (New York, 1941), 52, 79; and Perry Miller, The Life of the Mind in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War (New York, 1965), 139-40, 186. See also Alan Taylor, "`The Art of Hook & Snivey': Political Culture in Upstate New York during the 1790's," Journal of American History, LXXIX (March 1993), 1371-96, esp. 1394; Gerard W. Gawalt, The Promise of Power: The Emergence of the Legal Profession in Massachusetts 1760-1840 (Westport, Conn., and London, 1979); and Taylor, William Cooper's Town, 229-91. On the role of local juries see Comell, Other Founders, 120.
(46) Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 48 (quotations).
(47) See David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York and Oxford, 1989), 772-76; White, "Outlaw Gangs of the Middle Border," 402-6; Gorn, "`Gouge and Bite'," 40-41; Richard Maxwell Brown, "Violence," in Clyde A. Milner II, Carol A. O'Connor, and Martha A. Sandweiss, eds., The Oxford History of the American West (New York and Oxford, 1994), 393-425. See also Barney, Secessionist Impulse, 142; Edwin Arthur Miles, Jacksonian Democracy in Mississippi (Chapel Hill, 1960), 167-69; and William J. Cooper, The South and the Politics of Slavery, 1828-1856 (Baton Rouge and London, 1978), 5-11.
(48) John B. Hood is a controversial figure in Confederate military history. Terrence V. Murphy has written: "As a soldier, Hood was without peer in the Confederate army as a leader at the brigade and divisional levels. He was able to inspire his men and make them follow him despite the odds. His troops, man for man, were judged perhaps the best combat troops in the Army of Northern Virginia. Above the divisional level, however, Hood was a failure." Murphy, "John Bell Hood," in Richard N. Current, ed., Encyclopedia of the Confederacy (4 vols.; New York and other cities, 1993), II, 789-91 (quotation on p. 790). See also Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 88, 193; Richard M. McMurry, John Bell Hood and the War for Southern Independence (Lexington, Ky., 1982; repr., Lincoln, Nebr., 1992); Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants, I, lii; II, xxviii-xxx; III, xxviii; and Ralph A. Wooster, Texas and Texans in the Civil War (Austin, 1995).
(49) Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 42; McMurry, John Bell Hood, 5, 27; Murphy, "John Bell Hood," 789.
(50) Robert Gaston to his father and mother, April 26, 1862, R. H. and W. H. Gaston, Company H, First Texas Infantry, file 1-7b, Hood's Texas Brigade Papers, SCRC (hereinafter as HTBP). For other accounts of this incident, see Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 67; and Selman diary, April 8, 1862, SCRC.
(51) Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis, 57.
(52) Giles, Rags and Hope, 151-52 (first quotation); J. B. Polley, A Soldier's Letters to Charming Nellie (New York, 1908), 57 (second and third quotations). For the importance of courage among Civil War soldiers see Linderman, Embattled Courage.
(53) Donald S. Frazier, "Hood's Texas Brigade," in Current, ed., Encyclopedia of the Confederacy, II, 791.
(54) Freeman, R. E. Lee, II, 370; J. B. Polley, Hood's Texas Brigade: Its Marches, Its Battles, Its Achievements (New York, 1910), 114; Polley, Soldier's Letters, 83-84 (quotations on p. 84); Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis, 125. For accounts of the Battle of Antietam see James V. Murfin, The Gleam of Bayonets: The Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign of 1862 (New York and London, 1965); and Stephen W. Sears, Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam (New Haven, 1983).
(55) Robert Gaston to his father and mother, July 21, 1861, July 30, 1861; and Robert Gaston to his sister, August 1, 1861, all in HTBP.
(56) James H. Hendrick to his mother, July 20, 1861, Company E, First Texas Infantry, file 1-10, HTBP.
(57) Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis, 36.
(58) Selman diary, August 30, 1861 (quotations); January 23, 1862, SCRC.
(59) Polley, Soldier's Letters, 100.
(60) Drew Gilpin Faust, "Christian Soldiers: The Meaning of Revivalism in the Confederate Army," Journal of Southern History, LIII (February 1987), 63-90, esp. 73-75.
(61) Fischer, Albion's Seed, 777-82 (quotation on p. 777).
(62) Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey Through Texas Or, a Saddle-Trip on the Southwestern Frontier (New York, 1857; repr., Austin, Tex., 1978), 67, 121. On southern leisure and laziness see Forrest McDonald and Grady McWhiney, "The South from Self-Sufficiency to Peonage: An Interpretation," American Historical Review, LXXXV (December 1980), 1095-118. My own work on frontier land use argues that the high ratio of land to labor encouraged small farmers and herdsmen in the early American countryside to conserve labor and spend land, hence the charge of laziness misses the point. For a discussion of land-to-labor ratios in the early American countryside see Brooks, Frontier Settlement, 46-81, 90-91, esp. 49-51, 80-81.
(63) Polley diary, 45, SCRC.
(64) Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 52. See also Polley, Soldier's Letters, 23-24.
(65) Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 61-62 n. 14.
(66) On this point see Hahn, Roots of Southern Populism, 89-90; McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds, 229-35, 238; and Ford, Origins of Southern Radicalism, 351-53, 360. Slavery served as a reference point for ideas of freedom among common farmers of the North too. A western New York farmer remembered a mn-in he had with an employer in April 1847, when he was a young man of twenty-two. "I made one discovery during the first month and that was I was supposed to be the nigger and he the master, that was all right. In one sense I always supposed that a man Should be Boss of his own affairs but I never could see the propriety and don't to this day think it policy for any man Employing laborers to treat them like brutes and no man that is endowed with a proper sense of his manhood will submit to any such regulation--consequently I told him he made too great a distinction between Employer and laborer. It might do in countrys farther south but up in the free state of New York all men whether rich or poor had certain rights and if they were possessed of the right Spirit would maintain their rights whether congenial to the moneyed aristocracy or otherwise." Quoted in James M. Marshall, Land Fever: Dispossession and the Frontier Myth (Lexington, Ky., 1986), 42.
(67) Faust, "Christian Soldiers," 73-74. As discussed above, the volunteers' resentment also stemmed from the stigma attached to being treated like regular soldiers. See Edward M. Coffman, The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime, 1784-1898 (New York and Oxford, 1986), 23, 156, 197-98, 201,210; and Russell F. Weigley, History of the United States Army (New York, 1967), 19-20, 28, 63, 129, 187-88, 231-32. For problems related to the administration of discipline see James I. Robertson Jr., Soldiers Blue and Gray (Columbia, S.C., 1988), 132-33; and Bell Irvin Wiley, The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (Indianapolis, 1943; repr., Baton Rouge, 1978), 235-43. See also Selman diary, September 25, 1861; October 14, 1861, SCRC.
(68) L. A. Daffan autobiography, 39, Company G, Fourth Texas Infantry, file 2-8, HTBP.
(69) Ibid., 39. For the cult of the Lost Cause see Thomas L. Connelly and Barbara L. Bellows, God and General Longstreet: The Lost Cause and the Southern Mind (Baton Rouge and London, 1982); and Mark E. Neely Jr., Harold Holzer, and Gabor S. Boritt, The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause (Chapel Hill and London, 1987).
(70) Selman diary, October 20, 1861; March 10, 1862, SCRC.
(71) Ibid., October 20, 1862.
(72) Wiley, Johnny Reb, 250-51; Selman diary, October 14, 1862, SCRC.
(73) For this view of the essence of American slavery see Peter Kolchin, American Slavery, 1619-1877 (New York, 1993), 111-35, 152, 153-54, 166-67; and Oakes, Slavery and Freedom, 144-46.
(74) Wiley, Johnny Reb, 243 (both quotations).
(75) Polley diary, 38, SCRC (first quotation); Hood, Advance and Retreat, 19 (second quotation). On another occasion Polley observed: "Never did I see or know a man to rise higher and move more quickly in the estimation of others than did Col. Hood. Well versed in human nature and thoroughly understanding the peculiarities of Texans character. Knowing full well that volunteers would not submit to the same restriction that would be imposed on regulars he so tempered his conduct towards as to win our favor at once." Poiley diary, 51.
(76) M. V. Smith, Reminiscences of the Civil War (h.p., n.d.), 7, in Company D, Fourth Texas Infantry, file 2-34, HTBP.
(77) Seiman diary, December 22, 1861, SCRC.
(78) Ibid., November 25, 1861.
(79) For the campaigns of 1862 see Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 109-83.
(80) Selman diary, March 10, 1862, SCRC.
(81) Ibid., April 14, April 15, 1862.
(82) Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis, 199, 208.
(83) Simpson, ed., Touched With Valor, 31.
(84) For straggling and desertion during the Maryland campaign see Gary W. Gallagher, ed., Antietam: Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign (Kent, Ohio, and London, 1989), 10-11, 41-46, 54, 85.
(85) For studies that link straggling and desertion to growing discontent among ordinary Confederate soldiers, see Paul D. Escott, After Secession: Jefferson Davis and the Failure of Confederate Nationalism (Baton Rouge and London, 1978), 125-28; Hahn, Roots of Southern Populism, 124-25, 128-29; and Oakes, Slavery and Freedom, 135-36.
(86) John L. Waller, Colossal Hamilton of Texas: Militant Unionist and Reconstruction Governor: A Biography of Andrew Jackson Hamilton (El Paso, Tex., 1968), 16-17; Larry Jay Gage, "The Texas Road to Secession and War: John Marshall and the Texas State Gazette, 1860-1861," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, LXII (October 1958), 191-226.
(87) Joseph B. Polley to his mother, June 10, 1862, SCRC (quotation). See also Selman diary, October 21, 1861; March 14, 1862; March 21, 1862; March 25, 1862; March 27, 1862; March 30, 1862, SCRC; Davis diary, October 8, 1861; October 21, 1861, Coates Library; Polley diary, 50-51, SCRC; and Polley, Hood's Texas Brigade, 46.
(88) Everett, ed., Chaplain Davis, 45-46.
(89) Robert Gaston to his sister, August 1, 1861, file 1-7b, HTBP.
(90) Rufus K. Felder to his mother, March 3, 1862, Company E, Fifth Texas Infantry, file 3-13, HTBP.
(91) Selman diary, October 3, 1862, SCRC.
(92) Ibid., February 4, 1862; February 5, 1862, SCRC.
(93) Tacitus Clay to his wife, October 6, 1861, Company I, Fifth Texas Infantry, file 3-9, HTBP.
(94) William P. Townsend to his wife, October 3, 1861, Company C, Fourth Texas Infantry, file 2-40, HTBP.
(95) Robert V. Foster to his father and mother, November 7, 1861; and Foster to his sister. January 17, 1862, both in Company C, Fourth Texas Infantry, file 2-13, HTBP.
(96) William P. Townsend to his wife, April 30, 1862, file 2-40, HTBP.
(97) Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 49. Townsend returned to Calvert, Texas, where he lived until his death on October 24, 1882. After the war ended General Jubal A. Early, an old friend of Captain Townsend, fled to Texas after refusing to take an oath of allegiance. He found his way to Townsend's plantation and stayed there for some time. When Early headed out for Mexico and Cuba, he thanked his old friend by giving him one of his army pistols, which is still in the family's possession. Parker, Historical Recollections of Robertson County, 203.
(98) Wiley, Johnny Reb, 235; E. O. Perry to his father, December 7, 1861, in Harold B. Simpson, ed., "Whip the Devil & his Hosts," Chronicles of Smith County, Texas, VI (Fall 1967), 35.
(99) Ralph A. Wooster and Robert Wooster, "`Rarin' for a Fight': Texans in the Confederate Army," in Ralph A. Wooster, ed., Lone Star Blue and Gray: Essays on Texas in the Civil War (Austin, 1995), 54. For an analysis of yeoman dependence see McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds, 56-61. For the story of the erosion and breakup of patriarchal household authority, see Carole Shammas, "Anglo-American Household Government in Comparative Perspective," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., LII (January 1995), 104-44.
(100) On this point see Richard G. Lowe and Randolph B. Campbell, Planters and Plain Folk: Agriculture in Antebellum Texas (Dallas, 1987), 188.
(101) Faulk, History of Henderson County, 54-55 (quotation); Mildred and George Bond, Alexander Carswell and Isabella Brown: Their Ancestors and Descendants ... (Chipley, Fla., 1977), 344-46, 495-97; Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 30. The Texas Brigade referred to Robert E. Lee as both the "father and friend of his army." See "Resolutions of the Texas Brigade," January 24, 1865, the text of which can be found in Simpson, ed., Touched With Valor, 102-4 (quotation on p. 104).
(102) Bond, Ancestors and Descendants, 346; William H. Martin to Roxanne Edwards, August 13, 1862, Company K, Fourth Texas Infantry, file 2-12, HTBP.
(103) Mrs. A. V. Winkler, The Confederate Capital and Hood's Texas Brigade (Austin, 1894), 207-9 (quotations on p. 208); Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade, 454-56.
(104) Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope, 176-77.
(105) James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (New York and Oxford, 1997); Linderman, Embattled Courage, 7-16 (quotation on p. 8). See also Michael Barton, Goodmen: The Character of Civil War Soldiers (University Park, Pa., and London, 1981); Larry J. Daniel, Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee: A Portrait of Life in a Confederate Army (Chapel Hill, 1991); Joseph Allan Frank and George A. Reaves, "Seeing the Elephant": Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh (Westport, Conn., 1989); Joseph T. Glatthaar, The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman's Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns (New York, 1985); Reid Mitchell, The Vacant Chair: The Northern Soldier Leaves Home (New York and Oxford, 1993); Earl J. Hess, Liberty, Virtue, and Progress: Northerners and Their War for the Union (New York and London, 1988); Randall C. Jimerson, The Private Civil War: Popular Thought During the Sectional Conflict (Baton Rouge and London, 1988); Mark Grimsley, "In Not So Dubious Battle: The Motivations of American Civil War Soldiers," Journal of Military History, LXII (January 1998), 175-88.
(106) Earl J. Hess, The Union Soldier in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat (Lawrence, Kans., 1997), ix.
MR. BROOKS is an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University.…