1858 - October 1861

 

In the spring and summer of 1861, the Richmond government issued three levies on Texas troops for service in the Confederate army. Eleven companies of men answered the first two levies, and another 20 companies answered the third call. Among the latter was a local militia group, the Quitman Rifles, which had been organized at Austin in 1858. Before the Quitman Rifles marched off to their first camp of instruction at Camp Clark on the nearby San Marcos River, the citizens of Austin contributed $1000 to equip their future home-town heroes. The company was presented with two flags, one in April and one in June, by leading ladies in the Austin social circles. Shortly thereafter, the Quitman Rifles became known as the Tom Green Rifles, in honor of their commandant at Camp Clark. In late July, the companies formed under the third levy gathered at Camp Van Dorn in Harrisburg, Texas, for debarkation to Virginia. On August 16, the first five companies, including the Tom Green Rifles, began their long journey to Richmond.

 

During their trek east, the Texas troops experienced the first of what would be many hardships over the next four years. Val Giles, a member of the Tom Green Rifles, wrote after the war that ``our march across Louisiana ... will never be forgotten by any surviving soldier who made it. For twelve days and nights it rained continuously.'' Giles' company arrived at Richmond on September 12. After reaching the destination, the troops were formally organized into regimental companies bearing numbers and letters representing the order of their departure from Camp Van Dorn. The Tom Green Rifles, led by Captain Benjamin F. Carter, was the second company to depart Camp Van Dorn and officially became Company B of the Fourth Texas Volunteer Infantry on September 30, 1861.

 

By October 1861, all the companies raised in Texas for service in Virginia, except one, had completed their journey eastward. (Company M of the First Texas would not arrive until April 1862.) While the company officers were elected by their own troops, the regimental and staff officers were appointed by Richmond authorities. The first man to be appointed colonel of the Fourth Texas was R. T. P. Allen, the former drill instructor at Camp Clark. Disliked as an overbearing martinet, Allen was rejected by his troops in a matter of hours. In his place was appointed John Bell Hood, a native Kentuckian whose name would be forever synonymous with the Texas Brigade. Hood's colonelcy of the Fourth Texas officially began September 30, 1861. John Marshall, editor of the Texas State Gazette of Austin and the man most responsible for bringing the 20 companies of Texans to Virginia, was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Texas. Marshall had no formal military training. Bradfute Warwick, a well-to-do Virginian with much military experience, was appointed major of the regiment. Both Marshall and Warwick ranked from October 2, 1861.

 

The other original staff and non-commissioned officers of the Fourth Texas were: Howell G. Thomas, Surgeon; D. C. Jones, Asst. Surgeon; J. D. Wade, Asst. Quartermaster General; T. M. Owens, Commissary Officer; R. H. Bassett, Asst. Adjutant General; Nicholas A. Davis, Chaplain; J. T. Cunningham, Sergeant Major; W. H. Stewart, Quartermaster Sergeant; C. B. Way, Commissary Sergeant; and Dan Collins, Chief Musician. These officers and NCOs were appointed between October 1 and 19, 1861. Dr. Thomas was a well known, highly educated, and skilled Richmond surgeon, but was too reserved and taciturn for the Texans. The men resented his appointment and the officers refused to cooperate with him. Thomas resigned his position within a few weeks, publicly stating that ``his connection with the Texans was the most unpleasant [time] of his life.''

 

In early October, the Fourth and Fifth Texas moved their camp from the York River Railroad to a more permanent location about four miles east of Richmond. Officially known as Camp Bragg, the Texans named it Camp Texas in honor of the Lone Star state. The men spent their time drilling, drawing supplies and equipment, and preparing for movement northward to the west bank of the Potomac. On October 25, the Fourth and Fifth Texas were officially assigned with the First Texas, per General Orders No. 15. On the same day, Brig. Gen. Louis T. Wigfall was designated commander of the Fifth Brigade, Fourth Division, Potomac District, Dept. of Northern Virginia commanded by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Wigfall's Brigade consisted of the three Texas regiments and a Louisiana regiment of unknown designation. While at Camp Bragg, the Texas Brigade drilled, paraded, were inspected, and deloused almost continuously.

 

The first three serious discipline problems on record occurred within a two-day period in late October. All three were committed by men in the Fourth Texas. On October 25, Frank Rogers (company unknown) was caught with an altered furlough. Rogers had been granted a 9-day leave which he had changed to read 29 days. On the same day, C. B. Butler (Co. K) was caught stealing money from a comrade and was drummed out of the regiment wearing the word ``THIEF'' on his knapsack. On October 26, an unnamed member of Co. D was arrested for attempted desertion into Federal lines. The man's fate is not a matter of record.

 

The Texas Brigade was fortunate to have good bands to help make their off-duty hours more bearable. The band of the Fourth Texas was the most popular and best organized. After the companies organization into regiments, the original company musicians were transferred to regimental headquarters as members of the Regimental Band. The Fourth Texas Band was led by Dan Collins, the original musician of Co. G.

 

By late October, the Fourth and Fifth Texas were considered well enough trained and equipped to take their places on the Potomac line alongside the First Texas Infantry.