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Between the Enemy and Texas

Parsons's Texas Cavalry in the Civil War

Anne Bailey

Publication Year: 2013

Much of the Civil War west of the Mississippi was a war of waiting for action, of foraging already stripped land for an army that supposedly could provision itself, and of disease in camp, while trying to hold out against Union pressure. There were none of the major engagements that characterized the conflict farther east. Instead, small units of Confederate cavalry and infantry skirmished with Federal forces in Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana, trying to hold the western Confederacy together. The many units of Texans who joined this fight had a second objective—to keep the enemy out of their home state by placing themselves “between the enemy and Texas.”

Historian Anne J. Bailey studies one Texas unit, Parsons's Cavalry Brigade, to show how the war west of the Mississippi was fought. Historian Norman D. Brown calls this “the definitive study of Parsons's Cavalry Brigade; the story will not need to be told again.” Exhaustively researched and written with literary grace, Between the Enemy and Texas is a “must” book for anyone interested in the role of mounted troops in the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Published by: TCU Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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p. 6-6

List of Illustrations

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p. viii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

...already in print one might assume that another could not provide any thing new or significant. This is not completely true. When I first be came interested in the conflict I wanted to learn more about the participation of Texas troops, particularly those who served on the west side of the Mississippi River. I soon discovered that there were few publications ...

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pp. xiii-2

...Historians analyzing the American Civil War tend to ignore the vast area west of the Mississippi River. Military actions in the Trans-Mississippi Department (Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, most of Louisiana, the Indian Territory or modern day Oklahoma, and parts of present-day New Mexico and Arizona) did not alter the outcome of the conflict; after the fall of Vicksburg the...

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1. "A Healthy Bunch of Scrappers"

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pp. 3-16

...The campaigns fought west of the Mississippi River seemed "small indeed by comparison with the more imposing and dramatic events of the far east," asserted William Henry Parsons, "but momentous in results to the fortunes of [the] Trans-Mississippi department, and especially to the fate of Texas." As he astutely pointed out, "Our lines once broken, whether on the Mississippi...

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2. A Fightin' Preacher and His Unruly Flock

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pp. 17-34

...Parsons's troops rode out of Texas, events far from their homes were helping to shape other units that would eventually join Parsons's brigade. "All we hear is the call for more troops, more troops, war, war, war," wrote Susan Anna Good from Dallas to her husband John Jay Good, captain of a Texas battery stationed in Arkansas, in April 1862. "God only knows when it will cease."...

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3. "If You Want to Have a Good Time Gine the Cavalry"

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pp. 35-46

...of the Seventeenth Texas to his wife in July 1862. The men "unanimously objected," he observed, "but under the circumstances we could do no better-our horses was starving for feed-scarcely half of them being fit for duty." Certainly forage gave out quickly as hundreds of troops arrived daily in Arkansas; the Confederate authorities had no choice but to send many horses home. But Frank M. Files had a different explanation. "You know," recalled Files...

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4. "The Yankees Are as Afraid as Death of the Texans"

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pp. 47-64

...the Federal advance toward Little Rock in 1862 seemed "small indeed by comparison with the more imposing and dramatic events of the far east," noted William H. Parsons, "but momentous in results" to the security of the Trans-Mississippi Department. Not only was the possession of Arkansas at stake, declared Parsons...

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5. The Swamp Fox Regiment

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pp. 65-82

...a juncture had been pennitted between Curtis' really wearied and exhausted army," noted Colonel William H. Parsons, "and the ascending fleet of iron-clads and transports under Colonel [G. N.] Fitch, a base of operations would at once have been established on White river within forty miles of the Capitol of the state, with an all rail prairie route to this heart of the valley of the Arkansas." The combined forces could have occupied the fertile lowland of the Arkansas River...

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6. "They Don't Like Our Mode of Fighting"

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pp. 83-98

...editor of the Houston Telegraph in the autumn of 1862. "He rarely ever has an encounter with the 'Feds' but what he puts them to flight. He is frequently down within a few miles of Helena, and is continually cutting off the enemy's foraging parties and driving in their pickets." The Dallas Herald also cautioned that the Yankees entrenched behind their...

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7. The Race to Arkansas Post

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pp. 99-112

...George Ingram wrote to his wife on January 2, 1863. "Night before last we received orders to take up the line of march for Hindman's army. Yesterday was spent in making preparations for the trip but last night the order was countermanded." Holmes had planned to send Parsons's brigade to reinforce the Confederates retreating from Prairie Grove, but he abruptly changed his mind...

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8. Off to Missouri

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pp. 113-132

...Arkansas worsened with Hindman's retreat from Prairie Grove in December 1862 and the surrender of Arkansas Post in January 186), Confederates felt disheartened. Secretary of War James A. Seddon observed in March that "the most deplorable accounts reach the department of the disorder, confusion, and demoralization everywhere prevalent, both with the armies and people of that State." Holmes, he believed, had "lost the confidence and attachment of all," and the result was "fearful."...

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9. "To Strike a Blow for Vicksburg"

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pp. 133-148

...June 1863 Theophilus H. Holmes in Arkansas received instructions from Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, to operate "a cavalry force, at least a brigade, on the Mississippi River, as low down as Lake Providence." Kirby Smith believed the situation in Louisiana required immediate action by all his district commanders. "There are many plantations on the river being cultivated by the negroes for the Federals...

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10. The Loss of Arkansas

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pp. 149-164

...capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson by the forces under Generals Grant and Banks on the 4th and 8th of July, respectively," wrote Major General John M. Schofield, commanding the Department of the Missouri, "opened the way for active operations in Arkansas, and enabled General Grant to return to me the troops I had sent him." This turn of events was a setback to the Confederates in Arkansas. As Schofield's command increased, the prospect of the Southerners maintaining their tenuous hold on the state faded...

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11. Whiskey and Gunpowder Aren't "Necessary to Enable a Southron to Make a Charge"

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pp. 165-180

...1864 opened, Henry W. Halleck in Washington watched the genesis of one of his long-cherished ideas-an invasion of Texas by way of the Red River. He believed a combined army and navy expedition to Alexandria, then Shreveport, would open the fertile regions of North Texas. Although Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, who oversaw the Department of the Gulf, had been operating off the Texas coast, by January he agreed to the change...

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12. The Road to Yellow Bayou

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pp. 181-194

..."ten and often twenty times their number," wrote Colonel William Parsons in his official report of the campaign down the Red River, "the world never witnessed such fights as those [of the] rebel troops who hung with such dogged valor" upon the rear of the Federal army and navy. From the time David Porter joined Nathaniel Banks at Grand Ecore until their forces reached the safety of the Mississippi River...

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13. The Last Year

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pp. 195-204

...Although this statement is incorrect, it reflects the prevailing attitude in the last year of the war as well as current opinion among many historians. Events west of the Mississippi had little bearing on the ultimate outcome; operations in Virginia and Tennessee far outweighed affairs in the Trans-Mississippi...

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pp. 205-208

...Fighting west of the Mississippi was different from the other theaters, but the men who served on the "other side" of the river shared a common heritage with other Confederate soldiers: they were typical Southerners who fought with a reckless bravery that again and again impressed their Yankee opponents. Southerners were emotional-often quick to anger and always anxious to fight...


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pp. 209-238


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pp. 239-324


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pp. 325-338


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pp. 339-356

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About the Author

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p. 357-357

...Anne J. Bailey, a native of Cleburne, Texas. was graduated from the University of Texas and holds a Ph.D. from Texas Christian University ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780875655147
E-ISBN-10: 0875655149
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875653075

Page Count: 358
Publication Year: 2013