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Granbury's Texas Brigade: Diehard Western Confederates by John R. Lundberg (review)

From: Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Volume 116, Number 4, April 2013
pp. 425-426 | 10.1353/swh.2013.0049

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Granbury's Texas Brigade formed after the Battle of Chickamauga and fought as part of Patrick Cleburne's division in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. While not as well-known as Hood's Texas Brigade, Brig. Gen. Hiram B. Granbury's unit gained notoriety in the western theater of the Civil War, seeing action at Chattanooga, Atlanta, and in the 1864 Tennessee campaign before suffering heavy causalities at the Battle of Franklin. Lundberg meticulously traces the heroic efforts of the eight regiments that made up Hiram Granbury's brigade as they waged war against their enemy at places such as Tunnel Hill, Ringgold Gap, Pickett's Mill, Franklin, and Nashville. The author also provides detailed information on the actions of the eight regiments prior to their official formation into Granbury's Texas Brigade. Of the eight regiments, the 7th Texas Infantry stood out for their role in the unsuccessful defense of Fort Donelson from U. S. Grant's army. While the 7th Texas Infantry suffered capture and imprisonment after the fall of Fort Donelson, the other Texas regiments that would later be a part of Granbury's Brigade suffered their own setbacks in Arkansas, where they were defeated and taken prisoners at Arkansas Post in 1863. Unlike the 7th, which was paroled in time to see action in the Vicksburg campaign, the Texas Confederates captured in Arkansas remained in prison for several months. They would be paroled in time to see action in the Battle of Chickamauga. The eight Texas regiments were formed into their new brigade after Chickamauga.

Using myriad primary and secondary sources, Lundberg offers provocative insights into the minds of the men who served in Granbury's Brigade by focusing on three primary themes. First, the author argues that the high rate of desertion in the brigade did not represent a lack of commitment to the Confederacy but rather a desire to serve near their homes. Lundberg finds that most of the deserters rejoined Confederate units once they returned home and therefore proved their devotion to the southern cause. Second, he argues that the brigade's high degree of effectiveness and determination was the result of the men's shared experiences of being captured and held as federal prisoners. According to the author, the men's strong cohesive bond to each other resulted from their desire to prove their merits in battle and to enact vengeance on their northern captors. Finally, the men's loyalty to the brigade and to the Confederate cause correlated directly with the competency of commanders within their unit, especially Brig. Gen. Granbury. Confidence in their officers led the men to fight with a ferocity that often resulted in brigade-level victories even while the Army of Tennessee suffered defeat.

While the latter two themes are plausible and in part seem to explain the tenacity of Granbury's Texas Brigade, the idea that deserters maintained a strong sense of Confederate nationalism seems a stretch. There is no doubt that many Texas soldiers deserted their post and returned to defend their home and families against possible Union invasions and Indian raids, but it is hard to accept that they were still strong Confederate nationalists. In fact, their very act of desertion illustrated that personal concerns outweighed any nationalist feelings that they may have possessed. However, it does stand to reason that the desertions left the ranks of Granbury's Brigade filled with a hardcore group of soldiers who were devoted Confederate nationalists—they were the true "Diehard Confederates" in the western theater of the war.

Despite the controversial argument regarding desertion among the Texas soldiers, Lundberg has provided scholars with a solid unit history of Granbury's Texas Brigade, and those who are interested in the Civil War will find this an informative volume.

Copyright © 2013 The Texas State Historical Association
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Kenneth W. Howell. "Granbury's Texas Brigade: Diehard Western Confederates by John R. Lundberg (review)." Southwestern Historical Quarterly 116.4 (2013): 425-426. Project MUSE. Web. 8 Jan. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Howell, K. W.(2013). Granbury's Texas Brigade: Diehard Western Confederates by John R. Lundberg (review). Southwestern Historical Quarterly 116(4), 425...

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