Guide to the J.B. Harris notes on Green’s Texas Brigade, 1863 MS 318
Green’s Texas Brigade was a cavalry brigade ordered to Louisiana to support Vicksburg and Port Hudson, crucial Confederate posts on the Mississippi River. Green’s Texas Brigade had been formed by former Arizona militia forced out of the Arizona territory by the Union’s “California Column”. Green’s Brigade was assigned the task of preventing Union incursions into Texas from the sea, the west, and the east. After successfully preventing the Union Army from capturing Galveston, Green’s Brigade was ordered to Louisiana. Upon returning to Louisiana, Green’s brigade was rejoined by Herbert’s Battalion and General Sibley, all under the command of General Richard Taylor. Under General Taylor’s command, Green’s Brigade was meant to divert Union attention from the besieged forts of Vicksburg and Port Hudson. After this failed attempt Union forces entered Louisiana placing General Taylor’s men, including Green’s Brigade, on the front lines of the war. This campaign to prevent Union forces from taking control of Louisiana is referred to as the Bayou Teche campaign. The Union goal in the campaign was to trap Confederate forces between the Bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya River. It was during this campaign that a small detachment of Company H of Green’s Texas Brigade encountered the 2nd Illinois in the outskirts of Iberia, Louisiana. The officers of the company attempted without success to rally their troops to fight the charging Illinois cavalry. The retreating Confederates were then either “sabered”, using James Henry Tevis’s words, or captured.
This material consists of six handwritten pages by J.B. Harris dated December 16, 1863, recounting the capture of his battalion of confederate cavalry outside of New Iberia, Louisiana. Harris begins by informing the reader of the contents of letter followed by a two paragraph introduction to the situation. It is at this time that the writer begins to write in verse. There are twelve stanzas discussing the succession of events during the capture of Green’s Texas Brigade. The stanzas are predominately four lines long with the rhyme being mainly the last syllable always exterior with no interior rhyme. The poem mentions various officers referring to them with an assumption of the reader’s familiarity. The style of the poem is reminiscent of a ballad and ends with the actual capture of the brigade and its forced transit to New Orleans, Louisiana.
The document continues with a two-paragraph letter signed by June B. Harris paying tribute to his comrades and discussing the actions of a particular Union officer that he perceived to have conducted himself inappropriately considering the disadvantages the Confederate soldiers were faced with. The second paragraph of J.B. Harris’s letter is dedicated to the formal demonstration of gratuity for the Union soldiers’ overall leniency and forbearance whilst dealing with their captives. A small paragraph then notes the destruction of Confederate records of the events by the 2nd Illinois. Then a six paragraph essay initialed J.B.H. and called Incidents of the Race narrates the events of the day, oscillating between technical language regarding the brigade and colloquialisms describing the Union soldiers and the battle.
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Permission to publish material from this material must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
J.B. Harris notes on Green’s Texas Brigade, 1863, MS 318, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
Donated by John Wright, 1976.
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