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A Brief overview of theFirst Texas Volunteer Infantry Regiment
The 1st Texas Infantry was one of the core regiments in "Hood’s Texas Brigade", arguably the most celebrated infantry brigade in the Confederate Army. It was the only Texas unit in Gen’l Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The 1st Texas was recruited largely from East Texas in April 1861 after the opening shots of the War Between The States, and was the only regiment in the Confederate Army comprised of twelve companies. The regulations called for ten. All of the companies made their way piecemeal to Virginia in the spring and summer of 1861. Later that fall with the arrival of the 4th and 5th Texas, the 1st Texas and its colonel, Louis Trezevant Wigfall, (being promoted to brigadier-general), was assigned to the new Texas Brigade. The three regiments were brigaded together for the first time on November 13, 1861, when the 4th and 5th joined the 1st at Dumfries, Virginia, roughly 25 miles south of Washington City. Thus the frontier Texans, who were admired as the best riders and riflemen in the army, began their almost matchless and unsurpassed march across the pages of history. The 1st Texas Infantry, nicknamed the "Ragged Old First," experienced its day of glory in the cornfield at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862, suffering 82% casualties - the highest of any regiment North or South during the war. On May 20, 1863, Private West penned a letter to his wife in Texas and remarked, "We can not be whipped, though they may kill us all." At sunrise on April 12, 1865 near Appomattox, Virginia, only 149 men of the 1st Texas Infantry Regiment remained to surrender their well-used Enfields and bullet riddled flag to the Union troops. …. One Company had no survivors at all.
An original member of the 1st Texas Regiment, circa 1862
The War Between the States Record of the Texas Brigade was magnificent. The Brigade fought in every battle engaged in by the Army of Northern Virginia except Chancellorsville, which it more than made up for by fighting at Chickamauga, Knoxville and Suffolk. The Texans fought in 38 engagements including six of the greatest battles of the war--Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and the Wilderness. In all of these engagements, the men of the Brigade distinguished themselves and drew praise upon them from all who observed their conduct. Among those who praised them often was Robert E. Lee. Of all his troops, Lee favored the Texans the most and often referred to them as "My Texans." Several times during the war, Lee requested more Texas troops, once remarking that he relied on his Texas regiments "in all tight places." In October 1864, while waiting for some of his troops to form for an assault, Lee asked a staff officer if all commands were formed for the advance. "None but the Texas Brigade, General," answered the staff officer. Lee then said, "The Texas Brigade is always ready."