"The enemy never sees the backs of my Texans!"

-General Robert E. Lee: The Battle of the Wilderness, 1864

The Texas Brigade was organized on October 22, 1861, primarily through the efforts of John Allen Wilcox, afterward a member of congress from Texas, who remained as the brigade's political patron until his death in 1864. The brigade was initially and briefly under the command of Louis T. Wigfall until he took a seat in the Confederate Senate. Command was then given to John Bell Hood (hence the Texas Brigade was often known as "Hood's Brigade" or "Hood's Texas Brigade"). The brigade left Texas and many men had almost no weapons at all. Others took whatever was available; this resulted in soldiers carrying almost anything that would shoot—shotguns, hunting rifles, pistols, old flintlock muskets used in the Texas Revolution, model 1841 Mississippi rifles, Colt revolving rifles, and more. At least two companies are reported to have carried model 1855 Springfield rifles, which would have been the only modern weapons in the brigade. The Texans have held in high regard thanks to the legends of the Seige of the Alamo, and The Battle of San Jacinto and the Confederate government made sure that they got the best equipment available. Most of the brigade was soon issued Enfield rifles aside from the 1st Texas Infantry, which had mostly smoothbore muskets and appear to have still been using them well into 1864.

   On November 20, 1861, the Eighteenth Georgia Infantry, commanded by William T. Wofford, was attached. On June 1, 1862, eight infantry companies from Wade Hampton's South Carolina Legion, commanded by Lt. Colonel Martin W. Gary, were added, and in November 1862 the Third Arkansas Infantry, commanded by Col. Van H. Manning, joined the brigade. Both the Georgia and South Carolina units were transferred out in November 1862, but the Third Arkansas remained until the end of the war.

   Wigfall resigned command of the brigade on February 20, 1862, and on March 2, Hood was promoted to brigadier general and placed in command. Because of his daring leadership, the brigade became known as Hood's Texas Brigade, despite his brief service of only six months as commander. The brigade served throughout the war in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and in James Longstreet's First Corps. It participated in at least twenty-four battles in 1862, including Eltham's Landing, Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg (Antietam). In October the Third Arkansas regiment replaced the Eighteenth Georgia and Hampton's Legion. On November 1, 1862, Brig. Gen. Jerome B. Robertson became brigade commander, and Hood was elevated to command of the division in which the Texas Brigade operated.

In April 1863 the brigade moved to North Carolina; in May it rejoined Lee's army; and on July 1, 2, and 3, it took part in the battle of Gettysburg. In Georgia the brigade fought on September 19 and 20 at Chickamauga, where Hood was wounded and forced to leave his division, ending his official connection with the brigade. In Tennessee, the brigade joined in the sieges of Chattanooga and Knoxville. Gen. John Gregg became commander when the brigade returned to Virginia in February 1864. In the Battle of the Wilderness of May 5th 1864, General Robert E. Lee personally led the Texans in one of the charges. During the battle, General Lee was nearly pulled off his horse by several members of the brigade in fear of his life as he was to the front end and pushed to the rear. As a result, several companies shouted "Lee to the rear!" as he fell back. 

General Lee received a small package from an unknown “young lady of Texas” in January 1865 which contained the nine gold stars. The young lady had the gold stars made after melting down one of her precious gold keepsakes, and she wished that they be bestowed as testimonials to the bravest men of the Texas Brigade. In his letter to Col. F. S. Bass, Lee requested that the brigade commander present the stars for he could “with more certainty than any other, bestow them in accordance with the wishes of the donor.” Therefore, it was decided that the recipients of the gold star awards would be selected by their fellow soldiers. Each regiment received two stars, except for the Fourth Texas, which received three.

After Gregg was killed in October the brigade was temporarily led by Col. Clinton M. Winkler and Col. F. S. Bass. At the surrender at Appomattox on April 10, 1865, Col. Robert M. Powell commanded the brigade, Capt. W. T. Hill the Fifth regiment, Lt. Col. C. M. Winkler the Fourth, Col. F. S. Bass the First, and Lt. Col. R. S. Taylor the Third Arkansas. It is estimated that at the beginning of the war the Texas regiments comprised about 3,500 men and that during the war recruits increased the number to almost 4,400. The brigade sustained a 61 percent casualty rate and, at its surrender, numbered close to 600 officers and men. It was praised by generals Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson, James Longstreet, and Robert E. Lee and by high officials of the Confederacy.

   Born in Owingsville, Kentucky in 1831 and a West Point Graduate at the age of 22, John Bell Hood was one of the most rapidly promoted Confederate officers in The War Between the States. After serving in California and Texas for the United States Army, he resigned his commission in April of 1861 to join the Confederacy as a Cavalry Captain. From there, he was soon promoted to Colonel of the Texas 4th Infantry. Thereafter, he distinguished himself on a dozen fields, beginning in the Peninsula Campaign and at Second Manassas. At the Battle of Gaine’s Mill on June 27, he distinguished himself by leading his brigade in a charge that broke the Union line - arguably the most successful Confederate performance in the Seven Days Battles. While Hood escaped the battle without an injury, every officer in his brigade was killed or wounded. 

He was promoted to Major General in 1862 serving with distinction at Sharpsburg and at Fredericksburg. Hood was a significant player at the Battle of Gettysburg, being ordered by Longstreet to attack the Union’s left flank against his own wishes. His command was bloodily blunted by union forces in Devils Den, and finally undone at Little Round Top. Hood was severely wounded in the arm at Gettysburg and was forced to hand off command, and soon thereafter lost a leg at Chickamauga. After some recovery, he was appointed to Lieutenant General serving under General J.E. Johnston, whom he would replace in the spring of 1864. Hood conducted the remainder of the Atlanta Campaign with the strong aggressive actions for which he was famous. He launched four major offensives that summer in an attempt to break Sherman’s siege of Atlanta, starting almost immediately with an attack along Peachtree Creek; however, all of the offensives failed, with significant Confederate casualties. Finally, on September 2, 1864, Hood evacuated the city of Atlanta, burning as many military supplies and installations as possible.

Hood marched his army into Tennessee where his forces were crippled trying to break through Union breastworks at the Battle of Franklin. His army suffered again at the Battle of Nashville from Union forces lead by General Thomas. Hood was relieved of his rank (at his own request) in January of 1865 and returned to his post as Lieutenant General. He desired to take control of the Texas army, but they surrendered before his arrival. In May 1865, Hood gave himself up to Union forces in Natchez, Mississippi. After the war, Hood moved to New Orleans and lived there with his wife and children until he died in 1879 of yellow fever. 

John Bell Hood is interred in the Hennen family tomb at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans. He is memorialized by Hood County in Texas and the U.S. Army installation, Fort Hood, in central Texas. 

Originally and simply known as the "Texas Brigade", was an infantry division of the Confederate States Army. Along with the Stonewall Brigade, Hood's Texas Brigade was distinguished as General Rober E. Lee's shock troops. The unit fought in every major battle of the Eastern Theater except Chancellorsville. When the unit left Texas and marched to join Lee's Army, they brought with them the Texas folk songs as their marching cadiances. The most famous of them was the song "Yellow Rose of Texas". 

"The enemy never sees the backs of my Texans!"

-General Robert E. Lee: The Battle of the Wilderness, 1864



Texas State Historical Association: Handbook of Texas
​The Texas Heritage Museum at Hill College

"I can assure you, that the gallant hearts that throb beneath its sacred folds, will only be content when their glorious banner is planted first and foremost in the coming struggle for independence."   

-General John B. Hood, 1861