An Update on the 27th Texas Cavalry After Yazoo Pass

I wish I had an update. I have spent hours researching this time  frame and what happened. To  date, zilch, nada. nothing. So from about 12 February 1863 to 5 March 1863, what did happen to the 27th Texas.

There are many guesses, but here is my best guess. On the 19 of February, the 27th had a small skirmish with Union gunboats.  The fort that sealed off the area, Fort Pemberton, made the area very difficult for Union troops getting to Vicksburg from that direction. Rising waters had made land routes almost impassable. So impassable that even Cavalry could not operate. So the 27th was released to join the Whitfield Brigade. The Brigade had gone to Tennessee with General Van Dorn.

The distance from Yazoo Pass, Mississippi,  to Thompson Station, Tennessee, is almost 300 miles as the crow flies. But there is not a direct route today, nor was there one back in the 1860’s. The distance had to be close to 400 miles by hill and dale. That would have been a ride of 23 to 31 miles per day. Of course the wagons and slow men stayed in a slow train and the detachment that went to Thompson Station was light and not very  large. Maybe 300 men. When they got there the horses were good for nothing.

But getting there was not an easy task anyway. Grant had word that a Cavalry unit was moving north toward Tennessee. He put out the word to not let them pass, so it was not an easy movement. Add to that several river crossings, including the Tennessee and the Duck Rivers. The land is very hilly with fairly dense new growth. Today it has some fairly good forest and growth to encounter. The route they probably used was the Natchez Trace. Today much of it is a beautiful parkway. Then it must have been very difficult, especially when you were covering 23 to 31 miles per day on horse back for 13 days. If they rested a day then the mileage per day increased. We know that some men were captured and wounded along the route. So the Union did delay their progress. We do know that they were at Thompson Station on the 5th of March and that they fought as Infantry. I would guess, their horses said they were too tired to go into battle.  Actually they were worn out and needed rest for several days in the good Tennessee countryside, before they could function again as Cavalry horses.

The regiment was given the responsibility of hiding behind a rock fence behind the rail station. This they did well. A Union Infantry regiment reinforced with cavalry and artillery came along and the regiment was instrumental in capturing most of the unit, their equipment and their horses.

What can happen in 13 days and over a route of 300 to 400 miles. Not a whole lot, for they were going too fast. Union forces probably had trouble tracking them, they were going so fast. They could have taken cars, the name for rail road flat cars and have gone form Jackson to Corinth. After that it was by foot or horse back.  They were a battle hardened Cavalry regiment trained as Infantry and as skirmishers. They were capable of fighting most units they encountered. They had fought infantry divisions at Iuka and Hatchie Bridge.  They had gone against fortified positions at Davis Mills and were ready for the task at hand.

There was not a lot to eat. It was still winter and there were no crops growing. Only through hard forage could anyone find even an uneaten corn cob or apple still on the tree. So at times they went without. It was difficult to take food from countrymen during the winter. Also they were moving fast, so they did not have much time to forage. They took all the rations that they could. They also went through many towns where they knew that they could get some food.

There arrival in the Spring Hill, Thompson Station area before the 5th of March was a good fortune to General Van Dorn. It gave him enough power to take on and defeat a fairly large unit.  The Infantry unit captured consisted of 1906 men wounded or killed. The Confederates lost 300 in hard battle.

Today there is a sign and the rail road station, no tracks and the fields are deep in grass and a few other buildings. There is nothing to indicate the battlefield and the sign does not really relate to a Confederate victory. But then we lost the war.

What happened in those 13 days and how hard was it? From my house to Junction Texas is a little over 30 air miles. By road it is close to 50 miles.  On today’s horses, it would be difficult to do one day.  The horses had to be hardened to the daily toil and the hardship. These horses were but they were still burnt out by the time they got to Thompson Station. It was too many miles and too much hardship.

These 13 days were cold, beautiful, difficult, fun, and the superlatives could go on and on.  I have driven the area in both the winter and the summer. I prefer the summer, but they did not have a choice. They may have still had overcoats from the raid on Holly Springs, but in the war it did not take long for clothing to wear out. The horses probably needed new horse shoes and food.

What really happened during those 13 days my be lost in the writings of war. Surely one man wrote home of his ride. It would be nice to find something, I like to tie the ends so that a good description is provided. A guess does not tie ends nor is it necessarily true. It had to be a hard ride for the horses to be worn out. But the men fought well and were in the middle of the battle and carried away honor. This is my guess, and I pray that it does honor those 27th soldiers in those 13 February and early March days.

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