Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Duel

                                                   Luke Short                   Tim Courtright




During the later days of the Wild West, the most talked-about, one-on-one gunfight happened on a Fort Worth boardwalk.  Contrary to Hollywood depictions, such gunfights were a rarity.  Gunfighters did not meet at a designated hour in the middle of a deserted street.  More often, they dueled abruptly after their whiskey infused passions fell to their trigger fingers.  On February 8, 1887, Tim “Long-Hair” Courtright and Luke Short brought their pistols to bear in a gunfight for the ages. 

Luke Short’s life was a history book of the Wild West.  He held interest in the West’s most famous saloons: the Oriental, in Tombstone, Arizona, the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City,  Kansas, and the White Elephant in Fort Worth, Texas.  He also loved to gamble in those saloons while donning the finest in men’s wear - top hats included.  Born in 1854, the Arkansas native worked on cattle drives to Kansas and served as a U.S. Army scout during the war with the Sioux Indians.  He also sold liquor to those same Indians he was fighting.  Making sales from the back of a wagon, Short became widely known for his fine tasting whiskey, which was usually tainted.  Tiring of the cowboy life and sleeping on the open ground, he turned to professional gambling to make a living.  Starting with the Colorado mining town of Leadville, Short traveled the circuit of Wild West professional gamblers seeking saloons with loose spending customers.  A life of gambling led to a life of gunplay, something Short had a deadly talent for.  While in Tombstone, he killed a drunken Charlie Storm with two shots from his pocket revolver.  In 1883, Short and his wife settled down in Fort Worth.  He became business partners with Bill Ward and Jake Johnson, the owners of the White Elephant Saloon.  Short would manage the gambling operations.   Because of his reputation, he attracted big name gamblers that drew public attention.

While Short skirted the law, Tim Courtright enforced it as a city marshal and self-proclaimed private detective.  Like Short, he served as an army scout during his youth.  In 1875, he and his wife Sarah moved to Fort Worth where he tried his hand at farming.  After three years, the farm failed; Courtright was forced to find a new occupation.  He became a city jailer then was elected city marshal by a mere three votes.  Courtright served as Marshal for three terms before traveling to New Mexico.  He was accused of murdering two squatters while serving as a deputy.  Courtright managed to escape arrest.  He came back to Fort Worth and opened a detective agency; it was actually a front for his protection racket.

Being a popular cowtown, Fort Worth naturally attracted all the seedy elements trail drivers and local businessmen sought.  Those elements gave birth to “Hell’s Half Acre;”a huge red light district that encompassed two and a half acres south of the Tarrant County courthouse. Further north of the courthouse, the establishments were more polished, but still offered the popular vices, namely gambling, prostitution, liquor, and cock fights.  Societal norms aside, the vices generated a hefty bottom line.  What was needed was law enforcement that kept the peace without shutting down any red light enterprises.  With his two-holstered pistols (butts facing forward),  Courtright kept the peace while leaving the gamblers alone.  In one evening alone, he jailed up to thirty unruly cowpokes.  Not content to be just a low paid, standup marshal, Courtright sought a piece of Fort Worth’s gambling operations.   In return for payment, he offered gambling halls, like the White Elephant, his brand of protection.  Certainly no stranger to tough guy assertions, Luke Short told him to get lost.

The White Elephant had progressed from a mere saloon and billiard hall to an elegant gentlemen’s club.  During its heyday, it offered the finest dining in Fort Worth, complete with a cigar factory out back.  Upstairs, Short’s gambling rooms were constructed of the finest mahogany and graced with crystal lighting fixtures.  The rosewood and ivory faro tables were described as “works of art.”  In addition to the many felt gaming tables, cockfighting pits lured combative fowls from miles around.  The most popular attraction was a Luke Short inspired form of lottery called Keno. Unlike the other games, Keno required no skills, just luck, and it paid big.   Unfortunately, Keno was easy to rig compared to other games and was often the target of public outrage, usually from those that lost their money.  Included among the outraged was “The Law and Order Society.”  Its members demanded the removal of the game or else they would burn down the White Elephant.  Fort Worth’s “Keno Craze” made huge profits for the White Elephant owners.  Tim Courtwright wanted a piece of the profits and a piece of Luke Short as well.


Courtright pushed his way into the White Elephant and loudly demanded to see Short, who was having his shoes shined.  Short went outside to find his business partner, Jake Johnson, and Courtright waiting for him.  Johnson was trying to smooth things over, but to no avail.  Short and Courtright walked several yards down the street from the White Elephant to the appropriate frontage of a shooting gallery.   Courtright pulled out his six- shooter.  Short, however, beat him on the draw.  He killed Courtright with four shots.  Short was arrested and spent the night in jail.   Among those who witnessed the gunfight was Short’s friend from Dodge City, the legendary Sheriff William “Bat” Masterson.  Known for his abusive, short tempered demeanor, Courtright was not a popular man.  Nevertheless, he had a considerable number of uptown Fort Worth supporters; they wanted to lynch Short that evening.  Wearing his famed six guns, Masterson guarded Short’s jail cell himself.  No sane person would dare challenge the guns of Bat Masterson.  Short was later acquitted on the grounds of self-defense.  Courtright was buried after one the largest funeral processions in Fort Worth history.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Coming To A Texas Town Near You.



Of all the storied brigades that served under General Robert E. Lee, there was one he always counted on the most – the Texas Brigade.  His admiration for his Lone Star boys was best summed up while watching a military parade next to a European observer.  As the Texans marched past, the observer pointed out the torn backs of their uniforms.  “It does not matter,” Lee replied.  “No one sees the backs of my Texans.”  At Gaines Mill, Second Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and The Wilderness, no one saw the backs of the Texas Brigade.  Their casualty rate was among the war’s highest.  There were no posthumous medals, no funeral processions to their hometown cemeteries, no flags presented to their widows, and no carefully manicured gravesites. These Texans made their heavenly assent from a 3 foot, unmarked burial pit.  You marched, you fought and you died.  Only 700 of the 7,000 members of the brigade made it back home.  The Texas Brigade always had the back of General Lee.  Now, it’s time for their descendants to have his back again.  The tragic event at Charlottesville, Virginia, has spurred a backlash against Confederate memorials and statues.  The strongest so far was in Durham, North Carolina, where members of a Communist organization pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier.  I would urge native Texans to oppose such wanton destruction in their state.  Express your displeasure and oppose organizations who are attempting to rewrite history at the expense of your heritage.  The City of Dallas is establishing a commission to decide the fate of a Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Park.  Statues, such as this one, will no doubt be moved, but sticking them in junkyards or destroying them is a direct affront to Texas History.








Sunday, June 18, 2017

Walker

Samuel Walker


It seemed like an unlikely pairing: a well-heeled Connecticut gunmaker and a rough hewn Texas Ranger.  Despite their backgrounds, both had an abiding passion for firearms, and how to improve them.  They met at a New York gunsmith shop to exchange their ideas.  The result was a revolving pistol that would change the course of Texas and the American West.
Fighting Mexicans and Comanches provided Texas Rangers with more than a firsthand knowledge of firearms.  Being on horseback, it was crucial they have repeating firepower to take out mounted, hard charging adversaries.  This needed feature became apparent in confrontations with the Comanches.  The “Lords of the Plains” could use a bow and arrow faster than Rangers could fire and reload a musket.  To make matters worse, the Rangers often had to get off their horses to fire at them; the Comanches could stay on horseback.  The solution came from an unlikely source: the Texas Navy.  In 1839, the Texas Navy purchased 130 of Samuel Colt’s revolving pistols.  Named for their origin of manufacture, Patterson, New Jersey, the Patterson Colt featured a five shot cylinder with .36 caliber paper charges.  Though fragile with its delicate frame, pocket watch mechanisms and cumbersome reload process, the Colts provided game changing firepower.  Better yet, they could be fired on horseback.  When Republic of Texas President Sam Houston disbanded the navy, a surplus of Texas Navy Colt revolvers became available.  The Rangers helped themselves.

On June 8, 1844, the Patterson Colts got a thorough shakedown.  At the battle of Walker’s Creek, fifty miles north of San Antonio, a Ranger detachment of 14 battled 70 Comanches under Yellow Wolf.   When numbers were starting to tip the balance in the Comanches favor, Captain Jack “Coffee” Hayes shouted, “Any man who has a load, kill that chief!”  Yellow Wolf was dropped from his saddle while his warriors fled the battlefield.  Under the superior leadership of Captain Hayes and their Colts’ firepower, the Rangers won a signal victory that put the enemies of Texas on notice.

One of the Rangers, Samuel Walker (no connection to the creek), suffered a gapping lance wound in the back during the battle.  He recovered in time for the War with Mexico where he served as a Ranger lieutenant.  The Rangers continued to prove their mettle, but more manpower was needed.  During a recruiting trip to New York, Walker was approached by the Patterson Colt’s manufacturer: Samuel Colt.  The famed gun maker, however, was flat broke.  He desperately needed a sale.  Both Samuels warmed to each other and started an earnest discussion on revolvers.  The Patterson’s shortcomings were the main topic.  How do you make a proven revolver better?  Walker had answers.   

As in any confrontation with overwhelming numbers, firepower was vital.  Instead of five chambers, a sixth chamber would be added.   The reloading process was simplified; the cylinder could be reloaded without taking the revolver apart.  A loading lever was attached to secure the cartridges in their chambers.  Stopping power from one shot depended on the caliber.  The .34 caliber bullet was replaced with a .44 caliber.  The result of the discussion was a new revolver that was heavier, sturdier, and packed a wallop.  The reloading was still cumbersome, but was compensated for by having more loaded revolvers on hand.  Instead of one revolver, a Ranger would carry from two to five revolvers.  Also, the reloading lever was often knocked loose when the revolver was discharged.  A piece of rawhide cord was often used to secure the lever to the barrel.  The most serious problem was a ruptured cylinder after firing; a problem caused by loose powder igniting the cartridges in the other cylinders.  Nevertheless, the Walker Colt was the most powerful handgun prior to the modern day .357 Magnum.


The first six- shooter was manufactured during the War with Mexico.  In 1847, Samuel Walker would receive two of his namesake revolvers.  Tragically, he was killed at the Battle of Huamantla.  Only 1,100 Walker Colts were produced, making them extremely rare and coveted by gun collectors.  At auction, a Walker Colt could go for as high as $950,000.00.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Duplicitous Trail Drives

John Chisum


During the Civil War, there were instances on both sides of profit replacing patriotism.  The sudden lack of markets and severe income loss led some to circumvent government authority for new business opportunities, especially if the authority was on the losing side.  Late in the war, cotton was always a hot commodity in illegal trading with the enemy.  In West Texas, a different commodity offered a second monetary source:  Cattle.

After Confederate forces were driven from Southeast New Mexico, Union forces occupied the region and established an Indian reservation near their newly constructed Fort Sumner.  The reservation was built on an arid, uninhabitable stretch called the Bosque Redondo.  Into this dreadful landscape, the U.S Army, under the firm command of General James Carlton, crammed members of the Navajo and Mescalero Apache tribes.  During the months to come, Bosque Redondo would prove to be more of a prison camp hellhole than a reservation.  To begin with, the Mescalero and Navajo had fought each other for decades, and weren’t about to make a lasting peace.  The dry weather wouldn’t allow sustained crop production.  Being that it was in a desert, there was no wood to make fires and only a brackish trickle of water to drink.  To make matters worse, the Comanches raided the reservation and stole the Navajo’s horses.  A stable food source was quickly needed to feed the reservation and the Union forts in New Mexico.

In 1864, Union contractors James Patterson and William Franks contacted Texas ranchers to arrange cattle drives to Fort Sumner and Union held El Paso.  They carried plenty of cash to make their purchases.  With Confederate markets cut off by the loss of the Mississippi and Confederate currency on the wane, it was difficult not to accept their offers.  Famed Texas Ranger James “Buck” Barry reported to his superiors, “It might be well to inform you that we have five men here under arrest that say they were hired by one Patterson in New Mexico to drive beef from our frontier.”  The Texas Third Frontier District reported a drive of 1,000 to 1,500 cattle heading west over their district.   The most notable of these unlawful ranchers was famed cattle baron John Chisum.  Although he supplied the Confederate Army with 4,000 head of cattle, Chisum sought approval from the Texas governor to move his vast herds from Denton County to Concho County in West Texas, a remote area near the New Mexico border and conveniently too remote for Confederate authorities.  In his book, “From the Cow Camp to the Pulpit,” one of Chisum’s ranch hands, M.C. Smith, wrote about the assembly of a cattle herd destined for Fort Sumner in September 1864 – seven months before the end of the war.  After the war, Smith went to work for Patterson.

The Texas government had few men and funds to patrol West Texas.  Most defensive efforts were focused on the Texas coast where Union amphibious operations were a constant threat.  Ironically, the Native Americans that plagued Confederate Texas also kept Union troops in New Mexico occupied and away from the more populated East Texas.

Though their loyalties became more blurred toward the war’s final month, Texas ranchers, nevertheless, had a keen eye toward the future.  In 1866, the Goodnight-Loving Trail was established to drive Texas herds into New Mexico.  The great cattle drives to Kansas followed shortly.  Though traitorous by law, it’s still good to know these unlawful Texas cattle drives went to feed hungry Navaho children.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Let Us Charge the Cannon !"

Colonel Hinche Mabry



General Sterling Price had all the evidence he needed – a Yankee attack was coming. Horribly spattered with the blood of his comrade, the scout before him needed little to convince the portly Missourian. Just southwest of Iuka, Mississippi, he had encountered a Federal cavalry detachment on the San Jacinto Road. Price sent an infantry brigade, under General Louis Hebert, to counter the threat. A Union army, under the command of General William Rosecrans, was indeed marching steadily toward Price from the southeast. At the same time, a second army was advancing on him from the northwest. Under the overall command of General Ulysses S. Grant, both armies were executing a classic pincers move to trap Price in Iuka. Price would have to move quickly to avoid the trap. Hebert sent the Third Texas Cavalry regiment out ahead to find and screen Rosecrans’s advance – an overwhelming task at best.

The Third Texas Cavalry was actually the Third Dismounted Texas Cavalry. Consisting mostly of planters from Northeast Texas and armed prodigiously with shotguns, the Third had shed their mounts to become infantry. Their commander felt there were too many cavalry units in Mississippi. Encamped at the railroad junction of Corinth, the dismounted Texans learned the rudiments of infantry drill during the spring of 1862. They suffered staggering losses from disease and Corinth’s foul water supply. Fortunately for their health, but not their moral, the Confederates were forced to evacuate Corinth before a massive Federal offensive. Under the command of General Braxton Bragg, the Confederates later retook the initiative by invading Kentucky. Sterling Price was left behind to guard Mississippi. The newly appointed commander of the Vicksburg, Mississippi garrison, General Earl Van Dorn, requested Price to join him and invade West Tennessee while Bragg was in Kentucky. Price would have to get out of Iuka before joining Van Dorn.

Rosecran’s deployed his regiments to meet Hebert’s brigade. In the center of the line, directly in front of the Texans, was the 11th Ohio Artillery. The Federals were aligned along the south slope of a ravine. No sooner had the 3rd Texas descended into the ravine, when a shower of canister shot forced them to hit the dirt. Sgt. W. P. Helm recalled:



“The roaring artillery, the rattle of the musketry, the hailstorm of grape and ball were mowing us down like grain before we could locate from whence it came. We were trapped; there could be no retreat, and certain death was in our advance. We fell prostrate to the ground.”

The certain death was a gruesome decapitation if you stood up. There was only one solution - charge the battery and take the guns. With a rebel yell, the Third got to its feet and charged into the Union line. To the right of the battery, the 48th Indiana, a regiment consisting of green recruits, bolted to the rear when the Texans hit their line. Their brigade commander, Colonel John B. Sanborn, ordered them to stand and fight, drawing his pistol and shooting two who didn’t. The regiment directly behind the 48th, the 16th Ohio, was swept up by the 48th’s rout – a domino effect. The battery, however, kept many of the Texans back. To make matters worse, they were being fired on by their fellow Confederates behind them. After three attempts, the Third’s Colonel Hinche Mabry rallied his men for a fourth. “Boys if we are to die, let it be by Yankee bullets, not by our friends,” he cried. “So let us charge the cannon.” The Ohioans fought with an unmatched fury. Helm recalled, “Sword and bayonet were crossed. Muskets, revolvers knives, ramrods, gun swabs – all mingled in the death dealing fray."  Only a handful of the fifty four artillerymen were still standing when their battery was captured. One of the dead was found holding the bridles of his battery horses with a firm death grip. The horses were dead as well. Respectfully, the Texans released the survivors, but kept their six cannons. Of the 388 men in the Third Texas, 22 were killed and 74 were wounded - the highest loss the regiment suffered in battle. The Third continued serving in Mississippi until the end of the Civil War. They eventually regained their mounts and became part of the famed Sul Ross cavalry brigade. The brave charge of the Third Texas held up Rosecran’s advance and helped Price make his escape.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Longhorns



Like the state they come from, the Texas Longhorn has had its ups and downs with a near extinction thrown in.  Known for its extended rack of horns (up to six feet from tip to tip), the legendary bovine has amazing durability, extraordinary adaptability, and were easy to herd on extended cattle drives.  Unlike other cattle breeds, the Texas Longhorn is the only breed to have developed naturally within the United States. 

The Longhorn originated from feral cattle brought over by the Spaniards then released over time on the open range.  After two centuries, they were cross-bred with English cattle brought over by U.S. settlers.  By the time of the Civil War, a distinct American cow had emerged.   After the great buffalo herds were hunted off, wild longhorns took their place on the rich grazing lands of the Great Plains.  As longhorn herds grew, so did the demand for beef.  The problem was rounding them up and getting them to market.  Inclement weather, hostile Indians, and cattle rustlers were just a few of the hazards. 

The cattle drive was developed to herd thousands of cattle across Texas, the Indian Territory and Kansas to the railroads that carried them to packing plants back East.  For twenty years, the cattle drives brought ten million cows to Kansas rail heads.  The average drive usually required ten to fifteen cowboys, along with a cook, to manage it.   Longhorns had the long legs and tough hooves to travel long distances.  Also, they had the horns to fight off predators.  What they didn’t have was a less than skittish nature.  Loud sudden noises, like thunder, or the flash of a match lighting a cigarette could set off a stampede.  Cowboys would try to stop a stampede by dispatching their best riders to the front of the herd where they reigned in their horses to slow it down.  Another trick was to turn the herd by waving their coats or firing their pistols near the longhorns’ heads, forcing them to change their direction.  If a cowboy fell from his saddle, he was at risk of being trampled.  

In the early 1880’s, a fatal cattle disease brought about a quarantine followed by legislation banning longhorns from Kansas.   Texas fever was carried by ticks that dropped from their immune longhorn hosts and infected Northern cattle breeds.  Kansas dirt farmers, armed with Winchesters, would block cattle drives at the border.  Sometimes the farmers were actually extortionists or cattle rustlers looking for a cash payment or a cut of the herd before letting the cattle pass.  One trail hand recounted what his boss did when a group tried to stop his drive:

‘The Old Man got a shotgun loaded with buckshot and led the way, saying: “John, get over on that point with your Winchester and point these cattle in behind me.”  He slid his shotgun across the saddle in front of him and we did the same with our Winchesters.  He rode right across, and as he rode up to them, he said: “I’ve monkeyed as long as I want to with you,” and they fell back to the sides, and went home after we passed.  If they had done a thing, we would have filled them so damned full of lead they’d never have got away.’

Other trail bosses complied with the farmers and turned their herds west.  “Bend em West boys,” one frustrated boss ordered.  “Nothing in Kansas anyhow except the three suns – sunflowers, sunshine and  sons-of-bitches.”

The barbed wire fence brought about the end of open range cattle raising and long cattle drives.  Cattlemen turned to railroads instead to get their cows to market.   By 1927, the longhorns were almost bred out of existence.  For ranchers, the quality of beef replaced a longhorn’s durability.  To save the few remaining longhorn herds, wealthy Texas oilmen and government officials placed longhorn herds on wildlife refuges in Texas and Oklahoma.  The Texas Longhorn is now a curiosity, but a new demand for lean longhorn beef has emerged from diet conscious Americans.  The Longhorn is also assisted by being the mascot for the University of Texas.




Famed cattle baron, Charles Goodnight, best summed up the qualities of the Longhorn:


“As trail cattle their equal has never been known and never will be.  Their hoofs are superior to those of any other cattle.  In stampedes they hold together better, are easier circled in a run, and rarely split off when you commence to turn the front.  No animal of the cow kind will shift and take care of itself under all conditions as will the longhorns.  They can go farther without water and endure more suffering than others.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

General Polecat

Prince Camile De Polignac


During the Civil War, most of the generals on both sides were American born and received their training from U.S. military academies.  In a few cases, they came from foreign countries and had served in their country’s army.  German officers received experience through a failed revolution against the Prussian monarchy.  French and British officers served due to a sense of adventure and an earnest support for the Union or Confederate causes. Oddly enough, one of them commanded a brigade of Texans. 

Camille Armand Jules Marie de Polignac or the Prince de Polignac was a French nobleman through and through – something right out of a Hollywood script.  Born on February 16, 1832, his father served as a minister in the French court of Charles X.  Young Polignac served as a lieutenant in the French army during the Crimean War.  After his service, he traveled to Central America to study geography.  He also studied music and was known to break into verse when the mood suited him.  Not one to let a military career languish, Polignac offered his services to the Confederacy.  He served as a staff officer in the commands of both Braxton Bragg and P.G.T. Beauregard. 

What General Polignac had in dash and discipline would be sorely lacking in his command.  His brigade included some of the worst regiments to come out of Texas.  The 22nd Texas Cavalry, the 31st Texas Cavalry, and the 34th Texas Cavalry came from North Texas counties that were opposed to secession before the war.   Originally from the South’s Border States, they were subsistence farmers that had little use for slaves.  Of the nineteen Texas counties that voted against secession, eight of them were in North Texas.  Needless to say, they were not thrilled about fighting for the Confederacy, preferring instead to be fighting Comanches near their homesteads.  Union threats from Kansas and Missouri led to their deployment in the Indian Territory (now present day Oklahoma), a place with little to sustain troops and a fragile moral.  There were shortages of everything: clothes, shelter, weapons, food, medicine, and discipline.  They also had to fight alongside Confederate Indian regiments whom they had little regard for.  To make matters worse, many of them succumbed to illness and were forced to go on extended leave, provided they hadn’t died already before departing.  Desertions increased and mutiny became a greater threat than the Union Army.  The brigade saw some action at Shirley’s Ford and Newtonia in Missouri, but did little to reinforce their lagging reputation.  General Thomas Hindman, their district commander, finally had enough of this ill-disciplined band of Texans; he took away their horses.  Now dismounted, and feeling like teenagers barred from a homecoming dance, they were forced to fight on foot.

Unreliable as cavalry, they were even more so as infantry.  After withdrawing from Missouri, the 31st nearly mutinied when they arrived at Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Some stability returned with the arrival of the 15th Texas Infantry, tough farm boys from Central Texas with a strong sense of cause.  Ordered back to the Indian Territory, the dismounted Texans were forced to endure one of the Civil War’s worst marches.  In January, 1863, many of them died from exposure as they trudged along in frigid temperatures with moldy corn meal to sustain them.  Unionist guerillas, led by Texas Unionist Martin Hart, attacked their supply wagons.  Alfred T. Howell of the 34th Texas recalled:

“By day, I limped along in my rundown boots, holes wearing into my feet.  At night my feet swelled and I could not stand.  Men died every day.  They laid themselves down.  They would not move and they died.  Men died on the wagons.  From Fort Smith to the Mouth of the Kiamichi where we camped, our trail was a long graveyard.  The bones of dead horses and mules, with destroyed and castaway wagons, would have made almost a turnpike.”

During the following spring, the dismounted Texans marched to Shreveport.  General Richard Taylor, Commander of Confederate forces in Louisiana, was not impressed with his new brigade.  Even more so when he discovered that many of them had no weapons.  Training was needed, and a lot of it.  Two of the regiments were placed in camps of instruction for schooling in infantry tactics.

In October, 1863, Polignac assumed command of the brigade, but his men couldn’t pronounce his name, much less comprehend his noble origin.  They came up with an easier name to pronounce – Polecat.  Fortunately, the prince took it all in good humor.  During a skirmish at Vidalia, Polignac stood up in his stirrups and exhorted his men to “Follow me! Follow me! You call me ‘Polecat,’ I will show you whether I am ‘Polecat’ or ‘Polignac!’ “He showed them the later.  Though forced to retire, he brought back a precious haul of four hundred cattle, horses and mules.  Further redemption came at the Battle of Mansfield in 1864, a key turning point during the Union’s Red River Campaign.  Polignac’s Texans assisted in outflanking the Union line and routing it off the field. 

For his actions at Mansfield, Polignac was promoted to Major General.  His replacement, Colonel James Harrison, presented him with a horse.  The Frenchman promised he would ride his noble charger across Texas after the war to visit his old brigade. Major General Polignac was later sent back to his native France on a mission to drum up support for the Confederacy.  The war ended before he could complete his mission.  He served again in the French Army during the Franco-Prussian War.  He died in 1921, the last surviving Confederate General of the Civil War.  His brigade returned to Texas where they were discharged in May, 1865.


No doubt glad to be returning home, they were no less glad to be returning with honorable service records.  Under a dapper Frenchman, Polignac’s Texas Brigade helped save the day at Mansfield and prevent a Union invasion of Texas.