Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke: The First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War

Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke: The First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War

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by Stanley S. McGowen
     
 


The 1st Texas Cavalry Regiment, also known as the 1st Texas Mounted Rifles, was Texas’ first contribution of soldiers to the Civil War. The regiment was the first Confederate unit organized in Texas and the longest to serve, participating in Indian skirmishes on the frontier as well as in full battles against the Union.

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Overview


The 1st Texas Cavalry Regiment, also known as the 1st Texas Mounted Rifles, was Texas’ first contribution of soldiers to the Civil War. The regiment was the first Confederate unit organized in Texas and the longest to serve, participating in Indian skirmishes on the frontier as well as in full battles against the Union.

In Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke Stanley S. McGowen describes and honors one of the most unique and successful military units in Texas history. He provides the first complete history of the 1st Texas Cavalry Regiment, documenting their origins from the Confederate Committee on Public Safety’s request for mounted units to the appointment of Henry McCulloch to colonel of cavalry.

McCulloch, a former Texas Ranger, was swift and effective at motivating his fellow Texans to arms, notably Captains James B. “Buck” Barry and Thomas C. Frost. The regimental commanders, McCulloch, Augustus Buchel, and William Yager, were acknowledged for their emphasis on precise discipline and gentlemanly conduct, and their training methods were valuable in that soldiers learned both cavalry and infantry maneuvers, as well as saber fighting and the proper care of horses and equipment. As many commanders maintained lax rules of propriety and organization, the 1st Texas Mounted Rifles remained a cohesive and loyal unit, disbanding only under the proper orders. Even after, as the Confederacy fell around them, the troops remained steadfastly loyal to their fellow fighters.

McGowen examines the vast range of territory that the unit covered, including Louisiana swamps, the Red River Valley, along the Rio Grande, as well as the Gulf Coast line. He discusses their involvement in the controversial campaign known as the Battle of the Nueces, casting doubts on the common interpretation of the German immigrants, sympathetic to the Union, as defenseless farmers. McGowen asserts that while there was bloodshed on both sides, the Germans were not the innocent victims that many historians have claimed, and that the cavalry was not the bloodthirsty gang many thought.

Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke clearly portrays the heroism and individuality of Texas’ first mounted unit in the Civil War. By combining the history of the unit with profiles of the men who led it and who gave it its unique spirit and character, as well as accounts of the battles, raids, and skirmishes in which the unit participated, McGowen provides a valuable history of men whose recognition is long overdue from those whose homes, values, and way of life were defended by their actions.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780890969038
Publisher:
Texas A&M University Press
Publication date:
09/28/1999
Series:
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series, #66
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.54(h) x 0.95(d)

Meet the Author


Stanley S. McGowen received his Ph.D. in history from Texas Christian University. He has written more than twenty articles and papers on various topics on military history.

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Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke: The First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The actions of Texas companies during the Civil War is told with personal interest highlights. I was able to visualize what the real life people experienced and to compare Texas today as it was in during the Civil War period. The author did not stop with the end of the War but continues in most tales with the remainder of the characters lives which did not leave me wandering what happened to the people I had been reading about. The chapters are a good length with illustrations for added benefits. I recommend this book to all Texas history buffs and to young adults, along with adults that have an interest for real life in the early history of Texas.