by Barbara J. Wood
The history, spirit and accomplishments of Hood's Texas Brigade
HOOD's BRIGADE .... The history, spirit and accomplishments of Hood's Texas Brigade during the Civil War that today historians, authors, reenactors, students and admirers enjoy knowing and reading about to this day is largely due to two outstanding men who kept the history, spirit and memory alive of the famous brigade of Texas.
They were J.B. Polley and Harold B. Simpson.
Joseph B. (J.B.) Polley (1840-1918). Born in Brazoria County, Texas on October 27th, 1840, under the Lone Star during the time Texas was a republic. He entered the Confederate service from Guaudalupe County, Texas in June, 1861, as a private in Co. F., 4th Texas Infantry regiment which went direct to Richmond and participated in most of the battles that Hood's Texas Brigade fought in. In 1862 he was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant and at Gaines Mill, Sergeant Polley received a wound in the forehead, He missed fighting at the battle of Gettysburg recuperating from wounds he received at Second Manassas (Bull Run).
In a reconnaissance at the battle of the Wilderness, he received a wound in the foot which caused its amputation; hence he was deprived of being at the surrender of Lee at Appomattox. On returning home he found employment as a farmer and stock raiser until 1876 when he took up the profession of law, in which he has made a success. However, before his loss of a foot, he participated in the famous campaigns of the Virginia army and the following battles: Gaines Mill, Second Manassas, Chickamauga, Bacon Mountain, Knoxville, the Wilderness, and numerous other smaller engagements. He was commissioned by Hood's Texas Brigade association to write the history of the brigade and thus ". Hood's Texas brigade, its marches, its battles, its achievements" was published in 1910 and became the definitive history of the brigade until 1970 when Colonel Harold B. Simpson wrote "Hood's Texas Brigade: Lee's Grenadier Guard". Sergeant Polley would also contribute a weekly article to the San Antonio Daily Express Newspaper about the soldiers of Hood's Brigade and other Texans that fought in the Civil War. Sergeant Polley at one time served as President of the Hood's Brigade Association and attended the yearly reunions until his death in 1918.
Colonel Harold B. Simpson (USAF Ret) (1917-1989 ) born in Hindsboro, Illinois, on April 3, 1917. He graduated from the University of Illinois (B.S., 1940; M.S., 1950) and Texas Christian University (PhD., 1969). During World War II he served in the Southwest Pacific for thirty-three months with the 374th Troop Carrier Group and was decorated with a Presidential Unit Citation (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Southwest Pacific Campaign Medal (with three Battle Stars). During World War II he served in the Southwest Pacific for thirty-three months with the 374th Troop Carrier Group and was decorated with a Presidential Unit Citation (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Southwest Pacific Campaign Medal (with three Battle Stars). All of his life Simpson had a strong interest in the Civil War with special interest in Confederate military leadership, especially John Bell Hood. By the early 1950s he was publishing short papers, and he began collecting volumes on Confederate history. After his discharge from the Air Force in 1963, he joined the history faculty at Hill Junior College (now Hill College), Hillsboro, Texas. He was still in uniform when he lectured his first classes, and the students called him "the Colonel," which became their name for him for the remainder of his career.His dissertation at Texas Christian University was The History of Hood's Texas Brigade, 1861–1865, after which he completed a four-volume history of Hood's Brigade. After its publication he became known as the authority on this unit. Subsequently he authored, edited, or contributed to twenty-six volumes, including Gaines' Mill to Appomattox (1963), Cry Comanche: Second U.S. Cavalry in Texas, 1855–1861 (1979), Brawling Brass: North and South (1960), and Audie Murphy, American Soldier (1975). In addition, he founded the Hill College Press in 1964 and was editor for the many books published during his life.
Simpson reactivated the Hood's Texas Brigade Association and was active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Civil War Round Tables of Waco and Fort Worth. He was a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association and the Company of Military Historians, and he received numerous awards for his publications and his efforts on behalf of preserving Civil War history. In 1979 he began the Confederate History Symposium at Hill College, an event which drew capacity crowds annually. His personal library became the nucleus for the Texas Heritage Museum in 1963, and he began collecting material for what became the Texas Heritage Museum, both now part of the Harold B. Simpson History Center at Hill College. The Colonel continued to lecture his classes at Hill College after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, surviving by force of will until after final exams that semester. He died at Hill Regional Hospital on May 31, 1989.
COURTESY / Joe Owens. Civil War Author
R. W. Hubert
FLORESVILLE TEXAS ... R. W. Hubert poses for a professional portrait. Mr. Hubert was a member of Hood's Texas Brigade. This protrait was taken during Hood's Brigade Reunion that was in Floresville on October 13, 1915. Mr. Hubert has a long beard with a short haircut. He is wearing a dark suit with his Hood's Brigade reunion pin. In his breast pocket there looks to be other photos. (Courtesy of Portal to Texas History)
General John Bell Hood's Texas Brigade.
Veterans of Hood's Texas Brigade, at their reunion in Floresville, Texas in 1915. The veterans are holding the flag of the 4th Texas Infantry, that was sent back to Texas after the battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam.)
These are the soldiers that drove the Union line to the shore of the Chickahominey at Eltham's Landing on May 7, 1862. The veterans that survived the Battle of Sharpsburg, on September 16-17, 1862. broke the Union lines at 2nd Manassas on August 30, 1862, drove the Union lines at Gaines' Mill on June 27, 1862. The soldiers that took the Devil's Den at Gettysburg and assaulted Little Round Top in July 2. 1863 and decimated Elon Farnsworth's Cavalry Brigade on July 3, 1863.
These are the soldiers that fought valiantly at Chickamauga on September 20, 1863, and at Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and Knoxville. These are the men who General Robert E. Lee wanted to lead on a charge at the Battle of the Wilderness. These are the men that General Lee said "my Texans always move them and get me out of the tight places!"
These are the men of General Robert E. Lee, who were called and remembered as "Lee's Grenadier Guard," in the Army of Northern Virginia.
COURTESY /Joe Owen, Civil War Author
In 1915, the Hood's Texas Brigade Association had their yearly reunion in Floresville, Texas. Speeches were given by the veterans and dignitaries, lavish dinners and events occurred and everyone had a great time! The Wilson County Historical Society published an excellent book about the reunion and the speeches given.
The 4th Texas Infantry Regiment carried two different battle flags during the Civil War. The first battle flag was presented to Colonel (later General) John B. Hood and the 4th Texas during November, 1861, by Lula Wigfall, daughter of Brigadier General Louis T. Wigfall, commander of the Texas Brigade. The battle flag was made from the silk wedding dress of Lula Wigfall's mother, who married General Wigfall twenty-five years before the Civil War.
The colors of this battle flag were the ones set by Confederate standards. The field of the battle flag was red, with a yellow border around the edges. The thirteen stars in the blue cross of the flag were white, with the center star being twice the size of the other twelve. (Apparently Miss Lula Wigfall felt that Texas was the most important state of the Confederacy, so she gave the Lone Star State an extra large star.) On the top of the flagstaff was a spearhead with the engraving, "Fear not, for I am with thee. Say to the north, give up, and to the south, keep not back."
The first battle flag of the 4th Texas was carried through the battles of Eltham's Landing, Gaines' Mill, Freeman's Ford, Second Manassas, Turner's Gap and Sharpsburg. The first color bearer was Ed Francis of Company A, who carried the flag through all its battles until he fell seriously wounded on August 30, 1862 at the Battle of Second Manassas. It was also at Second Manassas that the spearhead of the flag was struck by a minie ball.
Eight more color bearers fell in battle carrying this battle flag in the ensuing battles, and the flag was pierced by sixty-five bullets and three shells. The silken banner was retired on October 7, 1862, due to the heavy damage it sustained during all the battles in which it was carried.
Captain Stephen H. Darden of Company A took the flag back to Texas and presented it to Gov. F. F. Lubbock for deposit in the state archives. In 1865, as the war ended, Captain C. C. Walsh and Sgt. R. R. Robertson of Company B of the 4th (who were at home at the time), took the battle flag from the archives in Austin, wrapped it in a piece of oilcloth, and buried it on the banks of Barton's Creek near Austin. This kept it from the hands of the Federals who reached Austin the next day.
The flag was committed to the custody of Val C. Giles, a former member of Company B of the 4th Texas. At the turn of the century, the flag was presented to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and it was placed in their museum in Austin.
When the first battle flag of the 4th was retired in October 1862, it was replaced by a second standard battle flag with a red field and blue cross with thirteen stars, although the middle star was again twice as large as the others.
Presumably this second banner was carried throughout the rest of the war in such battles as Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and other battles and was surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.
The only known photo of the second issue of the flag is from a photo taken during the 1915 Hood's Texas Brigade Association Reunion in Floresville, Texas.
COURTESY /Joe Owen, Civil War Author