A Texan in Search of a Fight
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"The troops of other states have their reputation to gain, the sons of the Alamo have theirs to maintain."
- Jefferson Davis
Of all the fighting units of the Civil War, Federal or Confederate, few were as renowned as Hood's Texas Brigade.
Three quotes from Robert E. Lee sum up the reputation of the Texas Brigade as the toughest combat troops in his army:
"Hood's Texas Brigade is always ready."
"Texans always move them!"
"The enemy never sees the backs of my Texans."
John Camden West could have sat out the war.
Jeff Davis had appointed the young Waco lawyer District Attorney for the Western District of Texas.
But he wanted to see action and resigned his position to enlist as a private in Hood's Texas Brigade. He saw action at Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Knoxville.
These are his letters home, as well as the diary he kept in the field. Because the words within these pages were written at the time, and never meant to be published, they have an immediacy and candor seldom seen.
He could have cleaned them up in 1901, when he put them in book form, but resisted the urge, stating:
"The questions of taste, delicacy and propriety of publishing private matter have been considered and discussed. The conclusion is that it should be printed and issued, word for word, as it was originally written thirty-eight years ago. Otherwise it would not be what the writer wrote and thought in those dark, historic days. It is not fiction. It is fact."
The letters are written to his wife, brother (JAG of the Trans-Mississippi), daughter, and his young son.
Here is the opening of a letter written to the boy on the eve of his fourth birthday.
Hagerstown, MD, July 8, 1863
To Master Stark West, four years old.
My Dear Little Man:
I wrote to mamma from our camp near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and as to-morrow is your birthday, and you are getting to be a big boy, I thought you would like for papa to write you a letter and tell you something about the war and the poor soldiers.
God has been very good to me since I wrote to mamma. He has saved my life when many thousands of good men have been slain all around me.
On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of July a very terrible battle was fought near Gettysburg. We marched all night, leaving camp at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in order to reach the battlefield in time.
There had been some fighting on the 1st and we passed a hospital where I saw a great many wounded soldiers, who were mangled and bruised in every possible way, some with their eyes shot out, some with their arms, or hands, or fingers, or feet or legs shot off, and all seeming to suffer a great deal.
About two miles farther on I found a great many soldiers drawn up in a line, ready to meet the Yankees, who formed another line a mile or two in front of them. These lines were three or four miles long, and at different places on the hills were the batteries of artillery...
This was written to a four year-old. No trigger warnings in those days.
If you like your history raw and first-hand, this is a book for you.
- A Texan in Search of a Fight by John Camden West
- Satin finish jacket
- 162 pages
- Allow 3 weeks for personalization & shipping
- Shipping is 5 dollars, anywhere in the United States.
- Your book will be packed the old fashioned way, in an actual box. No cheap book mailers.
We will gladly buy it back if you decide you don't want it anymore. There's no time limit on that.
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