|The 18th Texas Infantry in service to the Confederate States of America (CSA) was formed on May 13, 1862 in Jefferson (Marion County), TX and spent its entire career within the Trans-Mississippi Department (Confederate operations west of the Mississippi River). The regiment consisted of 10 companies (11 Companies for some months) and participated in more than twenty military engagements. Five of these engagements were significant and are summarized below.
Initial regimental field operations were in Arkansas from late summer (1862) into the spring (1863) with no military action. In October a new Division was formed and 18th Texas Infantry was incorporated into the 1st Brigade. In December General John G. Walker assumed command of the Division. This Division was later known as “Walker’s Greyhounds” denoting its reputation for its many long, forced marches back and forth across Louisiana and Arkansas. In January of 1863 the Division was sent to the Arkansas Post (military outpost) located on the Arkansas River near the Mississippi River to assist in its defense. They arrived too late to be of any help. In May the Division was sent on a long march and via the Red River to Alexandria, LA to help defend against a threatened Union advance commanded by General Nathaniel Banks. Banks, however, chose to turn back east and attack Port Hudson on the Mississippi River. By early June 1863 the 18th Texas Infantry was sent on a long march through snake invested bayous, a march that “tired men’s souls” to Perkins Landing – 15 miles from Vicksburg to try to prevent some of Grant’s forces from crossing the Mississippi River from Louisiana into Mississippi. Again, they arrive after most of the Yankees had crossed the River skirmishing only with several Union gunboats. After establishing camp they were then ordered to move to the North of Vicksburg to Milliken’s Bend at Young Point, LA to engage the enemy. The Brigade commander fearing the exhausted 18th – on the move for 28 sleepless hours – would be too tired to be effective ordered a retreat. Once again the Texans were denied a fight. Soon, however the 18th with all of their pent-up frustration would finally get their chance to fight the enemy.
June 15, 1863 - Battle - Roundaway Bayou, north of Richmond, Louisiana, (20 miles west of Vicksburg) --The 18th Texas Infantry crossed the bayou and charged the much superior enemy force at the point of the bayonet. One account summed up this engagement this way:
November 3, 1863 - Battle - Bayou Bourbeau near Grand Coteau, Louisiana (10 miles south of Opelousas). The Infantry Brigade was formed in battle line in the following manner. - The 15th Texas Infantry, commanded by Colonel Joseph W. Speight took their position on the right of the brigade; the 18th Texas Infantry, commanded by Col. Wilburn H. King, was assigned the center, and the 11th Texas Infantry, commanded by Col. Oran Milo Roberts, took their position on the left of the brigade. The fierce battle lasted 3 hours. According to the memoirs of Wilburn King here is his account.
April 8, 1864 - Battle - Sabine Cross Roads (5 miles southeast of Mansfield, Louisiana). Approximately 8,800 Confederate troops facing about 12,000 Union troops in the immediate area. The total Union forces including the naval force on the Red River (13 ironclads, 4 tinclads and 5 other armed vessels) and support personnel numbered approximately 30,000. A stunning victory for the Confederates under the command of General Richard Taylor (the son of former President Zachary Taylor) ultimately caused Union Army commander General N. Banks to abandon his march toward Shreveport and to turn back to New Orleans. The Confederates lost about 1000 in killed, wounded and missing. The loss of the enemy amounted to 2235 in killed, wounded and missing, 20 pieces of artillery, including Nim's battery, Chicago Mercantile battery and the First Indiana battery, 200 wagons, 1000 horses and mules and thousands of small-arms. The 18th Texas, part of Waul’s Brigade and Walker’s Division, attacked in fury. Following is a description of the Texans’ attack.
April 9, 1864 - Battle - Pleasant Hill, Louisiana (17 miles southeast of Mansfield). After the Southerner’s victorious rout of the Yankees on the 8th at Mansfield General Taylor pressed on hoping to cut the Union forces in half and separate General Banks from his gunboat armada on the Red River 16 miles to the east. General Banks with 12,193 men engaged suffered 1369 causalities. General Taylor with 12,500 men engaged lost 1,200 killed and wounded. Walker’s Texans, including the 18th regiment, are described going into battle from this account and a scene after the battle:
A major strategic error on the part of the Confederates took place after the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill. The commanding general of the Trans Mississippi Army – General Kirby Smith – made a bad decision, against the strong opposition of General Taylor, Walker and others, to send most of Taylor’s forces, including Walker’s Division, north into Arkansas to fight Union General Steele’s force of 6000 that had been heading from Little Rock to Shreveport. Taylor was convinced that Steele would not be a threat to Smith and Shreveport. Indeed Steele, upon hearing of Bank’s defeat at Mansfield, turned back toward Little Rock. Taylor insisted that if Kirby Smith had concentrated forces against Banks, the Union army and its valuable fleet would have been bagged, the Mississippi River opened by the captured vessels, and the outnumbered Confederates facing Sherman in Georgia reinforced with up to 30,000 troops from the Trans-Mississippi Department. The War’s outcome might have been different. Taylor’s strong feelings about this issue was revealed in his book.
During mid 1864 the 18 Texas Infantry was returned to Louisiana. There it served at Shreveport. In early 1865 the unit was moved to Hempstead, Texas where it disbanded in May 1865 having never surrendered.
Texans in the Civil War