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Polignac's Texas Brigade

  • For three years during the American Civil War an oddly assorted brigade of Texans served the Confederacy in the Trans-Mississippi theater and then, for one hundred years, disappeared from history. Some five thousand men, raised largely from the communities and farmsteads of North Texas, served in cavalry and infantry units, and were commanded for part of that time by the only foreign general of the Confederacy, Prince Camille de Polignac.

    This group of soldiers fought in numerous skirmishes from Missouri to Louisiana. They endured a fearfully cold winter march through Indian Territory, were bombarded by gunboat shells along the banks of the Mississippi, Ouachita, and Red Rivers, and engaged in a stand-up, no-quarter fight along Yellow Bayou. By the summer of 1864, the brigade was engaged in little fighting, and in 1865 returned to Texas, where it was disbanded in May. More than a hundred men had been killed on the battlefields, and many others had died of disease and cold. "Our trail," wrote one brigade member, "was a long graveyard."

    First published in 1964 by the Texas Gulf Coast Historical Association, Alwyn Barr's study of this previously little-known brigade not only detailed an aspect of the less-studied war in the West, but also showed in stark, first-person accounts the toll of war at the level of the common fighting man.

    Available again after only a limited print run in its first edition, this little masterpiece of Civil War history now includes a new preface by Barr that updates what is known of the brigade and its significance to the Trans-Mississippi campaign.

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