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Capt. Joseph Rafael de la Garza

Discussion in 'Other Notable Biographies' started by AUG351, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    Captain Garza.gif

    GARZA, JOSÉ RAFAEL DE LA (ca. 1838–1864). José (Joseph) Rafael de la Garza, Tejano land owner, Confederate officer, and the son of José Antonio de la Garza and María Josefa Menchaca, was born in San Antonio about 1838. His father was one of South Texas’s most important landowners who was “the first in Texas to coin money and the first to use the Lone Star as an emblem.” José Antonio de la Garza and his wife had several children. José Rafael de la Garza’s sister Carolina Angela married Bart (Bartholomew) J. DeWitt, a well-known sutler and merchant, and another sister, Elena, married Manuel Yturri, a captain in the Third Texas Infantry during the Civil War and descendant of a wealthy and influential Tejano family. De la Garza also had a younger brother named Leonardo. In his youth, De la Garza attended school in San Antonio and tended to farming and ranching duties. He left Texas in the early 1850s to study at St. Joseph’s College at Bardstown, a Jesuit-run school in north central Kentucky. While studying ancient Greek, Latin, and theology, he was described at the time as a young man of “fine disposition.”

    De la Garza enlisted in the Confederate Army when the Civil War erupted and served briefly on the Texas-Mexico border under the command of Capt. Santos Benavides. On March 31, 1862, in San Antonio, De la Garza, at age twenty-three, was mustered into service as a second lieutenant in Capt. Samuel W. McAllister’s Alamo Rifles. Muster rolls listed him as Joseph R. Garza. By 1863 the Bexareño had risen to captain in Company K of the Sixth Texas Infantry. He remained a company commander in the Seventeenth Texas Cavalry, Consolidated, [formed from Texans who had escaped capture at Arkansas Post] in Gen. Camille Armand Jules Marie “Prince Polecat” Polignac’s Brigade, stationed at Louisiana. During the Union Red River campaign at the battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864, De la Garza led his company in an all-out attack against Federal troops only to be “shot above the knee” and bleed to death on the battlefield. In a letter written to Bart DeWitt (De la Garza’s brother-in-law) and dated April 19, 1864, H. B. Adams described his death, “Joe Garza fell while gallantly fighting at the head of his company at the battle of Mansfield….”

    De la Garza’s valuable letters were preserved by family members and provide a rare glimpse into the daily life of a soldier in the Trans-Mississippi. Bartholomew DeWitt returned his body to his hometown where De la Garza was interred at San Fernando Cemetery No. 1.
    https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgapa


    De la Garza's letters have been published in Tejanos in Gray: Civil War Letters of Captains Joseph Ráfael de la Garza & Manuel Yturri edited by Jerry D. Thompson and José Roberto Juárez.

    His initial company, the Alamo Rifles, Co. K of the 6th Texas Infantry, was raised in San Antonio. Out of the 56 original members 10% were Hispanic.

    The 6th Texas Infantry along with the other Texas regiments that would afterward form Granbury's famous brigade were captured in the battle of Arkansas Post in January 1863. However, the men that avoided capture there (including De la Garza) were formed into the 17th Texas Consolidated Dismounted Cavalry at Shreveport, La., in July 1863. While the prisoners of Arkansas Post were exchanged and went on to serve east of the Mississippi River, the men in the 17th Texas Consolidated served out the rest of the war in Louisiana as part of Prince de Polignac's Texas Brigade. The regiment was literally in the middle of the charge at Mansfield and suffered heavy losses there.

    Here's the link to a good article and presentation on the regiment by Danny Sessums: https://cactusrosepress.wordpress.c...-texas-consolidated-dismounted-cavalry-c-s-a/
     

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  3. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    Letter by H. B. Adams mentioning Capt. de la Garza's death:

    Headquarters Waul’s Brigade
    Walker’s Division, in the Field
    Apl. 19, 1864

    Friend Bart,
    Having a few leisure moments, I thought I could not better employ them than by writing you. Our command having been halted at this place to give the men an opportunity to wash and clean up generally as they have been marching and fighting for the past month without rest.

    I have some painful news to communicate to you. It is that Joe Garza fell while gallantly fighting at the head of his company at the battle of Mansfield on the evening of the 8th inst. He was shot above the knee with a shell and died soon after. This I was told by a number of his company who had assisted at his burial. Joe spent the greater part of the day with me the day before the fight and was in fine health and spirits…

    I have had a pretty rough and hard time since I reached this command, as it was falling back from Marksville where we were going and the Yanks pursuing. As I had to relieve the then quartermaster of this brigade and everything being in confusion, I had a pretty rough time. I did not get into the battle of the 8th, but did in the 9th. It was a hard fight, but we whipped the Yanks badly. I think it was the most complete victory of the war. We had but about 8 or 9,000 in the first day’s fight and in the second about 12,000. The enemy had not less than 30,000 in the first, and were reinforced on the second day by a fresh corps. They were completely routed, losing about 300 wagons and trains, wagons loaded with stores, between 80 and 100 ambulances, 16 pieces of artillery with everything complete. All of these fell into our hands and were saved. They also destroyed quartermaster stores without number. Small arms it would be hard to estimate numbers, as all of our gun supplies and Enfield rifles that were left on the battlefield and there were wagon loads hauled off. As far as I was able to see and could learn from the parties sent out to bury the dead, theirs was at about 5 to 1 of our dead. And hundreds were reported laying in the woods, the men not taking the trouble to bury when there were none of our men killed.

    In prisoners we got between 4 and 5,000. Our loss in officers has been terribly severe. We have to mourn the loss of Major General Tom Green, Brigadier General Mouton, some 9 or 10 colonels in the same proportion. After the two days fights we were ordered on the march. Where we are going is “Quien Sabe” but am inclined to think Arkansas is the point, unless
    [Union general Frederick] Steele happens to fall back too rapidly that there would be no chance for us to catch him…

    H.B. Adams


    https://tmd.texas.gov/memorial-day-reflections-capt-jose-rafael-de-la-garza
     
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  4. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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  5. WJC

    WJC 1st Lieutenant

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    Thanks for posting this interesting information and links.
     
    KansasFreestater and AUG351 like this.
  6. BelleBlackburn

    BelleBlackburn Sergeant

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    I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it hurts.
     
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  7. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    Here's a postwar photo of Captain William Fears (left) and Ensign W. H. Parker of Co. A, 17th Texas Consolidated Dismounted Cavalry holding the battle flag of the regiment that was flown as Mansfield. Photo was taken at Lufkin, Texas on 9/21/1929. The flag is a Confederate Second National. According to Danny Sessums the large rip in the flag is from a shell that struck the color guard in their advance at Mansfield, possibly the same shell that mortally wounded Captain de la Garza.

    17th Texas Consolidated Dismounted Cavalry battle flag.jpg
     
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  8. Mike Serpa

    Mike Serpa Captain

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    Right Said Fred.
     
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  9. Lost Cause

    Lost Cause Sergeant Major

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