The Price of Encouraging His Men to Desert

Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Location
Lockhart, Texas
One of the issues with the Texas troops serving in Louisiana and Arkansas in 1864 was the possibility of being sent east across the Mississippi River, taking them further from Texas. Many of the Texans were fine with fighting in states adjacent to Texas to defend their homeland--Texas--from Yankee invaders, but were not so committed to serving the greater Confederacy. Not an uncommon issue with soldiers from all the southern states to a lesser or greater extent. In J. Blessington's wonderfully detailed and often blunt memoir written in 1875, most likely written from his personal diary while a member of Brigade General Scurry's staff, he includes this comment about what happened on October 16, 1864:

"On the evening of the 16th we witnessed the melancholy performance of shooting Captain John Guynes, Company F, 22nd Texas Infantry. He was accused of encouraging his men to desert, when we were expected to cross the Mississippi River. He was a man about fifty years old and very much admired by his men and well liked by the officers of the brigade. Every effort was made to have his reprieve, but all without avail."

Not the good captain deserted and went home to Texas himself, but he failed in his duty as a company commander by letting his men know going home was okay with him. And ironically, his company, regiment, brigade, and division never crossed the Mississippi River. They were ordered back to Texas.

I used Blessington's book extensively while researching the daily movements and activities of Walker's Division in Louisiana when writing "With Might & Main," my historical novel about the 17th Texas Volunteer Infantry in Scurry's Brigade.
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
I imagine it was hard to convince Texans to go east to fight, when you had Yankee armies trying to invade Texas from Louisiana, the Texas Coast, Indian Territory, New Mexico Territory, and Arkansas.

There were Federal troops moving from all sides, there'd be no sense in going east to fight when the fight was coming to you. Least that's how it looked to the everyday person I bet.
 

Cryptic

Private
Joined
Jul 11, 2011
I imagine it was hard to convince Texans to go east to fight, when you had Yankee armies trying to invade Texas from Louisiana, the Texas Coast, Indian Territory, New Mexico Territory, and Arkansas.

There were Federal troops moving from all sides, there'd be no sense in going east to fight when the fight was coming to you. Least that's how it looked to the everyday person I bet.
Though some Texas had those reasons, others simply had lukewarm support of the Confederacy. For example, Sam Houston was both a slave owner and a staunch unionist.

Early in the war, Texas leaders were able to accommodate the various levels of devotion to the southern cause in the state. Some regiments were formed with the understanding that they were fully deployable anytime, anywhere. Other regiments had "west of the Mississippi only" provisions as service in these areas was seen as more in the direct defense of Texas. Still other regiments were Texas State Troops and could not be deployed outside of Texas. These regiments were then assigned to frontier guard duty against Indians, or internal anti bandit law and order patrol duties.

But.... as the war turned against the CSA, formal or implied promises regarding deployment were uhmm.... "modified". This led to a certain number of regiments being deployed outside of once promised areas and a certain level of discontent. One benefit, however, of the early Texas accommodation policy was that fully deployable Texas regiments were comprised of "double volunteers"- once to enlist and again for selecting a fully deployable regiment.

The high morale and fighting spirit of "double volunteer" regiments was cited by General Lee "The enemy never sees the backs of Texans." who used Texas regiments as assault troops. Likewise, General Forrest also greatly valued Texas cavalry regiments for their frontier style irregular fighting prowess. And when CSA un-enthusiasm grew in Cajun areas of Louisiana and mountain areas of Alabama, Texas regiments were used to reassert CSA authority. This inevitably involved executing some identified deserters or armed draft dodgers.
 

ErnieMac

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Retired Moderator
Joined
May 3, 2013
Location
Pennsylvania
A link to John Guynes Find A Grave. In addition to a photo of his grave marker a record of his court martial findings and a couple of new accounts dated 1917 and reprinted in 1961 are posted to the site.
 
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