Singing Freedom’s Song – Texas, the Irish and the War for Southern Independence – Part II – When the Harp and Shamrock Joined the Stars of Liberty

“Song of the Irish Brigade”

The Irish green shall again be seen
as our Irish fathers bore it,
A burning wind from the South behind,
and the Yankee rout before it!
O’Neil’s red hand shall purge the land-
Rain a fire on men and cattle,
Till the Lincoln snakes in their own cold lakes
Plunge from the blaze of battle.

Paul Octave Hebert

Galveston and New Orleans were the two major ports of the Gulf Coast during the 19th century just as they continued to be well in to the 20th century. During the 19th century however the relationship was much more symbiotic and while Galveston may have been the junior partner it was also the faster growing port. Two aspects of the War for Southern Independence underline the scope and nature of this relationship.

On the 16th of September 1861 Brig. Gen. Paul O. Hébert  assumed command of the Confederate District of Texas and established his headquarters at Galveston. Like so many Southern officers he had graduated first in his class at West Point and had seen service in the war with Mexico having been cited for gallant and meritorious conduct for his part in the battle of Molino del Rey on the 8th of September 1847.  After that war he had retired to his plantation in Iberville Parish from where he was elected, as the then youngest, governor from 1853 to 1856. With Louisiana’s secession, Hébert was appointed colonel of the First Louisiana Artillery and on the 17th of August 1861 he was promoted to brigadier general.

Hébert was not the only men to come from Louisiana to Galveston to serve. The 1st Texas Heavy Artillery Regiment was a 10 battery regiment that was organized in late 1861 and early 1862 at Galveston and was composed mainly of Irish immigrants. Company I was the group that David Adams – Margaret Edythe Young’s grandfather – joined.  This regiment manned the permanent defenses along the upper Texas coast from Sabine Pass to Velasco, with most of its strength being concentrated at Galveston although elements saw action in Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico.

A Simple Memorial

Just north-east of downtown Houston is St. Vincent’s Cemetery, the oldest Catholic cemetery in Houston dating from 1853, and near the front gate the simple memorial pictured on the left will be found. It is interesting to note that almost all of the Texans who served in the Revolution of 1836 and the War with Mexico from 1846-48, who were still of service age, found their way into the service of the South. This is true of the Generals like Sydney Sherman who troops originated the battle cry of, “Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad”, all the way through Valentine T. Dalton, who is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Galveston and whose service started in the War of 1812. Much ado is made about MacPherson’s book, The Battle Cry of Freedom, which is a panegyric to the north but what could have motivated so many in the South to oppose tyranny over the minds of men in any form?

Over the next several entries we will explore the history of Texas during the War for Southern Independence – both the men and the battles. Records of David Adams participation and even the site of his final resting place are proving hard to come by but maybe a general accounting of the men and their actions will give an appreciation of just how much was lost for the Cause.

The first thing we will present is a genealogy of one Texas regiment from the Revolution forward to show how the call to arms has always been answered in this State. After that we will present a capsule of the major engagements fought in Texas and these will later be expanded into posts of their own since they are critical to understanding where we started and what the consequences of defending freedom were.

Organized 22 June 1824 as the Austin Colony Battalion of Militia with Headquarters at San Felipe de Austin to consist of the following companies:

1st Company, Captain Andrew Robinson
2nd Company, Captain Horatio Chriesman
3rd Company, Captain Randal Jones
4th Company, Captain Jesse Burnam
5th Company, Captain Amos Rawls

Reorganized and redesignated 23 June 1828 as the Austin Battalion, Coahuila y Texas Militia

Reorganized and redesignated 5 October 1832 as the 2nd Battalion, Militia of the Municipality Regiment

Reorganized and redesignated 6 December 1836 as the Harrisburg County Regiment

(Republic of Texas annexed to the United States 29 December 1845)

Harrisburg County Regiment reorganized 21 April 1846 and assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Texas Militia

Mustered into Federal service 4-7 July 1846 at Galveston, Texas as Companies C and E, 1st Texas Foot Riflemen; mustered out of Federal service 24 August 1846 in Mexico

Reorganized and redesignated 14 February 1860 as the 16th (Harris) Brigade, Texas State Troops

The following companies of the 16th Brigade reorganized and mustered into state service February 1861-June 1862:

San Jacinto Guards
Confederate Guards
Bayland Guards
Confederate Greys
Palmer Guards
Bayou City Guards
Turner Rifles
Rough and Ready Company
Houston Artillery
Milam Rifles
Harrisburg Guards

 While remaining in state service, the following units additionally organized for Confederate service:

San Jacinto Guards, Confederate Guards, Bayland Guards and the Confederate Greys reorganized 23 February 1861 and mustered into Confederate service 31 July 1861 as Companies A, B, C and D, respectively, of the Galveston Infantry Regiment;  Galveston Infantry Regiment mustered into Confederate service 31 July 1861 at   Galveston
Reorganized and redesignated September 1861 as the 1st Texas Infantry and assigned to the Department of Texas, Trans-Mississippi Department  Redesignated 10 October 1861 as the 2nd Texas Infantry Regiment; surrendered 4 July 1863 at Vicksburg Paroled 11 July 1863; exchanged 12 September 1863 Reorganized in Texas during the fall of 1863 Disbanded 21 May 1865 at Galveston

Turner Rifles, Rough and Ready Company and the Houston Artillery mustered into Confederate service during the summer of 1861; concurrently, reorganized and        redesignated as the 3rd Texas Artillery Battalion, and assigned to the District of Texas,  Trans-Mississippi Department; reorganized and redesignated 28 April 1862 as the 1st     Texas Heavy Artillery; surrendered 26 May 1865 at Galveston

Palmer Guards and the Bayou City Guards reorganized and redesignated 28 August-30 September 1861 at Camp Quantico and Rocketts, Virginia as Company C,     1st Texas Infantry Regiment and Company A, 5th Texas Infantry Regiment, respectively;  reorganized 22 October 1861 at Dumfries, Virginia and assigned to the 5th Brigade     (Texas Brigade), Smith’s Division, Army of Northern Virginia; 1st and 5th Texas Infantry Regiments, Texas Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia, paroled 9 April 1865 at        Appomattox, Virginia

Flag of the Irish Brigade


There were several battles during the war that we will expand upon in future blogs. A general summary of the of the battles follows:

  • Sabine Pass – September 24-25, 1862
  • Galveston County –  October 4, 1862
  • Galveston County – January 1, 1863
  • Sabine Pass – September 8, 1863
  • Palmito Hill – May 12-13, 1865

Both of the Sabine Pass battles will be treated as one as will the two battles of Galveston. Palmito Hill is significant since Lee had surrendered on the 9th of April 1865 but Texas did not surrender until the 30th of May 1865 when Gen. J. Kirby Smith and General Magruder went on board a Federal vessel and surrendered. Mexico presented a safe haven for  high officials of the state  including Governor Murrah,  former Governor Clark, General Smith, General Magruder and many others who declared they would not live under the rule of the Yankees. Government disappeared entirely and, by the time Gen. Gordon Granger landed at Galveston with a force of Federal troops on June 19, the chaos was complete and the military occupation of Texas began with the imposition of the emancipation proclamation which had the short-term effect of displacing hundreds of more.

The arguments over the beginnings, conduct and consequences of the American Civil war are finally arguments about justice and how and if a nation can endure if its organic law is trampled and cast aside every time it is momentarily convenient to do so. These arguments were not settled at the founding, they were not settled by war and they have not been settled since – nor will they be settled here. What is important for our purposes is to paint the picture of Galveston and Texas and how it helped create Margaret Edythe Young’s world.

Lost for the Cause



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