The Brooks Brothers and the 12th Texas Cavalry

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The Brooks Brothers and the 12th Texas Cavalry


By Jerry L Brooks

March 26, 2006





The story of the three Brooks brothers of Bastrop County, Texas who fought in the 12th Texas Cavalry has never been told.  Unlike some fortunate families, there are no letters or other documents written by them telling their descendants of the events in their young lives in 1860 to 1865.   This period in their lives, however, has been recreated herein based on the writings of those who served with them in Parsons’ Brigade. 


The William Malone Brooks, Jr. family, originally from Franklin County, Alabama, arrived in Bastrop County, Texas in late 1859 or early 1860 from Birdville, Tarrant County, Texas.  It is believed that William Malone Brooks, Jr., known as Malone, died between April and September, 1860 because at the time of the 1860 census of Bastrop County on September 11, 1860, his wife was listed as a widow with their several children. Their youngest child, Eliza Malone Brooks, was born in Bastrop County on November 5, 1860 after the death of her father.  In the 1860 census, the ages of the Brooks sons were Robert Levi, 20; William, 18; John, 15; Thomas,12; Richard, 4; and William, 1.     When the census taker was gathering information at the Brooks household in the remote community, he undoubtedly found the recently-widowed, pregnant, thirty-five year old woman with six children in the house.   As Eliza struggled to deal with the challenges facing her and her children, she also was confronted with a country about to be torn apart by the Civil War and her three oldest sons, who normally would have supported the family, soon to be away for almost four years, and one, not to return.   One can only wonder how this young woman survived all the problems facing her.


It is not known why the Brooks family moved from Tarrant County to Bastrop County.  It is likely that they had either friends or relatives there, although none have been identified.


By 1860 the approaching Civil War was impacting Bastrop County.  Bastrop County did not want war and vehemently opposed secession from the Union.  When Texas did break away from the United States in 1861, however, Bastrop followed suit and rallied to the support of the Confederate States.  At a meeting in Austin in January, 1861, a resolution favoring secession was adopted and a referendum election was called, that election being held in the various counties February 23, 1861.  At the election held in Bastrop County secession from the Union was opposed by a majority of 42 votes; however, the men of Bastrop County nevertheless volunteered for service in the Confederate forces. On March 4, 1861, Texas officially became a part of the Confederate States. Numerous commands were formed from Bastrop County, including one consisting of the young men who joined what later became the 12th Regiment, Texas Cavalry. 


Bailey’s Between the Enemy and Texas said that the fighting west of the Mississippi River, where Parsons’ regiment served,

presented a different kind of war than was experienced east of the Mississippi.  Parsons’ Texans reconnoitered along the Mississippi River and its tributaries from mid-1862 until the end of the war, performing an often monotonous but valuable service for the South.  The troops spent little time in camp; the nature of their service kept them constantly on the move.  Unlike infantrymen, who often spent the winters in tents, the cavalry scouted year-round.


Parsons’ Texans were typical Southerners.  They enjoyed drinking, gambling, singing; they were expert horsemen and skillful marksmen.  They took orders cheerfully when they agreed with the directive and refused when they thought the order was unreasonable.  They were better at raiding than performing as traditional cavalry.  They lived off the land and fought with the weapons they brought from home. 


The Texans were aggressive and preferred to take the offensive.  In almost every skirmish from Missouri to Louisiana they struck first.  They loved to charge and gained a reputation along the Mississippi River for their wild, impetuous charges and fearless, often violent fighting.  In 1862 a member of the brigade noted that the Federals “were even afraid to send out scouts, for fear that we will bush-whack them….They have a wholesome dread of the Texans.”  A Union private noted, “fighting the Texans is like walking into a den of wildcats.”


Parsons’ Twelfth Texas was composed of men, often young and single, who joined in 1861 anxious to fight for the South.  Although men joined the brigade for a variety of reasons, they held one common belief----the desire to protect Texas from invasion and occupation. 


Such was the group of men with whom the Brooks brothers joined in 1861 to protect their beloved Texas from invasion by the Federal troops.   Descendants of these young men can rightfully be proud of these, our ancestors.


The three oldest sons of William Malone Brooks, Jr. and his wife, Eliza Bates Brooks, served and fought in Company D of the 12th Texas Cavalry.   It is possible that all three brothers traveled to Ellis County, Texas where they enlisted October 28, 1861, along with other “Pin Oak boys”.  John Truss, in his letter to his wife of August 30, 1861, from Ellis County, mentioned that they had reached Parsons’ regiment August 29, that they were being mustered into service and that all the Pinoak  boys were well.   His next letter, November 18, 1861 was from Camp Hempstead, Texas. 


During mid-1861 eight companies, including that from Bastrop, eventually gathered in Ellis County where Colonel Parsons opened a camp of instruction early in July, 1861.   Throughout the hot summer Parsons drilled military training and discipline into the raw recruits.  Those who were unable to endure the difficult life left; those who remained learned essential military skills.  After several weeks in north Texas, the Colonel received orders to march to Hempstead near Houston, where a mustering officer would transfer the entire command into the Confederate service.    One can visualize the Brooks brothers among the troops upon reaching the large town of Houston.  Henry Orr recalled that when Parsons arrived by railroad at the new camp, pandemonium broke out.   “Such cheering and shooting of pistols, I never before heard.  This was a day long to be remembered by many of the boys from the interior of the state, who here saw for the first time the Iron Horse.”   And the Brooks brothers were there!


An interesting account of the days in Ellis County is provided in Gallaway’s Ragged Rebel through the experiences of young, 18 year-old David Carey Nance whose family owned a large farm at present-day DeSoto, Texas, south of Dallas.  Over his father’s objections, David joined the Ellis County Grays, Company E of the 12th Texas Cavalry.  On September 11, 1861 at Rocket Springs, a village not far from Waxahachie, Texas, young Dave was present to observe the formal organization ceremonies of Parsons’ regiment.   He said the roads into town were packed with humanity on the move.   There were wagons packing the streets and hundreds of men on horseback.  He related that


At the hour of ten a.m., the bugle sounded and ten companies, comprising about twelve hundred men, formed a “hollow square” in order to perform the work at hand; this done, the marshal of the day (whose name is forgotten) demanded to know the nominations:---First, for Colonel….When the name of Parsons was called by many voices….a proud form on as proud an animal glided into the open space and made a brief address to the volunteers around him, after which the marshal called for a vote and W. H. Parsons was unanimously elected.


It was at this inspiring event that young Dave decided to disregard his father’s objections and become a soldier.  The ten companies of the Fourth Dragoons, the name of Parsons’ organization at the time, scattered across the northern and central portions of the state collecting recruits and supplies, finally rendezvousing at Camp Hebert near Hempstead.  On October 28, after extensive drill and training, the regiment was transferred from state to Confederate service, and the Fourth Texas Mounted Dragoons became the 12th Texas Cavalry.  After a brief illness, young Dave headed to Camp Hebert and learned that his regiment had moved south.  Riding into Houston, he learned that the 12th Cavalry had “marched through the city in platoons of eights” that morning, having performed admirably as Parsons’ boys had taken the road to Galveston.  He found the bivouac of the 12th Texas Cavalry lining the north bank of Sims Bayou and filling a crescent-shaped plateau that skirted the winding stream.   In Truss’ letter to his wife of November 18, 1861, he said that, “We are going to take up the line of march for Galveston in the morning.”  This supports the belief that Truss and the Pinoak boys, including the Brooks brothers, were likely already at Sims Bayou when young Dave arrived. 


Life in the bivouac area is described in The Ragged Rebel.


The bivouac, apparently erected in great haste, had a jumbled, cluttered appearance.  Several Sibley tents, large conical structures ordinary used by infantry rather than cavalry, were scattered across the plateau.  Several hundred smaller tents of various shape and design also were in evidence, but tents of all types were vastly outnumbered by a veritable forest of crude shelters constructed from wagon sheets, sections of oilcloth, pine boughs, and other makeshift materials.  The occupants of the camp probably had intended to arrange these structures in neat, orderly patterns, but the rows of shelters and their accompanying streets were irregular, intermittent, crooked and unsightly.  There was little movement in the camp, and the entire plateau, soaked by earlier rains and current drizzle, had a foreboding dreariness about it.  Piles of partly packed boxes of goods and equipment, dozens of mule- and horse-drawn wagons, and stacks of freshly cut timber cluttered the campsite.  The center of the bivouac and the roads that connected with the highway---churned by countless animals, carts, and wagons---were lakes of mud.  Horses, mules, and oxen, either tethered to tightly strung lariats or enclosed in rough log corrals, stood motionless in the icy, gray mist.  And little knots of rain-soaked rangers, dressed in every conceivable gear, huddled around camp fires drinking boiled coffee.


Unlike Union cavalry, Confederate cavalrymen furnished their own mounts and most of their firearms.  If a horse or weapon was lost or destroyed, the soldier usually received a sixty-day furlough to try to replace his loss.  These personal possessions were carefully evaluated by Confederate appraisers with the expectation that the Confederate government would reimburse its soldiers after the war for the use of their property.  Since the South lost the war, of course no reimbursements were ever made.


The purpose for the regiment being at Sims Bayou was to give the 12th Cavalry a central position from which to move in any direction in the event of an invasion.  The camp itself was situated on a rolling plateau on the north bank of Sims Bayou, east of the railroad and highway bridges, and approximately halfway between Houston and Galveston.  Parsons had selected the Sims Bayou site to instruct his troops in military science and regimental drill, in addition to being positioned to protect Texas in the event of any invasion from the coast.  It was here that the young men spent these winter months. 


Despite long periods of wet weather, the Sims Bayou camp grew rapidly.  The mushrooming tent city---dubbed “Camp Parsons” in honor of the colonel, exploded into long lines of Sibley and wagon sheet tents, sutlers’ shanties, supply cribs, service sheds, commissary and equipment houses, livestock corrals, and log barracks.  Bulletin boards appeared at various intersections displaying announcements of special events and notices of scouting schedules, guard duty and fatigue details.


As the weeks passed, training programs became more intermittent, and the young men found time “to write letters, lark from one tent to another, sing jocular songs, compete in shooting and riding contests, and participate in various kinds of organized sports.    They enjoyed various kinds of sports, but the most popular was a game called “town ball”.  On December 21, one young man of Company F wrote


Within the last two weeks, the health has generally improved, and the boys are cheerful and gay.  They have several ways of amusing themselves; the most popular one at present is town ball.  Each company has some two or three Indian (India) rubber balls, and they choose about ten or fifteen on each side.  Such knocking, running and shouting you never heard.  The captains and lieutenants sometimes take a hand.


The camp received weekly rations.  They also had access to private donations.  The young troops enjoyed going into Houston to “look around”.  Houston was overrun with refugees from the coast since all residents of Galveston had been ordered to leave the city since Galveston was considered indefensible.  A few days before Christmas there was a dress parade through the streets of Houston.    Christmas Day was filled with horse races, shooting matches, singing contests, and patriotic speeches.  Plenty of “busthead” was on hand for those who wanted it, and as a result, at least two of Parsons’ boys became highly intoxicated.  Few furloughs had been granted so most were in the camp.    In that same month, however, the camp was struck with “bayou fever” (pneumonia and typhoid) epidemic that eventually claimed the lives of more than four dozen soldiers.  Some bodies were returned to the families while others were buried on the banks of the bayou. 


The unpleasantness of heavy rains that fell during January was compounded by frigid temperatures.  During the following weeks “black depression” affected the camp.  Additional deaths, continued bad weather, and fading prospects of moving their bivouac made life in the camps increasingly intolerable.    And the very fact that they had experienced no military actions depressed them further. 


Finally, it was announced that the 12th would depart Sims Bayou.  On February 27, 1862 Parsons conducted a dress parade on the Galveston Road and made a speech from his horse “in his usually warm, impulsive style.”  He informed the troops that he had decided “to permit the companies to march by their respective homes and rendezvous at Fulton on Red River.”  Five of his ten companies would move out first and proceed to a point some five miles above Houston where they would wait for the other five companies prior to the men’s scattering to return to their homes. On March 6 the regiment scattered in all directions as Parsons’ boys went to spend a few days with their families.  We can surmise that the three Brooks brothers returned to visit their mother in Bastrop County before heading to Arkansas with their regiment. 


Confederate Arkansas - 1862


Map from The Ragged Rebel by B. P. Gallaway,1988.


This map provides an overview of the areas in which the 12th Texas Cavalry fought.



Col. William Henry Parsons, 1871



William Henry Parsons served in the Mexican War and when the clouds of the "War for Southern Independence" were rising, he obtained authorization from the Governor Edward Clark, Headquarters, Texas State Troops, to form a Regiment of mounted troops in the 9th Military District. His desire was to form a Regiment of Dragoon’s which he had become familiar with in the Mexican War. This he did in September 1861. The Regiment was sworn into State service for one year as the 4th Texas Dragoon’s, which they used for themselves through out the war. The 12th Regiment was Brigaded with the 19th Texas Cavalry, the 21st Texas Cavalry, Morgan’s Battalion, later Regiment and Pratts Battery of 6 guns, and in late May or early April 1865, the 30th Texas Cavalry Regiment. It didn’t leave the field until May 23, 1865.



At the reunion of Parsons' Brigade held at Hillsboro last week, Col. B. F. Marchbanks of Waxahachie, a member of the association, read the following communication from Gen. W. H. Parsons, the old time commander of the Brigade, forwarded from Chicago as a greeting to the comrades of his command.

"Leaf by leaf the trees are falling
Drop by drop the streams run dry
One by one beyond recalling
Summer roses droop and die."

"Your letter, dear comrades in arms, finds me still among those who witness the falling leaves and while I await the bugle call of my Great Commander, I feel that it is in a strict military order that  he who was your superior officer during those thunderous days from '61 to '65 should remain on the field until the last man utters his response to the earthly roll call. ....

"When the old guard gathers at Hillsboro read them this letter from the man who loves them have from time to time received from my pen words reminiscent of those stirring days of civil strife but I now feel that we should for the remaining years live in the present and contemplate the future....the grand old state of Texas flourishes and I am conscious of my part in its present greatness and prosperity.  Let the younger generation join with us in our enthusiasm and say to young and old in the hearing of your voice at the coming reunion of Parsons' Brigade that your old commander still lives and loves". /s/ W. H. Parsons [Waxahachie Daily Light, Saturday, Aug. 10, 1907]   [Sources: Condensed History Parsons' Texas Cavalry Brigade, 1861-1865; pub. Corsicana, Tex. 1903; newspaper articles and notices from Confederate Veteran as cited.]


DEATH OF GENERAL W. H. PARSONS - Waxahachie Daily Light, Tues. Oct. 8, 1907

General W. H. Parsons, formerly of Texas, of late years a resident of Washington, D. C. and recently a resident of the city of Chicago, died on the evening of October 2, 1907, age 81 years, 5 months and 9 days.   General Parsons was commander of Parsons' Texas Brigade.  His last moments were peaceful and the day before his death had the satisfaction of receiving a letter from one of his old soldiers, Maj. A. M. Dickman, of Dallas.  Thus, among his last thoughts was the comforting assurance that he was not forgotten though separated by many years and many miles from those who followed him and loved him.





            A collection of letters written by John W. Truss to his young wife, Rebecca (Roe) Truss, in the Pin Oak community in eastern Bastrop County, Texas  between the years 1861 and 1864 reveals much about the challenges faced by the young men in the 12th Texas Cavalry.  These letters were published in “The Southwest Historical Quarterly”, Vol. 2, October 1965.  The article was edited by Johnette Highsmith Ray, a descendant of John Truss’ daughter, who wrote:


            A packet of letters tied in faded blue was the last of great-grandma’s belongings to be tossed on the fire, worthless things all, that had been important only to her.  Grandmother watched the flames sadly a moment, then braved them to retrieve the letters. “Somehow,” she said, ”it’s like burning part of her.  She read these letters once in a while until the last.”  Those letters recently came to the writer from an aunt who knew of her interest in history.  They are of value both as additions to the limited information available on Parsons’ Brigade and for the insight they offer on the day to day life and thoughts of a private soldier in the Civil War.

            John Truss lived with his young wife on a section of land in Central Texas, called Pinoak because a little creek by this name ran through that area.  Their farm was approximately six miles from Paige and fifteen from Bastrop.  Marion, constantly referred to in the letters, was his wife’s brother, and the ‘Pinoak boys’ were his friends from his home community who made up part of Company D., 12th Texas Cavalry, throughout the war.


Following are brief excerpts from these letters.


Letter of August 30, 1861 – State of Texas,Ellis County       
In this first letter Truss stated that

We reached Colonel Parsons’ regiment yesterday and were mustered into service today.  Marion and William and all the Pinoak boys are well; they send their best respects to all. 


Letter of November 18, 1861 – Camp Hempstead (Texas)

In this brief letter Truss said

We are going to take up the line of march for Galveston in the morning.


Letter of April 18, 1862 – Kaufman County (Texas)


I will commence by telling our travels.  We started on the evening of the 9.  We stayed at Harris Alsup’s that night.  Next morning which was Thursday we started on.  We traveled the road that  you all did when  you moved.  I thought of you as often as my horse stepped.  We came to old man Dickson’s.  It rained all night most.  The next morning we left on very muddy roads.  Worse than that I took the sore eyes so bad I could hardly see.  By twelve o-clock we got to Little River, and it was up right smartly though we crossed it without quite having to swim.   That night we stayed at Mr. Walker’s, where Father Roe (Rebecca’s father) lost his mule again.  The old man doctored my eyes until we left Saturday morning.  I could not see at all hardly.  I just had to follow the noise of Marion’s horse.  We got to Pond Creek and stayed at old man Bull’s.  Sunday we came to Waco and put up at the tavern.  I do not remember the name.   Monday we came to Waxahachie.   There we learned all about our regiment.  They are now in Arkansas.  They met at Lainsport.  We are ordered to Jacksonport in Arkansas.  The regiment is about two hundred miles ahead of us.  We turned at Waxahachie in the direction of Little Rock.  We left there late in the evening.  We came to a house just at dark.  Asked to stay all night.  He sent us on to the next house, and so on to the fifth house.  He did not want us to stay there either.  We just got off our horses and told him we must stay; so we stayed somehow.  Wednesday we crossed the Trinity at the Three Forks.  Stayed all night near the town of Kaufman at Cunters.  It rained all night Thursday.  We traveled on till noon.  We came to a creek that was up.  The bridge had washed off.  We ran our horses back two miles to a house.  A powerful hail and wind caught us just as we got to the house.  It frightened my horse so that I had to hold him all the time the hail was falling.  We both got very wet---myself and Marion.  That was Thursday.  It rained all night and all day Friday and Friday night.  Today is Saturday the 19th…..We are going to Little Rock, Arkansas and from there to Island No. 10 or to Jacksonport.


Letter of July 14, 1862 – Prairie County Camp, near Brownsville (Arkansas)

In his letter of July 14, 1862 John Truss mentioned that,

"I take the opportunity to drop you a few lines.  This leaves me in good health tho I have not got stout yet over the trimbles as yet.  When I wrote my last letter I trembled like a leave in a tornado and I am not much better yet and I have a bad chance here to write.  The health is only tolerable good in this portion of the army.  Marion and Steave is well.  Robert Brooks is unwell and John McKinney is a little sick.  William Brooks is dead.  He died while I was out sick.  William Wolfenberger died also.  Our brigade under General Rusk's command attacked the enemy last Monday which was the 7 of July.


Our brigade under General Rusk's (Brigadier General Albert Rust of Arkansas) command attacked the enemy last Monday which was the 7th of July.  Our regiment was in advance and brought on the attack.   Colonel Fitzshoe (William Fitzhugh commanded the 16th Texas Cavalry) assisted in the fight a little though our regiment stood the shock of the battle and consequently was cut to pieces pretty badly.   We had four men killed and seven wounded.  Those killed were N. Ponce, William Perciville, Thomas Owen, Jacob Standafer.  The wounded ones are Bart Read, James Dancer, John Butten, John Perry, Jessy Craft, James Robinson, and Thomas Standafer.  Tell Mary Jane that Jim is not hurt bad.  Marion nor I was in the fight.  I was sick and do not know what was the reason Marion was not there.  Though I expect he did not go on the scout. 


The battle to which Truss referred occurred when Union Major General Samuel R. Curtis moved on Helena, Arkansas, in search of supplies to replace those that had been promised but never delivered by the Navy.  The Confederates under Major General Albert Rust attempted to prevent this change of supply base by continually skirmishing with the Union troops.  The Confederates made a stand at the Cache River on July 7.  They were defeated at Hill's Plantation with 245 Confederate causalities.  It is presumed that Robert Levi and John Dunn Brooks, along with Truss, participated in this battle. 


Truss’ comments would seem to indicate that William Brooks died, perhaps of disease, between the dates of two of Truss' letters: April 18, 1862 and July 14, 1862.  He apparently died in Arkansas. It is interesting to note that at Camp Nelson, located near Cabot, Arkansas in Lonoke County, perhaps only 10 miles northwest of Brownsville, Arkansas where John Truss and the Bastrop Rawhides were located, an historical marker at the Camp Nelson Cemetery states:


Thousands of Arkansas and Texas Confederates were camped near this spot in 1862.  The camp, named in honor of Brigadier General Allison Nelson, was stricken by disease resulting in 1,500 deaths including Nelson.  The dead were buried among these hills and forgotten until 1906 when a group of Confederate veterans supervised the establishment of this cemetery.


There are 444 graves in the cemetery marked "Unknown Soldier".   General Allison Nelson was Brigadier General of several Texan infantry and dismounted cavalry regiments, including the 10th Texas Infantry and died of typhoid October, 1862.   While many of the Texas soldiers buried there were with the 10th Texas Infantry, a review of the listing also includes soldiers of the 18th Texas Cavalry, the 22nd Infantry and perhaps others.  William Brooks may possibly have been buried there.


Letter of September 26, 1862 – State of Arkansas-Camp Harelson (Located near Cotton Plant)

Truss stated that

Our regiment and Carter’s (George Washington Carver commanded the 21st Texas          Cavalry) is together.  Our trains are on White River.  They are left there until we go down on the Miss. River and give the feds a round.  We have rested longer this time then we ever have before since we came to this state.  We take one or two feds every day or two.  It is reported that the feds are leaving Helena.  If that be so we will not get a fight.  We thought a while the federal forces were going to attack us.  But they could not face Parsons ’music.  They have left and gone back.  When I received your last letter I was standing in line of battle expecting an attack every minute.  They did not come as I am at leisure today….A portion of the troops in this state are ordered to Missouri.  I do not know whether our regiment will be ordered to go or not.  We have no orders as yet only to go down in the direction of Helena and run the federal pickets in and ascertain their position thought I think they will be gone before we get there. 


Letter of October 8, 1862 – State of ArkansasPrairie County, On the March

In this letter Truss told his wife, Rebecca,

Steave and Marion (Rebecca’s brothers) is well…I have told you all the late transactions  except one or two little skirmishes which we had last week and this we killed four in the first and taken three and never lost a man. Those are fed pickets.  In the last we killed 4 and taken 19 and never lost a man.  Got one wounded.  He belonged to our company.  His name is Fost.  He got one eye shot out.  We keep the feds hot.  They are getting tired of Helena and they are marching out and we are marching to try to cut them off and we may have a fight with them and we may not.  After we get them out of this state I think we will get to come home.   Col. Parsons is promoted to Brigadier General and Bell Burleston is in command of our regiment. (Lt. Col. Albert Bell Burleson commanded the 12th Texas Cavalry while Parsons commanded the brigade as an acting brigadier general, although he was never officially promoted to that rank.)

We have twenty regiments of infantry and three of cavalry with us.  At this time we are on White River today close to Desarc and we have about the same force at Clarington on White River thirty-five miles below Desarc.  If we can get the feds out from under the protection of their gunboats we will dispense of them quick.  They are close to the Mississippi and when we crowd them they run to where their gunboats can reach us before we can get them.

I would not mind staying here and fighting and watching for Yankees half so bad if I could get to see you once in a while.  We must bear our separation with patience.  We must look at the cause and then consider the necessity of our being separated when our country and our homes and firesides is being runover by a foe that is as destitute of humanity as the worst savage that the wide world can afford.  How then can any man stay at home without lending a hand to repel this miserable unfeeling foe?  I could not claim Southern soil as my home if I were not to help.  It would make any Christian heard (it) shudder to see what I have seen and know what I know concerning their proceedings in a portion of this state.   (Prairie County Camp, known as Camp Hope, later renamed Camp Nelson, is located near Austin, Arkansas.).


Letter  of  November 5, 1862 – State of Arkansas, Camp Beufort

In this letter Truss said,

It almost breaks my heart to think of you and think that I have to be away from you so long but when I think what it is that separates us and look around me and see the ruins of houses and fields burned down I then feel the love of my country swell my heart.  I also see helpless women and children left without clothes and shelter or even anyone to protect them.  My blood boils for revenge.  I think then if it was my own beloved wife that was thus treated by those invaders of our country, yet what is worse thieves and robbers and cold blooded murderers.  They cannot stand up and fight us with even numbers like men of honor.  They will lay in bushes five times our number and when we charge them if they be accident get the upper hand of one of our men and get him unarmed they will then shoot him, murder him in cold blood.  I hear that they are invading Texas.  I hope we may be ordered back if they do invade our lovely state.  I do not think they can start another as mean set of men to come to Texas as they have got here.  I think those are the lowest down men in the world.  There is nothing too mean for them to do. That is most of them.  Some of them are good men, feeling men.  They are only on the wrong side or at least I think so myself. 


We are camped between White and Mississippi Rivers.  We get plenty to eat now.  We had snow here on the 25 of last month and we have cold north wind today and cloudy.  Looks like snow. We had to leave all our bed clothes and wearing clothes last summer and I lost my large overcoat and comfort.  We have not drew money yet.  I think they are afraid to pay us off now for fear the boys will go home.  They will not grant us furloughs now.  Steave and Marion is well and all the rest of the Pinoak boys that is left.  At first there was about twenty.  Now not half that number.  Dick (R.J.) McKinney has been sick but he is well now.   (Camp Burford is located on the Cache River.)


Letter of January 3, 1863 – State of Arkansas, Camp Near Little Rock

I wrote you a few days before I left Desarc.  We are at the Rock at this time.  We was ordered to the post of Arkansas on double quick.  Before we reached that place the enemy attacked it and taken it. The feds were ten times as strong as our forces there though notwithstanding the overwhelming odds our little band made a gallant defense which accounts I will send you as nearly true as is known as present.  We only know by what men say that made their escape.  Most our men was killed and taken that was there.  If we could have got there we could have held the post in spite of all their efforts.  Our forces was too much scattered.  Pretty much all the forces in this state is now together.  If they come again I think we will send them back badly whipped.


We have had the worst weather I ever experienced.  It began to rain the evening we left Desarc.  We left there just at dark and the rain poured down all night next day and night till about midnight.  Then the snow began to fall and fell for two nights and one day as hard as….I ever saw in my life.  It was even in my boot tops.  Several of Hindman’s men froze to death and hundreds of mules.  Hindman’s men is deserting every day they are here at Little Rock.  They say twenty or thirty hundred has deserted since they left Fort Smith in coming down here.  (Major General Thomas C. Hindman commanded a Confederate army in western Arkansas which had been defeated at Prairie Grove on December 7-8, 1862.)

Direct your letters to Little Rock.  The feds has got Desarc now. I don’t know how long they will keep it.


Letter of January 9, 1863 – State of Arkansas, Camp Desarc

I received a letter from you about six days ago. I would have wrote to you before but I started to Brownsville a few minutes after I received it and have just returned……We started to go to Fort Smith to reinforce Hindman but was stopped.  The order was never countermanded yet. I do not know where we will go….There is talk of us going to Jacksonfort, all talk though.


Letter of June 7, 1863 – State of Arkansas, Camp Silver Lake

The rest of the Pinoak boys are well. Our regiment is stationed from the Mississippi River up to Pine Blue Arkansas River.  There is a squadron in a place.  Rumor says that we are going to move over about Helena.  We have heard heaving cannonading at Vicksburg for two weeks past until the last day or two.  The cannonading has ceased. The reports has come to us of all the fighting but the last few days which will come today or tomorrow.  So far as we heard we repulsed the feds killing thousands on top of thousands…After they were drunk they rushed right onto the breastworks and our men killed them as fast as they could come.  Our boys killed forty thousand of them in that drunkin spree.  The feds then brought all their cannon to bear on one part of the fort and they battered it down in one place….They let them march up where they wanted them then they turned aloose and mowed them down like hay. They are making a terrible effort to take that place.  This time I do not think they can ever take it unless they can starve us out.


Letter of February 21, 1864 – Camp Groce, near Hempstead (Texas)

I have nothing to employ my mind more satisfactory than to write to you.  We are here yet. The talk is that we will leave here next Tuesday……The small pox is in Hempstead and Chappell Hill Hospital.  Since the few days of bad weather we have several sick here in our camps.  I do wish that everybody would become as impatient about this war as I am.  It would come to a close before night.  Could that be the case and we could all be discharged from the torments of war oh how quickly and gladly would I fly to the arms of my own loved companion.  Then I would say thou art welcome to my arms, my bosom friend.


John Truss did survive the war and returned safely to his home at Pinoak.  The boy who he longed to see during his war days died in infancy, but his next child, a daughter, lived to be eighty-five.  She recalled that her father was an educated man who could talk poetry if he chose and that her mother was wonderfully proud of him.  He died prior to 1880 and, according to his grandson, was buried in the prairie cemetery not far from where he lived.   He was buried in the Roe Cemetery, that of his wife’s family, near Paige, Bastrop County, Texas. 



Other than these letters, little is known of John W. Truss.  He does appear with his family in the 1850 census of Bastrop County, Texas, as follows:


            Thomas Truss, age 35, born in NC, farmer

            Frances A. Truss, age 32, born SC

            John W. Truss, age 16, born AL, farm hand

            James M. Truss, age 11, born AL

            Louiza F. Truss, age 8, born AL

            Elitha R. Truss, age 5, born AL

            Sylvia A. Truss, age 1/12, born TX


John Truss apparently died before 1879 because on February 23, 1879 his beloved Rebecca married Joseph Mains.  They are then found in the 1880 census of Bastrop County, Texas, Pct. 8 as follows:

            Joseph Mains, age 50, born NY (father born IN/mother born Ireland)

            Rebecca Mains, age 38, born GA (parents born GA)

            William W. Mains, age 5months, born TX

            Mary E. Truss, age 18, born TX

            Catherine Truss, age 12, born TX

            Lula Estelle Truss, age 10, born TX

            Edward Lee Truss, age 8, born TX








The three oldest sons of William Malone Brooks, Jr. and wife, Eliza Bates Brooks, promptly joined the 12th Texas Cavalry shortly after Texas voted to leave the Union.   Robert Levi Brooks and John Dunn Brooks returned to Bastrop County, Texas in 1865.  The other brother, William C. Brooks, is believed to have died in Arkansas in mid-1862, probably of disease.


Robert Levi Brooks

Born Oct 16, 1842 in Franklin County, Alabama.  In 1860, at age 20, he was living with his young, widowed mother and brothers and sister who were living in the Pin Oak area, or possibly the Cedar Cree area,  of Bastrop County, Texas. 


On October 7, 1904, at age 62, Robert Levi Brooks applied for a Confederate Pension.  His request was approved September 15, 1905.  In his application he stated that:

            1.  He would be 63 years old on Oct, 16, 1905.

            2.  He had resided at Bracketville, Kinney County, Texas about 2 months

            3.  He had “applied for a pension under this law at Menardville, Menard Co. in 1899

                        and was rejected because I was under 60 years of age.”

            4.  His disabling physical condition was “siatic rheumatism”.

            5.  He served in “Company D., Bastrop Cavalry.  M. B. Highsmith was Capt.,

                        12th Cavalry Reg. W.H. Parsons Col. Commanding.”

            6.  Served 4 years.  (War Department’s record states that he enlisted October 28, 1861

                        at Hempstead, Texas to serve three years.)

            7.  He owned no real estate.  “Own two horses, one wagon and harness is all the

                        personal property I own.  $100.00 would be a very fair valuation for the outfit.”


Witnesses testifying of his service included J. F. Price, M. E. Anderson, and E. B. Burleson.  The judge signing the application was M. P. Malone, County Judge, Kinney County, Texas.


The three witnesses who provided statements (all residents of Bastrop County) were:


1.  M. E. Anderson, age 70. 

2.  E. B. Burleson

3.   J. F. Price, age 57. 


They each testified that they had known R. L. Brooks since 1859 or 1860, and that each of them knew him in Bastrop, Texas.   Each of the witnesses said they personally knew that R. L. Brooks enlisted and served in the Confederate Army.  He enlisted on the               day of June or July, 1861.  Enlisted in the town of Bastrop, and he served near 4 years.  Enlisted in Company D, 12th Texas Cavalry Regiment.   They said they all served in the same company and regiment at the same time and disbanded at the same time.    Further, there was no other R. L. Brooks in their same company or regiment, nor did he desert the army.


Robert Levi Brooks died March 29, 1919 in Winkleman, Arizona.   His wife, Catherine Ann Houston Brooks preceded him in death June 6, 1916 in Del Rio, Val Verde County, Texas.  Both were buried in the Masonic Cemetery, Del Rio, Texas.





Robert Levi Brooks (1842-1919) and wife, Catherine Ann Houston Brooks
William C. Brooks

Little is known of William C. Brooks other than that he was born about 1843 in Franklin County, Alabama.


In Watterson Folk of Bastrop County, Texas the author wrote that “The men and officers of the company varied widely in age.  Captain Highsmith was thirty-two, as was Lieutenant Moncure.  First Lieutenant Dan Grady was forty and Private A. R. Stephenson was forty-two.  W. C. Brooks was seventeen.  Will Eastland was barely seventeen and was the youngest man in the company by only a few weeks.  He was really only sixteen when he enlisted but had given his age as seventeen.”


In the September, 1860 census, William Brooks was listed as being eighteen years old.


In a letter to his wife dated July 14, 1862, written from the Prairie County Camp near Brownsville, Arkansas, John Truss related that “Robert Brooks is unwell and John McKinney is a little sick.  William Brooks is dead.  He died while I was out sick.  William Wolfenberger died also.”


It is believed, therefore, that William Brooks died of a disease in Arkansas between the dates of two of Truss’ letters, April 18, 1862 and July 14, 1862.    He was likely buried in that area of Arkansas, and his grave is perhaps unmarked.

John Dunn Brooks

John Dunn Brooks was born March 9, 1846 in Franklin County, Alabama.   He was living with his widowed mother, brothers and sister in the 1860 census of Bastrop County, Texas.  His age was shown as fifteen years of age.


On June 28, 1913, he applied for a Confederate Pension.   The pension was approved December 1, 1913, allowing a pension from March, 1914.  In his application he stated that:

            1.  He was honorably discharged.  “Surrendered as disbanded near Bryan, Texas in

                        Brazos County at the close of the war.”

            2.  His age was sixty-six, March 9, 1912.

            3.  He was born Alabama and had resided in Texas for 64 years, indicating, therefore,

                        that he arrived in Texas about 1849.  (That is incorrect since his family was

                        living in Ouachita County, Arkansas for the 1850 Census.)

            4.  His current address was Loraine, Texas, having resided in Mitchell County for

                        4 years.

            5.  His occupation was that of farmer, but he was unable to work.

            6.  He served 3 years in Co. D., 12th Texas Highsmith Co., Sleets Brigade, Parsons

                        Regiment, Cavalry.   Further, he was a Private.  He was never detailed for

                        Special Service, or Conscription.

Witnesses testifying to his service, before Judge C. R. Buchanan, County Judge of Scurry County, Texas were:

            1.  E. H. Burditt – E. H. Burditt was probably Edward H. Burditt, brother of the husband of his oldest daughter, Cordelia.

            2.  S. F. Mantooth – Samuel Finis Mantooth was the son of Samuel Marion and Eliza Malone Brooks Mantooth, youngest brother of Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks and youngest sister of John Dunn Brooks.


R. L. Brooks, brother of John Dunn Brooks, also testified that

            “I, R. L. Brooks, personally know that J. D. Brooks enlisted and was in the service of the Confederate Army for  nearly 3 years.  Was  a private in Co. D., 12th Texas Cav.”

            In August, 1913, an additional witness appeared on behalf of John Dunn Brooks.  M. S. Ussery testified that he was personally acquainted with J. D. Brooks and R. L. Brooks and that he served with them in the army.


By December 1, 1919, John Dunn Brooks was a patient at the State Lunatic Asylum in Austin, Texas.   He later returned to live with his daughter, Beulah Brooks Ford, and his wife in Weatherford, Parker County, Texas until his death there in April 15, 1921.


Widow’s Pension

On June 30, 1921, his widow, Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks, applied for a Widow’s Pension.  Her request was approved July 14, 1921.   In her application, she stated that they were married February 28, 1865 in Angelina County, Texas.  She stated that she was 74 years of age.  Her husband served in Co. D., 12 Texas Brigade, Cavalry.  H. L. Russell and H. B. Mahon appeared before Judge Charlie Sullivan of Parker County, Texas, testifying that they knew her to be the widow of J. D. Brooks, and a resident of Texas since prior to January 1, 1900. 


On September 12, 1921 she again submitted an application for a pension, that application being cancelled due to the earlier approved application.  In the 2nd application, she stated that her husband was discharged May, 1865.  In this application, R. J. McKinney, age 78, who served with J. D. Brooks in the 12th Texas Cavalry, and Beulah Ford, her daughter, testified that she was the widow of J. D. Brooks.  R. J. McKinney testified that, “I served in the same regiment with J. D. Brooks, he was a good soldier.”   R. J. (Richard James) McKinney did not serve in Company D with J. D. Brooks, but rather in Company A, the Hill County Volunteers of the 12th Texas Cavalry. There were strong Alabama and family connections with R. J. McKinney who served in Company A and who signed Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks’ Widows Pension Application as knowing J. D. Brooks as a soldier.


Richard James McKinney was born in 1842 in Monroe County, Mississippi, the son of John C. McKinney and Elizabeth Ann Malone McKinney.   He died in Weatherford, Parker County, Texas, as did J. D. Brooks, July 16, 1934.   His father, John C. McKinney, was Justice of the Peace and Postmaster.  He was murdered by the Fisher Gang in Woodbury, Hill County, Texas in 1860.  Richard’s mother was Elizabeth Ann Malone, the daughter of John Thomas Malone and Rebecca Pittard Malone.   The brother of John Thomas Malone, James Richard McKinney, uncle of Richard James McKinney, married Mary Polly Cook, sister of Captain Joseph T. Cook who was husband of Lucinda Bates.  Lucinda was the sister of Eliza Bates Brooks, the mother of J. D. Brooks.  More simply expressed, Richard James McKinney’s great aunt, Mary Polly Cook McKinney, was the sister of John Dunn Brooks’ uncle, Capt. Joseph T. Cook, husband of Lucinda Bates Cook, his mother’s sister.   Therefore, the Brooks family had an “almost” family relationship with R. J. McKinney.


Richard and Emma McKinney first appear in the 1870 census of Hillsboro, Hill Co., TX.  He was 28 (b. MS), and she is 22 (b. TN), with a 2 year old daughter, Lala.  Andrew J. McKinney, age 20, is living with them as a laborer (born in MS), undoubtedly related to Richard.  Her father, William Nunn, age 47, born in TN, and family were living next door.


Richard and his wife, Emma, appear also in the 1900 Census of Parker County, Texas (Reno) with 6 of their children and again in the 1910 census of Weatherford, Parker County, Texas.


In September, 1921, at about age 78, R. J. McKinney signed the affidavit in Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks' Application for a Confederate Widow's Pension, testifying that he served in the same regiment as her husband, John Dunn Brooks, in the Civil War.  In 1921, Nancy Jane Mantooth was living with her daughter, Beulah Brooks Martin Ford, in Weatherford, Texas, after death of her husband in April, 1921 at Weatherford.


There was another R. J. McKinney and John L. McKinney who appeared in the 1860 census of Bastrop County (ages 21 and 19), originally thought to be the above R. J. McKinney.   They were the sons of James J. and Susan G. McKinney.  Their father was born in TN and the two sons were born in Mississippi.   These two young McKinneys were those mentioned in Truss’ letters to his wife as being among the Pinoak  boys and not the above Richard James McKinney. 


There is a additional, albeit more distant, connection with R. J. McKinney.  Richard James McKinney (b. 1842 MS) married Emma Jane Nunn in 1865.  Emma's great grandfather was Francis Nunn (b. 1752/d. 1815 Williamson Co., TN).   George Thomas Nunn married Mary Wood Black, daughter of Permelia Jane McKinney and Reading Wood Black and granddaughter of Minerva Bates and Thalis Newton McKinney.   Therefore, George Thomas Nunn married the granddaughter of Eliza Bates Brooks' sister, Minerva.   George's great grandfather was Francis Nunn (b. 1752/d. 1815 Williamson Co., TN).


In summary, the fathers of George Thomas Nunn and Emma Jane Nunn, were 1st cousins!   One can only wonder if any of those living at the time knew it!  



Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks died October 15, 1928 at Miles, Runnels County, Texas while visiting her son.   Both John Dunn and Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks are buried in the Miles Texas Cemetery.





John Dunn Brooks with Wife, Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks and Mother, Eliza Bates Brooks Green about 1910 – Probably Mitchell County, Texas



The 12th Texas Cavalry served exclusively in the Trans-Mississippi Department as part of Parsons' Cavalry Brigade. It participated in several minor actions in Arkansas in 1862, in the Little Rock Campaign in 1863, and the Red River Campaign in 1864. The regiment was in service when the Trans-Mississippi Department surrendered on May 26, 1865.   Following is a listing of the men who served in the 12th Cavalry probably at various times through the Civil War.

Colonel                        William Henry Parsons


Lieutenant Colonels    John W. Mullen

                                    Andrew Bell Burleson


Majors                         Emory W. Rogers

                                    Lochlin J. Farrar


Adjutants                     William G. Vardell

                                    Andrew Bell Burleson

                                    William M. Daviess


Non-Commissioned Staff and Band

                                    H. A. Highsmith, Sergeant-major

                                    W. A. Calfee, Chief Bugler

                                    Dan Price, Orderly Sergeant

                                    J. Lane Oldham, Quartermaster Sergeant


Company Rosters


Company A,                Hill County Volunteers

                                    Captain- Joseph Wier, age 30, born VA, resident/Hill County, Attorney

Captain- George W. Ingram, age 31, born NC, resident/Hill County,

 Stock Raiser (assumed position after death of Wier)


Company B,               Freestone County Rangers

                                    Captain-Appleton M. Maddux, age 28, born AL, resident/Freestone Co,



Company C,               Johnson County Slashers

                                    Captain-William Jeff Neal, age 26, born TN, resident/Johnson Co.,

                                                Lawyer (youngest of 10 Captains/killed in battle in AR)

                                    Captain-Thomas F. Haley, age 44, born AL, resident/Johnson Co.,


                                    Captain-Benjamin Barnes, age 28, born GA, resident/Johnson Co.,

                                                Stock Raiser


Company D,               Bastrop County Rawhides

                                    Captain- M. B. Highsmith, age 33, born MO, resident/Bastrop Co.,



Company E,               Ellis County Grays

                                    Captain-John C. Brown, age 32, born TN, resident/Ellis Co., Farmer


Company F,   Ellis and Johnson County Rangers

                                    Captain- William G. Veal, age 32, born TN, resident/Parker Co.,

                                                Prominent Methodist Minister from Weatherford


Company G,               Kaufman County Guards

                                    Captain- H. W. Kyser, age 38, born TN, resident/Kaufman Co.,

                                                County Surveyor


Company H,               Ellis County Blues

                                    Captain- W. J. Stokes, age 36, born TN, resident/ Ellis Co.,

                                                Stock Raiser (resigned)

                                    Captain- J. Em. Hawkins, age 31, born IN, resident/Ellis Co.,

                                                Lawyer (resigned due to wounds)

                                    Captain-William M. Campbell, age 21, born TN, resident/Ellis Co.,

                                                Clerk who lived alone at Waxahachie Hotel


Company I,                 Williamson Bowies

                                    Captain – J. W. Mullen, age 50, born DE, resident/Williamson Co.,


                                    Captain- Wiley Peace, age 43, born NC, resident/Williamson Co.,

                                                 Stock Raiser

                                    Captain- James C. S. Morrow, age 22, born KY, resident/Travis Co.,



Company K,               Limestone County Mounted Rifles

                                    Captain- A. F. Moss, age 46, born NC, resident/Limestone Co.,

                                                Farmer (Most wealthy with $27,000/real estate & $7,500/personal) 


                                    Captain- James P. Brown, age 32, born GA, resident/Limestone Co.,


Note:  Ages as of 1861




Captain                       Malcijah “Kige” B. Highsmith  

                                                (Son of noted Texas Ranger, Samuel Highsmith)


Lieutenants               John W. Reese, First

                                    W. A. Nichols, Second

                                    George W. Moore, Junior Second


Sergeants                  H. H. Turner, First                   J. L. Estes, Fourth

                                    C. J. Miller, Second                 J. W. Brame, fifth

                                    M. T. Skinner, Third



Corporals                   S. Morris, First                                    Henry Eiker, Third

                                    W. H. Watson, Second           A. J. Perciville, Fourth




M. E. Anderson *

L. C. Adkins

D. Awalt

J. Bell

Thomas R. Bell
Joel Berry

W. C. Bevill

J. W. Bowen

John Dunn Brooks *
Robert Levi Brooks *

W.C. Brooks * (17 yrs. old)
J. A. Brown
John Buchenan

W. C. Burrier

John R. Butler* (Wounded 7/7/62)
E. B. Burleson *

John Butten *

W. M. Campbell

W.J.S. Carter

Henry Cleveland
Jessie Craft *
Japhet Collins
W. T. Colver
W. B. Clayton
George A. Cupee

James Dancer * (Wounded 7/7/62)
William Dixon
C. C. Denman

H. W. Donald
J. S. Dyer

Will Eastland (youngest, at 16 yrs.)

John Eggleston

Miles Epler

Joseph Lafayette Estes

W. Farmer

W. M. Faulkner
John T. Faulkner

F. S. Faust

Wm. Fisher

Albert Fore

Henry W. Fort

J. W. Fort

Lewis Franks

J. S. Garrett

S. C. Garrett

W. P. Glass
William P. Gray
S. B. Griffin

W. L. Hancock
George W. Hendricks

John Holligan

H. A. Highsmith

J. D. Hogan
M. S. Hughes
George W. House
P. A. “Pad” Kelly *
Gabriel M. Lentz
John T. Litton (4)
J. L. Litton
William Lehman
A. J. McCall

R. R. McDuff

W. R. McGuire
John L. McKinney * (2)
R. J. “Dick” McKinney * (2)
John Meyener

M. C. Mitchell
Henry Montgomery

J. M. Moore

W. C. Moore
Thomas Owen * (Killed 7/7/62)

Z. H. Pannell

F. H. Perkins

J. W. Perkins

W. H. Perkins
J. C. Petty
John M. Perry *
James W. Perry
George B. Percell

A. J. Perciville

Wm. L. Perciville * (Killed 7/7/62)

Nicholas Ponce
James R. Prewitt

Joseph Preuitt

J. F. Price

Bart S. Reid * (Wounded 7/7/62)

O. H. Reid

S. D. Reid

James B. Robinson *

Marion Roe *
Steve M. Roe *
T. J. Royall
K. W. Reese
J. M. Robins
H. F. Stacey
W. P. Scott

William J. Smith

Jacob Standefer” (Killed 7/7/62) (4)
Thomas Standafer * (4)
Richard Standafer (4)

A. R. Stephenson

Oliver Taylor

John Thompson

William Thompson

James Townsend (3)
J. B. Turner
C. W. Turner
John W. Truss *
R. S. Tinnin
J. J. Tinnin
Robert Trogdon

J. Sanford Turner

M. S. Ussery

James (Jack) C. Walker*

Henry Watson

R. H. Watson

W. H. Watson

Ed Weaver

John G. Weaver

R. R. White
Guy Wolfenbarger

Charles Wolfenbarger

William Wolfenbarger *
J. E. Woods
W. D. Woods

Frank Yoast

Peter Yoast
T. C. Young (1)
W. P. Young (5)

Joseph J. Young(5)


 * Mentioned in John Truss letters and were among the “Pinoak boys”.  Steve and Marion Roe were undoubtedly related to his wife, Rebecca Roe Truss.   In his letter of September 26, 1862, when he mentioned the death of William Brooks, he also said that William Wolfenberger was dead.   


Note:  There are several listings of members of the Highsmith Company in various publications.  These various listings reflect members at specific points in time.  The above listing is a combination of all the names in the various listings while some may have served only a short time.     Spelling of names varied and some are likely incorrect.      




(1)  T. C. (Thomas Claney) Young served in the 12th Cavalry with the Brooks brothers.     He was born 1841 in Marengo Co., AL and died August 28 1882 in Fayette Co., Texas.    In the 1870 census, he and his family were living at Winchester, Fayette Co., Texas, just south of the Bastrop county line.  Living with them was Finis Brooks, age 17.  He was the younger brother of  the older Brooks brother, Robert Levi Brooks, who served with T.C. Young in the 12th Cavalry.  Finis’ mother had remarried in 1863 and perhaps left Bastrop County, but Finis apparently chose to stay in the area and live with the Young family.   T. C. Young was one year older than Robert Levi Brooks, the oldest Brooks brother.  It is interesting to note that T. C. Young’s son, born in 1871, was named Robert Levi Young, probably after his fellow soldier.   No relationship has been identified between T.C. Young and Michael Young, the early settler of Bastrop County, Texas.


(2) The R. J. (“Dick”) McKinney noted above is the same who was mentioned in the letters by John Truss as one of the Pinoak boys, all of whom were serving in Company D of the 12th Texas Cavalry from Bastrop County.  His parents were James J. and Susan C. McKinney, as mentioned above.  His younger brother, John L., also served and appears above.   This is not the same R. J. McKinney who signed the Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks’ application for a Confederate Widow’s Pension.


(3)  It is believed that this James Townsend is James Madison Townsend, born 1829 in Monroe, Mississippi.  He married Frances Bowles in 1847, Itawamba Co., MS, adjoining Franklin Co., Mississippi.  Their third child, Susan, was the 1st child born in Texas in 1853/Bell Co, indicating the family came to Texas between 1849 and 1853.  James Madison Townsend was 31 in 1860 but does not appear in the Bastrop County Census.   James Franklin Bowles, the brother of Frances Bowles, married Margaret Martin.  Their son, William Augustus “Gus” Bowles, married Margaret Thalia McKinney, the daughter of Thalis Newton McKinney and Minerva Margaret Bates McKinney (sister of Eliza Bates Brooks).  


(4)   Grandsons of Elizabeth James Standifer.   Elizabeth married Anderson Standifer in Georgia, April 12, 1809.    After death of her husband in southern Illinois, she took her four small children and headed home to Elbert County, Georgia.    A year later, she moved her family to Franklin County, Alabama.  She joined the Henry Young family in Franklin County, Alabama in 1827 in yet another move, this time to Bastrop County, Texas.   Elizabeth died in Elgin, Bastrop County, Texas on February 9, 1832.  Her daughter, Sarah, married John Thomas Litton in 1834 in Texas.  Their son, John Thomas Litton (b. 1838)  was also a member of the 12th Texas Cavalry.


(5)  William Perry Young and Joseph J. Young were the sons of Joseph Young, the brother of Michael Young, the founder of Young’s Settlement in Bastrop County and Youngsport in Bell Co., Texas.  Joseph came to Bastrop County, Alabama from Franklin County, Alabama about 1854.  He bought 100 acres from James Standifer out of the Richard Young Grant.  He was listed in the 1850 Agricultural Census of Franklin Co., Alabama and owned land northeast of Russellville, Alabama in what is now Colbert County, Alabama.







Descriptions of conditions for the troops during the last year of the war were provided in several of the publications, as presented below.


The last year of the war was incredibly miserable for Parsons’ 12th Texas Cavalry, as vividly described by David Carey Nance, a member of Company E (Ellis County Grays) 12th Texas Cavalry in B.P. Gallaway’s Ragged Rebel.  


Although Dave and his comrades did no fighting during the last year of the war, they had to struggle with two continuing problems that threatened their very existence---abject privation and confusion in the higher echelons of departmental command.  Both kept them on the move searching for food and fodder or responding to conflicting and often senseless orders which reflected the frustration of the last days.


After Yellow Bayou, Parsons’ Brigade was in a devastated state.  It bivouacked near the …battlefield…four miles from Simmesport until the last week in May, when it moved to a site on Bayou des Glaize below Alexandria (Louisiana) for slightly better forage. 


Gaunt, diseased, half-starved, and dressed in rags, Dave and his comrades were no different from most other soldiers of the western Confederacy. 


“Prince John” Magruder, formerly Commander of forces in Texas, was installed as commander of Arkansas, with his headquarters in Camden. Parsons’ Brigade spent the winter of 1864-65 in southeastern Arkansas, patrolling the Arkansas, Saline, Ouachita, and Mississippi Rivers.   (One can only wonder if Robert Levi and John Dunn Brooks recalled their lives near the Ouachita River in Ouachita County, Arkansas as young boys.  The Malone Brooks family resided there in the 1850 when Robert was 8 and John, 5.)   During these months, orders arrived almost daily from Camden, keeping Parsons and his boys on the move, shifting them aimlessly around the state, and completely destroying their confidence in Magruder. 


In addition to the blitzkrieg of marching orders, Parsons’ boys had to contend with pneumonia, “third-day chills,” disintegrating clothing, starvation, and a devastating mortality rate among their horses.  The shortage of food and fodder, of course, made all other problems more acute, and the brigade’s constant movement during these weeks can be explained mostly in terms of its quest for subsistence.  Some regions became totally destitute for forage.  “We are compelled to abandon the country east of the Ouachita,” a soldier in the Twelfth wrote shortly before Christmas, “on account of the scarcity of forage and breadstuffs.”


It is not surprising that units facing starvation increasingly ignored regulations and moral standards when foraging.  And Parsons’ Brigade was no exception.  William Steele, before his elevation to a higher command, urged Parsons to control his troops to prevent indiscriminate looting and to keep them from becoming “a terror to the citizens…as has been too frequently the case.”


Parsons’ new assignment, which he received shortly after Christmas, was to escort the cotton trains and police the trade, making certain all cotton traders had permits and that the government got its share of the profits.    But instead of apprehending violators, many of Parsons’ boys stole cotton themselves and exchanged it for coffee, guncaps, powder, and bolts of dyed cloth.   Of course their illegal participation in the trade did not last long, since Parsons was soon ordered out of the Mississippi Valley, but for about six weeks it became a bountiful source of supply and helps explain the health and hardiness of Parsons’ Brigade during this period. 


But in February, 1865, Parsons’ stay in the Mississippi Valley ended abruptly as Kirby Smith ordered the brigade, along with other mounted units stationed in eastern Arkansas and Louisiana, to proceed to more bountiful campsites in Texas.


So, Dave, with his unit, returned to his “own…beloved, adopted state,” first setting up housekeeping near Waverly in Walker County near the San Jacinto line and then “in a thicket of timber…(on) a high rolling plain” in Grimes County.   Parsons’ boys were delighted with their new surroundings, happy to be far removed from the desolation and blood-soaked battlefields of Louisiana and Arkansas. 


Parsons drilled his boys incessantly in both Waverly and Grimes County sites, probably hoping to keep their minds off their pitiful plight and the dismal state of the war.  All the reports from the East were bad, and everyone wondered how much longer the war could last.


Perhaps the worst news of all, however, was the unhappy report that Lincoln had been reelected president of the United States.  With Old Abe in the White House, there was little hope that the South could secure an honorable peace. 


With morale crumbling, Parsons moved his brigade to Camp Groce, south of Hempstead to be near Houston, where, according to rumor, Kirby Smith  (Commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department) planned to relocate his headquarters.  Camp Groce was on Col. Leonard W. Groce's Liendo Plantation,on Clear Creek and the Houston and Texas Central Railway two miles east of Hempstead in Waller County. In 1821 Jared Groce, the father of Leonard W. Groce,  moved from Alabama with 100 slaves and established Bernardo Plantation, four miles from the site of present Hempstead. Groce grew a crop The camp was the first permanent Confederate military prison west of the Mississippi. It was one of two camps in Texas where northern prisoners were held, probably in 1861-63. It received 110 prisoners from Houston on June 13, 1863. The camp had several long barracks.  One week after their arrival at Camp Groce, Parsons’ boys were shocked to receive orders from Shreveport dismounting and disbanding their brigade. 


The various diminutive regiments of the brigade, now designated dismounted cavalry, were to become part of General J. H. Forney’s (formerly Walker’s) infantry division.  But the war ended before Parsons and his boys could respond. 


Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia April 9, 1865.   On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated.  Yet, Kirby Smith refused to accept defeat and urged his officers to stand by their colors; however, mutiny in his officers’ corps, disloyalty among members of his staff, and wholesale desertion of his armies left him no choice.  On June 2, 1865, Smith signed a preliminary instrument of surrender on board a Federal steamer in Galveston harbor. 


Meanwhile, Dave and the men of Parsons’ Brigade, dejected by their orders to dismount, maintained their camp near Hempstead until the second week in May.   Then on May 12 Parsons, fearing epidemic illness and hoping for better forage, moved his brigade north to the Brazos, where he established his final bivouac on a broad prairie in the southwestern corner of Robertson County.  Dave and his comrades spent the next week camped near “a nice clear branch” that transected the Houston and Texas Central Railroad.


Then shortly after nine o’clock on the morning of May 20, Dave and his comrades were drilling when “a courier on a fast horse” raced into camp, hit the ground running, and asked for the brigade commander.  Parsons came out of his tent, conferred briefly with the courier, and asked his sergeant major to assemble his troops.  Lacking his usual sparkle and charm, he addressed his boys for the last time. 


“Soldiers,” Parsons began, “from all the information I can gather, the Trans-Mississippi Department has been surrendered.”  Then he spoke briefly, thanking his officers and men for their loyalty and confidence in him.  Dave and the men in his brigade, with tears in their eyes, listened in disbelief. The moment was not unexpected, but now that it was here it somehow seemed unreal, as if it were part of a bad dream.  Parsons asked his officers “to divide the teams and wagons” among the men. “Go home,” he concluded, “the war is over!”  Then he turned and disappeared into his tent.  


The three “witnesses” in the Confederate Pension Application for Robert Levi Brooks said that he enlisted in June or July, 1861, enlisted in the town of Bastrop and served nearly four years.  That stated that they all served in the same company and regiment and disbanded at the same time. 


The Confederate Pension Application for John Dunn Brooks stated that his regiment “surrendered or disbanded near Bryan, Texas in Brazos County at the close of the war.”   Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks, his wife, indicated in her Widow’s Pension Application that he was discharged May, 1865.   These dates agree with those in these published accounts of the 12th Texas Cavalry.


In Between the Enemy and Texas, the author describes the last days.


When rumors of Robert E. Lee’s surrender in Virginia began to reach Texas, the men realized the war was almost over.  In preparation for the end, brigade members met at Camp Walker in Robertson County on May 2.  The Texans listened to Captain Parsons speak, then a committee drafted resolutions pledging the Confederates’ support for their “fellow-soldiers everywhere” and vowing they would not lay down their weapons “as long as the breath of a Yankee miscreant pollutes the pure air of our own Sunny South.”  But disheartening confirmation of Lee’s surrender soon followed, and just two weeks after their resolution passed, brigade officers met with Steele.


The end came late in May.  On the twentieth, the regiments assembled at the little village of Sterling, not far from where the brigade members had met early in the month.  W. W. Heartsill recorded in his diary that, “All is excitement and confusion.”  Parsons called the impatient Texans to order, then proclaimed what the men already knew:  “That we as an Army disband.”  He gave the company members permission to take their wagons home and instructed the men to retain their organization in order to protect their counties from roving bands of thieves and robbers.  He then bade his Brigade an affectionate farewell, and requested all who were willing to emigrate with him to Sonora (Mexico) to meet him at the falls of the little Brazos within 60 days; his closing sentence was “Soldiers of the First Texas Cavalry Brigade, you are once more citizens of Texas, farewell.” 


The Confederacy had not won its independence, but the Texans who fought with Parsons could be proud of their record.  From May, 1862, when the first companies arrived at Little Rock, until early 1865 when they returned to Texas, the troops were constantly in the field.  Except for the few weeks home prior to the Red River campaign, they had served as scouts and skirmishers with little rest, less pay, and few rewards except for the knowledge they had successfully protected their families.  Indeed, Henry Orr had spoken for many members of the brigade when he wrote his sister Mollie in 1862:  “It does me good to know that we will be placed between the enemy and Texas.”


(Sterling was located two miles west of Calvert on the east side of the Little Brazos River.  It is interesting to note that Henderson Wesley Bates, brother of Eliza Bates Brooks, and uncle to the three Brooks brothers, left Mississippi after the Civil War and opened a store, first in Bremond, north of Calvert, and later in Calvert.   He died at Calvert.  Two of his sons are buried at Bremond.   Sterling was located perhaps only 75 miles north of the Pin Oak community in Bastrop County.)


A.M. Dechman, a member of Parsons' Brigade wrote in 1883:


On May 23, 1865, our distinguished Brigade Commander Colonel W. H. Parsons called the Brigade as soldiers together, and as we felt for the last time, then with a touching and saddened address to his gallant Brigade announced the end of this great and unequal struggle, bidding us to retain our arms and horses and to return to our homes, to be faithful there in upholding our rights as we had been in the field of battle.  Our ranks broken, we winded our sad and weary way to our homes.





It is assumed that Robert Levi Brooks and his younger brother, John Dunn Brooks, returned to their homes in May of 1865.  It is likely that their mother was still living in Bastrop County in 1865.  She had married Aaron Green in 1863 in Bastrop County, and their son, Charles Aaron Green, was born December, 1865 in Bastrop County.   Their mother has not been found in the 1870 census records.


Lucinda Bates Cook, sister of Eliza Bates Brooks Green, had relocated from Arkansas to Bastrop County about 1863 and stayed there until the end of the war.  According to her grandson, Joe T. McKinney, in his family history published in the “Frontier Times” June, 1926, “We remained in Arkansas until 1863.  The Yankees became troublesome, and we moved to Texas with my grandmother and family and stopped at Bastrop until the close of the Civil War.  My Grandmother Cook then liberated her negroes about thirty in number, many of them pleading with her to return to the old plantation in Arkansas, and promising never to leave her if she would only do so.”    Therefore, Eliza’s sister, Lucinda, arrived in Bastrop County about the time Eliza married Aaron Green.  Lucinda was in Seguin, Guadalupe County, Texas in 1870, before returning to Hadley, Columbia Co., Arkansas by 1880.


John Dunn Brooks' Widow's Pension Application, submitted by Nancy Jane Mantooth, stated that he was discharged May, 1865 and that his regiment "surrendered or disbanded near Bryan, Texas in Brazos County at the close of the War." Bryan is located only a few miles southeast of Calvert.   It is interesting to note that John Dunn married Nancy Jane Mantooth in Angelina County, TX a few months earlier on February 28, 1865.  It is not known how he came to meet her since her family lived in Angelina County.  Their first child, William Malone Brooks III, was born in 1866, and by 1870 the couple was living in Williamson County, Texas.   It is not known if John Dunn and Nancy Jane Mantooth Brooks ever lived in Bastrop County as a married couple.


Robert Levi Brooks had married Catherine Ann Houston in Bastrop County on October 3, 1864, perhaps during a furlough.  She was the daughter of the early Texas settlers, James F. Houston and his wife, Sally Foster.  Sally Foster was the daughter of another early Texas settler from North Carolina, John L. Foster, whose 1838 land grants place him among the first to have ventured from North Carolina, by way of Missouri, to Texas.


At the end of the war, Robert apparently returned to Bastrop County where his wife was likely waiting for him, perhaps living with her parents.  The first three children of Robert and Catherine were born in Bastrop County from 1865 to 1870.   Their fourth child, Robert Ekelston Brooks, was born in 1874 in Uvalde County, Texas.  Land records reveal that   Robert and Catherine sold land in Bastrop County in 1872, a portion of the land being designated as “cotton” land and the other parcel, “land Pin Oak”, apparently in the Pin Oak community.


By the early 1870’s all the Brooks family had probably left Bastrop County and were living in Uvalde County, Texas, near the prominent family of Elijah Anderson Bates, brother of Eliza Bates Brooks Green.  It is possible that Eliza was also living there at least in 1872 when her oldest daughter, Mary E. Brooks, married a Mr. Myers in Uvalde County in 1872.  Her youngest daughter, Eliza Malone Brooks, married there in 1875.  In the 1880 census, four of Eliza’s sons were living in Uvalde Co., Texas:  Robert Levi, John Dunn, Finis Bates and Richard Julius Brooks.  


It is believed, therefore, that all the Brooks family had left Bastrop County in the late 1860’s or early 1870’s.


Thus ends the story of the Malone Brooks family during the difficult years of the Civil War and the three Brooks brothers who served in the 12th Texas Cavalry.




Much has been written about the famous 12th Texas Cavalry.  Included below are excerpts from only a few published accounts in an attempt to provide a sense of the lives of these young Texas men who served in the Confederate army from 1861 to 1865. These narratives of daily life for soldiers in Parsons’ Brigade during this turbulent period also present the opportunity to visualize the lives of the three Brooks brothers who were there and to appreciate the hardships they endured.




A concise history of Parsons’ Brigade is provided in “The Handbook of Texas Online”. 

Parsons's Brigade, a Confederate brigade during the Civil War, was organized in the autumn of 1862 to serve as cavalry for the Army of the Trans-Mississippi then forming in Arkansas. For much of the war the brigade was commanded by Col. William Henry Parsons, who had raised the Twelfth Texas Cavalry Regiment in the summer of 1861. In late 1862, however, Brig. Gen. James M. Hayes briefly commanded the brigade, in 1863 Col. George W. Carter led part of the regiments, in 1864 Brig. Gen. William Steele assumed command, and in 1865 Parsons regained total control. Because the force had been organized under Colonel Parsons, served under him in 1863, and was again under him at the end of the war, it was generally known as Parsons's Brigade. The permanent components of the brigade were Parsons's Twelfth Texas Cavalry Regiment, Nathaniel Macon Burford's Nineteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment, George Washington Carter's Twenty-first Texas Cavalry Regiment, Charles Leroy Morgan's Texas Battalion, and Joseph H. Pratt's Tenth Texas Field Battery.

In fall 1862 the brigade served as the cavalry for the Army of the Trans-Mississippi in eastern Arkansas and monitored Union troop movements around the federal fort at Helena. In July 1862, before formation of the brigade, Parsons's Twelfth engaged federal troops near Cotton Plant, Arkansas, as Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis's Army of the Southwest marched through Arkansas. As a result of the fine leadership qualities Parsons displayed during this campaign, he received authorization to organize a brigade. By October the brigade consisted of the Twelfth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-first Texas Cavalry regiments along with an Arkansas battalion (later replaced by Morgan's Texas Battalion) and Pratt's Battery. Early in 1863 the Confederate hierarchy at Little Rock detached part of the regiments and placed Colonel Carter over the Nineteenth Texas, Twenty-first Texas, Morgan's Battalion, and Pratt's Battery. These Texans, designated Carter's Brigade, joined Maj. Gen. John S. Marmaduke on his second raid into Missouri in April. Carter, a former Methodist preacher, had originally organized a brigade of Texas Lancers (his own Twenty-first, Franklin C. Wilkes's Twenty-fourth, and Clayton C. Gillespie's Twenty-fifth Texas Cavalry regiments). But Carter's Lancers broke up after reaching Arkansas, and the Twenty-first Texas joined Parsons's Brigade. Colonel Carter's desire to regain command of a brigade, however, caused problems throughout the war.

In June 1863 Parsons took the Twelfth Texas to Louisiana, where he was joined by the Nineteenth Texas and part of the Pratt's Battery under Isaac R. Clare. Parsons's men raided Union positions along the west bank of the Mississippi during the federal campaign against Vicksburg. Although Confederate efforts to aid the Vicksburg defenders from the Louisiana shore failed, Parsons's raid did result in the destruction or capture of numerous federal supplies. While Parsons was in Louisiana with part of the brigade, Colonel Carter remained in command of the rest in Arkansas. Some troops from Carter's Brigade took part in the battle for Little Rock in September 1863 and an attack upon Pine Bluff in October. When all of the regiments were reunited in Arkansas in late 1863, there was a problem over which man should command. To avoid a disagreement and to subsist men and horses, the government assigned the force to the Confederate Bureau of Conscription. Each company was ordered to its home county in Texas to arrest deserters and draft evaders.

Early in 1864 the regiments came together again when Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks's federal columns began to move up the Red River toward Shreveport. Although the brigade did not join Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor's Confederate Army in time to take part in the battles at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, they did accompany Brig. Gen. Thomas Green on the attack upon part of David D. Porter's fleet at Blair's Landing, on April 12, 1864. Parsons held field command in this unsuccessful attempt to cripple the federal fleet, and in the midst of battle General Green was killed by enemy artillery fire. During the campaign to push the retreating federal army down the Red River, Brig. Gen. William Steele assumed command of the brigade, and it became part of Maj. Gen. John Wharton's cavalry division. Both Carter and Parsons at times had field command of the troops during the Red River campaign. The final battle of the campaign occurred at Yellow Bayou on May 18, 1864, and in this battle Parsons's Brigade suffered its greatest loss. An incomplete report of casualties from Yellow Bayou indicated twelve killed, sixty-seven wounded, and two missing. From the entire Red River Campaign, Parsons counted twenty-nine killed and 159 wounded.

Subsequently, the Texans returned to southern Arkansas. For the remainder of the year they monitored federal troop movements along the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. But Confederate authorities began to fear a possible attack along the Texas coast and in January 1865 ordered the brigade to Texas. When the troops were reorganized in the spring of 1865, Colonel Parsons regained command of all but Carter's Regiment. Col. Edward J. Gurley's Thirtieth Texas Cavalry replaced the Twenty-first Texas in Parsons's Brigade, and the Twenty-first Texas joined Walter P. Lane's  Brigade. The war ended for the men under Parsons on May 20, 1865, at the Central Texas settlement of Sterling, when Colonel Parsons informed his men that they could return home.

During the Civil War Parsons's Brigade earned the reputation as one of the finest mounted units serving in the Trans-Mississippi Department. The brigade took part in almost fifty battles, although most were too small to rate a name, and the men were responsible for watching federal operations from Memphis to Vicksburg. For three years they provided outposts and scouts for the army headquartered first at Little Rock and later at Shreveport. The brigade rarely mustered in full at any single place; instead, the troops generally fought by detachments or regiments. Much of the brigade's well-deserved reputation resulted from the outstanding fighting record of the Twelfth Texas Cavalry Regiment and the leadership of Colonel Parsons.

From Handbook of Texas Online, "PARSONS'S BRIGADE,"


In this excellent narrative of the events in which the Pinoak boys participated, the author remarked that


The men and officers of the company varied widely in age.  Captain Highsmith was thirty-two, as was Lieutenant Moncure.  First Lieutenant Dan Grady was forty and Private A. R. Stephenson was forty-two.  W.C. Brooks was seventeen.  Will Eastland was barely seventeen and was the youngest man in the company by only a few weeks.  He was really only sixteen when he enlisted but had given his age as seventeen.


Many of his recruits were young and exuberant and meant to make the most of their first trip from home.  Nevertheless, some were homesick and wrote seeking news of their friends.  A letter written by J. T. Faulkner shortly after he reached Ellis County to his friend William Wolfenberger, who was still in Bastrop County, gives in the words of a nineteen-year-old boy an excellent idea of their spirits:


            Dear friend

 I now embrace the present opportunity of writing you a few lines just to inform you of my  health and whereabouts.  I am at present as fat as a Bear and twise as wooley.  We are at the time encamped on Red Oak Creek in Ellis County and I expect we will remain here some fifteen or twenty days.  Will, our employment at the present is eat and Drill and Drill and Eat from day till Dark.  Will, I wish you was up here.  I could show you some of the prettiest girls you ever saw.  There is one or two a living in about too hundred yards of our tent at this time.  Will, I want you to write to me as soon as you get this letter.  You can direct your letters to Redoak Post Office Ellis County.  I do not know Whether we will stay here long enough for me to get a letter from you but if we move our tent I will have the letter Sent on after us.  You must direct your letters to the Care of Capt M. H. Highsmith fourth Texas Regiment Texas.  Will, I want  you give my Love to all my old friends on high Walnut and tell them all I want you to write me whether Miss N. U. S. is married yet or not.  And if She is who She marrid and when.  Will, as we come through Waxahatchie I Saw some of the pretties little Girls you ever Saw.  I Believe That I have given you all the news that I know of and told you about all the pretty Girls I have Saw since I left high Walnut Creek.  So No More  Att present.  I remain yours truly, devoted friend.   J. T. Faulkner


(In his letter to his wife of July 14, 1862, John Truss mentioned that William Brooks is dead.  William Wolfenberger died also.  So, it seems that John Faulkner’s friend died in 1862.)


M. B. Highsmith by the summer of 1861, was recruiting men for a company to serve exclusively as cavalry.  The company was formed July 24, 1861.  He was its first captain.  The company was mustered into service and certified September 16, 1861, for twelve months wholly within the boundaries of Texas, and was ordered to join the Texas Fourth Cavalry under the command of Colonel William H. Parsons in the 26th Brigade…..Other units were also being formed in the county. 


Most of the companies were Bastrop, Hays, Caldwell and Travis Counties were assigned to the 26th Brigade of the Texas Militia, headquarters in Austin.  Shortly, however, they were directed to proceed to Rockett in Ellis County.  There, September 11, 1861, they became a part of the Fourth Texas Regiment of Cavalry under the command of Colonel William H. Parsons.  Not long after Parsons assumed command there were 1200 men who had been assigned to the regiment.


Parson’s regiment spent the fall and winter of 1861-1862 near Houston at Hempstead and Sims Bayou.  In keeping with Colonel Parsons’ insistence upon strict discipline, the men spent their time in drilling.  Colonel Parsons frequently arranged drill contests among the companies.  At least once, the Highsmith Company was selected as the best in the regiment.  Following the contest, the Highsmith young ladies visited the camp and presented the company with evergreen wreaths for being the best drilled in the regiment. 


It was at Hempstead that forty men left the regiment, fourteen from the Highsmith Company.  All of the men in Parsons’ Regiment had enlisted for only twelve months.  Their service, under the terms of enlistment, was restricted to Texas.  There were still many, and some of them were in the military forces, who believed that the resources of Texas should be expended wholly in the defense of its boundaries.  They were, in part at least, from the old Texas families who settled in the state before the revolution, fought in its earlier conflicts, and favored national sovereignty for Texas.


If, however, the Texans were to do their share for the South, the units had to be used outside of the state.  Consequently, the Texas organizations were transferred to the control of the Confederacy.  The men in each regiment were asked to volunteer anew for that purpose.


On October 28, 1861, Colonel Parsons, following instructions, asked all men in his regiment to join for twelve months of Confederate service.  All accepted but forty.  Among them were fourteen men from the Highsmith Company. 




Written by: Steve Kruppenbacher

The majority of the companies were formed by William H. Parsons in the summer of 1861. He later added the “Hill County Volunteers” under Captain Wier to make company A. Captain Veal also added his “Texas Mounted Guards” to make Company F. On September 1st 1861 at Camp Beauregard Parson was elected Colonel along with all the other officers. September 23, Company F was furloughed to get equipped properly, while the rest marched to Collin county. October 20th at Camp Moss south of Eutaw they were joined by the “Rawhides” and “Freestone Boys”. They then continued their march to Hempstead near Houston where on October 28th they were mustered into Confederate service. Equipping themselves with what they could. Besides a horse and tack, each man carried a variety of weapons. Most carried double-barrel shotguns, later more Enfields, Sharps and Mississippi rifles were added.

Spring of 1862 they were sent to Little Rock, Arkansas to aid General Van Dorn after Pea Ridge. Finally on May 19th they saw their first real action at Whitney’s Lane, Arkansas, skirmishing with a Federal foraging party. The 12th lost 1 killed, 1 wounded and 1 missing. July 7th at Cache River (or Cotton Plant). They were ambushed in the river while trying to stop the Federal movement to Little Rock. They lost 17 killed and 32 wounded. August 3rd they repaid the Federals in a surprise attack on a Federal camp at L’Anguiville Ferry, capturing or destroying over 1/2 million dollars in supplies and losing only 2 killed and 10 wounded.

That September Parson received command of the Texas Cavalry Brigade in Arkansas. For the rest of 1862 they spent time in cat and mouse skirmishes with Federal Major Samuel Walker, each side viciously hunting the other down night and day.

January of 1863 Parson went on the race to rescue Arkansas Post from Federal troops, only to arrive too late to assist. Colonel Carter was detached that spring to aid General Marmaduke’s raid into Missouri. Carter took most of the Texans with him, however the 12th stayed behind with Parson. That May they received 600 sabers and 200 Belgian rifles.

June of that year Parson’s men were sent with John Walker’s Texas infantry on a raid opposite Vicksburg to help relieve some pressure off the besieged city. They were involved in several small skirmishes that included a small fort on top of an Indian Mound garrisoned by Federal colored troops; they forced them into a bloodless surrender.  This was followed by a small skirmish near Lake Providence, LA. with the 1st Kansas Cavalry, followed by a quick skirmish at Tensas Bayou, LA. to cover Walker’s retreat. Walker’s raid met with limited success, but did nothing to aid Vicksburg. Parsons’ men were assigned to patrolling the eastern portion of Louisiana. By October the brigade was scattered and several companies were sent under Lt. Col. Bell Burleson (including Co. F) to find draft evaders and deserters in Texas.

By April 1864 Parsons’ brigade was reunited and ordered to assist in the Red River Campaign, where they were constantly skirmishing throughout April and May. April 12th they aided in the ambush of Federal gunboats at Blair’s Landing. The 19th they began to skirmish at Cane River then Cloutierville, LA. 23rd at Monett’s Ferry, Company F led the advance into a surprised Federal camp at night. May 10th Co. F again led a push that pushed the advance Federal posts back into Alexandria. Finally on May 18th they led a charge against the Federal works at Yellow Bayou. This was the 12ths heaviest fighting, suffering 10 killed, 61 wounded and 2 missing (this is an incomplete list).

1865 they spent their final months in Arkansas and finally back into Texas. May 20th they were officially disbanded after 3 years, 7 months of official Confederate service. Leaving behind an impressive record of moving as light cavalry or dragoons across 3 states. With almost constant guerrilla warfare and skirmishes, while keeping their casualties to a minimum.






A Brief and Condensed History of Parsons’ Texas Cavalry Brigade, Parsons’ Texas Cavalry Brigade Association, 1892 (Reprinted 1962)


Bastrop County 1691-1900, Bill Moore, 1977.


Between the Enemy and Texas:  Parsons’s Texas Cavalry in the Civil War, Anne J. Bailey, 1989.


Campaigning with Parsons’ Texas Cavalry Brigade, CSA – the War Journals and Letters of the Four Orr Brothers, 12th Texas Cavalry, John Q. Anderson, ed., 1967.


Civil War Letters from Parsons’ Texas Cavalry Brigade, Johnette Highsmith Ray, “The Southwest Historical Quarterly, Vol. 2, October, 1965.


The Ragged Rebel:  A Common Soldier in W. H. Parsons’ Texas Cavalry, 1861-1865, B. P. Gallaway, 1988


Watterson Folk of Bastrop County, Texas, D. L. Vest

















By:  Jerry L. Brooks, the Great Grandson of John Dunn Brooks


195 Tarheel West Drive

Murphy, NC 28906