A Fine Introduction to Battle: Hood's Texas Brigade at The Battle of Eltham's Landing, May 7, 1862
by Joseph L Owen
The Battle of Eltham’s Landing on May 7, 1862 was the baptism by fire for the Texas Brigade of Gen. John Bell Hood. The Texans distinguished themselves throughout the war as members of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The Battle of Eltham’s Landing was considered small, compared to the battles the brigade fought soon afterwards: Gaines’ Mill, Second Manassas/Second Bull Run, Sharpsburg/Antietam, Gettysburg and Chickamauga. However, the brunt of the fighting at Eltham’s Landing was done by the Texans. Hood’s Texas Brigade’s first combat experience proved they were a force to be reckoned with.
In these accounts, the soldiers wrote how bravely the brigade fought in its first battle. Newspapers throughout Texas, Georgia and the whole south expressed their pride about the gallantry and aggressiveness of Hood’s Brigade in their first battle, and began building the reputation of Hood’s Texans becoming Robert E. Lee’s “Grenadier Guard.” Confederate General Gustavus Smith wrote “the brunt of the contest was borne by the Texans, and to them is due the largest share of the honors.”
This collection of source material and photographs provide a valuable view of this overlooked, early battle through the eyes of the Texans, that reflected pride not only in themselves, but in fellow brigade members of the 18th Georgia and Hampton’s Legion.
- July 2021