TWENTY-FOURTH TEXAS CAVALRY
TWENTY-FOURTH TEXAS CAVALRY. The Twenty-fourth Texas Cavalry, also known as the Second Texas Lancers, was organized partially from members of the Twenty-first Texas Cavalry Regiment at Camp Carter near Hempstead on April 16, 1862. The unit consisted of 900 men from Brazos, Comanche, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Jasper, Karnes, Lavaca, Live Oak, McCulloch, Milam, Montgomery, Nueces, San Saba, Tyler, Waller, and Washington counties. Company H was originally organized as a spy company for Colonel Carter's Lancers prior to being dismounted. The Twenty-fourth Texas Cavalry is known by several other names including: Wilkes's Cavalry, Taylor's Cavalry, Swearingen's Cavalry, Neyland's Cavalry, Weldon's Cavalry, Mitchell's Cavalry, Fly's Cavalry, and Jerold's Cavalry. The original field officers were Col. William A. Taylor, Col. Franklin C. Wilkes, Lt. Col. Colonel William M. Neyland, Maj. Joseph N. Dark, and Maj. Edward B. Pickett.
The Twenty-fourth Texas Cavalry was assigned to Garland's Brigade in the Trans-Mississippi Department. The unit was dismounted at El Dorado, Arkansas, on July 28, 1862, by order of General Hindman against much protest and at Camp Holmes near Pine Bluff on September 1, 1862. Most of the regiment was captured at the battle of Arkansas Post on January 11, 1863. Following their capture, the soldiers were sent to Camp Butler near Springfield, Illinois, and exchanged at Petersburg, Virginia, in April 1863. Pvt. Alexander Wade recalled that while at Camp Butler, "the weather was very cold, and many died of sickness." Upon reorganization at Wartrace, Tennessee, the unit was consolidated with the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Twenty-fifth Texas Cavalry regiments and assigned east of the Mississippi River where it served in the Army of Tennessee. While in the Army of Tennessee, the Twenty-fourth Texas Cavalry served with Churchill's Brigade, Deshler's Brigade, Smith's Brigade, Granbury's Brigade, and Govan's Brigade. On April 9, 1865, the unit was consolidated with the Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Texas Infantry and designated the First Infantry Regiment at Smithfield, North Carolina.
The Twenty-fourth Texas Cavalry participated in more than thirty-five engagements during the war. In 1863 they participated in the battles of Arkansas Post, Liberty Gap, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, and Ringgold Gap. At Arkansas Post the unit lost fifty-four men and nearly 200 at Chickamauga. Pvt. Fred House recalled that his company "started in with sixty-three men and came out with twenty-eight." In 1864 the Twenty-fourth Texas Cavalry fought in numerous battles in Georgia including the Atlanta campaign and the siege of Atlanta. They also fought in Gen. John B. Hood's winter campaign in Northern Georgia and Alabama, as well as the battles of Franklin and Nashville. In 1865 they were reorganized as the First Texas Cavalry regiment and fought in the campaign of the Carolinas including the battle of Bentonville.
Members of the Twenty-fourth Texas Cavalry surrendered with Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith on May 26, 1865, as well as at Durham Station, North Carolina, on April 26, 1865. It appears there were less than fifty men enlisted in the unit upon surrender. Sgt. Z. M. Guynes of Company B recalled, "When we first started out the company had 110 men; at the surrender we had four left."
T. Lindsay Baker, The First Polish Americans: Silesian Settlements in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996). Norman D. Brown, One of Cleburne's Command: The Civil War Reminiscences and Diary of Captain Samuel T. Foster, Granbury's Texas Brigade, CSA (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980). Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives and Records Service, Washington. Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, Virginia: Derwent, 1987). Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). William J. Oliphant and James M. McCaffrey, Only a Private: A Texan Remembers the Civil War: The Memoirs of William J. Oliphant (Houston: Halcyon Press Ltd., 2004). Vertical File, Historical Research Center, Texas Heritage Museum, Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas. Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Texas (New York: Facts on File, 1995); Mamie Yeary, Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray (McGregor, Texas, 1912; rpt., Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1986).