Led by John Bell Hood, the famed Texas Brigade achieved its first great feat of combat arms at Gaines’ Mill.
The Rebel assaults at Gaines Mill were constantly beaten back. At 4 PM, General Whiting said to General Hood,
“That battery ought to be taken, General.” Hood, commanding the Texas Brigade, replied,
“Then why has it not been done?” Whiting’s reply was,
“Because the position is too strong. My brigade is composed of veterans, but they can do nothing with it.”
Hood answered, “I have a regiment that will capture it.” He galloped to his 4th Texas Regiment and shouted it forward.
The Texans encountered many troops that had already advanced on the Federal guns, men clinging to the ground to avoid the brutal cannon fire. They urged the Texans to stop, but the 4th Texas marched on.
A hundred yards from the enemy line, Hood gave the order to fix bayonets while still on the move. The gleaming steel of bayonets and the famous Rebel Yell so unnerved the first line of Federals that they“fled panic stricken.”
At this point the 18th Georgia joined the Texans and together they raced up the hill to the rear of the Federal position. As they did, the 1st and 5th Texas, along with the South Carolina Legion, joined the charge.
The Federal line collapsed.
Hood’s troops continued their pursuit until confronted by the 5th U.S. Cavalry. The brigade stood its ground, the Rebels firing with fury to keep the cavalry at bay.
It was a Confederate victory, and saved the capitol of Richmond from capture.
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