It’s been a while since we’ve asked this question and it’s always a fun one…
What’s your favorite brigade in Civil War?
For the Union…..the Iron Brigade
for the Rebels…..the Stonewall Brigade
A little-known brigade with a brilliant, though short, career is the 13th Brigade, better known as Cruft’s Brigade of Buell’s Army of the Ohio. Loaned to General U.S. Grant just prior to the operation against Fort Donelson, the 31st Indiana (Cruft), 44th Indiana (Hugh Reed), 17th Kentucky (McHenry) and 25th Kentucky (Bristow) were placed within Lew Wallace’s new Third Division, and sent to the assistance of McClernand to help arrest the Confederate breakout attempt on morning of 15 FEB 1862 (brigade mentioned in despatches.) Still with Grant’s Army at Pittsburg Landing, Cruft’s Brigade was assigned to Stephen Hurlbut’s new Fourth Division; and Jacob Lauman was parachuted in as Brigade commander (sending Charles Cruft back to command the 31st Indiana.) At the Battle of Shiloh, Cruft’s Brigade moved forward towards the sound of the guns and took station right of William’s Brigade (Hurlbut’s Fourth Division) and left of the decimated Sixth Division of Benjamin Prentiss (which occupied the Hornet’s Nest.) Cruft’s Brigade repelled charge after charge during the morning and afternoon; and a rifleman in one of the four regiments may have fired the shot that ended the career of General Albert Sidney Johnston. As General Hurlbut attempted to extract his besieged division in mid-afternoon, Jacob Lauman ordered his brigade to charge, drove the Rebel attackers several hundred yards south, and then rejoined the Fourth Division for a mostly unhindered withdrawal to the bluff overlooking Pittsburg Landing. In Hurlbut’s Shiloh Report, General Lauman and his brigade get special mention; and Hugh Reed’s 44th Indiana was acknowledged by at least one reporter as “THE best performing Federal regiment at Shiloh.”
After Shiloh, Henry Halleck arrived and took command of a massive, combined force of Grant’s Army, Buell’s Army, and Pope’s Army… and called it “Army of the Mississippi.” Cruft’s Brigade was removed from Grant and returned to Buell, and promptly broken up. The 13th Brigade of the Army of the Ohio ceased to exist as a fighting force.
Hood’s Texas Brigade…the tip of the spear….the Army of Northern Virginia’s shock troops….so far from their home!
John T Wilder’s Lightning brigade of mounted infantry.
The Iron Bde…2nd,6th,7th WI & 19th IN…reinforced by the 24th MI.
The “other” Iron Brigade – Jo Shelby’s Missouri Confederate Cavalry. I’m kin to Shelby through the Bledsoe family.
On the Union side – the Indian Home Guards – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd regiments. A colorful & unheralded unit that served in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory.
Check out the Lawton-Gordon Evans Brigade. This brigade played a key role in every major battle fought by the Army of Northern Virginia from Gaines’ Mill, to the gates of Washington, DC, to Appomattox.
Stannard’s 2nd Vermont Brigade. Swung out from Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg and hit the right flank Kemper’s Brigade of Pickett’s Division on the third day. Then did an about face and tore into the left flank of Wilcox’s and Lang’s Brigades from Hills Corps who were coming to cover Kemper’s flank. This was the first real action that the Vermonters saw in their 9 month enlistment. Exploits recounted in Howard Coffin’s Nine Months to Gettysburg.
Another vote for the Iron Brigade.
The Stonewall Brigade, both before and after it was known as such.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Corp – Those Black Hat Devils. Iron Brigade; “Forward men, for God’s sake forward!” – Gen John F Reynolds
Wilcox’s Alabamians. I have always been impressed in the way he realized what was happening between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and marched to meet the federals moving west at Salem Church. Brilliant maneuver.
Louisiana Tigers, Taylor/Hays Brigade.
Two more: the Confederate First Missouri Brigade east of the River, and the Orphan Brigade of Kentucky. No units fought further from homes that were so long controlled by the enemy.
I’m gonna toss Lewis Grant’s Vermont Brigade into the mix. They can stand toe to toe with any of the brigades we’ve mentioned so far.
I enjoyed reading about the Louisiana Brigade in the ANV. They accomplished a lot in the Eastern Theater and had a unique persona of their own (Lee’s Tigers). I’m also from Louisiana, so I’m a little biased.
I’ve never really thought about it as far as having a ‘favorite brigade’, but in recent times I’ve been taking an interest in “The Jones Brigade” of Confederate cavalry.
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