The 5th Texas Infantry was organized in Richmond, Virginia on October 22, 1861. The independent companies of the Texas Infantry and Artillery that had traveled to Richmond, VA. were combined to form the 5th Texas regiment, also called, "The Bloody Fifth". Those companies were:
Co. A - The Bayou City Guards, from Harris County
Co. B - (No Company Name) from Colorado County
Co. C - The Leon Hunters, from Leon County
Co. D - The Waverly Confederates, from Waverly, Walker, and Montgomery Counties
Co. E - The Dixie Blues, from Washington County
Co. F - The Company Invincibles, from Washington, Jefferson, and Liberty Counties
Co. G - Milam County Greys, from Milam County
Co. H - Texas Polk Rifles, from Polk, Trinity, and Walker Counties
Co. I - The Texas Aides, from Washington County
Co. K - The Polk County Flying Artillery, from Polk and Liberty Counties
The Texas Brigade or Hood's Texas Brigade was to Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia as what the Old Guard was to Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Imperial Army. First in the advance. Shock troops in battle. The rear guard in retreat. The Texas Infantry Regiments were formed into the 1st, 4th, and 5th. These were the only Texas troops to fight in the Army of Northern Virginia. Hood's Texas Brigades were also the only troops to fight in both the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee in the Eastern and Western Theaters of War.
The 5th Texas had the distinction of serving under some of the Confederate Army's most popular and successful Generals. Like Robert E. Lee, head of the Army of Northern Virginia. General Braxton Bragg, head of the Army of Tennessee. Corps Commander Major General Thomas J. (Stone Wall) Jackson, Major General James Longstreet, and Division Commanders, Brig. Generals, Evander McIver Law and last but not least, Major General JOHN BELL HOOD, who was the Division Commander and then Corps Commander of the Texas Brigades. In Hood, the 5th Texas would form a bond and would follow him anywhere to the better end. The sacrificial devotion to duty of the Texas Brigade is Borne witness to the fact that only 473 men remained to lay down their arms at Appomattox Court House. Even then some, defiant to the last, broke their rifle muskets rather than surrender a usuable arm to the Federals.
During the winter of 1861 - 1862 The 5th Texas had been camped across the Potomac River from the 5th New York Infantry, "Duryee's Zouaves" and had traded insults and threats across the ice, offering to take the measure of the other when they met in battle. At Second Manassas (Second Bull Run) the Texans were able to settle accounts. After the Brigade drove off the 10th New York, deployed as skirmishers, driving them through the 5th New York, The 5th Texas emerged from the woods and found themselves facing the 5th New York, which was across a creek and on higher ground. The 5th New York's first volley was high, and The 5th Texas' was not. The Texans went sent into the New Yorkers and destroyed it as a unit, as one report put it. There were not 50 unwounded men in the (New York) Regiment. Flushed with success, The 5th Texas continued to advance, tearing through the disintegrating Federal flank, out distantcing not only the rest of the Brigade, but the rest of the main army. In his official report Hood said that the 5th Texas had "slipped the bridle" and earned themselves the name "The Bloody Fifth"
On the second day of fighting in Virginia's Wilderness, the fate of the Army of Northern Virginia hung in the balance on May 6, 1864 at the Battle of the Wilderness, under pressure from a five division Union attack. General Robert E. Lee's right flank was crumbling. Lee watched as routed troops of Lieutenent General A.P. Hill's III Corps ran west along the Orange Plank Road, away from the approaching enemy. Lee quickly took action to avert disaster. His trusted aide, Lt. Col. Charles Venadle was sent southwest to hurry Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's advancing I Corps into the fight. Informed of the critical situation on the march, Longstreet brought his two divisions the last mile and a half at the double-quick. Moving in parallel columns on the road, veteran brigades led both divisions. On the right was Bri. Gen. B.G. Humphrey's Mississippi Brigade and on the left Hood's Texas Brigade, under the command of Brig. Gen. John Gregg.
As the Texans advanced up Orange Plank Road, Longstreet's columns broke through the confused and demoralized mass of Hill's Corps, "Old Pete" (Longstreet) ordered Gregg to form his 800-man strong Texas Brigade north of Orange Plank Road. The Mississippians went into line south of the road. The Brigade's regiments, now under fire, began moving into their standard fighting formation. Left to right were: 3rd Arkansas, 1st Texas, 4th Texas and the 5th Texas. Lee rode up to Gregg (as the 5th Texas started forming battle lines) and asked Gregg who was new to the Army of North Virginia, and what unit he commanded. Taking position near the colors of the 5th Texas, bullets zipping about his head. "The Texas Brigade", was the Texan's proud answer. "I am glad to see it, when you go in there I want you to give those men the cold steel" said Lee.
Gregg saluted Lee and spurred his horse to the front of his command. Standing up in his stirrups, the Texas General aligned his regiments, then yelled: "Attention, Texas Brigade! The eyes... of General Lee... are upon you! Forward march!" In the rear of the Brigade, Lee ros in his saddle, doffed his hat, and said in a loud voice, "TEXAS ALWAYS MOVES THEM!!!" The troops within hearing raised a cheer. Lee's remarks passed like electricity through the ranks. The cheering spread along the advancing battle line. General Lee was also caught up in the emotion of the moment, rode through a gap in the line, intending to lead the Texans in the attack. Realizing Lee's rash intention, several soldiers ran in front of Traveller, grabbed his bridle rains and began yelling, "General Lee to the rear." On all sides, Texans took up the shout, "We won't move until you go back. To the rear General Lee, to the rear!" He did as they wished their beloved leader safe. The Texans resolved to halt the enemy attack or die. The Rebel yell rose above the sound of the firing. With Confederate and Texas battle flags leading the way, the Texas Brigade surged into the fray. From accross the open field, a Federal skirmish line 300 yards away open ineffective fire from a sparse stand of pines. Men began to fall, but the pace of Greggs veterans quickened. The wood line was overrun, the Federal skirmishers routed. Two hundred yards beyond, another Federal battle line materialized. The Texas men did not hesitate, they were unstoppable this day. The fire directed at the charging Confederates intensified. Their numbers dwindled with every yard, but the Texans kept coming. The seasoned veterans of Maj. Gen. Winfield Handcock's II Corps broke and ran as the screaming men of the Texas Brigade crashed into their battle line. The Texans continued to advance, hot on the heels of the routed Federals. After advancing another 200 yards through heavy fire, Gregg halted his men 100 yards from a formidable line of log breastworks. From south of the road, a Federal unit fired into the right flank of the Texas Brigade. The 4th and 5th Texas Regiments changed front, and led by Gregg charged the flanking Federal force. Crossing the Orange Plank Road, the Texans came under fire from at least two artillery batteries. Swept by the artillery's double shotted canister, many of the veterans did not make it accross the road. Those who did discovered another line of entrenchments. At 100 yards, two depleted regiments stood their ground, facing the protected enemy. The Texas Brigade was alone. Supporting brigades were to far away to the rear. Facing srongly manned positions on two fronts, and learning of fresh Federal divisions advancing down the Orange Plank Road, Gregg ordered his weakened regiments to execute a retreat, the Texans reoccupied the positions lost earlier by Hill's III Corps. The Brigade's unsupported charge had stopped the attack of two Federal corps and restored the army's right flank. Of the 800 Texans that charged that morning under the eyes of Lee, 565 fell dead or wounded. The Texans had once again upheld Lee's confidence in their ability to hold or take any position, regardless of the cost or circumstances involved.
Company K of the 5th Texas was originally organized as the, "Polk Counrt Flying Artillery" in July 1861 in Livingston, Texas. They formed the unit around a pair of 6 pound cannons. Although trained and organized as artillery, the company was called to service once in Virginia as infantry.
Our firsr Captain was Isaac Newton Moreland Turner (Nick-named Ike). The 6 pound guns were procurred and and donated by Ike's father. Ike Turner led the company and the rest of the regiment during the Maryland Campaign. From Polk County Texas, Turner was the youngest of the original company commanders in the Texas Brigade. He was ony 22 years old. He also had the reputation as a daredevil. At the Battle of Malvern Hill, he led 160 sharpshooters up the hill late in the afternoon. Taking advantage of the setting sun, he and his men were able to disable several Federal batteries by shooting their horses.
Company K was with the 5th Texas and the rest of the Texas Brigade, from the time they arrived in Virginia, till the end of the war. The company saw action in 30 engagements from 1862 through 1865.
The company was reformed in 1976 as Company B with the old ACW. Then switched back to Company K when it joined the NCWA in 1987. The Company is now commanded by 2nd Lt. Brian D. Pennock, nicknamed, "Goose".
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