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Hill College Press Announces New Book Release

10.19.15

Hill College Press is pleased to announce its 49th Imprint of historical works focusing on the theme of     Texas and Texans during wartime and the effects on contemporary Texas society.  Being released as the nation comes to the end of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War, Frontier Horsemen of the Confederacy:  Major’s Texas Cavalry Brigade by James T. Matthews, covers a little publicized brigade of cavalrymen, some of whom were veterans of the Confederacy’s efforts to take and hold Arizona during 1862.  After that campaign failed, the Arizona brigade, made up of Californians, New Mexicans, Texans and others, reorganized in Texas.   “Partisan Rangers” were recruited from all over Texas and joined the brigade.  The force of four regiments began to be known as Major’s Texas Cavalry Brigade when Brigadier General James P. Major, a Missourian who had been a career U.S. Army officer, took command in 1863.   Major had served with the army in Texas and in Indian Territory prior to the Civil War and, with the Confederacy participated in major battles at Wilson’s Farm in Missouri, Pea Ridge in Arkansas and Corinth and Vicksburg in Mississippi.     After patrolling in the area of Galveston in 1863, the brigade rode into Louisiana to assist other Confederate units combating Union forces that took over the southern part of the state and in 1864 played a significant role in preventing the spread of Union control into northern Louisiana in what became known as the Red River campaign.  Combated by Confederates in the region between Mansfield and Alexandria, the federals retreated to the south.  Major’s brigade fought and then patrolled in the region and also in southern Arkansas.   Major was recommended for promotion to rank of major general but the war ended before he served in that capacity; the brigade returned to Texas and mustered out in May 1865. A final chapter in the book summarizes post-war experiences of several members of the brigade. Major became a farmer in the Austin area, took his family to France to live for a while, and after returning to farm in Texas and Louisiana, died suddenly in Austin in 1877 at the relatively young age of 41. He was interred in a tomb with relatives of his wife in Donaldsonville, Louisiana.

The book is neither a biography of Major nor a definitive account of the combat experiences of the brigade.  Instead, it is the first historical narrative to provide general details of important actions in which the brigade, sometimes dismounted,  was involved in association with other Confederate brigades in confronting the enemy.  The often changing command structure of the brigade’s  regiments to meet practical offensive and defensive needs is discussed, and insight is provided about the  courage and pathos of men in battle and the hardships of army life in that conflict. The author is an active member of the West Texas Historical Association and has edited with his wife, Becky, the annual newsletter of the association for many years.  He  holds  a masters degree in history  from Texas Tech University , pursues a professional career with the Boy Scouts of America, currently being Service Area Coordinator of the Alamo Council in San Antonio, and will be the keynote speaker at the annual membership banquet of the Texas Heritage Museum at Hill College on the evening of November 19.

  James T. Matthews
James T. Matthews

[The book is hardback, 184 pp., illus. (maps and photos), color dust jacket, and will be available for purchase after November 19 in the Gift Shop in the Texas Heritage Museum at Hill College..  Call 254-659-7750.]