Rear Guard

Another of my family stories follows and I believe it’s ‘neat’ to have these passed down, even 144 years after they happened.
Rear Guard
During our country’s Civil War, in December 1864, Gen. John Bell Hood commanded the Confederate Army of Tennessee and after their disastrous, and loosing, battles at Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee, as the long, arduous retreat from Nashville back across the Tennessee River began, Gen. Hood ordered Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest to command the rear guard

Among the units Forrest had in his Cavalry Corps that he selected for this defense, was the Texas Cavalry Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Sul Ross and, in which one of my maternal Great Grandfathers, Levi Sanders’, unit was part. Forrest also asked Hood for at least an infantry brigade, hopefully 4,000 men, to also be assigned to him.

An infantry brigade, numbering 1500 men, mostly barefooted, was quickly cobbled together from the remnants of four brigades. Included in this group was Ector’s Brigade and what was left of the 10th Texas Cavalry Regiment (Dismounted).

Another Great Grandfather, (paternal), Brinson Bryan, was in this unit. By that stage of the war, most regiments that had begun the war with over 1,000 men on their rolls, were down now to less that 200!

One picture remains of Brinson Bryan, taken around 1846, after the Mexican War. Thanks to several house fires, no picture remains of Levi Sanders.

Both men fought side by side from December 17 to the 27th, 1864, and it is not known if they ever met, but the rear guard that included these 2 of my Great Grandfather’s, performed its duty flawlessly and saved what was left of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.

The rear guard was in constant contact with Union troops the entire retreat, winning each battle and skirmish. Federal General Thomas said, “Hood’s Army on the retreat from Tennessee was a bunch of disorganized rabble. But the rear guard, however, was undaunted and firm, and did its work bravely to the last.”
After the war ended both men were active in the same veteran reunion groups and I’m sure their paths crossed.

My family strives to keep this heritage intact and something to treasure. These men fought for four years for something they believed in – states rights. They lost the war, but we’ll always remember their sacrifice!