Arthur Pendleton Bagby


Arthur Pendleton Bagby was born on May 17, 1833, in Claybourne, Alabama, the son of Alabama senator and governor Arthur Pendleton Bagby and his second wife, Anne Connell. The Bagbys were an old (if not especially distinguished) Virginia family whose ancestor had sailed from Scotland to Jamestown in 1628. Appointed to West Point in 1847, the young Bagby graduated in 1852, thirty-sixth in his class of forty-three. He served as second lieutenant of infantry for a year in New York and Texas. Resigning from the service on September 30, 1853, Bagby returned to Alabama to study law. From 1855 to 1858 he practiced law in Mobile, where his father resided. Bagby then removed to Gonzales, Texas, practicing law there until 1861.

On October 12, 1861, Bagby was appointed major of the 7th Regiment of the Texas Mounted Volunteers. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on April 4, 1862, and to full colonel on November 15, 1862. Bagby led a battalion of the 7th in the New Mexico campaign from 1861 to 1862. His unit was left behind to secure the rear of the main army as it advanced to Santa Fe; during the Battles of Valverde and Glorieta Bagby's troops garrisoned towns in southern New Mexico. In April, 1862, a subordinate accused Bagby of drunkenness on duty. Richmond, not wanting to lose the services of a valuable officer, refused to accept Bagby's resignation. A court-martial was arranged to clear Bagby and, in the teeth of the evidence, did so. He saw further action in the retaking of Galveston in 1863, commanding a detachment of his troopers who volunteered for marine duty manning an improvised gunboat. In 1863 the 7th, part of Brigadier General Henry Sibley's (later Thomas Green's) brigade of Texas cavalry, was ordered to Louisiana. At the Battle of Berwick Bay (April 13, 1863) the 7th, dismounted for the battle, held the Confederate left. Bagby was shot in the arm, but remained with his regiment until the Union attack was driven back. In the fall of 1863, upon the promotion of Green to divisional command, Bagby took over the Sibley-Green brigade, leading it at the Battles of Fordoche and Bayou Bourbeau. In the Red River campaign of 1864 Bagby led his brigade in the rear guard actions opposing Bank's advance. At the Battle of Mansfield (April 8, 1864) the brigade, dismounted for the battle, helped to turn the Union right flank. At the Battle of Pleasant Hill (April 9) the brigade, again dismounted, captured a Union advance position, but hostile fire stalled any further advance. After Pleasant Hill the Union army commenced a long retreat to Simmesport. Throughout the month of April Bagby's cavalry brigade harassed that retreat. General Kirby Smith, who had earlier recommended Bagby for promotion, assigned the "brilliant" Bagby to duty as brigadier general on April 13,1864, to date from March 17. By September, 1864, General Bagby was transferred from his old brigade and given a new brigade (4th Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division) of three Texas cavalry regiments. In early 1865 Bagby was given permanent command of a cavalry division. On May 16,1865, Kirby Smith promoted Bagby to major general (to rank from May 10), but by then the Confederacy had collapsed.

After the war Bagby settled in Victoria, Texas, and resumed his legal career. From 1870 to 1871 he was the assistant editor of the Victoria Advocate. In the early 1870s he moved to Halletsville, Texas, and established a thriving law practice. A "learned and a fine orator," Bagby was an active and prominent member of the state bar.' General Bagby died at his home in Halletsville on February 21, 1921, and is buried in Halletsville City Cemetery.

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Reference:  More Generals in Gray.  Bruce S. Allardice.  A companion volume to Generals in Gray.  Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.