The Infantry

Barnard Elliott Bee (1824-1861) accompanied his family from South Carolina to Texas in 1836. His father served as Secretary of War, Secretary of State and as a diplomat for the Republic of Texas. Young Bee graduated from West Point in 1845. He distinguished himself as an officer in the U.S. Infantry, serving in Texas and in the Mexican War. As an infantry captain in 1856, Bee penned a poem celebrating his infantry comrades. It begins, "Our army is a motley crew, In dress and armour, duties, too, And each and all I love to see -- But most I love the infantry." Each stanza is illustrated with ink drawings of army life, including foot soldiers carting supplies, engineers and cartographers at work, artillery and mounted dragoons in action, and a victorious company of infantry on the march. The poem concludes, "The noble hearts still proudly form, And hark! A shout -- tis Victory! Who would not love the infantry?" Bee resigned his U.S. Army commission in March 1861, and was soon elected colonel in the South Carolina Regulars, a Confederate infantry unit. On June 17, 1861, he was promoted to brigadier general. Bee is perhaps best remembered for the events of July 21, 1861, at the first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) in Virginia. On that day, Bee rallied his troops behind the Virginians, saying, "There stands Jackson like a stone wall," giving General Thomas J. Jackson the famous sobriquet "Stonewall." Bee was mortally wounded that same day and died on July 22, 1861, in a small cabin near the battlefield that he used as his headquarters.

Mexican War Collection, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington