Portrait of Edmund Kirby Smith.

General Kirby Smith commanded the Trans-Mississippi Department and the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department from 1863 to 1865. [Wikimedia Commons]

Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department Facts

1863-1865

Key facts about the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department.

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Formation Date:

  • May 26, 1862

Dissolution Date:

  • May 26, 1865

Commanders:

  • Brigadier General Paul Octave Hébert, former governor of Louisiana, (May 26–June 20, 1862)
  • Major General Thomas C. Hindman (June 20–July 16, 1862)
  • Major General Theophilus H. Holmes (July 30, 1862–February 9, 1863)
  • Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith (February 9, 1863–April 19, 1865). (Smith assumed command on March 7, 1863)
  • Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner (April 19–22, 1865)
  • Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith (April 22–May 26, 1865)

Size

  • Although records are inexact, the size of the army at its largest may have topped 50,000 soldiers. By the end of the war, casualties and desertion reduced the army’s numbers considerably below 40,000 men.

Structure

At its peak, in 1864, the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department consisted of three infantry corps, one cavalry corps, and a reserve corps.

  • I Corps (Headquartered at Shreveport, Department of Louisiana), originally established in 1862. Reorganized on August 4, 1864, under command of Simon Bolivar Buckner.
  • II Corps (Department of Arkansas and Missouri), created on August 4, 1864, under command of John B. Magruder.
    III Corps (Headquartered at Galveston, Department of Texas), created on August 4, 1864, under command of John George Walker.
  • Trans-Mississippi Army Cavalry Corps, created on August 4, 1864, under command of Sterling Price.
  • Reserve Corps, established on September 10, 1864, under command of Jerome B. Robertson, succeeded on September 12, 1864, by Thomas P. Dockery, succeeded on March 17, 1865, by Elkanah B. Greer (to May 1865)

Notable Officers

  • Edmund Kirby Smith
  • Sterling Price
  • Simon Bolivar Buckner
  • Richard Taylor
  • John B. Magruder
  • John George Walker
  • James Fleming Fagan
  • John S. Marmaduke
  • Joseph O. Shelby
  • Samuel B. Maxey
  • Thomas James Churchill
  • Mosby M. Parsons

Campaigns:

Dissolution

  • On May 25, Buckner and Sterling Price traveled to New Orleans, where they met with a Union delegation headed by Major General Edward R. S. Canby to hammer out terms of surrender of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department, subject to Kirby Smith’s approval. The following day, Buckner and Canby’s chief of staff, General P. J. Osterhaus, signed a “military convention” stipulating the same terms given Lee in Virginia and Johnston in North Carolina.

Contributions

During its existence, the Trans-Mississippi Department and its army served the Confederacy by guarding the international border with Mexico, protecting seaports in Texas and Louisiana, and maintaining a steady flow of cotton to the East and for export overseas, until the Union seized control of the Mississippi River.

Other Notable Facts

  • On May 26, 1862, the Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office of the Confederate War Department issued General Orders, No. 39, announcing the separation of the District of the Trans-Mississippi from Department No. 2, and the creation of the new Department of the Trans-Mississippi. The orders stated, “The boundary of the Trans-Mississippi Department will embrace the States of Missouri and Arkansas, including the Indian Territory, the State of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, and the State of Texas.”
  • The origins of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department come from Special Orders, No. 39, issued on September 28, 1862, by Major General Theophilus H. Holmes, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department. Holmes’ order declared that “Major General T. C. Hindman… will assume command of the troops in Northwestern Arkansas, Southwestern Missouri, and the Indian Territory, and will organize the same into an army corps, to be styled First Army Corps, Army of the West.”
  • Command of the Trans-Mississippi Department began stabilizing on February 9, 1863, when Confederate Adjutant and Inspector General Samuel Cooper informed Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith that “Your command of Southwestern Army has been enlarged so as to embrace the Trans-Mississippi Department.” (Cooper to Smith correspondence via General Pemberton. Also see Special Orders, No. 33, Confederate Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office).
  • Because the Trans-Mississippi Department remained isolated from the Confederate government after the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, Kirby Smith’s military authority west of the Mississippi River was so complete that contemporaries sometimes referred to the Department of the Trans-Mississippi as “Kirby-Smithdom.”
  • Possibly because of the isolation of the Trans-Mississippi Department from the Confederate government, there are no extant records officially designating a name for the troops under Kirby Smith’s command. Consequently, historians usually refer to the forces in Smith’s department as the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department.
  • On May 25, 1865, Simon B. Buckner and Sterling Price traveled to New Orleans, where they met with a Union delegation headed by Major General Edward R. S. Canby to hammer out terms of surrender of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department, subject to Kirby Smith’s approval. The following day, Buckner and Canby’s chief of staff, General P. J. Osterhaus, signed a “military convention” stipulating the same terms given Lee in Virginia and Johnston in North Carolina.
  • On May 27, Kirby Smith reached Galveston and learned that Buckner had surrendered most of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department. After considering his options, on June 2, 1865, Smith accepted the undeniable. He issued several special orders facilitating the final surrender of the army. He then fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution for treason.
  • The Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department was the last major Confederate force to surrender at the end of the Civil War.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department Facts
  • Coverage 1863-1865
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date January 18, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 16, 2021
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