his father, Timothy Rogers, was at the time
living in Alabama, William Rogers was born in Georgia on December
27, 1819, while his parents were there on a visit. After a brief
period, the family moved to Mississippi and settled on a large
plantation near Aberdeen in Monroe County, and it was there
that his youth was spent. Since he had one son who was a lawyer,
Timothy Rogers decided that William, the second son, should
be a physician. He sent him accordingly to a medical college
much against his sons own inclination. He graduated before
the age of 21. His father arranged for an office to be provided
for him in Pontotoc in northeast Mississippi. After a short
time he sold out and began the study of law. This created a
serious breach with his father which was not healed for many
Rogers married Martha Halbert, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama on January
To support himself while a student in law, Rogers edited a Whig
newspaper in Aberdeen. The newspaper failed, but his law studies
were a success and he became a practicing attorney. When the
war with Mexico erupted, William P. Rogers was a young lawyer
of 2 years rapidly gaining prominence at the bar in Aberdeen.
As soon as the call for volunteers was issued, he raised a company
from among his friends and acquaintances in the neighborhood
and offered to go to the front. This group later known as Company
K (the Tombigbee Guards), was a member of the famous First Mississippi
Regiment. This regiment, known as the Mississippi Rifles, was
commanded by Colonel Jefferson Davis and Lieutenant Colonel
A.K. McClung, the noted duelist. Rogers was made captain and
the unit was soon sent to the Rio Grande to become part of General
Taylors army. Rogers quickly acquired a reputation for
bravery and leadership in Mexico. He was first cited for bravery
in the capture of Monterrey. With General Zachary Taylor observing,
McClung and Rogers, in that order, were the first and second
Americans to enter the Mexican Fort Teneria while under heavy
enemy fire. In the battle of Buena Vista, the Mississippi Rifles
formed one wing of the famous V which helped to
break up the Mexican cavalry charge of General Minon and saved
an out numbered American army.
The young captain returned from the war quite taken with Mexico.
On his return to Mississippi, Rogers was defeated in a campaign
for the Chancery Court clerk ship in 1848. He next sought the
marshals of Mississippis northern district and was a candidate
for state auditor in 1849. At about that time he accepted a
position as consul to Vera Craz, Mexico offered him by Taylor
as soon as the latter became president. Rogers resigned in September
of 1851 after an investigation of an alleged embezzlement by
one of his agents. At the time he was appointed, consul Rogers
would have taken his family to Mexico if his wife had not positively
refused to move to a foreign land. She consented, however, to
go as far as Texas. The autumn of 1851 found the small Rogers
family on its way to that state.
family there were four children by this time settled
in Washington, Texas and Rogers resumed his law practice. Nearby
was Independence, the location of Texas first institution
of higher learning, Baylor University. Rogers lectured law students there
once a week on a voluntary basis. Six years
later the growing importance of Houston caused him to move his
law practice to that city where he soon became one of the foremost
attorneys of the state. Realizing the importance of the political
situation in 1860, he be came a candidate for the legislature.
He exerted great effort at the meeting in Austin to effect a
peaceable settlement between Governor Sam Houston and the secessionists,
for a strong personal friendship existed between the two men
in spite of their political differences. Rogers had rapidly
achieved fame as a defense attorney. He was a cousin of General
Sam Houstons wife and lifetime political supporter and
personal friend of the General. Rogers felt that secession was
not the answer to the problems of the South, but he also felt
a deep loyalty to the Southern people and accordingly cast
his lot with the Confederacy. He was selected to the secession
convention as a delegate from Harris County and voted for the
secession ordinance. President Jefferson Davis offered Rogers
the command of the First Texas Infantry, then a regiment in
Virginia, but at his wifes behest, Rogers refused this
invitation and accepted the junior command of the Second Texas
The War Department also named William D. Rogers as lieutenant
colonel of the regiment.
In March, 1862 Colonel Moore received orders report General
Van Dorn in Arkansas. Before departure the ladies of Houston
in a festive ceremony, presented the regiment with a silk battle
flag. On March 18, 1862 the regiment departed from Houston by
railroad. It proceeded to Beaumont, Texas, then by steamboat
up the Neches River to Weisss Bluff, followed by a march
overland east from there through the thickets and swamps to
Alexandria, Louisiana. From Alexandria, travel continued by
steamboat on the Red Rivertoits junction with the Mississippi
River and thence up that river to Helena, Arkansas. At Helena,
orders were received to report to Corinth, Mississippi. Again
by steamboat, the regiment traveled the Mississippi from Helena
to Memphis, TN., and completed the journey with a march overland
to Corinth there on April 1, 1862 The regiment spent but one
day at Corinth where it half rations. On April 3rd, the regiment joined the army and took up the march toward Pittsburgs
Landing on the Tennessee River north of Corinth, scene of the
forthcoming battle of Shiloh. By Saturday morning, April 5th,
the regiments rations were exhausted and many of the men
were without shoes. Rain continued to fall as the soldiers of
the Army of the Mississippi slogged into their assigned locations
in the battle formation. The men of the Second Texas bedded
down in a muddy cornfield without tents or a blankets for cover.
From this corn field, the Second Texas was within three to four
hundred yards of the Federal camps. The men were ordered to
speak in whispers so as not to alert the unsuspecting Federal
the battle of Shiloh opened on Sunday, April 6th, Braggs
Second Corps, to which the Second Texas belonged, was situated
on the Confederate left. The Second Division containing the
Second Texas had been ordered to serve as a reserve unit for
the attack. The spirits of the regiment were boosted as Commanding
General Albert Sidney Johnston rode up, accompanied by Lieutenant
Colonel Rogers. The regiment had left Rogers seriously ill in Houston,Texas
when it departed for Corinth. Rogers, having
partially regained his health, had rushed to join the regiment,
finally overtaking it that morning. The men of the regiment
began to cheer on seeing Rogers, but were silenced by the officers
for fear alarm be spread to the Federal Camps.
The Rebel assault was unleashed on the unsuspecting Federal
camps at daybreak or shortly thereafter. The Second Division
was soon sent to fill a gap on the Confederate right flank bordering
on Lick Creek.
Texas was heavily involved in the fighting all along the front
from east to west. This included the murderous fighting at the
Hornets Nest, an area in the center of the battlefield
characterized by prolonged and fierce fighting. The Second
Texas Regiment played a significant role in forcing the collapse
of General Hurlbuts left flank of the Hornets Nest.
Colonel Moores command captured more than 1,000 Federal
troops with accompanying arms and sup plies. The Second Texas,
which had been separated from Jacksons Brigade, halted
in an advanced position within the original Federal lines.
On Monday, April 7th, the Second Texas, which had camped behind
Federal lines during the night, moved south along the Tennessee
River to Lick Creek. Colonel Moore received a battlefield promotion
to brigadier general and relinquished command of the Second
Texas to Lieutenant Colonel Rogers who was promoted to colonel.
Moore, who had been promoted to brigade command, directed a
brigade consisting of the Second Texas and the 19th and 21st Alabama Regiments.
However, battle-weary Texans were no match for General Buells
fresh troops and were slowly repulsed, as was the entire Confederate
battle line. General Beauregard broke off action with the Federals
at about 3:00 p.m. and the withdrawal to Corinth began.
At Corinth beginning April 9, 1862 the Second Texas experienced
marked depletion of its ranks from disease in addition to wounds
sustained at Shiloh. One member stated, Out of 850 brave
healthy men who left Houston, only some 175 or 200 will be able
to go into the fight. Many on the sick list will go into the
fight. The Second Texas was assigned to picket duty north
of Corinth for a significant portion of the time it was located
in that area. On May 8, 1862, Rogers and the Second Texas participated
in the engagement at Farmington, eight miles east of Corinth.
The massive union army under General Hafleck, who had arrived
to take command, slowly approached Corinth and by May 23rd his
army faced the north western defenses of Corinth. Colonel Rogers
reported that his horse was killed by a bombardment. General
Beauregard in a surprise move evacuated Corinth on the night
of May 29th. The 47,000 Confederates withdrew south to Tupelo,
Mississippi; here the army was reorganized and reassigned. The
Second Texas remained at Tupelo with the corps commanded by
General Sterling Price. In the camps at Tupelo, Colonel Rogers
resumed regimental drill, as did the other regiments of the
army. Rogers worked diligently to re-recruit and resupply the
regiment. His star was clearly on the rise. The leadership that
he exhibited in battle at Shiloh and in the camps at Tupelo
and Corinth had attracted the attention of his fellow officers.
Rogers wrote to his wife at that time that the top officers
of about twenty regiments from the states of Texas and Arkansas
had written a letter to Richmond urging Rogerss appointment
as a major general to command the troops from their two states
now on the east side of the Mississippi River.
At Iuka an ambush planned by Colonel Rogers was executed by
the Second Texas Sharpshooters and contributed the Confederate
offensive. For this action, the Second Texas and Colonel Rogers
were cited by both General Price and General Maury in their
official reports of the battle of Iuka he Second Texas, following
the battle of luka, proceeded to Saltillo, Mississippi, a few
miles north of Tupelo, to rendezvous with Confederate General
Van Dorns forces who were planning an attack on Corinth.
At 10:00 a.m. on October 3rd the Confederates formed a line
amid the battle for Corinth commenced. The Confederates approached
Corinth from the west, roughly along the line that parallels
and is astride the Memphis & Charleston railroad bed. Maurys
Division formed the right flank of Prices line of attack
north of the railroad, with Moores Brigade flanking on
the railroad. The Confederates pushed back the Federals some
300 yards to the old Beauregard Unit. Repeated charges led by
the Second Texas forced back the Federal line further. The fighting
lasted all day and the Confederate assault on the outer defenses
of Corinth had been successful on all fronts. Darkness on October
3rd found the besieging Confederate Army drawn in a battle line
outside the inner defenses of Corinth. Van Dorn telegraphed
Richmond, We have driven the enemy from every position.
We are within 3/4 of a mile of Corinth
Our loss, Im
afraid, is heavy. On October 4th, another scorching hot day,
Van Dorn a sunrise attack. Upon awakening. Maurys Division,
which was to strike Stanley in the center, noted with dismay
the formidable Federal defensive position that they must attack.
the premonition of the danger facing him, Colonel Rogers donned
an armored vest and pinned a short note on his clothing on which
was written his name, age, rank, command and the address of
friends. Acting, apparently as the rank of brigadier general,
led the Second Texas, the Sixth Texas, the Ninth Texas, a portion
of the Thirty-Fifth Mississippi, and a company of the Forty-Second Alabama against Battery Robinett, their objective.
From their advanced positions within 400 or 500 hundred yards
of Battery Robinett, Rogerss Brigade
four columns of men, forming Colonel Rogerss Brigade,
appeared from the woods west of Battery Robinett and moved forward.
Attention was now shifted to Rogerss men and fire was
concentrated on them. The columns became disorganized. The men
scrambled through the complex abates. The Second Texas and other
brigade units advanced within rifle range in the face of murderous
rifle fire. The thinned ranks fell back out of range out of
the withering fire. The colors of the Second Texas fell to the
ground as the fourth color bearer of the day was shot to death. Colonel Rogers seized them and rode back to rally his troops
for another assault. Waving the regimental colors from horseback,
Colonel Rogers lead the column on horseback, gauged his pace to
match the steps of his men and carried the colors aloft. The
columns reached the ditch of the battery and Rogers jumped his
horse over the ditch, dismounted, dashed up to the side of the
battery where he planted the colors squarely upon the fort.
Bitter hand-to-hand fighting ensued. Thirteen of the 36 men serving
the guns of Battery Robinett were either killed or wounded in
this desperate struggle. The Confederates took possession of
Battery Robinett. Suddenly they caught the first sight of a
massive sea of blue uniforms moving toward them in a counter-attack.
Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, Rogers and Foster
waved handkerchiefs to surrender their troops. Other Confederates
about the fort, however, did not see the surrender sign and
continued to fire into the mass of Union soldiers. Massive fire
was returned on the Confederates at very close range, and Colonel
Rogers fell dead with eleven wounds. The remainder of the attacking
Confederates had to fall back bringing with them their most
prized possession, the regimental flag.
An Iowa soldier at Battery Robinett later wrote, General
Rogers, with a flag in one hand and a revolver in the other,
led them straight into one of the awful death-traps of the war.
The remainder of Maury Division re-entered the woods west of
Corinth and within a short time General Van Dorn terminated
the Confederate attack on Corinth. Maurys Division was
cut to pieces; of the 4,000 men that formed the unit, over 2,000
were killed, wounded or missing. Of the 324 men of the Second
Texas regiment that marched on Corinth, only 124 mustered for
dress parade on October 18th. Newspaper correspondents at Corinth
provided dramatic eye witness accounts to the daring Confederate
assaults on Battery Robinett to both Northern and Southern newspapers
with unanimous praise of the bravery of Colonel Rogers and the
Second Texas Infantry. General Van Dorn praised the bravery
of Colonel Rogers in his official report of the battle. The
Confederate Army at approximately 1:00 p.m. was ordered to retreat
from Corinth. It was not pursued by the Union Army that day.
The battle of Corinth was short, but bloody. The Federal loss
was 355 killed; 1,841 wounded and 324 missing; the Confederacy,
473 killed; 1,977 wounded and 1,763 missing.
The body of Colonel Rogers was buried with military honors by
order of General Rosecrans in a single grave near where he fell
at Battery Robinett. The other brave Confederate soldiers involved
in the attack were buried in a mass grave. An 1884 photograph
showed Colonel Rogerss grave in a field covered with weeds
and surrounded by a sagging picket fence. However, an article
in the Galveston Daily News; 1892, written by J.R Wiles, entitled,
A Neglected Texans Grave stimulated the interest
of Texas and by March 8, 1896 an association known as the Rogers
Monument Association was created for the purpose of erecting
and maintaining a monument to Colonel W.P. Rogers.
W.P. Rogers monument
monument was unveiled in Corinth on August 15, 1912 and the
white marble shaft contains the following inscriptions:
side facing the grave:
William P. Rogers,
A Native of Alabama
December 17, 1817 A.D.
Captain of Mississippi Rifles, 1845-1847.
First Man to Mount Walls of Monterrey.
States Consul to Mexico, 1849.
Signed Ordinance of Secession of Texas, Feb. 1, 1861.
Colonel 2nd Texas Infantry.
Brevet Brigade Commander.
Fell Leading Moores Brigade, Fort Robinette,
October 4, 1862.
He was one of the bravest men that ever led a charge.
Bury him with military honors,
(Maj. Gen. W.S. Rosecrans, Commanding Army of the Cumberland,
The gallantry which attracted the enemy at Corinth was
in keeping with the character he acquired in the former service.
His last words were:
Men, save yourselves
or sell your lives dear as possible.
Erected by the Texas Division, United Daughters
of the Confederacy, the surviving members of the
family, and admiring friends.
August 15, A.D. 1912.
At the same time that the Rogerss monument was dedicated,
a marker to the unknown dead of Colonel Rogerss charge
was also unveiled.
following article is from the 'Confederate Veteran', Volume
IV, Number 7, Nashville, TN., July 1896. "With Col. Rogers
When He Fell" was written by J.A. McKinstry, who was a
private in Company D, Forty-second Alabama regiment and at the
time the article was written was of Wyeth City, Ala., May 26,
Col. Rogers When He Fell"
For thirty years I have been urged by comrades to put in print
what I saw and did in the storming of Battery Robinette, at
Corinth, Miss., Oct. 4,1862, but for reasons of my own I have
until now refused to do so. In a recent issue of the Confederate
Veteran my name appears in connection with a mention of that
terrible charge, and my gifted college chum, also gallant comrade,
Dr. John A. Wyeth, of New York, renews the request that I give
to surviving comrades a description of the charge, and the death
of Col. Rogers, Capt. Foster, and the brave thirteen who fell
with them, as I recollect it, and I consent. In doing so, I
wish to preface my description by saying that I am not accustomed
to write for publication, and that I do not claim to be mathematically
correct as to time, position, and distance in what I say; but
merely give the recollections that were indelibly impressed
upon the mind of a barefooted boy, who went as far, and who
saw and felt as much, as any one that day.
I was a private in Company D, Forty-second Alabama Regiment,
Moore's Brigade, Maury's Division, Price's Corps; and Col. Rogers'
regiment (the Second Texas) was a part of our brigade, and acted
as skirmishers in that engagement. I was only seventeen years
of age, and weighed less than one hundred pounds. Being the
smallest member of the company, my position was on the extreme
left, which rested upon the regimental colors. On Friday, the
3rd of October, we stormed the outer works of the Federals, and
carried them. The first shot fired at our regiment was a shell
that exploded a few feet in front of our colors. It killed and
wounded eleven men, including the color bearer. I was knocked
off my feet by the concussion, but not otherwise hurt. The flag
was instantly raised by Corporal J. A. Going (now of Birmingham,
Ala.), and we were soon in possession of the works. We had several
running fights during the day, as the Federals were driven from
the outer to the inner fortifications. We lay on our guns during
the night, and just before daylight we took position in a skirt
of woods, directly in front of Robinette and some four or five
hundred yards from it. We were discovered at dawn, and Forts
Williams, Robinette, and College Hill opened a terrific enfilade
fire of shot and shell upon us. We lay flat upon our faces.
and the shells passed a few feet over us (we thought these feet
were only inches), doing but slight damage. We remained in this
position, hugging the ground, for four mortal hours before the
signal gun was fired and the order to charge was given. The
forts caught the sound of the signal gun, and ceased firing.
We raised the rebel yell, and made a rush for the opening, some
fifty yards in our front. There we were met by a deadly volley
of shrapnel shells from the three forts, and our men fell dead
and wounded all along the line.
In front of us was the most obstructive abattis that it was
my misfortune to encounter, or to see, during the war. Beyond
this in our front, to our right and to our left, were the forts
belching destruction into our ranks; yet our men did not waver
or halt, but over the tops, under the limbs, around the stumps,
along the fallen trunks of the trees, like squirrels, they scrambled
in their effort to reach the fort in front. Forts Williams and
College Hill were soon devoting their attention to the columns
in their respective fronts; and when about half through the
abattis, Robinette changed shells for grape and canister on
us. Our yells grew fainter, and our men fell faster; but at
last we reached the unobstructed ground in front of the fort,
which was still a hundred yards away. Minies had been added
to the missiles of death by the battery's infantry support;
still we moved onward, and our badly scattered forces rallied
on the flag. Twenty steps further, and our colors went down
again. Going had fallen with a bullet in his leg. Comrade Crawford,
of Company A, dropped his gun, and, almost before the flag had
touched the dust, hoisted it again, and shouted: "On to
the fort, boys!" A few steps farther, and the guns of the
fort again changed their charges; now whole bags of buckshot
were being belched from the cannons' mouths into our now nearly
annihilated ranks, and our flag went down the ill-fated third
time to rise no more on that battlefield. Poor Crawford had
caught nine buckshot seven in his breast and two in his arm;
but we, Only a remnant now of those who started, pressed on
and reached the outside of the fort, and for a moment had protection;
but before we could scarcely catch a breath, hand-grenades came
flying thick and fast over the walls of the fort, and, falling
in the dust, which was ankle deep, began to explode under our
feet, filling the air with dust and smoke, and wounding our
men. It took but a moment, however; to put a stop to this; for,
having been educated in the tactics of fort defense, we quickly
answered the command of a comrade, "Pick them up, boys,
and pitch them back into the fort;" and immediately these
infernal machines were bursting upon the inside among those
who first threw them. Some one at this juncture shouted, "Over
the walls, and drive them out;" and up the steep embankment
we clambered. Comrade Luke was on my right, and Comrade Franks
was on my left.
we scaled the top of the parapet, a volley of musketry met us.
Luke went on over, Franks was killed with a bullet in the forehead,
and, as he fell backward, he clinched me around the neck and
carried me tumbling back with him to the bottom of the ditch
on the outside. I was considerably rattled by the fall; but
I heard Luke shout from the inside of the fort," Come on,
boys; here they are;" and I picked up my gun to go back
to him, when I saw a "blue coat" jump from behind
a stump, on the right of the fort, and run back in the direction
of Corinth. He was only a few steps from me, and I held my gun
on him and tried to fire, but could not. He soon got behind
the fort, so that I could not see him, and I took my gun down
to see what was the matter, and found that in my excitement
I had only half-cocked it. Firing had almost ceased, and I heard
the shout of "Victory! victory!" and I thought we
had won the day. I ran to the left of the fort whence the shout
of victory came, and joined a small squad of our men that were
standing a few paces from the fort. Col. Rogers and Capt. Foster
were in this squad. On seeing a line of Federals approaching,
and before giving the situation a thought, I immediately raised
my gun and fired full into the breast of a Federal sergeant,
who was in front of the column, and only a short distance from
us. 'Twas then that Capt. Foster shouted, "Cease firing,
men! cease firing!" and waved his handkerchief; and I realized
the true situation. 'Twas too late! That fatal volley had been
turned on our little band from the muzzles of fifteen hundred
muskets. I was still standing just as I was when I fired my
last shot, and within a few feet of Col. Rogers, when a minie
ball went crashing through my left hip and turned me half round;
another went tearing through my right shoulder, which changed
my position to front; and another ball crushed through my left
shoulder, causing me to drop my gun and my left arm to fall
limp by my side. I looked, and, lo! every one of the fifteen
men who were standing with me had fallen in a heap. I looked
again, and not a Confederate was in sight.
battle was lost, and our men had fallen back to the cover of
the woods. Desperation seemed to seize me; and, though the blood
was spurting from six gaping wounds, and I was already staggering
from weakness, I took my dangling left arm up in my right, and,
in the face of that deadly fire, I turned and ran for a quarter
(in full view of that column of Federals, who were popping away
at me every step that I took), and on for half a mile before
I fell. He who seems to take special care of the boys was certainly
with me in my desperate flight; for, though hundreds of minies
passed uncomfortably near my ears, I was not hit in the back,
nor was I captured. I lay on my back for three months without
being able to turn over; but twelve months from then I, with
a discharge in my pocket, was again with Gen. Moore in the battle
above the clouds, and on with Johnston to Atlanta.
I have only to add that Crawford, after being shot down, saved
our flag by tearing it from the staff, pulling it in his bosom,
and crawling out with it. Poor Luke was killed inside the fort.
Of the thirty-three men belonging to our company who went into
the charge that morning only eleven answered to roll call next
Reading the accounts of the battle published in the papers afterwards,
and remembering to have heard Capt. Foster shout, "Cease
firing, men," and seeing him after I fired waving his handkerchief,
I have always thought that perhaps if I had not fired my last
shot that day we might have been permitted to surrender without
being fired upon. Consequently, while I've always loved to talk
about it, I've never thought that I would like to see my terrible
experience in that battle put in print. So far as I know, I
am the only person near Col. Rogers when he fell who was not
killed with him. Col. W. P. Rogers.