Nicholas A Davis.

The campaign from Texas to Maryland online

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,f9 J dl ?e *? ^ Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
and sixty-two by NICHOLAS A. DAVIS, in the Clerk's Office of the
strict Court of the Confederate States, for the Eastern District of Virginia





The spring of 1861 forms a memorable epoch iu the history of America. To
those who -were living at that day. either active participants in the stirring oc-
currences of the time, or passive spectators of the drama being enacted before
them the period which ensued from the election of Abraham Lincoln, on the
2d of November, 1860, down to the commencement of open acts of war between
the Northern and Southern sections of the people of the United States will
ever be looked upon with a degree of interest fully equal to that which marks
any other stage of our Continental career.

True it is, that the time alluded to is not full of startling events or tragic
consequences, as some that have succeeded events which haveclothed a land,
but yesterday, as it were, robed in the bright garments of a bride, in the sable-
habiliments of mourning, and spread a pall of sorrow and dismal woe from one
extremity of the country to the other but at the same time, the changes taking-
place, at the time of which we speak, are such as must ever mark it memorable
in the history of the American people..

The spectacle of a people, at a time of unexampled prosperity and plenty,,
sed with a system of government acknowledged by the world to confer the
r^gcst liberality of personal freedom known among organized communities ;
whose facilities for the attainment of knowledge or wealth were unexampled
among nations; where ambition was unrestricted, progress unfettered, religion
untrammeled, and liberty of speech unquestioned and unlimited whose books
and periodicals were, but yesterday, filled with songs of rejoicing and paeans of
self-gratulation, on account of these manifold blessings a people, the wonder
of the world and the admiration of mankind, all at once stopped iu their on-
ward career. Peace gives way to discord, and chaos takes the place of system.
Law and order disappear as if by magic, and anarchy and confusion prevail.

Such were the results of that excited period of time on which we now dwell.
It is not our province "to speak of the causes leading to these result*. The his-
torian, who shall write of the?e things, will, doubtless, dive through the dusty
and time-worn labyrynth of the past, atid uncover hidden causes which had long
been at work to bring these evil days upon us ; and he will establish, by a sys-
tem of logical argument, that it Avas necessary that these things should come
to pass, 'which now "overcome us to our special wonder."' Our task is less diffi-
cult. We only propose taking a glimpse of a band of heroes who lived in
these days, and whose deeds have formed a portion of the history of the times.
To tra.ce the career of a body of men who, whatever part they may have taken
in bringing on or keeping off the days of peril, have shown themselves able awl
willing to breast the storm, and to meet the whirlwind in its course.

As early as the month of April, 1861, the State of Texas had undergone this
transformation, from a state of peace to a state of armed hostility to the Federal
1 -roy eminent. South Carolina and several of the Southern States had seceded,
-.nd the Ordinance of Secession had passed iu the Convention of Delegates of
Texa?, and was voted upon by the people February 23d, and took effect on tne
2d of March. Argument had been estopped, and the people were preparing for
war. Camps of instruction for the training of troops were established at differ-
ent points in the State: militiamen, armed and unarmed, were marching back

and forth through the State ; towns and villages, but late so quiet, were filled
with country people, who left their farms neglected, to come to town to get the
news ; a crowd -could be seen at every post office and on every corner ; churches
at night, instead of sending forth the voice of prayer or song of thanksgiving,
were filled with the shouts of excited men, as they were harangued by some
friend to revolution ; in a^vvord, on evfcry side could be heard the din of war-
like preparation.

Among other camps of instruction, established by order of Go v. Clark, of
Texas, one was established on the San Marcos river, in Hays county, in which
were placed some twelve or fifteen companies, who had gone there for the pur-
pose of organization, and when organized, to offer their services to the Gov-
ernment for twelve months. About the time that the organization was to have
."been perfected by the election of regimental officers, it was made knoAvn offi-
cially that no twelve months' men would be received from Texas. This an-
nouncement caused considerable disaffection among the men, who had assem-
bled at the camp by virtue of a proclamation from the Governor, mere espe-
cially as the announcement was accompanied by the declaration that two regi-
ments for service during the war would be received.

It was given out that Colonel John Marshall, editor of the State Gazette, at
Austin, a prominent politician, had just arrived in Texas from Richmond, Va.,
where the new'y formed Confederate Government had affixed its capital, and
that through influences brought to bear on the President or Secretary of War,
had obtained the privilege that Texas should, as a matter of favor, be allowed
a representation in the programme about to be enacted on the soil of Vir-
ginia. The companies were to be formed by the enrollment of men, and the
election of company officers, and the organization of the regiments to be
completed after their arrival in Virginia, the President reserving 1 - to himself
the authorityto appoint regimental officers. This course of arrangement, so
different from what the men had expected, disorganized the camp of instruc-
tion ; but so eager were the men to enter into the service of the country, that
four companies/or the war were immediately formed upon the ground, and re-
ported themselves to the Governor. The companies formed at that time were
the Tom Green Rifles, of Travis county, Captain B. F. Carter; Guadalupe
Rangers, Captain J. P. Bane, of Guadalupe county ; Hardeman Rifles, Capt.
.J.C. G. Key, of Gonzales county; Mustang Greys, Captain Ed. Cunningham,
of Bexar county ; and on the llth day of July, these companies were ordered
to break up camps and rendezvous at Harrisburg, near the city of Houston.
The companies had a day or two given them in order to make preparations for
thejourney, and those of them who did not live at too remote a point, visited
their Lomes. The citizens of Texas were full of enthusiasm, and offered every
facility in the way of wagons and conveyances in order to expedite the depar-
ture of these first troops to leave the State, and who were going to represent
the ancient valor of Texas on a distant theatre. The companies arrived at
the place of rendezvous in the latter part of July, and in a few days after the
first arrival sixteen companies were in camp. The companies of Captains
Robertson, Turner, Cleveland, and J. C. Rogers were received afterward and
sent forward.

Brigadier General Earl Van Dorn was , at this time in command of the De-
partment of Texas, by authority of the Confederate Government. He had
signalized his advent into Texas by the rapid transaction or dispatch of busi-
ness entrusted to his superintendence, and had impressed all classes most fa-
vorably with his character as a man of energy and ability. Gen. Van Dorn
had been ordered to dispatch, these volunteers as speedily as they were raised,
to arm and equip them, and to send them to Virginia by the quickest practical
route. Gen. Van Dorn, however, on this occasion, chose to be in no great
hurry to send the troops off* Under one pretence or another, the men were
kept in the camp at Buffalo Bayou for weeks, and until the General could send
a messenger to Richmond remonstrating against the orders which he had re-
ceived. The messenger at length arrived with a verbal dispatch, (as was un-

derstood at the time,) for "Gen. Van Dorn to obey his orders."

It Avas midsummer when the troops were taken to the camp on Buffalo Ba-
you. The camp was in a low miasmatic, unhealthy region, and many of the
men here contracted disease, from which they never recovered.

So exhaustive was the climate and die place on the constitution of the men,
that very little was done towards drilling them, and at the expiration of the
time spent at that place, little or no improvement was discernible. The time
spent there was spent most disagreeably, and many were .the anathemas in-
dulged in by the men at the cause of delay. While in this camp much kind-
.ness was shown the troops by the citizens of the neighborhood, and by 'those
in the city of Houston. One instance is deserving of mention here. Dr. L. A.
Bryan, of Houston, had a commodious house fitted up as a hospital, which
was filled to the utmost capacity with our sick. He gave his medical atten-
tion to all that were sent, and on our departure would receive no compensa-
tion whatever for his services, or reimbursement for his expenses. Such pa-
triotism is in marked contrast with the course of many who, during the war,
have J)een able to do something for the soldier, but who have failed, through
their sordidness of soul, to do so, and it is proper that we should here notice
this friend to the soldier.


On the 15th day of August, 1861, orders having been issued by Gen. Van-
Dorn, the first detachment of troops broke up their camp at Harrisburg, and
came into Houston on the cars. The troops were dispatched in detachments

. of five companies each, in order to meet the exigencies of transportation the
companies comprising the first division being A, B, C, D and E, all under the
command of Captain J. C. G. Key, of Company A. On that night the compa-
nies were quartered in a large warehouse in the suburbs of the city, and the
next morning, at an early hour, started for Beaumont, on the Neches, where
they embarked per steamer Florilda for Niblett's Bluff, on the Sabine.

The hour of departure was hailed with rejoicings by the men, and all coun-
tenances were beaming with animation ; all hearts were high with hope and
confidence, and every bosom seemed warmed by enthusiasm; the last greet-
ings among friends were interchanged, the last good-byes were said, and away
we speed over the flowery prairies, with colors fluttering in the breeze, each-,
hoarse whisper of the locomotive placingdistance between us and our horned
At this, the beginning of our travels, which ere we are done with them, will
he found to possess more of interest than the gay and lightsome spirit here
portrayed would seein to foreshadow, it may not be amiss to take a glance at .

.\ ihepersonellc of our friends, with whom for a time w.e are to be so intimately
connected as to be their biographers.

The men of whom we are now writing had come together from the hills and
valleys of Texas, at the first sound of the tocsin of war. The first harsh blast
of the bugle found them at their homes in the quiet employment of the arts-
and avocations of peace. It is a singular fact, but no less singular than true r
that those men who, at home, were distinguished among their fellows as pecu-
liarly endowed to endorn and enrich society by their lives and conversation,,
who were first in the paths of social communion, whose places when they left
were unfilled, and until they return again must be as deserted shrines, should
be the first to leap from their sequestered seats, the first to flash the rusty steel
from its scabbard, and to flash it in the first shock of battle. But so- it is, and

x we venture to assert, that of all those whom this war has drawn to the field.

and torn away from the domestic fireside, there will be pone more missed at

liome than those who left with the first troops for Virginia. They were rep-

tentative men from all portions of the State young, impetuous and fresh;

..'- of energy, enterprise and fire; men of action; men who, when they first

tieard the shrill shriek of battle, as it came from the far-off coast of South Car-

^ ojina, at once^eased to argue with themselves or with their neighbors as to

the why-fores or the wherefores ; it was enough to know the struggle had com-
jnenced, and that they were Southrons.

Where companies had not been formed in their own counties, men hastened
to adjoining counties, and there joined in with strangers. Some came in from
the far off frontier. Some came down from the hills of the North, and some
came up from the savannahs of the South, all imbued with one self-same pur-
pose, to- fight for "Dixie."

Among them could be found men of all trades and professions attorneys,
doctors, merchants, farmers, mechanics, editors, scholastics, &c., &c., all ani-
mated and actuated by the self-same spirit of patriotism, and all for the time
being willing to lay aside their plans of personal ambition, and to place them-
selves under the leveling discipline of the army.

On the evening of the 16th we were embarked at Beaumont on the steamer
Florilda. a large and comfortable steamer, upon which we glided off fro nj the
landing, and set sail for the Bluff, the terminus of navigation, and from whence
our journey had to be made by land. The trip was unattended by any feature
-of particular interest, and all arrived at Niblett's Bluff on the morning of the
17th, at an early hour, and after debarking and getting all the baggage ashore,
the men went into camp in the edge of the town.


Here we had the first realization of the fact, that we were actual soldiers, and
had the first lesson illustrated to us, that a soldier must be patient under
wrong, and that he is remediless under injustice; that he, although the self-
constituted and acknowledged champion of liberty, has, nevertheless, for the
time being, parted with that boon, and that he is but the victim of all official
miscreants who chose to subject him to imposition..

The poor soldier receives many such lessons, amd his fortitude and patriotism
is often taxed to bear, them without open rebellion, but as this was the first
instance in which we had an opportunity of seeing and feeling such lessons ex-
perimentally, we here chronicle the circumstance for the benefit of all con-
cerned. Gen. Van Dora had entered into a contract with one J. T. Ward to
transport these troops from Texas across to Louisiana, and Ward had under-
taken as per agreement to furnish transportation in wagons across the coun-
try. He had been going back and forth for weeks, looking at the different
roads and preparing the means of transportation ; had delayed us in getting
off from Texas until his vast arrangements were systematized, and until all
his. immense resources could be deployed into proper order and concentrated
at's Bluff for this grand exodus of two thousand soldiers, who were
but awaiting his movements to begin their onward pilgrimage to the great
Mecca of their hopes, the "Old Dominion. ' ? To hear this man, Ward, spout
and splutter among the streets of Houston about his teams .and his teamsters,
his wagons and his mules, one would have thought that the weight of the
whole Quartermaster's Department of the Confederate Army rested upon his
shoulders, and that his overburdened head was taxed with the superintendence
of .trains from California to the Potomac. Be this as it may, on arriving at
the Bluff, whatever may have been the resources of, our quartermaster, Ward,
on this especial occasion he fell short of an approximation to our necessities.
We had started on the trip with clothing, camp-equipage, medical stores and
commissary supplies, all complete. The citizens of Texas had left nothing
undone on their part to send their sons into the field well supplied with every-
thing essential for their comfort, and, in addition, many things had just been
drawn from the agent of the Government, at Houston, which it was important
should be carried with us. The tooops were new to service, and unaccustomed
to marching. It could not be expected that they could make the tedious trip
through the swamps of Louisiana, unaided by liberal transportation. Van
Dorn had unwisely and unjustly kept them in the sickly miasma of Buffalo
Bayou until disease had already fallen in the veins of many, and all of them
were suffering more or less from the enervating effects of that confinement.

Such was the condition of the men now thrown into a thin and sparsely settled
region of Louisiana, dependent alone upon others for every necessity to their
new condition.

Under this state of affairs we found seven wagons, some of them with indiffer-
ent teams, which Ward had procured for the purpose of transporting five hun-
dred men, with the equipments and outfit mentioned. Ward had comedo the
Bluff with us on the steamer, but had gone immediately back, after leaving as-
surances that his preparations for our conveyance were ample. It is said that
the wagons that he did furnish, were gathered up in that immediate vicinity,
and that he engaged some of them even at so late an hour as our arrival at the

The consequences were, that the officers in command had to rely upon them-
selves for the means of prosecuting the march. Tents, cooking utensils,
clothing, medical stores, etc., to a large amount, were stowed away with
whosoever would promise to take care of them for us until they could be sent
on. Our sick men were left behind, and our journey commenced with what
few things could be carried in these wagons.

Such an inauspicious introduction to "the service was far from being encour-
aging to patriotic ardor, and many vented their curses against Ward, Van
Dora, and all concerned ; but so earnest were the men in their devotion to the
cause in which they had engaged, and so deep their confidence that all things
would work right when we once got fairly under the protecting aegis of our
new Government ; that soon all mutinous mutterings or complainings were
suppressed, and the men set about relieving themselves of their difficulties as
soon as possible.

On Sunday, the 18th of August, the line of march was taken up. The morn-
ing was wet and rainy, and the roads soft. The column halted in the evening
at Cole's Station, about six miles distant, and bivouacked for the night. Wa-
gons were sent back to bring up our sick, and details were made to go out inta
the neighboring country, and try and secure additional transportation.

On Monday, the 19th, the troops remained in camp at Cole's Station. It
was a bright sunshiny day, the only one of the kind which was experienced on
the entire trip. Men from each of the companies were out hunting up wagons,
and every hour or two during the day the agreeable fact was made known by
a cheer from the boys that a transport had been captured. Some eight or ten
were procured during the day, and our means of locomotion considerably in-
creased thereby. Some of the transports thus pressed into the service were of
a most interesting and unique fashion. Some were drawn by oxen, some by
horses, and some by mules. Some rejoiced in four wheels, and some in two j.
some had wagon-beds, and some had none ; some showed the handicraft of:
modern mechanism ; while here and there a creaking set of trucks would lead
us back to antediluvian times, before men had discovered the uses of iron, or
learned the arts of the blacksmith. This mode of improvement was a harsh
method of introducing ourselves to the inhabitants of the Calcasieu, and fell
upon many of them with inconvenience, but it was our only recourse, and
most all of the victims resigned themselves 46 the tyranny with patriotic com-
posure ; but from the vain attempts made in some cases to conceal their stock
from our inquisitive detectives, it was evident that their virtue, was the resort

The next day the journey was resumed over aflat and piny region, and.
about sundown we arrived at Escobar's store, on the Calcasieu river. Here we
had an illustration of Calcasieu as it is, Calcasieu as it was, and Calcasieu as
it must ever be in our recollections in future days. The march had been ar-
duous and fatiguing, and scarcely had the train halted, and while^ the men
were engaged in pitching a few tents for the accommodation of the sick, when
the windows of Heaven were opened and the floods descended. The sky had
given no premonitory warnings of a storm, it had been drizzling rain during
the day, and the boys were all dripping when they arrived at camp ; but no
hoarse mutterings of far-off thunder, no fitful gloamings of lightning had pre-

pared us for this copious visitation of Heaven's bounteous showers..

It seemed now as if all the arteries and springs which feed the rivers of Hc^-
venwere swollen to high water mark, and that the rivers had burst their chan-
nels in serial space, and bounding over the limitless expanse, were pouring
themselves on that devoted spot of Confederate domain, known as Calcasieu.
The rain continued all the night through, and we had no respite from its pelt-
ings until sunrise the next morning.

The morning came and brought rest from the merciless peltings of the rain.
The bright god of day again showed his face, and again we were travelers.

A day's journey of 12 or 15 miles brought us to Clendenning's Ferry, on
the Calcasieu. This stream is wide and deep at this point, and navigable for
vessels of respectable tonnage. The troops were crossed over without diffi-
culty in a schooner owned by Captain Goos, a resident of the place, who not
only in this, but in all other transactions with the soldiers, acquitted himself
as a clever man and a true patriot. His house was thrown open to the recep-
tion of as many as could be entertained, and his open-hearted and hospitable
lady set to work with her whole retinue' of servants, preparing food for the
weary and hungry soldiers.* They set no price upon their labors, and would
receive no compensation for their bounteous outlay of provisions, and seemed
to be only desirous of learning our necessities in. order to minister to them.
The troops having crossed over, the wagons were next in order, and here came
the tug of war. The banks on the east side of the stream were very steep, and
the continued rains had made them so slippery that our animals could not holci
their footing, and the men had to perform the labor of getting them up the
bank themselves. A rope was attached to the tongue of a wagon, and the
boys having formed a line on top of the hill, thus drew them up. The labor
was severe ; a continuous rain falling all the time, added to the discomfort.
All the night long was thus spent, and daylight found them still at the work,
but at last it was accomplished, and once more we are reatfy to proceed.

Leaving the Calcasieu, our march was continued through a constant rain,
through swamps and marshes, lagoons, creeks, and every imaginable species
of watery element, many of them over waist-deep, until at length we came to
a halt, after a day's journey of 10 or 12 miles. We were halted in a prairie,
immediately on a stream, whose waters were running out of its banks, and
still rising.- The wagons could not be crossed, and we -went into camp to
await the developements of the night. The next morning a rude bridge was
constructed, over which the wagons were hauled by hand, while the animals
swam across. The teams were then hitched up, and we proceeded eight miles
to a stage stand, at a point called Pine Island, when we encamped late in the
evening, the weather still continuing rainy.

On the 24th we had the same sort ot road, and similar weather for about 12
miles, to Welsh's Station. Here we crossed the stream on trees which we felled
across it, and with some difficulty got our wagons over.

25th. Came to the Mermenteau river. This day's march was, perhaps,
the most severe on the trip. The distance traveled was not so great as on
some other days, but at every step the toiling and wearied pedestrian encoun-
tered what appeared to be a little deeper and A -little softer spot. It was on this
day that we made the crossing of the "Grand Marais," or more aptly termed
by tfye boys the "Grand Miry." In many places the men waded up to the neck
through the swamps, where the alligators lay basking in the tall grass, as if

Online LibraryNicholas A DavisThe campaign from Texas to Maryland → online text (page 1 of 56)