Thursday, February 28, 2013

150-Years-Ago -- Reily's Regiment Presented Battle Flag

The Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph
Feb. 16, 1863

(Photo by blog author)
A Battle Flag for Col. Reily's Regiment.
          We are gratified to learn that a Battle Flag has been presented to this brave and veteran regiment. They have fairly won this honor from the lovely and appreciative women of Texas. These tried troops will never desert or disgrace their colors.
Col. James Reily, 1st Regiment,
Sibley's Brigade, 4th Reg't, T. M. V.
          Colonel—Hearing that your gallant Brigade has been ordered by the Commanding General to have your Galveston honors embroidered upon your standards, we could not resist the pleasure of preparing a flag, for the special occasion and presentment to your regiment. Your weather-beaten banner that has so often floated upon Arizona breezes and beneath New Mexico skies, might with just propriety claim the inscription. But Houston feels that it is her privilege to present to you, (you, who have so constantly and patriotically upheld her honor) and to your brave officers and men, this flag, commencing as you did the new year with two victories, whose deathless names shall soon entwine proudly and gracefully with those of the glorious days of the Republic of Texas.
            Our prayer is, that this banner may go before you as the pillar of fire and the cloud did before the Israelites—leading you to fresh triumph over the foe, and leading you all safely at last to the Promised Land of a peaceful, united, independent, liberated Confederacy. God bless and preserve you all.
Mrs. Jane M. Young,
Mrs. C. M. Allen,
Mrs. A. J. Burke.
Houston, February 7th, 1863.

Headquarters, Sibley's Brigade, }
Houston, Feb. 7th, 1863. }
          Mrs. Jane M. Young, Mrs. C. M. Allen and Mrs. A. J. Burke and Associates:
          The battle-flag made by you for my regiment (1st Reg. Sibley's Brigade) has been received, and will be presented to my fellow soldiers, whom it is intended to honor. I hail it as the token of the confidence which some of the loveliest women of Texas repose in the courage and patriotism of some of the bravest men of Texas. Sustained by strong arms and fearless hearts, it marches to float in triumph, over a new theatre of danger and of glory. Upon its crimson field, your fair hands have embroidered the battles on which these gallant troops have met and vanquished the abolition foe, and with the blessing of God, when peace is restored, and our national independence secured, we hope to return it to you, to inscribe on it the names of other victories equally as gallant as those already achieved by their heroism. The officers and men you thus compliment are proud of your confidence, and on their behalf I promise you that the flag entrusted to their valor, will never be lowered in defeat, until the last one of its guard shall have fallen
"With his feet to the foe
And his face to the sky."
With sentiments of highest respect.
James Reily
Col. 4th R. T. M. V. and Commanding Sibley's brigade.

4th Regiment, Texas Cavalry (4th Mounted Volunteers)

4th Cavalry Regiment was organized with about 1,000 men during the late summer of 1861. Its members were from Gonzales, San Antonio, Bonham, Austin, Livinston, Crockett, and Alto, and Milam and Parker counties. The unit served in the Army of New Mexico, then was assigned to Green's and Hardeman's Brigade, Trans-Mississippi Department. It saw action in numerous conflicts in Louisiana and reported 28 casualties at Cox's Plantation and 6 at Bayou Bourbeau. The unit was ordered to Hampstead, Texas, during the spring of 1865 and soon disbanded. The field officers were Colonels William P. Hardeman and James Reily, Lieutenant Colonels G. J. Hampton and William R. Scurry, and Majors Charles M. Mesueur and Henry W. Raguet.
[National Park Service/Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System]

Sunday, February 24, 2013

150-years-ago -- THE FALL OF ARKANSAS POST

The Richmond Dispatch
February 24, 1863
(Library of Congress)
A Southern account of the fall of Arkansas Post.
           The public has never been satisfied with the vague and meagre reports which have reached us of the surrender of the Post of Arkansas. The following is a trustworthy account of the disaster, derived from a Southern officer of high rank:
Maj. Gen. T. J. Churchill
(Southern Illustrated News)
          The Post on the Arkansas River, distant from its month some fifty miles by water, and twenty by land, and from Little Rock by land 110 miles, was under the immediate command of Gen. [Thomas J.] Churchill. During the last summer and fall some defences were thrown up there, consisting of an embankment surrounded by a ditch, and with such guns as could be procured--one nine inch Dahlgren and two eight-inch Columbians, with a battery of small pieces arranged to resist an attack by land. This armament, with a corps of about 4 000 men, constituted Gen. Churchill's entire resources for meeting an attack of seven Yankee gunboat's and the land forces of sixty-eight, transports — from thirty to forty thousand men, who, having been just whipped out at Vicksburg, had come up the river in search of a force small enough to insure them a victory. On Friday, Gen. Churchill, apprised of the advance of the enemy in large force, sent a dispatch for reinforcements. The nearest point from which such and could be received was fifty miles distant. During that night the enemy landed their forces, and early on Saturday morning commended a most furious attack from both land and water.
           Our men fought not only gallantly but desperately through all Saturday and Sunday, sometimes driving back the enemy from their earthworks with  their bayonets, and at other times encountering their dense masses in the open field. No reinforcements reached them from first to last. Mc-och's division and two regiments of cavalry, under command of Col. Geo. W. Carter, were on their way, but arrived only in season to lock the stable after the horse had been stolen. It is gratifying to learn that Gen. Churchill, though carried off a prisoner, was not wounded in the fight.
          It is reported and believed that the enemy intended to proceed immediately to an attack on Little Rock. But the reduction of the Post was glory enough for one expedition, and they departed the next day as they came, leaving the guns unharmed as they found them, and the horses, mules and wagons to shift for themselves in the adjoining fields. The capital, if taken, would afford them no advantage, as the archives are already removed therefrom, and the country is so far exhausted that the enemy could not subsist for any length of time without importing supplies.
          A detachment of the Yankee army, numbering about 4000 infantry and artillery, made a very unlooked for entrance  into Van Buren during the Christmas week. Driving in and dispersing our pickets, they rushed through the town to the river, where they seized and scattered some commissary stoves. They soon found occasion to leave, however, for, while in the immediate area, an undiscovered battery on the opposite side of the river poured upon them a deadly fire, which induced them to doubt whether the place was altogether as safe as they had thought it. Those who escaped slept elsewhere, and have forgotten-to return since.
           Arkansas possesses vast mineral wealth as well as an incomparable soil and climate for agricultural products, and immense resources for the purposes of war. It is out recently that much attention has been given to the development of the latter; yet we are informed that already great progress has been made in the martial arts, and the nearly all the ammunition used by our army there is supplied by the Confederate Ordnance Works at--,which are under the direction of a citizen of Petersburg. Va. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New Book On Dick Dowling and Davis Guard Published

Dowling and His Men Fought For Freedom in Galveston and Sabine Pass

      There was intense warfare on the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coasts during the War For Southern Independence that has generally been overshadowed by the much larger battles of the east.
      A new book addresses the war on the upper Louisiana and Texas coasts of the Gulf of Mexico in the new book, Dick Dowling and the Jefferson Davis Guard by Michael Dan Jones.
      Dowling and his men were part of Company F of the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery which spent the entire war in the Houston, Galveston and Sabine Pass areas, which was their home area also.
      Richard William "Dick" Dowling was a native of County Galway, Ireland, and survivors of the Great Famine that ravaged the Emerald Isle in the 1840s. Immigrating first to New Orleans, then to Houston, Texas, he became a successful businessman in the saloon business before the war.
      The Jefferson Davis Guard, more familiarly called the Davis Guard or the Davis Guards, was made up mostly of Irish immigrants from the Houston-Galveston area. Many were working on  the railroad complex being built in Texas, as well as working as laborers on the bustling docks of Houston and Galveston.
      The company was commanded by Captain Frederick Odlum, who had extensive military experience in the 8th U.S. Infantry and the 2nd U.S. Artillery before the war. He was Dowling's wife's uncle.
      The men were mostly Roman Catholics who had suffered religious persecution in their native land, and were very protective of their rights in Texas. This led to some trouble early in their military career, but was soon alleviated by their fighting qualities.
      The book details the life of Dowling and some of the enlisted men and has a roster of the men who served in the unit during the war. The Davis Guard gained fame in the Battle of Galveston, the capture of two Union blockade ships off Sabine Pass, and the Second Battle of Sabine Pass.
      They were greatly celebrated in Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and Sabine Pass, where there are streets, schools and/or monuments named in their honor.
      The book is available on, and other online booksellers. It has photographs, maps and illustrations, footnotes, bibliography, and index; 192 pages, trade paperback.

Friday, February 15, 2013

150-years-ago -- HONOR TO GEN. MAGRUDER

January 28, 1863 
Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder, perhaps
with the sword presented to him by the laides
of Houston.
(Cdv, blog author's collection)
                Our last issue having been issued while the ceremonies for the reception of Gen. Magruder were in progress, we could only give a brief notice of them.  We now copy from the [Houston]Telegraph the several addresses delivered, and regret, at the same time that Gen. Magruder's speech is not within our reach.
The introductory address was that by Dr. Wm. McCravan welcoming the General to our State.  He said: . . .
The people responded with three tremendous shouts for Magruder, and three more for his noble army.
The General replied in a few brief but telling sentences. . .
Miss Sydnor was led forward by Mr. Sorley, holding a beautiful sword in her hand crowned with a laurel wreath.  In the name of the ladies of Texas, Mr. Sorley addressed the General as follows:
General.—I have the honor to address you on behalf [of] the ladies of Texas, represented on this occasion by the committee of ladies now assembled to grace by their presence, and cheer by their smiles, this spontaneous offering of a grateful and gallant people, to a gallant and honored chief.
                . . .
The ladies of Texas, emulating their sisters in the other States of our loved Confederacy, have watched with eagerness and pride the march of our victorious hosts; and when, in the progress of the war, an unhappy reverse to our army has been announced, they have but nerved themselves the more heroically to make any and every sacrifice to retrieve the lost ground.  They heard long since, sir, of your chivalry and valor in the "Old Dominion;" and when cast down by the uncontested surrender of their beautiful Island City, they heard that Magruder, the dashing hero of the Peninsula was coming to take command in Texas, their hopes revived, their courage was reinspired.  Nobly, sir, have you fulfilled alike your duty to your country and their high hopes; and in the retaking of Galveston and the destruction of the Federal fleet, with means so apparently inadequate, save the indomitable courage of your gallant Texas troops, you have secured to yourself that reward so dear to the brave—the unbounded confidence and admiration of all Texas, in testimony of which, and as a souvenir, which they hope you will ever prize, alike for its sake as for the occasion which has induced it, they now present you, by the hands of one of the fairest and most accomplished of the daughters of Texas, this sword, the emblem of your office and your profession, relying with confidence that never will it be drawn save in the cause of freedom and humanity.—They feel assured, sir, in the language of another, that in your hands it will be endowed with three most excellent qualities—its hilt with Faith, its blade with Hope, and its point with Charity, teaching this important lesson, that having Faith in God and the justice of your cause, you may reasonably Hope for victory, and be always ready to extend the point of Charity to a conquered and fallen foe."
The General received the sword from the beautiful representative of the women of Texas, with a graceful bow, and acknowledged, with emotions of pride the compliment of the gift, declaring that the sword never should be drawn without cause, or sheathed without honor.
He then turned to the audience and gave them a glowing, thrilling speech. . .  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


February 11, 1863

Sacking of Fredericksburg Va.

                                                                                          Camp Near Fredericksburg, Va.        
                                                                                         Jan. 1st, 1863.                                   
Hood's Texas Brigade took up a collect-
for the ravaged people of Fredricksburg
as seen in this letter from a soldier in the
Co. A, Bayou City Guards, 5th Texas Inf.
Above is General John Bell Hood.
(Library of Congress)

Editor of the Galveston News
                Sir: We have read of sacked towns, and have witnessed such scenes in Europe, but none have seen such destruction, vandalism, ruin and vindictiveness as that which was displayed in the sacking of Fredericksburg, Va.
                This old venerated town, bearing a world wide reputation for good order, good morals, and the high tone of its citizens was doomed to suffer the horrors of a devastation which I will endeavor to describe though satisfied that I shall be only capable of giving but an outline of all that happened at that eventful period.
                The enemy shelled the town all day Thursday, December 11th, and at night crossed his forces on pontoon bridges, and from that moment until Monday night 110,000 men had control of that defenceless town, without restraint or hindrance.
                Having a great curiosity to see what could be the damage done to Fredericksburg, I obtained permission to visit the town.  Leaving our camp to the right we reached the railroad and followed it to within one mile of Fredericksburg, turning to the left, we came upon the battle field on the left of our line where Jackson (or Stonewall) met the enemy with terrible slaughter, a description which you have ere this received.  Continuing down the main road we pass by houses whose chimneys had been knocked down by shells, walls by balls and ruins of burned houses which had set on fire by combustible fluids.
                We now come to the more thickly populated portion of the city, elegant mansions and those less pretending were entered by the ruffianly troops under Burnside—furniture is broken or thrown out of the windows—feather beds cut open and the feathers blown throughout the house, books, papers and records defaced, medicine chests, libraries and private writing desks rifled or broken, ladies clothing cut to pieces, mirrors smashed and in most instances the house entirely emptied of its former contents.
                We reach the business streets we find the store doors open and nothing on the shelves, the street's gutters being filled with the debris of a cities contents.  The fine building of the Bank of Va., was burnt to the ground, $30,000 stolen, and all its papers and correspondence laying scattered in the streets.  In conversation with one of the citizens I learned that at one time the Yankees were so huddled together after the first repulse that they could not find room to lie down.
                That there were not less than one hundred hospitals in the city, including the churches—which to the disgrace of the 19th century had been riddled the day previous with shells, even to destroying the steeples.
                I enclose an extract from the New York Tribune upon the subject, which places the wicked scenes upon history, so that Europe may read from the abolition oracle itself how totally bereft of principle and honor is that army which has so often shouted the strain "On to Richmond."
                Gen. Lee's army fully commiserating the sufferings of the people has raised a subscription list for their benefit, and I have the pleasure to announce that the Texas Brigade comprising the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 3d Arkansas have contributed the munificent amount of $5,930.  I see by the papers that amounts are being contributed throughout the Confederacy for this devoted city.  May we not hope that the Lone Star State which so far has been but little disturbed by the calamities of war, will of her plenty, give much to her impoverished sisters, the ladies of Fredericksburg.
 Yours respectfully,
 Arthur H. Edey,
Co. A, 5th Texas Volunteers. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

150-years-ago -- FORT HENRY CAPTURED

Capture of Fort Henry by Union  gunboats.
(Library of Congress)
Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman
(Library of Congress)
By February 1862, Fort Henry, a Confederate earthen fort on the Tennessee River with outdated guns, was partially inundated and the river threatened to flood the rest. On February 4-5, Brig. Gen. U.S. Grant landed his divisions in two different locations, one on the east bank of the Tennessee River to prevent the garrison’s escape and the other to occupy the high ground on the Kentucky side which would insure the fort’s fall; Flag-Officer Andrew H. Foote’s seven gunboats began bombarding the fort.  Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, commander of the fort’s garrison, realized that it was only a matter of time before Fort Henry fell. While leaving artillery in the fort to hold off the Union fleet, he escorted the rest of his force out of the area and sent them safely off on the route to Fort Donelson, 10 miles away. Tilghman then returned to the fort and, soon afterwards, surrendered to the fleet, which had engaged the fort and closed within 400 yards. Fort Henry’s fall opened the Tennessee River to Union gunboats and shipping as far as Muscle Shoals, Alabama. After the fall of Fort Donelson, ten days later, the two major water transportation routes in the Confederate west, bounded by the Appalachians and the Mississippi River, became Union highways for movement of troops and material.

(National Park Service article)

Statue at Vicksburg National Military Park  of
 Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tighlman's fatal wounding 16 May 1863
at the Battle of Champion Hill, Mississippi.
(NPS image)

Friday, February 1, 2013


Maj. Gen. Benjamin "Beast" Butler
as depicted by his Confederate foes.
(Library of Congress)

Richmond Daily Dispatch
Feb. 2, 1863 

          Under this head the Crisis gives the substance of recent information derived from a lady who lately left New Orleans, after having vainly sought, for three months, to obtain a passport. We subjoin extracts:
           The administration of Banks differs but little from that of Butler, both of them being tyrants, fanatics, robbers, and Massachusetts Yankees.
          Although no information of a reliable character of Southern affairs is allowed to see the light through the papers of that city, yet our people there are kept fully advised of the success of our arms. Southern papers find their way in from time to time, and the information is circulated from hand to hand.
          The Federal troops are, to a considerable extent, seriously dissatisfied with the service and with the war, especially the Irish portion of them. The better class of Federal officers do not hesitate to declare themselves disgusted with such a service. They do not expect to hold New Orleans permanently, nor to conquer the South, and they regard the temporary occupation of the city as important only to those cormorants who are sucking blood from a subjected people.
           A few weeks before the departure of Butler a spirited engraving representing Butler's face very accurately, with the head and body of a hyena in the act of tearing open the graves of Gen. A. S. Johnston and others, which graves had been violated and robbed, was sent to Gen. Butler with the compliments of the people of New Orleans.
          Spies upon the Confederate war movements are constantly traveling between Mississippi and New Orleans. They often pass our lines and stations for hundreds of miles, without a single inquiry or examination of any kind by our officials. The people of that city were much surprised a few days ago by the presence of a Confederate officer, engaged a few months since in the conscripting service in Mississippi, who seemed to be on intimate terms with the Federal officers. The community there could not learn whether he came down under a flag of truce, or on what conditions he was permitted to enter the city and depart at his leisure. He left the city last week and said he was going to Texas. The Federal commanders at New Orleans seemed to be kept fully advised of all our movements, the strength of our forces, and the character of our defences.
              Butler said there were but two brave men in New Orleans, and they were Father Mullen, of the Jesuit Church, and Doctor Stone, the celebrated Surgeon. Father Mullen refused to take the oath, and denounced the tyranny that required it of him, and set them at defiance. Father Monaghan, of the Catholic Church, denounces Federal tyranny from his pulpit, and declares if they arrest him it must be at the altar, and before they drag him to the door they must wade knee-deep in blood, Dr. Nesux also refuses to attend the Yankee sick or wounded upon any condition.
            There are now very few Federal troops in New Orleans. Those who guard the approaches to the city have frequent battles with our patriotic partisans, who are sometimes badly worsted.