Texas Civil War Letters from the 31st Texas Cavalry, Co. I, Sell for $27,500 at NateDSanders.com
Texas Civil War Letters
Texas Civil War letters are uncommon and are sought because of the deep interest that Texans have in their history versus other states and their history. So, not only are Texans interested in the Alamo, but they have a fascination about Texas’ role in the Civil War. Thus, the Texas Civil War letters that we at NateDSanders.com Auctions come across go for a lot of money. For example:
31st Texas Civil War Letters of Texas Cavalry 60+ Letter Lot — Content From the Battles of Stirling’s Plantation, Mansura, Vidalia, Harrisonburg, Fort DeRussy & Bayou de Glaise — “…it was the intention for our forces to go on & conceal ourselves until they were attacked…we went on & found them camped in some negro quarters…There were about 22 killed & about one hundred wounded…We had to charge through open ground on the negro houses…” & “…the grape & shell fell thick around us…the enemy rolled in to the river so we had to fight them here with field artillery & small arms. They shelled us for about three hours during that time we fought them as we could get position…We had three men killed & some fifteen wounded several of them having died since & 3 or 4 houses burned…” & “…our Division was let out on the prairie in time of battle to support the batteries which then were pouring it into them in a line of a mile in length & them at us. They continued the fight with Artillery for three hours until their infantry began to advance on us…they out numbered us largely…Our men held the battle grounds & buried their dead but they had the best of the fight…”
Excellent 60+ Civil War letters lot from Thomas W. Johnson of Hawpe’s Regiment, the 31st Texas Cavalry, Co. I. Beginning in October 1862 just after his enlistment, Johnson writes over 60 letters to his wife in Weston, Collin County Texas, until his death in November 1864. Many letters contain vivid battle content, describing the fighting at Stirling’s Plantation, Fort DeRussy, Bayou de Glaise, Mansura, Vidalia and Harrisonburg. In a letter just after the Battle of Stirling’s Plantation, Johnson writes of the battle, and the spoils of war: “…we have had a fight since I wrote to you which I will give a brief description of. Last Monday evening to day being Saturday, in the evening we left here & went up to the ferry about one mile from here & crossed in the night that is the Atchafalaya & camped on the other side from here. We had cooked two days rations & put in our haversacks & had one blanket a piece. The wagons did not cross. There was one battery crossed over, commanded by Col Sims…blacks Battallion part of Gen Greens Cavalry dismounted…We all crossed…It rained a good deal that night & nearly all next day. Tuesday morning this Brigade blacks Battallion & blacks Brigade…went around the federals…the artillery, cavalry & Walkers Battallion took the main road to the fed camp. I think it was the intention for our forces to go on & conceal ourselves until they were attacked on the other side but we went on & found them camped in some negro quarters & a dwelling house they were also posted in a large Sugar house & formed behind a levy. We had to pass through a field of sugar corn for about a mile before we got there which hid us from the enemy until we got within a quarter of a mile of their camps. We went till we got in about three hundred yards of them & formed Speight Regt on the right. This Regt, Speights Battallion & blacks battalion on the left & attacked them without waitting for them to attack on the other side. This Brigade was about all that got in to the fight. We run a little piece & fell down & fired on them for a few minutes then charged on to the quarters which were houses built a long in a row & drove them back into the other houses. There we fired a little while & charged on them again & drove them in to the dwelling house & behind the levy. They had one canon behind the levy which they fired grape shot out of. Then we fought them for a good little while untill they surrendered. The fight was hard while it lasted we were in a cross fire in the charge as the levy run at a right angle with the houses & they fired from the houses & levy at us. There were about six hundred of them in the fight. We did not have over that in the fight but there were about three thousand crossed the Bayou. The cavalry and the Artillery did not get there until the fight ended. The took a lot of prisoners about a mile from there as they came on. We took about five hundred prisoners some horses & mules…There were about 22 killed & about one hundred wounded in this Brigade & 1 killed and some fifteen or twenty wounded in this regt. One lieutenant will die of his wound. There was not any hurt in this company, we only had 10 men in the fight. There were some killed & wounded on our right & left. Speights regiment sufered the most. We had to charge through open ground on the negro houses…I will tell you what I got in the fight. I took one prisoner. I took from him a six shooter which sold the next day for one hundred and seventy five dollars. I also took his horse which I have up to Lieut. Col. Harrison, he was commanding the Brigade. Col. Speight is gone home afterwards. The horse was shot in the thigh & Col Harrison has give him to me. It is a flesh wound & I think he will get well…I also got a better blanket than I lost. I have two blankets now. I got an oil cloth worth 20 dollars, 2 linsey shirts one knit shirt 1 Blouse I sold for five dollars one fed cap…Our Soldiers fought bravely but without regard to orders. It seemed to be evry man for himself…We collected our dead & buried them. The wounded were cared for. We looked for the enemy to reinforce & so in the evening we started back for our camps. It rained till just before the fight & commenced as soon as the fight was over…” From Harrisonburg on 11 February 1864, Johnson writes of the skirmish at Vidalia, “…We have been to Vidalia on the Mississippi opposite Natchez. We…skirmished a little but run the feds in to town & right under the fire of their Gunboats. They had three Gunboats that fired on us all the time that is the army. I was left back on the road nine miles on picket we got a good many miles & beef cattle. It was a hard trip the roads were bad. The army marched 25 miles the day of the fight. If the feds had fought like men they could have killed half our men but they wouldnt stand. They are rebuilding Ft Beauregard here at this place & I expect we will stay here as long as we can perhaps all summer. There are over one hundred negroes at work on it & more coming. I think we will be able to hold the place…I am getting very tired of this war it is assuming a character I dont like. There is too much pressing on rather stealing going on to suit me. Government stealing & individual stealing. I am a fraid we cannot prosper under such management. We are losing more friends then we gain & I think now that the negroes will eventually be free even if we gain our independence now. This country down here is nearly ruined now & getting worse evry day…” On 6 March 1864, Johnson writes of a battle at Harrisonburg, “…on the first day of March in the in the evening there came news that there were gunboats in the river & it was but a short time till we began to hear them howl most teribly & in a short time they were close enough to throw their missils of death in our midst as we had not gotten any guns mounted yet we were in poor condition to fight them but our General did not wish to give up the place without resistance so we were formed & marched over the banks…which sheltered us from the shots of the enemy for a while though the grape & shell fell thick around us but fortunately there was no person injured. There were two Gunboats & four transports all carrying heavy guns. They shelled us an hour or so & pressed on up the river by the time it was getting dark & we were started back to this place. The roads were very bad the country low & swampy & there had been a heavy rain a few days before that made the roads almost impassible. We marched a mile or two & came up with a company of artilery men. Part of it mired down mud knee deep on the road. We find pot vessels & meal & other things thrown overboard out of the wagons & some of them broke & mired down. You will think well this look very much like a rout but it is not. The boats have passed on & we look for them to attack Harissonburg in the morning if not sooner. Besides that we have a bayou to ferry before we get there. We marched all night through mud & water from an inch to knee deep & reach our olds camps at Harissonburg just before day. It is also very cold the ground freezes a little & a good many have lost their shoes in the mud & are entirely barefooted…But notwithstanding we have some hard times I think infantry service the easiest, but I would rather be on the frontier on account of my family. Well as we expected 9 O clk the Gunboats began to let off at us again & this brigade was disposed of in different places. Stephens & the 17 Regt fought them on the bank of the river…I had written to you that we had three Large Guns here & two of them mounted. Well they had been taken down to Trinity & the enemy coming before we got them mounted. They were rolled in to the river so we had to fight them here with field artillery & small arms. They shelled us for about three hours during that time we fought them as we could get position. They then passed on up the river & about 2 O clk they came back & commenced again & shelled a couple of hours & went on down the river again. We had three men killed & some fifteen wounded several of them having died since & 3 or 4 houses burned. Next morning we hear their at Trinity again. Some of our Regts start down there but they are gone before they get there. When they will come back I have no idea…” On 5 April 1864, Johnson describes the anti-climactic Battle of Fort DeRussy: “…Fort Derussy was taken without any fighting with about two hundred of our men. Why it was or it is that after working all winter on that place they would give it up with out fighting any is a puzzle to me. There seems to be something wrong about it. Our cavalry has been figting with them nearly all the time. Gen Green got in from Texas with his cavalry a few days ago & has been doing good service since…We are now about 35 miles from Shreveport on the road leading from Shreveport to Natchidoches. I have not much idea how strong we are here. It is reported that there are a strong force of federals coming from Monroe & one from Little rock. One report say Price is at Shreveport another that he has gone back toward Monroe…” From “Camp in the Field” on 17 May 1864, Johnson describes the Battle of Mansura, “…The evening of the 15th we learned the yankees were on the Marksville prairie burning the town. We were marched out to the edge of the prairie near Mansura in the night & lay there all night. Next morning about 6 O Clock our pickets opened on them with small arms. In a short time Artillery opened on both sides & our Division was let out on the prairie in time of battle to support the batteries which then were pouring it into them in a line of a mile in length & them at us. They continued the fight with Artillery for three hours until their infantry began to advance on us. We could see then very plain & very plainly to that they out numbered us largely. We only had about 2000 besides cavalry & Artillery. I expected to get right in to it the cannon balls were falling all around us, but our Generals thought it best to make sure of a good thing & led us off the field in good order Artillery and all. There were none killed in our division, some two or three wounded. The cavalry lost some men killed & wound. We marched about 6 miles from the field of battle where we was camped for the night. Dont know what damage was done to the enemy. Our cavalry are fighting them now we can hear them. There is orders to march I wonder which way we will go. 4 O Clock P.M. we have marched about 8 miles Down the Bayou towards the enemy. They passed her this morning going towards Simsport. I expect we will follow them so as to harass them as much as possible…” And on 21-23 May 1864, Johnson describes the skirmish at Bayou de Glaise in two letters, “…I started you a letter on the 18th inst in which I gave you an account of our fight at Mansura. It now falls my lot to give you an account of another fight had on the 18th inst. We were camped on Bayou deglaze 15 miles from Simsport on the Chafalia about 10 O Clock. We were ordered to march in the direction of Simsport the way the enemy had gone. We marched about 10 miles when we came up with the enemy. The Cavalry & Artillery had been fighting all morning when we came up. The 15th Alexander & Stevens Regt with Colonel Lacy & Brigade of Lousianians were led to the attack by our Regt. & the 17th Texas were held back as a reserve. They went in the Lousians on the right drove the enemy back but on the left they out flanked us & were to heavy for us. Our men had to give way with heavy loss after they had run a piece. Our Artillery opened on them & drove them back again. We were ordered up & went up till our men fell in behind us but not close enough to fire on the enemy. Our Brigade lost 22 killed 96 wounded 93 missing. Alexanders & the 15th Texas lost the heavest. Our regt lost none. The most of the missing were taken prisoners. I expect altogether we lost 300 killed wounded & missing. Amongst the killed we regret the loss of Colonel Stone. He was killed in the action. The enemy lost from what I can learn about the same we did in killed & wounded but no prisoner. Our men held the battle grounds & buried their dead but still they had they had the best of the fight…This county has been nearly ruined by the federal army. They burnt & destroyed as they went taking all the negroes & available stock with them. They burnt up the most of Alexandria. The federals are gone now. They went to the missippi & took boats & left. I am in hope we will have some rest now. We need it…I write you again that on the 16th we had a fight with the federals near Mansura. Fought them for three hours & had to fall back on account of there superior numbers. We fell back some 6 or 8 miles & on the 18th we attacked them near Yellow bayou. The cavalry had been fighting them all morning we came up with them about 2 O Clock. The 15th Texas or speights old regt Alexanders & Stones Battallion attacked them on the left & Lousianians on the right. Our regt & the 17th Texas was below in reserve. Their main force was brought to bear on our left wing when our Brigade was our right wing attacked & was driving their left but on our left our men attacked them & they out numbered us so much & they also flanked us on our left & our men had to give way with heavy loss. It would have been worse but our batteries opened on them & drove them back. Our regt & the 17th was in no danger only from their artillery which play on us a while but done no hurt. The loss of our Brigade was upwards of 200 in killed wounded & missing. Amongst them we lament the death of Colonel Stone who was killed in the action. Parson Hamel’s Son was wounded in the foot. Our whole loss is in killed wounded & missing I expect would reach 400 or upwards. I think we done wrong in attacking them. Their whole force was there which must have been three to our one. They were getting away as fast as they could & left us in possession of the battle ground. We buried their dead…” Johnson also writes caring letters to his wife, very concerned about her safety back home. In a 1 May 1863 letter he writes, “…reports that Indians have been in since I left and stole some horses and killed some horses. It is very much against my will to go in the direction we are going when there is a probability of that country being invaded by the Feds & Indians but I am tied here and will have to remain here. I expect all I can say to you is you must do the best you can. If it is invaded, get away if you can. Our Major said this evening that there would be four regiments on the frontier this summer. If that is so I don’t think there will be much danger…” Just a few days later he writes, “…when a man has to leave his farm where there is a probability of then being invaded by a savage foe I cannot help from contemplating it. They tells us there will be plenty to protect the frontier. I hope it will be so. If there is danger you must try and get away. Jess has got two wagons. I hope though there will be no necessity…” On 30 May 1863 he writes about the progress of the war and slavery, “…report is that we have whipped them badly at Vicksburg. The Feds have taken a good many negroes & mules & horse from this country. Report also says that England and France have declared war against the united States. There are so many reports that I do not know what to believe. We had some hard marching to do through the dust…I think the prolongation of the institution of Slavery rests upon the issue of this war. If slavery is to be perpetuated, we will gain the day, if not, I think it doubtful. Lincoln has called out 500 000 five hundred thousand more men. If he gets them we will have some hard fighting to do…” In July 1863, he writes more about it, “…From what I have heard of the Yankees they were very much mistaken about the negroes down here. They expected to find them living more like dogs than humans but instead of that being the case they live well & are fixed as well & better than a great many in the north. They have in the most of cases as good & better house to live in & better fixed in them than you & are to day yet not withstanding all this the most of them went off with the Federals. As to the prospect of peace, I don’t see signs towards it. We have been very successful here & if we should take N Orleans I think it would have a great deal of weight towards bringing about peace…” In August 1863 he writes of deserters, “…We have 30 men present in our company as a general thing the companies are not more than half full. Henry McCulloch passed through our camps Saturday on his way to texas. He said he was going to Texas on to northern Texas to raise a force to bring those deserters to Justice that are not in the service…this is a hard place to live as I ought evil is all around & temptations on evry side. I very often find my self doing what I would think I would not do but it is a hard place to do right…Our Colonel is under arrest but I think will be in command in a day or two…” On 2 November 1863, he writes about a deserter being shot, “…There was a man shot to day a mile or two below here. He belonged to Walkers division of the army. He deserted & tried to get to the enemy. They cached him and shot him to day. A good many of the boys went down to se him shot. I did not go as I did not wish to see it & I hope I may never see an other person shot…” A few days later on 10 November 1863, he writes, “…The federals are falling back again towards the bay. Gen Green run in on them last week & killed & wounded 3 or 4 hundred & took nearly six hundred prisoners. This is true for I saw the prisoners myself & I heard yesterday that he had taken one thousand more…We have it here that Lee has whipped Meads Army in Virginia & that Gen Braggs has whipped Rosencrans Army & had his (Rosencrans) transportation cut off. So they think he will have to surrender but this is all uncertain yet I am very much in hopes it is so if news that we hear is true our prospects for success is brightening…” On 17 February 1864, Johnson writes an interesting letter about Texans and the French, “…You wanted to know why Walkes men could come home & none of our’s well the only reason that I can assign is that Muton our Division commander is a Frenchman & dont sympathise with Texans while Walker is a white man…We are still at Ft Beauregard near Harissonburg. They are fixing up the fort have two thirty two pounders mounted & fixing to mount more. There are upwards of two hundred negroes working on the place…” On 6 May 1864, Johnson tells his wife of the war’s progress, “…Our men took & had blown up some 3 or 4 boats above Alexandria last week & a day before yesterday they took two transports & yesterday they one transport & two Gunboats. The Federals are trying to get reinforcements to Alexandria…There is one Division of our infantry here we must [?] forces on the other side of the river. We have a heavy force of cavalry down here also I learn from a federal letter that was captured that they at Alexandria had burned up there Oats & hay & that they had a thousand wagons. He did not expect they would get away with any of them. Well I heard yesterday that General Lee had given General Mead an other drubbing & take 10,000 prisoners…” In addition to the 60 Civil War dated letters from Johnson, lot includes pre and post-war letters and documents, a Civil War tax receipt, dozens of itemized receipts, a special order, two Cook County, Texas deeds of conveyance, and two confederate bonds. A very rich and special Civil War lot. With transcriptions for many of the letters which, except for a few, are quite legible and in very good plus condition. Remarkable Texas Civil War letters. Sold for $27,500.
From Confederate Prison in Texas Writes a 42nd Massachusetts Soldier — “…seems as if we were to be left here to die…” — Lot of Six Letters
Lot of six Texas Civil War letters from Captain Alfred N. Proctor of the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry, who enlisted in 1862, and was aboard the steamer Saxon when it was captured on New Year’s Day 1863 in Galveston, Texas. Letters to his brothers (Charles and his twin, Albert) and father in Boston date from 17 April 1862 to 4 April 1864. Proctor’s first letter from Fortress Monroe at the mouth of Virginia’s Hampton Roads, dated 17 April 1862, was sent shortly after the Battle of Hampton Roads involving the Confederate ship Merrimac, “…The harbor is now clear of vessels. Most of them at anchor outside for fear that the Merrimac will serve them as she did some others last week…most probably she only shows herself…to keep the gun boats here so that they will not go up to assist in the battle at Yorktown…” Letter dated 11 December 1862, on board the steamer Saxon, reads in part, “…you can judge how astonished we were…to find when 24 hours out on opening our sealed orders that we were bound for Ship Island instead of Fortress Monroe…” Letter dated 22 December 1862 on board the Saxon reads in part, “…There was a grave yard next to our ship & I saw them bury some soldiers & the water comes so near to the graves that they have to hold the coffin down with sticks in the water till they could put on the dirt…We came up to New Orleans &…sailed up to Carrolton…There are lots of soldiers…going up the river to Baton Rouge to make an attack on Port Royal where there will be a big fight. We are going to Galveston…& we expect a fight…” Letter dated 23 December 1862 from Galveston reads in part, “…we had a narrow escape from getting on shore…getting blown out of the water by a gun boat in the night…taking us for a rebel craft…We are here at last at anchor in the harbor & it looks rather bad for us…There are some 3000 rebels here…” Letter dated 6 October 1863 from Confederate POW Camp Croce reads in part, “…I see no prospect of our release as yet. Now almost 10 months in confinement & what a glorious privilege is liberty when I get home…56 officers & 350 men here, have buried 8 in all…I hope to get exchanged for some of the Texas officers that our Government have…” Letter dated 4 April 1864 reads in part, “…Still we are here in confinement & I don’t know how long we are to remain…tomorrow 20 officers & 370 men leave here exchanged by Genl Banks. It seems as if we were to be left here to die for all they care for us at home…” Proctor was ultimately exchanged in July 1864, after 1.5 years in captivity. Card style letters average 8″ x 4″ and four pages each. Lot includes two envelopes, one postmarked in Virginia with cancelled stamp. Overall very good condition. Interesting Texas Civil War letters. Sold for $4,000.