Thursday, August 30, 2012

Atascosa County's Regiment in the Civil War - Part 14

A Tempestuous Ending for the 36th Texas
May 1st, 1863: The Vicksburg Campaign begins.
July 1st to 3rd: Gettysburg, the deadliest battle of the war, the end of Lee’s attempt to invade the north. Hood’s Texas Brigade suffers 597 casualties.
July 4th: Vicksburg falls; these two events mark the turning point of the war, but the killing would grind on for two more years. The Trans-Mississippi Department, including Texas, is cut off from the heartland of the Confederacy.
August 10-13th: The Third Texas Infantry Regiment at Galveston mutiny and refuse to drill; and civilian sappers and miners assigned to the Galveston garrison refuse to work.1

The 36th Texas Cavalry continued patrolling in Woods’ Triangle until the end of May 1863. On July 1st the “impregnable” Confederate redoubt on the bluffs above the Mississippi, Vicksburg, fell to the protracted, relentless onslaught of Union forces, prompting President Lincoln’s famous remark, “The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea.”2 The riverine highway was cleared of any resistance and Arkansas, half of Louisiana, and Texas were isolated from the rest of the Confederacy. No doubt many southern sympathizers and C.S.A. soldiers realized that they were effectively out of the war.

Nevertheless, in a sordid account of wartime greed and speculation in “white gold” – despite the opposition of President Lincoln and Generals Grant and Banks (commander of the Department of the Gulf), Union General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck pushed through a plan whose primary aim was strike up the Red River from the Gulf and secure vast quantities of Louisiana and Texas cotton for northern mills.

In June 1863 elements of [Woods’] regiment were moved up the coast as far as Indianola in response to the threat of invasion . . . On July 12 Woods was given command of the First Cavalry Brigade of Gen. Hamilton P. Bee's division. . . . On September 9, 1863 the regiment was ordered dismounted. It was to be moved by rail to Beaumont, and its horses, the personal property of the men, were preempted by the Confederate government. Woods protested the order and refused to obey it. After marching and countermarching the Texas coast for several months in response to invasion alarms, 157 of Woods's troopers deserted on the night of February 1, 1864. Granted thirty days leave, Woods followed his deserters to their homes and returned with them to his camp. On February 20 the highly unpopular dismounting order was finally executed, but on February 28 the regiment was ordered to Louisiana for the Red River campaign and remounts were hastily procured.3
There are literally hundreds of books about the Red River Campaign. One that seems to me informative is Ludwell H. Johnson’s Red River Campaign: Politics and Cotton in the Civil War. Though it is an interesting part of Texas history (and Woods’ Regiment), it was peripheral to the great sweep of the Civil War.

On April 9th, 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. The revered Southern general later said, “I surrendered as much to Lincoln’s goodness as I did to Grant’s army.”

As this news took a good while to disseminate to the far reaches of the Confederacy, the war went on for a while. That very same day, April 9th, the 36th Texas arrived at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, too late for the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, which resulted in the defeat of General Nathaniel Banks Union army. Then the 36th immediately marched for Blair's Landing in pursuit of the retreating Federals.

On April 12 Woods and his men received their baptism of fire at the battle of Blair's Landing . . . They skirmished daily with the retreating federals through Grand Ecore, fought a determined holding action at Monett's Ferry, and continued a running fight with the enemy until a spirited action at Yellow Bayou on May 18 in which Woods was wounded halted the chase. A rifle ball entered Woods's left hand and traversed his forearm, exiting his elbow. Although he returned to service after only two weeks of convalescent leave, he never fully regained the function of his left arm. . . . During the next seven months the Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry remained in Louisiana, patrolling . . . In February 1865 the regiment returned to Texas, and at Houston on May 21, 1865, by order of Gen. John B. Magruder it divided its public property and disbanded.
Farewell to Company E

The boys were all back in Texas by the first of March 1865. Trooper Foster, a private in Company E, told of its final days:

We marched towards home, and when a man reached home country, he just shook hands all around, turned his horse down some country road, and was lost to us. The East Texas men left early, and the rest of us went ahead. At San Marcos, several companies stopped. Most of the rest of the men shook hands and parted at San Antonio. What was left of Company E went back to Pleasanton. First companies disappeared, then squads, and then a few men waved goodbye to each other, and that was all of Woods’ Regiment.4

This concludes the series.

Purgason, Howard.  Calvin Turner, Texas Ranger
1.       Gallaway, B.P., ed.  Texas: The Dark Corner of the Confederacy, Contemporary
       Accounts of the Lone Star State in the Civil War. 251;
2.       McPherson, James M..  Battle Cry of Freedom. 638
3.       Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.,
4.       Duaine, Carl L.. The Dead Men Wore Boots, 95

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Atascosa County's Regiment in the Civil War - Part 13

Feeding the Troops   

Because of poor transportation, commissary stores could not be delivered readily, and the troopers had to live off the land as much as they could. Though the search for water was always insistent due to the remoteness of the wild country of the Corpus Christi-Brownsville-Eagle Pass Triangle area of operations (described in Part 10), much of it was flush with game: deer, antelope, javelina hogs, and wild turkeys. The men of Company E who happened to be in those areas didn’t want for fresh meat.1

Out in the western reaches of the region where wild game was not so plentiful,  whenever outfits on patrol duty could get their hands on some beef, they would preserve quantities of it by “jerking” it – cutting it into long, thin slices which they would string out by ropes to dry in the sun. This process didn’t even require salt, and it would keep and provide nourishment for a long time.2

The Reverend Potter of Company K relates an experience with fresh meat when almost half the regiment was near Brownsville:

In many places we could not get water for our horses, only when we drew it from wells, so the command was divided and traveled in detachments, and our commissary sergeant found it very difficult to get meat. He had orders to kill beeves and give the Mexican owners vouchers, but he could not speak Spanish, and had no little trouble in settling with them; he got so worried over it he feigned sick, and the colonel [Woods] appointed me to furnish beef that day. We camped near to where the cattle gathered in large numbers for water. I examined them, and found but few fit for beef, except a few two-year-olds. There were four companies of us, and I called on each company for men and ropes; then I pointed out the beeves, and they roped and butchered them. When we had caught three, the colonel came along and said, “Mr. Potter, how do you come on in getting beef?” I answered, “Pretty well, colonel; we have three, and the boys are after another.” The colonel smiled, and said I was doing well. So we got our four beeves slaughtered, and the half-starved men began to cook and eat. I reported to our commissary, and called for vouchers for four beeves. “What!” said he, “you have not killed four?” “I have, sir,” said I; “this is my day to issue beef.” He said it was more than they were entitled to, and that a great deal of it would be wasted. I replied that after four companies had eaten what they wanted, and then cooked enough to take along to-morrow, out of four small beeves, but little would be left; and it was even so.3

Since we don’t know if the men of Company E were with this bunch at the time, we don’t know whether the meat they ate that day was wild and fresh or “jerked.”

As to bread: when flour was available the men had multiple ways of cooking it. One was to mix a kind of biscuit dough, roll it out to “about the size and shape of a snake,” coil it around a stick or ramrod, and then roast it over an open fire. Another method was to roll the dough up in a “wet shuck” (i.e. corn shuck) and bake it in the hot embers of the campfire. The product of this simple process was called “hot doger.”

But food was not always short – sometimes a supply train would make it down the line and then the companies would receive “plenty of salt or dried meat, flour or corn meal, desiccated vegetables, fresh potatoes, and molasses, soap, and candles.” These would have been banner days for the boys.4

1862 Comes to an End

December 24th: Union forces finally occupy Galveston Island.
December 31st: Six hundred Texas Unionists hold a resistance rally in Austin County (west of the Brazos).

It appears that, in November and December, Company E of Woods’ Regiment was stationed at Camp Sibley, near the old Mexican War outpost, Fort Brown. Their fifth muster roll (dated, copied I guess, May 13th of the next year) states that the unit was there from October 31st, 1862 to February 28th of 1863.

Though troops of the 36th Texas may have had in these months below the Nueces, the odd skirmish with some band of troublemakers or other – or dissuaded some Yankee warship from putting into some port along the coast – there is not one report I have found of a military engagement in which any of them was involved. One assumes that their time there was very like a replay of the patrols of Texas Rangers between the wars: monotonous routine, broken only occasionally by some momentarily engaging occurrence or other.

Into 1863

January 1st,, 1863:  The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect.
Confederates use a combined land and water attack to re-capture Galveston.
January 8th: Martial law is declared in Colorado, Austin, and Fayette Counties because of outbreaks of organized anti-Confederate resistance.
January 11th: Arkansas Post, Arkansas, captured by Union forces.
March: The legislature appropriates money for the State Hospital Fund and for needy soldiers’ families – and doubles the state tax rate.
March 7th: State law provides that local militias may be transferred to Confederate service for no more than one year.
April 18th: The U.S. Navy arrives at Sabine Pass (where that river empties into the Gulf), but the Federal landing party is captured by Confederates.5

Resignations and Desertions

There were many AWOLs and desertions by men of the Trans-Mississippi regiments. There were hundreds in the 36th Texas Cavalry alone. Seventeen Pleasanton men and 16 from elsewhere in the county went home prematurely, legally or not. Most of those were probably out of fear for the safety and well-being of their folks. But, Duaine writes, Colonel Woods knew the family hardships of the men in his command. Many were given furloughs, and he was tolerant when they didn’t return exactly on time.

The fact that virtually all the still-living 36th Texas’ “deserters” went to the regiment’s 1890 reunion indicates that there was no great shame attached to it – everybody knew the situation of the troopers’ tension between service to the Confederacy and their home front needs. On the 1890 reunion muster roll only one man from Company E was considered an actual deserter.6

Next time:  The End of the Regiment . . .

Purgason, Howard.  Calvin Turner, Texas Ranger
1.        Duaine, Carl L.. The Dead Men Wore Boots, 35
2.        Oates, Stephen B.. Confederate Cavalry West of the River 53
3.        Graves, Hiram Atwell.  Andrew Jackson Potter, the noted parson of the Texan
    frontier, 137-138
4.        Oates 53-54, 56
5.        Gallaway, B.P., ed.  Texas: The Dark Corner of the Confederacy, Contemporary
            Accounts of the Lone Star State in the Civil War. 250
6.        Duaine 28, 50, 23, 96-109

Atascosa County's Regiment in the Civil War - Part 12

Below the Nueces

October 31, 1862: Port Lavaca is bombarded by U.S. naval forces.
November 20th: U.S. naval action near Matagorda.
November 29th: General John Magruder assumes command of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona with headquarters in Houston.
December 12th: Naval action against Confederate shore installations on Padre Island.1

The 36th Texas Cavalry, or any individual company thereof on patrol (unless they were going on to Corpus Christi), would have probably left the San Patricio Trail and continued more or less due south, headed for Brownsville. The “trail wandered through grassy plains and thickly covered, brushy flats . . .”

An 1855 map that was likely among those used by Woods’ Regiment on their march south described the lower half of the 36th Texas’ patrol area as “Grassy plains with herds of wild horses and cattle.” Only by now, in 1862, it is striped with roads. These tracks were many and they ran roughly parallel: cotton going down country to the Rio Grande – and a variety of merchandise, but mostly arms and supplies, heading north to the military depots and commercial hubs. “Wagon trains, ox cart processions, and single vehicles were seen at irregular intervals. . . . As a trail formed ruts which were too deep for comfort, the next train just pulled over a little. Each trail was clearly marked by the cotton lint that clung to the thorny brush.”

When the Pleasanton men, on their first trip down or on subsequent patrol rounds, passed below King’s Ranch they were surely painfully aware of the geographical implications of the old description of the area as “Wild Horse Desert.” Water became scarcer all the time and bad when you found it. The firmer soil of the prairie gave way to loose sand that was hell on teamsters and draft animals and no fun for individual cavalrymen. A Colonel Fremantle of the British Coldstream Guards visited Texas during the war and wrote a famous Diary of his experiences. The colonel, who crossed this blighted, desiccated area around this time, mentioned its heat and dry dust and scarcity of water. And he related a startling incident: he was awakened in his tent one night by the evil-smelling breath of a wild hog “blowing into my face” – javelinas had invaded the camp scrounging for food. General Phil Sheridan famously remarked of South Texas: “If I had my choice, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell.”

Colonel Fremantle wrote of meeting some of the men of the 36th three days out of Brownsville. “Soon after we unpacked for the night, six Texan Rangers, of Woods’ Regiment, rode up to us. They were very picturesque fellows: tall, thin, and ragged, but quite gentlemanly in their manners.” And, “They wore the most enormous spurs I ever saw and had saddles very like the Mexican saddles.” But the colonel complained that those were uncomfortable and hard to ride in, and he especially disliked the stirrups being directly under him so that he exaggerated that he was forced to more or less ride standing up. He didn’t realize that these were generally cow ponies and the tack was the preferred style for working cattle – and for some others, running fights with Indians or banditos.2

On the Rio Grande

By the time the men of the 36th Texas Cavalry reached the Rio Grande they would have been tired, dusty, hungry, and thirsty; ready for a bath in the river, a shave, and a trip to town. The cantinas, gambling houses, and dance palaces of Brownsville, Rio Grande City, and the other river towns would have done a brisk business with each arriving outfit.

Some soldiers resisted temptation and stayed in camp – where there were the unfailing card games, of course. “Here was where every man who gambled learned the game of Monte. To be good at Monte bespoke a misspent youth . . . The endless games of chance were about as easy and cheap a pastime as could be arranged.”

Time could be profitably spent in seeing to your equipment and writing letters home. One of these apparently made reference to the trooper’s attempt “to learn to eat meat dishes well seasoned with chile picosos, the small peppers which grow wild in the shade of the mesquite thickets.” This suggests that the regimental (or company) cooks had hired some local women to cook for them while in camp. 3

The 36th Texas on Patrol

By the end of 1862, Fort Ringgold at Rio Grande City had become the primary station in the patrol area and more or less home base for the regiment. The fort, from the days of the Mexican War, was a preferred place for a cavalryman’s tour of duty. The town was friendly, and there was good fishing and swimming in the old Rio Bravo. And in case anything bad happened to you, Margaret Fitzgerald, now Matron of the Regiment, was still in charge of the hospital.

Most of Woods’ companies were probably by now on station in their assigned areas in the Corpus Christi-Brownsville-Eagle Pass triangle. Besides any units that were permanently stationed at Ringgold, companies or even detachments of the regiment were posted at “camps” distant from the fort – up country at Corpus Christi, downriver at Brownsville, up the Rio Grande to Eagle Pass, and far and wide out into the brush country, up as far as the Nueces. Their many challenges: maintaining order in the region, protecting the ports, keeping the Mexico trade open, interdicting deserters, and all the other missions noted above.4

The patrols were likely handled much as Henry McCulloch organized his in 1851 when the Texas Mounted Rifles were working the area: perhaps one officer and a half-dozen men. Maverick’s Company had two lieutenants, five sergeants, and six corporals – enough leadership for the work at hand.

Eleven years earlier the Ranger captain had sent out regular patrols in intervals from the various camps, thus covering the entire assigned area at least once each week. When encamped, sentries were posted, each required to stand two hours. On the trail, guards detailed in the morning were used as front and flank guards while on the march. The next day they constituted the rear guard and had charge of the pack mules and the wagons, if any were used. The other patrol leaders no doubt followed some of the same procedures.

Next time:  Feeding the Troops; 1862 Comes to an End . . .

Purgason, Howard.  Calvin Turner, Texas Ranger
1.   Gallaway, B.P., ed.  Texas: The Dark Corner of the Confederacy,
       Contemporary Accounts of the Lone Star State in the Civil War.
2.    Duaine, Carl L.. The Dead Men Wore Boots, 36, 37
3.    Duaine 34-37
4.    Duaine 37; Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.,

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Atascosa County's Regiment in the Civil War - Part 11

Multiple Missions for the 36th Texas Cavalry

It is possible that by the end of August 1862, the bulk of Woods’ regiment was either in or headed for their new area of operations in what some old maps labeled the “Wild Horse Desert.” Their mission was to bring some order to the chaotic and turbulent Nueces Strip, to the Rio Grande border below it, and along the Gulf Coast. Besides the standard peace-keeping and police functions, defense against depredations by Indians and Mexican and Anglo bandits, and the prevention of German (and other) defections to Mexico, Colonel Woods and his men were given three other major assignments.

One was to prevent random Union naval raids against Texas. The Federal navy dominated the Gulf coast; their ships lay off Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Indianola, and they could land as they chose at just about any coastal town that had some kind of port in order to disrupt the Texas-Mexico trade and in the process, tie down Confederate troops. Because of the presence of 36th Texas and some other units in the area, all this ever amounted to, with a couple of exceptions, was “hit and run harassment.” This was a strange, early form of asymmetrical warfare: the Confederate cavalry versus the Union navy.

Another mission was to protect the cotton wagons of the Texas plantations rumbling down to the coast, from highwaymen or bands of brigands. The cotton was sold in Mexico, the “white gold” exchanged for yellow gold, which was used to purchase guns and needed war supplies. This two-way stream of commodities was vital to the Southern cause.

And, finally, an important assignment was the safe-guarding of a large salt lagoon called El Sal del Ray that lay between King’s Ranch and the Rio Grande. The securing of this precious resource was of immeasurable value to the Confederacy.

By mid-September Texas had fielded six cavalry regiments, but only a few were assigned to the southern district. To adequately cover the vast area of Colonel Woods’ responsibility and to defend against such a wide and wildly disparate variety of enemies would have been a formidable task for a regiment of less than a thousand men. But the 36th had help. One major source was a brother regiment made up in the San Antonio area, the 1st Texas Cavalry, commanded by a Colonel Augustus Carl Buchel. The colonel was a Prussian √©migr√© who had served in the Austrian army and “with the Turks.” He was described by his contemporaries as “a small, quiet man and is said to have been unassuming, courteous, and gentlemanly in manner. He spoke seven languages.” He had come to Texas to live a civilian life, but when the call came, like the many of Texas’ Rangers and Mexican War veterans, he returned to military duty. For all his quiet-mannered ways he was proud and fierce when it came to his personal dignity – he had killed opponents in several duels.1

September and October 1862

September 2nd: Martial law in Texas is repealed and the second Confederate conscription law goes into effect, raising the age limit to 45.
September 17th: Hood’s Texas Brigade, fighting with Lee’s army in the battle of Antietam, suffers 519 casualties.
September 22nd: President Lincoln issues his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
October 5th: The Confederates are forced to abandon Galveston Island (but not the town, the second largest in the state). The Federals do not occupy it until the day before Christmas.2

We know that Company E (or at least some component of it) was at Fort Ringgold in August (or late July), but clearly was on the move after that.

At the end of October, Company E (if not the whole unit, certainly the main contingent of it) was in the San Antonio area. We know because the Company Muster Roll (its fourth) for September and October states that it was taken at “San Antonio Springs” (about three miles north of downtown, currently near the north end of the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word).3

As to why the outfit was at San Antonio – maybe they were there for some special resupply, or were temporarily stationed in the area, patrolling because of the above mentioned prevalence of deserters and draft evaders in the big military and commercial town, the state’s largest. Still, it is a bit of a puzzle.

Next time:  On Patrol Below the Nueces . . .

Purgason, Howard.  Calvin Turner, Texas Ranger
1.  Duaine, Carl L.. The Dead Men Wore Boots, 34; Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.
2.  Gallaway, B.P., ed.  Texas: The Dark Corner of the Confederacy, Contemporary
      Accounts of the Lone Star State in the Civil War. 249
3.   National Archives, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Texas. Roll M323

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Atascosa County's Regiment in the Civil War - Part 10

The 36th Texas Cavalry Goes to Work

Starting in probably late-July 1862 Colonel Wood began to dispatch patrols to carry out his orders to pacify some areas of unrest, crime, or treason in the state of Texas.

A number of the companies of the regiment, but not yet all, headed to new postings south of the Nueces. Certain elements of the regiment remained at Camp Clark on the San Marcos for some months, the quartermaster department among them. It is unclear where Colonel Woods and the regimental headquarters were located after, say August, but eventually they wound up down on the Mexican border at Fort Ringgold located at Rio Grande City.

It is not possible to say with certainty just where the rest of Company E was throughout the remainder of 1862, but we know generally – they were either on patrol in the regiment’s area of operations below the Nueces, or on the Gulf Coast, assigned to some other duties, which we shall address in subsequent articles.

The patrol area of Woods’ Regiment covered an enormous expanse that could be defined by a triangle whose corners were Corpus Christi, Brownsville, and Eagle Pass. This westernmost town was of major importance because the Federals had possession of the lower Rio Grande.1

Company muster rolls started out being taken at regular two-month intervals and then became sporadic and covered variable time periods. It is useful to remember that the rolls were merely a snapshots of a unit’s strength and location at any given moment – say, the end of a pay period. A company could have been, and some certainly were, reassigned numerous times between those snapshots.

On Captain Maverick’s Company Muster Roll for July and August the “station of company” shows “Not Stated,” which is a pretty good indication that they were on the move around the end of that time.2 It seems clear that, though they may have been at Camp Clark for some part of July, the company was sent on patrol to Fort Ringgold in the middle to latter part of the month.

The Trip Down

It is over 300 miles from San Marcos to Rio Grande City. One of the maps the cavalrymen used was probably one made in 1855, and they may have had some more recent ones besides. Captain Maverick’s company (and whatever other companies that were traveling with them) surely would have swung back through San Antonio to present the big commissary with requisitions for supplies and fodder. Heading out of town, they may have even have taken a straight shot south and passed through Pleasanton. It seems logical – it was the next town on the way after San Antonio. What a treat that would have been for the men of Company E and their families! Joyous reunions. Hugs and kisses all round and maybe even some home cooking, if the Captain allowed such a thing.

As the regiment (or some of its companies) headed southwest towards Corpus Christi, they would have generally followed the Atascosa River toward its junction with the Frio and the Nueces (where the town of Three Rivers is now). When they had exhausted their supplies of the crystal clear artesian well-water of San Antonio, the troops would have had to refill their canteens and gourds and the water barrels of the chuck wagons from those three rivers. The officers and sergeants would have had to keep a firm hand on the men to obtain their needed refills in an orderly manner and not muddy the streams for the rest of the company.

Depending on the time of year and any recent rains, these water courses could be raging torrents or, in some high spots, merely water holes strung along the creek or river beds. In those years the brush was thin and the grass cover heavy, therefore water runoff was slower and water holes lasted longer than they did in later decades. The farther from the three rivers the troop traveled, the harder it was for the cavalrymen to find sweet water. The search for it was continual; the shortage was sometimes chronic.

The terrain from Atascosa on down through the next couple of counties would have looked very familiar to the men of Maverick’s Company – this was cattle country, “open ranges and no fences except an occasional wood corral.” There would have been little in the way of civilization, other than isolated hamlets and ranches.

Ringgold Hospital

We know that Company E (or at least some part of it) was at Fort Ringgold in August because of an charming tale in connection with the fort hospital, which seems to have been the only one in the patrol area.

Billie Fitzgerald, a 37-year-old Atascosa County private of the company, took ill or had an accident and was sent to the hospital. He probably wrote his wife, Margaret, and told her of his condition and perhaps said something uncomplimentary about the facility. Margaret likely hitched up a wagon, loaded it with some supplies and home-grown food and traveled over 200 miles down to the Rio Grande to see what she could do to make Billie more comfortable and get him well – and wound up working in the hospital for about seven months!

It is not hard to imagine that upon arrival Margaret, outraged at the sorry state of the place, rolled up her sleeves and started straightening out and cleaning up and organizing the help – and pretty soon everybody discovered that she was indispensible.

She was promptly enlisted in the regiment [perhaps retroactively to the first of August] and listed as matron. She oversaw the hospital and superintended the men’s laundry, and seemed to have been a vital factor in the health and well being of the regiment during the late part of 1862 and the first part of 1864 [sic – surely 1863].3

Over the rest of 1862, Fort Ringgold at Rio Grande City seems to have been the central fort and more or less home base for the 36th Texas and the other companies operating in the area.

Next time: August, September, and October 1862 . . .

Purgason, Howard.
Calvin Turner, Texas Ranger
1. Duaine, Carl L.. The Dead Men Wore Boots, 33; Fehrenbach, T.R.. Lone Star, 342
2. National Archives, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Texas. Roll M323
3. Duaine 34-36; Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.,

Monday, March 26, 2012

Good Turnout for History Reenactment

It was a beautiful, sunny, morning, a perfect day to reenact some of the most important events in Pleasanton's history. March 24, 2012, the Atascosa County Historical Commission and a number of dedicated volunteers, after a great deal of planning did just that.

In 1861 one of the county commissioners, Elijah O'Brion, after riding, unarmed to check his horses on the Laparita, made a daring escape from the Indians, jumping over the Bonita Creek, with three arrows in his back, barely making it back to Pleasanton.

The Indian problems were bad out on the ranches. Jose Antonio Navarro wrote a letter to his son, Angel, and to the San Antonio Express, asking for help out on his ranch on the Atascosa Creek. These letters were read during the reenactment by Jim Coronado.

On March 29, 1862, Cpt. Lewis Maverick rode into Pleasanton and mustered men from Atascosa and surrounding counties into what would become Company E of the 32nd Texas Volunteer Cavalry. This would very soon become the 36th Wood's Regiment. More than 17 volunteer horse riders were on hand Saturday to represent the men who mustered in 1862.

During the war the county bought a large quantity of corn, took it to a San Antonio mission (San Wan in the county records)and had it ground into meal, then distributed it to the families who had men in the war. A horse drawn buggy was used during the reenactment to carry burlap sacks of corn, then it returned with cotton sacks of ground corn. Souvenir, miniature sacks were given to some in the crowd.

These events were recreated for a crowd of 80-100, finished by the men riding home on their horses, and taps played on a real bugle. Old-time music was played by fiddle and guitar throughout.

Additional photos can be found on the Atacosa County Historical Commission facebook page.