Monday, April 29, 2013

John Robert Baylor: The Indian Hating Texan


Colonel John Robert Baylor

       Born in Paris, Kentucky in 1822, John Robert Baylor moved to Texas at the age of 18. From that moment on, he considered himself a Texan. Prior to the Civil War, Baylor served in the Texas state legislature, published a Democratic magazine called The White Man, and worked as an Indian agent. He soon earned the reputation of being an Indian hater and fighter. 

Robert P. Kelley

       When the Civil War began, Baylor helped organize the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles and he was elected the regiment's lieutenant colonel. In late 1861, Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley promoted Baylor to colonel. A local newspaper editor named Robert P. Kelley accused Baylor of cowardice several times in his paper because Baylor had begged Richmond for reinforcements. On December 12, 1861, Baylor confronted Kelley on a street in Mesilla and shot him in the jaw and neck. Kelley was mortally wounded and died on New Years Day in 1862.
       President Davis ordered Baylor to move his regiment into southern New Mexico (which was a territory at the time). There Baylor won a small battle at Mesilla against Union Major Isaac Lynde. He managed to capture 500 Federal soldiers with a force of just 300 men. He then made himself governor of the Arizona Territory. 
       Baylor's biggest concern wasn't the Federals in the area, but the local Indian tribes. The Indians there being the fearful Apache Indians. He disagreed with the governments policy of bribing Indians to keep the peace. He wrote, "The Indians make peace treaties to get blankets and presents. They never think of keeping a treaty longer than they see an opportunity to rob and murder some one."
       Baylor like Federal General Sherman believed that the Indian race should be exterminated. He then went a step further by giving an order to his men stating, "Use all means to persuade the Apaches or any tribe to come in for the purpose of making peace, and when you get them together kill all the grown Indians and take the children prisoners and sell them to defray the expense of killing the adult Indians. Buy whiskey and such other goods as may be necessary for the Indians and I will order vouchers given to cover the amount expended. Leave nothing undone to insure success, and have a sufficient number of men around to allow no Indian to escape." 
       Davis heard of Baylor's order in late 1862 and was abhorred with the Texas colonel. Baylor attempted to defend himself, saying, "My policy is heartily supported by virtually everybody personally involved except, of course, the Indians." He believed that Jefferson Davis was out of touch with frontier realities. Davis of course revoked Baylor's commission. 
       Baylor managed to get elected to the Confederate Congress where he managed to become friends with Davis. He then was given another commission as colonel where he was to return to Texas and raise another regiment of cavalry. The war would end before he reached the Lone Star state. 

Colonel George Wythe Baylor, Robert's brother

       He practiced law following the war and was known for his hot temper and outbursts. His own brother George Wythe Baylor said, "Anyone he liked was the best fellow in the world, and anyone he disliked was the damnedest rascal living." He was involved in several duels following the war and ironically his brother George W. Baylor was the colonel who killed Confederate Major General John Austin Wharton in an argument. Wharton was unarmed at the time. 

Grave of Baylor lists him as a general, a rank he never obtained

       Surprisingly,  he died at the age of 71 of natural causes and not of a bullet. He is buried in Montell, Texas. Baylor University is named after his uncle. 

Pre-war Photo of John Robert Baylor heavily retouched

Monday, April 22, 2013

Confederate Memorial Day: Montgomery, Alabama

Photo: Tim Kent, Jerry Smith, and H. K. Edgarton at the Confederate Memorial Day service in Montgomery, Al.

Me, H.K. Edgerton, and "That ole man"

       I've been friends with H.K. Edgerton on facebook for several years now, but today I finally got to meet the man. I can honestly say, he fits in with Jerry, James and myself very well. Jerry even invited him on a Civil Wargasm some day. He reminds me a lot of Jerry, never a dull moment. He honored us by serving in our color guard because we were one man short. 
       Of course, with the crew I hang out with, nothing is boring. I'm the youngest member of our color guard and I accuse the other guys of not taking their senile medication. We'll get back to that part in a bit. Regardless, we have fun no matter where we go.
       We arrived at the event and began setting up our flags. Jerry pokes my shoulder and says, "There's H.K. Edgerton." I've always wanted to meet Mr. Edgerton because I respect him for standing up for what he believes. I also knew my wife would be extremely upset that she couldn't get off work and meet him too. Jerry and I speak at different schools during the year, sometimes travelling over 300 miles from home. We always use H.K. Edgerton in our program and teach the kids that one can love their ancestors without being ashamed of race. 
       We each take our flags and line up (each except H.K. who is such a live wire, we can't seem to keep up with him). James was getting nervous because he is in charge of the color guard and kept telling me, "You're gonna have to go find him." H.K. finally got in line between Jerry and myself and that's when we got in trouble. It seems H.K. is the third stooge missing from Jerry and myself. We were called down by my camp commander Jay Gregory because he said we were getting looks from the ladies of the U.D.C. 
       Jerry pulls out his program and asks me, "Why does your program have us down as posting colors fifth at 10:40 and mine says we're second without a time?"
       I replied, "You moron, you've pulled out an old program, not the one for today. Don't you pay attention to anything?"
       Jerry can't be wrong, EVER!!!! Without missing a beat, he said, "I knew that, I was just testing you to see if you knew it."
       "Right," I replied. At that moment was when someone tested a cap on their musket around the corner. Don Johnson (another member of our color guard) immediately hands me his flag and says, "Hold that, our flags just fell down around there."
       Jerry asks me what is going on and I said, "I'm not sure what he's talking about unless its the flag stand."
       Don walks around the corner, does an about face, and returns saying, "What am I thinking, we're holding all the flags."
       It was one of those days. I had to inform H.K. that my color guard had failed to take their senile medication this morning and I hoped the event would be over soon because they were all due back at the nursing home by 5 p.m.

Camp Commander Bill Watkins and myself

       On a more serious note, another hero of mine was forced to the hospital following the events at Confederate Memorial Day. Ashville, Alabama Camp Commander Bill Watkins at age 79, was having difficulties breathing. Bill is an actual grandson of a Confederate soldier and he keeps his camp members extremely busy. He's another guy that can't be still. I was at the bottom of the hill below the Alabama state capital building when a police car pulled up with its lights on. The officer asked me who was having trouble breathing. I didn't know, but pointed him up the driveway toward the governors parking space. Soon the fire department arrived and I pointed them up the hill. Then an ambulance arrived. I told my buddy Jerry that I didn't want to leave before I found out whether it was Bill or not, him being one of the few remaining.
       We walked back up the hill and sure enough, it was Bill. He refused to ride to the hospital in an ambulance. He then shouted for his crew to "fall out and let's go." Jerry and I walked back down to the car and left. I arrived at home and called Bill. He said he did go on to the hospital (his artillery crew probably made him) and was told he was too old for the schedule he keeps. I told him he was old enough that he needed to slow down. He said I sound like that old doctor. He was just exhausted. I live a good two and a half hour drive from Ashville, but they invite me to  speak there twice a year and I always tell them they are my favorite camp. I would be proud to be an honorary member of their camp. I will be there speaking on May 16 of this year and will of course be looking forward to seeing Bill there. Keep Bill in your prayers.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Brigadier General Lewis Henry Little Diary

Diary carried by General Little when he was killed

       Yesterday was truly my lucky day. I was signing books at Collier Library on the campus of the University of North Alabama when a lady noticed I was a Civil War author. She announced to me that she had the diary Brigadier General Lewis Henry Little was carrying at the time of his death during the Battle of Iuka, Mississippi. I asked her was she selling them (assuming she was selling copies of the diary). She said, "No, its on loan to the museum in Iuka and I brought it with me." I asked if she meant the original and she said yes, come take a look at it. I couldn't believe my eyes. There on her table was the actual diary General Little was carrying when he was shot in the head in battle. 
       The lady was a volunteer with the Tishomingo County Historical & Genealogical Society in Iuka. I wish I could remember her name, but unfortunately, I'm horrible with names. She said the diary is on loan at the Old Courthouse Museum in Iuka and she brought it with her because she was selling copies of Fielding Lewis Tyler's book Service in Two Armies: The Diaries of Henry Little. The book is written by one of General Little's nephews and benefits go to the society. Even more surprising to me, she said here pick it up. I felt like Shelby Foote the day he was allowed to swing Bedford Forrest's sword over his head. It was a true honor to hold such a honored document. 
       I bought the book and have just begun reading it. I will post a book review when I finish, but I can already see that I'm going to enjoy it immensely. Not only is the book about the life and diary entries of Little, it also contains some previously unpublished photographs of the general. I will post them here.

Lewis Henry Little at about 23 years of age

Similar to other Little photo's

General Little in a military hat

General Little with what appears to be a painted on C.S. Uniform and signs of being retouched

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Calvin R. Lackey: A Civil War Uncle

Corp Calvin R Lackey

Corporal Calvin R. Lackey

       When I was a kid, my Uncle Lawrence Kent and I spent hours at our local library attempting to find a Civil War ancestor. We searched the Kent line, but came up empty (this was before the internet made searching other states and counties possible). We went up the Lackey line, which is my dad's mother. A member of the family has a family Bible that records our Lackey family tree back to the 1700's and Scotland. 
       Following that line back we knew that dad's mother Oma Leola Lackey's father was Elisha Franklin Lackey born in 1868 and died in 1943. I always thought his father named him this for a reason. There was a general in Lee's army named Elisha Franklin Paxton and I wondered if my great-great-grandfather may have fought under Paxton and named a son for him. I soon learned this to not be the case as far as I can tell. 

Elisha Franklin Lackey

Elisha Franklin Lackey and Mary Elizabeth Burnett

       There is absolutely no record of Elisha's father serving in the Civil War on either side. His name was Isaac Reed Lackey and he was born in 1825 and died in 1887. He rests today in Macedonia Cemetery, Sand Mountain, Alabama. After my uncle died and about the time all this information began being placed online, I found that Elisha Franklin Lackey had a brother named Calvin R. Lackey and he served in Lee's army. Calvin was a corporal in Company E, 48th Alabama Infantry which served in Taliaferro's Brigade, Stonewall Jackson's Division at Antietam. Calvin enlisted on April 12, 1862 in Hendrixville, Dekalb County, Alabama for three years or the duration of the war. 
       In 1863, he is listed as a deserter and later I learned this to be a false report. He was actually wounded and captured during the Battle of Antietam in Maryland on September 17, 1863. He would eventually die of his wounds at Point Lookout, Maryland Prisoner of War Camp and buried there. The marker shown above is in Black Oak Cemetery in Grove Oak, Dekalb County, Alabama and is in memory of my long lost uncle who still rests in Maryland. 

The final resting place of Corporal Calvin Lackey

       I now know that Calvin R. Lackey most likely was wounded and captured in the Bloody Cornfield at Sharpsburg. I visited this place in 1996 and only wished at the time that I had known this information. I look forward to returning there and honoring the memory of my uncle who fought under Stonewall Jackson. 
Paxton-Elisha Franklin.jpg

Brigadier General Elisha Franklin Paxton

       Now lets take a long stretch and pretend that the names may mean something. Brigadier General Elisha Franklin Paxton was only a major at the Battle of Antietam. He was Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff during the Maryland Campaign. Following the battle, Jackson promoted Paxton from major to brigadier general much to the chagrin of A.P. Hill who disliked Paxton. This brings us to the question, was Elisha Franklin Lackey named for Paxton because of something Calvin Lackey wrote home about or was he named this by coincidence. Probably, I will never know, but the information definitely makes my head spin. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The U.S. Army's Brevet System

Joshua Chamberlain - Brady-Handy.jpg

Brigadier General Joshua Chamberlain was a Brevet Major General

       So what was a brevet and how did it work? An explanation can be as confusing as it became for the Federals during the war itself. For example, you could be a colonel and because of some heroic deed on the battlefield and you would be receive a promotion to brevet brigadier general. Actually you were still a colonel, you did not receive a pay promotion or assume brigade command. The promotion was in name only, almost like a reward. That sounds simple enough, but lets look at some of the more complicated things that came along with that. 
       There were more than just one army within the Federal military structure (I hope I'm saying that right). For example, since the regular army was so small at the beginning of the war, volunteers were raised, therefore you had the regular army and the volunteer army. You could be a regular army colonel and be a brevet brigadier general, but at the same time you could be a brigadier general of volunteers with a brevet rank of major general. Are you confused yet?

Robert E. Lee always wore the stars of a colonel

       In the Confederate army, there was no brevet system in place. Although, at times the word brevet rank is mentioned, its an entirely different system than the Federals. If the word brevet was used in the Confederate army, it was usually because someone was temporarily promoted to hold a higher position. It was rarely used. Lee always wore the rank of colonel, because the Confederate army was also a volunteer army. Although Lee was a full general of volunteers, he was a regular army colonel. The brevet system in the Federal army caused confusion by adding to an already confusing situation.

The Heroic Army Mule/Horse

       During the night battle at Wauhatchie near Chattanooga, some Federal army mules panicked by the gunfire charged into part of the Confederate lines. The Confederates thought it was a cavalry charge and fell back temporarily. Following the battle, a telegrapher sent a message to Washington poking fun at the confusing brevet system and its over use. He recommended that those heroic mules be breveted up to the rank of horses. What the authorities in Washington thought of this recommendation has not been recorded.