This image, from the Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs Collection at Southern Methodist University, is labeled “Uncle Jim McMichael & Rufus Edwards – both killed in the war.” It was taken at the Lone Star Gallery of Bartlett & Hooker on Market Street, in Galveston, probably around October 1861, at the time of their enlistment in the 10th Texas Infantry.
In the 1860s U.S. Census, John B. McMichael (b. c. 1836 in Alabama) was living on his father’s farm near Boonville in Brazos County, where Richard McMichael raised corn. John is listed in the census as a laborer, and could read and write. Richard McMichael does not appear to have owned slaves, but had a large family (including two adult sons) living on the place with him, which provided labor for the farm. Richard’s wife K. H. and his 18-year-old daughter Mary are described in the census as seamstresses, and probably did piecework to provide the family with extra cash.
John McMichael enlisted in Company F of the 10th Texas Infantry in Houston on October 13, 1861. It appears that his older brother William enlisted at the same time; both men signed up for the duration of the war. (William was captured with his brother at the Battle of Arkansas Post (Fort Hindman) in January 1863, and was paroled at Camp Douglas, Illinois in April of that year. He rejoined the Confederate army later as part of Granbury’s Brigade, fighting Sherman’s army during its march northward from Savannah. William McMichael received a slight head wound in fighting around Jonesboro, Georgia in 1864. He surrendered with Johnston’s army and in late April 1865 was finally paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina.)
Sergeant John McMichael was captured at Arkansas Post in January 1863. He was paroled at Camp Douglas with his older brother and, ill with pneumonia, was transferred to City Point, Virginia. Released on April 7, 1863, he was immediately admitted to the General Military Hospital at Petersburg, Virginia. He died there on May 8, 1863. His belongings were inventoried as one pair of shoes, $4; two shirts, $4.50; one overcoat, $5; one blaket, $2, and $104.45 in cash.
Rufus Edwards appears in the 1860 U.S. Census as “Ruphus Edward,” age 20, living in Brazos County. He was living at the time with 30-year-old Samuel Edward — presumably an older brother — who worked as an overseer for Henderson Hardy, a large Brazos County farmer. Hardy owned fourteen slaves, while Samuel owned three in his own right. Rufus Edwards shared the Boonsville post office with the McMichaels, and likely knew them before the war. Edwards enlisted in Company F of the 10th Texas Infantry at Houston on October 13, 1861, along with the McMichael brothers. At the time of their enlistment, the 10th Texas was encamped at Virginia Point, at the northern end of the rail trestle connecting Galveston Island to the mainland. Edwards and John McMichael probably went into Galveston at this time to have their picture made at the Lone Star Gallery.
Edwards remained with his regiment in the Trans-Mississippi, and in June 1862 was hospitalized with an undetermined illness for a time at Brownsville, Arkansas. With the McMichaels, he was captured at Arkansas Post (above) in January 1863, imprisoned briefly at Camp Douglas, and paroled at City Point on April 7, 1863. It appears that he rejoined the 10th Texas, as his service record indicates his promotion to 3rd Sergeant of Company F in March 1864. Although Edwards’ death is not detailed in his surviving service record, the Memphis Daily Appeal (being published in Atlanta at the time) of June 4, 1864 lists Edwards as being killed at the Battle of Pickett’s Mill on May 27.
Special thanks to commenter John Blair for pointing me toward corrected information on Sgt. Rufus Edwards. Looking at historical maps from the General Land Office, it appears that Henderson Hardy’s place was in the southern part of Brazos County, near where a rail line would be built after the war, and the settlement of Welburn established. By the early 1970s, that settlement was known as Wellborn, where I lived as a kid. I rode Mr. Morgan’s rural school bus on back roads over Hardy’s old farm every morning. The echoes of the Civil War are never far away.
Images (top to bottom): Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs Collection at Southern Methodist University; Confederate soldier service records via Footnote.com; Frank Leslie’s The Soldier in the Civil War, 1893.