Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Guerrilla Memorial

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 22, 2018

Recently a local FB user posted this image of a tiny (about eight inches square) marker set into the top of the Galveston Seawall. It’s totally unofficial. A quick check of online genealogy resources and newspapers tells us that Eudoxio “Eddie” Rodriguez was born in Mier, Tamaulipas, Mexico in November 1881, emigrated to the United States in 1899 or 1900, and soon thereafter was working as a laborer on building the Galveston Seawall, around 1902-03. In 1910 he was still in Galveston, working as a day laborer. He was apparently active in community affairs, as in 1926 (still living in Galveston), he was elected to the post of Treasurer of the a local Woodmen of the World lodge. By 1940 he was head of a large family, owned his own home at 3814 Sealy, and was working as a bottler at the Galveston-Houston Brewery. It was a solid job, that he reported in the 1940 Census had paid over $1,800 the previous year – not a small thing, coming out of the Great Depression. (His eldest son, 26-year-old Philip, lived with the family and made almost as much as a tank cleaner at the brewery.) The average income reported in the census in 1940 (the first to record that information) was $1,368, which places the Rodriguez pretty squarely in the lower middle class. In 1942, at the age of 60, Eudoxio registered for the “old man’s draft” for military service. Eudoxio Rodriguez died in Houston in 1959. A funeral mass was held Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston, and he was interred at Old Catholic Cemetery, just off Broadway in Galveston.

Eudoxio Rodriguez is not a famous person, nor did he lead the sort of life that attracts a lot of headlines or notoriety. But one of his many grandchildren thought he should be remembered, and that’s pretty awesome.

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Marker photo by Barry Landry.

 

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Talkin’ Steamboats, Thursday in Houston

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 8, 2018

This coming Thursday, July 12, I’ll be speaking on the history of steamboating on Buffalo Bayou, and the competition between Galveston and Houston for commercial dominance in 19th century Texas. My hosts will be the Harris County Chapter of the Texas German Society, that will meet at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at the Trini Mendenhall Sosa Community, 1414 Wirt Road.

Hope to see y’all there!

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Image: Buffalo Bayou Sidewheeler DIANA at Galveston, via Richard Eisenhour.

Paroled at Vicksburg

Posted in Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on July 4, 2018

From 2010:
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Sunday marked the 147th anniversary of the end of the siege of Vicksburg. One of the Confederate soldiers taken prisoner that day was 26-year-old William C. Denman (1836-1906), a private in Company B, 30th Alabama Infantry. William Denman grew up with four younger siblings in Calhoun County, Alabama, where his widower father, Blake Denman, was a well-to-do farmer. The elder Denman was a slaveholder. William enlisted in the 30th Alabama on March 5, 1862. The regiment served in the western theater and, as part of S. D. Lee’s Brigade, saw action in several skirmishes. It suffered heavy casualties at Champion’s Hill (May 16, 1863), where it suffered 229 killed, wounded and missing — roughly half its numbers. Retreating in the face of Union General Grant’s army, Confederate forces including the 30th Alabama withdrew into Vicksburg, where they were quickly trapped between the Federal army to the east and the Federal Navy on the Mississippi. As part of S. D. Lee’s brigade, the 30th Alabama was assigned the defense of the Railroad Redoubt, one of the strong points in the Vicksburg defenses. The fort was overrun in a bloody assault on May 22, but eventually recaptured after Confederate troops regrouped and counterattacked.

After a hard siege lasting several weeks, the Confederate general commanding at Vicksburg, John C. Pembeton, surrendered his force to Grant on July 4. Private Denman, along with about 18,000 other Confederate soldiers, was paroled a few days later.Grant described this process in his memoir:

Pemberton and his army were kept in Vicksburg until the whole could be paroled. The paroles were in duplicate, by organization (one copy for each, Federals and Confederates), and signed by the commanding officers of the companies or regiments. Duplicates were also made for each soldier and signed by each individually, one to be retained by the soldier signing and one to be retained by us. Several hundred refused to sign their paroles, preferring to be sent to the North as prisoners to being sent back to fight again. Others again kept out of the way, hoping to escape either alternative. . . .

As soon as our troops took possession of the city guards were established along the whole line of parapet, from the river above to the river below. The prisoners were allowed to occupy their old camps behind the intrenchments. No restraint was put upon them, except by their own commanders. They were rationed about as our own men, and from our supplies. The men of the two armies fraternized as if they had been fighting for the same cause. When they passed out of the works they had so long and so gallantly defended, between lines of their late antagonists, not a cheer went up, not a remark was made that would give pain. Really, I believe there was a feeling of sadness just then in the breasts of most of the Union soldiers at seeing the dejection of their late antagonists.

The 30th Alabama, like several other surrendered units from Vicksburg, was reorganized a short while later, and it appears that Denman continued with this reconstituted regiment. (The reorganization of these units using men who had been paroled became a subject of dispute between Union and Confederate forces, which the following year caused the Union to suspend almost all parole for captured Confederate soldiers.) In January 1864, Denman transferred to a cavalry regiment, in which he remained to the end of the war.

After the war Denman married Sarah Crankfield (1847-1932), of South Carolina. They lived in Alabama and Louisiana before settling in Marion County, Florida in 1875. There they farmed and, in their later years, operated a boarding house. They had ten children together, but only two survived to adulthood. In 1900 Denman applied for a pension based on injuries received in the war, claiming he was “incapacitated for manual labor” as a result of eating pea bread, an ersatz bread made of ground stock peas and cornmeal, during the siege of Vicksburg. It resulted, Denman claimed, in chronic gastritis and bilious dyspepsia. He died in 1906.

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At Long Last, Something to Bind Up the Nation’s Wounds. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 30, 2018

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Hawkins Squadron Meeting, July 12: The “Ike Dike”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 27, 2018

Join us Thursday evening, July 12, at Olympia Grill at Pier 21 in Galveston at 1800 for the Hawkins Squadron bimonthly meeting. (Please note the change of location!) A meet-and-greet session will begin at 1800, followed by dinner beginning around 6:30 and the evening’s program at 1900. And what a program!

Len_WaterworthOur speaker will be Colonel Len Waterworth, U.S. Army, Ret., who will discuss hurricane mitigation and the all-important “Ike Dike” concept being developed to protect the Galveston Bay area. As bad as Hurricane Ike was a decade ago, it could have been much worse; we dodged a bullet. Before Ike hit, the forecast predicted a 25 foot storm surge up Galveston Bay. We were looking at possibly a $100 billion hurricane, that could have killed hundreds, left thousands homeless and jobless, devastated the nation’s largest petrochemical complex, and crippled its busiest port. But that scenario can be prevented, or at least significantly reduced, based on the best practices adopted elsewhere, including in the Netherlands and, since Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans.

Colonel Waterworth is  Executive Professor in the Department of Maritime Administration at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Colonel Waterworth coordinates “Ike Dike” hurricane surge protection research activities with TAMUG faculty and research partners at Delft University of Technology, the largest and oldest Dutch public technical university; with the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston, and with the Homeland Center of Excellence at Jackson State University in Mississippi. He also handles public outreach efforts with businesses, municipalities and non-governmental organizations in the Houston/Galveston region.

The evening will begin with a meet-and-greet and cash bar at 1800, with dinner and a short Hawkins Squadron Business Meeting at 7. The evening will conclude with Adm. Turner’s presentation and showing the film at about 7:30. Attendees can order from the regular Olympia Grill menu, and will be responsible for purchasing their own food and drinks. 

The Texas Navy Association is a private, 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to preserving and promoting the historical legacy of the naval forces of the Republic of Texas, 1835-46. The mission of the Texas Navy Association is to preserve and promote an appreciation of the historic character and heroic acts of the Texas Navy; to promote travel by visitors to historical sites and areas in which the Texas Navy operated; to conduct, in the broadest sense, a public relations campaign to create a responsible and accurate image of Texas; and to encourage Texas communities, organizations, and individuals, as well as governmental entities, to participate with actions and money, in pursuit of these objectives. Membership in the Texas Navy Association is open to all persons age 16 and over who have an interest in Texas history and want to help support the goals of the organization.

In Galveston, the Charles E. Hawkins Squadron was organized in the fall of 2016, and meets in odd-numbered months.

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Aerial photo by Michael Ciaglo, Houston Chronicle

Mutiny!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 19, 2018

Texas Navy Association Adm. Jim Bevill, author of The Paper Republic and an accomplished historian of early Texas, will present a talk on the mutiny aboard the Texian Schooner-of-War San Antonio on Tuesday, July 10, at the Laffite Society at the Meridian Towers Retirement Center, 23rd at Seawall in Galveston. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. ($8), followed by Jim’s presentation.

Jim is one of the most engaging speakers it’s been my privilege to hear. This will be a fun evening with good food, good fellowship, and good history.

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Juneteenth, History and Tradition

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on June 19, 2018

[This post originally appeared here on June 19, 2010.]


“Emancipation” by Thomas Nast. Ohio State University.

Juneteenth has come again, and (quite rightly) the Galveston County Daily News, the paper that first published General Granger’s order that forms the basis for the holiday, has again called for the day to be recognized as a national holiday:

 
Those who are lobbying for a national holiday are not asking for a paid day off. They are asking for a commemorative day, like Flag Day on June 14 or Patriot Day on Sept. 11. All that would take is a presidential proclamation. Both the U.S. House and Senate have endorsed the idea.
 
Why is a national celebration for an event that occurred in Galveston and originally affected only those in a single state such a good idea?
 
Because Juneteenth has become a symbol of the end of slavery. No matter how much we may regret the tragedy of slavery and wish it weren’t a part of this nation’s story, it is. Denying the truth about the past is always unwise.
 
For those who don’t know, Juneteenth started in Galveston. On Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. But the order was meaningless until it could be enforced. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 — after the Confederacy had been defeated and Union troops landed in Galveston — that the slaves in Texas were told they were free.
 
People all across the country get this story. That’s why Juneteenth celebrations have been growing all across the country. The celebration started in Galveston. But its significance has come to be understood far, far beyond the island, and far beyond Texas.
 

This is exactly right. Juneteenth is not just of relevance to African Americans or Texans, but for all who ascribe to the values of liberty and civic participation in this country. A victory for civil rights for any group is a victory for us all, and there is none bigger in this nation’s history than that transformation represented by Juneteenth.

But as widespread as Juneteenth celebrations have become — I was pleased and surprised, some years ago, to see Juneteenth celebration flyers pasted up in Minnesota — there’s an awful lot of confusion and misinformation about the specific events here, in Galveston, in June 1865 that gave birth to the holiday. The best published account of the period appears in Edward T. Cotham’s Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston, from which much of what follows is abstracted.


The United States Customs House, Galveston.

On June 5, Captain B. F. Sands entered Galveston harbor with the Union naval vessels Cornubia and Preston. Sands went ashore with a detachment and raised the United States flag over the federal customs house for about half an hour. Sands made a few comments to the largely silent crowd, saying that he saw this event as the closing chapter of the rebellion, and assuring the local citizens that he had only worn a sidearm that day as a gesture of respect for the mayor of the city.


The 1857 Ostermann Building, site of General Granger’s headquarters, at the southwest corner of 22nd Street and Strand. Image via Galveston Historical Foundation.

A large number of Federal troops came ashore over the next two weeks, including detachments of the 76th Illinois Infantry. Union General Gordon Granger, newly-appointed as military governor for Texas, arrived on June 18, and established his headquarters in Ostermann Building (now gone) on the southwest corner of 22nd and Strand. The provost marshal, which acted largely as a military police force, set up in the Customs House. The next day, June 19, a Monday, Granger issued five general orders, establishing his authority over the rest of Texas and laying out the initial priorities of his administration. General Orders Nos. 1 and 2 asserted Granger’s authority over all Federal forces in Texas, and named the key department heads in his administration of the state for various responsibilities. General Order No. 4 voided all actions of the Texas government during the rebellion, and asserted Federal control over all public assets within the state. General Order No. 5 established the Army’s Quartermaster Department as sole authorized buyer for cotton, until such time as Treasury agents could arrive and take over those responsibilities.

It is General Order No. 3, however, that is remembered today. It was short and direct:

Headquarters, District of Texas
Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865
 
General Orders, No. 3
 
The people are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
 
By order of
Major-General Granger
F. W. Emery, Maj. & A.A.G.

What’s less clear is how this order was disseminated. It’s likely that printed copies were put up in public places. It was published on June 21 in the Galveston Daily News, but otherwise it is not known if it was ever given a formal, public and ceremonial reading. Although the symbolic significance of General Order No. 3 cannot be overstated, its main legal purpose was to reaffirm what was well-established and widely known throughout the South, that with the occupation of Federal forces came the emancipation of all slaves within the region now coming under Union control.


The James Moreau Brown residence, now known as Ashton Villa, at 24th & Broadway in Galveston. This site is well-established in recent local tradition as the site of the original Juneteenth proclamation, although direct evidence is lacking.

Local tradition has long held that General Granger took over James Moreau Brown’s home on Broadway, Ashton Villa, as a residence for himself and his staff. To my knowledge, there is no direct evidence for this. Along with this comes the tradition that the Ashton Villa was also the site where the Emancipation Proclamation was formally read out to the citizenry of Galveston. This belief has prevailed for many years, and is annually reinforced with events commemorating Juneteenth both at the site, and also citing the site. In years past, community groups have even staged “reenactments” of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation from the second-floor balcony, something which must surely strain the limits of reasonable historical conjecture. As far as I know, the property’s operators, the Galveston Historical Foundation, have never taken an official stand on the interpretation that Juneteenth had its actual origins on the site. Although I myself have serious doubts about Ashton Villa having having any direct role in the original Juneteenth, I also appreciate that, as with the band playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” as Titanic sank beneath the waves, arguing against this particular cherished belief is undoubtedly a losing battle.

Assuming that either the Emancipation Proclamation (or alternately, Granger’s brief General Order No. 3) was formally, ceremonially read out to the populace, where did it happen? Charles Waldo Hayes, writing several years after the war, says General Order No. 3 was “issued from [Granger’s] headquarters,” but that sounds like a figurative description rather than a literal one. My bet would not be Ashton Villa, but one of two other sites downtown already mentioned: the Ostermann Building, where Granger’s headquarters was located and where the official business of the Federal occupation was done initially, or at the United States Customs House, which was the symbol of Federal property both in Galveston and the state as a whole, and (more important still) was the headquarters of Granger’s provost marshal, Lieutenant Colonel Rankin G. Laughlin (right, 1827-78) of the 94th Illinois Infantry. It’s easy to imagine Lt. Col. Laughlin dragging a crate out onto the sidewalk in front of the Customs House and barking out a brief, and somewhat perfunctory, read-through of all five of the general’s orders in quick succession. No flags, no bands, and probably not much of a crowd to witness the event. My personal suspicion is that, were we to travel back to June 1865 and witness the origin of this most remarkable and uniquely-American holiday, we’d find ourselves very disappointed in how the actual events played out at the time.

Maybe the Ashton Villa tradition is preferable, after all.

Update, June 19: Over at Our Special Artist, Michele Walfred takes a closer look at Nast’s illustration of emancipation.

Update 2, June 19: Via Keith Harris, it looks like retiring U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison supports a national Juneteenth holiday, too. Good for her.

Update 3, June 19, 2013: Freedmen’s Patrol nails the general public’s ambivalence about Juneteenth:

I suppose it gets ignored for the same reason we ignore Emancipation Day. To make a national fuss over it would require us to grapple with slavery and own up to freedom as a kind of national project, not a crystallized perfection handed down from men in powdered wigs.

Exactly right.

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Hari Jones Drops the Hammer on National Observance of Juneteenth

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on June 18, 2018

[This post originally appeared in 2011.]

Update, June 24, 2018: Via Bryan Cheeseboro, Hari Jones passed away suddenly on Friday. While I differed with his view on Juneteenth as a holiday, he was a powerful and respected contributor in the Civil War history community. He leaves a space that will be impossible to completely fill.

Hari Jones, Curator of the African American Civil War Museum, drops the hammer on the movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday, and the organization behind it, the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJoF). He argues that the narrative used to justify the propose holiday does little to credit African Americans with taking up their own struggle, and instead presents them as passive players in emancipation, waiting on the beneficence of the Union army to do it for them. Further, he presses, the standard Juneteenth narrative carries forward a long-standing, intentional effort to suppress the story of how African Americans, in ways large and small, worked to emancipate themselves, particularly by taking up arms for the Union. He wraps up a stem-winder:

Certainly, informed and knowledgeable people should not celebrate the suppression of their own history. Juneteenth day is a de facto celebration of such suppression. Americans, especially Americans of African descent, should not celebrate when the enslaved were freed by someone else, because that’s not the accurate story. They should celebrate when the enslaved freed themselves, by saving the Union. Such freedmen were heroes, not spectators, and their story is currently being suppressed by the advocates of the Juneteenth national holiday. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves; it made it legal for this disenfranchised, enslaved population to free themselves, while maintaining the supremacy of the Constitution, and preserving the Union. They became the heroes of the Republic. It is as Lincoln said: without the military help of the black freedman, the war against the South could not have been won.

That’s worth celebrating. That’s worth telling. The story of how Americans of African descent helped save the Union, and freed themselves. Let’s celebrate the truth, a glorious history, a story of a glorious march to Liberty.

One gets the idea that Jones’ beef with the NJoF and its director, Dr. Ronald Myers, is about something more personal than mere historical narrative.

Jones makes a powerful argument, with solid points. But I think he misses something crucial, which is that in Texas, where Juneteenth originated, it’s been a regular celebration since 1866. It is not a modern holiday, established retroactively to commemorate an event in the long past; the celebration of Juneteenth is as old as emancipation itself. It was created and carried on by the freedmen and -women themselves:

Some of the early emancipation festivities were relegated by city authorities to a town’s outskirts; in time, however, black groups collected funds to purchase tracts of land for their celebrations, including Juneteenth. A common name for these sites was Emancipation Park. In Houston, for instance, a deed for a ten-acre site was signed in 1872, and in Austin the Travis County Emancipation Celebration Association acquired land for its Emancipation Park in the early 1900s; the Juneteenth event was later moved to Rosewood Park. In Limestone County the Nineteenth of June Association acquired thirty acres, which has since been reduced to twenty acres by the rising of Lake Mexia.

Particular celebrations of Juneteenth have had unique beginnings or aspects. In the state capital Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1867 under the direction of the Freedmen’s Bureau and became part of the calendar of public events by 1872. Juneteenth in Limestone County has gathered “thousands” to be with families and friends. At one time 30,000 blacks gathered at Booker T. Washington Park, known more popularly as Comanche Crossing, for the event. One of the most important parts of the Limestone celebration is the recollection of family history, both under slavery and since. Another of the state’s memorable celebrations of Juneteenth occurred in Brenham, where large, racially mixed crowds witness the annual promenade through town. In Beeville, black, white, and brown residents have also joined together to commemorate the day with barbecue, picnics, and other festivities.

It’s one thing to argue with another historian or community leader about the the historical narrative represented by a pubic celebration (think Columbus Day), but it’s entirely another to — in effect — dismiss the understanding of the day as originally celebrated by the people who actually lived those events, and experienced them at first hand.

What do you think?
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h/t Kevin. Image: Juneteenth celebration in Austin, June 19, 1900. PICA 05476, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

June 2, 1865

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 2, 2018

The American Civil War ended one hundred fifty-three years ago today, with the surrender of the last major Confederate command, the Trans-Mississippi Department. Late on the afternoon of Friday, June 2, 1865, Generals E. Kirby Smith and John Bankhead Magruder boarded Commodore Benjamin F. Sands’ flagship, USS FORT JACKSON (above), anchored off Galveston. U.S. Brigadier General Edmund J. Davis, a lawyer from Laredo who had opposed secession and eventually cast his lot with the Union, was present to represent Federal forces. At 5:00 p.m., in Sands’s cabin, these men signed the document surrendering the Trans-Mississippi Department, the last major Confederate command to yield to the Union.

Three days later, after allowing sufficient time for word of the surrender to be passed to the few Confederate forces remaining in their defensive works up and down the coast, Sands boarded the light-draft CORNUBIA and, with USS PRESTON trailing behind, entered Galveston Harbor. Sands disembarked with a handful of naval officers—but no armed escort—and was met on the wharf by a Confederate officer, who accompanied them to the mayor’s office above the old city market, just one block from Hendley’s Row and the old JOLO watch tower. There, the mayor and Sands both briefly addressed a crowd of soldiers and civilians “who had assembled in considerable numbers.” Both men made assurances of their goodwill and urged the population to go about their business peaceably. Sands told the crowd that he carried a sidearm that day not out of any fear for his own safety but as a sign of respect for the mayor and local officials. Then, along with the mayor, Sands continued on to the old U.S. Customs House, where he “hoisted our flag, which now, at last, was flying over every foot of our territory, this being the closing act of the great rebellion.”

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Three Veterans

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 28, 2018

This Memorial Day weekend, I’d like to highlight three Civil War veterans interred here in Galveston. I don’t have a familial or personal connection to any of them, but I think of them as neighbors of mine, of a sort.

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Anderson

AndersonPortraitSmallCharles DeWitt Anderson (1827-1901) served as a Colonel in the Confederate army, and in the summer of 1864 was charged with the defense of Fort Gaines, on the eastern side of the entrance to Mobile Bay. After Admiral Farragut forced the entrance to Mobile Bay on August 4, Anderson found himself entirely cut off, besieged and under artillery fire from the land side of Dauphin Island and unable to have any effect on the Federal fleet, which had moved farther up Mobile Bay, out of range of Fort Gaines’ guns. Faced with demoralized Confederate troops inside the fort, Anderson surrendered on August 8. Given a choice of surrendering to the U.S. Army or Navy, Anderson turned over his sword to Farragut. One of Farragut’s last acts before he died in 1870 was to request that Anderson’s sword be returned to him. It came back to Anderson with the inscription, “Returned to Colonel C. D. Anderson by Admiral Farragut for his Gallant Defence of Fort Gaines, April 8, 1864.”

What fewer people know about Anderson is that he and his younger brother arrived in Texas as orphans, their parents having died on the ship en route to the Republic of Texas in 1839. They were adopted right there on the wharf by an Episcopal minster. In 1846, Anderson was the first cadet admitted to West Point from the newly-established State of Texas; his application letter was endorsed by U.S. Senator Sam Houston. Although Anderson did not graduate from the Point, he eventually received a direct commission into the Fourth U.S. Artillery in 1856, and served until resigning his commission in 1861. Anderson served longer as a U.S. Army officer than as a Confederate one; you can view a detail of an 1859 map drawn by Anderson of the area around Fort Randall, Dakota Territory, here.

In his postwar years he worked as an engineer on a variety of public works projects, and at the time of his death was serving as the keeper of the Fort Point Lighthouse here. William Thiesen, the Atlantic Area Historian for the U.S. Coast Guard, recently wrote about Anderson’s experience at Fort Point during the 1900 Storm, the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Recall that, at the time, Anderson was in his seventies:

True to his mission, Anderson kept the light burning during the storm even though most ships by then were either adrift, out of control or washing ashore at points along the Texas coast. However, late that evening, floodwaters surged and carried off equipment on the lighthouse’s lower deck, including the lifeboat and storage tanks for fresh water and kerosene fuel. With seawater rising into the keeper’s quarters it seemed as if Fort Point Lighthouse was adrift on a stormy sea. With the wind speeds nearing 200 miles per hour, the lighthouse’s heavy slate roof began to peel away. Eventually, some of the flying stone tiles shattered the lantern room windows and the inrushing wind snuffed out the light for good.

Anderson had tried his best to maintain the light, but the flying glass had lacerated his face and driven him below. By late that evening, the quarters’ first floor had flooded, the wind had permanently extinguished the light, Keeper Anderson suffered from facial wounds and the storm surge had trapped the elderly couple on the second floor. With all hope lost, Anderson and wife Lucy made their way to the second floor parlor room, sat down and waited in silence for the floodwaters to take them away.

But the end never came. On Sunday morning, the Andersons emerged arm-in-arm onto the lighthouse gallery to see the human toll of the hurricane. The scene they witnessed beggars description. In a silent watery funeral procession, the ebbing tide carried away countless bodies from Galveston Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. Anderson likely saw as much carnage, if not more, than at any time during his Civil War career. But, unlike the war, the storm did not favor one victim over another; instead, it took the lives of women and children as well as men.

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Robie

RobiePortraitSmallGeorge Frank Robie (1844-91) was a Sergeant in Company D of the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, who won the Medal of Honor “for gallantry on skirmish line” during fighting around Richmond, Virginia in September 1864.

Robie originally enrolled in the Eighth Massachusetts Militia, a three-month unit, the day after the surrender of Fort Sumter in 1861. His service record gives his age at enlistment as 18, but other sources suggest he was a year younger. After being discharged, he enlisted in the Seventh New Hampshire in September 1861 as a Sergeant. He re-enlisted in the regiment in February 1864, and was appointed First Lieutenant in October. Although Robie was recommended for a medal during the war, his Medal of Honor, like many, was not actually awarded until June 1883 by resolution of Congress.

He moved to Galveston after the war, working as a clerk in a railroad office, but suffered from rheumatism that had first afflicted him during his service in Virginia. Robie returned to New England, and in 1884 was awarded a pension for disability. Robie subsequently returned to Galveston, dying here in 1891. To my knowledge, Robie is the only Civil War Medal of Honor winner interred in Galveston County. The Fitts Museum in Candia, New Hampshire, where Robie was born, holds Robie’s sword in its collection.

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Armstong

ArmstongPortraitSmallJosiah Haynes Armstrong (1842-98) was a Sergeant in the Third U.S. Colored Infantry. He was born free in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, enlisted as a Corporal on June 26, 1863 at Philadelphia, and soon thereafter was promoted to Sergeant. The Third U.S.C.I. spent the latter part of the war in the Jacksonville, Florida, area, although Armstrong became ill and was transferred to a military hospital in St. Augustine. Some time later, his company commander, who had heard that Armstrong was convalescent and working at the hospital as a cook, wrote to request that he be sent back to the regiment, as he would “be obliged to make another Sergt in [Armstrong’s] place, which, as he is an excellent non-com officer, I am loathe to do.”

After his discharge, Armstrong remained in Florida, where he became a member of the clergy in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He also served in the Florida State House of Representatives, representing Columbia County, in 1871, 1872, and 1875. He moved to Galveston in 1880, where he was pastor of Reedy A.M.E. Chapel here. Armstrong also served as Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas, the African American branch of American freemasonry, from 1890 to 1892. He was ordained a Bishop in the A.M.E. Church in 1896, two years before his death at age 56.

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Anderson photo courtesy Col. Anderson’s great-grandson, Dale Anderson, and Bruce S. Allardice.

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