Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

The Texas Confederate on Boot Hill

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 4, 2014


OldManClantonThere’s always a new angle on an old story, isn’t there?

This past weekend there was a post by a member over at Civil War Talk who recently visited Tombstone, Arizona, and was surprised to see a small Confederate flag marking the grave of one of that location’s better-known, um, residents. Newman Haynes “Old Man” Clanton (right, c. 1880) was the father of Ike and Billy Clanton, part of the “Cowboy” faction that ran afoul of the Earp brothers in Tombstone in 1881. When the Earps, along with the tubercular dentist Doc Holliday confronted the Cowboys at the OK Corral in late October 1881, Ike happened to be unarmed and ran off; Billy stayed and died, shot through the right wrist and in the chest and abdomen.

Old Man Clanton didn’t live to see his son killed in that famous shoot-out; Newman had himself been shot down a few months before in an ambush while herding stolen cattle through the Guadalupe Canyon, at the extreme southern end of the Arizona/New Mexico border. In truth, all the Clantons had a long reputation as troublemakers and small-time criminals, mostly involving cattle rustling, often with animals stolen from across the border in Mexico. Ike Clanton himself would be killed in a shoot-out with a detective attempting to arrest him on rustling charges in 1887; his violent end probably surprised exactly no one.

The family was originally from Missouri, but resettled in Texas in the 1850s. At the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, Newman Haynes Clanton and his family were were farming or ranching in Dallas County. He and his wife, Maria (or Mariah), had six children living with them, including twelve-year-old Joseph Isaac Clanton, later known as Ike. Two more children, including Billy, would be born after 1860.

Clanton’s Civil War service record, as documented by his file at the National Archives (8.3MB PDF), is spotty. He appears to have enlisted as a Private in Co. K of the First Texas Heavy Artillery Regiment at Waco on March 1, 1862, for a period of one year. In May 1862 he was on detached duty at Hempstead, Texas, employed as a nurse. He was discharged on July 6 as being overage; he would have been in his mid-40s. He re-enlisted at Fort Hébert, near Galveston, on January 1, 1863, the day of the Battle of Galveston, ostensibly for the duration of the war. Clanton apparently had other plans, though, because his record shows him as absent without leave from that date, and marked as a deserter from March 2, 1863.

In ealry 1864, Clanton joined an unknown Texas State Militia unit which was probably occupied paroling the frontier. He went into the U.S. Provost’s headquarters at Franklin, Texas (north of present-day Bryan and College Station) on August 26, 1865 and swore out his allegiance to the United States. Just eight days later, on September 3, 1865, Clanton arrived at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory, with (as his record notes) “persons now at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory, enroute to California, who formerly belonged to the Confederate States Army.” The speed of Clanton’s travel — roughly 850 miles in eight days — strongly suggests he went by stagecoach, rather than on his own horse or by wagon. Even so, it would have been an unusually fast stagecoach ride; the pre-war Butterfield Overland Express traveled roughly that same route, and didn’t make as good a time as Clanton would have had to in the summer of 1865.

Or maybe, as CWT user Nathanb1 suggests, he wasn’t in both places at all. The NARA records, ostensibly made just over a week apart, almost describe different middle-aged men:


Page 11bPage 7b


Same man at Franklin, Texas on August 26, and then at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory on September 3? It’s hard to see how. But if anyone was the sort to have some unknown scheme, it would be Newman Haynes Clanton.


Boot Hill grave site image via Find-a-Grave.



6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Michael Lynch said, on February 4, 2014 at 10:44 am

    That’s interesting. I knew the Clantons had a Confederate background, but I didn’t know the details. Wyatt Earp had three brothers in the Union Army.

    • Andy Hall said, on February 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

      Yeah, the Earps were Union people. The question came up at CW Talk as to whether the Union/Confederate dynamic played into what happened in Tombstone. The general sense was no, it didn’t. There were northerners/southerners on both sides, and of course Doc Holliday was from Georgia.

  2. Bob Nelson said, on February 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    New angles on old stories are what keep me interested in the CW. Thanks for posting. I enjoy your blog very much.

  3. Michael Lynch said, on February 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Yeah, Doc’s dad was a major, and I think he served in the Mexican War as well as the Civil War. The Hollidays were living in Griffin, GA when Doc was born, but he grew up farther south in Valdosta; I’ve heard that the reason Maj. Holliday moved from Griffin was to get out of Sherman’s way, but I don’t know if that’s true.

  4. Will Hickox said, on February 6, 2014 at 10:46 am

    A fascinating look at Clanton’s Confed-cred. I’ve been compiling a list of famous 19th-century Americans who served in the Civil War. Like many at the time, it appears that Newman Clanton took advantage of lax discipline and record-keeping (especially on the confederate side) to drift in and out of military service as it suited him.

    Please continue to dig up gems like this.

  5. Jefferson Moon said, on February 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Interesting post…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: