In 1875, as New York Herald reporter Charles Nordhoff toured the South, he sought to answer questions regarding the extent of change the American Civil War brought to Southerners. He concluded that the war had not substantially changed the condition of the Southern population. However, Nordhoff's conclusions seem to be based primarily from observation of elite southerners.(1) What about the common soldier of the Confederacy? Did the fighting plain folk return home after the war and continue their lives unimpaired by the events of the war? Or was it as Carl Schurz reported to the U.S. Congress in 1865,
The southern soldiers, when returning from the war, found...their homesteads destroyed, their farms devastated, their families in distress; and...an impoverished and exhausted community which had but little to offer them. Thus a great many have been thrown upon the world to shift as best they can...and their prospects are, at present, not very bright.(2)
Numerous studies have provided social and economic profiles of Confederate soldiers during, and prior to, the war. However, few studies have expanded their scope to follow the men after the war. This study seeks to combine quantitative methods with traditional research to provide a microcosmic portrait of the lives of Confederate soldiers after the war. It will focus on the economic persistence of Confederate soldiers from company "B" of the Eleventh Texas Cavalry who remained in Cooke County, Texas. The location of this group of men will enable several additional questions to be addressed. Such as, "Did the geographical distance from the battlefield remove Texas confederate veterans from the repercussions of war service?" Or did their service, as Emory Thomas has suggested, foster a "Confederate identity" that altered their experiences throughout their lives?(3)
The military history of the Eleventh Texas Cavalry resembles a summary of the major campaigns of the Civil War. This regiment was among the most frequently engaged of all Texas units, participating in over one hundred fifty various engagements, and in all three theaters of the war.(4)
In early Fall 1861, Captain William C. Twitty received financial support from the Cooke County Commissioners to reorganize a local state unit for Confederate service.(5) Captain Twitty was among the first settlers of Cooke County and a honored veteran of the Mexican War.(6) Twitty led a successful recruitment drive in Gainesville securing around ninety men to enlist. The unit officially mustered into Confederate service on October 2, 1861, at Camp Reeves in Grayson County, as company "B" of the Eleventh Texas Cavalry Regiment under General Ben McCulloch's Army of Arkansas.(7) The regiment received immediate orders to report to Fort Smith, Arkansas to suppress a large party of dissident Creek and Seminole Indians. Under the command of W.C. Young, the Eleventh Texas Cavalry regiment engaged in two battles in Indian Territory by the end of December at Chustenahlah and Hopo-eith-le-yo-ho-la. In both engagements the Regiment proved its military skill inflicting over 200 casualties on enemy forces while sustaining only one of its own.(8)
Following these successful engagements the regiment moved north toward Missouri to join Brigadier General Ben McCulloch's army. On March 6, the regiment dismounted and engaged Union forces at Bentonville, Arkansas. The following day the bloody fighting continued at Pea Ridge, where Union sharpshooters killed Ben McCulloch.(9) The men of Eleventh Texas distinguished themselves in both engagements serving as advance parties attacking the Union lines. Due to their outstanding performance, and the dire need for forces east of the Mississippi, the regiment was assigned to McCowan's Division, First Brigade on April 29, 1862 and ordered to Corinth, Mississippi. The regiment continued to serve as dismounted cavalry through several deadly battles until after the Battle at Chickamauga (September 1863) where they were incorporated into Major General Joseph Wheeler's cavalry corps and remounted. For the remainder of the war, the men of the Eleventh Texas cavalry were brigaded with the 8th Texas cavalry and served in virtually every major engagement of the Army of Tennessee.(10)
On April 26, 1865, General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the regiment at Durham Station, North Carolina. Records do not indicate how many members of the Eleventh Texas cavalry regiment were still with the Army of Tennessee at its surrender. The extreme hardships of the last year of the war certainly took its toll on the members.(11) Through the member's service records, it is safe to assume that few more than fifty officers and enlisted men remained from the Eleventh Texas to surrender with the Army of the Tennessee. For Company "B", fourteen men appear to have remained through the Atlanta Campaign (1864) and five through the war's duration.(12)
The volunteers of Company "B" had, like many other Confederate soldiers, left their homes and families in 1861 to fight. Many of the members were little more than boys when they made this decision. The median age of the men in the unit in 1860 was twenty-one, with fourteen boys under the age of seventeen. Upon enlistment, the members' ages ranged from fourteen to thirty-nine, with only four men over the age of thirty. The contributions of the various age groups for company "B" are curiously incongruous with the population of Cooke County in 1860. In the unit, the fifteen to thirty year old age group accounted for 82 percent of the men yet only represented 30 percent of the county's population. This disparity may be explained in that young, unmarried men were much more likely to respond to recruiting drives having less to leave behind. For example, of the unit members aged fifteen to thirty only slightly more than 30 percent were heads of a household and married, while four of the five men over thirty were heads of a household and married.(13)
In 1860 Texas, like most southern states, found its economic base in agriculture. Almost 60 percent of the population of the state was listed as farmers or farm laborers. The influence of agriculture was even greater on the men of company "B", with 84 percent in farming occupations.(14) Yet, the unit members did not control a great deal of farmland in the county. Only 48 percent of the men not living with their parents owned any real property. Additionally, of the members still living with their parents, almost 30 percent of these families owned no real estate. Furthermore, of the men who did own their own land the average value of real estate was $1084, more than half the amount of the state average.(15) For much of frontier Texas the chief measure of wealth was the possession of slaves. A relatively small number of white Texans owned slaves in 1860 with just 29 percent of the population reported as slaveowners. Within the unit, an even smaller percentage was represented with only 11 percent reported as slaveowners. Moreover, the families who owned slaves did not possess great wealth in these holdings, with a median number of 2.6 slaves per household.(16)
Thus, the economic status of the men of company "B" indicates that the members represented a section of the population that lived at an economic level below that of many Texans. In 1860 the average white Texas household owned $6393 worth of property while the members of company "B" averaged only $2889.14.(17) Prior to Confederate service, the members were, for the most part, poor, landless farm laborers.
In 1865, following the final surrender, Confederate soldiers began returning home and often found their community changed by the deprivations brought by the war. Many Texas counties had experienced an economic and population boom in the 1850s which the war ended. For example, in Cooke County from 1850 to 1860 the white population increased 1,548 percent, from 219 to 3,391 inhabitants. Yet, from 1860 to 1870 the population of the county increased a mere 142 percent. Similarly, the county experienced tremendous economic growth in the 1850s; though in the 1860s Cooke County farm values increased just slightly more than 100 percent.(18) All classes seemed to have suffered from the stagnant economy. However, generally wealthy families maintained possession of property more often than poorer families through the 1860s. Opportunities in the county decreased as the economy dropped, especially for poorer citizens. Many Confederate soldiers did not return to "find a prosperous community which merely waited for their arrival to give them remunerative employment."(19) County tax rolls show that a majority of the unit members who reported no property in 1860 failed to reappear in the 1865 tax rolls.(20) A few individual cases support the conclusion that the search for opportunity elsewhere was a common reason for not returning to a home county. J. B. Puryear, the unit commander for most of the war, was a resident of Cooke County in 1860 and listed with no property in the tax rolls. Following the war, Puryear did not return to Cooke County; rather he moved west to Parker County where he purchased a farm in Poolville. J. A. Phillips, another landless individual who had worked as a farm laborer prior 1860, moved to Hill County following the war and purchased his own land to farm.(21)
These men, and others, found opportunities in various counties that they did not encounter in Cooke County following the war.
Though many members abandoned Cooke County following Confederate service, several returned. Yet, persistence is not always an indicator of opportunity. This is demonstrated by the men who returned to Cooke County and those who owned land. The majority of the men with property experienced losses of total wealth following their return. Unit member J. B. Self's total wealth was listed as just under $2500 in 1860, with 160 acres and over 100 head of cattle. Yet, by 1865 Self's total wealth had diminished to $1850, with only $560 in real estate. Another example of this financial decline is T.D. Hill whose total worth experienced a steady decline following the war. In 1860 his worth was listed as $1200; yet by 1865 it had fallen to under $600, and in 1870 it dropped to just over $400.(22)
It appears that following Confederate service the men of company "B" did not return to a home county replete with financial opportunities. Many men found that Cooke County in the 1860s did not provide ample opportunities. Others who decided to return often paid an economic price for their persistence.
In Contrast to the 1860s, the decade of the 1870s offered increasing economic opportunity for residents of Cooke County. By 1880 county farm values had exceeded $2 million, a three fold increase from the following decade. Additionally, the taxable value of property in the county rose from $863,629 in 1870 to over $3 million in 1880. The most striking characteristic of county growth and opportunity was the unprecedented population explosion. In less than ten years Cooke county grew to a population of over 20,000 residents, four times the number from 1870.(23) One of the major factors in the economic and population growth of the county was the arrival of the railroad.(24) By 1880, the Denison & Pacific Railroad had reached Gainesville making it the commercial metropolis for the county. As railways came into operation in Gainesville, stock raising became one of the most profitable industries.(25) Several of the veterans from company "B" anticipated cattle raising would provide the best opportunity for financial success. Seven of the men increased their holdings in cattle by at least 50 percent, and four others doubled their investment in the industry from 1870 to 1880. Captain Twitty owned no cattle in 1870, but following the coming of the railways, he had purchased over fifty head of cattle.(26) Several of the men also viewed the growing towns in the county as business opportunities. At least four men moved into local towns to start businesses. T. L. Bailey moved into the area of Marysville and began a goods store with an initial investment of just over $300.(27) Joseph Yearing was listed as a "peddler" in census data with goods valued at over $2000.(28) The growing towns also provided opportunities for the veterans to serve in local politics. M. M. Ozment, a small landowning farmer and herder, served two terms as Sheriff and Tax Collector of Cooke County in the 1880s.(29)
Though several of the men attempted to seize the opportunities of the prosperous decade, the median total wealth of the veterans continued to decline (See Table 2). The median value of farms in Cooke County was $863, while the veterans of company "B" averaged merely $451.48.(30) Almost twenty years after enlisting in the Confederate army the majority of the veterans' standard of living continued to fall with each passing year.
The availability of barbed wire in the 1880s revolutionized the cattle industry. This advancement made it cheaper and easier for small herders and farmers in Cooke County to raise quality cattle.(31) Also, in 1886 the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad was extended from Fort worth to Gainesville providing additional means for sale. As a result, cattle prices improved markedly in this decade.(32) For the men who had invested in cattle in the 1870s this decade was a time of economic growth. By 1890 the total value of livestock for the county increased to over one $1 million, almost ten times the value in 1880.(33) Several of the men used the profits from the cattle industry to purchase additional land, especially town lots.(34) Yet, for the other members who continued their prime concentration in farming this decade held only moderate growth. Overall, the veterans experienced financial growth for the first time since the war (See Table 2).
Though the 1880s had been financially profitable, by 1890 most of the veterans were over fifty years old and many were in poor health. In the decade of the 1880s five members died and several others were restricted from manual labor. Growing in age, many of the veterans began to attempt to reunite with their ex-Confederate comrades. The 1880s and 1890s were years of rampant ex-Confederate activity.(35) Texas was especially active with the United Confederate Veterans organization, maintaining the largest membership of all southern states.(36) In Cooke County, several Confederate veterans groups were established. The veterans of company "B" joined several various groups in Cooke and Grayson Counties. In Gainesville, several of the men created the "Joseph E. Johnston Camp, No. 119" in early 1891 with the support of the United Confederate Veterans. Within just a few months nearly every member of company "B" that remained in the county had joined the camp.(37) Many of the members became involved at the state and national level of the organization. B. D. Burch, A. M. Hill and others served as delegates to several national United Confederate Veterans conventions.(38) The camp also held "Ex-Confederate Reunions" each year in Gainesville with "the public being generally invited to participate there-in and especially all Ex-Federal soldiers."(39)
At least one scholar has suggested that the increased attention ex-Confederate soldiers received during 1880s and 1890s may have improved veterans' standard of living. Gaines Foster suggests that the ex-Confederate movement created communal environments that responded to the needs of indigent veterans and improved the veterans' status.(40) Yet, in Cooke County the movement seems to have been less of a factor in the economics of the company "B" veterans.
As the men of company "B" faced the turn of the century, their prospects turned increasingly dim. Eighteen members were still in Cooke County in 1890; yet by 1900 only eleven remained. The economic realization of the veterans who persisted was certainly desolate. The median total wealth of the men dropped to an unprecedented low by 1900, to $391.67. For some, health and financial concerns prompted friends and relatives to intervene and assist the veterans. Almost 30 percent of the members of company "B" who still remained in Cooke County in 1900 lived as a dependent with a relative.(41) The concern for the economic depravity of the veterans was also demonstrated by continual lobbying by the members of the Joseph E. Johnston Camp for additional financial aid for "indigent Confederate soldiers."(42)
In 1899 legislation was passed which provided a small pension for veterans who could prove their indigence and disability. The pension plan required that the applicant's total worth be less than $1000 and annual incomes could not exceed $300.(43) These requirements seemed very restrictive to many proponents of Confederate relief across the state. Yet, eight of the eleven men from company "B" who remained in Cooke County in 1900 had pensions approved for themselves or their spouses. William Huey was sixty-four in September of 1899 when he received his pension. His physical condition was recorded as "poor, afflicted with rheumatism...caused by exposure in the army." His physician remarked that he had a "general disability of nervous character and [was] unable to perform manual labor." Huey declared that he was indigent, owning only "17 acres of land worth five dollars per acre and one mule worth ten dollars." The pension recipients received around $6 to $8 dollars a month from the state pension fund. Though this money was sorely needed by the veterans and their families, it did not bring their standard of living near the level of the residents of the state.(44)
The ex-Confederate movement, which had aided in the acquirement of pensions and other aid, began to quickly diminish in influence by 1900. Across the South memorial associations, monument building, and ceremonial unveilings declined in number and significance. The United Confederate Veterans organization began to disintegrate as membership rolls began to dwindle. As early as 1898, the Joseph E. Johnston Camp began canceling reunions due to poor attendance.(45) By the end of the first decade of the new century, "little institutional structure survived to sustain the memory of the war."(46)
On the eve of the Civil War, the members of this study were young men ready to begin their lives. Yet, in 1861 their plans were interrupted by a call to Confederate service. Though the men were below the state average in all wealth categories in 1860, after the war the disparity between the state's averages and the veterans' median wealth increased significantly. Was the war to blame for this economic collapse among these veterans? And, is this characteristic of all those who served in the war? Certainly, the empirical evidence of Company "B" supports the premise that Confederate veterans following the war suffered economic losses unique to their collective group. Gaines Foster's research has dealt primarily with the social institutions of the South. Yet, his research suggests that a similar pattern may have existed across the country in regard to the veterans. Indeed, other similar local studies might reveal equivalent declines in the conditions for veterans in both the North and the South following the war.
1. 1Charles Nordhoff, The Cotton States in the Spring and Summer of 1875 (New York, 1876), 29, 37-40.
2. 2Report on the Condition of the South (New York, Arno Press, 1969) "Report of Carl Schurz" (December 18, 1865), 38.
3. 3Harry P. Owens and James J. Cooke, eds., The Old South in the Crucible of War (Jackson, Mississippi: University Press Of Mississippi, 1983),3-14, 65-79.
4. 4Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies, 10v (New York: Facts on File, 1992-93), 65-67; Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, VA: Derwent Books, 1987); U.S. National Archives and Record Service, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas (Washington, D.C., 1960), Rolls 67-70 (Hereafter Compiled Service Records); "Eleventh Texas file" located at the Confederate Research Center at Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas.
5. 5The Commissioners authorized expenditures to refurbish eighty firearms for local protection to be distributed to five local units. Cooke County, Texas, Commissioners Court Minutes, 1857 to 1878, Book 1.
6. 6C.N. Jones, ed. Early Days in Cooke County: 1848 - 1873 (Gainesville, Texas, 1936; reprint, Gainesville, Texas: Cooke County Heritage Society, Inc.,1977), 54-61; Harry McCorry Henderson, Texas in the Confederacy (San Antonio, Naylor Company, 1955), 72n.
7. 7Muster roll of 1 July 1861, Texas State Archives; Dallas Herald (Texas), 31 July 1861, and 26 October 1861.
8. 8U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion : a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 128 volumes. (Harrisburg, Pa. : National Historical Society : distributed by Broadfoot Pub. Co., Historical Times, Inc., Morningside House, 1985) series 1, 8:23-31 (Hereafter Official Records); "Eleventh Texas File".
9. 9Official Records, series 1, 8:293-294, 297-299.
10. 10The Eleventh Texas regiment fought as dismounted cavalry at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky (August 30,1862), Murfreesboro, Tennessee (December 31, 1862 - January 3, 1863), Tullahoma Campaign, Tennessee (June 23 - July 7 1863), and the Battle at Chickamauga, Georgia (September 19 -21, 1863). Compiled Service Records ; John E. Fisher, They Rode with Forrest and Wheeler: A Chronicle of Five Tennessee Brothers' Service in the Confederate Western Cavalry (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1990), 65-75; "Eleventh Texas File"; Marcus Joseph Wright, Texas in the War, 1861-1865. (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965), 114-115; Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies.
11. 11Many members contracted diseases from the numerous marches through swampy regions in 1864. At least ten men from company "B" became seriously ill during this period and left the unit. Compiled Service Records. For more information on disease and the Civil War see, Paul Eby Steiner, Disease in the Civil War; natural biological warfare in 1861-1865 (Springfield, Illinois, C. C. Thomas, 1968).
12. 12The Service records for Company "B" are incomplete, out of 104 records 48 do not list the member's leaving date. This may suggest that many more remained present through the surrender and the records were never updated. Compiled Service Records.
13. 13U.S. Interior Department, Census Office, Eighth Census, 1860: Population of the United States in 1860 and Agriculture in the United States in 1860 (Washington, D.C., 1864) hereafter 1860 Census cited as 1860 Census, volume title. Data on ages were compiled from the 1860 Census, Population; Compiled Service Records and Report on the Statistics of Population in the United States at the Eighth Census: 1860. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1895; reprint, New York, N.Y.: Norman Ross Publishing, 1990), hereafter 1860 Report on Population. See also Ralph A. and Robert Wooster, " 'Rarin' for a Fight' ; Texans in the Confederate Army," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, (April, 1981), 394-395.
14. 141860 Census, Population and Agriculture; 1860 Report on Population.
15. 15Overall, 41 percent of the unit member's families owned no land while 56 percent were land owners. 1860 Census; 1860 Report on Population, 140, 222; Texas State Library Records Division for Texas, Cooke County tax rolls, 1848 through 1910 (Austin, Texas, 1984.) hereafter Tax Rolls, Year; 1860 Report on Population, 140, 222.
16. 161860 Census, Slave. 1860 Report on Population, 140, 222.
17. 17The median wealth figures were derived from all families that a member belonged to, including heads of households and dependents (See Table 1 for further description and breakdown of median wealth of the unit members). Richard G. Lowe and Randolph B. Campbell, "Wealthholding and Political Power in Antebellum Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly LXXXIX (July, 1975): 27; 1860 Census, Population; Tax Rolls, 1860; 1860 Report on Population, 140, 222.
18. 181860 Report on Population, 140,222. Report on the Statistics of Population in the United States at the Ninth Census: 1870. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1895; reprint, New York, N.Y.: Norman Ross Publishing, 1990), hereafter 1870 Report on Population.
19. 19Schurz, Report on the Condition of the South.
20. 20 The Tax Rolls from 1860 - 1866 indicate that 66 percent of the members who were landless in 1860 did not return to Cooke County following the war.
21. 21Tax Rolls ; Confederate Pension Applications of Texas (hereafter Pension records), file no. 3333. 1860 Census, Population.
22. 22Tax Rolls. 1860 Census, Population.
23. 231870 Report on Population, 679, 780, 758; Texas And Texans , 846.
24. 24The Railroad mileage of Texas increased from 591 miles in 1870 to over three thousand in 1880. Texas Almanac 1956-1957: The Encyclopedia of Texas, (Dallas, Texas, A.H. Belo Corporation, 1955) 342-343.
25. 25Texas And Texans , 844.
26. 26U.S. Interior Department, Census Office, Ninth Census, 1870: Population of the United States in 1870 and Agriculture in the United States in 1870 (Washington, D.C.) hereafter cited as 1870 Census, volume title; Tax Rolls, 1870-1880.
27. 27Tax Rolls, 1880. 1895 - 1896 Gainesville City Directory (Memphis, Tennessee: Maloney Directory Co., 1895).
28. 281880 Census, Population. U.S. Interior Department, Census Office, Tenth Census, 1880: Population of the United States in 1880 and Agriculture in the United States in 1880 (Washington, D.C.) hereafter cited as 1880 Census, volume title; 1880 Census, Population.
29. 29A. Morton Smith, The First 100 Years in Cooke County (San Antonio, Texas, 1955).
30. 30 Report on the Statistics of Population in the United States at the Tenth Census: 1880. (New York, N.Y.: Norman Ross Publishing, 1990), 100-101, hereafter 1880 Report on Population. 1880 Census, Population.
31. 31 Texas Almanac 1986-1987 (Dallas: Belo Corporation, 1985), 211-216.
32. 32Texas and Texans. 844-845.
33. 33 1880 Report on Population, 100-101; Report on the Statistics of Population in the United States at the Eleventh Census: 1890 (New York, N.Y.: Norman Ross Publishing, 1990), 389, 648, 895; B.D. Burch to Lillian Gunter, 16 November 1913, Letter in the Lillian Gunter Papers, Morton, Museum, Gainesville, Texas, Bate no. 62.
34. 34In 1880 only two town lots were owned by members; yet in 1890 the members owned almost ten. 1880 Census, Population; Tax Rolls, 1880-1890.
35. 35R.B. Rosenburg, Living Monuments: Confederate Soldiers' Homes in the New South, (Chapel Hill, N.C., The University of North Carolina Press, 1993) 3, 31.
36. 36Confederate Veteran, I, 184, 284.
37. 37"Record of Joseph E. Johnston Camp, No. 119, United Confederate Veterans." Gainesville, Texas, Morton Museum.
38. 38Conventions were held in Dallas, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia. "Record of Joseph E. Johnston Camp, No. 119, United Confederate Veterans." The Confederate Veteran XIV (1906), 555.
39. 39In the minutes, the "Ex" preceding Confederate was partially erased. This occurred throughout the record book. "Record of Joseph E. Johnston Camp, No. 119, United Confederate Veterans." The Annual reunions are also mentioned in Confederate Veteran; I, 185, 198, 229; III, 220; IX, 8; IXX, 545;
40. 40Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865 - 1913. (New York, 1987) 6-8.
41. 41U.S. National Archives and Record Service, Population and Agricultural Schedules of the Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 (Washington, D.C., 1967), hereafter 1900 Census, volume.
42. 42"Record of Joseph E. Johnston Camp, No. 119, United Confederate Veterans."
43. 43For additional information on Confederate Pensions see Perry M. De Leon, "What the South is Doing For Her Veteran," Confederate Veteran, XXIII (JUNE, JULY 1915) 255, 333. and "How the South Cares for Its Veterans," Confederate Veteran, XXIX (September, 1921) 366-367.
44. 44Pension Records, file nos. 28621, 36282, 05686, 47238, 0946, 14961, 33644, 39005, 28513,03333, 22055, and 22052. 1900 Census, Population.
45. 45The membership by 1900 had dropped below one hundred. In 1898 only 88 members paid their due to the camp. "Record of Joseph E. Johnston Camp, No. 119, United Confederate Veterans."
46. 46Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy, 3-5, 7, 178-179, 197.