Volume 1, Number 11
From the Memoirs of S. H. Horton
About 1908, S. H. Horton wrote in the introduction to his Memoirs: "Realizing as I do and deeply regretting how little I know of the history of my forebears and how much I might have learned of them from my father, my grandmothers and aunts of both sides of the house--had I in my early youth fully realized how important much information would be in after years as to myself and posterity--and knowing now full well that what meager information I do possess lies locked in my mind alone (all those who once knew being long shrouded in death) prompts me to write this little pamphlet for the benefit and information of my children, knowing it will be to them and theirs in some faraway day a source of boundless gratification, a priceless heritage even long after the brain that prompts these lines is forever dormant and the hand that traces them has long since lost its cunning and found eternal rest in the charnel house of the dead."
Sam Houston Horton, the writer, was born in San Augustine, Dec. 2nd, 1837, and was named for Sam Houston, the father of Texas and a great personal friend of my father, Col. Alex Horton, who was Houston's first aide and with him at San Jacinto April 21st, 1836.
S. H. Horton grew to man's estate in San Augustine, attended the Wesleyan College at that place until reaching the age of 20 years. He then, in connection with a cousin, embarked in the mercantile business at that place. We opened for business in the fall of 1859, and as it was the universal custom at that time to sell dry goods and other merchandise on credit, opened accounts accordingly.
Before twelve months had expired, Lincoln had been elected President and the State of Texas and the South generally was preparing for war, business paralyzed and future prospects nebulous and uncertain.
The payment of a debt at that time was beyond the wildest dreams of most men, they wanted to wait to see what was going to happen. They did not have to wait long until red battle had stamped its foot with such Titanic force that the civilized world felt the shock, and the North and South had grappled in the death struggle of internecine war. As it would have been considered unpatriotic to have undertaken to collect a debt at law just before the outbreak of hostilities, it would have been considered madness afterward. To make along story short, we lost all, about $1800 or $2000. Everything, negroes and all, was swallowed up in the great maelstrom that convulsed the South from center to circumference, bathed in blood her
pure valleys, and planted the bodies of
thousands of her most chivalrous sons in vale and valley, on plateau and mountain.
The war was now on in earnest, and bidding farewell to my wife and to friends, I, in company with John Dean, brother of my wife, left Smith County for Missouri to join a company from San Augustine under Capt. John H. Broocks, then in Missouri.
Before we reached the command, the battle of Elk Horn had been fought March 7th, 1862. At that battle, Lt. Richard Scurry Dean, oldest brother of my wife, was wounded. He died March 18th, 1862, before we reached the command. Scurry Dean was a young man of many noble traits of character and strong individuality.
After the battle of Elk Horn, our army retreated back into northern Arkansas, and it was there I joined them. At this time orders were given from Richmond to dismount the Texas brigade and hurry them with all possible dispatch to Corinth, Mississippi, then threatened by the Yankees.
The Government had sent transports to Des Arc, Arkansas, on the White River, and before the men had fairly recovered from their dazed condition at the audacity of the order and attuned their vocal organs to the necessary key to give proper vehemence, force and effect to the storm of expletives, denunciations, cuss words, and protests that were rankling in their breasts and ready to well up and out, they were hurried aboard the boats and floating down the river to Memphis, Tennessee. It was then that each man found his voice and the boats were vocal with imprecations called down upon the head of Jeff Davis and maledictions upon every officer who was supposed to have had anything to do with their dehorsing in the remotest degree. No such volume of vol minous, impromptu and hair-raising cuss words had ever before been heard upon the Mississippi River from the days of Capt. De Soto to that time.
The mate and deckhands, noted for their depravity and profanity, blushed for very shame, the pilot stuffed his ears full of cotton, and the Chaplain prayed in vain.
After reaching Memphis, we were stored on flat cars, freight cars, stock cars, any kind of cars, inside and out, and hurried to Corinth.
We reached Corinth in quite a depleted condition, and there, bad weather and no tents, scarce and poor food, got in its work and our men sickened and died like sheep with the rot, and strange to say, the most robust men were the first to fall.
We lost by sickness many good men, valorous, true men, the first to volunteer, the pick of the South, men who could not be replaced by the depleted South.
Colonel Whitfield was promoted to Brigadier General and was desperately wounded at Iuka, Mississippi, September 19th, 1862, whilst charging at the head of his brigade upon the 11th Ohio battery. This was a crack battery and when their flag was presented to them by the ladies of the Buckeye State, they swore that they would never surrender it nor their battery--- and they never did---but were exterminated almost to a man.
When our charging columns, emitting the rebel yell, were hurrying toward them, they stood by their guns answering with shot and shell. Our column was not more than twenty yards from them when their last discharge of grape and canister swept through our ranks, enveloping our men in smoke and carrying several of our brave boys down to death, but not a man faltered and, before they could reload, our column had swept over their guns.
Men were lying thick around the cannon, and one poor fellow, attempting to reload his gun, had forced the ball about halfway down the barrel and, still holding to the ramrod with a death grip, lay under the muzzle of his gun. Some one of our men released his deathgrip and let him gently down beneath the gun he had stood by so gallantly in life.
At the battle of Thompson's Station, Tennessee, which was fought March 5th, 1863, James A. Broocks, the Captain of my company, was killed; also, C. H. Roberts, the 3rd Lieutenant, making two vacancies among the commissioned, that of the 3rd and 2nd Lieutenant. The writer was elected 2nd Lieutenant and John Gay 3rd Lieutenant, in which capacity we both served during the remainder of the war.
Our command was camped at Canton, Mississippi, at the time of the surrender and being a commissioned officer, I, with other commissioned officers, went to Jackson, Mississippi, to give our parole. Our command was then ordered to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where transportation had been provided. We were then taken down the Mississippi River to the mouth of Red River, thence up Red River to a point just below Alexandria, and there disembarked to get home the best we could.
Out of 161, only 41 went through the war. One hundred and twenty men were killed, died, wounded, captured, disappeared or discharged for disabilities.
There is no good arguing with the Inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.
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