nights were still cold and stormy. We arrived at Fort Bliss February twenty-fifth, and were all beginning to congratulate ourselves on having a good garrison for the summer, when the news of the secession reached us. At first we thought nothing of it; but the attack and surrender of Fort Sumter by the gallant Major Anderson convinced the most sceptical that things were taking a very serious turn. Shortly after the above events, we got orders from General Twiggs, the commander of the department of Texas, to evacuate the state, and turn over all the forts and stores to commissioners appointed by the state: we prepared to follow these instructions, but were delayed in consequence of wagons to carry our baggage through; but finally we got started on the thirty-first of March, 1861, with Colonel Reeves and two other companies of our regiment, I and B, and marched to Fort Quitman, where we were joined by Company F. We left there, and marched to Fort Davis, where we were joined by Companies E and H. We were now about three hundred and twenty men, all in good spirits, for at that time we were told by the commissioner of the state that we should not be molested on our march to the coast, but would be treated with all possible kindness, as the regiment had been so long in the state, guarding the frontier from the inroads of the Camanche Indians; so, with these promises in view, and the hopes of hearing from, and perhaps seeing, dear friends at home, we thought nothing of the long and wearisome march before us. But the sequel will show how bitterly we were betrayed by the traitor Twiggs and his worthless confederates. Everything went on well until we got to Fort Clark, the nearest military post to the settlements, where we heard it announced that the Texans intended to make us all prisoners as soon as we got some forty or fifty miles farther down the country. This we did not believe, and even if we had it was then too late to turn back; so we pushed boldly on until we reached a little town called Castreville, where the people (principally Germans) assured us we would be met the next day by a large force, and have to surrender or fight. Well, I can assure you, my dear Ellen, that was rather hard, after having the assurance of a free pass out of the country; but it was too true. However, we were bound to show a bold front, and Colonel Reeves determined not to let the enemy steal a march on him; so we left Castreville that night at ten o'clock, (after marching that day twenty-five miles), and got to a place called Adam's Hill, close by the San Lucas Springs, before daylight. We were all tired out, and all hands got orders to lie down and rest; but it was of short duration, for just at sunrise the enemy came pouring down a hill some three miles in front of us. At the sound of the drum every man was in his place, and there we stood for a good hour, watching the rebels filing over the hill in front. Not a word was spoken in the ranks, but many a one thought of the dear ones at home, perhaps never to be seen again; but everything must have an end, and pretty soon an officer rode up to our ranks, and demanded an unconditional surrender. Colonel Reeves told him he would fight him first, and then see about the surrender. So the officer rode off to his side to report. At this time our officers came round, and told us we were about to go into an engagement, and they wanted every man to do his best; but that was unnecessary, for we were all determined to die before a rebel crowd should have it to say that the Eighth regulars would give in one inch. We were all of one mind, and that was, to fight to the last. In a short time the officer came back again, and told Colonel Reeves that it would be a useless waste of blood to fight; that he had only two hundred and ninety effective men, and opposed to him were twenty-three hundred, with six pieces of artillery, while we had none. The Colonel said he would fight them three to one, or if they drew off the artillery, he would fight them all; but, of course, they knew they had the advantage, and were determined to keep it; so the Colonel, after sending down one of our officers to count their number, surrendered. We were then ordered to stack arms; then the rebels gave a cheer — a cheer which made our cheeks burn and our hearts ache, one that we still remember, and will take a fearful vengeance for some of these days. It was unmannerly in them. There we stood, our little band small in numbers, but firm and determined; they, great in force, but cowards at heart; and I believed then, as I do now, that had we fought them, we would have been victorious. But let it pass; let the future tell the tale. We marched that day to within nine miles of San Antonio, and camped in full sight of the rebels at Leon Springs, and some of them came into our camp, but they met with a very cool reception. The next day we marched into San Antonio and gave up our arms. We were treated with a good deal of respect by the citizens, but we were in no mood to look kindly on them, as they had been instrumental in bringing on our misfortunes; all offers of kindness we treated with scorn, and wanted only to be released on parole as prisoners of war. We remained in San Antonio a month, and took a parole, by the advice of our officers, not to leave the county we were in. Afterwards we were sent out in a camp eight miles from San Antonio, where we remained during the months of July and August, thinking all the time that we would be released; but no, they wanted to have us all join the rebel cause, and promised to pay us all the United States government owed us; but we spurned all their offers. Some few men did join, but they were a riddance to us, and no acquisition to them, being the most dissatisfied men in our command. We were now ordered to be guarded, and were marched seventy. five miles, to Camp Verde. There our tents were taken away, and we had to make out as best we could. The cold weather was setting in, and we had not too plenty of clothing or blankets; but necessity is the mother of invention; so all hands went to work to build houses for the winter, some in twos and some in fours, just as they fancied, in partnership, as the labor was too much to do alone, and in an incredibly short time (without
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.