Courtesy of William Bozic, Houston,
Continued from Indianola, TX: (Photo) Two Tales of One City
Wehner, Christopher C. The 11th Wisconsin in the Civil War: A Regimental History (McFarland & Co, Inc.: Jefferson, North Carolina and London) 2008.
"By January 1864 the Regiment had moved to Indianola. They were still on the Gulf of Mexico, but now they had houses to live in, since the town was abandoned by the time they arrived. Though it could get cold at times, it was still paradise for these former wheat farmers" p. 130.
Beyond Indianola was a vast prairie full of cattle. Beef was plentiful, and small herds sometimes wandered into town. They weren't the only thing that wandered in. Near dusk on the 9th of January, Rebel cavalry, about 200 or 300 strong, appeared northwest of town. Quickly the 11th Wisconsin deployed Company A is skirmishers while the rest of the Regiment formed up in line of battle. But the Rebels had no intention of fighting. A few shots were fired from long range and then they were out of sight. Col. Harris took a couple of companies and followed them several miles out of town before heading back for the night. Off and on during the month Rebels would appear on the horizon; sometimes they would fire a shot or two, but then drift away into the night. Why did they keep coming back? what did they want?
Samuel barely noticed, for he was too busy fraternizing with the women. The town was devoid of men, with only boys an old men left. The local women were apparently lonely (their husbands and boyfriends may very well have been those who appeared sometimes in the evening!) and it was Samuel's prediction that if they remained there much longer," there will be lots of weddings."p.131.
Note "Samuel" is Samuel Cotter Kirkpatrick Co. "E" 11th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Now for another side of the story...
GALVESTON WEEKLY NEWS, March 30, 1864, p. 1, c. 5
Mr. Editor:--The Yankees have left Indianola and
retired to Saluria. This event took place on last Sunday, 13th inst. The
news was received at this "Sleepy Hollow," by way of Texana and Victoria
on Friday, 18th inst. Be it remembered that Lavaca is about nine miles, in
a straight line from Indianola, and has its several lookouts, from which,
with telescopes, the movements of the enemy have been carefully watched
for nearly four months. I would not be surprised, if the denizens of this
interesting spot should hear of the close of the war, at least four months
after the proclamation of peace.
To the credit of the sex, one woman only, and she an old Texian, presented herself before the Yankee Provost Marshal and swore allegiance to Lincoln. The rest, like heroines, stuck to the Confederate flag and wept tears of joy when the Confederate soldiers entered the town.In the letter above alluded to, the writer says, "I have looked for the rebels until my eyes ached; I feel another somebody since I saw them. When the Yankees first came here I was afraid to go to the door when any one knocked. I found out that would never do, so I made up my mind to face anything, and I got so brave I wasn't afraid of a Yankee even. I think I would make a good soldier."
The maximum of the Yankee force was 2,500 men. They were much demoralized, and during the larger portion of their stay were badly supplied with necessaries. They were in continual apprehension of an attack from our troops, and on occasions, when our scouts approached near the two towns, their whole force was drawn out in battle array. I will go down to morrow, and on my return will furnish you with information connected with the last four months' operations below. West.
GALVESTON WEEKLY NEWS, March 30, 1864, p. 1, c.5
Mr. Editor.—On assuming possession of Powderhorn and Indianola, the first act of aggression by the Yankees on the citizens was to demand food at their hands, for the soldiery. On the exhaustion of the limited supplies of food, rations were then issued to the soldiers and citizens. The citizens were thus made to depend on Yankee diet for their sustenance. Shortly afterwards, the proclamation of Gen. Dana requiring the oath of allegiance to the United States was promulgated. Without the means of living, except from the Yankee commissariat, and unable to obtain permission to retire beyond the lines, finding themselves trapped, they had no alternative but to take the oath or the consequences to result from a failure to do so. Under such circumstances, all, with one exception, the noble James S. Allen, succumbed to the vicious influence exercised over them, and went forward and forsook their allegiance to the Confederacy. That the most of them did so reluctantly, we have abundance of evidence. Indeed, the Yankees asserted that out of all who took the oath, only a single man was an unadulterated unionist. Mr. Allen addressed a remonstrance to the commanding officer of the Post, asserting his live for the government of his choice and his determination never to forsake it. The reply to his letter was an order for his confinement in irons. He was then sent to Saluria, in charge of a negro guard, and I suppose is still there.
The Rev. Green Orr, an old gentleman of seventy-six years, and, for the last fifty years, a minister of God in the Methodist Episcopal Church, was one of the last who was forced to yield to their unholy influences. In the agony of his shame at what he had done, he took to his bed, and in his delirium before his death, bewailed the unhappy fate that had forced him to disown his loved and native South. His last words were "we'll drive you out of Indianola yet."
Many of the citizens after taking the oath, were taunted as rebels to the last, their persons threatened and the exterior of their houses spoiled. Even those whose sympathies were with them fared no better than the secessionists. Their privacy was invaded at all hours, and demands of all kinds, with which they were forced to comply, were made upon them by a rapacious soldiery, for all they wanted.
After the terms of the proclamation were complied with, and when they were about to evacuate the two places, an order was issued to all male citizens to embark with them. This order fell like a thunderbolt in the midst of the community. The order was afterwards so modified as not to include those over fifty years of age. The consequence was, that all were taken away except about twelve or fifteen of the oldest males. Many of those who were thus forced off took their families with them. Those men will, no doubt, be enrolled in the Yankee army. Tears of shame bedewed the cheeks of many as they left their former happy homes.
In both towns, seventy-four houses were taken down, and
most of the others injured, more or less. All the fences were destroyed.
The Marine Hospital, a building of large dimensions, was left a wreck. Its
venitian [sic] blinds, doors and windows were all destroyed, and parts of
the foundation torn up. The Court-house was used as an hospital, and
suffered less damage than any other building. The furniture of the
Court-house and the several offices has all disappeared. Every place is
covered with filth and vermin. One hundred and fifty head of beef cattle,
remaining in the pens, were shot down as they were leaving. It would
require a good-sized volume to detail all the rascalities perpetrated by
these villains. And still there are Texians who advocate their cause, and
who are willing to cast their lot amongst them!