16-Page Hood’s Texas Brigade Letter Written on 4 Confederate Flag Patriotic Letter Sheets – Ezra Keyser, Co. A 4th Texas Infantry – “THE BOYS PAID BROWNLOW A VISIT AND ACTUALLY WENT INTO HIS OFFICE, TALKED ABOUT TAKING HIM OUT AND HANGING HIM.” – “MY MOTTO, GOD, LIBERTY & TEXAS”
To have a Confederate letter written on colorful patriotic stationery is a real find… to have a letter displaying 4 Confederate flags is nothing short of amazing. Ezra Keyser enlisted on July 1st, 1861 as a Commissary Sergeant (perhaps that’s how he got this great stationery!). There are a total of 16 pages, all in nice dark ink. Here is the content:
- Knoxville, East Tennessee Septr. 7th, 1861 At the Humphrey’s House. To my own dear Sophy, Granma, Kit, Mrs. Hines, balance of Family, Branch, Dick Caveat, Parker, Knox, Peck’s Darst, Bloomberg & Co., Parramore Seth, Laird, Leveson, Dick Harris, Cochran, Badger, Foose, Fuller, Bass, Miller, T. S. Walker, Gus, Harris, Jim Harris, H. Lewis, and all the balance of Friends, both true and assumed,
- Greeting, Well, here we are Ma, and “thinking” that you & some that I have named WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM THE TEXAS TROOPS (if not from me). I thought that in as much as I was done, my labor for the day, would say something. I answered your letter from Chattanooga.
- We came on and reached this place (Knoxville) on Tuesday, the 3rd inst., and found THERE HAD BEEN A “SMASH” UP ON THE ROAD, THE LOCOMOTIVES RUNNING INTO EACH OTHER & ONE RUNNING OFF THE TRACK, which has caused our delay here until today 7th, (Saturday).
- We received information this morning that a special train was coming after us, and now whilst I am writing three Locomotives come “tearing” in, and we are informed we will leave here tomorrow morning 8 o’clock (8th) and will (God & Lincoln willing) be in Richmond on Monday morning 10th.
- I HAVE JUST FINISHED TODAY ISSUING RATIONS TO OUR FIVE COMPANIES, VIZ., 1ST “HARDEMAN TEXANS” CAPTAIN KEY, 2ND “TOM GREEN RIFLES” CAPT. CARTER FROM AUSTIN, 3RD, “ROBERTSON COUNTY 5 SHOOTERS CAPTAIN TOWNSEND, “GUADALUPE RANGERS” CAPTAIN BANE & “LONE STAR GUARDS” CAPTAIN RYAN FROM WACO.
- Those 5 companies compose the 1st Detachment of the 1st Regiment and stand in rank in the order I have placed them, or in a more military phrase as Companies A, B, C, D, E, 1st Regiment Texas Volunteers, C. S. Infantry. Captain Key being Senior Captain is Captain commanding the whole, consequently Lieut. Darden has charge of our Company until Key assumes the command, which will be soon as our Field Officers are appointed after we reach Richmond.
- I issued this day to each company 5 days rations, viz. 500 lbs. flour, 375 lbs. bacon, 30 lbs. coffee, 60 lbs. sugar, 20 lbs, soap, 12 lbs., candles, 10 qts. salt, 60 lbs. rice, so you will see we will not starve the next 5 days.
- Every camp fire and mess is now burning and baking for tomorrow. So much written & I’ll tell Dick “right here now” that I will write just as it comes up, whether it be in or out of order.
- Well, you would not believe what a set of ignorant creatures we have met with and passed & are now in the midst of. In passing through several towns, they actually closed their doors against us and refused to let us have or buy anything. The name of Texas soldiers was enough. The folks coupled us with “Hyenas, Tigers, Grizzly Bears, Lions, etc. etc.” I am not writing fiction but truth and soberness.
- It was said on several occasions, “Why these Texas soldiers are just like “ourn.” “They’re just like our folks” and such like expressions. When we got out of the cars here, we struck tents on the side of the railroad close to the Depot. It would have done you good to hear the remarks.
- I had just done issuing provisions on Wednesday morning last & had a crowd around looking on, when up steps A GREAT LANK LEAN HUNGRY LOOKING CREATURE AND SAID TO ME, “YOU FOLKS ALL THE WAY FROM TEXAS?” “YES, SIR.” “WHY HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT’S GOOD DID YOU GET HERE?” “WALKED TO NEW ORLEANS, SIR, & THERE TOOK THE RAIL ROAD.” “DIDN’T YOU HAVE TO CROSS THE OCEAN?” “YES, SIR.” “HOW DID YOU GET ACROSS?” “WADED PART OF THE WAY, SWAM PART OF THE WAY, AND THE BALANCE IN FLAT BOATS,” & TEN THOUSAND “SICK” LIKE QUESTIONS.
- This is as great an abolition hole as Boston, Mass., and up to the time we arrived here, and the two Miss. Regiments, the good citizens informed us they were really in the majority and talked loud and long and impudent for Lincoln & the Union.
- THIS THE TEXAS BOYS COULD NOT STAND AND PARADED THE STREETS IN SQUADS OF 10, 15, OR 20 AND MUM WAS THE WORD WITH ALL LINCOLNITES OR UNION SHRIEKERS.
- THE BOYS PAID BROWNLOW A VISIT AND ACTUALLY WENT INTO HIS OFFICE, TALKED ABOUT TAKING HIM OUT AND HANGING HIM. DID ARREST HIS SON & TRIED HIM BY A COURT MARTIAL, AS IT WAS SAID HE HAD BEEN ENGAGED IN DISTRIBUTING HELPERS BOOK, BUT LEAVING NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE AGAINST HIM, LET HIM LOOSE.
- BROWNLOW IS VERY MUCH SCARED. HE WROTE A NOTE TO GENL. ZOLLICOFFER (WHO IS HERE WITH A TENNESSEE REGIMENT) FOR A GUARD FOR HIS PERSON & PROPERTY AND HAS PROMISED TO MODERATE HIS TONE, AS YOU WILL SEE BY HIS EDITORIAL, WHICH HE PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY TWO DAYS IN ADVANCE OF HIS PAPER.
- THE TEXAS BOYS AGREED TO LET HIM ALONE, BUT COULD NOT STAND IT ANY LONGER THAN YESTERDAY, WHEN THEY LEARNED THAT ALL THE POLES THEY SAW IN TOWN WERE UNION POLES. SO THEY ARMED THEMSELVES WITH SIX SHOOTERS AND AXES, AND HERE THEY GO, JOINED BY SOME OF THE 15TH MISS. REGIMENT AND NOW NOT A UNION POLE OR FLAG IS TO BE SEEN.
- SOME OF THE POLES, ESPECIALLY THE ONE IN FRONT OF BROWLAW’S OFFICE WAS FULL OF SPIKES, NAILS, SLABS OF IRON, BUT IT WAS ALL OF NO USE, IF ONE AXE GAVE OUT, TEN MORE WERE READY, AND DOWN IT CAME, AND THE BOYS SAWED IT UP & EACH TOOK A PIECE.
- You may think it was all done in a rowdy kind of way, but such was not the case, no drunkenness or bad or vulgar language. It was done seriously & soberly, but to be sure, say to Parker “with malice afore thought,” and “intent to cut down the poles.”
- When we arrived here, we found the 14th & 15th Mississippi Regiments here, the 14th encamped two miles above town, & the 15th encamped 1/4 mile from town, also the Tenn. Regiment (from Middle Tenn.) encamped opposite the 15th Miss. Wm. Brantley is Captain of one of the Companies in the 15th Regt. called the “Wigfal Rifles”. They are not going to Va., having only enlisted for 12 mos. No troops will be received for a shorter period than during the war for Virginia.
- I heard from Brantley today that they were ordered to Pensacola and would start shortly. Arnold Brantley is also here, but does not belong to the Company, merely following on, I suppose, “seeking whom he may devour.” Sweatman belongs to Brantley’s Company, also Jo. Dunn who is 1st Lieutenant. Say to Seth that his brother George is in Brantley’s Company. I have been over to their camp three times to see them. I told them all I could think of, and answered their 2,001 questions, the best I knew how, but all this did not bring one dime into Keyser’s pocket, although he “plead” and “pleaded” until he (Keyser) thought himself Parker until it “occurred” to me that the court had settled down in its opinion and have now to inform my clients, Mrs. Keyser & Ayres, that I have lost their case, nevertheless shall expect my fee, having worked hard enough for it. “It’s no use crying. What’s done can’t be helped. Better luck next time. Human nature will be human nature.” To show you how obsolete it is to think of ever they paying a cent, I told Wm. Brantley that I was here without a dime and, and not 2 minutes before saw Arnold with $100 bill and which he then had in his pocket & I told him so, but out of one lie into another, it was not his. Let it go. I have the satisfaction of knowing that I done my duty towards them, whether they do theirs towards me or not. Amen, so mote it be.
- Now I will try and tell you something of the members of the company from Town. Henry Marchant gets along now tolerable well, although does not like to work much, prefers sleeping or — but is doing much better since we left New Orleans. Also Dr. Lockeridge has come out of the “kinks” wonderful. I did not think when we left Harrisburg that he would ever reach N. 0., but he has sobered down and is quite a different man. Rob Lockeridge is the same, 7 & 6, can now distinguish his left foot from his right. Bob Thomas is in good health and a good boy. McCathrin was turned out of the company once before they were mustered into service, but on his promise to do better was taken in again but is very troublesome in camps, suspicious & jealous, as also several others of our Company. One by the name of Stiffler, an old soldier that was working with McCathrin, got drunk, broke away from the guard that was placed over him crossing a river, fell or jumped in and was drowned. Good luck to bad rubbage, said I, and hoped some 4 or 5 more would do the same.
- Key, Darden, McKean and Bomar are all well and wish to be remembered kindly to you all, as also Mr. Stewart who sends many thanks to you for the information from his wife, and desires when you write to me to let him hear from his family, if in town and say to them he is well & hearty up to this hour.
- Our men all stood the trip well. Some few sick, but none now. I have just got over a spell of diarrhea & piles, produced no doubt by drinking this cold limestone water. I have refrained from eating trash of any kind. Watermelons, peaches, apples, etc. and took but three Juleps whilst in N. O. and am determined not to eat or drink anything that I judge will be injurious to me.
- I have written all I know. Will write again from Richmond, God & Lincoln willing. My warmest regards to you all gentlemen. Some or all of you write to me at Richmond. MY MOTTO, GOD, LIBERTY & TEXAS. Yours ever, Keyser
- Knoxville Sept. 8th, 1861. Dear Sophy, Granma & Kit, I wrote last night until after midnight & reserved this half sheet to write you privately so that you could tear it off. In the first place, I am unable to inform you what I am going to do. As I wrote you in my former letter, I have not been mustered into service, although I am acting as Qr. Master for this detachment. When we get to Richmond and the Regiment is organized, and I can get the Qr. Master or Asst. Qr. Master, it will suit me or some other post, but do not think I will go into the ranks. If I do not get some position to suit me, I may stay as Commissary to Capt. Key’s Company during this year out, but no longer, as I will then have seen the elephant by that time. What have you done with my horse? Sell him if you can. Get Hackworth to help you. Horses are very high and scarce here. Ask Parker about our suits in court. He told me they would not be tried. But I heard Harwood had gone back to Gonzales. Tell him not to let them take any advantage. Give my regards to Hackworth, Mc. & all the Drivers. Write to me at Richmond, Va., & let me know all the news, how you get along, what is now said & done with Keyser. My warmest love to all & Kit. Ezra
Condition: Excellent. A truly spectacular Texas Brigade letter.
#L7-7-61TX – Price $4,500