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DeWitt Colony Captains:  Henry S. Brown


John Duff BrownReminiscences of John Duff Brown
From The Texas Historical Association Quarterly, Vol.12: pp.296-311 (~1907); Published in 1909 

My father's name was John Brown. He was descended from old English stock, who settled in Baltimore, Maryland, in colonial days. Two of his ancestors, one on the paternal side and one on the maternal, were colonels in the celebrated Maryland line of the Continental army. One who was a captain fell at the River Raisin. My people have ever been among the defenders of our country. My father was born in Madison County, Kentucky, September 9, 1796. About 1820, while he was living in Missouri, he married Nancy Ann Howell. Two or three years later he returned to Kentucky, but in 1824 he went again to Missouri. It was perhaps in December of that year that in order to obtain relief from a bronchial trouble that he had started to Cuba. In New Orleans, however, he met his older brother, Captain Henry Stevenson Brown, who induced him to try the wilds of Texas. About the last of December they reached that country, which was then a part of Mexico and was inhabited chiefly by various tribes of Indians and abounded in wild animals of almost every kind.

Captain Henry S. Brown was a noted Indian fighter, and he also traded with the Mexicans. He furnished my father with such goods as suited the Indians and advised him to go towards the upper waters of the Brazos and barter his goods for horses, mules, and peltries. With the expedition went James Musick, Thomas Jamison, and Andrew Scott. They secured eleven hundred horses and mules and many peltries and started for the settlements. On the third night of their homeward journey, their camp was attacked by the Indians with yelling and shooting. The main purpose of the attack was probably not murder but robbery. No one was killed, but all were cleverly stampeded, and so was the cavallada - which, of course, was the prime object of the Indians. My father was lame, but he escaped alone through a thicket beside which they were encamped. Not knowing the fate of his companions - they escaped together and reached home safely - he wandered three days without food. Finally he discovered a camp of Wacoes: and knowing that otherwise he must face death from starvation, he entered it, though with many fears. They forced him to run the gauntlet, beating and slashing him as he ran. Providentially he was not felled, but made the goal; when God moved a woman whose son had fallen in battle to claim and adopt my father in his place. This under their laws she had the right to do. From this time he was kindly treated, but watched. In some eighteen months he won their confidence and was permitted, in the autumn of 1826, to accompany a raiding party to the confines of the settlements. On the way he escaped, and shortly after he succeeded in reaching San Felipe. It so happened that Captain Henry S. Brown had the same day arrived from Mexico with a number of well tried and trained Mexicans. With these and a party of the citizens he made a rapid night march, and at daylight surprised and annihilated the marauders, only one escaping to tell the tale to his people.

Returning now to Howell's Prairie, Missouri, my father rejoined his family, who had long mourned him as one dead. His devoted wife, however, had never given up hope of his ultimate homecoming.  In 1827 or 1828 Father again reached Texas, this time with his family. I was then a four year old boy. On the way we encountered fearful tempests on Lake Pontchartrain and the gulf of Mexico We landed at Copano. Nearly eighty years have elapsed since then, but I yet retain in memory a most vivid picture of the Indians on the shore. One stood with his bow strung and arrow on the string, ready to shoot. I was familiar with the story of my father's thrilling experiences on the upper Brazos, and my little heart was filled with fear, not only for myself, but for my parents also. I begged them earnestly to go below, out of danger; but vainly of course, for there was none. They bade me go down; but they themselves were too much interested in the shores of Texas to gratify a terrified little boy.  We were taken to Goliad in Mexican carts drawn by oxen, which were lashed to the pole by their horns and driven with a blunt pointed goad, often with loud cries on the part of the driver. This, in early times, was the Mexican method of transportation, the cart wheels being in most cases wholly of wood and sometimes solid.

From Goliad, then commonly called La Bahia - by the Americans most frequently Labberdee - we went to Major James Kerr's on the Lavaca. Major Kerr was the first settler on this stream by several years. This I know to be true. Captain Henry S. Brown married his sister, Miss Margaret Kerr, in Missouri. She was then a widow with a son and daughter, who were known in Lavaca County in later years as Judge Maryland Jones and Mrs. Jordan. Her children by Captain Brown were Major John Henry Brown, distinguished as a defender of Texas in various wars, as a legislator, and as a writer of history; and Rufus E. Brown, one of the sweetest natured men I ever knew, who was accidentally killed in Arizona by the fall of a tree - as I remember - which he was cutting down.  In 1832 I was going with Captain Brown from Gonzales to Major Kerr's, when we met a messenger in search of him, bringing intelligence of the intended attack on the Mexican garrison at Velasco. My uncle sent me on to Major Kerr's with a young inexperienced youth, giving him most careful direction as to courses, guiding points, and guarding against Indians. This proved the most trying experience of my long life. My pony was a short hard trotter, and my left arm was badly strained. The young man was afraid of Indians and was unwilling to dally. My back began to ache, ache, and I was forced at last to cry out - gently as possible, but nevertheless to cry audibly. The memory of that night's suffering makes my back ache still. But all things have an end, and at last we reached Uncle Jim's and were safe.

Captain Brown commanded a company in the assault on Velasco and gallantly aided in capturing the garrison. He lost several men, but killed a large number of Mexicans, and wounded many more.  Major Kerr's was a general rendezvous for persons examining, or settling in, his section. All were welcomed and entertained in true pioneer style. I have seen large numbers of men there on business that it was beyond my years to understand.  During our stay at Major Kerr's, my mother gave birth to the first white child born on the Lavaca River, Isham Kerr Brown, named for Uncle Jim's brother, to whom my father was warmly attached. I never knew Mr.Isham Kerr.  As soon as my mother was able to travel, the family moved to Carancahua Bayou. Here my father chose to locate his league of land, [The league to which he was entitled as a colonist. The Land Office records seem to indicate that the title was issued to him as a member of Austin's Third Colony.] believing that in time, since the bayou was navigable from Matagorda Bay to his projected home, the land would become valuable. The Mexican law required a crop to be on the allotment before the title could be perfected. So we built a cabin and planted a small crop - very small, I suppose, since I helped to plant some of it myself. My father made holes in the black sandy soil with a pointed handspike, and I dropped the seed and covered it with my heel. Primitive farming this, but probably he and a Mr. Aldridge (if I recall the name correctly) did more work in our little patch at a later time.

After a while the land was surveyed, our small crop was made, and we were ready for new enterprises. During our sojourn on Carancahua, my father was always uneasy; for the Carancahua Indians, though they professed to be at peace with the settlers, were known to be a brave and treacherous tribe. One of their old camps was not far from our cabin door. [About forty years after we left that place, the McDowell family settled nearly opposite our old home on the north side of the bayou. To a daughter of this house, and elegant lady, I sold for myself and my sisters about eleven hundred acres of the same league.] So, having met legal requirements, we moved to San Antonio, where we lived three years very close to Captain Philip Dimitt - indeed, I think, in one of his houses. Here were born to my mother Marie Nazia, the first American child born in this Mexican town, and - perhaps two years later - Carmelita, a real little angel in appearance. Captain Dimitt and John W. Smith had Mexican wives, good ladies, and children of mixed blood; but my sisters were pure Anglo-Saxon and of true pioneer stock.

San Antonio Sixty Years Ago.  Some Interesting items -- Its first American births, etc. 

Dallas, December 18 - - Editor express: While it may not be a matter of public importance, it has been one of interest to many to know the facts in regard to the first American child or children born in San Antonio. Although more or less familiar with chief facts from early boyhood, I was unable to state minor details till recently, and will now summarize the whole as briefly as possible, and place the facts at your disposal, trusting you will publish them.  It is a fact, already incorporated in published histories of Texas, that in December, 1824, Capt. Henry S. Brown (my father) and his brother, Mr. John Brown (subsequently known as Waco Brown) arrived in Texas from Missouri; that the former, as a Mexican and Indian trader, early in 1825, sent his brother, John, to the upper Brazos with goods to trade with the wild Indians; that, returning from a successful trip, with eleven hundred horses and mules and large amounts of pelts and buffalo robes, Mr. John Brown's party was assailed at night and every animal driven off, and while he, being lame, secreted himself in a thicket, his companions escaped, being Thomas Jamison, James Musick and Andrew Scott; that two or three days later Mr. Brown was captured by the Waco Indians; that (omitting his brother's expedition and battle at Waco Village to recover him) in the summer of 1826 he escaped from the Indians and rejoined his brother at San Felipe, on the Brazos, and that the two brothers then visited their families in Missouri. To these facts succeed others. Capt. Henry S. Brown returned to Texas a year later; but Mr. John Brown, with his wife and a son less than 3 years old (the latter being Dr. John Duff Brown, now of Llano, Tex.) returned in February, 1827, and temporarily dwelt with Major James Kerr, the first settler on the Lavaca river, the latter gentleman being a brother of my mother. At that place, late in 1827, Mrs. Brown (nee Nancy A. Howell, of St. Charles county, Missouri) gave birth to a son on whom was bestowed the name of Isham, he being the first American child born on the Lavaca, though until this recent investigation I had thought he was possibly the second.

Mr. Brown removed to San Antonio immediately after the birth of this child, and became the mercantile partner of Capt. Phillip Dimmitt. Little Isham and Mr. Washington Howell, a brother of Mrs. Brown, who had come from Missouri with them, died in the fall of 1828, and both having been baptized by the Mexican priest, were interred in the Catholic cemetery, A month or so later Mrs. Brown gave birth to a daughter to whom was given the name of "Maria" (Ma-re-ah), the Spanish for Mary. It is certain she was born within a day or two of Christmas, 1828, and so far as is known or believed, was the first American native of San Antonio.  On the 8th of December, 1831, Mr. Brown died, and by the intercession of Mexican friends, the priest allowed him to be buried beside little Isham, in the cemetery. His brother, Henry S., then removed the widow and children first to Gonzales, and afterward to Brazoria. Carmelita died in Gonzales in the winter of 1832-3, and Maria in Brazoria in 1834. The exact dates cannot be given, because they were lost many years ago. Henry S. Brown died in Columbia, Brazoria county, July 26, 1834.

Mrs. Brown returned to her father in Missouri in 1835; married Albert G. Irvine, of Kentucky, in 1837; became the mother of two sons and six daughters by him, and removed to Tyler, Texas, in 1858. She died in Jefferson in 1869. One of the sons and three of the daughters survive. Her son, Dr. John Duff Brown, now residing in Llano, was a soldier and surgeon in the Mexican War, and a captain in Waul's legion of the Confederate army.  Following these events, so far as local to San Antonio, it is believed "Samuel", born May 14, 1837, son of the late Senator Samuel A. and Mrs. Mary A. Maverick, was certainly the first American child born in San Antonio after the revolution of 1836, and probably the third child so born in the place. The latter point seems to depend on the birthplace of the Dickinson child, "the Babe of the Alamo", about which I am not informed, but think it was born elsewhere. Respectfully, John Henry Brown.   From the San Antonio Daily Express, December 24, 1887, page 2, columns 5-6.

Various tribes of Indians visited San Antonio to barter dressed buffalo skins and other peltries, as well as jerked buffalo meat, which they frequently offered in broad thin sheets, and which was very toothsome indeed. They came to the town in gala dress. I remember seeing a young squaw in a dress covered with hundreds of beads and little bells, which she would flirt about, causing them to jingle most merrily, to her own intense satisfaction and the great amusement of the onlookers. These Indian gatherings were very novel and interesting to the American visitors who often filled our home.   Mexicans, though a dark race, delight much in white covers for couches and beds. An Indian visitor would sit down contentedly on the whitest and daintiest, leaving his "brand" - in cow boy parlance - unmistakably defined. Requests and orders to move were alike unheeded by him till it suited his pleasure. Once a chief, a dirty fellow, of course, took a seat on my mother's white bed. She asked him to get up; but he only gazed at her with his characteristic stolid Indian look. Mother feared no man; and seizing a stick, she ordered him to rise. His answer was the same aggravating gleam of the eye. But when the stick came down on his scalp lock with its most inspiring emphasis he jumped up with a thoroughly Indian "wugh! wugh!" exclaiming "White woman muy brava" ; and so it ended.

Once some of my father's Indian relatives [That is, by adoption. See above.] came to see him, and there was among them one young man whom he seemed much delighted to meet, and whom he loaded with presents.  On another occasion, while breakfasting, I ran out to a call and found before our door a boy with a rifle on a barebacked horse and a man also riding bareback, but without a rifle. Both were hatless. Their camp had been sacked in the night, the whole party it contained except themselves had been murdered, and they had barely escaped with life.  Three years we resided in San Antonio. During this time, my father had his children christened by the Catholic priest resident in the town. My mother's brother was also christened. We were therefore Catholics, and as a child I accepted the faith most cheerfully. Some years later dear Grandma Howell of Missouri took me in hand and taught me to love the scriptures and study them - a practise I have observed till the present. She was an Old School Presbyterian, and an accomplished Virginia lady. But we were then in San Antonio. As soon as I was old enough I was sent to a Spanish school; and every Sabbath I marched with the pupils in double file to the cathedral singing full-voiced some Catholic hymn. On entering we severally approached the font of holy water, dipped the tips of the fingers, and made the sign of the cross on the forehead and each shoulder and the breast; then in double file we knelt on the flag stones worshipping till the close of the service. One can well imagine how tired and painful my little knees used to grow.

We had a case of smallpox in our family. It was contracted by a negro girl of Major Kerr's, who was loaned or hired to my father. David Mills of the well known firm of R. & D. G. Mills & Co., leading financiers of Texas, was then a young man and boarding with us. I was vaccinated from his arm and rendered immune. Mother's brother, Geo. Washington Howell, died here, then my brother Isham Kerr, then my father, who was known to the Mexicans and old Texans as Waco Brown. [The reader will doubtless note that Dr. Brown's narrative suggests that all these deaths were due to the same visitation of smallpox, but does not leave it certain. - Editor Quarterly.] All were buried in the grounds of the Alamo. The graves were afterwards shown to my son, Dr. J. Duff Brown, Jr., in a little grass plot near the old ruin.  I was just recovering from a most terrible fever when my father died, and some one took me to view his corpse. His pale face and body lie dimly before me now.

Nancy Ann Howell Brown Irvine[Photo:  Painting of Nancy Ann Howell Brown Irvine, mother of John Duff Brown, provided by descendants]   Captain Henry S. Brown moved our family to Gonzales. The first night we camped on the Salado, and a guard was kept all night. My mother sat in the wagon surrounded by her little ones, with a babe in her lap and a loaded gun at hand, resolved to die if need be in our defense. Indians were around us throughout the night and caused our horses to show constant signs of uneasiness, and next morning their signs were plainly visible. It was a miserable night for grownups, but I and the other children slept through it in happy unconsciousness. Next day we passed the bloody camp of which I have spoken. We reached Gonzales without further incident, save passing a freshly killed deer. From its torn neck we judged it to have been killed by a panther, which was frightened away by our approach.   We remained in Gonzales for a time, and mother meanwhile kept boarders to support herself and family. During that time, there came a big rise in the Guadalupe, or Warloup [This is a fairly close phonetic reproduction of the customary Mexican pronunciation. - Editor Quarterly.] as it was then frequently called, threatening serious damage. Mother desired a gentleman to go to the river and move her pot above high water; but he said "No, madam, I would not risk my life this black night with a light for all the pots in Texas." Thereupon she took a torch and a servant and moved the pot to a place of safety herself. Pots, iron pots, were pots in those days.

After a time we moved to Brazoria on the Brazos, where mother conducted one of the hotels, known as the lower. Mrs. General Long [The widow of General James Long, leader of the expedition of 1819.] kept the upper hotel. David Mills again boarded with us. The strain on my mother was at times extremely trying. When a ship came up the river from New Orleans loaded with passengers, both hotels would often be filled to overflowing, and the labor of taking care of them most harassing. Now and then there was much sickness in the hotel, and sometimes it resulted in death. Once we had some cases of yellow fever. I remember the death of one man who turned as yellow as an orange. A Captain Brown died in our house from some disease. I can recall, too, that the cholera visited us once or twice. [Probably but once, i.e., in 1833. This may mean, however, that the hotel had one or two cases among its guests at different times that year. - Editor Quarterly.]  There were many ills, anxieties, labors, and dangers encountered by hotel keepers in those pioneer periods. This may be illustrated by an incident from my mother's experience. One spring, while she was rushing through the ever unpleasant "cleaning up" so common among good housekeepers, she ordered a burly peon who belonged to us to hurry along with some task which had been committed to him. He showed himself contrary and impudent; and she ran into the room where I was taking down mosquito bars and seized one of the side sticks and proceeded to belabor him with several whacks over the head and shoulders. Full of rage, he slipped into the dining room, snatched up a large carving knife and thrust it in his girdle, and came back to his work with swollen lips and furious looks. There is no doubt that, if she had shown fear or hesitation, he would have stabbed her. But the moment she saw his act she ran into her own room, took down a large holster pistol with a muzzle like a small cannon, pressed it against his breast, and pulled the trigger. Providentially it failed to fire, but turned a black Mexican nearly white. She ordered him to put up the knife, and he obeyed instantly.

When Uncle Henry came home, he picked a little powder into the touch hole of the pistol and discharged it at a post. Though it had lain undisturbed on top of Mother's bed for six months, it fired as clearly as if just loaded. This was before the invention of percussion caps. Then Uncle Henry tied the man securely and gave him a good flogging; but, taking the advice of friends conversant with the treacherous and vindictive nature of such Mexicans, he soon sold him.  During our stay in Brazoria, our dear little Marie died and was buried in the forest. I can yet hear the hollow sound of the clods falling on her coffin. Mother was too ill to attend the funeral, so I was chief mourner. I think Uncle Henry was absent also. Carmelita, the idol of the family, died and was buried in Gonzales cemetery. The graves of our family are scattered from San Antonio to Memphis; but, without doubt, when the roll is called at judgment we'll be there. Our God cares for our dust, praised be his name forever!  Mother finally closed her business in Brazoria and went to Missouri to see her father, Mr. John Howell. He lived at Howell's Prairie, a few miles from Mechanicsville, now Howell. She entered me at a seminary of which Lewis Howell was principal. He was a classical scholar, and the best instructor I ever knew. He laid the foundation for what education I am possessed of.

After a few terms at Collier College, I was sent by my stepfather to Richmond, Kentucky, and placed in the house of Fields & Holloway, dealers in general merchandise, who kept everything that the people of the country consumed. This firm had been long in business and ranked high. The Irvines, Fieldses, Holloways, and McLanahans were leading families in the rich little city of Richmond.  I spent one year with this firm, then fifteen months as a pedagogue, and then some years under the tuition of Drs. Walker and Scott as a student of medicine. In process of time I entered the field of practise at Jackson, Breathitt County, in the mountains, and since that time the center of murderous feuds. Then, however, peace reigned supreme throughout this mining district. The Cockrells and Hargises were good friends. My practise, though limited, was eminently successful for a young physician.  But my heart was in Texas, and I had for years resolved to make my home amid its wilds. So in 1846, when General Taylor was concentrating his army near Corpus Christi to move upon the Rio Grande in defense of Texas at last annexed to the United States, I landed at that place. The day I left Corpus for the interior, his first division marched for Fort Brown, opposite Matamoros.

Reaching Gonzales, I was admitted to partnership with Dr. C. S. Brown, an uncle of mine, who had more patients than he could attend. Among them were a number of Germans who had been sent to Texas by certain noblemen. [The Adelsverein, represented in Texas by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, the founder of New Braunfels. - Editor Quarterly.] It was a year of phenomenal humidity, and like all such in Texas very sickly. The flux, commonly so-called both then and now, proved epidemic among the emigrants. They fell before the disease like cattle with the murrain. Great demoralization existed among them, and there was much suffering. There were deaths beside the highways and deaths in the wagons. Death, death, death was everywhere, without nursing or any of the attentions that, as a rule, are shown the sick. Whole families perished. They could not speak English, and we could not speak German. Moreover, the native Americans were down with congestive and other fevers, as well as flux, all over the thinly settled country. I had myself a sharp turn of malarious fever, but prompt treatment relieved me.

About this time - in April, I think [Taylor's requisition was dispatched from near Matamoros, April 26. See House Exec.Docs., 30th Cong., 1st sess., Doc. 60, p. 288. - Editor Quarterly.] Captain Ben McCulloch came in great haste from General Taylor with a requisition on the governor of Texas for two regiments [The requisition called for two mounted regiments and two to serve on foot. Ibid. - Editor Quarterly.] of mounted volunteers, and with authority also to raise a company of scouts to serve under his personal orders. I joined this company, which was ranked A in Colonel Jack Hays's Western regiment, and served six months, when I was honorably discharged at Camargo.  Our service was sometimes arduous. We always went light, with no baggage, and not a tent, save once when a man joined us sick and died. The flies were so intolerably bad that it required a detail of two men, one at his head and the other at his feet, to protect him. Even then, his blankets were flyblown. This was at "Camp Maggot," opposite Matamoros. We used the river water, and some days were forced to wade out fifty or sixty yards to get it clear of maggots. We were below the slaughter pens, where the beeves were prepared for the army. The refuse was thrown into the river, and often much of it, not clearing the banks, was blown by the immense swarms of flies. During the two or three weeks we remained at this camp, it rained twice or thrice every twenty-four hours. The rains were fortunately but brief, and the sun was so hot that it dried us between them. After a time, we were ordered to occupy some deserted houses above Fort Brown. Here we fared sumptuously on roasting ears, which, added to our rations, made our meals most enjoyable. At this encampment we were free from the dreadful annoyances incident to life at "Camp Maggot."

Our company was composed of quite a variety of characters and professions. There were two generals, Ham P. Bee, and another whose name I have forgotten; three to five doctors; and one newspaper man, W. Kendall of the New Orleans Picayune. He wrote up our scouting expeditions, etc. I do not recall any ministers of the gospel in our party. We had six or seven Mier prisoners. One of them was our first lieutenant, John McMullen. He was a boy when the expedition occurred, as was young Hill, who had been adopted by Santa Anna and educated at the College of Mines. James W. Allen, a Kentuckian, was our second lieutenant and commissary. He carried a bag of silver on all our scouts to pay for supplies, for we paid for all requisitions. One of our men who was from the eastern shore of Maryland was wounded and died at Monterey.  Captain McCulloch was ordered not to fight, but to survey various sections of the country and to report. He was well known as a reckless fighter; but he knew how to obey orders, and he certainly did so. We begged him to give us a brush with the enemy, but he simply answered "orders."

Mary Anna Mayes BrownI returned to Texas with Jim Lytle, a lawyer named Cunningham from Victoria, Breckinridge of Kentucky, Mason Foley, the Pryor brothers, and others. We had much difficulty with Breckinridge and Lytle, who quarreled and passed blows, but were separated by Cunningham and myself. Three times they wished to fight, but eventually were induced to become friends.  Once more I tried Gonzales; but again becoming sick, I yielded to the advice and urgent solicitation of Colonel Andrew Neill of Seguin and made my home at his house. He had married my cousin, Miss Agnes Brown, the daughter of Dr. Hugh Brown of Kentucky. There I stayed for six delightful months, probably the happiest of my long life. It was during this time that I became acquainted with Miss Mary Annah Mayes, a native of Alabama, and fell in love with her at sight. After a twelve months' wooing we were wed, and in a few weeks I again entered the United States service as acting [This word is uncertain. - Editor Quarterly.] assistant surgeon for Captain H. E. McCulloch's company.

The company was camped at Hamilton's Valley, fifty-five miles above Austin, in what was then Travis County, but is now Burnet. It was Captain McCulloch's second year at this station. During the first, he had needed a surgeon greatly, and in the ten months I spent with the company there was much sickness among the men. The families were generally exempt; but one private died, and another was by accident desperately wounded by a comrade. I was at the time absent in Seguin, and the captain sent to Austin for a surgeon, who charged one hundred dollars for his services. I regret to chronicle the truth, but his treatment was of no value, and the patient was fast going to that bourne whence no traveler returns. The doctor remained one day, and I imagine his departure saved the man. Getting back at this juncture, I changed the treatment. The names of doctor and wounded man alike have been forgotten by me. I paid the bill, except twenty dollars which, in great kindness to me, was advanced by Captain McCulloch and Lieutenants Riggins and Magill.

Captain McCulloch's company was one of a number on the frontier under the command of Colonel P. H. Bell, later governor of the State. Our duties were simple and easy, but necessitated constant scouting and watchfulness. We had a detachment of thirty men on the Cowhouse, about twenty-five or thirty miles to the northeast of us. We had only one skirmish with the Indians. Lieutenant Riggins and Orderly Sergeant John R. King, together with another officer and an unarmed man, were out some ten or fifteen miles buffalo hunting. While at their dinner, they saw what they imagined to be buffaloes on the crest of the hill at whose base they were eating. Hastily rising, they looked again, when one of them exclaimed "My God! They are Indians, and they are charging down on us." It was frightfully true. Mounting instantly - for their horses were saddled - they made for a thicket two or three hundred yards distant. Some one cried "Stick together," and they fled at full speed. Riggins was mounted on a fiery, high-headed horse, on which he was compelled to use martingales. The ring on one side caught the bridle, causing his horse to run obliquely from the party. Detaching this ring detained him only a moment, when the race was resumed at the utmost speed. Riggins was going so fast, in fact, that his horse nearly buried himself in the thicket before it was possible to stop; and when he did, it was so suddenly that the officer was tumbled over the horse's head. Grasping his rifle and righting himself like a flash, Riggins looked up just in time to see an Indian with a lance leaning to plunge it into him. As the gun went up, the Indian retreated in haste. The little party managed to reach the center of the thicket with their horses, and there they hitched and left them in charge of the unarmed man, while they stood ready at the two opposite sides of the thicket to defend it. Meanwhile the Indians were rushing round and round, whooping, yelling, and shooting, and protecting themselves with their shields, which they kept constantly in motion, making it very difficult to aim accurate shots at them. There were from twelve to twenty Indians - I do not recall exactly how many. They set the grass on fire on the windward side, hoping to drive out the men, or their horses at least. The man in charge of the horses, however, was courageous and of fine intelligence. He coolly raked away the leaves and combustibles from near the horses, thus protecting them from the fire, which crackled furiously and made a great smoke. Under cover of this the Indians approached the thicket closer, when a well directed shot dropped one of them from his saddle. In a little while, another, evidently a chief, slightly uncovered his person and was also shot and fell to the ground. In falling he gave a peculiar shout. His comrades rushed to him; and, carrying him out of reach of the rangers' rifles, mounted their horses and left in a gallop, having seen enough. After waiting a short time, Lieutenant Riggins and his party returned to the station. Next morning Captain McCulloch ordered a scout to follow the trail of the Indians far enough to learn if they meditated further mischief. For many miles, the scout found, they had traveled in a gallop. Once they halted briefly; and there he found little wisps of bloody grass, which had been forced into the wounds of the chief to control the hemorrhage. Rough surgery this; but such was the report of the scout.

McCulloch was relieved about December 10 by United States dragoons, and his company was honorably discharged. With my young wife I left for Colorado County, to which Mr. C. Joiner, her stepfather, and her uncle, Colonel Tom Henderson, had moved. Here in Oakland and on Middle Creek, Fayette County, we lived most of the time till the Confederate War.  In this war, I left a sick bed to enlist. I was elected first lieutenant of Captain Ben Shropshire's company, in E. B. Nichol's regiment, Galveston, term six months. My service was voluntary; for under the law, at the time I enlisted, I was over age. I studied military tactics and drilled pretty hard most of the term. Captain Shropshire was an able lawyer, and passed the larger part of the time, or at least much of it, in Houston on courts martial, leaving me in command of the company. Unused to the ways of military discipline, so entirely different from the freedom of home, the men were impatient, at times a little irritable, and always extremely curious about everything. They made life a burden with innumerable questions, often puerile beyond belief. We had one or two intelligent, mischief-loving men who diverted themselves by slyly starting the most unreasonable rumors as to the doings and designs at headquarters, merely to watch the foolish excitement aroused, to hear the absurd discussions, and to enjoy the general uneasiness awakened. The annoyance from this source was for a time extreme. It was tiresome and troublesome to meet and quiet those disturbances. Finally I discovered the most active instigator of them. He was a good soldier, but as frolicsome and mischievous as a monkey. I gave him a quiet lecture, which in a measure stopped the trouble.

The men had many little attacks of colic and minor ailments, and they seemed to think that no on could relieve them so quickly as their own lieutenant. For a long time they worked me hard indeed, taking into consideration my other duties, which were imperious and could not be slighted. At last I had to object. We had a good medical officer, but he was somewhat stern and indisposed to be unnecessarily overworked. He had a private, a physician, but a man who loved his ease, detailed to attend to all minor ailments. I had unpleasant words with both of them about the men, who were dear to me; but we had no fight, for we had not entered the service to kill each other.  Just before the close of the six months for which I had enlisted, I was commissioned by General T. N. Waul to raise a company for his Texas legion, composed of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Through a mistake of Colonel Waul regarding military regulations, my company ranked D in the cavalry battalion, which was six hundred and forty strong. Company D mustered one hundred and twenty-seven - mostly picked men. Thirteen promotions were made from it. At Camp Waul, seven miles from Brenham, we organized and drilled for some time. Meanwhile there occurred an epidemic of measles, with six hundred cases reported, and a few deaths. Young Lockett, a member of my company, had contracted the disease and recovered; but he begged so earnestly to be allowed to visit his mother - a widow - that with much reluctance and many misgivings I gave him leave, receiving from him solemn promises to obey instructions for safeguarding his health. Unfortunately he disobeyed the instructions, and, much to my sorrow, relapsed and died.

After a time the command was ordered to march for north Mississippi. Obtaining leave, I visited my family, not feeling sure but that it might be the last time. Drs. King and White, two of the best surgeons in the legion, were my messmates; and, daily observing my state of health, they assured me that I would not be able to endure the rigors of campaigning in northern Mississippi during the winter. Though in very delicate health, I had no thought of resigning until compelled by an absolute breakdown. At Vicksburg, where we stopped to perfect our rolls and pay off the men, Dr. White came to me saying he was authorized by others, and that it was his wish as well, to solicit me to become a candidate for the lieutenant colonelcy of our battalion, as we should be ordered to fill that office. He insisted that there was not the slightest doubt of my election. I thought him correct, but declined from a purely patriotic sense of duty, thinking it best for my country. The battle between desire for the position and duty to my country was a strong one, and I have ever since regretted that I did not accept; because, for reasons that I do not think it wise to write, I believe it would really have inured to my country's good.

In a few days we resumed our march en route for Holly Springs; and soon the news of our defeat at Shiloh, which had been fought while we lay at Vicksburg, and the death of our loved Sidney Johnston came to us. For about two weeks we lay camped on an unsheltered hill some ten miles south of Holly Springs. General Price, with his Missouri troops, lay just south of us. Here we encountered real wintry weather. We were next ordered seven miles north of Holly Springs, where General Tighlman was quartered at a farm house. Here my health broke down completely, and I felt obliged to resign. It filled me with grief to do so; but I was assured by the best medical talent in the army - and subsequently by many other medical men - that I had tuberculosis in its initial stage. I had twice had hemorrhages from the lungs; so resolution gave way, and I tendered my resignation. It was accepted unconditionally. Colonel Waul assured me that, because of my feeble health, he had been expecting it for three months.

A few days after this, we were ordered to make a change of front, throwing us around Holly Springs, where we lay three days. During this time, I had resumed command of Company D by order of the colonel commanding. After three days more, General Tighlman ordered a retreat of twenty or thirty miles south. He had been captured at Fort Donelson and subsequently exchanged, and I suppose he was unwilling again to take the chances. I must have kept better posted than he, for I knew there was no danger of an advance of the enemy. They had about twenty skeleton regiments fifteen or twenty miles north of us, but this body of troops had been depleted till it was too weak to advance. But Tighlman's retreat invited the enemy to advance, which they did after a time, though not immediately. Well I had naught to detain me where I had felt constant dissatisfaction with the weak, vacillating management of our commanders. It may sound like boasting, but I do not so view it when I say that I saw clearly the trend of events, and it was most disheartening, The subsequent history of affairs proved fully that my views were correct.

I bought a light buggy and returned to my wife and children in Texas, only to find her in an advanced stage of consumption, which unfortunately we did not then know how to treat as well as we know now. She lingered on till two weeks after the war, when she passed to her reward.  The war left the country in apparent ruins. The negroes were freed, the fences rotted, our houses were leaking, our stock of all kinds scattered, and society was disorganized. I was owing nearly five thousand dollars of debts contracted before the war. I sold all my stock and one tract of land and was thus enabled to pay all but six hundred dollars of my indebtedness. Finally, by hard work and rigid economy, I paid every dollar, thus saving my good name, and adding greatly to my own happiness.  Looking back over my life, I feel that I have much to thank God for. Now in my eighty-fourth year (1907) I await almost impatiently at times the summons of the Master.  Contributed by Sherri Brown, descendant of John "Waco" Brown and son John Duff Brown.  

1997-2008, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved.