Contributed by Robert Jones
The William Henry Parsons Camp #415, Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), was organized in the Spring, 2002, as a local affiliate of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the largest and oldest genealogical and historical society for male descendants of Confederate servicemen. Any male 12 years of age or older having an ancestor who served in the armed forces of the Confederacy is eligible for membership.
The Parsons Camp is based in Ennis, Texas and serves, in particular, southern Ellis County and northern Navarro County, although members may live anywhere. Currently, the camp has 35 members.
In the early 1900's, a local SCV camp was located in Ennis. However, that camp had been dormant for many years when interest revived in having a camp in Ennis. The name "William Henry Parsons" was chosen for the local group because of the many men who served in the War Between the States with Colonel Parsons from Ellis and Navarro Counties. Raising a regiment of Texas cavalry, known as "Parsons Dragoons" or the "12th Texas Cavalry," the Colonel led them through four years of fighting in the Trans-Mississippi. Many descendants of Parsons' men still live in the area.
Interest in Ellis and Navarro Counties in Confederate history has been sparked by a local Civil War Reenactment, the "Battle of Hodge Oaks Plantation." Held at Chatfield, in northern Navarro County, since 1998, the annual event attracts hundreds of participants and spectators. In 2002, the organizers of the Battle decided to organize a new SCV camp to assist with the event, and the Parsons Camp was born. Although no Civil War battle actually was fought there, the reenactment is held on part of "Hodge Oaks Plantation," an ante-bellum cotton plantation founded by Capt. Robert Hodge. However, Capt. Hodge and his plantation have an association with an important historical event. In June, 1865, Maj. Gen. J. O. (Jo) Shelby commanded the last organized unit of the Confederate Army in any of the states of the Confederacy. He camped his force south of "Hodge Oaks Plantation" and he, himself, in fact, stayed in Capt. Hodge's house. Almost two months after Gen. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Shelby held what is known as "The Last Review of the Confederate Army." He assembled his men for the last time, telling them he would never surrender. He said he intended to go to Mexico, and standing in the stirrups, with his plumed hat in hand, asked, "Who will join me in Mexico?" As hundreds cried out that they would go with him, the ever romantic Shelby brought down the final curtain on the American Civil War. The 1960's John Wayne movie, "The Undefeated," is loosely based on the Shelby saga which began near Chatfield.
The Parsons Camp reenacts Shelby's "Last Review" each year during the "Battle of Hodge Oaks Plantation." It is held the 2nd weekend of every January, and in 2003 will be Friday through Sunday, January 10-12. An official Texas State Historical Marker will be dedicated Saturday, January 11, 2003 commemorating the "Last Review." Regular monthly meetings of the Parsons Camp are the last Saturday of every month. Meetings include a quality speaker talking on a War Between the States topic, and visitors are always welcome. For more information about the Parsons Camp, the Battle, or the Last Review, contact Camp Commander Howard Green at (903) 326-7098 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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