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Matagorda County Confederate Monuments

Confederate Monument Cleaning - April 21, 2013

Christmas 2014

Photos courtesy of Ken Thames



Bay City Courthouse Square

Confederate veterans participating in the unveiling ceremony for the
Matagorda County Confederate Monument January, 1913.
Picture courtesy of Matagorda County Museum

Monument photo at left courtesy of Kenneth L. Thames


Ladies of Bay City Using Tribune to Raise Funds.


The Daughters of Confederacy, E. S. Rugeley Camp of Bay City, have inaugurated a novel campaign of raising funds with which to add to the necessary amount required for the handsome monument to be erected in commemoration of "The Lost Cause" in this city next year. They have engaged the Tribune for a period of four weeks and are receiveing a very liberal commission on all the work turned in to this paper. Up to the present time quite a lot of copy has been handed in and the U. D. C. paper promises to be a big success.

Houston is responding liberally in the matter of assisting in the cause many of her merchants having sent in liberally reclamations for space.

From the literary and historical point of view the paper will be a treat and worth filing away.

Those of our merchants and business people who have engaged space in this worthy undertaking will confer a great favor upon the management of the Tribune by having their copy in at once.

Matagorda County Tribune, June 2, 1911



Lewis Gould, grandson of Richard Ricker Lewis, shared this letter that he discovered in the Colquitt archives in Austin.


                                                                     Monday, November 11, 1912

Hon. O. B. Colquitt,
Governor , State of Texas , Austin .

Dear Sir;

           On the 19th of January, 1913, Lee and Jackson’s anniversary, the ladies of the E. S. Rugeley Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, are to unveil a monument and drinking fountain to the memory of the Confederate soldier throughout the land,--living and dead,--which monument, through their untiring efforts and energy these ladies have secured sufficient funds to build, and which will be erected in the Court House Square of our County. The monument is en route now, and will be erected in time for unveiling on January 19th, and it is the earnest desire of the ladies of the U. D. C. here that you be present and address us upon this occasion, and have asked me to take up this matter with you, and extend you this invitation to be with us on that date.

          The ladies and all here consider that you are the highly appropriate person to be with us and deliver us an address upon the occasion of the unveiling of our monument to “Our Confederate Dead,--Lest we forget”; and furthermore, in as much as you have never been in Matagorda County during your two campaigns for your office, we would be doubly glad to see you here on the 19th of January. You can leave Austin on the night of the 18th, reaching here at noon of the 19th, and can return that night, if you desire. I know that you are going to be very busy in January, as that is the time for the session of the Legislature, but we hope you can see your way clear to laying aside cares of business and gubernatorial administration, and join us on the 19th of January, as above indicated, when the monument will be unveiled.

          If you can see your way clear to being present for the unveiling of this monument, I would be glad to have you my house-guest during your visit in the city, and join my personal invitation to that of ladies asking that you be present at the above time and place.

          With best personal regards, and trusting to have an early and favorable acceptance of the ladies’ invitation, and my personal one, I remain,

                                                              Very truly yours,

                                                         Richard R. Lewis




Force of Workmen Are at Work on The Court House Lawn Making The Necessary Excavation For the Foundation


S. S. Maddox, of Georgia, who has the contract to erect the Confederate monument for the E. S. Rugeley Camp of Confederate Veterans, in the court house square in Bay City, arrived in the city a day or so ago and began work this morning on the erection of the beautiful monument which is to commemorate the memory of the illustrious dead of our great Southland.

The monument will be of Georgia granite and will stand thirty feet high with a base of fourteen feet. The underground foundation will be of concrete several feet in depth and of a consistency to make the monument of a very substantial character.

On the base of the monument, which will contain a drinking fountain, are the words: "In Memory of Our Confederate Soldiers." Above this are the Confederate flags of Texas and the Confederate states intertwined with "1861-1865" at the top and bottom of the engraving.

This monument has been purchased through the efforts of the local chapter U. D. C. and will prove to be a fitting tribute to their loyalty and zeal in behalf of the "Lost Cause."

When erected it will be dedicated with due ceremonies under the auspices of the "U. D. C.'s."

The Daily Tribune, December 19, 1912


No Set Rules For Setting Memorial Stones, But Bay City Statue Has Precedents to Follow.


As there was some controversy over the direction in which the Confederate monument erected in Bay City recently by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Mrs. Wells Thompson took it upon herself to gather what authority she could in regard to the matter. Mrs. Thompson has received an interesting letter from Mrs. Cornelia Branch Stone which is self explanatory, and which the Tribune takes pleasure in publishing.

My dear Mrs. Thompson:--I do not know, that there is a rule, as to the facing of a Confederate monument, or any other as to that matter, but can tell you that the monument erected by the U. D. C. to President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va., designed by Valentine, faces east; cost $75,,000. Zoleny, the sculptor of a statue of Mr. Davis at his grave in Hollywood cemetery, placed by Mrs. Davis, and a monument to Winnie Davis, erected by the U. D. C. in same place, both face east. The great monument here by Amateis, an Italian sculptor, "To the Heroes of the Texas Revolution," faces South. There are many monuments and these face all points of the compass according to location and prominence of the street on which they stand.

The Confederate soldiers and sailor monument here faces West. The Confederate soldiers monument at Houston faces South, as near as I recall, so I conclude that there is no rule, and you have the example of the president of the Confederacy facing East, which is excellent authority for the Jefferson Davis Monument Association was formed of one representative from every state in which the U. D. C. had an organization and they thoroughly canvassed all of the details and the sculptor is a Richmond man, and the R. E. Lee Camp, U. D. C., there was made up very largely of men of intelligence and thought, and advised with these ladies.

I do not know how the Arlington monument will face. the cornerstone was laid while I was there, and I was present but the platform was covered with canvass to protect it from the sun and rain.

Trusting that this, while being indefinite, may be helpful, and with love and good wishes to you and yours, believe me your friend,

Cornelia Branch Stone.

Mrs. Cornelia Branch Stone is an efficient, honored and loyal Daughter of the Confederacy; she was president of Texas Division of U. D. C.; she was president general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the highest honor to be conferred by the U. D. C.

Daily Tribune, January 6, 1913



From Bay City Tribune.

The E. S. Rugeley chapter of the U.D.C. had a called meeting at the home of the president on Tuesday afternoon to make final arrangements for the unveiling of the beautiful new monument to our confederate dead. The ceremony will take place in the afternoon at two-o'clock on Friday, the 17th of January, instead of the 19th as was first intended, in order that the school children may attend in a body. We expect to have some good speakers here at that time and cordially invite everyone to come out and help us make this a day that will long be remembered in the history of Bay City. Judge Norman G. Kittrell of Houston, Gen. Felix Robertson and Gen. Van Zandt of Ft. Worth and Col. Joke Wolters, are among the out of town speakers. The governor of the state, Mr. Colquitt has been asked, but we fear now that he will not be present on account of the state legislature being in session at that time. Mr. John E. Linn will make the address for the Daughters, and Judge Holman will receive the monument as the representative of the county.

We hope for a good representation from all the nearby chapters, Victoria, El Campo, Wharton, Palacios and Angleton. A reception will be given for our guests on Friday evening at the home of Mr. Henry Rugeley. Little Misses Mary LeTulle Rugeley and Lucy Phillips will pull the cord that tears away the veil from one of the most perfect pieces of workmanship in the state, and the one great work of which the E. S. Rugeley chapter is proudest.

The Matagorda News, January 10, 1913





The Day Marked an Epoch in History of Bay City.

With the elements threatening and an occasional shower of rain to make the crowd restless fully three thousand people gathered in and about the public square yesterday afternoon to witness the solemn though spectacular scene of the unveiling of the monument which the local members of the E. S. Rugeley Camp [Chapter] of the United Daughters of the Confederacy have had erected in honor of the E. S. Rugeley Camp of Confederate Veterans and to perpetuate the memory of the gallant band of Texas boys who comprised the company commanded by Capt. E. S. Rugeley “back in the sixties.”

The monument is a beautiful one hewn from white Georgia marble, and about thirty feet in length. Its base is designed for a fountain and ornamental pool. Two cannons protrude from the main base of the pedestal, one pointing South and the other North, through which flows the water. On the East and West square of the base are engraved the words: “Erected by Capt. E. S. Rugeley Chapter, No. 542, U. D. C.,” and “To the Memory of Our Confederate Soldiers.” “Lest we Forget.” Above which a plain square shaft reaches to the base on which the soldier stands. The soldier is dressed in Confederate uniform holding an Enfield with bayonet fixed leaning on a stump with his face to the east. It is a most imposing statue and stands as a fitting tribute to a noble cause and given in commemoration of the departed spirit of an illustrious dead as well that the illustrious living might behold, by the hands of the proud and patriotic daughters who have worked so long and patriotically to procure.

The monument was raised to commemorate and honor the dead. It will also stand as a monument to the love, patriotism, zeal and fidelity of the noble women who made such heroic efforts to erect it.

The program was replete with the spectacular and grandeur. Perhaps never before has there been such in Bay City, or elsewhere, such a parade—a parade which stirred the hearts of onlookers and brought forth liberal applause and cheering. Old veterans, sons and daughters of the Confederacy marched to the strains of martial and patriotic music and with seven hundred and fifty school children. It was indeed a grand sight and one we seldom witness.

The parade was formed on Seventh street, the head being in front of the First National Bank with the rear near the Santa Fe tracks, nearly a half mile away. The procession was headed by the National Rice Growers Band aided by several of the crack musicians of Murphy’s theatrical troupe now playing in this city. There were twenty-two pieces in the band and the music rendered was superb. After the band came twenty-one Confederate Veterans most of whom wore the gray, but who marched, perhaps not a sprightly but just as proudly as they did fifty-two years ago. Following the Veterans were the sons, then the daughters and after them the school children. Several automobiles, with Confederate and Texas flags flying, brought up the rear, in the first of which sat “the grandest Roman of them all,” whose tireless energy, unfailing zeal, boundless love and eternal faith figured as the principal factor in raising the funds and other work incident to the securing of the monument--Mrs. H. L. (Dr.) Rugeley. Indeed, it must have been the proudest moment in the life of this grand woman to behold, under such circumstances and glorious pageantry the fruits of her labors realized!

The procession wended its way around the public square twice and filed into the court house yard in perfect order where it was disbanded for other interesting parts of the afternoon ceremonies.

After a few appropriate numbers by the band from the grand stand, Hon. John W. Gaines, with his customary fine grace of manner and polished sense, announced the order of the program. Speaking with heart-felt enthusiasm and eagerness he briefly outlined the intentions of the gathering and invited Rev. J. F. Carter, of the Methodist church, to administer the invocation.

Judge John E. Linn, in patriotic manner and style responded to Mr. Gaines’ request for the address of welcome. Judge Linn was in splendid form and his voice was as clear as a bell and as strong as his logic. Perhaps there has never been heard in Bay City a more magnificent flow of oratory nor a talk of more good sense and argument. The address of welcome was a masterpiece and deeply appreciated by his hearers.

Mrs. H. L. (Dr.) Rugeley was then announced and her duty refined. It was she who was to turn the monument over to the county which she did with matchless grace, dignity and feeling. The scene was almost dramatic as this grand old woman rose from her easy chair and turned to Judge Holman, who was to accept it in the name of the county. With her lips trembling in reverence and her eyes sparkling with the same old Southern fire of patriotism, Mrs. Rugeley gracefully announced to Judge Holman that the monument was the property of the county and in his keeping.

Judge Holman just as gracefully received it on behalf of the county and briefly stated with what care it would be kept and with what love it would be cherished and revered. While he was speaking, two young misses, Mary Rugeley and Larry Phillips, pulled the string, and the veil parted and the stolid form of a Southern soldier silhouetted against the outlines of a gracious Heaven, a perpetual sentinel on the ramparts of Time and until--Eternity.

Daily Tribune, January 18, 1913



Recalls the Heroic Death of Half of Captain Rugeley's Company In the Storm on
Matagorda Bay

This town having been the home of the brave men who lost their lives in the disaster on the bay on the night of December 31st, 1863, when they went out in a small boat to repell an attack from Federal forces, our people have more than a common interest in the monument which was unveiled at Bay City last Friday. The monument is gray marble, thirty feet high, and rests on a base fourteen feet octagon, embracing a drinking fountain, all set in a concrete foundation.


The monument was erected under the auspices of the E. S. Rugeley Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, of Bay City , and that body conducted the unveiling exercises. In behalf of the Daughters, Judge John E. Linn made the presentation speech, which was an able presentation of the constitutional causes of the war--the question of the sovereignty of the state. Hon. W. S. Holman responded for the county, accepting the monument, in an eloquent tribute to the heroic dead and the noble women of the Southland, especially the Daughters who had planned and executed this monument. Little Misses Mary LeTulle Rugeley, and Lucy Phillips pulled the cord which revealed the figure to the delighted eye of the great throng, who gazed first with silent reverence and then greeted it with rapturous applause. In the evening a reception was tendered the visiting veterans at the home of Mrs. Henry Rugeley.


This monument will stand throughout the coming centuries as a memorial to the brave men who ...their homes and the "Lost Cause," and a tribute also to the loyalty of the devoted women who revered the flag as much and often suffered more for it than the men at the front.


The monument is designed to commemorate the heroism of the Confederate Dead, but with the name of the local Chapter, "Captain E. S. Rugeley Chapter, of the U.D.C," recalled the disaster to Captain Rugeley's company forty-nine years ago, when upon responding to the call to arms to defend Matagorda from Federal attack, twenty men went to their death. Early on the morning of December 31, 1863 a courier brought to Capt. Rugeley, commander of the post here, news that the Federals stationed at Decrow's Point, at Pass Cavallo, 40 miles below Matagorda, had planned an attack upon the town for that night, it being reported that gunboats were to shell the town from the peninsula. The information was that the attacking party were to come in gunboats to the peninsula opposite Matagorda, from which point the marines or infantry were to come across the bay in small boats and the gunboats attack from across the bay. Capt. Rugeley called for volunteers from the company, and all the company wanted to go, says Judge Burkhart, the only survivor of the company living in Matagorda; but Sergeant Burkhart was made officer in charge of the guard of about fifteen to remain at the post and the remainder, about 45 made preparations to go meet the attack. Henry Cookenboo's sailboat, the George Burkhart was procured, small for the purpose but the best available at the time and the party embarked in that, a few going in a still smaller boat. During the day the weather was fair, but about the time for starting a fierce norther blew up, but nothing daunted, the brave men set sail for the peninsula shore. The storm grew worse and intensely cold, ice forming an inch on the ropes until the men were so benumbed with cold, and the frozen ropes and rigging, the boat became unmanageable, and about midnight capsized, just before reaching the John Kerr an old river steamboat which had been armed with two cannon and was to do service as a gunboat.


As the wreck occurred close to the shore of the peninsula, though the night was very dark and the wind blowing a perfect gale, about half of the party including Capt. Rugeley and Captain Cookenboo, were washed ashore and escaped. But most of the men already benumbed by the cold, in the water were soon helpless, and were either drowned for frozen to death.

Besides Judge Burkhart, the writer knows but one survivor of the ill-fated expedition. Mr. Wm. Selkirk, now resident of Galveston , who had a remarkable experience. Mr. Selkirk says he was so overcome by the cold that he remembers little of the occurrences immediately preceding the wreck, and nothing of the experiences following. His first recollection, when partly restored to consciousness, was being carried by a strong fellow-soldier names Decrow (Mr. Selkirk was about twenty years old and of slight build); that Decrow laid him down on the sand of the beach and said "Will, you rest here while I go to that house yonder where the light is and get help." How long he remained there he does not know, as he again lapsed into unconsciousness; but after a while he heard voices, and heard Decrow say, "Well, here is where I left Will; I remember this log; I am sure, for I noted this log particularly. Mr. Selkirk says he could hear but could not move or talk; he tried to call but his voice would fail him, and he remembers with what horror his mind, was filled at the thought that if they should fail to find him "It would be all up with me that time, sure." Finally Decrow came close enough to him to see him, and they carried him into the house, which proved to be the home of Mr. Henry Freeman, a stock-farmer on the peninsula, and now the grandfather of George Kilbride of Matagorda, to whom he related the above experience, on a recent visit to Bay City while they stood admiring the monument.


Captain Rugeley, who was among the rescued, was for many years afterward a prominent and valued citizen of the county, serving in the legislature and as county judge several terms. He died at the age of seventy-five on December 21, 1897 .


The names, ages and birthplace of twenty who were lost in the expedition are as follows:


James Matthews, first sergeant, age 23; birthplace London , Va.

J. H. Jones, 2nd sergeant, age 29, birthplace, Mobile , Ala.

D. A. McKinley, 2nd corporal, age 22, born Cabinas , N.C.

A. D. Hines, buglar, age 28, birthplace Washington , Tex.

Geo. M. Bowie, 18, Alabama .

W. G. Copeland, 19, Alabama .

J. M. Connor, 22, Tennessee .

J. U. Howell, 18, Alabama .

W. M. Kenerly, 33, Illinois .

A. J. May, 32, Arkansas .

J. B. Seaborn, 18, Virginia .

B. H. Walton, 21, Missouri .

Thomas McKinley, 18, Tennessee .

Tom Wadsworth, 18, Matagorda.

T. C. Secrest, 25, Matagorda.

J. G. Secrest, 20, Texas .

Henry Gibson, 19, Matagorda.

A. C. Johnson, 18, Louisiana .

James Rugeley, 17, Matagorda.

The following were volunteers for the special trip.

E. Lake , 18, Alabama .

_____ Duggan, age 25.

Julius _____.

Judge Burkhart, who compiled this list years ago and has preserved the names of the heroes, says that the other commissioned officers were: William Davis, 1st lieutenant who lived on Caney; William Wiggins, 2nd lieutenant, and William Turner, 3rd lieutenant.


Matagorda News, Friday, January 24, 1913




The Confederate monument on the southeast corner of courthouse square, long a landmark of downtown Bay City, may be doomed in the rebuilding project now underway. The monument to the men who died in Matagorda Bay during the War Between the States was donated to the county by the Capt. E. S. Rugeley Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It at one time held water in the circular base, and fish were kept in the pond. In recent years the pond was filled with dirt and the monument has had only minimum care.

Local Monument To Be Preserved During Building

Worried historians were assured Saturday that the monuments on the courthouse square would be moved and preserved during the demolition and rebuilding period, and Mrs. Dudley Everett promised the aid of her organization in maintaining the Confederate monument in an attractive condition.

The large monument to the men who died in Matagorda Bay during the War Between the States and donated to the county by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Capt. E. S. Rugeley Chapter, will be removed and replaced on the new courthouse plaza if at all possible.

Mrs. Everett, president of the chapter, said Saturday that her group will be willing to "plant the base" or do anything the commissioners might want to help keep the monument in good condition.

The Daily Tribune, August 5, 1963



Great care was used Monday in the lowering of the Confederate soldier from atop the Memorial on the courthouse square, and the doughty Johnny Reb rests today against a tree. The statue will get a thorough cleaning before remounting at the the new county courthouse. Houston specialists were called in for the delicate operation, and power for lifting was provided by a dragline. County Commissioner Bill Tillman supervised the handling of the monument.

Daily Tribune, Tuesday, December 17, 1963



Matagorda Cemetery

Matagorda Cemetery Monument to Rugeley's Men


C. S. A.

U. D. C.



..... DUGGAN


There should be erected in Matagorda a monument forty or fifty feet high to the memory of the E. S. Rugeley Company, which, daring the terrors of a storm-blizzard at sea, set sail in an overcrowded boat, on the night of December 31, 1863, to meet and repel an attack from the federal forces. The storm growing fiercer, the boat was wrecked and the gallant band nearly all lost in the storm-blizzard. There was no more heroic defense of home and the constitution and few instances of greater fatality than the brave company which went down with the "Geo. Burkhart" in that fearful storm of New Year's Eve, 1964. The names of the members of Co. D should be chiseled in Texas granite with a description of the holocaust, to stand for the centuries to come in commemoration of the heroism of those men for the cause they held so dear. If the ladies of Matagorda will organize a monument association the men of Matagorda will help them, and there are many other partsof the state who would gladly contribute to such a monument.

The Matagorda News
, Friday, May 9, 1913

Picture of monument that was later erected in Matagorda Cemetery in memory of Rugeley's men.

Confederate Monument is Placed in Matagorda

The E. S Rugeley Chapter of Bay City has had made and erected a beautiful monument in the Matagorda City of the Dead, honoring the heroes of the War Between the States who froze to death in Matagorda Bay on the night of December 31, 1863. There were 22 of these gallant boys who wore the "gray," and their names are carved in the marble of the shaft just erected yesterday to remind us who pass it by, that not "in Flanders Field, the Poppies grow," but in the silent tomb in Matagorda. He, they the dead, we honor. The ceremony of unveiling will be on Sunday afternoon of June 1, celebrating the natal day of our Jefferson Davis, and we are expecting a program in keeping with the occasion.

Mr. McAnulty of Houston, did work on the marble and it is a splendid piece of carving. The monument will be paid for by contributions of those who care to have a part in its erection. Checks have been sent in already by:

Mr .V. L. LeTulle, $15; Mrs. John Corbett, $10; Miss Bouldin, $5; Mr. Sutherland, $5; Mr. J. Matthews, $5; Mrs. Keska, $5;; Mr. M. McAnulty, $1; and others which we failed to get.

Daily Tribune, May 10, 1930


Unveiled With Impressive Ceremonies At Matagorda, Sunday.

By Cora B. Moore

Sunday afternoon at Matagorda was a special one for the United Daughters of the Confederacy, for the ceremony of unveiling the monument erected to the memory of the valiant soldiers who froze to death on the night of December 31st, 1863, in defense of our country, was held. The E. S. Rugeley Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy of Bay City, is named for the organized and commanding officer of the company whose history we honored at that time, Capt. Ed S. Rugeley. The program had been specially arranged by Mesdames Kleska, Rugeley, Fullingim and Doubek of the U. D. C. and carried out by direct descendents of the members of this company of Texas cavalry.

We will not go into detail as to the program, only to say that it was beautifully executed, not a break occurring, during an entire afternoon, due to the minute directions of Mrs. Kleska into whose hands was given this duty.

The little girls standing guard at each side of the monument were Misses Gene Lawson and Elizabeth Inglehart, age 12 years, one carrying the Texas flag, the other holding aloft the flag of the Confederacy. Dressed in white with their Confederate red sashes, they stood proudly at attention during the whole service, after having placed the large wreath of red roses on the top of the marble monument. After the song, “Cover Them Over With Flowers,” by Mesdames Wadsworth and Highley, Messrs.  Joe and Foster Milner, a band of little girls and boys, grandchildren of the men whose names are graven in the marble shaft, scattered flowers all over the spot, under which rests the bodies of the dead heroes.

Miss Katherine Fullingim read a very appropriate poem of presentation of the monument, which was accepted for Matagorda by Mrs. W. Rugeley, after which Mrs. Fullingim, president of the Bay City U. D. C. made a most feeling little speech of admonition to them of Matagorda into whose hands we place the keeping of this expression of love to “the boys who wore the gray” that they keep it as a sacred trust, a hallowed memory, a revered history to be read of men in the years yet to come. Mr. Dunbar, whose honor was to draw the cords that unveiled the shaft, is the only living member of Company D., Texas infantry, and the dear old fellow, though he could not hear all that was said, felt the thrill of the hour, and his eyes were filled with tears, as he recalled the comrades of the other day. The flags which were unfurled to the breeze of Matagorda Bay waters, were held by the sons of men who were members of Capt. E. S. Rugeley's company: Mr. Hy Rugeley, Mr. Jesse Matthews, Albert Wadsworth.

At the conclusion of the program, Miss Tenie Holmes gave a reading, “Scatter the Flowers,” and the little boys and girl again scattered flowers and when the quartet had sung, “They Rest in Peace,” Reverend Rainer made the closing prayer and the ceremony was over, and the crowd was scattered all over the old historic burial ground of Matagorda, remembering each grave of a Confederate soldier with flowers. There were friends at the service from other many distant places, and many old friendships were renewed, after perhaps years of separations. Judge W. E. McNabb of Matagorda, introduced the speaker of the day, Mr. D. R. Peareson of Richmond, who made the following address.

Honored daughters of the Confederacy, ladies, gentlemen and friends. I say friends advisedly, for I feel sure that I am a friend to all of Matagorda County and bound to her with cords of steel. Her name, from earliest boyhood has held for me sacred memories and I am touched and honored to be allowed the privilege of having a part in the ceremonies of today.

Matagorda from her founding has ranked high in the history of the state. From her portals have gone out fair, noble women and brave, splendid man. Her people of today are holding high the torch of honor and background that their ancestry left them. No where on God's green earth, are finer people than the old Matagordians-- God bless them everyone!

Today the descendents of the “Boys of ‘61” have met to do honor to the most noble, the most gallant, the most chivalrous of their time.

This splendid monument was erected by the loving hands and devoted hearts of loyal Daughters of the Confederacy of Matagorda County, to the memory of those brave sons of Matagorda who lost their lives on that cold December night almost three-score and ten years ago, in an heroic effort to defend their homes against the threatened attack by the Yankee soldiers, and will remain as long as its material endureth as a token that our people are grateful and appreciative.

There is much sadness in thus commemorating their great deeds, but we also experience a great thrill of pride. We mourn when death makes its presence felt, but we glory in the heroic acts of those who willingly make the supreme sacrifice in an effort to serve their country, and we, who have had no part in the erection of the shaft, are proud that there yet remains in the hearts and minds of the Confederate Daughters of Matagorda County, and the citizens generally, the gratitude, remembrance and reverence which prompted this commendable act as long as such sentiments exist the county is safe.

The events and the persons participating therein and to whom this monument is dedicated, are well known to you, but it is fitting that they be recalled on this occasion, in order that the heroism and daring bravery shown, may be known to the younger generation.

According to authentic data recently in my possession, several Federal gunboats had been observed for sometime maneuvering in the Gulf opposite of Matagorda and on December 30, 1863, one of them came to anchor about 4 miles above the town, lowered some launches fully manned, landed, and at once commenced to erect a fort. These covert acts created much commotion and excitement in the town.

There was then stationed at Matagorda, a company of Texas’ Cavalry from Brown's Regiment, under the command of Capt. Edward S. Rugeley. The other commissioned officers were William Davis, first lieutenant; William Wiggins, second lieutenant  and William Turner, third lieutenant. The non-commissioned officers and privates were: J. H. Short ridge, orderly sergeant; A. W. Thompson, second sergeant; W. H. Wiggins, third sergeant; R. C. Files, fourth sergeant.; J. D. Dudley, first corporal; John Duncan, Jr., second corporal; A. C. Jones, third corporal; Gale Talbot, fourth corporal. Privates: Thomas Cooper, Thomas Davis, John W. Gordon, Willis A. Hawkins, A. R. Howell, H. L. Rugeley, Terrell Vincent, R. G. Turner, John L. Croom, John W. Brown, James W. Granger, D. Hardeman, Jr., James Matthews, C. Roberts, John W. Wiggins, Wm. Turner, A. W. Crowthers, Alex Forrester, Wm. A. Gibson, Sam W. Hardeman, James T. _____,  J. R. Thompson, Edward Wooten, Benjamin Seaborn, George K. Davis, Jesse S. Gordon, James B. Hawkins, Dickinson Hardeman. Robert H. Rugeley, Thomas Thompson, John Walnut, G. M. Collingsworth.

The Confederate gunboat, John F. Carr, the Lizzie Lake, a stern wheeler and the transport, Lucy Guinn, were then stationed at Matagorda. The gunboat with casemated with bales of cotton and carried a 32 pound Parrott gun on her bow. The commander was Capt. G. Shepherd.

The Lizzie Lake was under the command of Capt. Hill and was armed with a smooth bore brass cannon. The guns were officered and manned by Cook's Regiment of artillery been located at Galveston. In command of this flotilla, was Capt. Marmion of the Marine service, but the expedition undertaken was under Capt. Rugeley, who has been credited with the idea of making a night attack on the fort then in course of construction on the peninsula.

The attacking force consisted of fifty-seven men, including a number of volunteers. I do not have the names of all members of this force, except as contained in the foregoing roster, but the names of those who gave up their lives in the furtherance of the cause which they love so well, have been indelibly enshrined in our memories, they are Sergeants Jesse Matthews, John H. Jones; Corporal D. A. McKinney; bugler A. D. Hines; Privates, Thomas McKinney, George M. Bowie, W. G. Copeland, J. M. Connor, J. W. Howell, W. M. Kenerly, A. J. May, J. B. Seaborn, B. H. Walton, James Rugeley, Tom Wadsworth, J. C. Secrest, Henry Gibson, August Johnson, E. Lake, Julius Shaw, E. Duggan.

Among this heroic dead, were nine who were under 20 years of age, and one was only 17. Wonderful youths. But at that time the voice of the Confederacy were everywhere carrying the burdens of fully matured soldiers.

The expedition embarked before sundown and proceeded toward the objective, the men being buoyant and eager to do battle in defense of their beautiful Southland--little dreaming of the catastrophe which soon befell them.

The boats finally anchored about 1200 feet from the shore of the peninsula in less than five feet of water, and expedition awaited nightfall so they might surprise the enemy and inflict a telling blow. Notwithstanding that the Federals could be plainly seen, the commander dispatched two men to reconniter. They were Robert Decrow and G. E. Bethhuysen. After going within a half mile of the fort unperceived, these men returned and reported the enemy force to consist of about sixty men, and thereupon, after consultation, an immediate attack was decided upon. It is needless to say that all were anxious to join in the attack and soon the 57 men and boys were on the way in two life boats and one skiff. The skiff, in which were Captain Rugeley, Captain Green Hall and seven men, took the lead. William Turner was in charge of one life boat and Bob Decrow of the other. Before the boats reached the shore, a terrific norther came up, and almost within the twinkle of a star, the beautiful warm night was changed to freezing in the darkness and the smooth waters of the beautiful bay to a churning mass of wild waves. So mild that the weather been, that many of the brave boys were in shirt sleeves. Uniforms, no doubt, an unknown article.

The darkness, the coldest and the fury of the waters were so intense that the order to return to the gunboats was given before the boats landed. After much difficulty the skiff reached the gunboat, but the other boats in an effort to reach the shore, not being able in the darkness to find the gunboats, were swamped with the fatal results stated above. Some of these men were drowned and some frozen to death. In all, twenty-two brave man entered into rest; but the memory of their deeds and of the patriotism which induced them to undertake the perilous attack lives on and will continue until the shadows fall

It is stated that nine men in one party reached the shore and were urged by one of the number, Alex Forrester, to keep in motion, but they were too overcome to heed his warning and yielded to their desire to sleep, and they did sleep, but it was their their last sleep. They were found together the next day dead. Pathetic was the finding of the bodies of the McKinney brothers locked in each other's arms.

After much suffering the survivors of the life boats were rescued given succor while the bodies of those whose spirits had flown were laid to rest in the cemetery by the tender and loving hands of relatives and friends.

 No matter what their lives may have been, the manner of the going constituted a passport to that eternal home were they now rest in peace.

I feel that I will not take one iota from the homage of gratitude due to those in whose memory this monument has been erected, if I should also speak of the other Matagorda County company.

I refer to Company D., of Sixth Infantry Regiment, which was organized by the Dr. E. A. Pearson in May, 1861. The original officers were Capt. E. A. Pearson; First Lieutenant, James Selkirk; Second Lieutenant, Greenberry Stewart; Third Lieutenant, Philip E. Peareson; First Sergeant, W. D. Barbour; Second Sergeant, George S. Lewis; Second Sergeant John Doel [Dale?]; Fourth Sergeant, David Culver. Corporals Richard Boyd, John Raymond, Wm. Wadsworth. J. S. Perry was drill master. Wm. Austin, drummer; James Cross, piper; S. B. Brigham, secretary and J. T. Fry, surgeon. This company finally became a part of Granberry's Brigade and saw active service in the battles of Arkansas Post, Wartrace Corinth, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Altoona, Lookout Mountain, Franklin, Atlanta, Murfreesboro, and Jonesboro, and were also engaged in numerous skirmishes, and when mustered out contained only fifteen able bodied men. The original number was 108 officers and men. James Selkirk later became captain, but for a part of the time, Frank Holt was in command, he having been commissioned third lieutenant.

Members of Company D. were often detailed on outside service. E. J. Inglehart, the father of Mrs. Kleska, who is quite active in the affairs of the Daughters of the Confederacy, was the dispatch bearer to Gen. Bedford Forrest. He was wounded three times. William Dunbar, who is now the only survivor of either company, did duty as a scout, often penetrating the Yankee camp and obtaining valuable information. Gid Wilkerson, the youngest, 16 years old, of all the members, and the smallest, became an expert sharp shooter. Lieut. Philip E. Pearson served as an aide on the staff of General Granberry, with rank of captain

Some of the members of this company now rest of Arkansas, some in Mississippi, and in Georgia and Tennessee and some in Texas, but the glorious services rendered by the members of both companies is yet remembered by a grateful people, and although all these brave men, except one, have passed on, they left records which will endure until the end cometh.

And now as the cords are drawn and there is unveiled to our view this beautiful memorial to the splendid man who lost their lives the icy bay, and immortalized their names, we say:

We love the South and her traditions and glorious cause, our people fought for them but lost! We cherish the memory of the brave deeds of her courageous men and the sacrifices willingly made by her noble women; we hate and despise the many indignities inflicted upon the helpless people during the reconstruction period, but realize that there is now but one people, one flag, one country, and we stand ready today to give to that country, which has been reunited by the events of the Spanish and World War to the best of our abilities, the same service which our ancestors gave to the lost cause.

The E. S. Rugeley Chapter U. D. C. of Bay City, expresses appreciation to all who helped carry out the program, beginning several weeks ago, when the monument was made and placed. We could not have accomplished it all, without the help of friends, so we thank you all.--Cora B. Moore, Historian, E. S. Rugeley U. D. C.

Newspaper and date unknown

More Money Needed For Monument Fund


While the free will offerings to the monument erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy of the E. S. Rugeley Chapter in the Matagorda Cemetery last Friday in honor of the band of Confederate soldiers who froze to death in Matagorda Bay on December 31, 1863, have been generous in the extreme, additional funds are needed to complete the work. There are 22 young men in the small band of soldiers who attempted to cross the bay in the line of their duty on that fateful might and while ever since the day of the tragedy some plans have been in the making to fittingly commemorate them and their deeds of valor, it was not until recently that the work met with permanent success, and the works are nearly finished is to be credited to the Capt. E. S. Rugeley Chapter U. D. C.

Of the amount needed the chapter has received in money, material and help $92.50 and has applied it to the monument fund. There is more needed and it is the hope of the chapter that others will contribute immediately.

So far the chapter has gotten the following amounts:

Mrs. J. M. Corbett, $10;
Miss Janie Hawkins, $10;

Mrs. Kate Moore, $5;

Mrs. Annie Sanborn, $5;

Mrs. R. A. Kleska, $5;

Miss Florence Bouldin, $5;

Mr. Jesse Matthews, $5;

Mrs. W. D. Barbour, $1;

Mr. V. L. LeTulle, $15;

Mr. J. W. Rugeley, $5;

Mr. Geo. Serrill, $2.50;

Mr. Jno. Sutherland, $4;

Mr. J. J. Simpson, $5;

Mr. Watson, $1.

And from the fund started by the father of Mrs. R. A. Kleska and the grandfather of Mr. A. H. Wadsworth, shortly after the death of the boys and kept intact by the grandfather and the father of Mr. Wadsworth and still in his possession $13, making in all $92.50.

The boys who met death while in the service of their country were:

Jesse Matthews, first sergeant, age 23, birthplace, London, Va.

J. H. Jones, second sergeant, age 28, birthplace Mobile, Ala.

D. A. McKinley, second corporal, age 22, birthplace, Cabinas, N. C.

A. D. Hines, bugler, age 28 birthplace, Washington, Texas.

George M. Bowie, age 18, born Alabama.

W. G. Copeland, age 19, born Alabama.

J. M. Connor, age 22, born Tennessee.

J. U. Howell, age 18, born Alabama.

U. M. Kenerly, age 33, born Illinois.

A. J. May, age 32, born Arkansas.

J. B. Seaborn, age 18, born Virginia.

B. H. Walton, age 21, born Missouri.

James Rugeley, age 17, born Matagorda.

Thomas McKinley, age 18, born Tennessee.

Tom Wadsworth, age 18, born Matagorda.

T. C. Secrest, age 25, born Matagorda.

J. G. Secrest, age 20, born Texas.

Henry Gibson, age 19, born Matagorda.

A. C. Johnson, age 18, born Louisiana.

The following were volunteers for the special trip.
E. Lake, age 18, born in Alabama.
____ Duggan, age 35.
Julius ____.

Last names could not be deciphered from old record.


Should anyone reading this item feel interested and care to contribute toward the erection of this marker, such contribution will be appreciated by the chapter. For this purpose communicate with Mrs. R. A. Kleska, Memorial treasurer, Bay City, Texas.

The first named on the list was the namesake of Judge Jesse Matthews so well known to so many a native of the county and scion of a beloved pioneer family.

The James Rugeley mentioned was a member of another honored pioneer family and the namesake of our fellow townsmen, Mr. James W. Rugeley.

Tom Wadsworth, was the brother of William Wadsworth who contributed so largely to the progress and the history of the old county, an uncle of Mr. A. H. Wadsworth of this city, the custodian of the original $13 contributed to the monument.

Mr. P. G. Secrest is unable to connect the two Secrest boys listed with his family. Henry Gibson, was no doubt, a member of the Gibson family of this county.

This undertaking is not only praiseworthy, but of historic value as well. Your donation to the work of finishing the monument will be most graciously received.

Send contributions to Mrs. R. A. Kleska, as stated above.

Newspaper and date unknown



Copyright 2005 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Feb. 7, 2005
Jan. 14, 2013