Robertson County




County Coordinator is Jane Keppler.

County Co-Coordinator is Jean Huot Smoorenburg

If you have any questions or would like to submit information for Robertson County, please email one of the above.

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P O R T   S U L L I V A N ,   T E X A S :   G H O S T   T O W N

By John Martin Brockman
1968 Texas A&M University Master's Thesis

These electronic pages may not be reproduced in any format by other organizations or individuals. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material must obtain the written consent of John Martin Brockman.

Volunteer Jo Ella Snider Parker beautifully typed this chapter for online display.

Even though the Port Sullivan community was across the Brazos River from Robertson County in Milam County, large numbers of its residents were originally from and ended up in Robertson County.  As a result, any information that can be found relating to Port Sullivan and its residents will be placed online at the Robertson County site.  This will (hopefully) include an unpublished manuscript once held by Mrs. Helen Peel of Hearne as well as a handwritten journal written by Bremond's John Coleman Roberts.  If you have information about Port Sullivan that you'd like to share, please contact Jane Keppler.


 Secession And War

Port Sullivan was the home of many Brazos bottom planters whose plantations were worked with slave labor.  The residents of the town in 1860 owned two hundred and eighty slaves in Milam County.  Eleven persons in the town owned more than ten slaves, but no one person owned more than fifty slaves in Milam County.  William Anderson owned thirty-six slaves and Jasper McKinney was the owner of twenty-seven slaves in the county.[1]  Some residents of Port Sullivan owned slave plantations across the river in Robertson County.  James Hanna of Port Sullivan owned fifty-four slaves that lived in the Brazos bottom.  Reuben Anderson, who lived near Port Sullivan and attended the Masonic Lodge meetings there, owned a total of one hundred and ten slaves, according to the census report of 1860.[2]  Most of the citizens of Port Sullivan owned no slaves, but the more influential settlers were slaveholders.  Slaves were important to the planters, and the planters were important to Port Sullivan.  Under such circumstances, the institution of slavery was not taken lightly by the residents of the town. 

As the controversy over slavery grew in the United States, the citizens of Port Sullivan became more involved.  Threats against the system of slavery, real or imaginary, were considered to be very serious, and appropriate measures were taken to protect the institution of slavery, and to deter runaway slaves.  In the summer of 1851, a slave named Ned ran away from his master named Anderson and was apprehended in Washington County.  An advertisement placed in the Washington Lone Star by the sheriff of Washington County, down the Brazos from Port Sullivan, requested the owner to come forward and prove ownership, pay the charges for detention, and take him away.  The slave told the sheriff that he belonged to a man named Anderson who lived on the Brazos near Sullivan’s Bluff.[3] 

In addition to an occasional slave running away, slave owners generally feared that the slaves might rise in rebellion.  A few white persons were suspected of encouraging and aiding the slaves in such endeavors.  A general uprising among the slaves in Eastern Texas expected in 1856, prompted the citizens of Washington County to organize a Vigilance Committee to keep an eye on suspicious contacts between whites and blacks and to patrol the area.[4]  The anticipated uprising, however, never came off. 

The non-slave owning whites were often believed to be unsympathetic to the institution of slavery.  A letter from Cameron, the county seat of Milam County, published in the Austin newspaper in 1858, stressed the importance of giving the small farmer a stake in the institution of slavery.  He suggested the re-opening of the African slave trade in order to lower the price of slaves so that small farmers could own one or two.[5]  This suggestion, however, had no chance for passage in the United States House of Representatives, where representation was based on population and the Southern slaveholding states were greatly outnumbered. 

The events of the 1850’s - the Compromise of 1850, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the rise of the Republican Party, the trouble in Kansas, the election of 1856, the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, put the slavery question in the spotlight.  The presidential election of 1860 became the topic of discussion two years before it was to be held.  A letter from “J. L. T.” of Robertson County dated July 16, 1858, undoubtedly expressed the thoughts of many residents of nearby Port Sullivan.  “J. L. T.” believed that “the institutions of our country” were in great danger.  The future, according to his predictions, would see, the inauguration of a “Black” Republican president on March 4, 1861, or “as our hope and last resort, the inauguration of a southern confederacy composed of slave States of the Union.”[6]  His predictions, on both counts, came true nearly two years. later. 

As the time for the presidential election of 1860 drew near, the parties prepared to make their nominations.  The Democratic Party met in Charleston, South Carolina, to choose its nominee.  Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois appeared to be the favorite, but it would require two-thirds of the delegate votes to win the nomination.  The Southern delegates were able to block the nomination of Douglas, who had angered the South with his famous Freeport Doctrine, concerning slavery in the territories.  The Southern delegates, however, did not possess the strength to nominate a candidate of their own, but they were determined to block Douglas’s nomination and to deadlock the convention, which, in the end, paved the way for separate conventions to be held later.  John C. Roberts of Port Sullivan entered in his diary for May 10, 1860:  “I heard the result of the Charleston Democratic Convention, busted up in a row.  Good news for us conservative men.  I am glad of it.”[7]  His opinion of the convention was shared by the Democratic Party of Milam and Robertson counties in meetings held in May.  A letter from a man in Cameron said the news from the convention had not stopped the corn from growing, the wheat from ripening, or the herds from gaining weight.[8]  Most of the people of the area, by this time, seemed to be looking forward to some changes in the national government.  All that was needed now was an excuse to make the changes.  This would come late in 1860. 

The summer of 1860 was an exciting one in Texas and in Port Sullivan.  “The atmosphere was filled with excitement and alarm.  Reports were circulated, often unfounded, of negro uprisings and wholesale poisonings.  Incendiary fires occurred in many parts of the state.”[9]  Starting in June 1860, the Texas State Gazette of Austin began to run stories about “Black” Republican activity in the State.  One so-called “Black” Republican, reportedly, was a sheep drover that came to settle on the Blanco River.  The sheep herder stated that other “Black” Republicans were coming to settle in Texas.[10]  Later, a school teacher came to the Waco newspaper office asking about the Republican convention in Chicago and left expressing satisfaction in their nominee, Abraham Lincoln.  The Waco paper suggested “the propriety of watching his movements, abolitionists have no business in our country,” the editor added.[11]  In June 1860, the Austin paper reported a Negro conspiracy existed in Fannin County and that an abolitionist had been found in Grayson County.  The paper suggested that the “Black” Republican on the Blanco and abolitionist in Grayson County might be part of a band located at convenient points to give aid to the underground railroad,[12] an organization that helped runaway slaves escape to freedom. 

The Texas State Gazette of July 28, 1860, reported that Dallas and other North Texas towns had recently experienced a rash of fires, supposedly part of a “Black” Republican plot against Texas.  The paper warned “the citizens of Texas everywhere to be on their guard.”[13]  Vigilance committees were formed in all parts of Texas.[14]  On August 1, 1860, Roberts recorded in his diary that Negroes and abolitionists were burning towns and houses up the country.[15]  The citizens of Port Sullivan, and in Robertson County, followed the advice of the Austin paper and formed a Vigilance Committee.  Roberts was elected secretary, and Robert Calvert of Sterling, in Robertson County, was elected president of the committee.  The group was formed on August 8, 1860, and four days later, on August 12, Roberts reported that an abolitionist was in town.  He went to a meeting later that day, but no action was taken concerning the abolitionist.  Between August 13 and August 20, Roberts was out of town and did not mention the abolitionist again.  The Texas State Gazette of September 15, 1860, in an item from Robertson County stated:  “Two men, Richard Broadwright and nephew, were hung in this county on the 19th of August for tampering with slaves.”[16]  Roberts did not mention this incident until August 22, 1860, when he recorded in his diary that the “citizens hung 2 men, Boatwrights.”  In commenting on the aftermath of the event, Roberts reported, on August 23, that there was “no excitement about hanging, all has subsided,” but two days later he added, “rumors going on around the country.”[17]  It could not be established by this writer if any link existed between the abolitionist reported to be in Port Sullivan on August 12, and the hanging in Robertson County on August 19, 1860. 

The persons responsible for the hanging of the Boatwrights, no doubt believed they were doing what was necessary to protect their lives and property from an abolitionist plot.  The action taken in Robertson County and in many other counties in Texas was condoned by many of the leading citizens and organizations in the state.  John H. Reagan, an important figure in Texas politics before and after the Civil War, reported the day before the hanging in Robertson County that he believed there existed an abolitionist plot against Texas.  All persons who might be found to be clearly involved, Reagan said, should not “be permitted to leave the state alive.”[18]  The Texas Baptist, published in Anderson, Grimes County, Texas, was not silent in regard to the abolitionists.  The paper considered the abolitionists to be the slaveholders most deadly enemies. 

"It is now our painful but positive duty to repel their assaults by such means as will most certainly prevent their recurrence.  It may be said that it is unchristian-like to hang a fellow-being, and religious editors should oppose it.  To this we reply:  “The powers that be are ordained of God for the punishment of evil doers;” and it is seen that no other means will stop those men from stealing and murdering, we are under the necessity of hanging them to save our own lives and property."[19] 

One could conclude from this article that the hanging of the Boatwrights was merely doing what God ordained. 

After the excitement of August and September cooled down, more attention was given to the coming presidential election.  The likelihood of a “Black” Republican president did not rest well with many in Robertson County.  In a letter from Robertson County, dated October 22, 1860, a traveler reported that he had “met with many in Robertson county who openly advocated resistance to a “Black” Republican President.  There are old Texans who feel now that a sight of the “Lone Star Flag,” in such a contingency would do them good.[20]  The reporter went on to say that the people of Robertson County would prefer Santa Anna to a “xxxx-loving Northern President.”[21]  The election created considerable interest in Port Sullivan.  Roberts wrote in his diary on the day before the election, “Election on hand tomorrow.”[22] 

The election of 1860 was between four parties:  Abraham Lincoln, Republican; Stephen A. Douglas, Northern Democrat; John C. Breckenridge, Southern Democrat; and John Bell of the newly formed Constitutional Union Party.  Sam Houston, the Governor of Texas, whose name was circulated as “The People’s candidate,” withdrew on August 19, 1860.[23]  As far as Port Sullivan and the South were concerned, the only two men in the race were Breckenridge of the Southern Democrats and Bell of the Constitutional Union Party.  On Tuesday, November 6, 1860, Roberts recorded that “224 votes (were) Polled in Port Sullivan. Democrats 186, Bell 38.  Some excitement on hand.  Cloudy all day.  Union (decided or divided).”[24]  No votes were cast for Lincoln or Douglas.  It probably would not have been safe to do so, judging from the fact that two men were hanged in Coryell County for voting for Lincoln.[25] 

The national election results were not known in Port Sullivan for nine days.  On November 15, 1860, Roberts said “Abe Lincoln is Elected President of U. S.”[26]  The election of Lincoln, in combination with the alleged abolitionists plot against Texas in the summer of 1860, paved the way for the secessionist movement in Texas.[27]  In a little over a week after the results of the election were known, Port Sullivan, in a fitting ceremony, declared itself in favor of the secession of Texas from the United States. 

"Yesterday November 24, 1860 was quite a merry day in Port Sullivan.  The ladies having previously made a Texas Lone Star Flag, presented it at 1 p.m. to the citizens.  Mr. Herndon received the flag on the part of the sons of old Milam, in a neat and appropriate speech of an hour in length, reviewing the acts and measures of Northern fanatics, which had brought about such an outburst of Southern disapprobation and disgust.  His eloquent appeals were frequently disturbed by enthusiastic applause from the assemblage.  The crowd was large and everything passed off quietly.  Everyone seemed to have the same opinion - now’s the day and now’s the hour.  After the address the crowd formed into a procession and marched to the library pole, (erected near the Masonic Hall and some 80 to 90 feet in height) the ladies marching in front.  The flag was then run up amid deafening shouts for the Lone Star, Texas, Southern Republic."[28] 

The citizens of the town believed that a “Black” Republican President would not govern to suit the South and its institutions, and they talked of a new nation made up of the Southern States. 

Even after the election and the return to calmer times, there was still trouble near Port Sullivan in connection with slavery.  Robert Calvert, president of the Vigilance Committee, should have kept a better vigil at his own plantation.  Two of his slaves, Sam, age 22, and Sam’s wife, Betty age 20, ran away from his plantation.  Betty was described as a mulatto, crossed by Indian, medium sized, and slender and delicate in appearance.  Both slaves had been raised in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, and could not speak English very well.  Calvert offered $100 reward for their apprehension and delivery to Sterling in Robertson County or $50 reward if delivered to any jail.[29] 

After the election of Lincoln, Many of the leading citizens of Texas began to urge Governor Houston to call a session in the state legislature so that it could make arrangements for a special state convention to consider seceding from the Union.  Houston refused to give in to the demands of the secessionists.  On December 3, 1860, a self-appointed group, including John Marshall, editor of the State Gazette, issued an address to the people of Texas urging them to hold elections in each representative district to choose delegates to a special convention to meet in Austin.[30]  The citizens of Port Sullivan quickly responded to this request.  A meeting was held over which R. J. Davis presided and in which John C. Roberts was elected secretary.  Citizens from the town and the nearby area came to the meeting in Port Sullivan, which featured speakers from Owensville, the county seat of Robertson County.  The group adopted two resolutions, both unanimously.  The first resolution requested the chief justice of Milam County to call a special election to choose delegates to the special convention, and the second resolution nominated E. P. Gould of Cameron to be a delegate.[31]  In the meantime, seeing that the delegates had been elected throughout the state, and the convention was going to meet anyway, Houston agreed to call a special session of the state legislature, which in turn called for the election of a special convention, along the procedures already carried out.  Houston succeeded in getting the legislature to include a provision in its call that any decision reached in the convention must be submitted to the voters for final approval.[32] 

When the convention met on January 28, 1861, it lost no time in adopting an ordinance of secession from the United States.  The reasons given for seceding included the election of Lincoln, the failure of the United States to protect the frontier areas from Indians and Mexican bandits, the administration of the territories of the United States in a way to exclude Southern people from them, and doctrine of the “higher law” fanatics that believed that all men were equal.[33] 

The ordinance of secession was submitted to the voters of Texas on February 23, 1861.  The day set aside for voting proved to be a big day in Port Sullivan.  The people of the town were treated to a barbecue by the “generous old farmers,” before going to the church to hear speeches on the topics of the day.  A “Lone Star” flag was placed on the wall at each side of the speaker’s stand.  The name of Lewis T. Wigfall, an ardent secessionist and later a member of the Confederate Senate, was place beneath one flag, and under the other flag was the name, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.  In the course of the speeches, Captain Barton of the Port Sullivan Grays asked all ladies present who might be in favor of secession to rise.  It was a race to see who was first on her feet as all the women down to the age of ten stood up.  It was said that all of the ladies of Port Sullivan were united for secession.  The voters of Port Sullivan favored secession 227 to 24, or almost 10 to 1.  At least one person, the author of the article describing the event in Port Sullivan, believed that February 23, 1860, would be looked back to by future generations as one of the “Most glorious achievements that was ever won, either in the fields or anywhere else, by Texans.”  The Port Sullivan Grays, it was said, intended to be ready to “meet old Abe or any of his stripe.”[34] 

Not long after the voters of Texas decided to separate Texas from the United States, a showdown came between the Federal Government and the seceded states.  After the firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and Lincoln’s call for volunteers to crush the insurrection, Texans began to organize into military groups in order to resist anticipated invasions from the North.[35]  Citizens of Port Sullivan were quick to join the newly formed volunteer guards and militia companies. 

In May 1861, the Milam County Guards were organized, and a muster roll of the company was sent to the state authorities in Austin.  The roll included the names of those who were willing to form an infantry company to be used at the call of the new governor, Edward Clark, who had succeeded to the office when Houston was forced to resign.  Residents of Port Sullivan or nearby who added their names to the list included Henry and William Pendarivis, A. P. Streetman, Z. Phillips, Middleston Livingston, and Hugh Davis.[36] 

Another company formed in Milam County, known as the Milam County Grays, volunteered its services to the Confederate Army for the duration of the war unless sooner discharged.  This unit was not to be used for the protection of Milam County or Texas, but it was to be used at the will of the Confederate Government.  Several of the officers, including John Smith, First Lieutenant, and Samuel Streetman, Second Lieutenant, were from Port Sullivan.  Privates in the Milam County Grays had in their numbers R. B. Mayes, Alexander Jones, and James M. Stedham from Port Sullivan.[37]  This company, under the command of Captain John C. Rogers, later became Company G of the Fifth Texas Infantry Regiment, a part of John Bell Hood’s famous Texas Brigade. 

Other residents of Port Sullivan became members of Hood’s Brigade by a different route.  Many residents of the town had closer ties with Robertson rather than Milam County because of land owned in the Brazos bottom.  These residents joined companies being formed in Robertson County.  One Company, the Robertson Five Shooters, was organized sometime in May 1861.  The commanding officer, William P. Townsend, while not a resident of Port Sullivan or Milam County, was a member of St. Paul’s Lodge in Port Sullivan before and after the war.[38]  In May 1861, it was reported that each of the eighty-four men in the company had a Colt Model Seventy-Four, Improved Patent, five-shot rifle.  In addition, fifty in the company had revolvers.  Company supplies included twelve to fourteen tents, camp equipment, cooking utensils, blankets, two or three wagons, eighteen kegs of powder, and twenty-seven thousand ball cartridges and waterproof percussion caps.  It was reported that the company had trained eight or ten days and that it was “all fixed up for a fight.”[39]  Several of the noncommissioned officers were from Port Sullivan:  John C. Roberts, Third Sergeant; and M. Livingston, Third Corporal.[40]  Privates that served in the Robertson Five Shooters from Port Sullivan included J. O. Adams, John Smith, Jesse Livingston, H. Foster, R. H. Foster, L. Barton, F. Barton, John Barton, James Sneed, Peter Allday, Andrew Herndon, W. I. Anderson, M. D. Reavers, S. N. Coe, E. N. Coe and T. E, Dennis.[41]  Several of the noncommissioned officers and privates moved up in rank during the course of the war. 

In May 1861, a man named Newman from Milam County, on returning from Montgomery, Alabama, reported that no Texas companies would be used in Virginia.[42]  Only a few months later, however, both the Milam and Robertson County companies were on their way to Virginia to fight for the Confederacy. 

Captain Roger’s Company left Milam County in the summer of 1861 with no uniforms and very few arms.[43]  The Robertson County company had arms, but they, too, had no uniforms.  The trip to Virginia was made during August and September, and on arrival, the Milam County Grays became Company G., Fifth Texas Infantry Regiment, and the Robertson Five Shooters, Company C, Fourth Texas Infantry Regiment.[44]  The two regiments, for the most part, were kept together during the war. 

After their arrival in Virginia, Companies C and G, with the other Texas units, were stationed along the northern border of Virginia, protecting that area from a possible attack from the Yankees.  The Texans did not take part in any action during their first winter in Virginia.  By the spring of 1862, Captain William Townsend’s Company was anxious to meet the Yankees.  On April 1862, Townsend reported his troops “in fine spirits and anxious for a fight.  We feel perfectly confident that we can and will beat the enemy.”[45] 

On May 7, 1862, a small engagement was fought at Eltham’s Landing, Virginia.  None of the four officers and sixty men of Company C who took part in the action became a casualty.  A. J. Tomlinson[46] was wounded and constituted the only casualty suffered by Company G, which had three officers and forty-nine men in the action.[47]  In terms of casualties, the two companies were not so lucky in future battles. 

The men in gray from Port Sullivan faced their first real test in the battles that were fought to drive the Federal Army under General George B. McClellan in 1862 from the outskirts of Richmond, the Confederate capitol.  A great battle shaped up around Gaines’ Mill late in June 1862, as McClellan was losing ground in his campaign to capture Richmond.  Near Gaines’ Mill the Federal troops dug in not wishing to lose more ground.  The Yankees were entrenched on top of a hill and they had the support of artillery.  Early attempts by Confederate troops to dislodge the enemy ended in failure; so when the Fourth and Fifth regiments arrived on the scene, they saw dead and wounded men in gray.  The Texans, however, went forward under the direction of their beloved commander, General John Bell Hood.  As the line of Texans came over a rise of land, “all hell broke loose; sheets of fire leaped from the Union trenches cutting down the oncoming Texans ’like wheat in a harvest.’”  When the Texans were within a hundred yards of the enemy, they fixed their bayonets and charged with a high-pitched Rebel yell, breaking through the Union lines.[48] 

The victory was costly; the Texas Brigade suffered a casualty rate of almost fifty per cent.  The Robertson County company lost eight men killed outright; twenty-two wounded, two of whom died later; and had one missing in action.  A. P.. Streetman and J. O. Adams, a druggist, from Port Sullivan were both killed in the battle.  John C. Roberts lost an arm as a result of the battle.  Other wounded men in Company C from Port Sullivan included H. W. Davis, F. M. Barton, Robert Foster and W. H. Foster, whose arm was later amputated.  The Milam County company lost two killed and nine wounded in the battle at Gaines’ Mill.[49] 

During July and August 1862, Companies C and G saw action in several other engagements in Virginia, and in September the Texans played an important role in the second battle of Manassas, or Bull Run, under General John Pope.  In the battle Townsend’s company from Robertson County captured part of the Union artillery that had inflicted heavy damage to its ranks at Gaines’ Mill.[50]  Again the battle was costly to the Port Sullivan men.  Andrew Herndon of Company C, and F. M. Bolinger of Company G, both of Port Sullivan, lost their lives in the action.  A number of other men from the Brazos town were injured.[51] 

After halting the Union forces at Manassas, Lee’s army and the Texans moved northward into Maryland.  The push northward was stopped in the fierce battle of Antietam in which 23,000 were killed, wounded, or reported missing in action.[52]  Two Barton brothers lost arms in the battle and several others also from Port Sullivan were wounded.[53] 

The Milam and Robertson county companies continued to function in Hood’s Brigade after Antietam, although with reduced numbers.  The next great battle in which the two companies fought was at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 1-3, 1863.  In this battle Company C lost one killed, fourteen wounded, and three missing.  Heavier losses were experienced by the Milam County company; seven were killed, eighteen wounded and nine reported missing, a good portion of the entire company.  Yet the two companies were called on for more lives and limbs after Gettysburg. 

After two years of fighting in and around Virginia, the Texas Brigade was transferred to bolster defenses farther south, in Georgia and Tennessee.  In September 1863, they participated in a great battle near Chickamauga, Georgia.  The Texans were called on for two charges against the Union lines, with predictable results in casualties.  Five were killed and six were wounded from Company C, including J. A. Smith of Port Sullivan who was wounded severely in the chest and died later.  Company G’s losses included two killed, five wounded, and three missing.[54]  Lieutenant Sam Streetman of Company G, then commanding officer of the company, was killed leading his men in a charge.  John C. Roberts boarded with Sam Streetman’s father in Port Sullivan.[55]  An obituary for Sam Streetman appeared in a Houston paper late in 1863.  It said in part, 

"He was among the first to volunteer in the present war to fight for his country; and passed through many battles and hardships, but finally, in the battle of Chickamauga, (in the language of his surgeon), fell dead on the 19th of September gallantly leading his company in a charge of that evening.  Sam was beloved by all who knew him, was a good officer, and a gallant soldier.  He leaves a large circle of relations and friends to mourn his loss."[56] 

The obituary was placed in the paper by “A FRIEND,“ perhaps a girl friend. 

After the Battle of Chickamauga, the Texas Brigade saw duty in Tennessee during the rest of 1863 and early 1864.  During the remaining part of the Civil War, the Texas Brigade was stationed in Virginia as a part of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.[57]  Not many of the Texans who came to Virginia in September 1861 were left by the time of Lee’s surrender to Grant on April 9, 1865. 

The men of Port Sullivan gave their lives and limbs for the cause of their country, in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Tennessee, as a part of Hood’s Texas Brigade.  Those who stayed at home also contributed to the cause by supporting the Confederate government, by trying to keep the local economy strong, by supporting manufacturing, and by passing resolutions supporting the cause of the South. 

The Civil War caused some changes in trading patterns of Texas and Port Sullivan.  The Federal government extended its blockage of the seceded states to Texas in July 1861.[58]  Cotton could not be shipped to Houston or Galveston for export.  The usual route for trade from Port Sullivan, just prior to the war, was to ship produce to Houston, via the nearest railhead, Millican, five miles above Navasota on the Houston and Texas Central Railroad.  With the blockade, the Texas export trade, except for a few blockade runners, went to Mexico.  Prior to the war the port of Bagdad on the Rio Grande received about six ships per year, but by 1863, a regular packet line ran to the port.[59] 

As an effort to procure military supplies, agents of the Confederate government exchanged bonds bearing eight per cent interest for cotton.  The cotton was transported to the Rio Grande where it was traded for supplies.  The activities of one agent for the Confederacy came under fire from the pen of a Port Sullivan merchant.  James Ferguson of Port Sullivan on July 10, 1863, accused an agent, J. W. Dunn, of neglect of duty.  Dunn, according to Ferguson, purchased a large lot of cotton from the plantation of W. B. and T. J. H. Anderson sometime in 1862.  No one from the government came to pick up the cotton, and, as a result, it rotted and became useless.  Also, Ferguson pointed out, some bacon and lard purchased from the plantation of A. L. and G. W. Hearne was being eaten by bugs and worms, and was fit only for soap grease.[60]  The Texans in Hood’s Brigade could have used the bacon and lard, but it was wasted by inefficiency of the Confederate government.  Several weeks later in the Tri-Weekly Telegraph, “A Friend of Justice” came to the defense of agent Dunn.  Dunn, according to the article, had resigned his position about ten months previous and had transferred his accounts to another agent who was to have seen that the goods purchased by Dunn were used by the Government.[61]  Nevertheless, the taxpayers and soldiers lost something because of the inefficiency of a Government agent, and the exposure of the matter, no doubt, damaged the morals of the people, especially since the loss came to light shortly after the defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. 

In 1863, the Confederate government tried to build up local manufacturing in its territory.  A plan was adopted to build a cotton and woolen factory in combination with a flour mill in Robertson County, about five miles from Hearne, today, and not very far from Port Sullivan.  The operation was to be a joint effort between the local planters and the Government.  The planters of the Brazos bottom are alleged to have put over $500,000 in cash into the Brazos Manufacturing Company.  Machinery for the plant was imported from Europe by way of Mexico, and thence carried overland by ox cart to Robertson County, a very costly operation.  The planters also provided the labor for the construction of the plant by contributing the use of one-tenth of their slaves from nearby plantations.  The bricks for the building were made locally from raw materials close at hand.  Several citizens of Port Sullivan and of the nearby area invested in the plant.  John C. Roberts, who lost an arm in the war at Gaines’ Mill, after returning to Port Sullivan, purchased fifty shares of stock.  Major Townsend, likewise returning wounded, also purchased fifty shares.  Thomas and William Anderson of Port Sullivan bought one hundred shares each.  The war ended before the plant was completed and it was torn down later.[62]  The investment was a total loss. 

The people of Port Sullivan and the South experienced shortages in several areas during the war.  Salt and medicines were of short supply after the blockage of the coast began.  Governor Francis R. Lubbock of Texas advised the people of the state to improvise medicines, using roots, herbs, and even animal dung, “sheep pill” tonic and fresh cow manure plasters.  Texans were urged to grow poppies for opium.  Coffee had to be made from parched okra seeds.[63]  Despite these hardships, Milam and Robertson county citizens kept up their morale. 

Public meetings were held throughout the state during the war in which resolutions were passed expressing support of the war and of the Confederacy.  On September 16, 1863, such a meeting was held in Robertson County, with Robert Calvert presiding.  A total of fifteen resolutions were passed at the meeting, in which the citizens of the county said that: 

  1. Each one should dedicate himself completely to his country’s cause.

  2. No regrets were felt about secession and the “Great Disposer of Human Events” had ordained it. 

  3. Secession was the only means left to insure their rights. 

  4. As freemen, they had the right to change their form of government. 

  5. Their present form of government might not be the very best, but it could be improved with experience. 

  6. The war waged against them by the North was “unjust,” unchristian, and uncivilized.” 

  7. Slavery is a “Bible institution, and is in the keeping of Him who ordained it.” 

  8. The importation of paupers from Europe for soldiers and the use of slaves against the South proves that the North is unequal to the South. 

  9. To shorten the war, all able bodied men, regardless of age, should bear arms in the military service of their country - to the last man if necessary. 

  10. Teamsters and beef drivers should be placed in the army and replaced with Negroes. 

  11. The Confederate Congress should change the property tax exemptions, outlaw the practice of hiring substitutes for the army, and better supervise the government agents. 

  12. The state militia should be increased in size and better trained. 

  13. No one should refuse Confederate money, and those that do should be regarded as one of the enemy. 

  14. All property over and above that needed for the bare support of each one’s family should be “sacredly placed upon the altar of our country as a consecrated offering to the safety of her name.” 

  15. No distinction should be made between rich and poor; all should band together as brothers.[64] 

A meeting held in Milam County two days earlier passed some of the same resolutions.[65] 

The morale of the citizens of Milam and Robertson county stayed fairly high throughout the war.  Even after the surrender of the Texas Brigade and Lee at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, some expressed the desire to fight on.  A mass meeting in Robertson County on May 2, 1865, resolved that the people were “determined to all die freemen rather than live all slaves.”  The meeting regretted the surrender of the gallant Lee and his noble men, and the members pledged themselves not to lay down arms as long as the Yankees kept coming south.[66] 

Toward the end of May 1865, the editor of the Tri-Weekly Telegraph suggested that the only practical thing for Texas to do was to become a state of the United States again by voluntary action.[67]  This is the course that Texas decided to follow.  The war ended, and reconstruction began. 

[1]   United States Census Returns, 1860, Schedule No. 2, Milam County.
[2]   Ibid., Robertson County.
[3]   Lone Star, September 20, 1851.
[4]   Washington American, September 24, and December 30, 1856.
[5]   Texas State Gazette, July 31, 1858.
[6]   Galveston Weekly News, August 31, 1858.
[7]   Roberts Diaries, May 10, 1860.
[8]   Texas State Gazette, June 2, 1860.
[9]   Anna Irene Sandbo, “The First Session of the Secession Convention of Texas,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XVIII (October, 1914), p. 163.
[10]  Texas State Gazette, June 1, 1860.
[11]  Waco Democrat quoted in Ibid., June 16, 1860.
[12]  Ibid.
[13]  Ibid., July 28, 1860.
[14]  Anna Irene Sandbo, “The First Session of the Secession Convention of Texas,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XVIII (October, 1914), p. 164.
[15]  Roberts Diaries, August 12, 1860.
[16]  Texas State Gazette, September 15, 1860.
[17]  Roberts Diaries, August 19-25, 1860.
[18]  Texas State Gazette, August 18, 1860.
[19]  Texas Baptist (Anderson), September 13, 1860.
[20]  Texas State Gazette, November 3, 1860.
[21]  Ibid.
[22]  Roberts Diaries, November 5, 1860.
[23]  Rupert Norval Richardson, Texas:  The Lone Star State, 244.
[24]  Roberts Diaries, November 6, 1860.
[25]  Galveston Weekly News, November 22, 1860.
[26]  Roberts Diaries, November 15, 1860.
[27]  William W. White, “The Texas Slaves Insurrection of 1860,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly, III (January, 1949), p. 259.
[28]  Texas State Gazette, December 22, 1860.
[29]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, December 20, 1860.
[30]  Richardson, TexasThe Lone Star State, 246.
[31]  Texas State Gazette, December 29, 1860.
[32]  Richardson, TexasThe Lone Star State, 246.
[33]  Ibid., 247.
[34]  Texas State Gazette, March 9, 1861.
[35]  Richardson, TexasThe Lone Star State, 250.
[36]  “Milam County Guards,” quoted in Martin and Hill (eds.), Milam County, II, 38.  The names on the muster roll were compared with the names of persons on the Tax Rolls, Milam County, Texas State Archives, owners of lots in Port Sullivan; in the Masonic Report, 1860; and in Burned Record, Milam County Abstract Co., abstracts of lots in Port Sullivan.  This same procedure was used to determine Port Sullivan residents included in muster rolls cited later in this study.
[37]  “Milam County Grays” quoted in Martin and Hill (eds.), Milam County, II, 51-52.
[38]  Masonic Reports, 1860-1866.
[39]  Muster Roll of Captain William P. Townsend’s Company of Robertson Five Shooters Infantry for the Month of May 1861, Texas State Archives; and Texas State Gazette, May 11, 1861.
[40]  Harold B. Simpson (ed.), Texas in the War, 1861-1865, Collected by Marcus J. Wright, 210.
[41]  “Volunteers,” quoted in Martin and Hill (eds.), Milam County, II, 57-58; and Muster Roll of Captain W. P. Townsend’s Company, in the 4th Regiment, (Wigfall’s Brigade) of Texas Volunteers, commanded by Colonel J. B. Hood, Texas State Archives.
[42]  Texas State Gazette, May 25, 1861.
[43]  Susan Turnham McCown, and L. W. Kemp (eds.), “Early Days in Milam County, Reminiscences of Susan Turnham MCown,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly, L (January, 1947), p. 376.
[44]  Harold B. Simpson, Gaines’ Mill to Appomattox, 42-51.
[45]  Quoted in Ibid., 75.
[46]  L. D. Tomlinson was a property owner in Port Sullivan in 1860.  A. J. Tomlinson may have been his son.  Tax Rolls, Milam County, 1860, Texas State Archives.
[47]  Harold B. Simpson (ed.), Touched with ValorCivil War Papers and Casualty Reports of Hood’s Brigade.  Written and collected by General Jerome B. Robertson, 79, 85.  Hereafter cited as Simpson (ed.), Touched with Valor.
[48]  Simpson, Gaines’ Mill to Appomattox, 86-67.
[49]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, August 4 and 20, 1862; and Simpson (ed.), Touched with Valor, 87.
[50]  Simpson, Gaines’ Mill to Appomattox, 90.
[51]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, September 29, 1862.
[52]  Simpson, Gaines’ Mill to Appomattox, 107.
[53]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, October 24, 1862.
[54]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, October 26, 1863; Masonic Report, 1864.
[55]  Roberts Diaries, January 5, 1855.
[56]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, December 30, 1863.
[57]  Simpson, Gaines’ Mill to Appomattox, 281.
[58]  Wallace, Texas in Turmoil, 87.
[59]  Ibid., 129.
[60]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, July 22, 1863.
[61]  Ibid., July 30, 1863.
[62]  J. K. P. Hanna, “First Texas Cotton Textile Mill,” Dallas Morning News, August 23, 1925.
[63]  Wallace, Texas in Turmoil, 130.
[64]  Tri-Weekly Telegraph, October 2, 1863.
[65]  Ibid., September 25, 1863.
[66]  Ibid., May 5, 1865.
[67]  Ibid., May 30, 1865.

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