Rockdale Reporter, Thurs., 25 Dec 1913, p. 8, c. 1-4
Our Confederate Corner
George A. Doss (photograph)
Our company was made up in Austin County, Texas in September 1861, all of them German boys, all single. Our captain M. Van Hoevel, led us to San Antonio where we were enrolled as Company G, in the Fourth Texas Mounted Volunteers, James Riley, Colonel, being the first regiment of Sibley’s Brigade. After lots of drilling which the boys did not fancy very much we were detailed to make paper cartridges for the army in the old Alamo building which served as an arsenal.
On October 20, 1861 we took up our march into the wilderness of the plains country, inhabited at that time only by the Comanche and Apache Indians, who claimed all of Northwestern Texas as their happy hunting grounds.
Christmas Eve - especially dear to the heart of every German - found me on guard duty; we were then about four day’s travel below El Paso, camping on the Rio Grande. The guard line - while the regiment camped on higher ground - ran along a slough; high brush and reeds on both sides; the slough running along parallel with the river was ankle deep in mud, with a cold blizzard blowing. The instructions given us by the officer of the guard were “not to move; not to smoke; not to talk; else we would be a sure mark for the thickly roaming Indians; “and boys” he continued, “you will have to stand your full four hours at a time, for it is so difficult to get the other relief to respond promptly.”
Well, there I was, with my gun ready to blaze away at the least motion in the thicket; brush on either side; four long hours for a boy in his teens on Christmas Eve, hundreds of miles away from Home Sweet Home, where right then mother had fixed the tree with its dozens of flaming candles for the younger children, underneath on shining linen the beautiful little presents, among them a good thick pair of woolen socks mother had knitted herself for the far away soldier boy. “Maybe we can send them to him some day, “ she said and pressed her apron to her dear old eyes, then stepped over to the piano and after a short prelude started into one of the sweet Christmas melodies, and the children joined in with their lovely voices - “Peace on earth and happiness to all”“Halt, who comes there!”
The report of the gun roared long, long, through the heart rending solitude of the immense wilderness and black night, and echoed and re-echoed from the black towering mountains beyond. After a little a loud rustling in the bushes and the voice of the officer: “Who fired?”
“Here, Lieutenant, I did.” came from the next post. “There was someone creeping through the thicket, and something knocked my coonskin off.” The Lieutenant lit a match and found the cap with an arrow sticking through the thick fur. The officer then went back from post to post, admonishing each one not to move and to always be on the alert.
Such a night! Though at last came the second relief. But when I started to go to camp I found my shoes froze hard and tight in the thick mud. I had to leave then there and walk barefooted back to my lonely pallet under the leafless cottonwoods. But youth can stand a great deal and directly I dreamed about some little girls sweet voices ringing in my ears - “Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.”
But I must be brief or else the editor may use his sheep shears. I could write volumes of what we went through during the four years of that cruel war. From El Paso we went up the river into New Mexico to Fort Gregg where at Val Verde we had our first fight with Camby’s forces capturing his artillery, losing two-thirds of our horses, the remainder taken away from us to fill out the other regiment and our battery which suffered immensely too. Now we were “foot cavalry”.
From there we went to Albuquerque. From there northeast to a place in the Rockies called Glorietta where we whipped a detachment of Colorado trappers and miners 500 strong and 800 regulars. We then made a night march and on Easter Sunday morning, all bells tolling we marched into the city of Santa Fe but with our army supplies exhausted and no way to replenish. We marched back to El Paso, fighting Camby’s 12,000 men as we went.
After a brief rest we started from there in May 1862, across the immense desert of the plains - a distance of about 700 miles - to where we had to go. Without any wagons, carrying our own provisions, consisting of half a sack of flour for each man, and our canteens only in which to carry our water. Often times we had sixty and more miles to plot over between water hole and water hole, and canteens empty before half the distance was made.
Having traveled over a thousand miles through chaparel [sic] and cactus thorns, sharp rocks and knee deep snow, barefooted, we now in June had to wade through red hot sand stretches, but we were going towards “home sweet home”. Oh, how sweet that word “home” sounds even to the roughest soldier. After a short furlough at home we had to remount ourselves.
Be it said here that a cavalry man had to furnish his own horse, saddle and bridle. If the poor fellow couldn’t afford that he would be what we call relegated to the infantry. All managed to buy a new mount. (By the way, the Southern people owe me for five horses and three saddles.)
Then we went to Louisiana and under General Taylor fought Banks at Camp Biesland and Franklyn, then went into Arkansas, then through part of the (then) Indian Territory, back to Texas, retaking Galveston and Harriet Lane, then to Louisiana again, whipped Banks at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, and our last fight of the war was at Yellow Bayou.
The spring of 1865 found us foraging in the woods and cane brakes on Trinity River. One day the Colonel called us together. Mind you there was no more forming of lines. “Boys,” he says, “there is a rumor that Lee has surrendered; here there is nothing for us to eat any longer; go home, and if they should need us again, why, they can call up on us.” “Now boys,” the Colonel continued, “you will have to beg your subsistence on the way home, but don’t steal if you can possibly help it.”
After being disable in several battles, having suffered immensely from swamp fever and dysentery, I started a mere hollow eyed skeleton for home. Being in the rainy season, I had to swim the Trinity and Brazos rivers and their tributaries, no ferry being found; and at last looked down from the hill into the home valley and as a matter of course, just went by where Mollie lived.And for Mollie, fat and happy
In 1866 I rented a little farm and found me a little girl, who would have me sure enough. We made eight bales of cotton and several hundred barrels of corn, selling the cotton for 16 cents per pound. Then in 1870 I moved to Milam County, bought a farm, and here my wife died and left me with two little children.
In 1875 I married my present old lady. We have eight children, and we raised the ten; six boys and four girls, to be strong, healthy men and women, none of them afraid to work, all good, honest citizens of this great commonwealth, and here we are, my dear old lady and myself, too old to do any more regular field work. Wife is strictly in the poultry business and I experiment with all kinds of field crops - corn, cotton, forage and garden truck - for the benefit of my children and my neighbors. All of them come now and then to get advise from the old man.
Geo. A. Doss
above sketch was written by Mr. Doss himself, and as Uncle George has omitted several points to the editor will supplement his article by saying that he was born August 10, 1840 and is therefore in his 74th year. Uncle George is the father of ten children; six boys and four girls and has 39 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren all living in this county with the exception of one daughter, and all living in the same neighborhood so near that all can congregate with the old folks every Sunday if they choose - and they do so choose pretty frequently.
Uncle George, starting as a renter as above told, has made a financial success in life. He has bought each of his ten children a good farm and gave it to them, starting each one out as a land owner instead of a renter when they got ready to leave the parent roof. Although well past the allotted three score and then years, Uncle George is as strong and robust as most men of half his years. He is a good citizen, one of the kind worth much to his community.
We must say a special thank you to Vanessa Burzynski of Katy, Texas, for typing the above for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.
Created on 21 June 2005 and last revised on ____________