Milam County, Texas

dixie bar

Diary of Robert Thomas Williams

Marches, Skirmishes and Battles
of the
4th Regiment, Texas Militia
between October 1861 to November 1865


To all who read this:

Please understand that, because of the condition of and the style of writing in the original diaries, some place names and/or persons names, may be mis-spelled in this transcript. I tried to decipher as nearly as possible what my ancestor wrote. Some of the writing had faded out completely, some of the pages had been eaten away, and some of the writing looked as if it had been done in a great hurry. Therefore, it was littl more than scrawl, readable only by the one who scratched it on the paper. It is my wish that this diary be used, enjoyed and honored by all who read it.

Connie Ragan Seelke

I am Connie Sue Ragan Seelke, daughter of Audrey Coldiron Lewis, granddaughter of Maudie Mauldin Coldiron, great-granddaughter of Frances Adeline Williams Warren Mauldin, great,great granddaughter of Robert Thomas Williams.

Robert was born May 22, 1831 in Cowart, Georgia to Berrien and Nancy (Moore) Williams. At the age of 37 he married Theresa Elizabeth Watson.

They had four children; Nancy Roseana, Theresa Elizabeth, Robert Thomas Dick, and Frances Adeline. Robert died Dec. 24, 1908 at the age of 77.

He was a medical student, a teacher, and a farmer. He was also a soldier in the Confederate Army from 1861 to 1865 and rose from Private to Lieutenant. On September 6th, 1879, my grandfather wrote these words:

“I remember this day, 18 years ago as well as yesterday. I & brother John went to the town of Cameron to a bar-b-que. After dinner, we marched back to the courthouse. I & Brother John played on the fiddle. Someone beat the drum. We gave up the fiddle and joined Charles Buckholts’ company after many speeches and much whiskey. We then rode out to John Bealls’ for horses. Taken the night with Mr. Beall. I found myself sober then wished I was back home with my mother for I knew that it would nearly take her life, but, too late. The die was cast. What followed cannot be imagined. Only myself and Brother John know”

He was 30 years old when he joined the army. While serving, he was commended by Charles Buckholts, who wrote “ I have a fine Orderly Sergeant--he is a gentleman and a good officer, every inch of him. He and his brother John are the only ones who make the music for us. Jan. 15, 1862”

Robert Thomas served his community, his state and his country well and left his legacy for those that followed. His daughter, Frances carried on not only his line, but his determination, forthrightness, and will to persevere. Her children, Maudie Faye, Monroe Bestus, Allyne, Nolan Leon, Frank Allen, Iva Howell are all part of and heir to, that will to survive. I am proud to be a direct descendant of such a man.

PREFACE

This diary has been lovingly transcribed by myself, first in long hand, then in type, because I wanted to give something to my family that they could cherish and pass on to their children. This is my way of saying I am proud to be who I am and what I am. I must thank my mother for her encouragement. The love and devotion of my family has helped me to complete a long and tiring task. I sincerely hope that some day future generations of my family will whisper a silent thank you to me for saving this bit of our heritage just as I have said thank you to the Grandfather who wrote everything down for us so long ago. Enjoy this bit of family history as I have done and pass it on to the next generation.

Connie Sue Ragan Seelke
Great-Great Granddaughter to Robert Thomas Williams


Copies of his war diary are at the Cushing Library at Texas A&M University in College Station and at the Confederate Museum in Hillsboro, Hill Co., TX.

dixie bar

The diary begins in October 1861 and end in November 1865. For the purpose of getting it on-line, it has been separated by year.

1861

1862

1863

1864

1865

dixie bar

Robert Thomas Williams was a member of Co. E, 4th Texas Cavalry (Milam County Guards - Captain Charles Buckholts’ Company, 1st Regiment, Sibley’s Brigade, Texas Mounted Volunteers) also known as "4th Regiment, Texas Militia."

He was taken prisoner and returned to be paroled on 11 July 1865. When the war broke out in 1861, he was studying to be a doctor. Some of his doctors tools are on display at the San Jacinto Monument in LaPorte, Harris Co., TX.

He was instrumental in starting the school at Sand Grove and the Church and Cemetary at Mt. Homer in Milam Co., TX.

Robert was born 22 May 1831, Georgia, the son of Berrien Williams and Nancy Moore. He died 24 Dec 1908, Milam Co., TX. On 12 Nov 1868, he married Theresa Elizabeth Watson (b. 9 Jul 1834, Milam Co., TX - d. 27 Mar 1915, Milam Co., TX). They are both buried in the Mt. Homer Cemetery, Milam Co., TX.

They were the parents of four children: Nancy Roseana Williams (m. Thomas Bankston); Theresa Elizabeth Williams (m. Porter Wilkerson); Frances Adeline Williams (m. James Hammel Warren); and, Robert Thomas Dick Williams (m. Mary Cherry & Allie Adams).

dixie bar

The 4th Texas Cavalry was originally organized in September 1861, in San Antonio, Texas. It was made-up of 10 companies and the unit was also known as the 4th Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers. They were commanded by Colonel James Reily who was a politician from Houston, Harris County, Texas, who was a veteran of the Mexican War. Reily served in the Diplomatic Corps of the Republic of Texas, and later as a United States Consul in Russia. He was killed at the Battle of Irish Bend in Franklin, LA on 14 April 1863.

The New Mexico Campaign was Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley's daring plan to take three regiments of volunteers to be raised in Texas and strike north up the Río Grande into New Mexico, capturing the weakly-held Federal forts and their stores of supplies, gathering more volunteers from sympathizers in the countryside, and driving the Federal army out of the territory.

Sibley envisioned the conquest of Colorado, whose gold mining profits would be diverted to aid the Confederacy. From Colorado, he and his expanded army of conquest would march to San Francisco, acquiring a seaport that would be impossible for the Federals to blockade. With the Confederacy reaching from coast to coast, leaders in Europe would be likely to recognize it as a nation. Davis approved Sibley's plan, made him a Brigadier General, and gave him permission to raise the troops he required in Texas.

Sibley returned at once to San Antonio, to spend the Summer of 1861 to raise his brigade, consisting of the 4th, 5th, and 7th Texas Mounted Volunteers. Sibley encountered delays in enlisting and equipping his troops, which resulted in a late departure. The first wave left San Antonio for Franklin, Texas, in late October 1861. Sibley had unintentionally embarked upon a winter campaign in a territory of high steppe deserts, whose plateaus more often than not rose a mile above sea level. Two full regiments of Sibley's Brigade, the 4th and 5th Texas Mounted Volunteers, left San Antonio for New Mexico in late October and early November, traveling in small detachments because of the scarcity of water along their route of march. The third regiment in the brigade, the 7th Texas Mounted Volunteers, was still incomplete at the time of its departure for New Mexico in late November.

The first advance of Sibley's army arrived in Franklin, Texas, in mid-December. Hoping to gain foreign recognition for the Confederacy and to forestall any attempt by Union forces to cross Mexico, Sibley sent Colonel Reily of the 4th Texas on a diplomatic mission to the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua. Lieutenant Colonel William R. Scurry assumed command of the regiment in Reily's absence. Reily bid his men farewell on Christmas Day in a camp just north of the Mexican border. Sibley's army had entered New Mexico Territory. Moving north up the Río Grande, the 4th Texas established a camp above Fort Thorn, 70-miles from Fort Craig.

The 4th Texas’ first skirmish was on Sunday, 16 February through Thursday, 20 February 1862 at Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory. On the night of 20 February, approximately 150 mules, used to pull supply wagons, were carelessly allowed to run off toward the Rio Grande looking for water.

The Battle of Val Verde was on Friday, 21 February 1862, the Confederates defeated the Union forces led by Colonel Edward R. S. Canby. Among the Union troops was the First New Mexico Volunteer Regiment, led by Colonel Christopher "Kit" Carson. Losses were about equal on each side. The Confederates failed to take Fort Craig. The unit marched onward and on Friday, 28 March 1862, the Confederates defeated the Union forces in the Battle of Glorietta Pass. Union reinforcements had come from the Colorado territory. These men were mostly miners, and were called "Pike's Peakers." When their supply train was destroyed, the Confederates were forced to retreat to Santa Fe.

Company E was commanded by Captain Charles Buckholts, who was killed at the Battle of Glorietta Pass on Friday, 28 March 1862 and the town of Buckholts in Milam County, Texas was named in his honor.

The New Mexico Campaign ended in May 1862 when a lack of supplies caused Sibley's Brigade to withdraw toward San Antonio.

This mounted infantry unit was originally assigned to Sibley's Brigade and was surrendered by General E. K. Smith, commanding the Trans-Mississippi Dept., on Friday, 26 May 1865. During the war, the 4th Texas Cavalry lost 76 men killed, 186 wounded, 136 died of disease, and 910 horses killed.

To learn more about the Battle of Val Verde, Battle of Gloreita Pass, Sibley Campaign or the 4th Texas Cavalry, please refer to the Handbook of Texas in print form or on-line at http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/search.html.

dixie bar

Research and re-typed to be placed on-line here by Lynna Kay Shuffield, Oran M. Roberts Chapter 440, United Daughters of the Confederacy®

BACK to Milam County, Texas Webpage

Created on 20 Aug 2003 and last revised on 14 Mar 2007