1862: Harvey Lindsey to Martha Saline (Cowsar) Lindsey

How Dr. Lindsey might have looked

How Dr. Lindsey might have looked

This letter was written by 36 year-old Harvey Lindsey (1825-1912), a physician who served the Confederacy as a 2d Lieutenant in Company D of the 13th Regiment Texas Volunteers. The 1860 census confirms the residency of Lindsey in Flora, Smith County, Texas, with his wife Martha (1829-186x) and three children: Hannah (b. 1854), Edward (b. 1857), and James H. (b. 1858). Also residing in the same household were 22 year-old William Yarbrough, a clerk, and 26 year-old W. H. Pucket, a merchant. He is also enumerated in the 1850 census of Smith County, Texas, though not yet married.

Further research reveals that Lindsey was born in Henry County, Tennessee on 16 July 1825. His parents were Edward and Rachel Murphy Lindsey. After studying medicine he began practicing with Dr. Somers in Newport, Tennessee. He removed to Texas in 1849 where he practiced for twenty years. He married Miss Martha Saline Cowser in 1851 and eventually had five children. “At the commencement of the Civil War, Dr. Lindsey enlisted in the Confederate Army and served until the end of the conflict. On returning home he discovered that his wife had died and his children were being cared for by a faithful slave who remained with them until her death. Having lost all of his property, and being disgusted with the carpetbaggers who had taken possession of Tyler, he decided to leave Texas for a new country of which he had heard much. So in 1869, he removed to the Indian Territory and settled near Webbers Falls. In 1872, Dr. Lindsey married Bettie Jane Hanks McCarty — a member of a prominent Cherokee family. He removed to Eufala in 1874 and through many years devoted his energies to alleviation of suffering humanity. [Source: Chronicles of Oklahoma; Texanna by Carolyn Thomas Foreman, pg. 178]

In 1861, Col. Joseph Bates raised the 13th Texas Infantry Regiment in Galveston and Brazoria County with headquarters in Valasco, Texas. The regiment was assigned coastal duty between Galveston and Matagorda most of the war. From May to September 1863, the regiment was moved to Louisiana and served under Gen. Richard Taylor with headquarters in Bashgear City.

At the close of Lindsey’s letter he mentions excitement caused by the “incessant” firing of cannons in the direction of Galveston Bay. I could not find any reference to a “battle” taking place on 11 March 1862 but an expert in Texas history informs me that the event coincides with the placement of the Union blockade and an initial failed attempt by the Union Navy to capture the Confederate port.

1862 Letter

1862 Letter

Addressed to Mrs. M. S. Lindsey, Flora, Smith County, Texas
written on envelope: Lieut. H. Lindsey, Bates Regiment, Valasco, Texas

Valasco [Texas]
March 10, 1862

Mrs. M. S. Lindsey
My dear wife,

On Saturday the 8th inst. I received your letter of Feby. the 27th. Was glad to hear from you for all my pleasure here consists in reading of your letters although we have three mails each week. I nevertheless attend the post office each mail night hoping to receive a letter. Hope that you and the children are in better health by this time. [There is] nothing but confusion here. Some of the regiment want to go to Tennessee, some to Missouri, and a majority want to remain here. The result will be known in a few days. All that quit this regiment will have to enlist for the war according to the Governor’s Proclamation. I shall remain here for I consider that I owe you and my children a duty as well as the Confederate States.

It is true, I am as well satisfied as I expected to be, but my family is first and then my country. Col. [Joseph] Bates is now gone to Houston. When he returns, it will soon be known how many men — if any — will leave here. If any go, it will be only parts of companies. Then a new election of officers will take place. That, however, will not injure me for I am on good terms with my fellow soldiers. There is now a petition in circulation for Hamilton ¹ to resign. He will not do it — a large majority of the men are against him. No ships in sight for the past few days.

Thomas Flewellen bought 3 or 4 dollars worth of drugs for me. He knows the amount. I also bought from him 1 bushel barley & 1 peck of grass seed. He is indebted to me for 3 or 4 years. Willis has the account except for last year. If you take his note, get all the accounts. You may let Willis have the horse if he treats him well. It is better than feeding him unless you had more use for him than you have. You need not expect many favors from people. Try and keep friendly with all. I think Willis will do you justice. In your next letter, I want to know how my cattle & hogs are doing.

I expect to draw some money in a few days. If so, I will send you some the first opportunity. Take care of all paper & blank books. Also your crockery ware for it is uncertain when you will get any more. Save all that you have unless it is such articles as you can make.

Tuesday the 11th

At ten o’clock last night I quit writing. I am glad that I did not finish as I have some news of interest. This morning at 8 o’clock we heard the report of cannon in the direction of Galveston. We could occasionally hear one up to 10 o’clock. From that time till twelve the firing was almost incessant. The wind is now at (2 o’clock) blowing so hard we cannot hear them or the firing has ceased. We are stationed only thirty miles from Galveston. San Luis is in the direction of Galveston distant from here 15 miles but they have only one cannon and could not possibly keep up such a continuous firing. We will probably know by 10 o’clock tonight. If they need us at Galveston, they will send an express.

My health is excellent at present. Eli Tate, [J. C.] Preddy & [L.] Chadwick are well. The health of the troops is much better than it has been. Take good care of yourself and the children and be assured that I will take all possible care of myself. I will write once each week.

Your faithful husband, — H. Lindsey

I have a bad pen to write with.

¹ William F. Hamilton enlisted as a private in Bates’ Regiment Volunteers at the age of 23 in November 1861. He did not immediately join the regiment, however. Rather, he was granted authority to raise a company which was accomplished in late December 1861. Records indicate that he was reelected captain during the reorganization of the regiment in June 1862. (Note: this company was known various times as Captain Hamilton’s Company, Company L and (2d) Company D, Bates’ Regiment Texas Volunteers.) Capt. Hamilton took a leave of absence due to “chronic diarrhea” from early November 1862 until mid-January 1863. By the summer of 1863, he resigned his commission entirely, citing a variety of reasons (see resignation letter).

Resignation Letter

Capt. William F. Hamilton’s Resignation Letter




3 thoughts on “1862: Harvey Lindsey to Martha Saline (Cowsar) Lindsey

  1. Lise, I believe we have been in correspondence in recent years about the Lindsey and David families. I need you to contact me again as I am in touch with another descendant of your great-great-grandparents. I would like to put you two in touch with each other.


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