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Sam Maverick, Jr. with Terry’s Texas Rangers in the Civil War

Unpublished Vivid Manuscript Memoir

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Painting of Sam Maverick, Jr. (in red shirt) leaving to enter service with Terry's Texas Rangers.  The painting by Carl G. von Iwonski is owned by the Witte Museum in San Antonio. Not for sale.


129.     [CIVIL WAR]. MAVERICK, Samuel, Jr. Manuscript closely written in ink on rectos of about twenty-three leaves of thin letterhead paper with imprint: Sam Maverick, Real Estate Agent, 419 E. Houston St. 1892. The manuscript commences: “Perryville Cumberland Gap….” 4to (approximately 27 x 21 cm). [San Antonio, ca. 1892]. The manuscript appears to be in Maverick’s hand. Creased where formerly folded, edges chipped touching some text, loss of a few letters at some folds and edges; one leaf is fragmentary. The leaves were originally connected at the top because the letterhead was from a pad. Professionally stabilized. Although a connected narrative, the story is incomplete and wants an unknown number of leaves. The hand is somewhat small and cramped but generally legible; the pages are quite full. Unpublished.

     Sam Maverick, Jr. (1837-1936), born in South Carolina, was brought to Texas in 1838 by his parents, the legendary Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870) and Mary Ann Adams Maverick (1818-1898; see Item 385 herein). He graduated from the University of Edinburgh and returned to the U.S. in time to participate in the Civil War, first under Henry McCulloch in Texas and then as part of Terry’s Texas Rangers, of which he was the last surviving member upon his death. He received a battlefield promotion after swimming the icy Cumberland River and setting afire a Union steamboat. After the war, he returned to San Antonio and became one of its more prominent citizens, benefactors, and promoters (see Item 332 herein). See Handbook of Texas Online for articles on Samuel Maverick, Jr. and his parents, Mary and Samuel.

     Although his parents left prolific writings, manuscripts written by Samuel Maverick, Jr. are extremely rare. His mother’s correspondence makes it evident that he did write home from the battlefield occasionally, but none of those letters seem to have survived. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, holds a 1912 Maverick autograph letter signed to the Texas governor that was studied in comparison to the handwriting in the present memoir. The present manuscript is a significant addition to the biography of a famous Texan, a new contribution to Civil War history, and an amplification of the literature concerning the fabled Terry’s Texas Rangers.

     Copies of Maverick’s known reminiscences are in the Center for American History at the University of Texas, Austin. One is a typescript entitled “Reminiscences of Sam Maverick 1837 as Told to His Daughter, Mrs. Emily Maverick Miller. Also San Antonio in 1874 by [Mrs. Lydia Van Wyke]. Dictated, 1923-1929,” containing 210 pages. The other typescript is entitled “Some Civil War Experiences. [Dictated to Mrs. M.A. Hatcher, 12/3/29],” containing seventeen pages. Neither of those manuscripts has been published. The present manuscript is another, but previously unknown narrative of his experiences in the Civil War, in which Maverick served from 1862 until the end of the war.

     The present manuscript is an entirely different narrative from the two typescripts and in many ways far more interesting, entertaining, and vivid. Compared to other similar materials published by his fellow soldiers in Terry’s Texas Rangers (8th Texas Cavalry) recounting their Civil War experiences, Maverick’s story stands out as a superior example of detailed narrative, engaging style, and lively tone. Evident throughout is Maverick’s quirky and brash personality, which made him an excellent soldier and raconteur and about which his own father commented, “He is both mild as a lamb and brave as a lion. I never saw anything like him in my whole life” (letter to his wife, September 30, 1856, quoted in Paula Marks Mitchell, Turn Your Eyes Towards Texas, College Station: Texas A&M, 1989, p. 201).

     For an excellent visual idea of Maverick’s personality, see Cecilia Steinfeldt, Art for History’s Sake (Austin: TSHA & SAMA, 1993), p. 140. Illustrated in black and white is Carl G. von Iwonski’s ca. 1862 painting The Terry Rangers, with Sam Maverick as the central figure and the outline of San Antonio in the background. (The painting also appears in color in Steinfeldt’s book, on the dust jacket and in the color plate section following the preface.) Steinfeldt remarks on the painting: “Iwonski captured young Maverick’s devil-may-care attitude by picturing him in a bright red tunic, waving his canteen aloft, galloping off to war.” The image can be viewed and enlarged at the Witte Museum web site: Search for “Terry Rangers.”

     This manuscript contains significant details on the actions of Maverick and his unit. Following are random samples of his content and style:

I had no responsibility or care—no one else to look after or be responsible for as when an officer. The boys seemed to be glad when I went along on picket duty or other details—There is one thing I have always noticed—that a happy, cheerful man is always the best soldier—that a gloomy, morose man—even when religious or fanatical is not necessarily a good fighter—I have even heard old H.E. McCulloch, a regular old Methodist in strictness, say that the gamblers were the best soldiers—They could stand everything without a murmur. Our commandment moved from near Marietta to Resaca—where there were some nice meadows—Here we stayed about six weeks in the pleasant springtime—until Sherman began to make a move when we were thrown out above Dalton at Spring Place….

Next day we were hurriedly moved through Dalton to Resaca—as Sherman had found passage through the mountains and was about to cut us off at that point—When we arrived we at once went into action with their infantry—compelling them to stop marching and to fall into line of battle and give our own infantry a chance to catch up—which they succeeded in doing—and the cavalry were unceremoniously hustled back and precipitately driven over a steep wooded hill—where we rested and ate lunch in a railroad cut where Lilly was mortally wounded & Talley wounded sitting next to me—That night we slept on the battlefield under the fire all night—Ben Polk our bugler, found a bullet in his bugle next morning & it was my birthday May 14, 1892 [sic]….

Moved up to the breast works for 24 hours duty about 4 P.M.—which we performed—not much sleep in the mud of the trenches—a young Tennn whose mother had just placed [him] in our command—she thought so much of us—was shot through the temples by a sharp shooter a mile away—we only saw the puff of smoke & he was gone—joking and laughing a moment before as he walked unconsciously around with his head too high….

Here we were lousy & had the itch—No one could keep clean among the infantry—I tried to kill the itch with soft soap & powder—then I was told that frolts[?] root tea would accomplish it—I tried this & came near killing myself—did not sleep for 2 nights—tried to wash it off—every time I washed it would sting as much as ever….

Lucius Campbell who was captured, but escaped & rejoined us soon after—stopped at the house of a young lady—whom I thought a great deal of—and he scandalized me very much—by telling her that I was crazy about her & that her name was on my lips when I charged the battery at Stone River & he said she believed every word of it—and was ready to reciprocate….

I boldly took the road—soon came to dead horses swelling up in the heat—was hailed—Who comes there: I simply replied Sam Maverick—Is that you Sam—I thought you were killed—you were reported killed—Delighted to see you….

     Terry’s Texas Rangers were formed at Houston in 1861 by Benjamin Franklin Terry and Thomas S. Lubbock. Originally consisting of 1,170 men, the unit saw action all through the South, particularly in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia. Unfortunately, Terry himself was killed at their first engagement, although other officers ably took his place. Known for their contempt of sabers, which they considered useless as cavalry weapons, the Rangers did most of their mounted fighting with shotguns and pistols, often to devastating effect on opposing Federal troops. They also served effectively as foragers, raiders, and scouts. The Rangers served until the end of the War, making one last, victorious charge to secure a vital bridge at the Battle of Bentonville, the final major battle east of the Mississippi River. Their members either were surrendered at Bennett Place, North Carolina, a short time later with the rest of Johnston’s army or allowed to drift back to Texas on their own. See article on Terry’s Texas Rangers in Handbook of Texas Online.


Sold. Hammer: $4,000.00; Price Realized: $4,800.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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