Lone Star by Don Troiani
(The 1st Texas Infantry in the Cornfield at Sharpsburg)

I’ve recently been catching up on Confederate staff officers who were at Sharpsburg, those serving Division and Brigade commanders .  One of the ways I find them by is rummaging through after-action reports. Over the last couple of days I’ve been sorting through that of Brigadier General John Bell Hood for the period 22 August to 17 September 1862.  He writes about quite a number of his officers, but down toward the bottom, he thanks and lists his couriers.

That’s something out of the ordinary, and it pulled me off the staff officer track to look into them.

Commonly known as mounted couriers, these men were also often Hood’s scouts, as well. Scouts which, in at least one case, could be hard to tell from spies.

Here’s what General Hood wrote:

I would be wrong in not acknowledging the valuable services rendered during the several engagements, in transmitting orders, of the following couriers of this command: M. M. Templeman, T. W. C. Lake, J.P. Mahoney, James Malone, W. E. Duncan, J. A. Mann, W. J. Barbee, W. G. Jesse, J. I.[J] Haggerty, and J. H. Drake.

The first listed, Madison Monroe Templeman, was something of a hardcase. He was born in Ohio and was about 23 years old when he enlisted as Private, Company H of the 5th Texas Infantry. In November 1861 he was detailed from his Regiment as courier and scout to the Brigade. After March 1862 this was Hood’s Texas Brigade.

Scouts had some difficult and dangerous duty, often “behind the lines”. In the winter of 1861-62, scouts from the Texas Brigade often raided across the Occoquan River through and among the Federal pickets on the north bank. There were stories of atrocities, like scouts’ “slitting the throats” of guards, pickets, and on at least one occasion, a wounded Union soldier. Granted war is a nasty business, but this was beyond the pale, at least to the Federals. At some point they offered bounties of $1000 or more on the heads of some of these men; Templeman’s head was reportedly worth $4000.

A fellow Texan, Private Robert Campbell, Company A, 5th Texas Infantry later wrote of an incident involving Templeman on the 2nd Manassas Campaign:

As we were proceeding through this timber [on 28 August 1862, near Thoroughfare Gap, VA], a prisoner was brought us – and turned over by Genl. Hood to Templeman – a noted scout of the brigade – and a member of Co. “H” of the 5th Texas. Templeman carried his prisoner back to the gap (2 miles) and halting him, pulled out his six shooter, and sent his capture to Pluto’s dominions – or somewhere else …

Templeman continued in service with the General through Sharpsburg, where he was wounded in action, and into the following year, when he was himself killed, in a skirmish at Thoroughfare Gap on 1 May 1863. As Campbell finished Templeman’s story:

… Nor is it out of place to give in succinct form – the sad end of Templeman, rather an end – which from all circumstances considered – is worthy of study since it proves the verity of a biblical passage which quotes “Thou who lives by blood shall by blood die.” This is the substance of the passage, though not a “verbatim et literatim” transcription. Templeman was killed dead – 12 months [sic] afterward  – by the Yanks – near the very spot where he had in cold blood shot down his powerless and unarmed prisoner.

Next on the list is Thomas W. C. Lake. He enlisted in Company L, First Texas Infantry in Galveston on 1 August 1861 at age 22. He was assigned as courier to the Brigade sometime before Sharpsburg.

He was captured in action at Gettysburg, PA on 2 July 1863 and held at Point Lookout, MD. It looks like he spent the rest of the war a prisoner, as he was exchanged and/or paroled at Winchester, VA on 8 May 1865.  I don’t know anything about his post-War life.

The next man is John P. Mahoney, I think.  Mahoney also enlisted in Company L of the First Texas, and at some point was promoted to Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant. In between it’s possible he was courier for General Hood, but if so, I don’t know for how long.  I have not found any other J. Mahoneys in Texas units in the Army of Northern Virginia. I’d be glad for any further information on him.

James K. Malone is probably the next courier named. He enlisted in Company A of the First Texas and was promoted to 3rd Corporal on 16 May 1862.  By Sharpsburg on 17 September he was back with his Regiment as Color Corporal, and was wounded while carrying the colors there.  He recovered from his wounds, but was “jailed by civil authorities in Richmond, VA” in April 1863, cause unknown, with no further military record.

I cannot identify a J. A. Mann from among the units of the Brigade. Anyone?

Wilson J. Barbee, on the other hand, is something of a celebrity in his own right. At least among dedicated students of the battle of Gettysburg.  Another member of Company L, First Texas, he had mustered “for the War” at Manassas, VA on 1 August 1861.  Although formally detailed as a courier, he was apparently in the habit of leaving his General in battle, and returning to his Company to fight with his mates. This probably occurred at Sharpsburg in September 1862.

It most certainly did in the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg, PA on 2 July 1863.  Colonel Philip Work, commanding the First Texas later commended Barbee in his report:

… [W. J.] Barbee, Company L, for great and striking gallantry … Private Barbee, though a mounted courier, acting for Maj.-Gen. Hood, entered the ranks of his company, and fought through the engagement. At one time he mounted a rock upon the highest pinnacle of the hill, and there, exposed to a raking, deadly fire from artillery and musketry, stood until he had fired twenty-five shots, when he received a Minie ball wound in the right thigh, and fell.

Some accounts note that he was in fact wounded and fell three times from that rock, in both legs and the body. After the last, he was stuck in a rock crevice, cursing because he couldn’t get back to firing.   Private Barbee survived Gettysburg, but was killed in action near Dandridge, TN on 18 January 1864.

W.G. Jesse is another I can’t readily identify.  There was a William Gray Jesse who served in the Army of Northern Virginia, a Private in Company B, 9th Virginia Cavalry, but I can’t make a connection with Hood’s Brigade for him.

John J. Haggerty was Irish born, and had worked in England before coming to the States in 1846.  By 1861 he was living in Texas and enlisted in Company A, 4th Texas Infantry in Guadalupe County in June or July. He was ill, though, and didn’t join his Regiment in Northern Virginia until August 1862, when he was detailed as a courier.

He was captured on 2 July 1863 at Gettysburg, PA, and held for four months at Fort Mifflin, Philadelphia. The Federal Provost Marshal interviewed him there and determined he was a spy. He was then sent to Fort Delaware, which is on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River. It’s not clear to me what made him a spy as opposed to a scout, or even how different those roles were in practice.

He apparently escaped sometime in 1864, however, a rare event at Fort Delaware, and returned to his unit on 24 July 1864. There is no further record for him.

Finally, there’s J.H. Drake, a Private who enlisted in Company C, 4th Texas Infantry on 1 July 1861. And that’s all I know about him.  More digging needed.

I’m very glad that General Hood called out these men, giving us a chance to learn more about some of the individuals who make up the story of the Battle of Sharpsburg.

________________

Notes

The Don Troiani print Lone Star, above, is from a copy accompanying an excerpt from Susannah J. Ural’s Hood’s Texas Brigade: The Soldiers and Families of the Confederacy’s Most Celebrated Unit (2017) in the December 2017 Civil War Times Magazine, hosted online by Historynet.

Service information for these men from their Consolidated Service Records as found in the Historical Data Systems database, and, for the men in the First Texas Infantry, rosters posted by reenactors of the Texas Brigade.

Further details about Hood’s scouts, Templeman in particular, from Professor Ural’s book. She wrote “Texans’ letters did refer to the brutal freedom that scouts enjoyed in their raids and the bounties that enraged Federals placed on them in retaliation.”

The Campbell quotes above are from his 1869 memoir, published in Lone Star Confederate: A Gallant and Good Soldier of the 5th Texas Infantry (2003, George Skoch, ed.).

Colonel Work’s Gettysburg Report is in the Official Records, Series I, Vol. 27, Part II (Serial No. 44).

Details of Private Haggerty’s life and service from a bio sketch by Thomas J. Ryan published in the Coastal Point newspaper of 17 June 2016.

J.H. Drake’s presence at Sharpsburg from Chaplain Davis’ The Campaign from Texas to Maryland (1863).

The (identified) couriers each have a page on Antietam on the Web, to wit:

M. M. Templeman,
T. W. C. Lake,
J.P. Mahoney,
James Malone,
W. E. Duncan,
W. J. Barbee,
J. J. Haggerty, and
J. H. Drake.

One Response to “Hood’s couriers at Sharpsburg”

  1. Karen Murfield Ray Faircloth says:

    My attention was grabbed extra quick when I saw the name ” W. J. Barbee” ! I found several names similar to this Young Man’s name in my hunting of Family Members mostly on ANCESTRYdotcom. The names I have found of our Family members , are ; Barb , Barber , and Barbee ! The names are on my family lists ::: Landaker (Leyendecker Leyendaker Landaker and Landacre side of my Dads side of our Family. Thank You, For the viewing of this wondrous STORY pertaining to our Civil War era !! xoxoxooxxxxx

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