DescriptionConfederate 26th Texas Cavalry: 1st Sergeant William C. Smith Two Autograph Letters Signed with a Sketch of the Execution of Deserter Nicaragua Smith. The first letter is four pages of a bifolium, 8" x 10, Galveston, Texas, January 10, 1863, to "Lizzie." William Smith mustered into the 26th Texas Cavalry, Co. "A", in March 1862. Just nine days before writing this letter, Confederate General J. B. Magruder, with the help of the 26th Texas Cavalry, recaptured Galveston, which remained in the hands of the Confederates for the rest of the Civil War.
Sergeant Smith opens the first letter reporting on the Union shelling of Galveston. "The old saying that it is hard to say what an hour may bring proved true today. I was sitting at my desk quietly writing as I now am when I heard a gun go bang & directly the same thing again. I instantly dropped my pen ran up on top of the house to see what was going on. It proved to be four of the enemy ships shelling our city which they did pretty well for about two hours. . . . The shot & shell make a curious noise. . . . You look at the ship, they fire, see the smoke, wait about half a minute, then you hear the report of the gun, then the whistling of the shell. Soon you hear a second report, the bursting of the shell, loaded with balls, pieces of iron, etc. When they explode in a house they tear it all to pieces. . . . Our troops are ordered to sleep with their guns in their hands tonight. . . . I did not see a man who looked anyways frightened. All of them saying only let them come ashore & we horse Marines will show them what the Texans can do."
Smith then writes about the execution of Nicaragua Smith. "Smith, the spy, was shot yesterday at 12 o'clock. He was a deserter from Col. Cook's regiment. he came in a few days ago, thinking that the Yankees were still in Galveston & did not find out his mistake until it was too late. He was the most desperate man I ever saw. He laughed, swore & done everything ridiculous he could up to the moment he was shot. All the troops were out on parade. The piece of paper shows how everything was arranged."
On the fourth page of the bifolium, Smith has sketched the execution, marking the location of the "coffin," the "soldiers who shot him," the guards around the execution scene, the colonel's location, and the location of all of the regiments and citizens. This letter and map exhibit some minor losses of paper along a top fold (does not affect the sketch). Some soiling and ink blotches.
Smith's second letter consists of one page, 8" x 10", Virginia Point, Texas ("Fort Hebert"), October 9, 1862, announcing that "the Yankees landed this morning." Some staining and separations beginning along a fold.
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