The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview
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A Texan in Search of a Fight John C. West

Left Waco, Texas on the morning of April 11, 1863; bid adieu to my dear little Stark and Mary at home; said good-bye to my sweet wife at the ferry- boat landing (at the foot of Bridge Street). Nothing of interest occurred on the way to Springfield (about forty miles east of Waco); saw two or three prairie chickens and a green sportsman trying to kill one; saw at Springfield, as I had left at Waco, a good many stout, able-bodied patriots, who somehow kept out of the service; stopped at McCracken's, fifteen miles east of Springfield, for the night; found Mr. McCracken a strong Houston man and would vote for him for governor if he "had to be hauled to the polls in a wagon."

I fear there are too many of this kind, and others worse, who will elect Houston if he runs. His election will be an invitation to Yankee invasion. However honest he may be in his devotion to the South, the North would regard his election as an endorsement of his past action.

April 12th. Left McCracken's at 3 o'clock in the morning. It is my birthday. I am 20 years old today Sunday). Reached Fairfield (70 miles east of Waco)...

Palestine, April 13th... We discovered here some defect in our transportation tickets, and will have to pay our way to Rusk. It will be just my luck to have to pay all the way to Richmond, Va. I have already paid out since the war commenced five times as much for the privilege of serving in the ranks as the government has paid me, but I am perfectly willing to give all I have if the sacrifice will aid my country in achieving its liberty.

April 14th. Left Palestine about 5 o'clock A.M., in a two-horse wagon;

JOHN C. WEST, Texan in Search of a Fight ( Waco, Tex., 1901), pp. 1-60. Like Charles B. Johnson of Illinois, John West waited until the first flush of enthusiasm for combat had passed and the war's seriousness had become apparent. Only when it was apparent that the Confederacy desperately needed his services did he volunteer. Extracts from his poorly printed diary furnish glimpses of the impact of war on Texas, and bear testimony to his determination to make his way to the battlefront.


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