Nick Hardeman Deserts the Confederate Army
A Program for the Smith County Historical Society
by Vicki Betts
The Austin newspaper printed a "special correspondence" from
Tyler, dated July 29, 1864:
Gazette—About a week ago 150 men of Col. Anderson's
Regiment, who were guarding the Federal prisoners near here, organized
under a Lieutenant, and left. Their
horses had come in from grazing the day
before, and they are well-armed and mounted.
Col. Anderson endeavored
to overtake them with a small force, and induce or compel them to return, but
was unable to overtake them. They
deserted in open day, fell into line at the sound of the trumpet, and are by
this time on the frontier, I presume. For a day or two the Federals were
very insecurely guarded and
some apprehensions were felt that they would escape and do much damage, but all
is safe now. What should be the
punishment for men so lost to honor as to desert their post, leaving 3000 or
4000 miscreants almost unguarded in the heart of the country, thus endangering
the lives and property of
the whole country to pillage and slaughter?
The federal prisoners mentioned in this article were, of course, at Camp
Ford, and the lieutenant was 2nd Lieut. G. N. "Nick"
Hardeman, eighteen years old, of Matagorda County.
Why would he desert, and what happened to him? I've searched through records from Austin to Bay City to
Washington, D.C., and while I've found some of the answers, other key points
remain a mystery.
Nick Hardeman was no ordinary Texas farm boy.
His father was D. Hardeman, who moved to Texas in 1845 from Tennessee and
points in between to join his extended family. Ten years earlier, in 1835, forty-five Hardemans, led by
Nick's great uncles Bailey, Peter, and Thomas, all veterans of the Battle of New
Orleans, had moved to Texas, receiving grants along Caney Creek in what is now
Matagorda County. Bailey Hardeman
assisted in writing the Declaration of Independence for the Republic of Texas as
well as its Constitution, and served as the Republic's first Secretary of the
Treasury. Four of Nick's first
cousins once removed fought with the army of the Republic of Texas, including
one at San Jacinto. A
brother-in-law and four cousins fought in the Mexican War, mostly with
McCulloch's Rangers. As we
will see, the family will also be well represented in the Confederate army.
The family also enjoyed outstanding political and social connections.
His grandmother was a friend of Martha Washington.
His parents attended Andrew Jackson's inaugural party at the Hermitage in
Nashville. One great aunt was also
the aunt of President James K. Polk. A
Missouri cousin was a close friend of Thomas Hart Benton, while another was the
first governor of the state of California and friend of John C. Fremont.
As you might expect, the family was quite wealthy. After the rest of the Hardeman clan gradually moved away from
the coast to claim land, D. Hardeman took their place in Matagorda County where
his eldest daughter, Sallie Ann, married her first cousin once removed, Samuel
H. Hardeman, the son of Bailey Hardeman. In
the 1859 tax rolls, D. owned almost three thousand acres, worth $42,529, or
almost $14.26 per acre, well above the state average.
He owned 49 slaves, plus his wife owned 12 in her own right, which placed
them comfortably within the planter aristocracy.
They kept 30 horses, 75 cattle, and one carriage.
However, about that same year D. Hardeman decided to sell out and move
elsewhere—exactly where I'm not sure, although I do know where he was in 1864.
By the 1860 tax rolls, he only reported 711 acres, and he didn’t appear
in the 1861 Matagorda County tax rolls at all. all.
was a staunch Democrat. He
represented his region to the State Democratic Convention in 1859. The local newspaper called him a "warm supporter of the
Democratic nominees against the Sam Houston pow wow. He does not know of a man in his neighborhood who will vote
Nick was the ninth child of eleven, five boys and six girls, although
four of the children had died early, and the three oldest girls had married.
That left D. Jr., Dickerson, Martha Evelyn, Nick, and William Perkins at
home when the war began. Not long after Fort Sumter, on June 13, 1861, Captain E. S.
Rugeley formed the Caney Rifles, in which one of Nick's brothers-in-law served
as 3rd Lieutenant and his two brothers and another brother-in-law
served as privates. Five weeks
later this group reorganized as the Caney Mounted Rifles, which later became
Company D, Reuben Brown's Regiment Texas Cavalry.
Nick's two brothers soon left the Rifles—D. Jr. joined Terry's Texas
Rangers, and Dickerson joined the 4th Texas Cavalry, part of Sibley's
Brigade. One Hardeman cousin became
a major in the Quartermaster Corps, another a captain in the 28th
Texas Cavalry of Walker's Texas Division, another served in the 16th
Texas Infantry, and another in Hood's Texas Brigade. The highest ranking family member was Nick's cousin William
Polk Hardeman, who rose to Brigadier General by the end of the war.
William Polk Hardeman was Samuel's first cousin as well as his
Nick was only fifteen years old, but he made regular trips out to the Camp
Winston near Matagorda Bay where Brown's Regiment was stationed. His sister, Sallie, sent letters, boxes, and jars of goodies
to her husband Samuel, and Samuel sent Nick back with letters, redfish, oysters,
and seashells. He may have picked
up the measles in camp—he was sick for New Year's Day, 1862.
D. Sr. visited the part of his family remaining in Matagorda County from
time to time, and sent bolts of cloth when he could.
He wrote them letters from "Fairview" although at this point I
don't know if that is a plantation name, or one of several towns called
"Fairview" listed in the Handbook
of Texas. In one letter he
suggested that Samuel (I think) go and see General and Mrs. Bee in San
Antonio..."they are my most intimate friends."
1863, Samuel, now age 42, received an honorable discharge from the army and the
correspondence slacked off for a while. However,
by late January, 1864, he again rejoined Brown's Cavalry.
At about the same time, Philip Fulcrod, from Goliad, formed Fulcrod's
Cadet Cavalry, presumably from young men not quite old enough for the regular
service, among them Nick Hardeman. As
soon as the command got together, General Bee ordered one company to picket duty
on the coast, four companies under Col. Fulcrod went "west" to arrest
deserters, and one company went to Columbia to act as couriers.
As of February 14, 1864, three more companies were in the process of
being raised, but that may not have been accomplished.
In early April the commands of Philip Fulcrod and John Pelham Border were
combined, with Col. Thomas Scott Anderson, formerly with the 6th
Texas Infantry, placed in command. From
that point on, the unit would be known as Anderson's-Border's Cavalry.
11, immediately after the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, Border
received orders to take his battalion from their camp on the Lavaca River to
Camp Ford to assist in guarding the anticipated influx of thousands of new
prisoners. Nick wasn't in camp at
the time—he was again "quite sick" but was well enough to accompany
the regiment north in early May. Col.
Anderson arrived in Tyler on May 13 to replace Col. R.T.P. Allen.
He found Sid Richardson's company of Walter P. Lane’s Rangers already
guarding at Camp Ford but anxious to join the fighting at the front.
They would not consider handing over their arms to their replacements.
For a while the veterans and the young raw recruits overlapped. W. W. Heartsill, one of the veterans, was not impressed—one
of Anderson's Regiment managed to kill himself by an accidental discharge of his
gun within half an hour of going on duty for the first time.
arrived at Camp Ford during the absolute worst period of Camp Ford's history.
The Mansfield and Pleasant Hill prisoners had already arrived,
necessitating enlarging the stockade. On
May 21 another almost 500 came in from Arkansas, six days later 540 returned
after the Red River Campaign canceled their anticipated exchange, making a total
of 4400 men within the walls. Ten
days later another 160 arrived. The
new prisoners were provided with no shelter from the early summer sun and heat.
Sanitation became an immediate problem.
Anderson placed Border in control of Camp Ford, and Border's adjutant,
Lt. B. W. McEachern soon became the tyrant of the stockade.
The tension between the guards and the prisoners, and even in the outside
community, was intense. On May 18,
Holcombe, Reed, and McReynolds were removed from the Smith County jail and
lynched. On May 22, one of Anderson's men shot and killed a prisoner
allegedly for cursing him, although others denied the excuse.
Five prisoners escaped on June 6 but were recaptured three days later.
On June 22 a Yankee was found shot dead in the woods where he had gone
after brush—after that the federals hired the Confederate guards to go out
with them. The next day a slave
woman was whipped severely in full view of the prisoners, as if proving the
powerlessness of the abolitionist federals to protect her.
prisoners somewhat broke the tension on the Fourth of July, when they held an
Independence Day celebration, including music, speeches, and the possible brief
raising of a hidden US flag. A few
days later about a thousand of the earliest prisoners were paroled and marched
toward Shreveport for exchange, easing the overcrowding somewhat.
Still, on July 11 a guard killed a Yankee for cursing him, and on the 15th
a prisoner killed his messmate. Nick's
first commander, Philip Fulcrod, was ordered to Tyler to stand court martial for
some unknown reason, perhaps something he did in reaction to losing his command.
At sunrise on July 16, the veterans of Walter P. Lane's Rangers joyfully
"bid farewell" to Camp Ford, heading east to Marshall and then
Shreveport, leaving the prisoners under the care of hated Lt. McEachern and the
recruits of Anderson's /Border's Cavalry, many of them still in their teens.
All in all, this was probably NOT what Nick Hardeman had in mind when he
joined the Confederate Army.
Austin newspaper originally stated, on Tuesday, July 19, the cavalry horses were
brought in from pasture. On
Wednesday, July 20, the trumpet sounded, the men, many of them only boys,
mounted their horses and headed west. While the Austin paper said 150 men
deserted their posts, Col. Scott Anderson put the number at Lt. Hardeman and 98
additional men. Only a couple of
POW diaries exist for that period. On
the 20th, Captain William McKinney, 19th Kentucky Infantry
noted "quite a number of the guards desert.
160 in number." Jacob
W. Paulen, 130th Illinois Regiment, wrote in his diary "163 Rebs
deserted from this camp this morning. The
authorities started after the deserters but don't hear from them." He added for the following day--"Sixty Rebels from Tyler
deserted taking with them a 6 pounder. Joining
those left this camp yesterday." I have not found any other reference to this second
desertion—he may have misinterpreted some movement of the guards.
sent Capt. Gus Patton, Co. G, with two lieutenants and forty men in pursuit, and
also ordered a courier to ride to the nearest telegraph office, which was in
Henderson, with a telegram to be sent to Houston. The next day, Headquarters of the District of Texas, New
Mexico, and Arizona issued the following: "Col
Bradford will proceed forthwith, exclusive of Mann's Battalion via Bastrop and
Austin to Fredericksburg and use all means to intercept Lieut. Hardeman and one
Hundred men deserted from Col. Anderson's Command Tyler on yesterday; Col.
Bradford will leave sufficient number of men at points on the road from Bastrop
to Fredericksburg to surprise & capture the men (who will march in an
irregular and loose manner), also to communicate with each other, so that chase
can be made in any direction the deserters may take.
The officers & men under your command will shoot down without
hesitation any of these men and particularly the officers should they attempt to
escape or offer the least show of resistance.
Col. Bradford will use the utmost vigilance and activity to intercept
& capture the deserters, the safety & honor of the country require it.
The movement will be made without the least delay, no officer or man
being permitted to carry any Baggage except a change of clothing.
Commissary supplies will be found at Bastrop and Austin.
Commanding officer is authorized to call upon the commanding officer of
the State Troops at Fredericksburg for supplies & request him to furnish
them for temporary purposes which will be paid for, or returned in kind, at the
earliest moment. Capt. Pool's Co. unatd [unattached] cavy [cavalry] will
proceed to Bastrop and operate from there.
Col. Bradford will proceed to Austin and be guided by developments of the
movements of these deserters. If he
heard of the deserters being South of Fredericksburg he need not proceed to that
point. He will report progress from
time to time and make the utmost haste to return to his post & bring the
deserters to Columbus in irons or tied." General J. E. Slaughter, Chief of
Staff, informed Lt. Col. Fulcrod, who was in Houston at the time, about the mass
desertion from his former unit. Fulcrod
responded the next day: "This
subject has ever since been one of very painful reflection to me.
I have thought that I could advance the service if I were permitted to go
in search of them. The relations of
the men have been such to me that I think I could induce them to return to their
duty with comparatively little trouble. As
you are aware I am at present under arrest and of course cannot act unless
permitted." I have seen
nothing to indicate that Fulcrod was allowed to go after his men.
three of four days, seven of the deserters evidently saw the error of their ways
and returned to Camp Ford voluntarily. These
men were put into close quarters.
Friday night, the 22nd, Col. N. H. Darnell, commanding the post at
Dallas, received information that the deserters had reached the vicinity of
Butler's Bridge, on the East Fork of the Trinity River, in Dallas County, and
were making their way to the frontier. Darnell
called together Capt. Smith's company of the Reserve Corps, a part of Capt. W.
H. Darnell's company, and as many of the Government operatives and citizens as
could get arms, numbering in all about 80 men, who started in pursuit about 2
o'clock on Saturday afternoon. They
found tracks at the crossing of the Trinity River, at Cedar Springs, and trailed
them all night, coming up on the men a little before daylight, on Sunday
morning, a few miles southwest of Cedar Hill, where they had camped.
They were able to capture the whole party, except for about twenty who
had left the group before they reached Dallas County, and Nick Hardeman and
seven or eight others, who made their escape.
Captain Patton and a squad of men from Tyler met Col. Darnell's company
after the capture, and returned with them to Dallas on Sunday afternoon.
Patton took charge of the prisoners, escorting back to Tyler on Tuesday,
July 26 and placing them in the guardhouse.
The Dallas Herald declared that
"The whole affair was well arranged, and carried out, and reflects much
credit on the promptness and energy of Col. Darnell, as well as on the soldiers,
the operatives in the Government troops at this place, and the citizens, all of
whom responded with alacrity to the call of Col. Darnell for men."
Anderson reported to Houston that most of the deserters had been returned, and
Major General Walker ordered a court martial to be convened at Tyler.
He instructed Anderson to choose "eight or ten of the
ringleaders" to bring before the court, but at that point, none of the
instigators had been captured. The
men who returned voluntarily or who had been captured at Dallas would all later
On August 3rd,
Houston was still ordering Capt. Pool with a detachment of fifteen men to
"pursue with all haste and arrest the deserters--Lt. Hardeman & ten men
(the rest having been arrested), they will be sent to Tyler Texas."
A week later headquarters ordered Capt. Louis Bechwitz of Col. Anderson's
regiment of cavalry to "pursue to Col. Ford's command on the Rio Grande
Lieut hargrove [sic] & men of his company--he will arrest and prefer charges
against Lt. Hargrove, collect the men of his company and proceed with them to
Tyler and report to Col. T. S. Anderson."
Sometime during the month of August, Nick Hardeman was arrested and
incarcerated in the guardhouse at either Houston [August letter from Sally] or
Millican [Anderson letter, Sept. 29], or perhaps he was moved from one place to
time his father, D. Sr., had fallen "dangerously ill of congestive
fever" at his new home in Burleson County, and "his physicians [said]
it was not possible for him to recover."
D.'s daughter, Sallie wrote her husband Sam in Brown's Cavalry, begging
him to get a furlough to assist her mother, "you know how helpless Ev and
Ma will be amongst total strangers without anyone to advise them. . . Pa was in
a great deal of trouble about Nick, who is under arrest in Houston, but I will
not here repeat the particulars of his case, for I suppose you have heard them
before this. Poor misguided young
man. I am afraid it will be a
serious affair for him." D.
Hardeman died later that month in Burleson County, but I have been unable to
find his grave. His attorney,
William Pitt Ballinger, wrote in his diary:
"Col. D. Hardeman died recently.
No Better man is left behind. If
I knew the facts I wd write a biographical sketch of him."
The Austin Daily Telegraph called
him "one of the oldest and widest known of Texas citizens."
Instead of Sam, another son-in-law, William F. Davis, requested leave on
August 28 to go to Nick's mother. "[M]y
father-in-law has just died, leaving his family in Burleson County in an
unprotected condition having no male on the premises and a large number of
slaves most of whom are now sick, his sons are all in the Army and are remote
from home to give their Mother the immediate attention which her condition
requires. The length of time asked for is barely sufficient to remove
my mother-in-law to Matagorda County from whence she removed to Burleson county
on the appearance of the enemy last winter, she can there receive the attention
her situation requires from her friends who are too old to be in the Army. . .
Hardeman's company had been transferred to near Harrisburg, so he was near Nick.
He wrote his wife on September 6 that William Davis would be seeing Nick
the following day and that he hoped to see him in a day or two.
Five days later he wrote her that "Wiggins" had been to see
Nick on the 9th, that he had been sick but was now "fat and
Hearty and will have a chance of getting home before long."
Evidently Davis wasn't so confident, because Sallie wrote her husband
that "I feel more anxious about the termination of his case since I saw Mr.
Davis. Do write me what you think
about it and how he bears his troubles."
It was now
time to bring in the family's wide connections to try and influence the
impending court martial. Confederate
Congressman Claiborne C. Herbert of Colorado County informed Lt. Governor
Stockton Donley of the situation. Donley
wrote Major General John G. Walker, commander of the District of Texas, New
Mexico, and Arizona: "Being
informed by the Hon. C. C. Herbert that Lieut. N. Hardeman is held in arrest
with the possibility of charges being presented against him of insubordination,
and knowing something of the command to which he was formerly attached, I take
the liberty of joining others in making the request that he be released upon the
grounds, and reasons, stated by the President of the Confederate States in
General Order no. 139, of 1863, issued from Genl. Cooper's office."
This Proclamation of pardon and general amnesty had been extended to
"all absentees, except those twice convicted of desertion, who should
return to their proper commands within twenty days after publication of the
amnesty in the State in which the absentees might be"--I'm not sure how
this applies to Nick. Donley continued his letter by explaining that "The
battalion to which Lt. H was first attached was of boys, and [raised?] by Lt.
Col. Fulcrod during last fall and winter." Donley had been in the area during the winter and spring and
visited the camp--the officers were inexperienced and the young men had not been
trained in military discipline. Lt.
Col. Fulcrod was frequently off on detached service and "the examples then
exhibited to them in old regiments and among men of mature age, on the contrary,
was so calculated to provoke insubordination among them, that it was a frequent
subject of remark with others as well as myself. . . . "I take the liberty
therefore to join in the request that Lt. Hardeman be discharged, or at least
that you exercise in advance your authority to consider his case, & know
whether his is not one in which your discretion may be exercised to dismiss the
Less than a
week later, on September 26, Sam wrote his wife that "I went to see Mrs.
Sarah Wharton [mother of Confederate Major General John Austin Wharton] who was
at Mr. Leonard Groce's near Hempstead [that's Liendo Plantation].
She told me that she had been to see Genl. Walker [commander of the
Department of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona] and that he had promised to do all
he could for Nick consistent with the duties of his office.
Mr. Groce told me that he had spoken to Col. Scott Anderson and he
thought that there would be no great difficulty about the case.
Col. Anderson is the Col. from under whose command the cadets deserted.
His wife is Mary McNeill, an old acquaintance of mine.
[The McNeills and the Hardemans had moved from Tennessee to Texas
together.] I got Mrs. Wharton to
agree to talk to Col. A. I assure
you that what Mr. Groce told me took a great weight off of my mind for I felt
much grief about it. . . Nick is fat and hearty and sends his love to Betsy and
If Mrs. Wharton did indeed talk to Col. Anderson, she did not convince
him to drop the charges. On
September 29, he requested "that Lt. Hardeman be tried upon the charges
On October 4, 1864, Special Order no. 24 was issued:
Gen'l Court Martial is hereby appointed to convene at Brenham, Texas, on Tuesday
the 11th day of Octr 1864, at 10 o'clock a.m., or as soon thereafter
as practicable for the trial of Lieut. G. W. Hardeman of Anderson's Reg't, and
such other prisoners as may be brought before it.
The Court will sit without regard to hours. Detail for the Court"
Col [Henry] M Elmore 20th Texas Infty President
2. Lieut. Col. [James] Wrigley, Timmons Reg't Infantry
3. Lieut. Col. [Patrick Henry] Swearingen, 24th Texas Cav. Dis'out
4. Lieut. Col. [Noble] L. McGinnis, 2'd Texas Infantry
5. Maj. James A. Randle, Anderson's Regt Cav.
6. Capt. William Davis, Anderson's Regt Cav.
7. Capt. [Gus] Patton, Anderson's Regt Cav., Co. G
"Capt. George P. Finlay P.A.C.S.
is appointed Judge Advocate of the Court. No
other officers than those named can be assembled without manifest injury to the
service. Should any of the members
of the court be absent, the court will nevertheless proceed with, and transact
the business before it, provided the number present be not less than the minimum
prescribed by law."
Nick Hardeman's case was delayed for some unknown reason. His older brother, D. Jr., was able to get leave and tried to
get him additional civilian legal representation.
He visited Thomas M. Jack, Thomas Pitt Ballinger's law partner, on
October 21, who then contacted Ballinger who was at that point out of
town--"D. Hardeman came to see me this morning.
Got his leave extended. Goes to Hempstead to see J. W.
Is anxious for you to appear in defense of his brother."
Ballinger arrived home within the week and wrote in his diary on the 26th:
". . . unless [Horace] Cone could go to Brenham--I must certainly go
to defend Nick Hardeman before a court martial--& must go up to-day.
Cone wrote me this morning he couldn't go--& I wrote to D. H. [D.
Hardeman, Jr.] and to Scott Anderson I would go up to-morrow--It puts me to
great inconvenience, but I do not feel that I can with propriety decline
considering any relations towards the Hardeman family--I wouldn't that he should
be dishonored or seriously punished for any earthly consideration--& shall
spare no effort to preserve him."
On Thursday, October 27th, Ballinger traveled to Brenham to
assist on Nick's case. He found
that the charges had not yet been received, nor would they be the following day.
He wrote in his diary: "I
saw Nick Hardeman. He is a fine
noble boy--one of the last I have ever seen to commit a conscious wrong.
He was lying sick--His brother D was there also.
He had employed [John Woods] Harris & it turned out that Col.
[Leonard] Groce caused me to be telegraphed for.
Harris also favored the employment of [Jabez Demming] Giddings which was
done, tho' G did not seem to consider it necessary or to enter into the case
with much interest. I conferred
with H. fully--left him DeHart, with written mems of my views--& I left
Saturday. . . I wrote Harris yestdy [November 6] fully as to Hardeman's case--He
wants me to go up, but this is impossible.
Court will set the 17th."
In the meantime, several witnesses were summoned:
Lt. Col. Philip Fulcrod; Mr. Trabne, provost marshal at Millican;
privates R. Jones, E. Nelson, and T. Dunn of Nick's company H, and Captain W. B.
Coffield, Lt. W. H. Randle, and Pvt. R. Crunk of Company K.
I have not found any detailed account of Nick Hardeman's trial for
desertion, but the final results were published on December 29. He was one of four men tried at the same time as a result of
the same incident. Privates J. H.
Herron of Company I and William Reed of Company K, who deserted "and did
not return" to their posts, were found guilty and given three months hard
labor under guard. Private Ed.
Schertz, of Company D, who deserted "and remained absent until
arrested" was found guilty and given three months hard labor with ball and
chain, under guard. The
specification against 2nd Lt. Nick Hardeman, Co. H, Anderson's
Regiment, Texas Cavalry, C. S. Army, read that he "did, on or about the 20th
day of July, 1864, his regiment being stationed at Camp Ford, near Tyler, Texas,
desert the service of the Confederate States, in company with about one hundred
men of his own and other companies of his Regiment, and did not return to his
command. To which charge and
specification the accused pleaded Not Guilty."
The findings and sentence of the Court to the specification--Guilty; to
the Charge--Guilty. And the Court
do therefore sentence the said 2nd Lt. G. N. Hardeman, Co. H,
Anderson's Regiment, Texas Cavalry, to be Cashiered, forfeit all pay and
emoluments due him from the Confederate States, and that he be turned over to
the Enrolling Officer for conscription."
The findings were confirmed, and Nick was simply released from
confinement. I thought that was a
rather lenient sentence, but when I looked in Ella Lonn's book Desertion During the Civil War, she notes that at least through
1862, "desertion by a commissioned officer entailed only being dropped from
the rolls in disgrace and danger of conscription as a private."
It paid to be an officer!
Nick Hardeman does not show up again in any official military paperwork,
although he evidently does return to the army in a different regiment.
On February 5, 1865, Sam Hardeman, Nick's brother-in-law, wrote to his
wife from Camp Ford, stating that he had arrived on January 26th,
"after a long trip through bad weather and bad roads" from beyond the
Bernard River. Brown's Cavalry, now
part of cousin Major General William Polk Hardeman's Brigade, Bee's Division,
Wharton's Cavalry Corps of the Trans-Mississippi, had been temporarily assigned
to guard duty until the Reserves could be assembled and armed.
Where was Nick? Sam wrote
"Nick plays the fiddle on one side of me and Lt. Bemehon the other."
He was back at Camp Ford, guarding prisoners once more, but this time
under the watchful eye of his brother-in-law and under the ultimate command of
his cousin. He was not just
visiting, because on March 28th, Sam wrote from Brazos County that
"Nick says you must tell Betsy that he is well and hearty and rec'd her
letter with which he was much delighted. Tell
her he says he is going to apply for a 30 day furlough pretty soon and come to
see her. Nick sends How'dye to you
and Ellen and Johnny and Bailey and all the folks."
Evidently he got his furlough, one way or the other, because he was at
his mother's home, probably in Burleson County, by the second week of April.
He was not mentioned in Sam's letter of May 3rd.
A biographical sketch of D. Hardeman Jr. states that after the war
"when he returned to the once magnificent domain of his father" he
found it "laid waste by the ruthless hand of the war, and the family
scattered." If it was truly
laid waste, it was from inattention, not because of any sort of federal
invasion, and the family was only scattered between Burleson County and
Matagorda County. According to this
sketch, "[n]othing daunted, he, with his brother [probably William Perkins
Hardeman, although it could have been Nick], rented a farm and undertook the
task of tilling the soil themselves." On December 29, 1865, the San Antonio
Daily Herald announced that Nick
Hardeman had been found dead on November 29th, five miles from
Lagrange, on the Lyonsville road, at the crossing of the Navidad.
It stated that "he had evidently come to his death by foul
means." He was only 19.
Who killed Nick and why? Where
is he buried? I've not been able to
find the answers to these questions. I
checked the district court records in LaGrange for about 4-5 years after the
murder, and I've not found anyone brought to trial.
Nick never married and had no children, so there are no direct
descendants for me to ask, although I am tracking down members of the extended
family to check letters and diaries covering 1864-1865.
This remains a project in progress.