William Henry Gaston
(1840 - 1927)
Home State: Texas
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 1st Texas Infantry
Before the Antietam Campaign:
He moved with his family from Alabama to Mississippi in the mid-1840s, and to Anderson County, TX about 1849. By 1860 the family was living in Tyler, TX. He enlisted in Company H - the Texas Guards - First Texas Infantry as First Sergeant, and mustered in with the Company on 24 June 1861. He was elected Captain, date not given (probably during reorganization in Spring 1862).
In the Antietam Campaign:
He commanded his Company at Sharpsburg.
The remainder of the War:
On 28 November 1862 he wrote his father ...
He resigned his commission on 4 December 1862. He was on recruiting duty in Texas, and then a Confederate purchasing agent in the Trans-Mississippi Department for the rest of the War.
I received your letter of the 5th Nov. a few days ago but have not had opportunity of writing until now. I
am surprised at you not receiving my letters written after the Sharpsburg fight. I cannot see why my letter should not reach home as soon as others. I wrote you soon after the fight & gave you all the information I could about Robert. I have been inquiring and hunting for him ever since he was lost. I can hear nothing from him. I feel that he was slain although I cannot give him up yet. There is some chance for him to be alive yet. He may have been badly wounded and still in the hands of the enemy. There has been some of my boys sent back to Maryland that I thought was killed. They saw nothing of Robert but say he may be there somewhere as our boys were scattered all over Md. I hope he may turn up yet someday. I have felt miserable since he has been gone and it is with deep regret that I have to communicate his loss to you. I hope you all will not think hard of me for not giving you all the particulars of his fate when it was out of my power and as my letters failed to reach you. We were overpowered by the enemy and compelled to give up the battlefield leaving behind our killed and wounded with some prisoners & were not permitted to go on the field after the fight. Consequently I cannot tell the result of the missing. We are not lying in sight of the Yankee tents. Only the Rappahannock River behind us. May expect a fight any day but I do not think they will attempt to cross
this winter. The weather is very cold but we stand it very well. Have plenty of clothes. Some shoes
wanting. Our boys are in fine health and our army is in good condition. We expect to go into winter quarters shortly. I intend to come home this winter if I can. I may have to resign to do so but I intend to come. My health has not been good for some time & I think I have tried it long enough here to satisfy me. You spoke of coming here. I would advise you not to come as you cannot accomplish anything by the trip. If Robert can be found I will find him before I come. If killed, we will have to give him up for a time. I'm glad you sold Jake as Negros are cheap. I think it my duty to come home awhile at least.
Excuse my writing with pencil as ink is scarce in camp. Write to me often. I will do the same. I close,
This from your Son
After the War:
He farmed in Anderson County to at least 1867, then took a substantial cash stake to Dallas and opened a bank - Gaston & Camp. He was very successful in banking, real estate and merchandising there. Considered one of the founders/builders of Dallas as a major city. He donated the 80 acres of land for the State Fair of Texas in 1886.
References, Sources, and other notes:
Basic military information from Davis1 with details from Roster data posted on the Texas Brigade (reenactor) site. Personal information from a sketch in The Handbook of Texas from the Texas State Historical Association. His gravesite is on Findagrave, source also of his photograph, of unknown provenance, posted by Larry Chenault.
Wartime letters from William and his brother Robert are in Tyler to Sharpsburg: The War Letters of Robert H. and William H. Gaston (1960), edited by Robert W. Glover. The letter above transcribed online [pdf] by the folks at the Antietam National Battlefield.
|Birth Date: 10/25/1840 Place of Birth: Prairie Bluff, AL |
Death Date: 01/24/1927 Death Place: Dallas, TX Burial Place: Greenwood Cemetery, Dallas, TX
1 Davis, Rev. Nicholas A., The Campaign from Texas to Maryland, Houston: Telegraph Book and Job Establishment, 1863, Pg. 142 [AotW citation 1517]
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