“Out of 86 That Came to Va There is Only Three Now Left”
The DRT Library has a number of materials pertaining to the Civil War, and one especially powerful document is a letter contained within the Walker and Stanfield Families Papers. “A letter has just arrived in the company from you to your son George,” Ordinance Sergeant M. A. Dunham wrote to Sarah Walker on October 20, 1864, “and it is with sorrow that I now attempt to answer that letter and to impart to you the sad intelligence of your sons death.” Badly faded and stained, the letter was transcribed by former DRT Library Archivist Warren Stricker. (Original spellings and punctuation have been left unchanged.)
Near Richmond Va Octr 20″ 1864 Mrs. Sarah A. Walker
A letter has just arrived in the company from you to your son George and it is with sorrow that I now attempt to answer that letter and to impart to you the sad intelligence of your sons death. George was killed in battle on the 29″ of August near Richmond.* he was shot in the breast and died immediately. He joined our company (Co. “B” 1st Texas vols) in Galveston Texas in April 1861. He went through all the hard campaigns in Va. participated in nearly every battle and proved himself a good and brave soldier George Walker was thought well of by his company and by all that knew him. At the time he joined our company he was wild like other young men of his age but for the last year George had lead a new life. he had attached himself to the church and had been babtised he was a christian patriot and died in the faith of a blessed immortality. George survived nearly all the members of his company. out of 86 that came to Va there is only three now left the others have been killed and disabled I am sorry to say that George’s body fell into the hands of the enemy.** during the battle our Brig was moved from the place that George fell and the enemy occupied the ground which was never retaken afterwards. You will please excuse my short letter if it is in my power to give you any further information please let me know it accept my sympathies and believe me to be your friend and well wisher
AddressM.A. Dunham Ord. Sergt 1st Texas Regt Texas Brig Fields Div A N Va P.S. Lt. C. L. Bradford is now commanding the company (Co. “B.” George has some pay due him. You had better write to Lt. Bradford what you want done in the premises &c M.A. Dunham
A hospital orderly from 1862 to 1864, George served in the Confederate First Texas Infantry, part of Hood’s Texas Brigade and one of only three regiments from the Lone Star State to fight in the Eastern Theater. As part of the Army of Northern Virginia’s First Corps, the brigade fought in a number of major engagements, including Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga (siege), the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg (siege). At Antietam, the First Texas suffered an 82% casualty rate, reportedly the highest of any regiment, North or South, on a single day during the entire war. Published sources indicate that no one from George Walker’s Co. B survived to be paroled at Appomattox in April 1865.
M. A. Dunham was originally a private with George Walker in the First’s Co. B. Detailed to recruit in Texas in early 1862, Dunham was wounded three times within three months during the summer of that year. He was transferred to Co. M before being appointed a regimental Ordinance Sergeant in August 1863. Nothing else about Dunham is known at this time.
Sarah Ann Vauchere (1811-1899) married Tennessean Jacob Walker (1799-1836) in Louisiana in 1827. The couple came to Texas about 1830 and settled in Sabine County. Son George Anthony was born around the time of his father’s death at the Alamo in 1836. Legend has it that during the Texas Revolution the newly-widowed Sarah rode 300 miles to Gonzales to warn Gen. Houston about a possible Indian attack. In January 1837, Sarah married Jacob’s cousin James Robert “Jim Bob” Walker; he died in 1850, when Sarah was pregnant with her ninth child. By the time of George Walker’s death in 1864, three of his siblings were already deceased.
*According to Harold B. Simpson’s work Hood’s Texas Brigade: A Compendium, George Walker died on September, not August, 29th, at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm. Simpson’s work was based on Confederate muster rolls and service records.
**George’s body may have eventually been returned to Texas; his grave at the family cemetery in McLennan County is marked with a headstone.