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Partial List of The Dead

35th Calvary Matagorda Bay Incident

This letter was written by Mrs. W. L. Rugeley the wife of the Capt. in Command when the Matagorda Bay incident occurred.

Mrs. R.E. Pennington, I am sorry that I cannot give you the muster roll for the entire company.D of Col. Reuben Browns Cavalry regiment- This Company being the second, CSA Volunters Company raised in Matagorda County and Commanded by Capt Edward S. Rugeley. I can only give a list of those who froze or drowned in the fearful blizzard when their boat was wreaked on Matagorda bay on the night of Dec. 31, 1863.

Capt E.S. Rugeley was commanding the garrison at Matagorda. Wm. Davis was 1st Lieut, Wm Wiggins, 2nd Lieut and Wm Teirnes 3rd Lieut. The monument on the courthouse square dedicated to the Confederate Soldiers by Capt. E.S. Rugeley Chapter, U.D.C. ever calls to mind the heroism and sacrifice of life by the Confederacy.

It was on the 31st day of December 1863, when following disquieting summons of gathering Federals on the gulf side of the peninsula for early on the first day of January. Capt. Rugeley called for volunteers to go across the bay to the peninsula and be prepared to resist them. Every man in the company, Judge A C Burkhart tells did volunteered, but as some must need to do duty at the garrison, the Capt took about fifty of the men, leaving the remainder, under Sergent Burkhart, as officer of the day.

The best boat immediately available for the convoy across the bay, was the Sail boat "George Burkhart" owned and Captained by Henry Cookenboo, and by the time all could put in readiness for the shore it was dusk, and a strong norther had blown up with rapid by increasing cold, which in a couple of hours was a fierce blizzard flowing a frightful gale. But in the middle of the bay, just before reaching the "John Carr" an old river steam boat which was being used as a gunboat in the defensive plan, the rigging became so full of ice that it was over balanced and made easy to flow over; and over it went, turning the living cargo into freezing water and pitch darkness. About half of the wrecked soldiers were rescued after being washed ashore; the remainder succumbing to the cold and depths of the bay. Some harrowing stories were told of suffering and narrow escapes`probably none more remarkable than the one told by Mr. William Selkirk who only a short time since died in Galveston. Mr. Selkirk was washed on to the peninsula shore and was lying amid the drift and lapped by the waves. When he began to regain consciousness. He heard voices saying "Well here is where we left Selkirk, but we can't find him," he lat there powerless to move, speechless, fearful the rescuers would not find him. But finally they did and conveyed to him to a deserted Federal Camp where the fire wood was still burning low and provisions left cooking. The enemy had returned to their gun boat- here, with a score of others, including Capt Rugeley and Walter Cookenboo Wm Selkirk was soon revived.

But about twenty two were not so fortunate, they passed over the divide to answer roll call on the other side. Following is a list of those lost.

Jesse Matthews-First Sergeant age 23. birthplace- London La.

John W. Jones-2nd Sergent - age 28 birthplace Mobile,Al

D.A. McKinley-2nd Corporal, age 22 from Cabiness,NC

A.D. Hines-buglar-age 28 birthplace, Washington,Tex.

Geo M. Bowie- private- age 18-from Ala.

W.G. Copeland - Age 19-born Ala.

J.W. Consion - age 22 from Tenn

J.U. Howell - age 18-from Ala

W.M. Kennerly-age 33- from Illinois

A.J. Moy- age 32- born Ark

J.B. Seaborn - age 18-from La.

B.H. Walton - age 21-born Mo.

James A. Rugeley - age 17- born Matagroda

T.C. Secrest - age 20 born Texas

Henry Gibson- age 19- born Matagorda

A.C. Johnson - age 18- born louisiana

The following were volunteers for the expedition

Ed Lake - age 18 Miss

_____ Duggan - age 35

Julius ______.


Mrs. W. L. Rugeley

This letter was transcribed by Janet Barrett Hobizal. Taken from a copy of the original letter in the Wharton County Historical Museum Files

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