The Maltby Brothers' Civil War
Publication Year: 2013
The American Civil War has rightly been called a war of brothers; Henry, Jasper, and William Maltby were three such brothers. The scene recounted above was between Jasper and William, who had not seen each other in several years since Jasper had left their birth home in Ohio, but who met frequently over the months following their reunion, their familial bond overriding their political allegiances.
The three brothers’ lives cover the critical years of Civil War and Reconstruction, a time when Jasper devotedly served the Union cause, while Henry and William became outspoken secessionists, operating Confederate newspapers in Corpus Christi, Matamoros, and Brownsville, eventually as a thorn in the side of Reconstruction officials. Despite their own Southern sympathies, the two Confederates cherished their Yankee brother, whose bravery at Fort Donelson and Vicksburg took a heavy toll on his health and eventually cost him his life. Both Rebels named a son in honor of their hero brother.
Combining detailed research in William Maltby’s personal papers with contemporary accounts, military and court records, and the editorials of the two who became newspapermen, veteran scholar and educator Norman Delaney has created a vibrant story of how war can affect a family and a community.
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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The lives of the three Maltby brothers run parallel with troubled times throughout the United States and Mexico—both nations torn apart by in-ternal conflict, with postwar military occupation of the defeated Southern states and foreign intervention and revolution in Mexico. Border historian Jerry Thompson considers the years 1861 to 1870 as “one of the most event-...
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In November of 1938, the local history librarian and archivist at the La Retama Public Library in Corpus Christi, Texas, forty-eight-year-old Maria von Blücher, received a letter of enquiry from Los Angeles, California. The writer, Margaret Maltby, had been born and raised in Corpus Christi and was requesting information from the city’s scholastic census for 1888–89, ...
Chapter 1. The Reunion
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On December 11, 1863, a United States brigadier general and a Confederate artillery captain met on board the packet steamer Diligent on the Mississippi River below Vicksburg. The steamer had just arrived from New Orleans. The Confederate officer had not come on official business, however; he was a paroled prisoner of war. The two men, born and raised in Ohio, were broth-...
Chapter 2. Maltby's Circus
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Henry Alonzo Maltby was born in Ashtabula, Ohio, on November 4, 1830. Years after Henry’s death, Corpus Christi newspaper publisher Eli Todd Mer-riman, who had known both Henry and William, described Henry as taller than William. Henry, “with his long black beard, was said to have been the handsomest man in Texas.” Merriman further described Henry as “a man ...
Chapter 3. Filibustering
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But then, on February 14, 1857, the unexpected occurred. Henry abruptly resigned as mayor. (No official letter of resignation has been found.) The board of aldermen then appointed fellow alderman Cornelius Cahill, a well-to-do merchant and hotel keeper, as mayor pro tem. The issue that had led to Maltby’s resignation centered on the small Central American nation of ...
Chapter 4. The Ranchero
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Despite failing health, and beset by a bevy of creditors, the hard-drinking El Diablo was attempting a comeback in the community he had founded twenty years earlier. Kinney biographer Hortense Ward makes note of his rapid physical decline: “At 45, he was bloated and aged beyond his years from the frequent bouts he had had with tropical fevers and the brandy ...
Chapter 5. The Bonnie Blue Flag
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While Henry would continue publishing the Ranchero, Brother Bill was de-termined to play a more active role in the conflict. He, William, would be among those who would perform the “gallant deeds” that Henry could write about. Or, he might write about them himself. He had no desire to leave Tex-as, however, preferring instead to join one of the local defense units. Caught ...
Chapter 6. The War Arrives in South Texas
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The arrival of the US blockading vessel Arthur in mid-January of 1862 cre-ated panic among South Texas coastal residents. The bark (initially referred to as “the Lincoln bark” and, mistakenly, as the Afton) was a converted mer-chant vessel commanded by Acting Lieutenant John W. Kittredge, a forty-three-year-old native New Yorker who had acquired his maritime skills as a ...
Chapter 7. Fort Semmes
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On February 13, 1863, personal tragedy struck William and Mary Grace—the death of baby Henry. A notice in the Ranchero reported the age of the deceased infant as one year, eight months, seventeen days. The cause of the baby’s death was not given, but it was most likely the result of an accident. Years later, musing about his past misfortunes, William mentioned “having ...
Chapter 8. Raiders and Renegades
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The soldiers of the 20th Iowa Infantry Regiment who now occupied Post Aransas were finding camp life far from pleasant, with annoying sand fleas and, as one soldier complained, “sand like the Sea. It is never at rest while there is the least breath of air.” Writing to his family in Iowa, the soldier added, “We have such violent winds here that the use of tents is impossible, ...
Chapter 9. The Brigadier General
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Although Jasper—“Bob”—and his brother met frequently, the general had official duties to attend to. Despite suffering considerable pain from the inju-ries he had suffered at Fort Donelson and during the Vicksburg siege, he had resumed active duty. Not long after William’s arrival, Jasper and his brigade were sent on an expedition commanded by Major General James B. McPher-...
Chapter 10. "The One Rebel Organ Left"
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More than a year after resigning from the army on medical grounds, Wil-liam Maltby did so for the second time on November 7, 1864. This time his official discharge was authorized by Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith himself. William also had the battery’s Lieutenant John Russell write an official letter stating that he was exempt from further military service, ...
Chapter 11. A Bitter Peace
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Before leaving Matamoros, William, along with Benjamin Neal and another friend, Pat Daugherty, were photographed informally, all three disheveled and appearing intoxicated. The tobacco-stained floor indicates that they are in a saloon.1 One can readily imagine the three enjoying a devil-may-care binge, convincing themselves that although the war had been lost and the ...
Chapter 12. Military Rule
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The final issue of the Ranchero in Matamoros appeared on June 16, 1866. Seven days later, the city was surrendered, and the following day it was oc-cupied by Liberal general Mariano Escobedo’s Army of the North. With wholesale desertions and his army numbering no more than six hundred men, General Mejia had no choice but to surrender the city and withdraw ...
Chapter 13. "That Journal on the Rio Grande"
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Following the downfall of Maximilian, the Ranchero editors fired off a con-tinuous stream of dire predictions of never-ending revolutions and anarchy in Mexico for generations to come. Although Maximilian may have been viewed by some as a despot and a French puppet, he was extolled by the Ranchero editors as a man of the people, a ruler who practiced democratic ...
Chapter 14. Yellow Fever
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The summer of 1867 brought tragedy to the residents of Corpus Christi—a yellow fever epidemic that resulted in the deaths of at least 135 men, women, and children whose names were unofficially recorded. The Ranchero reported the total number of dead as 150. An unknown number of residents afflicted with the disease recovered, including Uriah Lott, a local merchant. While ...
Chapter 15. True to Texas
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In 1855 Jasper Maltby came close to being killed or seriously injured from the accidental discharge of a weapon at his Galena gun shop. Thirteen years later, Brother Bill also narrowly missed being accidentally killed or maimed. In May of 1868 news reached Corpus Christi that President Andrew John-son, who had been impeached by a Congress dominated by radical Repub-...
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The Maltby brothers’ gravestones are a study in contrasts. Jasper’s at Galena’s Greenwood Cemetery, where four of the city’s other Civil War generals are also interred, is an ordinary standard type as issued for all Union veterans. Because it designates Jasper’s rank as colonel of the 45th Illinois Infantry Regiment, a second memorial, added in 2000 by the John Butler Chapter of ...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013