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The Maltby Brothers' Civil War

Norman C. Delaney

Publication Year: 2013

On December 11, 1863, a US brigadier general and a Confederate artillery captain met on board the packet steamer Diligent on the Mississippi River below Vicksburg. The Confederate officer had not come on board on official business; he was a paroled prisoner of war. The brigadier general was his older brother, who had learned of the younger man’s capture three weeks earlier at Confederate Fort Semmes, on the Texas coast, and had arranged to have him brought from New Orleans to Vicksburg to be given medical care at the Federal garrison.

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

Front Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-7


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pp. 8-9


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p. ix-ix


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

...The lives of the three Maltby brothers run parallel with troubled times throughout the United States and Mexico—both nations torn apart by internal 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 eventful...

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pp. 1-4

...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...

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Chapter 1. The Reunion

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pp. 5-12

...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 brothers who had not seen each other in several years, and their reunion would have been an emotional one. An observer might have noticed a physical...

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Chapter 2. Maltby's Circus

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pp. 13-30

...Henry Alonzo Maltby was born in Ashtabula, Ohio, on November 4, 1830. Years after Henry’s death, Corpus Christi newspaper publisher Eli Todd Merriman, 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...

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Chapter 3. Filibustering

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pp. 31-41

...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 wellto- 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...

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Chapter 4. The Ranchero

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pp. 42-58

...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...

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Chapter 5. The Bonnie Blue Flag

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pp. 59-62

...While Henry would continue publishing the Ranchero, Brother Bill was determined 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 Texas, however, preferring instead to join one of the local defense units. Caught up in patriotic euphoria, William was elected first lieutenant of the newly...

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Chapter 6. The War Arrives in South Texas

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pp. 63-78

...merchant vessel commanded by Acting Lieutenant John W. Kittredge, a fortythree- year-old native New Yorker who had acquired his maritime skills as a seaman aboard commercial vessels plying Lake Michigan while a resident of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kittredge was well familiar with the Texas coast, having captained merchant and transport vessels from Galveston to the Rio...

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Chapter 7. Fort Semmes

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pp. 79-94

...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 endured the blight of my hearthstone from epidemic and accident.” By then Grace had died during a yellow fever epidemic. William dealt with his...

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Chapter 8. Raiders and Renegades

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pp. 95-112

...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, so we live in Shanties in which the architectural skill displayed in their structures...

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Chapter 9. The Brigadier General

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pp. 113-125

...Although Jasper—“Bob”—and his brother met frequently, the general had official duties to attend to. Despite suffering considerable pain from the injuries 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. McPherson...

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Chapter 10. "The One Rebel Organ Left"

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pp. 126-139

...More than a year after resigning from the army on medical grounds, William 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...

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Chapter 11. A Bitter Peace

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pp. 140-148

...One can readily imagine the three enjoying a devil-may-care binge, convincing themselves that although the war had been lost and the future was uncertain, life was still worth living. As for Henry, embittered by the South’s defeat and the military rule that followed, he told his brother he would never return to the United States...

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Chapter 12. Military Rule

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pp. 149-157

...a toppling, tumbling and crashing of empires. There was a roar and rattle of republican anarchy run mad.” In their gloomy view of recent events, the situation in Mexico appeared ruinous, and the Mexican people had only themselves to blame, especially the “heroic” citizens of Matamoros, for allowing the city to fall into enemy hands. Forgotten was Maltby’s and Somers’s earlier pledge to General...

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Chapter 13. "That Journal on the Rio Grande"

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pp. 158-170

...Following the downfall of Maximilian, the Ranchero editors fired off a continuous 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...

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Chapter 14. Yellow Fever

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pp. 171-174

...the total number of dead as 150. An unknown number of residents afflicted with the disease recovered, including Uriah Lott, a local merchant. While still bedridden, Lott wrote that there was “scarcely a house in town that does not have a piece of crepe on the door. All the business houses have been closed for ten days; the streets have the appearance of a continued Sabbath, the quiet broken only by the passage of a funeral train bearing some poor...

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Chapter 15. True to Texas

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pp. 175-192

...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 Johnson, who had been impeached by a Congress dominated by radical Republicans...

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pp. 193-196

...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...


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pp. 197-200


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pp. 201-212


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pp. 213-220


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pp. 221-232

Back Cover

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p. 250-250

E-ISBN-13: 9781623490881
E-ISBN-10: 162349088X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781623490256

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Maltby, Henry Alonzo, 1830-1906.
  • Maltby, William Henderson, 1837-1880.
  • Maltby, Jasper Adalmorn, 1826-1867.
  • Newspaper editors -- Texas -- Biography.
  • United States -- Armed forces -- Officers -- Biography.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Texas -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • American newspapers -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Press coverage.
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