In late 2010, having volunteered to assist Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington, California, with research in pro-secession activity in California, director Susan Ogle handed me a list of names, places and events for possible investigation. One of those names was that of Dan Showalter, a California politician turned Confederate cavalry officer of whom I'd never heard.

Becoming fascinated just after reading the barest outline of Showalter's life, the next year found me hunting down everything I could find about this largely forgotten character. When I had finished my research -- which included the discovery of several previously unpublished items as well as obtaining the only known photograph from a Showalter descendent -- I had so much material that Susan exclaimed, "You've got a whole exhibit right here!"

And with her guidance, on November 5, 2011, co-curated by myself and Susan Ogle, my "Dan Showalter: California's Arch Rebel" exhibit went on display at the Drum.

Now being slated for removal in August 2012 in that ongoing round of ever-successive new exhibits that mark good museums, I've started this website as a place where, over time, I can memorialize and expand upon all the material accumulated on this remarkable Californian.

Hope you'll return often as this website expands and enjoy!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

4th Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade

In the spring of 1863, four Texas cavalry units were organized as the Arizona Brigade, with the intent of retaking New Mexico and Arizona (together briefly the Confederate Territory of Arizona) from the Union forces. Dan Showalter was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the 4th Texas Cavalry and eventually given command of that unit. In spite of its original purpose, the 4th Texas Cavalry became a reserve cavalry unit fighting in Arkansas, the Indian Nation (Oklahoma), and various parts of Texas.

In mid and later 1864, as part of Col. John Salmon "RIP" Ford's expeditionary force along the Rio Grande, Showalter and the 4th Texas Cavalry played a significant part in the Confederacy's regaining of western Texas all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Photograph of a company from the 4th Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, with ten new recruits (not yet uniformed) in the spring of 1864. This is the only known image of Confederate Texans outdoors in their own state.

Letter of June 3, 1863, written by Dan Showalter, shortly after being given command of the 4th Texas Cavalry, reporting to headquarters in San Antonio on the progress of recruitment. Recruitment was difficult among the desperados, deserters and outlaws in western Texas. Note that a large part of his troops are "refugees from California."

In the actual exhibit, this reprinting of an 1860 map of Texas was marked to indicate areas in which Showalter's 4th Texas Cavalry regiment served and at what times. in mid 1863, while still recruiting, Showalter was in the western part of the state. In late 1863, the newly formed unit was sent to fight Indians in the Indian Nation/Territory and Arkansas, at the upper right of this map. In mid to late 1864, as part of Ford's expeditionary force, they swept down the Rio Grande, at the southwestern border with Mexico, all the way to the Rio Grande. From March 1865 until the end of the war, moving from the Rio Grande area, the unit served in the vicinity of Houston.

Confederate troops in Texas were not only fighting Federal troops. Skirmishes with Indians were frequent. The revolution in Mexico under Benito Juarez was in progress and skirmishes with both the native Mexicans and their French overlords were common.

After retaking the Rio Grande all the way to Brownsville on the Gulf in late summer of 1864 -- much of that time under command of Lt. Col. Showalter due to the severe illness of Col. Ford -- Showalter's unit was cannonaded by forces under Mexican revolutionary General Juan Cortina on September 9, 1864. Showalter was taken under surprise and unfit to command due to excessive drinking, an increasing problem by this date. Ford was threatened with his own court-martial unless he brought charges against Showalter, who was then ordered to San Antonio for trial. Although summoned, Col. Ford did not attend and Showalter was acquitted of his charges, returning to the 4th Texas Cavalry. The unit was then assigned to the Houston area in March of 1865.

In later years, in his memoirs, Col. Ford wrote of Dan Showalter: "When not under the influence of liquor, he was as chivalrous a man as ever drew a sword."

Dan Showalter's dispatch to Col. Ford written while under cannonade from Cortina's Mexican revolutionary forces on September 9, 1864.

Photograph of Col. John Salmon Ford, referred to as "RIP" Ford for his habit of writing "RIP" next to the names of dead soldiers in his reports.

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