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 When I had finished my research -- which included the discovery of several previously unpublished items as well as obtaining the only known photograph from a Showalter descendent -- I had so much material that Susan exclaimed, "You've got a whole exhibit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


Word of Robert E. Lee's surrender to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse came hard to Texas. On May 12-13, 1865, over a month later, what was to be the last battle of the war was fought in Texas at Palmito Ranch -- ironically, a rousing Confederate victory at the same location at which Showalter's troops had been cannonaded by Cortina's revolutionaries in September the year before.

On May 19, 1865, a letter promising the citizens of Texas that the 4th Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, Dan Showalter commanding, would fight to the very end was printed in the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph. But on May 26, 1865, Gen. Kirby Smith surrendered to Union forces, ending the American Civil War.

Signaling the actual end of the American Civil War, the surrender of Texas by Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith was given ample coverage in this June 18, 1865, issue of the New York Herald.

Hundreds, ultimately thousands, of disheartened Confederates unwilling to live under Federal authority left Texas and other Confederate states. The most famous post-war exodus was that led by Gen. J.O. Shelby -- the only Confederate general refusing to surrender. Among those with him were Dan Showalter, old "Chiv" friend Justice David S. Terry, ex-Arizona Congressman Granville H. Oury, Maj. F.E. Kavanaugh, and their families.

Photograph of Gen. Joseph Orville (Jo) Shelby. Like most, Shelby returned to his home state of Missouri within just a few years of leaving for Mexico.

A group of Confederate generals photographed in Mexico in October 1865. From left to right, top to bottom, they are Generals John Magruder, William Hardeman, Cadmus Wilcox, Sterling Price and Thomas Hindman.

After arriving in Mazatlan in the summer of 1865, Showalter opened a hotel and saloon with partners. In January of 1866, while drunk in his own saloon and called to task by his bartender partner, Maj. F.E. Kavanaugh from 4th Texas Cavalry days, Showalter was shot in the arm. Ten days later, on February 4, 1866, he died of infection from the wound and was buried in the "foreign cemetery" in Mazatlan.

The Daily Alta California of November 19, 1865, reports on the establishment of Showalter's Mazatlan hotel.

The account of the bar fight leading to Dan Showalter's death in the Daily Alta California of February 25, 1866.

At some unknown date in later years, unrecorded family members placed a memorial stone to Lt. Col. Dan Showalter, 1831-1866, in the cemetery at the Jefferson Davis House in Beauvoir, Mississippi.

And at this point, the exhibit "Dan Showalter: California's Arch Rebel" as it appeared at Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington, California, is concluded.

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