Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 22, Number 2, Fall 2010 Page: 14
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That Guess's case reached the heights of the
Confederate government was quite unusual. But
perhaps it is understandable. The Confederate
Postmaster was John H. Reagan, who practiced
law and served as a judge in North Texas before
the Civil War. He had been a law partner with
Nathaniel Burford, lawyer, legislator, soldier, and
judge. Perhaps Reagan was Guess's champion in
Guess was 39 when he died. For a
Southerner, born in North Carolina and living
in Texas, having been exposed to the raw ele-
ments as a soldier in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and
Louisiana, to die of a heat stroke on the
Mississippi River seems unlikely. He had a seri-
ous injury in June 1864 which resulted in a
punctured lung and internal bleeding. He suf-
fered for weeks and months and complained to
Sarah Cockrell about it into February 1865.
Morphine was commonly used to treat linger-
ing trauma, especially for wounded veterans.
William Horton, the Freedmen's Bureau agent
in Dallas while Guess was mayor, had been
severely wounded, treated with morphine, and
became a morphine addict. Guess died on the
Mississippi, perhaps from an overdose or a heart
attack, but not likely from heat stroke.
Guess's story as a soldier from Dallas is cer-
tainly unusual. Many Dallas men were prisoners
of war and paroled, but none pursued their own
release as did Guess. His correspondence with
the wealthiest woman in Dallas is extraordinary.
Guess's short life is fascinating. At base, he was
The author wishes to acknowledge the Summerlee
Foundation for assistance in the research and prepara-
tion of this article.
'Dallas Herald, August 1, 1868.
2Baby George William's death notice is in the Dallas
Herald, January 11, 1860, and his wife's obituary is in ibid.,
January 23, 1861. Both are buried in the William Brown
Miller family cemetery off Bonnie View Road in Oak
3Darwin Payne, "A Distressing and Fatal Rencontre,"
Sketches of a Growing Town, ed. by Darwin Payne (Southern
Methodist University: 1991), 32; Dallas Herald, November
10, 1858. The prosecution of Alexander Cockrell's killer
may have served to introduce Guess to Cockrell's widow,
4Dallas Herald, May 1, 1861.
'Ibid., November 28, 1861. Dallas County's popula-
tion total was 8,809, which included 7,729 whites and
1,080 slaves. Total property value was $6,120,872, but that
included the valuation of the slave population.
6Smith has been overlooked as a Dallas mayor.
Sources show Crockett as mayor at this time but he did
resign the office on March 19, 1861. Smith, selected by
Council, with strong support from citizens, including
Guess, was sworn in the same day. See ibid., April 10,
7Ibid., March 12, 1861.
'Sherwood, elected on August 5, 1861, also has been
omitted from the official list of sitting Dallas mayors. See
Dallas Herald, August 7, 1861.
9Ibid., October 11, 1862.
"oGrand Jury Report, November 28, 1863,
November Term 1863, 14th District Court, C-311.
"Letters, George W. Guess to Sarah Horton Cockrell,
March 6, 1863, and September 15, 1863, Sarah Horton
Cockrell Collection, Dallas Historical Society (hereafter
cited as Cockrell Collection).
12Letter, George W Guess to George W. Baird, May 2,
1863, "Baird Family Letters - File #2," Bob's Genealogy
Filing Cabinet II, genfiles.com/baird/bairdletters2.html.
13Letter, Guess to Cockrell, November 30, 1862,
"Letter, Guess to Cockrell, September 9, 1863, ibid.
15Letter, Guess to Cockrell, September 22, 1863, ibid.
16Notation on July-August 1863 location card,
Records of the Adjutant General's Office, Microfilm 154,
M323; Letter, Guess to Cockrell, September 15, 1863,
"Letter, Nathaniel P. Banks to H.W. Halleck, October
4, 1863, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I,
Vol. 26, 320-332 (hereafter cited as Official Records). Banks
said in his report that Confederate losses were heavy and
14 LEGACIES Fall 2010
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 22, Number 2, Fall 2010, periodical, 2010; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146050/m1/16/: accessed July 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.